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April 23, 2014

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$750 Million ConnectED Pledge Includes $100 Million From O’Reilly Media, Safari Books Online

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O’Reilly Media and Safari Books Online will donate over $100 Million in technology resources to US K-12 schools. The pledge is part of $750 million in new corporate support for President Obama’s ConnectED initiative, along with donations from Apple, Microsoft, Sprint, and Autodesk.

AASL, Head Start Praise Federal Budget’s Focus on Early Learning

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The American Association of School Librarians and the National Head Start Association are praising the early learning dollars included in this week’s federal budget. However, both say challenges to funding remain—and the budget comes too late to help the 57,000 children cut off from Head Start last year.

School Libraries May Benefit from Congressional Budget Deal

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The $1.012 trillion spending bill unveiled by House and Senate leaders, if approved, will restore most of the critically needed federal education funding that was dramatically cut during last year’s sequestration. The boon to poorer school districts could ease budget squeezes that have forced the elimination of school librarians.

Free Mackin Ebooks; Qlovi’s Common Core Platform; E-Rate Filing Opens | News Bites

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Here are our latest briefs on a digital publishing mini-MOOC, free Mackin ebook bundles, Qlovi’s Common Core platform, an archived copyright tweetchat, Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Philadelphia’s Year of the Bard, the E-Rate filing window, and the NAACP Image Awards.

New York Granted Federal Waiver to Eliminate Double-Testing in Math

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The U.S. Department of Education has approved New York State’s request for a waiver from the provisions of federal law that currently require students who take Regents exams in mathematics when they are in seventh or eighth grade to also take the state mathematics assessment.

NYC Welcomes Carmen Fariña as New Public Schools Chancellor

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Incoming New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s choice of early childhood advocate Carmen Fariña to become the new public schools chancellor is being met with praise by the city’s parents and teachers—and with “cautious optimism” by its school librarians, they say.

Washington State Representative Introduces Student Privacy Bill

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Washington State Representative Elizabeth Scott (R-Monroe) has introduced a state bill that aims to protect the educational privacy rights of students. A parent advocacy group, Stop Common Core in Washington State, is urging residents to offer support for the bill.

Colorado School Librarians Hopeful, Yet Wary, After Education Tax Bill’s Defeat

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The defeat last month of Amendment 66, a tax bill seeking to raise $950 million for education reform, has had little impact on the day-to-day lives of Colorado’s media specialists, since no funds in it had been earmarked for school libraries. Yet advocates say the proposed legislation sparked renewed advocacy efforts that they will be putting into action in 2014.

Library Advocates File Brief to Challenge Arizona’s Ethnic Studies Ban

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The Freedom to Read Foundation, joined by key library and learning advocates, filed an amicus brief November 25 with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the constitutionality of an Arizona statute that bans ethnic studies. The statute violates students’ First Amendment rights, Barbara M. Jones, FTRF’s executive director, says.

Federal Strong Start for America’s Children Act Supports New Early Learning Program

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The bipartisan Strong Start for America’s Children Act proposes broad investment in educational and development programs for very young children.

NYC Teachers’ Union Urges State to Uphold School Librarian Staffing Mandate

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New York City’s local teachers’ union, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), is urging NY State Commissioner of Education Dr. John King to deny a recent request by the city’s Department of Education that the city’s public schools be exempted from state minimum staffing requirements for certified school library media specialists, the UFT tells School Library Journal. King has not yet issued a ruling on the matter.

EdLiNC Calls on FCC to Double E-Rate Funding

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The Education Library Networks Coalition—which includes the American Library Association and the International Society for Technology in Education—is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to double the funding for E-rate, according to EdLiNC’s co-chair Jon Bernstein. The coalition also asks that the E-rate program offer more “scalable” goals for local entities, with limited national mandates.

Nominate a Connected Educator as a White House “Champion of Change”

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There is only a short time left to nominate a connected educator for the White House’s next “Champions of Change” event, which celebrates education leaders who creatively use technology to help kids learn. Those selected will be invited to the White House in October—in honor of Connected Educator Month—to showcase their efforts to support more connected schools and students. Online nominations are due by midnight on Friday, September 20.

ALA Urges FCC to Accelerate E-Rate Goals

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The American Library Association on Monday asked the Federal Communications Commission to accelerate the goals of E-rate, the program that provides discounted Internet access and telecommunications services to U.S. schools and libraries. ALA’s statement specifically calls for faster deployment of high-capacity broadband and new strategic investments in infrastructure, as well as program changes to save costs and streamline the process so that more schools and libraries can participate in the program.

Educators, Parents Fight NYC Bid to Bypass State Mandate for School Librarians

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New York City’s librarians, teachers, and parents are prepping for a major battle with the city’s Department of Education on the heels of its official request to the New York State Education Department last week that it be exempted from state minimum staffing requirements for certified school library media specialists. The city’s move follows years of quiet noncompliance with the state mandate despite two petitions from the local teachers union to the State Commissioner of Education.

Maine State Librarian Touts E-Rate Success to Senate

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Linda Lord, Maine’s state librarian, represented the nation’s 16,400 public libraries Wednesday in her call to Congress to provide a “proactive vision for meeting the educational and learning needs of our communities for the next 15 years and beyond.” Her testimony—at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation—also detailed the success of the E-rate program in helping serve more than 30 million people every week.

NEA Votes to Support AASL in Lobbying for ‘Strengthening America’s Schools Act’

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The National Education Association this week voted to support the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) in its lobbying efforts with regard to the “Strengthening America’s Schools Act,” the first piece of legislation to recognize the role school library programs play in student learning since 1965, according to the American Library Association.

ISTE Hopes ConnectEd Stirs Political Will to Fully Fund E-Rate

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The White House’s announcement last week of the ConnectEd initiative, President Obama’s urging of the FCC to overhaul the E-Rate program, is only the first step in what must be a larger, committed effort to fully fund technology in our nation’s schools and libraries, the International Society for Technology in Education says.

ALA Hopeful, Excited by White House Push to Overhaul E-Rate Funding

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The White House’s announcement Thursday that it is urging the FCC to overhaul E-Rate—the program that provides discounted Internet access and telecommunications services to U.S. schools and libraries—is an important and nearly unprecedented step forward in closing the digital divide, the American Library Association tells SLJ.

UPDATE: ALA: New Education Bill Calls for Effective School Libraries

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The Strengthening America’s Schools Act, introduced in the Senate on Tuesday by Tom Harkin (D-IA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Jack Reed (D-RI), includes strong provisions for effective school library programs, and is the first piece of legislation to recognize the role school library programs play in student learning since 1965, according to the American Library Association.