Sunday, April 20, 2008


I moved into a nice studio apartment in San Jose the beginning of March. It's fully furnished and includes utilities, except broadband and cable. It's almost like a studio in a hotel, small fridge, toaster oven, microwave, and two burner stovetop. I've had to get a GPS so I can find my way around. I'm not familiar with the area and San Jose is cut up by at least 4 freeways.

I've been working straight out since I started at MentorNet. Lots of things to learn. It's a very complicated program with many facets. There's a lot of automation which is the only way a small staff could accomplish so much. There has to be to enable over 2000 mentoring partnerships so far this year (July 1- June 30). In the ten years since the program's inception there have been over 21,000 pairings.

MentorNet provides the infrastructure to connect post-secondary students in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) to industry professionals for One-on-One e-mentoring experiences. Mentors and proteges both complete a 34 item profile and then are matched with a bi-directional algorithm.

MentorNet has a coaching curriculum that is sent regularly to proteges and mentors based on the educational level of the protege.

Right now we need mentors in the bio sciences. We have proteges waiting for mentors. Just the opposite is true in the computer sciences where we have lots of mentors waiting for proteges.

For students to be eligible to be paired with a mentor they need to be attending one of our hundred-plus partner institutions, or be a student member of one of our partner professional societies.

We're not just looking for mentors and protege's we also are looking for financial support. If you know of a foundation or personal donor that would be interested in supporting our work please let me know.

Interesting OCR decision.

You know I've been concerned about access and equity issues in online education. When I've been talking about the issues I've predicted there will be a finding within the year. What I didn't know, really, I didn't know, was that at the time I was writing the NACOL Issues Brief the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) was investigating a complaint in Washington.

Here's an excerpt from the letter of finding by OCR. this is a narrow ruling, but it's a start. It will be interesting to see what comes next.

108 LRP 17959
Quillayute Valley (WA) School District
Office for Civil Rights, Western Division,
Seattle (Washington)
November 16, 2007

Dear Superintendent Reaume:
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has
completed its investigation of the above-referenced
complaint against Quillayute Valley School District
No. 402 (QVSD). OCR investigated whether, in
August 2006, QVSD discriminated against a student
on the basis of disability when it denied the student
admission to the Insight School of Washington (ISW),
an online high school operating statewide under a
management services agreement with QVSD.

OCR conducted its investigation under the
authority of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of
l973 and title II of the Americans with Disabilities
Act of 1990, which prohibit discrimination on the
basis of disability in programs and activities receiving
federal funds from the U.S Department of Education
and by public entities, respectively. QVSD receives
federal funds from this Department and is a public

As discussed below, the evidence established
that QVSD did not comply with Section 504 and Title
II when it denied the student admission to ISW. OCR
also found that the 2006-2007 criteria for admission
to ISW did not comply with Section 504 or Title II
and that, during 2006-2007, QVSD did not ensure that
ISW complied with Section 504 and Title II. QVSD
and OCR discussed the compliance concerns and
QVSD agreed to take the actions set forth in the
enclosed Settlement Agreement. OCR concludes that
QVSD will be in compliance with Section 504 and
Title II with respect to the issues investigated in this
case upon full implementation of the actions and
commitments contained in the Settlement Agreement.

OCR's findings and conclusions are specific to
the 2006-2007 school year, and are based upon a
review and analysis of written information provided
by the parent, QVSD, and ISW, and interviews
conducted with the parent, and staff of QVSD and

more information may be available from: