Justices hear arguments over school strip search

A lawyer for a 13-year-old Arizona girl strip-searched by school officials looking for prescription-strength ibuprofen pills has told the Supreme Court that the administrators needed better information than what they had before doing such a humiliating search.

Savana Redding was 13 when Safford Middle School officials ordered her to remove her clothes and shake out her underwear looking for pills.

Adam Wolf, lawyer for the now-19-year-old Redding, told the justices April 21 that a strip search for any reason would be unconstitutionally unreasonable unless school officials were told specifically that something was in her underwear.

Wolf said school officials violated the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches.

That seemed to worry several justices. They also seemed concerned that allowing strip searches of school-age children could lead to other, more intrusive searches like body cavity searches.

The school lawyer argued that the courts should not limit school officials’ ability to search out dangerous items on school grounds, and said that the search was reasonable and justified because pills had been found on campus and another student had linked them to Redding.

Justices are expected to rule in the case by late June.

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Ed-tech guru shares his expertise

Ray Schroeder was blogging before it was cool. And as one of the top technology officials at the University of Illinois at Springfield, Schroeder hasn’t slowed down, writing more than 25,000 entries on 49 blogs since 2001.

After teaching classes on emerging technologies since the late 1970s, Schroeder founded the university’s Office of Technology-Enhanced Learning at Illinois in 1997.

Blogging consumes at least two hours of Schroeder’s typical work day, and he says keeping up with the latest educational technology trends is a key part of his job.

"I enjoy doing it, and what keeps me going is hearing from people who read the blogs and tell me how important it is to them to get those updates," said Schroeder, 59, a visiting scholar in online learning at the University of Southern Maine, where officials are developing a blended learning program. "I [blog] in order to share important information with the broader community … and to keep our faculty members informed."

Read the full story at eCampus News

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NCTI’s “What’s Next for Learning and Assistive Technologies?”

Mary Furlong, Mary Furlong & Associates; Tracy Gray, National Center for Technology Innovation (NCTI) (Moderator); Larry Grossman, Digital Promise Project; Noel Gunther, WETA-TV-FM; Marshall Raskind, Schwab Learning & International Academy for Research in Learning Disabilities; Jeff Zimman, Posit Science. These panelists discussed how the demographic shifts and other business pressures are changing their perceptions of the disability market and offered advice on how to take advantage of the changes to maximize opportunities.

Click here for the video

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Teen sues over stimulus funds

A South Carolina high school student on Thursday asked the state’s highest court to quickly clear the way for millions of federal stimulus dollars to flow to schools by ending Gov. Mark Sanford’s ability to decline the money.

The lawsuit by Casey Edwards, 18, against the state echoes the views of educators who have predicted hundreds of teacher layoffs if officials don’t use $700 million in federal cash earmarked by Congress mostly for schools.

If the governor can’t be cut out of the process, it says, then state lawmakers should be able to spend the money anyway.

"We feel this is an important issue for the schoolchildren of South Carolina and it needs to be decided quickly," said attorney Dwight Drake.

Edwards, a Chapin High School senior, said she wants students in the state to get the same top-notch education she did. She realized the disparity, she said, while attending a summer school program for gifted and talented students, where she watched the documentary Corridor of Shame on the state’s poor, rural schools.

"It drastically changed my opinion," she said. "I think our schools really do need that money."

Without the money, even prosperous districts like hers will lose out, she said, noting some teachers in her school have been told they won’t have a job next school year.

"A lot of programs–a lot of classes–will be eliminated from our school system and that will be detrimental to a lot of children’s education," said Edwards, who also worries about her two younger siblings, now in ninth and eighth grades.

The lawsuit was filed a day after about 3,000 tax protesters rallied at the Statehouse and cheered Sanford as the Republican prepared to speak. A couple of weeks earlier, hundreds of teachers rallied there, calling for Sanford to be fired for not taking the money.

Sanford said he, not the legislature, has sole authority to ask for the money.
"Thousands of taxpayers in our state stood up yesterday and said they’re tired of government spending beyond its means, that they’re tired of these so-called ‘stimulus’ efforts out of Washington, D.C., and that they’re tired of Columbia insiders like these driving decisions in the statehouse," he said in a release.

"We believe the Supreme Court will ultimately see it as the politically driven press spectacle that it is, rather than a suit with any actual merit."

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San Diego schools sell first U.S. tax credit debt

Reuters reports that California’s San Diego school system on Tuesday sold the nation’s first new bonds that pay investors a tax credit but no interest, one of its financial advisers said. Congress included $22 billion of this new kind of debt to help build and upgrade schools over the next two years in its economic stimulus plan. But many states and agencies have instead leaped on another part of the plan, the Build America Bond program, because the issuers of this taxable debt get partial federal interest rate subsidies.
With the new tax credit bonds, the San Diego Unified School District will not pay interest on its $38 million of new debt because it succeeded in pricing it at par, or 100 cents on the dollar, explained Los Angeles-based Jason Richter, of Gardner, Underwood & Bacon, the financial advisers.
The quarterly tax credits investors receive would work out to 7.98 percent if the debt were sold on Monday. The U.S. Treasury calculates that rate each day on its web site, http://www.treasurydirect.gov. The tax credit is fixed for the life of the bond, Richter explained. San Diego students will get new technology more quickly because not having to pay interest allowed the school system to sell an extra $20 million in debt…

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Demand for charter schools is high, seats are few

The waiting lists for charter schools, already notoriously long, look like they are about to get longer. President Barack Obama and Arne Duncan, his new education secretary, are trying to entice states into opening more of the alternative schools. But despite brisk enrollment growth and long waiting lines for many existing charter schools, states appear to be in no hurry to oblige, reports The Wall Street Journal.
With 1.4 million students in 4,600 schools, charters are by far the most significant achievement of the "choice" movement that strives to promote educational gains through school competition. Enrollment in charter schools has more than doubled in the last six years. Charters are publicly funded schools that have more freedom than traditional schools to vary their learning approaches. Sponsored by a variety of entities, including state school boards and local school districts, they are oftened governed day-to-day by autonomous boards. A public-school student is free to transfer to a charter school, space permitting.
But obstacles loom to accommodating more charter-school students. The recession has intensified school districts’ concerns about competing for public funds with charter schools. Some charter-school supporters say such schools need more oversight. But unions are using any missteps at charter schools, which typically aren’t unionized, to oppose their expansion…

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Court debates strip search of student

The United States Supreme Court spent an hour on Tuesday debating what middle school students are apt to put in their underwear and what should be done about it, reports The New York Times. Justice Stephen G. Breyer, for instance, said it struck him as "a logical thing" that adolescents seeking to hide pills "will stick them in their underwear."
Adam B. Wolf, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, disagreed, invoking what he called the "ick factor."
His client, Savana Redding, had been subjected to a strip search in 2003 by school officials in Safford, Ariz. She was 13 and in eighth grade at the time. The officials were acting on a tip from another student and were looking for prescription-strength ibuprofen, a painkiller. They made Ms. Redding strip to her underwear, shake her bra and pull aside her panties. The officials, both female, found no pills.
"What this school official did," Mr. Wolf said, referring to the male assistant principal who ordered the search, "was act on nothing more than a hunch — if that — that Savana was currently concealing ibuprofen pills underneath her underpants for others’ oral consumption."
Without intimating a view on the ickiness of what Mr. Wolf had described, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. suggested that the law might treat different undergarments differently. "The issue here covers the brassiere as well," he said, "which doesn’t seem as outlandish as the underpants"…

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AT&T tests speedier 3G network

AT&T’s 3G wireless network will soon be twice as fast, reports CNET. An executive at the company told Telephony Online this week that the company is running trials of its upgraded 3G network in two markets. And the company plans to expand the upgrades across its nationwide network once the trials are completed. The upgrade to the company’s HSPA network will provide peak download speeds of about 3.6Mbps. The company’s current generation of technology offers peak download links speeds of 1.7 Mbps. Of course, real world data speeds are much lower. Most wireless subscribers get download speeds of around 700 Kbps…

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