Education reporting

Students Save Tons by Renting Textbooks

With college classes back in session, the practice of renting textbooks is gaining popularity as students try to trim costs that are getting outrageous.

As a textbook author, let me say this idea does not thrill me, but as a bill-paying parent I see the attraction.

Chegg, BookRenter, CampusBookRentals and Skoobit all are sites that claim they can help students save a bundle.

The Philadelphia Inquirer said this is a hot campus trend:

” ‘It’s the biggest, hottest thing this year in college bookstores,’ said Frank Henninger, director of Villanova’s campus bookstore. Last year, his shop rented not a single book. This year, it’s renting 620 titles through a partnership with a national leader in the textbook rental business,

” ‘This groundswell of mass numbers of college bookstores renting books occurred like a rogue wave,’ he said. Read more


Teachers Spent $1.3 Billion of Own Money on School Supplies

The National School Supply & Equipment Association says teachers spent $1.33 billion dollars out of their own pockets in the 2009-2010 school year to equip their classrooms with everything from craft supplies to software and games.

The Journal, a magazine that covers campus technology, reports:

“The report, ‘The 2010 NSSEA Retail Market Awareness Study,’ was based on a survey of 308 K-12 teachers in May 2010 conducted by Perry Research Professionals. It revealed that teachers spent on average $356 of their own money on supplies and resources, including an average of $170 on supplies and $186 on instructional materials. (Instructional materials were defined as software and games, as well as paper-based teaching aids and other non-equipment teaching materials; supplies were defined as printer paper, arts and crafts supplies, pencils, glue, and other similar supplies.)

“Despite the total $1.33 billion out of pocket price tag for classroom materials, average individual teacher expenditures were actually down this year compared with previous studies: $395 in a 2007-2008 NSSEA study and $552 in a 2005-2006 NSSEA study.”

The story goes on to explain the reason behind the decline. Read more


Teachers unions blast LAT for publishing teacher effectiveness rankings

Los Angeles Times
United Teachers Los Angeles said in a statement that “it is the height of journalistic irresponsibility to make public these deeply flawed judgments about a teacher’s effectiveness.” The union has planned a protest in front of the Times building on Sept. 14. Read more


Will College E-Textbooks Catch On?

On Friday, something sort of big happened. McGraw-Hill launched four of its biggest selling college textbooks in e-text form for the iPad, meaning you can download the whole book or just chapters. The e-reader version comes with interactive graphics and videos.

Digital textbooks are projected to account for just 1 percent of the higher education textbook market this year, according to The Wall Street Journal, but that would be twice as much as last year, and the future looks bright.

The Journal reports

“Prices will start at $2.99 per chapter and $69.99 for entire books, for a limited time. Thereafter, chapters will be $3.99 and books will start at $84.99.

“The Inkling-based e-books make full use of the iPad’s color, video and touch screen. A biology text, for example, offers 3-D views of molecules such as DNA, video lectures, and interactive quizzes. Read more


Resources for Covering Ramadan

The monthlong observance of Ramadan has arrived. It is a month of fasting and prayer, charitable giving and personal reflection. It is a time when Muslims get up at dawn and cannot eat until sundown.

Muslims believe that Ramadan is the month in which Allah first revealed the Koran to the Prophet Muhammad.

Some schools make it possible for students to have a few minutes of prayer a day. Last year, ABC News interviewed high school kids about Ramadan. Some Muslim teens said they just go to the library at lunch. Others said they had non-Muslim friends who also fasted during the day in support.

Here is some helpful background:
Read more


New Study Looks at How Americans Pay for College

A new study by Sallie Mae and Gallup finds that despite the recession, families are still finding ways to send kids to college [PDF]:

“Parents funded 45 percent of the cost of their daughter’s or son’s college education, either  directly from their own resources (36% from income and other savings) or borrowing (9%). The second largest funding source was grants and scholarships which funded, on average, 25 percent of all college costs. Students paid for 24 percent of their education, either through borrowing (14%) or from their own income and savings (10%). In addition, friends and relatives helped with 6 percent of the costs.”

The Oregonian summarized the study, saying that families are more anxious about future costs than they used to be:

“A majority of parents said college is a worthy investment, but a higher number also worry that tuition will rise, scholarships and grants will shrink, the value of their investments and homes will decline and their children won’t be able to find jobs. Read more

Slow Economy Means More Children Home Alone

After a couple of young kids drowned while swimming unsupervised in Jacksonville, Fla., the state said it is seeing an uptick in the number of children who are left home alone as parents work two jobs and scramble to keep their lives together.  

I wonder if the “trend” can be proven somehow and whether it translates into juvenile problems, injuries or other trauma.

Are summer daycare facilities noticing any effect? Are kids who might have once participated in summer activities now home because parents can’t afford summer camps or care? How have city/country budgets affected summer pool hours or other activities where kids might have gone to keep busy and stay safe?

As you will see from this chart, a handful of states have guidelines but no rules about when it is OK to leave a kid alone. Read more


Some Cities Questioning Value of Public Libraries

WFLD-TV in Chicago addressed a question that deserves a deeper look: “Are libraries necessary, or a waste of tax money?” The station’s story looks at whether people need libraries when it’s so easy to just access books online.

When I go to the library, I find lots of people using the computers but few actually walking the aisles to look at books. I suspect a tiny percentage of people know about the wealth of stuff a library card gives you access to online, such as magazine and newspaper archives. Some libraries, such as this one in Hennepin County, Minn., are trying e-book lending.

How does your local library system match up to the ways people use and obtain information? Is your library system supported by benefactors? Read more


Colleges & Universities Brace for Big Cuts in Work-Study Programs

I have seen small mentions of this issue nationwide. Schools around the country say they will get significantly fewer work-study dollars starting this fall, meaning a lot of students will not have campus jobs. This issue is playing out nationwide.

KPLU-FM in Washington reported:

Fewer students who rely on work study to pay for college will receive the help next year. The state legislature cut funding for the financial aid program by more than 7 million dollars. The decision means that nearly 2600 low and moderate income students could lose their work study jobs. On average, that’s a more than $2,000 a year hit for the neediest students.

The story quoted John Klacik, director of student financial assistance for the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board: “The only way to prevent the cuts it is to ask businesses to pay more for student employees. Read more


Boys Injured by ‘Sack Tapping’ Game

If it were just an isolated incident, it would not matter as much. But “sack tapping,” or hitting or kicking someone in the testicles, is a YouTube attraction and is leaving serious injuries.

Take this story from Minnesota for example, which quotes a local urologist saying he performs three to four surgeries a year on teens who have been injured in these so-called games. He sees dozens of such injuries in his office that do not require surgery. All in just one community.

Late last year, WTHR-TV in Indianapolis took a deeper look at the rumors of widespread sack tapping (also called “ball tapping”). I appreciate that this station, which often proves to be thoughtful in its reporting, conducted a survey of school nurses to find out the extent of the phenomenon, rather than rely on anecdotal evidence. Read more

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