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Published in Print: June 2, 1999, as Charity Begins in the Classroom for Computer Teacher

Charity Begins in the Classroom for Computer Teacher

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Charity Begins in the Classroom
For Computer Teacher:
A computer teacher in Rochester, N.Y., is personally trying to ensure that all the students in his school have computers of their own.

Since late 1997, Mike Morone, who runs a reading and writing computer lab at the Alternative Education Center at Josh Lofton High School, has refurbished 328 donated computers and given them to students. The alternative center enrolls 300 at-risk youths, most of whom have no computers at home.

"These kids are really the technology have-nots," Mr. Morone said. "It's fun for me to work on the computers. Once I fix them, there's nothing more to do with them, so I pass them along."

Mr. Morone says the computers can make it easier for students do their schoolwork. But he also hopes they will help keep students from getting bored and into trouble. Along with software for word processing and making calculations, he gives the students computer games.

The teacher has noticed that his computer giveaways have earned him new respect from some parents.

"When I call a parent to say a child isn't behaving, I say, 'I'm the one who passed the computer along.' They say, 'Oh, yeah.' Now they know me," he said. "It gives me a little credibility. They know I'm working hard for the kids."

Preventing Violence: The juvenile-justice bill passed by the U.S. Senate last month aims to use technology to help prevent school violence.

Along with several new provisions on gun control, the bill would authorize $10 million a year, for three years, for schools to buy security technology, and about $3.8 million a year to establish a school-security technology center at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M.

Besides developing security technology, the center would help schools assess their security measures and implement technology to improve them.

The bill, officially known as the Violent and Repeat Juvenile Offender Accountability and Rehabilitation Act of 1999, gained political momentum after the recent school shootings in Colorado and Georgia.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., offered the school-security measures.

"This is obviously not the magic answer to the problem of violence in schools," said Jude McCartin, a press secretary for Sen. Bingaman. "But it's one way of dealing with it."

Ms. McCartin said the kinds of security equipment that would be eligible for federal funding include surveillance cameras, drug-detection kits, metal detectors, and microchips that could be placed on computers to make it easier for law-enforcement agents to track them down if they're stolen.

As of late last week, the House had not yet taken up the bill.

Online Election: Woodland High School in Woodland, Wash., may be the first high school in the nation to have conducted an election for class officers on the Internet.

The idea came about after school administrators asked the local county auditor's office for help in holding an "authentic" election. The administrators envisioned that "kids would have ballots, and we'd have a ballot box and voting booths," said John Shoup, the principal of the 520-student school.

Instead, the auditor's office suggested that the students hold an electronic election, a voting method that the office was eager to try out.

VoteHere.net, an Internet voting company in Kirkland, Wash., conducted the elections in April. Don Carter, the company's senior vice president, concluded from a search of all high schools with World Wide Web pages that no other high school had yet held a student-government election on the Internet.

Woodland students in 9th through 11th grades voted for class officers for next school year, and 12th graders participated in an online poll about their graduation activities.

Students could take time from class or free periods to vote on any one of 28 computers in the school's computer laboratory.

Mr. Shoup said the technology seemed to motivate many students to vote who might not have otherwise. Voter turnout this year was 77 percent; for the past several years, it had been less than 25 percent.

Technology's Power: The BellSouth Foundation is donating $10 million for school technology in nine Southeastern states served by BellSouth Corp.

In March, the Atlanta-based foundation rolled out the first phase of a three-year plan, called BellSouth edu.pwr³, that is intended to take technology implementation beyond the wiring stage. This phase, called Power to Lead, provided $2 million to train superintendents on how to plan for and implement technology.

The foundation will soon be soliciting applications for the second phase of the plan, Power to Teach, which will provide $6.5 million for grants to train teachers in technology integration.

For the final phase of the plan, Power to Learn, the foundation will select three or four schools that will receive a total of $1.5 million to be used in putting technology in place.

--Mary Ann Zehr

Vol. 18, Issue 38, Page 6

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