Education News Roundup for Feb. 1


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Today’s Top Picks:


It’s all about the budget.

Writ large (DN)

and (SLT)


and (MUR)

Education specific (OSE)

and (PDH)

and (SGS)

and (KTVX)

and (KSTU)

and (KUER)


The ads on the bus are out, out, out, all through the town. (SLT)

and (DN)

and (PDH)

and (SGS)


and (KSTU)

and (KCPW)

and (KNRS)

UPD’s Bob Bernick says this vote portends bad news for moderates at the Legislature.


Congratulations to Brent Burnham, a counselor at Midway Elementary, who has been named one of the top 10 school counselors in the nation. (SLT)


Tooele special education class makes it into Time’s discussion of new school nutrition rules.,8599,2044463,00.html


Ohhh … spit: “Mesquite student faces $637 in fines, penalties for swearing in class” (DMN)

















Utah lawmakers closer to cutting state budget by 7 percent


Education cuts looming


Effort to ban contract lobbying for schools advances


House votes against allowing school bus ads


Hiring superintendents could change


Year-round schools become possibility to improve learning


Doctor helps parents, teachers understand children with ADHD


Utah school counselor named one of best in U.S.


Davis School District tops state in transparency grades


U of U hosts Utah FIRST LEGO League Championship


Idaho districts explore charter school option


Woman hospitalized after crash with school bus


Car rear-ends bus in Ogden, no injuries


St. George Exchange Club Honors Students of the Month


History comes alive for students at Utah Capitol









Questions about school bond


‘No’ Vote on Bus Ads Could Signal Trouble for Moderates


Legislative committee recommends cutting more than 7 percent from public education budget


Republican governors looking at tenure


Prosperity 2020: Education Builds the Economy


A Visit from Hawthorne Elementary


Education needs money


Education costs will shift to students


Curriculum shouldn’t be dictated by Utah Legislature


Making the grade


Coach explains his post-game comments


‘It makes no sense:’ A dissection of Obama’s education view


Sen. Rand Paul to Sit on Education Committee


A Battle Begun, Not Won


Pyrrhic Victories?


Rural Graduates Earn Fewer Math Credits, Study Finds


A Postmortem on the “Tiger Mom” Brouhaha–It’s All About Her


Cartoon: The Risky World of Reform









G.O.P. Governors Take Aim at Teacher Tenure


“No Child Left Behind” Left Behind — for the more flexible “Every Child Counts”?


Critics say top-rated Chinese education system has a flaw


Parents and Principals Not Pleased About School Lunch Rules


Studies Take Aim at Playground Gossip

More and More Studies are Focusing on ‘Relational Aggression’ in Schools


Lesbian students enter to cheers at Minn. School


The trouble with texting, for school workers A new state policy could mean the end of a communication mode favored by school workers.


Mesquite student faces $637 in fines, penalties for swearing in class


McGraw-Hill Profit Slips on Charges


White House Launches 2011 Race to the Top Commencement Challenge











Utah lawmakers closer to cutting state budget by 7 percent


                SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers moved closer Monday to approving a preliminary state budget that includes a 7 percent across-the-board cut sought by GOP leaders.

                Members of the Executive Appropriations Committee heard more than two hours of testimony from the chairs of the seven budget subcommittees about the long lists of cuts needed.

                No action was taken on the lists Monday, but both the House and the Senate are expected to vote Wednesday on each of the subcommittee proposals.

                The upcoming year’s state budget won’t be finalized until new revenue estimates come in late next month. (DN) (SLT) (MUR)





Education cuts looming


                SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers are attempting to keep spending per pupil the same as last year while funding for new growth, despite having to slash 7 percent from the budget for public education.

                For the past two years, lawmakers haven’t been able to fund growth, said Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, co-chairman of the Public Education Appropriations Subcommitee.

                “We can only do that for so long and then we’re putting trauma into the system,” Buttars said.

                The committee approved a base budget Monday morning that it presented in the afternoon to the Executive Appropriations Committee. In the base budget, lawmakers kept the weighted pupil unit at $2,577 per student.

                The subcommittee, like all other appropriations subcommittees, has been mandated to slash 7 percent across the board from state agency budgets. Public education receives $3.5 billion from the state to fund school districts and education programs. (OSE) (PDH) (SGS) (KTVX) (KSTU) (KUER)





Effort to ban contract lobbying for schools advances


                A bill that would prohibit public schools from hiring contract lobbyists advanced to the Senate floor on Monday.

                “My goal here is simply to keep money in the classrooms where we want it to go,” said Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins, a Plain City Republican and sponsor of SB123, at a Senate committee meeting. “I’m sure if I was a lobbyist, right now, I would sense this is an anti-lobby bill, right? The answer is yes.”

                The bill does not prevent employees, patrons and board members of school districts and charter schools from lobbying the Legislature on behalf of their schools. It forbids the hiring of outside lobbyists with contracts. (SLT) (DN) (MUR)





House votes against allowing school bus ads


                Utah school buses might stay advertisement-free for the time being.

                The House voted 44-27 Monday against HB199, which would have allowed school districts to sell advertising space on the exteriors of school buses.

                Rep. Jim Bird, R-West Jordan, had hoped to pass the bill as a way to help raise additional money for school districts. The Legislature’s fiscal analyst estimated that school-bus ads could produce as much as $3.3 million a year for schools ($750 to $1,500 per bus annually). (SLT) (DN) (PDH) (SGS) (KSTU) (KCPW) (KNRS)





Hiring superintendents could change


                SALT LAKE CITY — Non-educators applying to for a job as a school superintendent would not have to hold an administrative license issued by the State School Board, according to a bill supported by the state Senate.

                Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, said the local school districts — especially those facing fiscal problems — should be able to hire someone such as a business executive if they choose.

                Under current law, a district could hire a non-educator as superintendent with the permission of the State School Board. S.B. 119 would eliminate the state board approval step, which Stephenson says has a “chilling effect” in the hiring process.





Year-round schools become possibility to improve learning


                In an effort to improve student outcomes, increased year-round schooling schedules may be in Utah’s future.

                Utah educators are looking toward alternative calendar schedules for secondary schools and recently published a template option for middle and high schools to consider.

                In September, Larry Shumway, Utah’s superintendent of schools, organized a committee responsible for developing a workable, year-round calendar for secondary schools.

                The goal of the 21-member team is to improve student achievements, increase teacher compensation and utilize buildings in a cost-effective manner.





Doctor helps parents, teachers understand children with ADHD


                FARMINGTON — At least one student in every classroom has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

                The neurological condition not only affects a child’s ability to focus and regulate attention consistently, it creates hyperactivity and poor impulse control. In some cases, it can lead to school failure, family stress, disruption, depression, relationship problems, substance abuse and risk for accidental injuries, according to the National Resource Center on ADHD.

                Dr. Adam Schwebach, a neuropsychologist at the Neurology, Learning and Behavior Center in Salt Lake City, said ADHD can also cause many other learning disabilities or serious emotional and psychological problems. Some of the deficiencies children experience are in skill areas referred to as executive functioning. For example, Schwebach said, executive functioning skills may include planning, organization, self-monitoring, self-awareness and emotional control.

                That makes it very difficult for some children to do well in school.

                Schwebach spoke to parents and teachers in the Davis County School District about ADHD during a workshop Thursday at the Kendell Building in Farmington. (OSE)





Utah school counselor named one of best in U.S.


                Brent Burnham, a counselor at Midway Elementary, has been named one of the top 10 school counselors in the nation by the American School Counselor Association.

                Burnham, is one of more than 230 elementary, middle and secondary school counselors nationally who were nominated for the School Counselor of the Year award.

                At Midway Elementary, Burnham developed a bullying prevention program, “Bully Blockers,” which teaches victims how to stop bullying encounters. (SLT)





Davis School District tops state in transparency grades


                FARMINGTON — Chris Williams recalls attending an out-of-state public relations workshop a few years ago and listening to a presenter talk about improving school websites.

                To Williams’ surprise, the presenter used the Davis School District website as a model for others to follow.

                “It was out of the blue,” the Davis School District spokesman said.

                Williams was surprised again last week to learn that Sunshine Review had honored the district website with its highest rating — an A+. (DN)





U of U hosts Utah FIRST LEGO League Championship


                The University of Utah hosted its first annual FIRST LEGO League state championship Saturday. The event is part of a global program designed to get kids ages 9 to 16 interested in science and technology. This year’s competition focused on bioscience. Over 300 students showed up to compete in the championship.

                “It’s about making science and technology fun,” said Kathy Hajeb who works with the FIRST LEGO League.

The contest required members of the 56 teams to design and build robots using LEGOS then program the robots to do certain tasks. (KSTU)




Idaho districts explore charter school option


                Officials in three Idaho school districts are exploring the option of establishing a charter school.

                Preston, West Side and Oneida school districts may form a consortium to create a professional technical charter school, according to Preston Superintendent Barbara Taylor.

                During a recent board meeting, members of the Preston School Board gave Taylor permission to work on the charter application. Approval was given out of concern for the future of technical programs. (LHJ)





Woman hospitalized after crash with school bus


                A 31-year-old woman was flown to a hospital in critical condition Monday morning after her car collided with a school bus in Utah County.

                Monica C. Larsen, of Provo, was driving an Oldsmobile that was hit by the bus as it was pulling through the intersection of State Road 164 and 1200 West at about 8:45 a.m., the Utah Highway Patrol said.

                A 7-year-old girl, who was a passenger in the car, was also taken to a hospital but was not injured, UHP said. (SLT) (PDH) (KTVX)





Car rear-ends bus in Ogden, no injuries


                A car rear-ended an Ogden school bus Tuesday morning, but no injuries were reported.

                Ogden police Lt. Danielle Croyle said the car is believed to have run a red light at 22nd and Harrison Boulevard about 7:45 a.m., colliding with the bus.

                Students were transferred to another bus and taken to classes without further incident, Croyle said. (SLT)






St. George Exchange Club Honors Students of the Month


                St. George, UT – Student seniors honored throughout the year are recognized for their scholastic achievements, community involvement, and leadership at their respective school. A student from the eight students honored from each high school throughout the school year as a Student of the Month will have the opportunity to become Student of the Year representing their school and receive a college scholarship to the school of their choice from the St. George Exchange Club.

                The January 2011 Students of the Month that were recognized Thursday at the St. George Exchange Club’s breakfast held at the Lexington Hotel & Convention Center. (KCSG)






History comes alive for students at Utah Capitol


                Joshua Tay, portraying George Washington, joins classmates from Adelaide Elementary School in Bountiful in viewing the Senate chambers at the Capitol in Salt Lake City Monday, Jan. 31, 2011. Dressed as the Founding Fathers, eight students recited the Declaration of Independence from the House floor at the beginning of the session. (DN)
















Questions about school bond

(Provo) Daily Herald editorial


                The Alpine School Board will be sending out a survey to ask residents what they think about a proposed $200 million school bond.

                We hope they ask how many parents plan to home-school their children, or want them to attend charter schools, or think their kids might be happiest taking part in a cyberschool.

                The information revolution is affecting schools too. There are a lot of young children in Utah Valley, but today’s big school buildings might look like old-fashioned relics when today’s infants get to grade school, or when today’s toddlers are attending high school.

                People may then demand e-learning labs that allow customization of curriculum to individual student strengths, as opposed to the “one size fits all” philosophy of today’s assembly-line public education system.





‘No’ Vote on Bus Ads Could Signal Trouble for Moderates Utah Policy Daily analysis by Bob Bernick, Contributing Editor


                House members soundly defeated a bill by Rep. Jim Bird, R-West Jordan, on Monday that would have allowed local school district boards to decide whether or not to place ads on the sides of their “big yellow school buses,” thus making the district some much-needed extra cash.

                There were good arguments for and against the bill, which also died last year.

                But the Bird defeat raised another purely-political question: Would the odd bedfellow coalition that elected Rep. Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, as speaker last November hold together on other bills or issues?

                In the case of Bird’s HB199, the answer is “no.”





Legislative committee recommends cutting more than 7 percent from public education budget Utah Public commentary by Elizabeth Ziegler


                The Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee was asked to draft a base budget that shaves 7 percent off the current year’s public education spending, about $166 million. But with only four “No” votes, the subcommittee adopted a budget this morning that goes well beyond this, to the tune of $91 million, for a total cut of $257 million. True, the final budget likely will have many of the cuts in this base budget restored. But it remains troubling for several reasons.

                The first concern is the treatment of student growth.





Republican governors looking at tenure

Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Lisa Schencker


                According to this New York Times article today, a number of Republican governors across the country are calling for the elimination of tenure. In Utah, some lawmakers are taking up similar issues.

                In Utah, teachers don’t have “tenure” but after three to five years in the classroom administrators decide whether to give them career status. Before Utah teachers earn career status they’re considered provisional meaning they can be fired at the end of the school year without explanation. Once they gain career status they can only be fired after a more extensive due process.

                Sen. Howard Stephenson is working on a bill that would make it so teachers could lose their career status if they consistently fail over time to produce adequate growth in student progress. 




Prosperity 2020: Education Builds the Economy Utah Policy Daily commentary by Economic Development Corporation of Utah


                By national standards they are young and they are smart. “They” are the individuals that make up Utah’s workforce. They are also Utah’s greatest strength and most competitive advantage in terms of economic development.

                Could that strength one day become the state’s Achilles’ heel?

                According to the Georgetown University study “Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Demand Through 2018,” 66 percent of all jobs in Utah (1 million) will require some postsecondary training beyond high school by 2018. Currently, only about 50 percent of Utah’s workforce meets that criterion.

                “We project a significant gap between the academic preparedness required by Utah’s business and what is currently being accomplished, “says Vicki Varela, advisor to Prosperity 2020 and president of Vicki Varela Strategic Communications, Inc.





A Visit from Hawthorne Elementary

Utah Senate Democrats commentary by Taylor Mayron


                Today, the State Senate received a visit from Hawthorne Elementary School’s first graders.  After a tour of the Capitol, Senator McAdams formally recognized the schoolchildren, and I had the privilege of answering some very important questions for them before their departure.




Education needs money

Deseret News letter from C. Grant Hurst, former member and chairman, State Board of Education


                So, it starts again. It seems that every few years someone comes up with an idea to “save”, “improve”, or “solve” the problems with education in Utah. Doing away with the State Board of Education is not a new idea. It has been kicked around for years.

                When Congressman Rob Bishop was in the Utah Legislature, he proposed and the Legislature passed, a bill that effectively gave control of the State Board to the governor. While supposedly independent committees choose a group of candidates, it is the governor who makes the final selection as to who will run. He directly chooses the members of the Board of Regents, thus, in reality, he already has control of both higher and public education boards.

                The real problem is with the Legislature, and I’m not sure they are in a position to do much about the issue.





Education costs will shift to students

(Ogden) Standard-Examiner letter from James Thompson


                In 2005 people making ten million would have been taxed $200,000 more than in 2009. We now have the glorious flat tax. They have shifted more of the burden for public education on to, for one, the kids recieving the education and working part-time summer jobs. I’m sure a majority of legislatures send their kids to private school so what do they care? With budget shortfalls is this the magic cure-all for tax simplification?





Curriculum shouldn’t be dictated by Utah Legislature Daily Utah Chronicle letter from Jordan Jochim


                Should members of the Utah Legislature control what students learn in the state’s public school system? If their sensibilities are offended, or their convictions challenged, should they have the ability to eradicate material they deem inappropriate from schools’ curriculums? These are questions that every Utah voter will likely have to consider, as Senate Joint Resolution 1—sponsored by Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan—slowly moves its way through the Utah Legislature. If passed by both the state House and Senate, it will appear on the 2012 general election ballot.

                Under S.J.R. 1, the Utah State Board of Education will be subject to “statutory authority”—a polite way of saying it will have to answer to the whims of the Utah Legislature. This resolution would give the Legislature the ability to control what is covered in the classroom and will give our state legislators the final say over virtually every aspect of the Utah public education system.





Making the grade

(Provo) Daily Herald letter from David N. Cox


                Regarding the legislation to “grade” schools, what if churches began grading their different parishes or wards to “make them better.” Do you think that the “competition” would make these wards better? Would it make bishops and teachers do a better job? Or would it prompt people to quit trying and/or leave, which would further weaken struggling areas.

                Would it unjustly label those who are trying the best they can in difficult circumstances? Would it promote further blaming their ward (schools) instead of taking responsibility for their own children’s spirituality (education)?

                How will grading schools improve hiring or retention of good teachers where they are most needed?





Coach explains his post-game comments

(St. George) Spectrum letter from Gordon Dotson


                I have coached multiple sports for more than 20 years, and anyone who knows me and has read or heard my interviews knows that I’m a coach who emphasizes respect for others, hard work, discipline and physical and mental toughness. Many times I have commented that we as a team needed to bring our hard hats and lunch pails to the game in reference to blue-collar workers being tough and hard working, and that’s how my team needed to be – that sometimes in life we get smacked in the mouth (figuratively) and that we need to get back up and go back to work.

                What was said was never meant to be taken literally.





‘It makes no sense:’ A dissection of Obama’s education view Washington Post commentary by Yong Zhao, presidential chair and associate dean for global education at the University of Oregon’s College of Education, where he also serves as the director of the Center for Advanced Technology in Education.


                President Obama used the phrase “it makes no sense” more than once in his 2011 State of the Union speech. I like the sound of it and what lies behind it—a simple way to point out the obviously illogical things that need to change. That is how I feel about the education section of his speech. It makes no sense.

                Obama said he wants to “win the future” by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building the rest of the world. “If we want to win the future -– if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas -– then we also have to win the race to educate our kids,” he said.

                How to win the race to educate our kids? More math, more science, more high school diplomas, more college graduates, more Race to the Top, more standards and standardization, more carrots and clubs for teachers and schools, and no TV.


                Because China and India “started educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science;” because the “quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations;” and because “America has fallen to ninth in the proportion of young people with a college degree.”

                None of these makes much sense to me because they are either factually false or logically confusing.





Sen. Rand Paul to Sit on Education Committee Education Week commentary by columnist Alyson Klein


                Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., aka Mr. Let’s-Ditch-the-Department-of-Education, got a seat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. Paul is also a member of the Senate’s new tea party caucus.

                Paul’s appointment, obviously, isn’t curtains for 400 Maryland Ave. But Paul is going to be a tough customer who probably won’t rush to sign off on the administration’s ideas for ESEA renewal.

                The committee still has a number of GOP moderates though, including new member Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois.

                Here’s the full list of folks on the Senate Education Committee:





A Battle Begun, Not Won

Education Next commentary by Paul E. Peterson, Marci Kanstoroom and Chester E. Finn, Jr.


                Many education reformers are feeling optimistic these days, willing to claim that they have won the war of ideas and that all that remains is mopping up a few leftover messes and working out the details of the new education regime that already exists in their minds. Arkansas professor Jay Greene has declared flat-out victory, claiming the teachers unions have become indistinguishable from the tobacco industry, determined to defend turf that is now utterly indefensible.

                Giving credit where it’s due, the reform campaign has had successes. Prodded by Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and other veteran private-sector reformers, the Obama administration has lent unexpectedly forceful support to such causes as common standards, better assessments, charter schools, merit pay, refurbished teacher preparation, and the removal of ineffective instructors. A left-leaning celebrity filmmaker has entreated viewers of Waiting for “Superman” to ponder the sad reality that poor students cannot attend good schools without winning a lottery in which the odds are stacked overwhelmingly against them.





Pyrrhic Victories?

Education Next commentary by Frederick Hess, Martin West and Michael Petrilli


                On a range of issues, education “reformers” have made great progress in the last decade, certainly among policy elites, but also among the general public. Interviewed in October on the Today Show, President Obama seemed to be channeling a generation of conservative education analysts in stating bluntly that more money absent reform won’t do much to improve public schools. Waiting for “Superman,” a documentary chronicling the travails of five students seeking spots in heavily oversubscribed charter schools, drew rave reviews, star-studded premieres, and breathless talk of a new era of reform. While the American Federation of Teachers and a handful of liberal publications tut-tutted the film’s sharply critical portrayal of teachers unions, its clarion call for change has been embraced by opinion leaders across the political spectrum. Even zeitgeist queen Oprah Winfrey.

                Poll numbers show the broader public, too, increasingly supports efforts to create new schooling options, overhaul teacher pay and evaluation systems, and provide strong incentives for improvement. Ideas such as charter schools, performance pay, and consequential accountability are much more widely accepted—and acceptable—today than they were a decade ago. Furthermore, advocates are no longer considered right-wing kooks for casting the teachers unions as a big part of the problem. Even a Democratic president or secretary of education can say so. Indeed, the influential Democrats for Education Reform expends much of its efforts spreading that very message.





Rural Graduates Earn Fewer Math Credits, Study Finds Education Week commentary by columnist Erik Robelen


                A new study suggests that rural students face an academic disadvantage when it comes to mathematics.

                Graduates of rural high schools typically earn fewer math credits than their peers at nonrural campuses, according to the study, published in the latest issue of the Journal of Research in Rural Education. In addition, the data examined suggest that rural graduates tend to begin high school at a slightly lower level of math and appear to have substantially less access to Advanced Placement math courses.

                The study notes that while much attention has been paid to the lower achievement and participation in math courses by certain racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, it says that “another significant, but often overlooked, group is the nearly 10 million students attending schools in rural areas and small towns.”


A copy of the study





A Postmortem on the “Tiger Mom” Brouhaha–It’s All About Her Education Week commentary by columnist Rick Hess


                I was fortunate to have been away during much of the recent “tiger mom” craze. Sadly, the chatter, interviews, and excerpts have lingered, leading me to think a brief postmortem is in order.

                For all the claims that this is about supporting her kids, it strikes me that “tiger mom” author Amy Chua is in the throes of the same “it’s-all-about-me” zeitgeist as those lax parents who are just so eager for their kids to like them. Chua explains that this isn’t really about her: “Chinese parents believe that they know what is best for their children and therefore override all of their children’s own desires and preferences.” Sounds to me like Chua puts herself front-and-center in every moment of her daughters’ lives, ensuring that their interests and nascent friendships were as much about her as about them. I’m not sure how much this ultimately differs from “it’s-all-about-me” New Age parenting.





Cartoon: The Risky World of Reform (Scholastic)












G.O.P. Governors Take Aim at Teacher Tenure New York Times


                Seizing on a national anxiety over poor student performance, many governors are taking aim at a bedrock tradition of public schools: teacher tenure.

                The momentum began over a year ago with President Obama’s call to measure and reward effective teaching, a challenge he repeated in last week’s State of the Union address.

                Now several Republican governors have concluded that removing ineffective teachers requires undoing the century-old protections of tenure.

                Governors in Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Nevada and New Jersey have called for the elimination or dismantling of tenure. As state legislatures convene this winter, anti-tenure bills are being written in those states and others. Their chances of passing have risen because of crushing state budget deficits that have put teachers’ unions on the defensive.





“No Child Left Behind” Left Behind — for the more flexible “Every Child Counts”?

Southern California Public Radio Patt Morrison


                In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Obama said we need to replace No Child Left Behind with a law that’s “more flexible and focused on what’s best for our kids. “ Part of this call for flexibility is in response to the high number of schools who have received failing grades because of the law. Perhaps, then, Senator Tom Harkin’s suggested new name for the law, “Every Child Counts,” is more appropriate. The question of flexibility leads to the crux of the education debate in this country—how hands-on the federal government should be versus leaving it up to states and cities. Despite a five-year freeze on government spending, President Obama plans to rewrite No Child Left Behind, and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle are ready to join him in this reform. But there will surely be debate about what the details will look like, including national standards, Race to the Top and how states receive funding, standardized testing, emphasis on Math and English at the expense of other subjects, performance pay, and more. Did No Child Left Behind have standards that were too high or is its goal of having “no child left behind’ feasible by 2014?


                Kim Anderson, director of government relations, National Education Association

                Michael Petrilli, vice president for national programs & policy at the Thomas Fordham Institute for Advance Educational Excellence; formerly served in the U.S. Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement






Critics say top-rated Chinese education system has a flaw USA Today


                HONG KONG — Last month’s announcement that Shanghai students had outperformed the rest of the world in math, science and reading has sparked a surprising reaction in parts of this region: criticism of China’s education system.

                The strong showing by Shanghai’s 15-year-olds on standardized tests — administered every three years by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and considered a global benchmark of academic excellence — was largely expected, some experts say, and is the mark of a society that values discipline in education. But critics believe this strength may mask the Chinese education system’s shortfall in producing innovative and creative students.

                “What the Chinese are very good at doing is achieving short-term goals,” says Jiang Xueqin, deputy principal of Peking University High School, affiliated with Beijing’s Peking University, known as the “Harvard” of China. “They’re good at copying things, not creating them.”





Parents and Principals Not Pleased About School Lunch Rules Time


                Beef jerky, Rice Krispie treats and four varieties of Mazzio’s pizza are a few of the à la carte choices in the lunchroom at Jenks High School outside of Tulsa, where football is king and the players have royal appetites. But those items, plus the one-pint cartons of whole chocolate milk beloved by many players — average weight on the offensive line is 250 lbs — could be gone now that the federal government has issued new restrictions on fat and sodium offered during the school day.

                Same goes for the ice cream bars and Fruit Roll-Ups that make 7th grade tolerable for middle schoolers nationwide. And say goodbye to the cart laden with baked goods that a special education class in Tooele, Utah, wheels around school every Friday to raise money for needy classmates.

                “Just a typical unfunded mandate,” sighs Jenks principal Mike Means as he contemplates guidelines predicted to cost schools an extra 14 cents per lunch — of which the feds will pay only 6 cents. Washington hopes that school districts will get more creative in controlling expenses and menu planning. Principal Means thinks kids about to enter the real world need to learn how to make choices on their own — without the government breathing down their gullet. Do they want a slice of pepperoni pizza, or a healthier serving of turkey pepperoni pie? (See the lifelong effects of childhood obesity.)

                All of this is looming because the U.S. Department of Agriculture in January proposed sweeping new nutrition standards for school lunches: limiting French fries and starch to one cup per week, lowering calorie limits and sodium levels, replacing whole milk with skim or 1%, and mandating leafy greens and red and orange veggies like squash. The rules will affect some 30 million lunches served in America each school day.,8599,2044463,00.html 





Studies Take Aim at Playground Gossip

More and More Studies are Focusing on ‘Relational Aggression’ in Schools Education Week


                Gossip and social ostracization may come far down on the list of concerns for educators trying to prevent bullying, yet emerging research suggests relational bullying, though often the most frequently overlooked, may hold the key to changing an aggressive culture in schools.

                Of the three major types of bullying—physical, verbal and relational—relational aggression, has been the latest and least studied, both because it involves less visible, immediately dangerous behavior than fighting or verbal abuse, and in part because it involved more nuanced relationships among the bullies, victims, and bystanders.

                “If you think of Columbine and other school shootings, the shooters were often victims of relational aggression, so there’s a growing recognition that emotional scars are real, and we need to create interventions to address those scars and prevent them from happening,” said Stephen S. Leff, a psychologist and director of the Friend to Friend and Preventing Relational Aggression in Schools Everyday (PRAISE) programs at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a co-editor of a current special issue of School Psychology Review on the topic.





Lesbian students enter to cheers at Minn. School Associated Press via Google


                CHAMPLIN, Minn. — Two lesbian high school students who fought for the right to walk together as part of a royalty court made their entrances Monday to the cheers of hundreds of classmates.

                Sarah Lindstrom and Desiree Shelton wore matching black suits with pink ties and held hands as they entered the Snow Days Pep Fest at Champlin Park High School in Minneapolis’ northwest suburbs.

                The reaction came as a relief to the couple and school administrators. The district has been stung by criticism of its policies toward homosexuality and the alleged bullying of a gay student who killed himself. (Star-Tribune)





The trouble with texting, for school workers A new state policy could mean the end of a communication mode favored by school workers.

Roanoke (VA) Times


                Janette Espelage’s school-issued cellphone started ringing before her feet hit the floor Monday morning, with a text message from a student asking about the schedule for semester exams.

                By the time she arrived to work at Roanoke’s Forest Park Academy, she had sent and received more than two dozen texts. Espelage, a student support specialist, said she easily exchanges at least a hundred text messages a day with teenagers from the city’s alternative program for overage students.

                “It is just a great technology to get information to students and parents,” she said.

                Unfortunately, it is a form of communication that sometimes is abused. A proposed state model policy that could prompt local school boards to limit or ban electronic communication is creating concern among some Roanoke school employees.





Mesquite student faces $637 in fines, penalties for swearing in class Dallas Morning News


                It’s not just a trip to the principal’s office anymore.

                North Mesquite High School senior Victoria Mullins is taking on a waitressing job to pay $637 in fines and other charges after being ticketed for disorderly conduct/abusive language in class.

                According to court records, shortly before 10 a.m. on Oct. 6, teacher Michelle Lene heard Mullins say “you trying to start (expletive)!” loudly inside the classroom.

                “A kid who is really obnoxious, starts stuff with everyone and always gets on my nerves was bothering me,” Mullins said. “It was wrong on my part.”

                She was sent to the office.

                “The principal gave me a lunch detention and told me to watch my mouth,” Mullins said.

                Meanwhile, the school resource officer was contacted. When Mullins got to her next class, the officer presented the 17-year-old student with the ticket.

                The complaint says Lene was offended, and that by its utterance, the language incited a breach of the peace.





McGraw-Hill Profit Slips on Charges

Wall Street Journal


                McGraw-Hill Cos.’ fourth-quarter profit fell 8% as charges and difficult comparisons to prior-year education-segment gains masked rising financial-services revenue.

                The financial-information provider and education company has increased earnings through its Standard & Poor’s ratings business as companies flock to the debt markets for new funding. But profit plunged in the education unit in the most recent period, dragging on the quarter’s results and depressing the current year’s earnings outlook.

                McGraw-Hill forecast full-year per-share earnings of $2.79 to $2.89, which is below what Wall Street has been predicting.


                At the education segment, revenue slid 4.6% to $496.3 million and profit plunged 52% to $16.2 million. The company faced tough year-on-year comparisons, as schools had access to stimulus funds in late 2009 for extra educational materials. Testing revenue declined as a handful of custom statewide contracts wrapped up. Meanwhile, second-semester purchasing declined for higher education customers, with particular weakness in December. While the company is evaluating that trend, McGraw said, “We have more questions on that than answers.”

                McGraw-Hill expects full-year education revenue to increase by low single percentages, with operating profit declining by mid- to high-single digits. The company forecast “flat to minimal” growth in the elementary-high school segment in 2011, though it could gain more clarity as Texas determines its new curriculum outlays this spring. The company expects the U.S. higher education market to grow by 4% to 6%.





White House Launches 2011 Race to the Top Commencement Challenge U.S. Department of Education


                WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the White House opened applications to the 2011 Race to the Top Commencement Challenge. Students from public high schools across the country are invited to demonstrate how their school prepares them for college and a career by going to and submitting an application. The winning school will host President Obama as their 2011 commencement speaker.

                “I’m looking for the school that’s doing the best job of preparing students for college and careers,” said President Obama. “The winning school will understand that their number one priority is making sure that our kids are learning what they need to succeed in this 21st century economy.”

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