Education News Roundup for Feb. 15

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EDUCATION NEWS ROUNDUP
A service of the Utah State Office of Education

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Today’s Top Picks:

And the plan for Utah’s education budget is …
http://bit.ly/fWTAYb (SLT)
and http://bit.ly/fMltZm (DN)
and http://bit.ly/howakv (OSE)
and http://bit.ly/hRkUIx (PDH)
and http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=14380026&s_cid=rss-148
and http://bit.ly/i2A3M0 (KCPW)

House passes bill to require teaching the U.S. is a republic not a democracy.
http://bit.ly/gib5Cz (SLT)
and http://bit.ly/fCFzQb (PDH)
and http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=14382872

This is an important distinction, Provo Daily Herald editorial page editor Jim Tynen argues, in part because “Hitler was elected democratically.”
http://bit.ly/flY4kR

Governor backs education as a base upon which to build the economy.
http://bit.ly/hBrrmK (SLT)

“All across Texas, school superintendents are bracing for the largest cuts to public education since World War II, and the state is not alone. Schools across the country are in trouble as billions in emergency stimulus grants from the federal government have run out, and state and federal lawmakers have interpreted the victory of fiscal hawks in November’s midterm elections to mean that tax increases are out of the question. Nowhere has that political trend been more potent than in Texas, where Republicans who ran on a promise to never raise taxes not only retained every statewide office, but also added to their majorities in both houses of the Legislature.”
http://nyti.ms/fKAmLi (NYT)

How many edu-jobs did the stimulus save?
http://bit.ly/hdiULf (Hechinger)

ENR is pleased to report that the wait for Superman is over. If “Flavor Flav Goes Back to High School” can’t save public education, what could?
http://huff.to/fjXbQY (AP)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Lawmakers can’t agree on education funding

Teach that U.S. is a republic, not democracy, some lawmakers say

Herbert says education key to a strong economy

New school board member a lobbyist for conservative causes

Number of parent volunteers in the classroom low, yet vital these day

Class of 2011: State’s biggest award for students ramps up

Morgan phys ed facility gets help

Teens drawn to, at risk from caffeine highs of energy drinks

Ex-Bountiful teacher pleads guilty to sexually abusing student

Timberline students ‘choose now’ to not take drugs

Bus drivers feel the love

Lehi Junior High School students get ‘Seussicized’

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Bulldog deluxe

Why ‘republic vs. democracy’ is relevant

Are school districts worth the cost?

More budget cuts foster mediocrity

Cyber Bullying

Can you create new reporting standards without adding to the cost of administration?

Preschool owner says no funding for public preschool

Education isn’t broken, homes are broken

Key Questions on the Obama Administration’s 2012 Education Budget Request

The Problem with TFA

NATION

Aid Cuts Have Texas Schools Scrambling

Federal Watchdogs Hit Oversight Trail on Stimulus

How many jobs did the education stimulus save?

Idaho schools chief Tom Luna cuts back online, laptop mandates After last week’s schools hearings, Senate prints a new slate of reform bills.

Idaho education chief’s truck vandalized

Teachers, school leaders come together in Denver

Colorado school district has wealth, success — and an eye on vouchers Douglas County Board of Education’s plan to introduce school vouchers is being watched around the country.

Obama Administration’s ‘Disparate Impact’ Policy Draws Criticism

Preschool ‘indoctrination’ remark sets off Senate debate

Former Jefferson County teachers can press church, state claim Pair were let go when board switched program to Kingswood

Blogging teacher blogging again

‘Flavor Flav Goes Back To High School’:
Rapper Pitches Reality Show To Iowa School Superintendent

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UTAH NEWS
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Lawmakers can’t agree on education funding

After weeks of meetings, lawmakers could not agree Monday on recommendations of how to possibly restore money to the state education budget for next school year.
As it stands now, initial recommendations have lawmakers cutting Utah education by $257 million, or about 11 percent next school year. The Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee was supposed to make recommendations Monday for the Legislature’s main budget committee on how to possibly restore those dollars, depending on how much becomes available.
“I feel the committee missed out on a wonderful opportunity to give some direction to the budget,” said subcommittee co-chairwoman Merlynn Newbold, R-South Jordan, after the meeting. “There were some things that we feel very strongly about and I would have hoped we could have relayed that to the body and to Executive Appropriations.”
Newbold said the subcommittee will either have to meet again, or the Legislature’s main budget committee will have to make decisions without the subcommittee’s recommendations. The subcommittee has spent weeks hearing testimony about the value of various programs.
http://bit.ly/fWTAYb (SLT)

http://bit.ly/fMltZm (DN)

http://bit.ly/howakv (OSE)

http://bit.ly/hRkUIx (PDH)

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=14380026&s_cid=rss-148

http://bit.ly/i2A3M0 (KCPW)

Teach that U.S. is a republic, not democracy, some lawmakers say

A bill that would help ensure Utah students learn that the U.S. government is a constitutional republic, not a pure democracy, passed the House on Monday.
The House voted 57-17 to pass HB220 after a debate that included speeches about the difference between a republic and a democracy, whether the Legislature should tell schools what to teach, and quotes from America’s founders and Ronald Reagan. The bill would require schools to teach students that the U.S. is a constitutional republic and about other forms of government such as democracy, monarchy, oligarchy and socialism.
“The intent is through study of different types of governments that it would be made known as to why our framers selected this very special form of government … because it protects the rights of the individual, because it balances power both vertically and horizontally and because it has been and continues to be the best form of government in the world,” said bill sponsor Rep. Michael Morley, R-Spanish Fork.
Some lawmakers, however, argued that those concepts are already being taught, and the Legislature shouldn’t get involved in curriculum matters.
http://bit.ly/gib5Cz (SLT)

http://bit.ly/fCFzQb (PDH)

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=14382872

Herbert says education key to a strong economy 

By 2018, two-thirds of the jobs in Utah will require that employees hold either skilled trade certificates or post-secondary academic degrees.
And therein lies the challenge. Currently, only some 45 percent of the state’s work force have the necessary education to address future needs.
At a Capitol news conference Tuesday, Gov. Gary Herbert talked of the need to address the educational challenges the state faces. And Herbert, who was surrounded by education and business leaders, said he will be asking the Legislature to join with him in making education the state’s highest budget priority.
http://bit.ly/hBrrmK (SLT)

New school board member a lobbyist for conservative causes

Peter Cannon is a freshman member of the Davis School District board, but he prides himself on taking positions to the right of most public education leaders.
He’s a tea-party stalwart who adamantly opposes illegal immigration, but he first worked in the education sector building schools and hiring bus drivers for the children of migrant farm workers.
And day in and day out, when the Utah Legislature is in session, Cannon is on Capitol Hill, speaking out on a range of issues from partisan-school-board races (supports) to adoption rights for unmarried couples (opposes).
“There aren’t a lot (of school board members) like me,” Cannon chuckles.
Cannon, a Farmington retiree, joined the Davis County 9/12 Project, a tea party group, in 2009. Since then, the 59-year-old has been a full-time, unpaid citizen lobbyist when the Legislature convenes — including during interim meetings. He also is vice president of legislative affairs for the Utah Eagle Forum, working alongside President Gayle Ruzicka.
“I discovered (lobbying) was easy. I was shocked,” Cannon says.
http://bit.ly/fg0OXo (SLT)

Number of parent volunteers in the classroom low, yet vital these day

LAYTON — Imagine inviting 800 people to come to a dinner party with only two volunteers to help serve the food.
That was the predicament last week for Chelsi Dall, PTA president at Ellison Elementary.
She sent out an email two days before the “Parents and Pastries” event, begging more parents to volunteer for an hour Tuesday morning. Six members of the PTA board ended up stepping in to save the day.
“Parents are really enthusiastic to help out at the beginning of the year,” Dall said, “but by this time, parents are getting burned out.”
In fact, half of the members of her PTA board are not planning on coming back to the board next year.
Nationally, the number of parents volunteering at schools is waning.
http://bit.ly/huDZfn (DN)

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=14380890

Class of 2011: State’s biggest award for students ramps up

Continuing a 50-year tradition, Sterling Scholar directors from Deseret News and KSL 5 Television began planning as soon as last year’s program concluded to ensure that the reputation of Utah’s most prestigious academic recognition program is maintained.
The semifinal judging will bring 741 school nominees to three locations: Northridge, Copper Hills and Timpview high schools. Following the first round of judging, 195 semifinalists advance to the final round on March 2. Final judging will be held at Murray High School.
http://bit.ly/dTDGVM (DN)

http://bit.ly/ig5RSl (DN)

http://bit.ly/emqwdt (DN)

Morgan phys ed facility gets help

MORGAN — Although the Morgan School Board’s wish list outstripped the available resources, the Morgan Education Foundation is willing to step in and help make up the difference on an upcoming construction project.
“We’ve all had big eyes on this project,” said school board member Joey Skinner. “We are facing tough times. We’ve got to take a realistic look, sharpen the pen and get creative on the drawing board.”
After receiving a $4 million low-interest bond supported by the Federal Qualified School Construction Bond in 2010, district officials realized that their desire to construct a physical education building and bus garage was a little too ambitious.
However, board officials agreed with constructing a building with a larger footprint while eliminating amenities within the building. With the help of architects, officials lopped several items off the physical education facility wishlist, including a suspended track, mezzanine level, elevator, office space, bleachers and concession stands.
http://bit.ly/dUwSlb (OSE)

Teens drawn to, at risk from caffeine highs of energy drinks

SALT LAKE CITY — Healthier choices have been placed in the vending machines at many schools, but that doesn’t mean students are buying them. Their money seems to be going elsewhere, and energy drinks are among the increasingly more popular items.
“Energy drinks gave me a hyperactive sense that I liked. I was more jittery and jumpy and hanging out with friends, that was funny,” said 17-year-old Cameron Frankel. He said he used to drink about 10 energy drinks a day, but has since stopped completely and is trying to take better care of his body.
“I found out that I really couldn’t go very long on them,” he said. The Taylorsville High School senior realized that the short-lived caffeine buzz he obtained from energy drinks was affecting his fitness level.
To combat America’s unhealthy habits, the American Heart Association, with the William J. Clinton Foundation, founded the Alliance for a Healthier Generation in 2005 to encourage better vending and nutrition policies at schools nationwide. In cooperation with the alliance — which aims to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity by 2015 — Granite School District has revamped its policies.
http://bit.ly/eabXty (DN)

Ex-Bountiful teacher pleads guilty to sexually abusing student

FARMINGTON — A former Bountiful Junior High School teacher pleaded guilty Monday to engaging in sexual activity with a 14-year-old student two years ago.
Valynne Bowers, 41, pleaded guilty to two counts of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony. She was originally charged with eight first-degree felonies including five counts of rape and three counts of forcible sodomy.
http://bit.ly/fjhgfF (DN)

http://bit.ly/fv7bVZ (OSE)

http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=148&sid=14373480

http://bit.ly/h3vQgB (KSTU)

http://bit.ly/fCSZmG (KNRS)

Timberline students ‘choose now’ to not take drugs

ALPINE — A choice made early is one that doesn’t have to be considered in a time of temptation. That was part of the message of Red Ribbon Week at Timberline Middle School.
Red Ribbon events are held in schools throughout the country to educate students of the dangers of taking drugs. Students are also encouraged to make commitments to refrain from taking drugs. Timberline’s program is called “I choose now.”
http://bit.ly/h28eBP (PDH)

Bus drivers feel the love

CEDAR CITY – Bus drivers for the Iron County School District were surprised Monday by the efforts of Iron Springs Elementary School and Cedar High School in showing their appreciation for the daily safe transportation of their students.
Iron Springs Elementary School did a schoolwide project to show how much they appreciate their bus drivers. Art Specialist Alisa Petersen worked with approximately 500 students in the first through fifth grades a few weeks ago to make Valentine cards with their own art designs, and then the teachers helped their students express their appreciation to their bus drivers in writing. While some students already had given cards to their bus drivers last week, most of them presented their cards on Valentine’s Day.
http://bit.ly/dJwUq4 (SGS)

Lehi Junior High School students get ‘Seussicized’

LEHI — “Seussical the Musical,” written by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, opens at Lehi Junior High School on Friday and its cast and crew are excited http://bit.ly/e39qkG (PDH)

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Bulldog deluxe
(Provo) Daily Herald editorial

Provo residents will be interested in what the Provo school board does to renovate Bulldog Stadium. And how it will be paid for.
The stadium is showing its age. Phase one of its modernization likely would include restrooms, concessions, a new coaches box and press box, a visiting team locker room and a patio to entertain donors and boosters.
Projected cost of Phase 1: about $250,000, with boosters raising half.
http://bit.ly/flhAUo

Why ‘republic vs. democracy’ is relevant
(Provo) Daily Herald commentary by columnist Jim Tynen

This debate has been going on for awhile here in Utah Valley. It’s being argued in the legislature. I’m not saying it’s always conducted on a high or enlightening level.
But the more I read about history and our constitution, the more I appreciate the importance of the distinction.
To look at the issue writ large, look at history. There were outbreaks of democracy in China and Russia that led to communist states and the deaths of tens of millions. Hitler was elected democratically.
http://bit.ly/flY4kR

Are school districts worth the cost?
Deseret News op-ed by Randy Shumway, chief executive officer of the Cicero Group

Our current economic climate has led many to scrutinize spending on primary and secondary education. Some believe that fostering competition through all facets of public education will reduce costs and improve performance. Others counter that certain students could be hurt by allowing free market competition to “fix” public education.
There are, however, ways that Utah could reduce the cost of public education while improving the quality of education every student receives. The most conspicuous way that competition could increase local control, elevate quality and lower costs is by privatizing the services otherwise provided by school district offices.
Today, as school districts search for ways to make cuts that result in the least impact on students, the district central offices already face pressure to bear these cuts. In part, this results from an attempt to keep cuts from directly affecting the classroom. Less directly, it highlights the somewhat tenuous relationship between schools and district offices.
http://bit.ly/hDrVO6

More budget cuts foster mediocrity
(St. George) Spectrum op-ed by Davie Roos, executive director of Enrollment Services at Dixie State College

I read with great concern where the Legislature advised higher education of another possible 7 percent budget cut. Adding this to the 4 percent cut in 2010 and the 17 percent cut in 2009 results in a 28 percent-point cut in just over two years. Amazing.
I understand the budgetary dilemma faced by the Legislature, but I cannot believe that they are seriously considering this move. It’s also troubling that this announcement would come one week after the news reported that Utah ranks 41st in the nation in educational performance and dead last in the nation in terms of per-pupil spending in public education. Utah also ranks 33rd in the nation in college graduation rates and 30th in the nation in attainment of bachelor’s degrees.
Rather than improving this mediocre picture, some in the Legislature seem prepared to make it even worse.
http://bit.ly/fPKdoj

Cyber Bullying
Utah Senate Site commentary by Sen. Ralph Okerlund

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”
– The Dalai Lama
It is unfortunate that everyone cannot follow this counsel. And even more unfortunate that some people’s unkind acts become so repetitive and excessive that we have to create laws to punish those who are unkind. Bullying is the problem I am talking about, and with the advancement of technology, electronic bullying or cyber bullying is becoming a problem as well.
http://www.senatesite.com/home/cyberbullying/

Can you create new reporting standards without adding to the cost of administration?
Commentary by Charter Solutions President Lincoln Fillmore

No.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Regarding the new finance metrics that the State Charter School Board is considering (or has already decided, depending on who’s talking) for Utah’s schools, it is probably good for schools in heavy financial straits to focus more administratively on their finances.
But the standards have the following problems that create an unnecessary administrative and bureaucratic burden on all schools:
* They measure the wrong things
* They set standards inconsistent with the stated purpose
Statute gives the Board the authority to hold schools accountable to Generally Accepted Accounting Practices, but the framework includes standards (like enrollment future-predicting) that are outside that scope. By so doing, it creates additional work for schools that have no financial shortcomings, but who haven’t adequately foreseen their enrollment eight months before students are counted.
http://bit.ly/ffmlUu

Preschool owner says no funding for public preschool
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner letter from Tom Matthews

If House Bill 181 passes on Wednesday, it will shut down Plain City Elementary preschool. This preschool has proudly served the small city of Plain City for 38 years. There is a small clause that was added to this bill by the owner of a private preschool in Weber county, through Rep. Brad Galvez. This unnamed preschool owner wants kids attending only privately owned preschools. Like most Utahns, I don’t like government intervention in private business. However, I accept that education is a business that is run by state and local government. Kindergarten through a PhD degree can be achieved through public schooling, so why all of a sudden can’t the state offer some funding to elementary preschool as it always has? This bill caters to only a few. Personally, I like that my taxes can go towards educating preschool children. Students attending private universities in Utah accept the reality that their taxes go toward education for students at Utah’s public universities. I’m a dentist, and don’t demand that public health clinics be shut down because it potentially takes away from my private practice. It is selfish for a preschool owner to demand that all stop supporting a public fund, so she might personally benefit.
http://bit.ly/e4Sv5U

Education isn’t broken, homes are broken
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner letter from Delon Jensen

I read again about the decline and uncompetitive education system we have here in America. A letter to the editor on Tuesday, 6 Feb. 2011 commented on the number of jobs lost to overseas, and blamed that on our lack of teaching our children math, science and technology. I do not believe that for a moment. Rather, look at the big box stores, and in particular, one that has forced factory after factory to close their doors and move overseas so they could sell at lower prices than their competitors.
As for technology, didn’t you hear on the TV and read in the newspapers recently, that the University of Utah was just awarded its 5000th patent. Isn’t that a great technological accomplishment. This was done by mostly Utah high school graduates who have gone on to college. One of the problems the commentator blames the U.S. for, is not developing new technologies. We do, we just send them overseas to be further developed and marketed back to us.
The old adage, you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink, compares with our education system. The water is the available education , the horse the student and the person leading the horse to water is primarily the PARENT.
http://bit.ly/hyPs47

Key Questions on the Obama Administration’s 2012 Education Budget Request New America Foundation analysis

President Barack Obama submitted his third budget request to Congress on February 14th, 2011. The budget request includes proposed funding levels for all federal programs and agencies in aggregate for the upcoming 10 fiscal years, and specific fiscal year 2012 funding levels for programs subject to the annual appropriations process.
It is important to remember that the president’s budget request is a policy and budget proposal, but not legislation or law. Actual fiscal year 2012 funding levels for nearly all federal education programs will be determined through the Congressional appropriations process that Congress aims to complete by the start of the new fiscal year, which begins October 1st, 2011. Policy changes and funding levels that the president proposes for education programs not funded through appropriations process (i.e. mandatory programs) are also subject to Congressional approval.
A review of the president’s proposal for fiscal year 2012 is complicated by the fact that Congress has not yet completed the fiscal year 2011 appropriations process. Thus, no year-over-year funding comparisons can be made. Fiscal year 2011 began on October 1st, 2010 and federal programs subject to appropriations funding have been temporarily funded at the prior year’s levels through March 4th, 2011.
In an effort to heighten the quality of debate on federal education policy, the New America Foundation’s Federal Education Budget Project has reviewed the president’s proposals and generated a list of key questions policymakers, the media, stakeholder groups, and the public should ask about the proposals.
http://bit.ly/eqcHRt

The Problem with TFA
Education Week commentary by Diane Ravitch, research professor at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

This week Teach for America (TFA) celebrates its 20th anniversary. I have sometimes thought that if I were graduating from college now, I would apply to join TFA. It attracts well educated, bright, idealistic young people. Their energy and commitment are impressive.
The problem with TFA is that it grossly overstates its role in American education. This year, TFA sent 8,000 young people into high-needs schools; they agree to stay for two years; some stay longer, but most will be gone within three years. This is a small number indeed when you consider that our nation has 4 million teachers. And our most compelling problem is attrition. Of those who enter teaching, 50 percent are gone within five years. These are terrible statistics. We need a stable teaching profession, not a revolving door.
http://bit.ly/gQ3754

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Aid Cuts Have Texas Schools Scrambling
New York Times

HUTTO, Tex. — The school superintendent in this rural town outside the state capital has taken steps to trademark the district’s oddly un-Texan school mascot — the Hutto Hippo — in a frantic effort to raise cash. He is also planning to put advertisements on school buses and to let retailers have space on the school Web site.
“I’m doing some weird stuff in the district because we are low on money,” said the superintendent, Douglas Killian, sitting in an office full of Hippo figurines.
He added, “We hope to make our hippo as recognizable as Mickey Mouse.” (The mascot was adopted shortly after a hippopotamus escaped from a circus train in 1915 and took up temporary residence in a local creek.)
But the money expected from the sale of “Hustling Hippos” merchandise would be peanuts compared with the hole expected to open up in the district’s budget, as the Legislature moves to slash about $4.8 billion in state aid to schools over two years to close a budget gap.
So Mr. Killian and the beleaguered school board have agreed to shut down a recently built grade school and to cut a 10th of the staff, among them a principal, 2 assistant principals, 4 librarians and 38 teachers. That round of staff cuts is a just first step, he says, and layoffs will follow if the budget bills proposed in the Legislature are enacted without changes.
All across Texas, school superintendents are bracing for the largest cuts to public education since World War II, and the state is not alone. Schools across the country are in trouble as billions in emergency stimulus grants from the federal government have run out, and state and federal lawmakers have interpreted the victory of fiscal hawks in November’s midterm elections to mean that tax increases are out of the question.
Nowhere has that political trend been more potent than in Texas, where Republicans who ran on a promise to never raise taxes not only retained every statewide office, but also added to their majorities in both houses of the Legislature.
http://nyti.ms/fKAmLi

Federal Watchdogs Hit Oversight Trail on Stimulus Education Week

It’s one thing to hand out billions of dollars in the hope of turning around the poorest-performing schools and sparking states to devise bold plans to improve their K-12 systems. It’s another thing to make sure the money is well spent.
That’s the job facing a pack of stimulus-funding watchdogs, who are charged with monitoring the spending of $97 billion the U.S. Department of Education has awarded to states and districts as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the economic-aid package passed by Congress in 2009.
A web of federal government agencies has its hands in this effort: the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, created by the stimulus legislation; the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress; the Education Department’s inspector general; and the department itself.
http://bit.ly/gKLf7M

How many jobs did the education stimulus save?
Hechinger Report

The economic-stimulus package that Congress passed two years ago preserved hundreds of thousands of jobs in the nation’s public schools but, with the economy still sputtering, the future of many of those positions remains in jeopardy.
In all, the nearly $100 billion shot-in-the-arm funded 367,524 education-related jobs during the 2009-10 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Though this tally includes jobs saved and created, observers say states and school districts did not go on a hiring spree with their stimulus funds. Instead, they hunkered down to prevent mass layoffs and to maintain the status quo—no small feat, given the historic recession and the soaring budget deficits that resulted.
“We saved 350,000 jobs. How often do you get to do that in life?” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in an interview. “I think it helped to stave off a total disaster.”
While the number of jobs saved may seem eye-popping, the stimulus funding didn’t seem like a windfall to many school districts.
http://bit.ly/hdiULf

Idaho schools chief Tom Luna cuts back online, laptop mandates After last week’s schools hearings, Senate prints a new slate of reform bills.
(Boise) Idaho Statesman

State schools chief Tom Luna reacted to the concerns of the Senate Education Committee with a few changes to his controversial plans to increase class sizes to pay for more technology in the classroom. Among the key new provisions http://bit.ly/fGyMnG

Idaho education chief’s truck vandalized Associated Press via (Boise) Idaho Statesman

BOISE, Idaho — Vandals targeted the truck of Idaho’s public schools chief, slashing its tires and spray painting it as the furor over his proposed education reforms appears to be growing uglier.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna woke at 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday to find two of his tires slashed and the word “Luna” painted on its body with a slash through the letters.
House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke attributed the vandalism to those who are upset about Luna’s school reforms, which include introducing merit pay, expanding online and computer classes, increasing class sizes and reducing teachers.
http://bit.ly/idLLew

Teachers, school leaders come together in Denver Associated Press via Denver Post

DENVER—A first-of-its-kind summit among teachers and their bosses—school board members and administrators—kicks off Tuesday in what the Obama administration is touting as a watershed moment in collaboration for school improvement.
More than 150 school districts from 40 states are sending administrators and union leaders to a U.S. Department of Education summit billed as the nation’s first large effort to have school labor and management talk about student achievement, rather than the nuts and bolts of labor contracts.
It’s a summit organizers are hailing as a fresh start to kick off education overhaul efforts looming in Washington, including delicate negotiations over how teachers should be evaluated.
But already cracks are showing in the let’s work together effort. The nation’s largest school district—New York City—and the Washington D.C. district pulled out of the summit after teachers accused school administrators of going back on their word. Other large districts, including Chicago and Los Angeles, are also missing from the all-expenses-paid trip funded by the nonprofit Ford Foundation.
http://www.denverpost.com/education/ci_17391284

http://n.pr/gKXDgZ (NRP All Things Considered)

Colorado school district has wealth, success — and an eye on vouchers Douglas County Board of Education’s plan to introduce school vouchers is being watched around the country.
Los Angeles Times

Denver – Douglas County, a swath of subdivisions just south of here that is one of the nation’s wealthiest, is something of a public school paradise.
The K-12 district, with 60,000 students, boasts high test scores and a strong graduation rate. Surveys show that 90% of its parents are satisfied with their children’s schools.
That makes the Douglas County School District an unlikely frontier in the latest battle over school vouchers.
But a new, conservative school board is exploring a voucher system to give parents — regardless of income — taxpayer money to pay for their children to attend private schools that agree to abide by district regulations. If it’s implemented, parents could receive more than $4,000 per child.
The proposal’s supporters argue that competition can only improve already-high-performing schools.
http://lat.ms/hdozD1

Obama Administration’s ‘Disparate Impact’ Policy Draws Criticism Education Week

Washington – The Obama administration’s new efforts to reduce the overrepresentation of some racial and ethnic groups in school discipline cases came in for criticism at a public briefing before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
Obama officials announced last spring that as well as looking for evidence of “different treatment,” or intentional discrimination against students in civil rights enforcement, federal officials also would examine “disparate impact,” disproportionate effects on a particular group by a policy though no intention of discrimination may exist. Federal officials have said that even with the new focus, an education agency would be found out of compliance only if an equally sound policy would have less of a disparate impact.
http://bit.ly/gr3yC2

Preschool ‘indoctrination’ remark sets off Senate debate Des Moines (IA) Register

A Republican state senator compared Iowa’s state-funded preschool program to Nazi indoctrination Monday, leading to a heated response from Democrats.
Responding to assertions that preschool is vital to Iowa students’ competitiveness in a global economy, Sen. Mark Chelgren of Ottumwa said it’s parents’ responsibility to teach young children, not the state’s.
“It is not the role of this government to take that away from families and replace it with an indoctrination process by teachers,” the freshman legislator said shortly after the Senate gaveled in.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal fired back that all the Legislature’s early childhood programs over the past 25 years have been designed to make sure parents are children’s best teachers.
http://bit.ly/fO9xqL

Former Jefferson County teachers can press church, state claim Pair were let go when board switched program to Kingswood Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel

In a legally controversial decision, two educators have won the right to sue Jefferson County’s school board over its decision to outsource its alternative educational program to a private Christian-based facility.
A divided 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Friday opined that David Kucera and Vickie F. Forgety are entitled to sue federally as the victims of the school board’s alleged violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause, better known as the doctrine of separation of church and state.
The case began in 2003 when, faced with budgetary woes, the Jefferson County school board voted to eliminate its own alternative learning center where Kucerta and Forgety were employed and instead send unruly students to Kingswood Academy.
The board insisted the decision had nothing to do with Kingswood’s Christian curriculum and instead was simply a cost-saving move. Kingswood, licensed by the state to deal with troubled youth, provided its services cheaper than Jefferson County’s own alternative school, the board said.
There is no dispute that as a result of the board’s decision Kucera and Forgety lost their jobs. The question is whether they, as Jefferson County taxpayers, have the right to sue over what they allege was a constitutional violation of the law – outsourcing a governmental function to a religious institution.
The U.S. Supreme Court has long held that taxpayers have no right to challenge via federal lawsuit decisions by state and federal legislators with which they disagree. But the question of whether municipal taxpayers can challenge local governmental decisions has remained open and, as this case reveals, subject to debate.
http://bit.ly/eRleP5

A copy of the ruling
http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/11a0045p-06.pdf

Blogging teacher blogging again
Bucks County (PA) Courier Times

The Central Bucks East High School English teacher who got suspended last week for complaining about her students on a blog is at it again.
And she is making no apologies for what she said – defending herself through her blog and in an interview with this newspaper Monday.
“While I never in a million years would have guessed that this many people would ever see my words, and I didn’t even intend them to, I stand by what I wrote and I think it’s good that people are aware now,” Natalie Munroe wrote on her blog Saturday morning.
“There are serious problems with our education system today – with the way that schools and school district and students and parents take teachers who enter the education field full of life and hope and a desire to change the world and positively impact kids, and beat the life out of them and villainize them and blame them for everything – and those need to be brought to light. If this ‘scandal’ opens the door for that conversation, so be it. Let that conversation begin. Stay tuned here.”
http://bit.ly/g0DR5D

‘Flavor Flav Goes Back To High School’:
Rapper Pitches Reality Show To Iowa School Superintendent Associated Press via Huffington Post

CLINTON, Iowa — Now he’s opened his first chicken restaurant in Iowa, rapper Flavor Flav would like to earn his high school diploma in the state and record his efforts for a new reality TV show.
Flav, whose real name is William Drayton Jr., grew up in Freeport, N.Y. He says he dropped out of school in 10th grade.
He opened Flav’s Fried Chicken in Clinton, Iowa last month – his only connection to the Mississippi River town.
Last week the 51-year-old pitched his idea for “Flavor Flav Goes Back to High School” to the local school superintendent and a school board member. He says he’ll approach the full board in a couple of weeks.
http://huff.to/fjXbQY

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