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Summer Break Means 25 Percent Break for Educators, Administrators

Year-round, the bookseller recognizes all the wonderful things that educators do by giving them 20 percent off school supplies. Each weekend in August, Barnes & Noble amplifies their thank you with an Educator Appreciation Month. Each weekend in August, Barnes & Noble increases its discount to 25 percent for most books, gifts, games and toys for teachers and administrators, including items in an expanded back-to-school section.

"Educators do so much for us, our children, and our communities," says Tracy Vidakovich, Vice President, Business Development for Barnes & Noble. "That's why we try to give back in different ways, including our year-round offers for teachers, as well as special appreciation periods like this August's 25 percent discount for most merchandise in our stores."

While educators are shopping during these August weekends, they can also treat themselves to drinks and food at Barnes & Noble Cafés for 10 percent off. In addition, they can snag educational tech products, such as Code Gamer learning kits, at a 10 percent discount.

When it comes to back-to-school shopping, Barnes & Noble has a lot to choose from this year. The bookseller not only has the books, pens, and other school supplies educators need, but it has an expanded collection of back-to-school items that includes JanSport backpacks, S'well water bottles, and Skullcandy headsets.

"Between grading assignments, communicating with parents, and planning classes, teachers are busy well beyond the school year," Vidakovich says. "That's why we want to support them and make things easier by helping them save throughout the year, whether they're teaching or preparing for their next class."

Barnes & Noble's Educator Program has been dedicated to providing discounts to public, private, and home-school educators for about a decade. Sign-up is free. After this August's Educator Appreciation days, Barnes & Noble's next major educator deal will come in the fall, with another Educator Appreciation Week from October 6-14, 2018.

To take advantage of these discounts, educators can enroll in-store, or by completing the Educator Application online and bringing it to their nearest Barnes & Noble location. Educators can also find more information at


School Choice Opens Doors

At open houses, school fairs, coffeehouse meetups, rallies, and more, millions of Americans - students, parents, teachers, school leaders, small business owners, elected officials, and individuals - are gathering to raise awareness of the importance of opportunity in education and the doors that it opens.

At its heart, that is what school choice is all about: opening doors.

For families, school choice opens doors to different types of schools, making it more likely that students can find education settings that inspire them to succeed and be happy.

These options include traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, private and parochial schools, virtual schools, and home schools. All of these choices are important, and all of these doors should be opened, because every child is unique. A school that works for one student may not work for another.

And school choice continues to open doors for students after they graduate.

With a strong K-12 education, students are more likely to be successful in college, in a vocational program, and in their careers.

In my eight years as President of National School Choice Week, I have witnessed story after story of children finding opportunities they never thought possible, precisely because of school choice.

I have seen students attend college and go on to graduate with masters' degrees, even though their parents hadn't finished high school.

I've seen students with special needs find a setting where they've thrived. I've seen students who discovered their passions, escaped bullying, and grew in confidence.

And that's what makes school choice - and National School Choice Week - so exciting.

Everyone can be a part of this celebration.

So whether you're looking for a school for your child and want to learn more about your options during the Week, or whether you take time to get informed about all the choices available in your area and share that awareness with others, you're helping the children in your neighborhood.

Above all, I hope you will use National School Choice Week to open doors, for your family or for other families. The next generation will thank you.

Start today by visiting

New App Makes it Easier to Raise Funds for Your School

But while schools themselves have many ways to fundraise and advocate for expanded federal, state and local budgets, it's parents who increasingly find themselves turning to innovative programs like Box Tops for Education to raise money for things like classroom supplies, technology, field trips and playground equipment. In fact, since its inception in 1996 -when only a select few General Mills cereals were part of a test launch - Box Tops for Education has raised more than $913 million for 70,000-plus schools just by paying 10 cents for every clip submitted from what's now a long list of participating food and household products.

Even better, a new app has simplified the entire process.

No longer do parents, teachers and other community members have to cut out and then physically drop off dozens, or even hundreds, of Box Tops clips at their local school. Instead, they're now able to use the Box Tops for Education app - downloadable for free via iTunes App Store and Google Play - to scan their receipts from any retailer right on their smartphones.

The app automatically recognizes participating products, and funds are instantly added to your chosen school's earnings online. Twice each year, schools receive a check from Box Tops for Education to buy whatever they need.

"When Box Tops for Education began 23 years ago, clipping and mailing Box Tops was the best way for us to run the program," said Erin Anderson, Box Tops for Education's platform manager. "But over the years, technology has advanced at incredible rates, opening up all kinds of new opportunities. By going digital, we will be able to create efficiencies in our fulfillment processes, better understand the health of the program, show supporters their contributions in real time, and attract more brands to participate."

Convenience aside, shoppers using the app have two big advantages:

* The ability to see for themselves, right on the app, how their shopping habits directly impact their schools.

* A chance to win one of five $20,000 makeovers for their school by scanning receipts containing at least one participating product between now and November 15, 2019.

Receipts must be scanned within 14 days of purchase. And as the program fully transitions to a digital format, traditional Box Top clips found on packaging will still be accepted until they expire.

And, yes, "double dipping" is allowed. Meaning, for a limited time only during the packaging transition, savvy shoppers can earn double the cash by submitting traditional Box Top clips to their school's coordinator and also scanning receipts containing participating items through the app. Those without smartphones are encouraged to give their receipts to a friend, neighbor or family member to be scanned on their behalf.

For more information, or to see a full list of participating products, visit

Pop Quiz: Name the Six Types of K-12 Schools

You'd almost certainly identify traditional public school, the most common K-12 education choice. More than 85 percent of students attend traditional public schools, which are free to attend. In some states, you can choose traditional public schools outside of your zone or even your district.

Public charter schools are also available to an increasing number of students across the U.S. Available in more than 40 states, these tuition-free public schools are unique because they have extra freedom to innovate.

Have you heard of a public magnet school? These public, district-run schools teach all subjects through the lenses of a particular track or "magnet." For example, the magnet could be health sciences or performance arts.

You've also likely heard of private schools, which charge tuition and offer learning environments that may pass on a particular faith tradition or provide a unique curriculum or focus. There are more scholarship options for private education today than ever before.

There are also full-time, tuition-free online schools in many states. These flexible, technology-based schools offer a blend of online coursework and in-person activities.

Finally, don't forget homeschooling. Families who choose to educate their children in the home can access a broad variety of in-person and web-based resources to support them in their work.

Of course, there aren't just six options. Each type of learning environment overflows with customizable options: No two public schools are exactly alike, just as no two families homeschool quite the same way.

Having these choices makes a world of difference to families, allowing them to look for a school that matches their child's unique interests and skills. During National School Choice Week, we invite families across the country to discover their options - and find learning environments where their children will thrive. You can learn more at


Andrew Campanella is president of National School Choice Week and the author of The School Choice Roadmap: 7 Steps to Finding the Right School for Your Child.

Choosing Schools - All Kids Learn Differently

The real impact of school choice is what gives the Week such energy. A learning environment can change a life, sometimes unexpectedly. Remember the Dr. Seuss story featuring a character who, until he actually tries it, insists a dish of green eggs and ham is not for him? As President of National School Choice Week, I have the joy each month of hearing students, parents, and educators around the country share their own "green eggs and ham" moments.

A teacher who was ready to leave the education field - until she overcame her skepticism about teaching in a virtual school. A mom who never dreamed she'd homeschool - until her son's medical needs led her to discover its benefits. A student who felt out of place in his previous school, but is now happy and thriving in a different traditional public school.

That's the power of school choice. All children learn differently and families' needs vary. In the midst of healthy differences and human change, choice empowers families to access the learning environments that work for them now.

School choice recognizes that parents are best positioned to know their child's passion for botany, reading struggles, or penchant for drawing quirky cartoons. And those same parents are best qualified to choose their children's learning environments.

National School Choice Week celebrates traditional public, public charter, magnet, private, online, and home education. We celebrate and support families, too, whichever type of school they choose. That's because when families and schools bring their gifts together, students succeed.

All children deserve to close their school books at the end of each week inspired and equipped to give back. So, if you love your school, celebrate it during School Choice Week! If you're searching for a school, be willing to try something new to find the right fit. You might have a green-eggs- and-ham moment, when your child's frustration with learning turns into an excited "I do love it!"

For more information, visit


Andrew Campanella is president of National School Choice Week and the author of The School Choice Roadmap: 7 Steps to Finding the Right School for Your Child.


School Choice Combines Nature And Nuture for Success

On one hand, school choice recognizes that children are different by nature; they have varying personalities, strengths, and ways of learning. Children's natural differences are one reason we need a variety of schools. While a one-size-fits-all education can't meet the diverse needs of every single child, school choice can allow parents to look for the school best tailored to their child's unique needs.

School choice also recognizes that the learning environment itself can impact a child's success and happiness. Maybe, as an adult, you've felt the difference between a workplace environment that challenges, supports, and stimulates you, and one that drains you and stunts your growth. Kids spend nearly as much time at school as adults spend at a job, and that environment has a profound impact.

Some children are easily inspired by the sheer discovery involved in math, science, and reading. Others find the subjects lackluster on their own and aren't inspired until their life is touched by the example of a fantastic teacher or the uniqueness of a hands-on learning experience.

Every child is different. Moms and dads are experts on their children's needs, interests, and uniqueness - and moms and dads are best qualified to determine the learning environments that will inspire their daughters and sons.

Parents, it's not too soon to think about where your child will thrive in the 2020-2021 school year. If your school works well for your child, share that success with others this National School Choice Week (Jan 26-Feb 1). It might encourage a parent who is struggling to find the right fit for his or her child. If you're interested in switching schools, start researching your options right away at

The more we encourage diverse, innovative learning environments and support families in finding the best fit, the more our children will be inspired to succeed and be happy.


Andrew Campanella is president of National School Choice Week and the author of The School Choice Roadmap: 7 Steps to Finding the Right School for Your Child.

Foundation Funds School Supplies for Military Families

In 2019, families in the United States spent approximately $700 per child on school supplies for the school year, according to the National Retail Federation. The combination of backpacks, clothes, notebooks, and lunchboxes adds up, and many schools also ask parents to contribute as much as $100 per family to help cover the costs of classroom materials. Many military families find themselves hard-pressed to purchase school supplies on top of other child-care costs and household needs.

Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit organization that has been supporting strong, stable military families since 2002, has taken on the challenge of getting military kids classroom-ready through its annual Back-to-School Brigade program, established in 2008.

This year, Hunt Heroes Foundation (HHF), a nonprofit organization founded by Hunt Military Communities (HMC), the nation's largest military housing owner, has announced its support of Operation Homefront and its Back-to-School Brigade. HHF will be delivering 1,850 backpacks filled with school supplies to HMC communities in the continental United States in advance of the 2020 school year.

"Operation Homefront is proud that Hunt Military Communities is helping bring our Back-to-School Brigade program to military families in their communities," says Robin Miller, senior director of Operation Homefront.

"With their support, we are able to distribute backpacks filled with school supplies to those who have given so much on behalf of all Americans and ensure that their children have the tools for a successful start to the school year," Ms. Miller emphasizes.

The event aims to ease some of the financial burdens of back-to-school costs for military families, and the backpacks are tailored to all ages and grade levels.

"We are honored to partner with Operation Homefront on an initiative that will support military families during this uniquely challenging back-to-school season," says John Ehle, president of Hunt Military Communities.

"It is our goal to make the process as seamless as possible for parents, and make sure that their children are prepared to start the new school year, whether virtually or in-person."

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's Back-to-School Brigade will be adjusted to adhere to federal, state, and local COVID-19 guidelines with features such as a drive-through format.

For more information or to support these organizations, visit and


Digital Resources to Play a Big Role in Education this Fall

However, school systems across the country are rising to the challenge and staying connected to their students with dynamic digital resources, such as those from Discovery Education.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, school systems across the country have invested in digital services like Discovery Education Experience because they support students' education at home, in the classroom or wherever learning is taking place.

Experience - Discovery Education's flexible K-12 learning platform - connects educators to a vast collection of compelling high-quality, standards-aligned content, ready-to-use digital lessons, and professional learning resources. Together, these resources give educators everything they need to facilitate instruction in any learning environment and create lasting educational impact.

"Discovery Education is committed to keeping students and teachers connected to learning at home or in school," says Scott Kinney, Discovery Education's president of K-12 Education.

"To accomplish that, we partner with school systems to provide students and teachers the digital resources - such as Discovery Education Experienc - they need for success during this school year and beyond."

In addition, to providing school systems digital resources Discovery Education provides teachers the professional development they need to use new technologies and maximize their school district's technology investment.

Discovery Education has a long history as a global leader in digital curricula that align with the current standards for K-12 education, and their products include digital textbooks, multimedia resources, and professional learning for educators.

Visit for more information about the company's resources, and visit to determine whether your local school district is making Discovery Education materials available to their students for the upcoming school year.


New Data: AP CSP Course is Diversifying Computer Science Pipeline

Now, there is encouraging news about efforts to prepare more students --and a more diverse set of students -- for the next generation of computer science jobs. According to new College Board data, students from the class of 2019 who took Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles (AP CSP) were three times more likely to declare a computer science major in college, compared to similar students who did not take AP CSP. Differences are similarly large for female, Black, Hispanic, and first-generation college students.

New research out today is good news for business leaders looking to hire the next generation of computer science workers. Students from the class of 2019 who took Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles were three times more likely to declare a computer science major in college, according to College Board data.

AP Computer Science Principles, or AP CSP, was designed by the College Board four years ago to change the invitation to computer science and address a shortage of young women and students of color entering the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), long dominated by young white and Asian men.

"Four years ago, we set out to change the invitation to computer science education," says College Board Global Policy Chief Stefanie Sanford. "This new research provides compelling evidence that AP CSP is doing exactly that."

"We are inspired to see how this course is playing a role in students' high school and college careers just four years after its launch. States, schools, and educators providing access to AP CSP are ensuring a more representative body of students will become our next generation of computer scientists, engineers, and technology leaders."

College freshmen who declare a computer science major take a critical step toward receiving the second-highest-paid college degree in the nation, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was $88,240 in May 2019. And yet, a analysis of 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics data finds women represent just 24 percent of the 5 million people in computing occupations, while 15 percent are Black or Hispanic.

The College Board study also finds AP CSP students are nearly twice as likely to enroll in AP Computer Science A (AP CSA) -- a more computer-programming-focused course -- compared to similar students who did not take CSP. Black students who take AP CSP are three times more likely to also take AP CSA. Notably, that's virtually the same share as Asian CSP students, who have long led AP CSA participation.

Business leaders such as Shanika Hope, head of the U.S. division of Amazon Future Engineer, are enthusiastic about AP Computer Science Principles and its future economic impact. "At Amazon, we know a high-quality computer science education is key to helping students build their best and brightest future, especially those from underserved and underrepresented communities. We're excited that today's research shows further evidence that courses like AP CSP -- which we provide for thousands of our Amazon Future Engineer schools across the U.S. -- are preparing a more diverse group of students to enter the 21st century workforce."

The first year of AP Computer Science Principles in 2016-17 attracted more students than any other AP course debut, and participation is on the rise. Still, not all students have access to high-quality computer science education. Currently, less than half of the nation's high schools teach foundational computer science. States are working to broaden participation in computer science by passing policies to make computer science a fundamental part of the K-technology12 education system. Students interested in AP CSP can learn more at


Innovative Education Program Offsets Preschool Enrollment Drop

These children, who are not attending preschool, will enter kindergarten next year without the benefits of a formal education experience and lacking the foundational skills that promote success in school. In Texas, for example, data show that pre-kindergarten enrollment is down by 8 to 12 percent, according to an October 5, 2020, article in the Dallas Morning News. It's a trend in many school districts around the country. An Education Week Research Center survey of nearly 500 district leaders and principals found more than half are seeing a decline in kindergarten enrollment.

The changing school environment has led to a re-assessment of how to provide essential early childhood education.

Learning Without Tears, an EdTech company that has provided pre-K writing and educational materials to parents and teachers for more than 30 years, has developed "Get Set for School" (GSS), an award-winning complete pre-kindergarten curriculum, to meet the needs of preschoolers in home-based, hybrid, and in-school learning environments.

The dual language English-Spanish program is designed to help preschool-aged children reach their important early learning milestones, while keeping them engaged and having fun. The program combines purposeful play, multimodal-multisensory activities, and digital apps and teaching tools.

"Pre-K should be fun and joyful while full of learning that results in children feeling confident about themselves and their abilities," says Dr. Elizabeth DeWitt, an early childhood expert at the center of GSS.

Get Set for School stands out from other preschool programs in part because it is truly age-appropriate, says Dr. DeWitt. "GSS is unique because we go beyond other Pre-K curricula with our research-based focus on the fine motor development of young children," she explains.

"The children build and form letters based on the development of writing strokes and use a different manipulative daily while learning each letter as they progress from building to writing before they are expected or asked to write on paper." Readiness & Writing, an element of GSS, addresses any weakness in writing letters and numbers, alphabet knowledge, as well as connecting printed numbers to quantities.

In addition, the program's interactive Sound Around Letters app allows children to identify, match, and say capital and lowercase letters and receive instant feedback to promote progress and boost confidence. Multi-modality resources allow children with different learning styles to use an engaging animated touch screen to learn number and letter formations.

"We are more committed than ever to ensuring that children are learning whether they are in the classroom or at home," Dr. DeWitt emphasizes. "To equip and support parents and teachers, we have added more videos and distance learning resources to assist with using our unique and exclusive materials in any setting.

Visit for more information about Get Set for School and Readiness & Writing.

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