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Philly schools consider suing Wall Street banks for fraud-induced losses | Philadelphia City Paper |

Philly schools consider suing Wall Street banks for fraud-induced losses | Philadelphia City Paper | | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

The School District of Philadelphia is considering filing suit against Wall Street banks, City Paper has learned, for illegally manipulating a major interest-rate index underpinning complex derivatives that have cost cities and schools billions of dollars.

"The School District is currently in the process of analyzing whether or not the agency has a sufficient basis for pursuing claims against financial institutions which may have been involved in the manipulation of Libor," a district spokesperson wrote in a short statement issued to CP.

Philadelphia and other cities have filed similar lawsuits, contending that such "interest-rate swaps" — billed as a protection against rising borrowing costs — were tilted in banks' favor through the fraudulent rigging of the London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor.

The School District took out swaps with Wachovia (purchased by Wells Fargo in 2008), Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. But a lawsuit could name more banks as defendants. Philadelphia's lawsuit names banks that were direct counterparties and also those that are accused of rigging Libor, including Citi, JPMorgan, RBC, Bank of America, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, RBS and UBS.


It is unclear when the district, which is run by the state-controlled School Reform Commission, will decide whether to file suit, and what damages might ultimately be sought.* The city could seek tens of millions of dollars, says Quinn Emanuel attorney Steig D. Olson, one of the lawyers representing the city. The precise damages at stake — a matter of figuring out how particular Libor manipulations affected particular swap deals — will be determined through discovery.

The final damages will likely be contested. And profoundly complex.


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Creative Destruction in Teaching (and the Ongoing Relevance of Teachers) | Don Wettrick Blog | Edutopia.org

Creative Destruction in Teaching (and the Ongoing Relevance of Teachers) | Don Wettrick Blog | Edutopia.org | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

How safe is your job? Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, authors of Freakonomics, posed that question in a recent podcast as they evaluated how technology has "innovated" people out of many automated jobs. These contrarian thinkers discussed how and why many jobs, even entire industries, are disappearing. This phenomena is called creative destruction, a term coined by German sociologist Werner Sombart, who defined it as:

The process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.

And continual innovation is destroying many occupations. Think of how many times a day you deal with computers, rather than live people, to make purchases and pay bills. Reminders of downsizing are all around us.

Then I started to think about, well, my job as an educator.


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The Paragraph On Slavery That Never Made It Into The Declaration Of Independence | Ben Railton | Talking Points Memo

The Paragraph On Slavery That Never Made It Into The Declaration Of Independence | Ben Railton | Talking Points Memo | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

As with so many debates in our 21st century moment, the question of race and the Declaration of Independence has become a divided and often overtly partisan one. Those working to highlight and challenge injustice will note that Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration and its “All men are created equal” sentiment, was like many of his fellow founders a slave-owner, and moreover one who might well have fathered illegitimate children with one of his slaves. In responses, those looking to defend Jefferson and the nation’s founding ideals will push back on these histories as anachronistic, overly simplistic, exemplifying the worst form of “revisionist history.”

If we push beyond those divided perspectives, however, we can find a trio of more complex intersections of race and the Declaration, historical moments and figures that embody both the limitations and the possibilities of America’s ideals. Each can and should become part of what we remember on the Fourth of July; taken together, they offer a nicely rounded picture of our founding and evolving identity and community.

For one thing, Jefferson did directly engage with slavery in his initial draft of the Declaration. He did so by turning the practice of slavery into one of his litany of critiques of King George:

"He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation hither … And he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he had deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another."

Like so much in the American founding, these lines are at once progressive and racist, admitting the wrongs of slavery but describing the slaves themselves as “obtruding” upon and threatening the lives of the colonists. Not surprisingly, this complex, contradictory paragraph did not survive the Declaration’s communal revisions, and the final document makes no mention of slavery or African Americans.

Yet the absence of race from the final draft of the Declaration did not keep Revolutionary-era African Americans from using the document’s language and ideals for their own political and social purposes. As early as 1777, a group of Massachusetts slaves and their abolitionist allies brought a petition for freedom based directly on the Declaration before the Massachusetts legislature. “Your petitioners … cannot but express their astonishment,” they wrote, “that it has never been considered that every principle from which America has acted in the course of their unhappy difficulties with Great Britain pleads stronger than a thousand arguments in favor of your petitioners.”

When Massachusetts drafted its own state constitution in 1780, that document’s extension of the Declaration’s sentiments added more ammunition to such slave petitions.


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New Oregon law recognizes students and parents are key in developing better assessments | Amanda Litvinov | NEA.org

New Oregon law recognizes students and parents are key in developing better assessments | Amanda Litvinov | NEA.org | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Oregon educators celebrated last week as Gov. Kate Brown signed into law the Student Assessment Bill of Rights (HB 2655), which was crafted to empower students and parents in the learning and assessment process.

Oregon’s new law ensures that students and their families will know the purpose of all standardized assessments, how they will be used, how much class time the tests require, and who will have access to the results.

In some ways, it’s hard to believe that most students and parents don’t have access to that information. But in most states, that is the norm.


All too often, even educators cannot access the results of standardized tests in time to tailor instruction to fill any gaps and increase students’ mastery of the material. Another endless frustration is the amount of classroom instruction time lost to prepping for and administering tests, and the creative lessons and learning activities educators have been forced to eliminate as test demands have grown.


The amount of class time Oregon educators and students have lost to standardized testing has gone from mere hours to several days. Schools across the country require roughly twice the amount of standardized testing they did 2002.


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Workshop on “Money and Sustainability: the Challenge of Sustainable Finance begins at School”scatol8® | scatol8®

Workshop on “Money and Sustainability: the Challenge of Sustainable Finance begins at School”scatol8® | scatol8® | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

This issue of Sustainability is linked to the availability of natural resources for future generations and to the effects of changes brought about by economic activities, in terms of pollution, on environmental quality. These aspects are fundamental when investigating the conditions to ensure sustainability, with intra and intergenerational perspectives, through methods to track material and/or energy flows.


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'Geography Education' is 4 years old...

'Geography Education' is 4 years old... | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Today my Geography Education scoop.it page will hit a million views and I want to appreciate those that have viewed, supported and promoted my site.  I’ve enjoyed sharing global news articles, videos and podcasts with a spatial perspective.  So Julie said I should over the millionth visitor something special—an inflatable globe or a world map are on the line.  Four years of geo-nerdiness and counting.


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‘What, to the American Slave, Is Your 4th of July?’ | Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan | Truthdig.com

‘What, to the American Slave, Is Your 4th of July?’ | Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan | Truthdig.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

“What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” asked Frederick Douglass of the crowd gathered at Corinthian Hall in Rochester, N.Y., on July 5, 1852. “I answer,” he continued, “a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which lie is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham.”

Douglass escaped slavery in 1838 and became one of the most powerful and eloquent orators of the abolitionist movement. His Independence Day talk was organized by the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Sewing Society. Douglass extolled the virtues of the Founding Fathers, those who signed the Declaration of Independence. Then he brought the focus to the present, to 1852. He said:

“I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?”

Of course, the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Sewing Society had no intention of mocking him. Proceeds from their events were devoted primarily to supporting Douglass’ newspaper. They championed Douglass, and saw the need to take action, whatever action they could muster. The United States was, at the time of the speech, less than a decade away from a brutal civil war. The war would formally start with the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter, just off the coast of Charleston, S.C.

Independence Day is a fitting time to reflect on the role that grass-roots organizing for social change has played in building this nation. The horrific massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, S.C., also compels us to question just how far we have progressed toward the ideals enshrined in that document signed on July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence.


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Technological Soundings & Portals to the Future | Nettrice Gaskins | Musings of a Renegade Futurist

Technological Soundings & Portals to the Future | Nettrice Gaskins | Musings of a Renegade Futurist | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Portals are a doorways, gates, or other entrances, we pass through from one space to another. In the physical realm we pass through a portal by stepping over a threshold. Portals are also metaphysical, representing different states of being and how these states relate to each other. They can help us navigate space, explore cultural practices and belief systems. For example, the cosmogram/mandala is a type of portal that moves people from one phase of a life cycle to another.


Time portals are doorways in time, employed in various genres such as science fiction and fantasy, to transport people to the past or future. Time portals can be represented as vortices of energy that allow matter to travel from one point in time to another by passing through the portal. So my questions are: What if sound could also be a portal to different realities and experiences? What if it told a story?


If no slave ship survived to become a site for memory, Liverpool did generate one image in which its slave ships were to be remembered through the centuries and across continents. The famous Description represented in cross-section, front-view and side view, and in a series of overviews of both slave decks, the manner in which slaves could legally be packed into the Liverpool slaver Brookes. – Marcus Wood, Blind Memory. Visual Representations of Slavery in England and America 1780-1865


Dancer and friend Brigette Dunn-Korpela’s ECHO is an “interdisciplinary multidimensional dance performance that examines issues of race, identity and the value of black life.” The set features video projection mapping with Isadora – an interactive media presentation tool – on the floor and on screens in the shape of abstracted sails. Dunn-Korpela writes that, due to Middle Passage of the Trans-Atantic Slave Trade, the displacement of bodies shifts from the “visibility of the African Diaspora” to a singular narrative that


Only displays the western perspective of the African American or Black experience… dismissing the influence of the multiplicity within the layers of languages, heritage, and geographical regions that holds the bodies of African Diaspora communities. – Brigette Dunn-Korpela


The technical director projects the famous drawing of the Brookes slave ship on the floor, which Woods describes as a mathematical visualization. In another scene, a dancer seems to emerge from a white square portal mapped on center of the stage.


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Signs of Water Ice Detected on Comet Surface | Elizabeth Howell | Scientific American

Signs of Water Ice Detected on Comet Surface | Elizabeth Howell | Scientific American | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Patches of water ice appear to be speckled across the surface of a comet, according to a new study using observations from a European space probe.

The Rosetta spacecraft, currently orbiting Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, spotted 120 bright, reflective spots on the surface of the comet that were at least a few meters (about 6 feet) in size. While their composition is still being examined, the spots tend to appear in areas that are shaded by the sun, scientists noted. The researchers also note that there have been no significant changes to the spots after a month of observations.

"Water ice is the most plausible explanation for the occurrence and properties of these features," said Antoine Pommerol, a physicist at the University of Bern, in a statement. [Photos: Europe's Rosetta Comet Mission in Pictures]

"At the time of our observations, the comet was far enough from the sun such that the rate at which water ice would sublimate would have been less than 1 mm per hour of incident solar energy," said Pommerol, who is lead author on a study analyzing the bright spots. "By contrast, if carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide ice had been exposed, it would have rapidly sublimated when illuminated by the same amount of sunlight. Thus, we would not expect to see that type of ice stable on the surface at this time."

The spots are up to 10 times brighter than the average surface brightness of the comet, as measured by Rosetta. Sometimes they appear together, particularly when they are at the bottom of cliffs. The research team speculates this is because the cliff wall recently eroded or collapsed, revealing material below the dusty surface.


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Pacific Ocean Ring of Fire | Education | National Geographic

Pacific Ocean Ring of Fire | Education | National Geographic | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

The Ring of Fire is a string of volcanoes and sites of seismic activity, or earthquakes, around the edges of the Pacific Ocean. Roughly 90% of all earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire, and the ring is dotted with 75% of all active volcanoes on Earth.

The Ring of Fire isn’t quite a circular ring. It is shaped more like a 40,000-kilometer (25,000-mile) horseshoe. A string of 452 volcanoes stretches from the southern tip of South America, up along the coast of North America, across the Bering Strait, down through Japan, and into New Zealand. Several active and dormant volcanoes in Antarctica, however, “close” the ring.

Plate Boundaries


The Ring of Fire is the result of plate tectonics. Tectonic plates are huge slabs of the Earth’s crust, which fit together like pieces of a puzzle. The plates are not fixed but are constantly moving atop a layer of solid and molten rock called the mantle. Sometimes these plates collide, move apart, or slide next to each other. Most tectonic activity in the Ring of Fire occurs in these geologically active zones.


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NASA to test Mars flying wing drone | David Szondy | GizMag.com

NASA to test Mars flying wing drone | David Szondy | GizMag.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

If a NASA experimental program pans out, the first aircraft on Mars could be a flying wing. Under development at NASA Armstrong, the Prandtl–m is a flying wing glider designed to fly piggyback with a future Mars rover mission to provide low-altitude reconnaissance. It's scheduled to begin test flights later this year.

Up to now, Mars missions have operated at two altitudes: orbital and on the ground. NASA hopes to fill that gap with the Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Land on Mars (Prandtl–m) prototype flying wing glider, that would lead to a version that would deploy prior to landing to provide images and telemetry for very low altitudes.

Based on the earlier Prandtl-d, the Prandtl-m flying wing glider is being developed under NASA Armstrong's Flight Opportunities Program. The Prandtl-m is of a very simple design, capable of self-correcting its attitude during descent. Made of composite material, it has a 24-in (61-cm) wingspan and weighs up to 2.6 lb (1.8 kg) on Earth. It's designed to fold up and deploy from a 3U CubeSat in the aeroshell of a future Mars rover. The acronym 3U refers to the number of CubeSat units that would make up the drop vehicle. A CubeSat is miniature satellite about 4 in (10 cm) on a side.


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New Teachers: A Primer on Assessment | Edutopia.org

New Teachers: A Primer on Assessment | Edutopia.org | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

In order to effectively plan instruction, it’s important to determine students’ current level of knowledge and state of academic, social, and emotional skills. There are a variety of ways for teachers and students to arrive at this understanding and gauge student progress through assessment.

View the video "Five Keys to Comprehensive Assessment" for a helpful overview of the various types and purposes of assessment. Then explore the resources below for tips and strategies to help you plan and craft assessments to guide teaching and learning in your classroom.


After you have seen the video, make sure to read "The 5 Keys to Successful Comprehensive Assessment in Action" for a better understanding of what these elements look like in practice.


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Apple loses e-book antitrust appeal | Blair Hanley Frank | NetworkWorld.com

Apple loses e-book antitrust appeal | Blair Hanley Frank | NetworkWorld.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

An appeals court ruled against Apple’s challenge of a lower court’s decision which found the company liable for illegally conspiring with ebook publishers to jack up prices.

A 3-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit voted 2 to 1 against Apple. Writing for the majority, Judge Debra Ann Livingston said that Apple illegally orchestrated a conspiracy between book publishers, upholding a district court ruling from 2013. The lawsuit was filed by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Additionally, she said that the injunction imposed by District Court Judge Denise Cote was appropriate and left it in place. It’s the latest strike against Apple in this long-running case, which stems from agreements the company set up with publishers around the launch of its online ebook marketplace.

At the time, Amazon held a dominant position in this market, and often sold ebooks for $9.99, even when it was buying them wholesale from publishers for more than that. Publishers were unhappy about that, and Apple offered them an alternative with the iBookstore. Publishers were able to set their own prices and Apple would give them a percentage of sales under an agency pricing model.

As part of that agreement, the publishers also agreed to abide by a “most-favored nation” clause that required prices on Apple’s ebook store be equal to the lowest price available elsewhere. In other words, if Amazon was selling a book for $9.99, Apple would be able to do the same. That encouraged publishers to move all of their contracts with ebook sellers like Amazon to an agency model, which the court said led to increased prices.

Judge Dennis Jacobs dissented from the majority, arguing that Apple needed to work with publishers to raise prices in order to compete with Amazon, and that holding it responsible for the publishers’ collusion was inappropriate.

“A further and pervasive error (by the district court and by my colleagues on this appeal) is the implicit assumption that competition should be genteel, lawyer-designed, and fair under sporting rules, and that antitrust law is offended by gloves-off competition,” he wrote.

Livingston had little patience for Jacobs’ reasoning in her opinion, criticizing his justifications as being unsupported by Apple’s own arguments and being disconnected from antitrust law. In her view, his opinion “endorses a concept of marketplace vigilantism that is wholly foreign to the antitrust laws.”


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Augmented Reality Redux: From Bearden to Manovich | Nettrice Gaskins | Musings of a Renegade Futurist

Augmented Reality Redux: From Bearden to Manovich | Nettrice Gaskins | Musings of a Renegade Futurist | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

The function of the artist is to organize the facets of life according to his imagination. – Romare Bearden

Although historically built environments were almost always covered with ornament, texts, and images, the phenomenon of the dynamic multimedia information in these environments is new. – Lev Manovich

I’ve always been interested in collage. My Light, Color & Design professor said my undergraduate artwork reminded her of Romare Bearden (and Edward Hopper). There is something more textural and textual about the process of creating collages. The artist chops up, rearranges, mixes and layers images from disparate sources to create one composition. There is also a narrative, ex. Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey, the artist’s 1977 series of 20 collages based on episodes from Homer’s epic tale The Odyssey.


For the past five years, I’ve explored and experimented with augmented reality (AR), which the overlaying of digital information on the physical world. In 2011, I made the transition from Second Life (SL) to mobile AR using cultural heritage artifacts. In 2012, I worked with Georgia Tech and the city of Albuquerque on a mobile AR enhanced mural. Around that time I was also toying with the idea of augmented acoustics (see Inception the App).


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Dune, 50 years on: how a science fiction novel changed the world | Hari Kunzru | The Guardian

Dune, 50 years on: how a science fiction novel changed the world | Hari Kunzru | The Guardian | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

In 1959, if you were walking the sand dunes near Florence, Oregon, you might have encountered a burly, bearded extrovert, striding about in Ray-Ban Aviators and practical army surplus clothing. Frank Herbert, a freelance writer with a feeling for ecology, was researching a magazine story about a US Department of Agriculture programme to stabilise the shifting sands by introducing European beach grass. Pushed by strong winds off the Pacific, the dunes moved eastwards, burying everything in their path. Herbert hired a Cessna light aircraft to survey the scene from the air. “These waves [of sand] can be every bit as devastating as a tidal wave … they’ve even caused deaths,” he wrote in a pitch to his agent. Above all he was intrigued by the idea that it might be possible to engineer an ecosystem, to green a hostile desert landscape.

About to turn 40, Herbert had been a working writer since the age of 19, and his fortunes had always been patchy. After a hard childhood in a small coastal community near Tacoma, Washington, where his pleasures had been fishing and messing about in boats, he’d worked for various regional newspapers in the Pacific northwest and sold short stories to magazines. He’d had a relatively easy war, serving eight months as a naval photographer before receiving a medical discharge. More recently he’d spent a weird interlude in Washington as a speechwriter for a Republican senator. There (his only significant time living on the east coast) he attended the daily Army-McCarthy hearings, watching his distant relative senator Joseph McCarthy root out communism. Herbert was a quintessential product of the libertarian culture of the Pacific coast, self-reliant and distrustful of centralised authority, yet with a mile-wide streak of utopian futurism and a concomitant willingness to experiment. He was also chronically broke. During the period he wrote Dune, his wife Beverly Ann was the main bread-winner, her own writing career sidelined by a job producing advertising copy for department stores.

Soon, Herbert’s research into dunes became research into deserts and desert cultures. It overpowered his article about the heroism of the men of the USDA (proposed title “They Stopped the Moving Sands”) and became two short SF novels, serialised in Analog Science Fact & Fiction, one of the more prestigious genre magazines. Unsatisfied, Herbert industriously reworked his two stories into a single, giant epic. The prevailing publishing wisdom of the time had it that SF readers liked their stories short. Dune (400 pages in its first hardcover edition, almost 900 in the paperback on my desk) was rejected by more than 20 houses before being accepted by Chilton, a Philadelphia operation known for trade and hobby magazines such as Motor Age, Jewelers’ Circular and the no-doubt-diverting Dry Goods Economist.


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More than 7,000 education leaders set to gather in Florida, raise their voice | Felix Perez | NEA.org

More than 7,000 education leaders set to gather in Florida, raise their voice | Felix Perez | NEA.org | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

More than 7,000 primary, secondary and postsecondary educators and education support professionals from every state will gather July 3-6 in Orlando, Florida, to set the course over the next year for the National Education Association, the nation’s largest union of public education professionals.

Billed as “the world’s largest democratic deliberative body,” NEA’s Representative Assembly is where delegates, elected by their peers, determine NEA’s strategic plan and budget, legislative program, and resolutions. Delegates also elect NEA’s executive officers, Executive Committee members, and at-large members of the NEA Board of Directors.

Delegates also direct association activity for the coming year through what are called New Business Items. Last year, they approved a national campaign to reduce the amount of student and instructional time consumed by standardized tests and to implement more effective forms of assessment and accountability.


One of the outcomes of that New Business Item was the “opportunity dashboard,” a means by which to measure and publicize how much access states and districts offer low-income and minority students to the kinds of supports that add up to a great educational experience, including advanced coursework (such as Advanced Placement classes), fully qualified teachers, support personnel (like school psychologists and nurses), high-quality athletic and arts programs, and strong early-learning programs.


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GPO-WEP fix, the Social Security Fairness Act, fights unfair offsets that slash retirement benefits | NEA.org

GPO-WEP fix, the Social Security Fairness Act, fights unfair offsets that slash retirement benefits | NEA.org | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Imagine this. You’ve spent the last 30 years dedicating your life to teaching students Algebra at a local high school. And during those decades in the classroom, to help make ends meet, you’ve worked several part-time jobs—including a 15-year stint as a night auditor at a local hotel. But now, you’re looking forward to retirement—that is, until you learn about a government offset called the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), which is going to reduce your Social Security check by almost half.

While it sounds like a retirement nightmare, for hundreds of thousands of educators, police officers, fire fighters and other public service employees, it’s a reality. The Government Pension Offset (GPO) reduces public employees’ Social Security spousal or survivor benefits by two-thirds of their public pension — nine out of ten people lose their entire spousal benefit, even though their spouse paid Social Security taxes for many years. WEP reduces the earned Social Security benefits of an individual who also receives a public pension from a job not covered by Social Security — hard-working people lose a significant portion of the benefits they have earned themselves.

What this means, in real terms, is that public servants such as teachers, firefighters and police officers are losing the benefits they earned through a lifetime of public service. Loss of benefits can result from moving from private to public employment and vice versa, or moving between states that have different GPO/WEP or Social Security rules.


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Renee Hobbs - Fears and hopes about the future of media literacy education - YouTube

Renee Hobbs is an American educator, scholar and advocate for media literacy education. She is a Professor in the Harrington School of Communication and Media Literacy Education.


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Pixar: the algorithms behind the art | Mark Feeney | The Boston Globe

Pixar: the algorithms behind the art | Mark Feeney | The Boston Globe | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Since every Pixar movie consists of computer-generated animation, every Pixar movie is an act of science. As for the really good Pixar movies, which is to say most of them, they’re miracles of science. So “The Science Behind Pixar,” the exhibition that runs at the Museum of Science through Jan. 10, is a natural.

It’s also a wonder.

One of the first things a visitor sees is a quote from John Lasseter, who in addition to having directed the first two “Toy Story” movies and the two “Cars” movies is chief creative officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. “The art challenges the technology,” Lasseter has said, “and the technology inspires the art.” Those words set a tone for the show and neatly summarize it. What that summary leaves out, of course, is just how the challenge and inspiration work. That’s where the rest of the show comes in. You could argue that it’s like one big ad for the studio. But that’s OK, since that’s like saying it’s one big ad for magic.

“The Science Behind Pixar,” which the studio and the museum jointly developed, will tour nationally after its Boston debut. Smartly organized, the show begins with a five-minute introductory video. A pair of Pixar employees offer an overview of how the studio works, taking us into its Emeryville, Calif., operation. Like the show as a whole, the intro is lively, humorous, and informative.

The rest of the exhibition is divided into eight sections or clusters. Each focuses on a key element in the production process of a Pixar film. Examples come from all 15 of the studio’s features, including the latest, “Inside Out,” and at least one Pixar short, “Geri’s Game.”

The elements are modeling, rigging, surfaces, sets and cameras, animation, simulation, lighting, and rendering. Lighting is self-explanatory, as are sets and cameras, and surfaces. Well, sometimes not so self-explanatory. For “A Bug’s Life,” Pixar technicians came up with what they called a “bug cam”: a miniature camera that rolled on Lego wheels so animators could see what the world looked like from an ant’s perspective.


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IN: Planetarium, Astronomical Society plan Pluto celebration | Fort Wayne Biz Weekly

IN: Planetarium, Astronomical Society plan Pluto celebration | Fort Wayne Biz Weekly | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

With the New Horizons spacecraft just days away from its July 14 flyby of the dwarf planet, it’s almost time to celebrate the first close-up images and scientific observations ever taken of Pluto and its system of large and small moons.

To help everyone prepare for that date, the Schouweiler Planetarium at the University of Saint Francis and the Fort Wayne Astronomical Society have scheduled a “Pluto, Up Close and Personal” program for 7:30 p.m. July 8 at the Gunderson Auditorium in USF’s Achatz Hall of Science, 2701 Spring St.

The program is free and those attending will be eligible for door prizes. An announcement described it as “an evening of Pluto lore, explaining why it is a binary dwarf planet, reviewing New Horizons Mission details, recent images from the New Horizons spacecraft and much more.”

All of the planetarium’s shows scheduled in connection with the Three Rivers Festival July 10-18 in downtown Fort Wayne will include a “Pluto-New Horizons Update” during the customary pre-show held in the auditorium while visitors wait for planetarium seating.

To complete the Pluto celebration, all of the society’s two-hour Saturday night public observation periods will be free during July and will include attempts to see the dwarf planet through its 16-inch telescope.


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Why the next Russian space mission is suddenly so critical | Christian Davenport | WashPost.com

Why the next Russian space mission is suddenly so critical | Christian Davenport | WashPost.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

The last two attempts to resupply the International Space Station in unmanned rockets have gone kablooey. First the Russian Progress 59 went spinning out of control in April after it hit orbit. Then SpaceX’s Falcon 9 did an imitation of a Fourth of July fireworks celebration on Sunday two minutes into flight. Those failures followed an Orbital ATK explosion last year.

Now, it’s the Russians’ turn.

At 12:55 a.m. Friday, the Russian space agency will try again to fly more than three tons of food, water and supplies to the three astronauts on the station in an incredibly important mission that could end a streak of failures -- or further shake the confidence in space flight and raise more questions about the safety of the astronauts aboard the station.

NASA has said the station has plenty of supplies for now and that the astronauts are in no danger of running out. But if something happens with this mission, there could be serious trouble.

The three failed mission have all been cargo flights with no passengers on board. But later this month, Russia plans to fly three more astronauts to the station -- a mission that officials said would likely be postponed if Friday's resupply mission goes awry.

Another catastrophic failure would raise even more questions about the ability of the Russian and U.S. governments to keep a critical supply line open to the station. Both of the contractors that the U.S. government relies on are now on the sidelines after their failures. Since its explosion last year, Orbital has been unable to fly. SpaceX is investigating what went wrong with its rocket and has already had to postpone at least one flight.

But NASA officials aren't panicking. In addition to Friday’s Progress flight, a Japanese spacecraft is scheduled to make a delivery run in August. And Orbital is expected to fly again later this year.


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Minorities in STEM Are in Short Supply--Why We Need to Fix That | Sophia Shaw | AlterNet

Demand for Stem-trained (science, technology, engineering and math) workers continues to grow. Stem job vacancies take more than twice as longto fill as those in other fields and many businesses have a hard time finding qualified Stem applicants. Yet there is a great potential pool of Stem talent: America’s minorities.

If you are a student from a minority background, you are muchless likely to know someone in a Stem career than other students and more likely to be the first in your family to go to college. If you find yourself interested in a Stem degree and career, chances are you will need to look beyond your immediate family – and even your schools – for guidance. I know I felt this way as a young woman interested in science and math.

Nearly 75% of US scientists and engineers are white. And, despite comprising 26% of the workforce, African Americans and Hispanics represent only 11% of all Stem employees. Addressing this lack of diversity is key if the US wants to be a leader in Stem fields.

Everyone benefits when we produce talented Stem employees and many of the United States’ best opportunities for economic growth come from jobs that require Stem skills. Recognizing this need, the White House launched Educate to Innovate to “provide students at every level with the skills they need to excel in the high-paid, highly-rewarding fields of science, technology, engineering and math.” Faced with the effects of climate change, we will need even more Stem graduates to protect the environment and address the detrimental impact of increased greenhouse gases on the planet.

If you take a closer look at programs outside of school that are successful at generating interest in Stem subjects among students from a variety of backgrounds, one common element - structured, intentional mentoring – becomes clear.

At-risk young adults who have a mentor are more likely to enroll in and graduate from college than those who do not. Programs like Girls Who Code, the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Science Career Continuum and the Sphinx Organization offer formal mentoring structures – whether mentors are paid or volunteers – through which youth are given access to people who are committed to supporting the success of the next generation.


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Parents Fight Conservative Zealots and Charter School Advocates For Control of Their Kids' Education | Jeff Bryant | AlterNet

Parents Fight Conservative Zealots and Charter School Advocates For Control of Their Kids' Education | Jeff Bryant | AlterNet | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

It's Tuesday evening, and people have come to church — but not for religion.

What's bringing people to Green Mountain United Methodist Church in the heart of Lakewood, Colorado, is a meeting modestly titled "Church and society: Stand up for students."

In a cramped, wood-paneled room on the second floor, two dozen attendees rise, one after another, to introduce themselves and say why they are here. "I'm concerned," say a few. "Scary," "outrageous," say others.

A neatly dressed elderly man speaks up: "When you've been given a lot for the education of your own children, it's important that the children after yours get that same level of education, or better. I don't believe we're doing that."

"I have two children in school," a younger woman says. "I hear things that are troubling. So I'm here to learn more."

The last woman to introduce herself, wearing a T-shirt declaring she is a "Jeffco Rebel," starts a stack of handouts circulating around the room. That's when a woman seated at the head of the room says, "We're here to arm you with information."

This is Jefferson County, Colorado.

Sprawling westward from the Denver skyline, where the front range of the Rockies sharpens its ascension to the peaks, Jeffco, as the locals call it, is experiencing an acrimonious debate about its public schools.

At scores of house parties like this one, parents and public school activists circulate flyers and repeat a well-rehearsed message of dissent. They complain of a new school board majority that is secretive, disrespectful to parents and teachers and irresponsible with tax dollars. They warn of the influence of right-wing groups, some with connections to evangelical Christianity. They complain of a powerful charter school industry, different from the "organic charters" Jeffco parents already send their kids to.

Behind every grassroots issue they identify lies a much "bigger thing," as more than one parent will tell you.

It's a complicated narrative that defies stereotypes and neat polarities.


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Giant sinkholes may dot a comet heading toward the sun | Miriam Kramer | Mashable

Giant sinkholes may dot a comet heading toward the sun | Miriam Kramer | Mashable | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Huge pits spotted on a comet millions of miles from Earth may actually be sinkholes, a new study suggests.

The European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft has been orbiting Comet 67P since last year, and in that time, the probe has spotted about 24 holes on the cosmic body's surface.

Some scientists now think that those pits, which are clumped together on various parts of the comet, may have formed much the same way sinkholes do on Earth: The interior of the comet wears away until its roof collapses in on itself.

Initially, scientists thought that these holes — some of which are as large as two football fields and as deep as the Washington Monument — were formed during explosive "outburst" events, University of Maryland astronomer Dennis Bodewits, a co-author of the sinkhole study , said. The study was published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

During explosive outbursts, ice in the comet heat up, expelling trapped dust and material out into the space around the comet's nucleus.


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Craziest Part Of Apple's Price Fixing Ruling: Publishers Knew They Were Encouraging Piracy, Didn't Care | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

Craziest Part Of Apple's Price Fixing Ruling: Publishers Knew They Were Encouraging Piracy, Didn't Care | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

For many years, despite claims from legacy copyright industry extremists who sought to blame everyone else for any piracy issues, we've pointed out that the reality is almost always that piracy is their own fault for failing to provide convenient, reasonably priced alternatives to the public. When they actually do that, piracy rates almost always drop significantly. And now we have even more proof that these legacy industry insiders know this and don't care.

You may remember that, two years ago, Apple was found guilty of price fixing for ebooks, in an effort to break Amazon's hold on the market and to artificially inflate the price of ebooks, creating significant consumer harm. Apple agreed to settle with the government last year, but dependent on how its appeals process went.


Well, the Second Circuit appeals court was... unimpressed with Apple's appeal and has upheld the original ruling. The ruling (and the dissent) are interesting reads, but perhaps most interesting is the tidbit in which the big publishers admit that what they're doing will increase piracy, but they don't care because they so badly want to raise prices from Amazon's established $9.99 per ebook.


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5 Characteristics of an Effective School Team | Elena Aguilar Blog | Edutopia.org

5 Characteristics of an Effective School Team | Elena Aguilar Blog | Edutopia.org | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

I've been thinking a lot about what makes a good team in a school context. I'll share some of these thoughts, but I really want to hear your ideas on this subject.

I'm going to admit that it's taken me a while to feel convinced by the power of teams. Until recently, I didn't have great experiences in teams. I felt that alone I could produce whatever needed to be created better, and quicker, than working with others. I often felt frustrated working in teams -- the process felt so slow and cumbersome. I felt like I was usually given (or took) the bulk of the work. I didn't really know what an effective team looked like, how one worked together, or what the benefits could be.

In the last few years, however, my experience in a couple different teams shifted these beliefs. Now, I'm compelled to figure out how to create and develop good teams -- and to identify the specific moves that a coach or facilitator makes in this process. I want to figure out how to grow powerful teams that can transform schools.


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