Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Educating parents and the public about education issues is a key component of the statewide, private-sector, grassroots initiative being formed to help make Nebraska’s K-12 educational system No. 1 in the country.

To do that, the Go Big Ed web log is being expanded into a public-service website. Here are some of the features:

-- Schedule of free Saturday morning reading workshops to be offered around the state, starting with inner-city Omaha.
-- Educational advice columns for parents and taxpayers, like a “Dear Abby” for education, intended to improve the quality of parental involvement in schools and citizen involvement in educational policymaking.
-- News items sent to Nebraska news outlets as well as individuals on a listserv, and organized in a categorical archive for future reference.
-- Position papers and proposed policies on key issues and reforms.
-- A kudo list of people who are doing things RIGHT in Nebraska K-12 education, including examples of excellent student work.
-- Facts on the status of Nebraska education.
-- Links to helpful resources and background information which can be emailed to educators, school-board members, legislators and other policymakers.
-- Reading lists for students and parents, with suggested books by children’s librarians and literacy experts.
-- A bulletin board on which educators, volunteers and donors can interact to fill educational needs, exchange ideas, and unite as a state behind our children. Do you need someone to come into your first-grade classroom and read to a small group of children once a week? Or would you like to do that as a volunteer service? Post it on this bulletin board.

The news reports may be the most helpful aspect of this plan, because it’s so helpful to know what’s going on in other states and relate those developments to Nebraska education issues. For example, a Cobb County, Ga., school district canceled its plan to provide free take-home laptop computers to students after a big hubbub centered over whether they aided learning, plus a lawsuit (see
www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/cobb/0805/02laptop.html). That’s relevant, since OPS, District 66 and other public school districts are getting into the multi-million dollar free laptop business, with little or no public input on whether that’s a cost-effective move.

I’ll put up the capital to get this website going, but will sustain its operations by offering advertising to sponsors and vendors. Sponsors are individuals, foundations and corporations who want to support K-12 education, and vendors are those who offer services for children and families.

I’m looking in to ways that this financial support can be tax-deductible, but for now, it would just be a donation for a good cause – bringing all Nebraskans together on behalf of our kids and our future.

I would like to kick off this new website by the first day of school, which for our daughter is Aug. 24.

If you would like to be listed on the Go Big Ed advisory board, email me. And if you have ideas for ways to make this website more effective in improving educational quality in this state, by all means let me know.

Here are some education-related websites that are serving as models for the new Go Big Ed, although it should be noted that there is nothing like this in any state, to my knowledge, combining education news with parent education, school involvement opportunities, and public-service projects such as our reading workshops:


The Best Ed Websites

Q. How can I use the Internet to improve the quality of my involvement in my children’s educations? I have no time to read a lot of books or go to meetings, but I can surf the Web, if I only knew where to go.

www.joannejacobs.com, www.CrankyProfessor.com, http://drcookie.blogspot.com, www.ParentPundit.com, www.Eduwonk.com

Classical schools: www.welltrainedmind.org, www.accsedu.org

Curriculum: www.coreknowledge.org, www.saxonpub.com, www.textbookleague.org, www.historytextbooks.org, www.pabbis.org

Disadvantaged children: www.noexcuses.org, www.urbancure.org

Homeschooling: www.hslda.org, www.consideringhomeschooling.org, www.nheri.org

Federal funding and programs: http://www.ncpa.org/iss/edu/

Finance: www.ncsl.org/programs/educ/ed_finance/intro.htm, http://www.heritage.org/research/education/K-12.cfm, www.ncpa.org

Gifted and talented: www.nagc.org

Grassroots organizations: www.chalkboardproject.org (Oregon), www.EdWatch.org (Minnesota), www.EducationReport.org (Michigan), www.catalyst-chicago.org (Illinois)


Laws, rules and regulations: www.ncsl.org, www.nsba.org/cosa

Learning problems: www.ReadByGrade3.com, www.ldonline.org, www.adhdfraud.com

Mathematics: www.mathematicallycorrect.com, www.kitchentablemath.net

News: www.EducationNews.org, www.EdWeek.org, www.EagleForum.org/educate/index.html, www.ewa.org

Parental involvement and fund-raising: www.ptotoday.com, www.pta.org

Phonics: www.spalding.org, www.riggsinst.org, www.howtotutor.com

Policy: www.alec.org, www.ppionline.org, www.heritage.org, www.cato.org, www.goldwaterinstitute.org, www.TexasPolicy.com

Private schooling: www.capenet.org, www.nais.org, www.ncgs.org, www.exodusmandate.org, www.sepschool.org

Private scholarships:
www.scholarshipfund.org, www.pave.org

Quality: www.edexcellence.net

Reading: www.nrrf.org, www.NationalReadingPanel.org

Reform: www.EdWatch.org, www.heartland.org, http://www.effwa.org/main/page.php?number=32

Religious issues: www.aclj.org, www.rutherford.org, www.gtbe.org

Research: www.education-consumers.com

School boards: www.asbj.com

School choice: www.edreform.com, www.AllianceforSchoolChoice.org, www.heartland.org

School spending: School district spending report on www.eiaonline.com; see your district’s website and your state’s education department website for your district’s annual report

Sex ed:
www.TrueLoveWaits.com, www.medinstitute.org

Special education: www.cec.sped.org, www.ideadata.org, www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/14/91/1491.htm, www.csef-air.org

Statistics: www.nces.ed.gov

Teacher organization, nonunion: www.aaeteachers.org

Teacher quality: www.abcte.org, www.nctq.org

Testing reform: www.kimberlyswygert.com

Textbooks: www.textbookreviews.org

Time management: www.jefflindsay.com/Block.shtml, http://geocities.com/weswalker99/

Tutoring: www.kumon.com, www.sylvanlearningcenters.com, www.tutor.com

Unions: www.nea.org, www.aft.org, www.eiaonline.com, www.landmarklegal.org

University model schools: www.naums.net

Writing: www.tcr.org, www.readbygrade3.com/cvrltr.html

Homework: Share this list with other parents, and add websites of particular interest to your state or your school.

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