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Microsoft continues push into classrooms with Bing for Schools

Microsoft is trying to position its Bing browser to be the search engine of choice for schools. 

Its announcement for its new Bing for Schools initiative said the browser will strip away ads and filter out all adult material from search results. It'll also include some short lesson plans that will tie in with the new Common Core standards. 

It's free to schools that choose to adopt it. Microsoft will activate the filters itself within the schools' networks without the need for any additional software. 

Microsoft said the program will start later this year, but didn't set a specific launch date. 

The initiative is part of a larger push Microsoft is making into the education sector. Last week, it announced it'll be offering its Surface RT tablets to educators for discounted prices. 


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Study: charter school students show reading gains over public schools

Alezander Duran reads "Flyboy of Underwhere" by Bruce Hale. Study finds charter school students made gains in reading.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

The nation's charter school students showed more academic gains in reading than their public school counterparts did according to a new study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University. The study showed no difference in math performance between the two groups.

California charter school students performed better in reading but worse in math than a comparable public school.

National Charter School Study 2013 is an update to the center's 2009 report of charter school performance, which was less flattering.

In both studies, the center said it compared the performance of students  at charter schools with a “virtual twin” counterpart of each student in traditional public schools. The study attempts to show how the charter school students would have done had they attended their local public schools.


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California children facing poor economic conditions, education

Teacher Lawana Nelson teaches preschoolers Marissa Arellano, left, and Andrea Castaneda how to snap their fingers during the afternoon session at Options Head Start in Monrovia on Thursday, May 16.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

A study out Monday shows that more children nationwide are living in poverty than previous years, with California kids faring particularly poorly. The 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book ranks California’s children 41st out of the 50 states in overall well-being.

The statistics are from an annual study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation examining how children nationwide are faring in terms of health, education, family, community and economic well being. The foundation gives each state a score in each area and combines them for the overall rankings.

Children in California ranked 46th out of 50 in terms of economic well being. Casey officials said one big reason is high housing costs. The foundation said that affected almost half a million children.

Another is unemployment. One in three children live in households where adults lack secure employment.


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Tablets in the classroom bring cutting edge problems, too

A young girl holds an Apple iPad on display.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Administrators at L.A. Unified may want to read an article out today in the technology news website Information Week about stumbling blocks that may hinder classroom iPad  programs.

Tech writer and wireless network administrator Lee Badman outlines a multitude of problems educators face when incorporating iPads into the school day including failing wireless networks and teachers serving double duty as tech support.

The Los Angeles Unified School District's Board of Education last week approved a $30 million contract with Apple Inc. to purchase iPads for students and teachers at 47 schools. After the initial rollout phase, the district ultimately plans to equip every student in the district with a tablet. 

Badman warns that tech problems can suck valuable classroom time as teachers try to troubleshoot technology problems.


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LA non-profit kicks off $30 million federal grant for Hollywood and Pacoima families

Actor Tim Robbins, left, talks about the participation of his Actors' Gang group in the Los Angeles Promise Neighborhood project with Dixon Slingerland, right, Executive Director of Youth Policy Institute.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

About $30 million in federal funds is headed to L.A.'s Pacoima and Hollywood neighborhoods in the next five years through a project called Los Angeles Promise Neighborhood.

It’s expected to help tens of thousands of people in those areas by creating services such as parenting classes, student tutoring, art classes and college financial planning in areas where there's little of it.

The L.A. non-profit Youth Policy Institute is running the program with the help of more than 60 companies, philanthropies and non-profits.

Representatives of these groups, public school administrators and officials from Southern California’s top philanthropies gathered at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Hollywood on Friday to hear about the project’s kickoff this summer.

“Los Angeles Promise Neighborhoods is exactly the kind of program that we need in these times,” actor Tim Robbins told the group. “A program that takes a fresh approach to education and recognizes the importance of the arts as part of that education.”


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