Inspiring Invention Contest by Discovery Education, Sony Creative Software and the Ad Council

Here’s a neat contest for K-12 students – Inspiring Invention. Students can create a motivational/inspiring public service announcement to get others to invent:

“Enter to win the Inspiring Invention Contest. Create a public service announcement that motivates others to get inspired and start inventing. Show us how invention enriches everyday life and your school could win a prize package from Sony Creative Software!”

Interesting. I suppose not every kid is an inventor. Communications, PR and management matter, too.

“Sony Creative Software, Discovery Education and the Ad Council have launched an Inspiring Invention PSA contest ( for elementary, middle and high school students.

The contest comes from the Ad Council’s Invent Now ( campaign, sponsored by the United States Patent and Trademark Office  and the National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation, which focuses on helping children pursue inventing and innovating as part of their education.  Contest entrants are encouraged to download a copy of Sony Creative Software’s editing application to create their contest video submission.  Rules are available at

”Benefiting all industries from agriculture to telecommunications to medicine to new global energy sources, a strong commitment to innovation is an American value that will help our youth create an even more positive and productive world,” said Dave Chaimson, global vice president of marketing, Sony Creative Software.”

An Online Degree Site That’s Easier to Navigate

If you subscribe to any education-related newsletters – or about a billion like I do – your screen drips with ads for online degrees and distance learning opportunities.

… and sites that offer, facilitate and aggregate online degrees and distance learning opportunities. At a certain point you just stop paying attention.

Throw into the mix that some programs are good, some are bad and some are even worse.

“An Online Degree by Distance Learning” – aptly named, I suppose – gives the quick and dirty version. Not a million choices, just the top three as determined by AODDL.

Do any of the programs interest me? Not especially, and my ‘top three’ list would likely be different, but I do appreciate the simplicity. The reality is that, as far as online-only outfits go, they’re all quite similar. If it’s accredited, you’re in business. There’s more variation in quality between brick-and-mortar institutions that offer online degrees.

Here’s a few recent news items about online programs:

And while you’re at it, check out Hubert Dreyfus’ “On the Internet,” a seminal treatise on the promises and pitfalls of mass education via the internet. The second edition comes out in a month – the first edition was one of the more provocative, important books I’ve read in the last 5 or 6 years.

No Child Left Behind Debate at – Should We Scrap NCLB?

The education debate continues over at The topic at hand – the final in a month-long series on education – is whether we should scrap No Child Left Behind.

Jay P. Greene is moderating this debate. He says on his own blog, “Let them all talk.”

Ed is Watching is impressed by the star-studded cast of debaters:

“Panelists include Joe Williams of Democrats for Education Reform, Neal McCluskey from Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom, the Hoover Institution’s Eric Hanushek, and Elaine Gantz Berman from the Colorado State Board of Education.”

Below is the full press release for the event [fonts/layout from the original] – if you’ve got time and/or a well-reasoned opinion, weigh in.

NEW YORK – November 18, 2008 – The online discussion site NewTalk ( will host a fourth and final installment in its special month-long series of conversations on education. Centered on the possibility of ending No Child Left Behind, the three-day discussion will run November 18 – 20.

At its inception, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) had worthy goals of improving teacher quality, raising achievement levels, and increasing accountability in education. However, implementation has proven problematic and positive results have been few and far between. This raises the question: should we scrap NCLB?

Before that decision can be made, it must be determined if the program’s failures have been the result of a lack of resources or something inherent in the program itself. Can NCLB be fixed, or should we discontinue the program and address its goals with new legislation? This and other important questions will be explored by a panel of education policy experts including:

· Elaine Gantz Berman – Colorado Board of Education / Common Good Colorado Board of Directors;

· Jay Greene – Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute;

· Eric Hanushek – Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University;

· Richard D. Kahlenberg – Senior Fellow, The Century Foundation;

· Sandy Kress – Partner, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, and Senior Advisor to President Bush on NCLB;

· Neal P. McCluskey – Associate Director, Center for Educational Freedom, The Cato Institute;

· Judith Rizzo – Executive Director and CEO, James B. Hunt, Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy;

· Andrew J. Rotherham – Co-Founder and Co-Director, Education Sector;

· Richard Rothstein – Research Associate. Economic Policy Institute;

· Martin West – Assistant Professor, Brown University, and Executive Editor, Education Next; and

· Joe Williams – Executive Director, Democrats for Education Reform.

This is the closing installment in NewTalk’s month-long series on education issues. Previous discussions, now archived on NewTalk, addressed the following questions:

  • Do we need a new deal for teachers?
  • Why is there so much school bureaucracy and what can we do about it?
  • How can we restore order and respect in public schools?

Launched in June 2008, NewTalk offers a new kind of conversation: one that acknowledges reality, uncovers common ground, and finds a responsible way forward. It takes advantage of the Internet, letting each discussion unfold over several days with notable participants contributing from across the country. All conversations are archived online with participants’ photos and biographies. NewTalk site visitors can participate, too, offering comments and ideas, as the discussion evolves each week.

Recent NewTalk discussions have included renowned American leaders such as Mayors Michael Bloomberg (New York) and Shirley Franklin (Atlanta); former presidential candidates and U.S. Senators Bill Bradley and Bob Kerrey; American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten; and a host of other high-profile thinkers with a wide range of expertise.

Among the completed discussions now archived on NewTalk:

· “How Can We Restore Americans’ Sense of Optimism?”

· “What Strategies Best Support Displaced Workers?

· “Obesity: What’s Needed to Encourage a Culture of Fitness?”

· “Should Test Results be the Main Focus of School Reform?”

NewTalk was created and is supported by the non-profit organization Common Good ( in recognition of the need to improve the quality of public discourse on a broad range of topics.  Both NewTalk and Common Good were founded by Philip K. Howard, lawyer and author of the bestseller, “The Death of Common Sense,” and the upcoming book “Life Without Lawyers” (Norton).

Great Links Curriculum for Tuesday, November 18

If you aren’t already following me on Twitter, you ought to start. I link to and comment on education stories ’round the clock.

And if you’re new to Twitter or aren’t sure how to get started, check out TwiTip’s 10 Easy Steps for Twitter Beginners. Give it a whirl!

Now for the Great Links… and some real stinkers that also deserve attention.

Via EIA, Andrew Sullivan and Michelle Rheetwo peas in a pod? Believe it or not, yes. I suppose even Sullivan gets to be sensible every once in a while. Blind squirrel, broken clock, etc. etc.

There aren’t too many men teaching K-12, reports Eduflack. In MA, fewer than 25% of K-12 teachers are men. And it’s everywhere, too – in April 2007 I wrote a post about male elementary teachers in NY dropping to 9%, a 40-year low. Some folks like MenTeach have been trying to raise awareness for a while now. Check them out and subscribe.

Ted Tedesco of Woodbury, Vermont is a hero. He’s worked to restore the Pledge of Allegiance in that small school district. The admins’ solution to his request is ridiculous, but at least everyone sees it. That, and a generation of kids in Woodbury knows how important it is to defend their country and their culture. As I wrote in the comments of the Core Knowledge post:

“A few months ago I attended a reunion banquet for a tiny, rural high school that closed shop during the consolidation efforts of the 1950s. Their meeting included the Pledge of Allegiance. When the Pledge came up in the agenda, all of the ~100 in attendance rose – and some with great difficulty, as they were in their 80s and 90s – to recite it.”

You know where I stand on this issue, and there’s a reason why I call the Green Mountain State “The People’s Republic of Vermont.” [Sorry, Jessie.]

Across the pond, here’s why I like the Tories. They’ve got a plan to re-introduce a bit of rigor to GCSEs and A-levels. The GCSEs in particular have been gutted – remember this physics teacher begging the government via petition to return mathematical rigor to secondary physics?

“Hot Boys”? I’d prefer that EdSector’s Quick and the Ed bloggers had a bit more self-respect. I already have trouble taking them seriously – these post titles don’t help.

Schools suing bloggers? You betcha. PRO on HCPS links to a libel case against an unhappy parent. Well, if “libel” means “a school district seething when held accountable by the public.” Guess who won? [UPDATE: PRO on HCPS gives us a better link for schools suing bloggers.]

Litigation is expensive when you’re trying to fire a teacher, administrator or school employee. In nearby Utica, NY, Craig Fehlhaber’s hearings have cost the Utica City Schools $250,000 – and counting. If Fehlhaber wins, the district will likely have to reimburse his attorney’s fees as well. We went through the same process in Cooperstown several years ago. If you ever wondered why schools tend not to dismiss bad employees, now you’ve got one reason.

Dave at ‘Friends of Dave’ – a very sharp blog, subscribe with all deliberate speed – highlights some recent irony in California. The California Association of School Business Officers have a conference at which they’ll discuss our tough economic times and how their districts can cope. And that conference is at a hotel/spa/golf course in Newport Beach. Dave has a sensible take on it all, but c’mon, CASBO. He says, “It is a bit ironic that the people who are typically the ones telling their co-workers that they can’t have an extra ream of paper are the ones having a really nice time at a Hotel and Spa on the beach.” Agreed.

Victory in Iraq Day – November 22, 2008. ZombieTime has declared 11/22/08 VI Day and I’m with him 100%. Read his post to see why it’s appropriate to declare VI Day and you’ll see why I support it, too.

“Building a GREAT teaching workforce,” described by American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence’s Dave Saba. Saba/ABCTE sing the praises – rightly – of a new report on the effectiveness of alternative certification programs.

Great Links Curriculum, Volume 1 – World Premiere!

Thank God for Google Reader. At this point, I follow ~500 blogs, view ~12,000 items a month [about 85% are education related] and highlight/distribute about 2% of those posts in a host of ways.

And then there’s the education blog…

… and Twitter, an excellent, free PR tool. If you aren’t following me on Twitter already – or using it yourself – sign up for free, check my profile and click follow. There’s always a good conversation to have or a good link to click.

That triumvirate of e-media makes it easy to do a roundup of interesting stuff I’ve read, so give a warm welcome to the world premier of the Great Links Curriculum.

The British are one baby step ahead of us in self-destruction. DailyWritingTips brings us a story from the Telegraph about banning “elitist” and “discriminatory” Latin phrases – like bona fide, vice versa and et cetera. Fancy book larnin’s a 20th century skeel, it seems.

“Why Parents Get Angry When They Learn the Truth,” from Motel Special Ed.

“Quantifying Greatness” - Greg Forster debunks an unfounded gripe about the Great Books.

Exhibit 1036a: Perfect example why normal people don’t take educrats seriously, courtesy of Salon. Really, that diagram could be drawn for just about any topic on Earth.

The Carnival of Education is up at the Core Knowledge Blog. This Carnival’s scripting took some real effort – well done.

Flypaper with some sober common sense. Want to retain great teachers? Remove the bad ones.

Obama celebrated in the World of Warcraft? Good Lord, there are so many factual errors in this testimony as to make me want to call the poor kid out. We’ll see.

Having solved every problem in New York public education, the State Education Department decided to buy a ton of fruits and vegetables.

Racial taunts in class for supporting John McCain? You betcha. This ideological intolerance happens a bit more than people realize, and sometimes – as in this case – it can get ugly.

Really, really, really, really smart to get into law school? George Leef at Phi Beta Cons drags that argument back to reality.

Head over to eMailOurMilitary and drop a quick note, even if it’s just a quick thanks.

Bill Gates?!?!? Making curriculum?!?! Relax, mouth-frothers. Ms. Jacobs and Mr. Pondiscio will calm you down.

… and another political candidate in the education world whines while laying bare her ignorance on blogs, media and technology. Advertising, too, I suppose. Well done, Ms. Gallucci of Pinellas County. Perhaps the problem isn’t your makeup or wardrobe, but the woeful inadequacy you bring to the job.

In New York State, the education budget cut spin begins. Give it a day or two, you’ll want to throw money at NYSED just to get this circus to stop.

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