Archive for December, 2008

Winners of the School Reviews Contest!

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

A big congratulations to the winners of the School Reviews Contest!  All three schools will win a $1000 donation to the school parent organization.  We were thrilled with the participation in our contest, over 600 schools were reviewed!  Alongside local school data and information, parent reviews are a great way to get a sense of a school’s culture and environment and help with school decisions.  A big thank you to all of our participants!  Here are the contest results!

In 1st place with 91 reviews!
Gifford Elementary School in Racine, WI

In 2nd place with 37 reviews!
Ralph Waldo Emerson Elementary School in Fraser, MI

In 3rd place with 26 reviews!
Judith A. Resnik Community Learning Center in Akron, OH

Obama Chooses Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

I was excited to hear Tuesday that President-elect Barack Obama has chosen Arne Duncan as his Secretary of Education.  Obama’s position on education was one of the key areas where Obama differentiated himself from his opponents during the election and I believe this is a great step forward in his fulfillment of his commitments to bring change to our country.   Effective leadership has been sorely missing from the Secretary of Education position and I believe Arne Duncan brings a strength of leadership  to that office.  Much has been written suggesting that this cabinet appointment represents a test of how forward thinking Obama is about how to improve education.  NY Time columnist, David Brooks  recently wrote, “Is Barack Obama really a force for change, or is he just a traditional Democrat with a patina of postpartisan rhetoric?”  A ‘patina of postpartisan’ rhetoric Arne Duncan is not. Obama seems to have scored another “slam dunk” here given the accomplishments of Arne Duncan in such a short time.  In some ways, Duncan’s metoric  rise is similar to Obama’s.  In his announcement, Obama said of Duncan “In just seven years [as Superintendent of Chicago], [Duncan has] boosted elementary test scores here in Chicago from 38 percent of students meeting the standards to 67 percent. The dropout rate has gone down every year he’s been in charge.”  In Arne Duncan Obama gets an individual  who is very bright, believes that all students can learn, has strong leadership skills, and is a problem solver who thinks out of the educational box. Arne Duncan is considered a reformer going beyond curriculum (what is taught) and instruction (how it is taught) to changing the way schools are structured and, in fact, how they function.  He has a record of accomplishing sustainable change (reform) with great skill and political prowess.

Duncan supports teacher and student performance-based pay initiatives.  He has closed poor performing schools as a way of forcing principals and teachers to reapply for their jobs.  He has started 53 charter schools.  Duncan strongly supports an increased role and contribution from parents.  Although some of these initiatives have angered the teacher unions, he has successfully navigated their objections.

In terms of getting things done in Washington, it certainly helps that he is a good friend of Obama’s.  Both men are Harvard graduates, love basketball, have a strong bias for action, and are committed to fixing American schools by implementing what works and  not what is politically expedient. We at enthusiastically support president-elect Obama’s choice of Arne Duncan as the next Secretary of Education and look forward to seeing our children benefit from the change we are confident he will lead in our nation’s schools.

Local Schools Widget’s Success

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Wondering what’s new with the Local Schools widget? It is such an easy way to show local school information directly on your site or blog, many real estate professionals have implemented widgets on their sites. 

Local School widgets have been created in all sizes and colors for cities and counties across the country.  From adding the ability for users to see schools in different cities, to incorporating local school information alongside other community features, realtors have been creatively integrating widgets onto their sites. Real estate bloggers have also jumped on the chance to have school information on their blog for free.  The local school information WordPress plugin is now available so bloggers can incorporate the widget easily.

Another great development is that school districts have put widgets up for parents to see school information directly on their sites.  With no development cost,  school districts can show school information to parents and students in minutes.