Education News Roundup: Feb. 24, 2012

student getting help from a teacher on an assignment

Photo courtesy of UEN

Today’s Top Picks:

Senate Ed Committee approves merit pay bill.
http://bit.ly/xpzEkD (SLT)
and http://bit.ly/xoKs1a (KUTV)
and http://bit.ly/xgs14d (KSTU)

Prosperity 2020 speaks up for public ed funding.
http://bit.ly/wtfIZp (SLT)
and http://bit.ly/wQvq5F (UPD)

Salt Lake City redraws school board boundary lines.
http://bit.ly/wvMobw (SLT)

Number of Americans with a bachelor’s degree hits a new high. Report also contains data on earnings potential depending upon your field of training.
http://wapo.st/yGcpyr (WaPo)
or a copy of the report
http://www.census.gov/hhes/socdemo/education/index.html

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Senate panel OKs change in how teachers are paid in Utah Education » Most of their raises would be tied to student learning gains.

Business leaders ask lawmakers for all-day kindergarten support Education » Prosperity 2020 calls for more investment

Utah senators reluctantly OK strict spending controls Legislature » Measure resembles Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

Bishop to Utah Legislature: Keep those ‘message bills’ coming Politics » Utah congressman says Easterners need to know about public lands.

Herbert supports deadline for public land transfer

Abstinence-Only Sex Education Bill In Utah Prohibits Teaching Contraception

District: Abstinence-only bill would not make much difference

New school map gives Salt Lake City’s west side a louder voice Redistricting » Salt Lake City residents there have a shot at four school board seats.

Analysis: More Utah children live in areas of poverty Study » 27,000 Utah children now living in such areas.

Artist surprises boy with father’s ‘fallen soldier’ portrait

Fallen Cache Valley soldier honored with ceremony at Mountain Crest

Skyline teen mom athlete plays for her son Prep sports » Skyline’s Ta’a Tuinei balances basketball and motherhood.

Copper Hills students rally to raise money for injured classmate Accident » Teen was accidentally shot by his father.

Herriman boy gets wish to fly jet fighter

Students try to answer real-life questions in Davis science fair

Cache Valley art students do well in state competition

Morgan High to break tradition by holding graduation at Dee Events Center

Students welcome computer apps to further education

Students enjoy socializing in Layton High’s upgraded digs

High 5: Student raises funds for teacher with cancer

Glimpse of evidence in Roy High bomb plot postponed as FBI scrutinizes computers

Supreme Court avoids talking about God in school

Parents’ attempt to take over school prompts debate and a movie

‘Beauty’ continues at Clearfield High; kids’ party planned

American Heritage School

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Common Core
Standards help Utah kids compete

Launching a counterattack

What would Dougall’s tax cuts impact?

Evaluating the data on school choice

Do standards make any difference?

Giant cabbage is a Utah winner

The Birds and the Bees in the Beehive State

Genuine accountability

Boys are collateral damage

Don’t take focus on learning of English, other important subjects

U.S. Ed Secretary Lambastes S.C. Anti-Common-Core Push

Duncan and the Abuse of Research (As Well As Power)

Will your kid be taught that climate change is a hoax?

The Middle School Plunge
Achievement tumbles when young students change schools

NATION

Educators in Search of Common-Core Resources

Lawmakers split on new education standards Program would apply national benchmarks to S.C. schools

Number of U.S. adults with college degrees hits historic high

Online Public Schools Gain Popularity, but Quality Questions Persist

City Teacher Data Reports Are Released

Christie education funding plan would base allocations partly on districts’ enrollment

‘Inspirational messages’ in local schools could spark challenges

Washington Post Net Falls 22%; Education Revenue Down 14%

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UTAH NEWS
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Senate panel OKs change in how teachers are paid in Utah Education » Most of their raises would be tied to student learning gains.

Lawmakers advanced a bill Friday morning to dramatically change the way teachers are paid — over the objections of many educators.
The Senate Education Committee passed a substitute version of SB67, which would gradually do away with the current system of teacher raises based on experience and educational attainment. In its place, teachers would instead receive raises based 60 percent on student learning gains and 40 percent on meeting effectiveness standards as measured by principal evaluations, peer evaluations, parent input and/or student input.
The new pay system would be phased in over six years, with teachers receiving half of their raises based on the old system and half on the new system starting in the 2014-15 school year. The percentage of raises teachers could earn based on the old system would continue to decrease until their raises were based entirely on performance by 2019-20.
The bill also would prohibit teachers who earn low ratings from receiving raises and mandate that teachers who earn the highest ratings get larger raises.
It also would prohibit school districts from assigning teachers or other employees to schools without principals’ approval.
http://bit.ly/xpzEkD (SLT)

http://bit.ly/xoKs1a (KUTV)

http://bit.ly/xgs14d (KSTU)

Business leaders ask lawmakers for all-day kindergarten support Education » Prosperity 2020 calls for more investment

A group of state business leaders urged lawmakers Thursday to continue funding optional extended-day kindergarten, saying the program may be at risk.
“We implore the Legislature to fund this essential program,” said Deborah Bayle, president and CEO of the United Way of Salt Lake. “If we don’t make this investment in our kids’ futures now, we will have to make much greater investments later.”
Prosperity 2020, a Utah business-led movement to invest in education, has recommended lawmakers put an additional $128 million toward public and higher education this session, including $10 million to continue the kindergarten program. Business leaders applauded on Wednesday many of the actions lawmakers have taken so far this session to fund education, but they cited extended-day kindergarten, reducing the financial burden on college students and mission-based funding for higher education as items that still require action.
http://bit.ly/wtfIZp (SLT)

http://bit.ly/wQvq5F (UPD)

Utah senators reluctantly OK strict spending controls Legislature » Measure resembles Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

Utah lawmakers wrestled Thursday with their angst over a proposed resolution that would amend the state constitution to restrict spending based on overall economic health and a need of a three-fifths vote in both chambers to exceed those limitations.
The resolution, SJR22, sponsored by Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, and Rep. Ken Sumsion, R-American Fork, mirrors Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which tightly controls legislators’ ability to adjust spending based on economic need because it uses the previous year’s measures to balance the current year’s budget.
Some Utah senators argued there was little need for a constitutional measure because they believed they have been strong stewards of the budget and didn’t need something so dramatic.
The resolution passed 16-13, but will need to clear one more vote to get through the Senate.
http://bit.ly/wDgrJh (SLT)

Bishop to Utah Legislature: Keep those ‘message bills’ coming Politics » Utah congressman says Easterners need to know about public lands.

Rep. Rob Bishop told the Legislature on Thursday that he likes the “message bills” that some Utah legislators are trying to send to Washington about public lands.
The five-term congressman says those measures are needed to help Easterners realize how federal control of most Utah lands makes funding education difficult.
http://bit.ly/AkyheK (SLT)

http://bit.ly/xLgtYZ (DN)

Herbert supports deadline for public land transfer

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert says setting a deadline for the federal government to relinquish its ownership of public lands could finally force a resolution to the decades-long debate.
Herbert says he prefers to work with federal officials and Congress to increase development on public lands, but litigation should always remain an option.
A bill currently awaiting debate in the Utah House sets a deadline of 2014 for the transfer of federal lands to the state. National parks and designated wilderness areas would be exempted.
http://bit.ly/xMFd14 (PDH)

http://bit.ly/ApyNub (OSE)

http://bit.ly/x7B9WF (CVD)

http://bit.ly/yyLFzF (KSTU)

http://bit.ly/A4DHmP (KCPW)

Abstinence-Only Sex Education Bill In Utah Prohibits Teaching Contraception

A bill requiring sex education classes to teach an abstinence-only curriculum moved closer to becoming a law in Utah Wednesday.
The state House passed HB 363 in a 45-28 vote following extensive debate. The bill — which now goes on to the state Senate — would lift the current requirement that all public schools must teach sex ed in grades 8 through 12. If the bill passes, districts would decide whether to offer sex ed classes that teach an abstinence-only curriculum, or not offer the course at all. Republican state Rep. Bill Wright sponsored the proposal.
“We’ve been culturally watered down to think we have to teach about sex, about having sex and how to get away with it, which is intellectually dishonest,” Wright said, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. “Why don’t we just be honest with them upfront that sex outside marriage is devastating?”
The version of the bill that passed through the state House Wednesday would prohibit any instruction in contraception, though teachers would be allowed to answer student questions about safe sex.
http://huff.to/zPWUab (Huffington Post)

District: Abstinence-only bill would not make much difference

A bill requiring abstinence-only sex education — if local schools opt to teach human sexuality at all — received approval from the state House of Representatives yesterday. The bill is generating passionate reaction from supporters and detractors, but even if it passes the Senate it will mean little change in curriculum for the Tooele County School District, according to Superintendent Terry Linares.
“We already teach abstinence,” Linares said. “If the bill is adopted, our human sexuality committee, which includes parents, would review all curriculum and materials and make sure they comply with the new law.”
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden, whose district will include Tooele County, outside of Tooele City and Stansbury Park, following this fall’s election. Wright proposed the bill after visiting his granddaughter’s school and seeing materials from Planned Parenthood being used as part of the school’s maturation program for sixth-grade students.
http://bit.ly/x6OLBN (Tooele T-B)

New school map gives Salt Lake City’s west side a louder voice Redistricting » Salt Lake City residents there have a shot at four school board seats.

A newly minted Salt Lake City School District map extends two central city district lines west of Interstate 15 — eliminating the freeway’s physical and cultural divide — while providing west-siders an unprecedented shot at four school board seats.
Right now, west-siders hold just two of the seven school board posts — despite 2010 census numbers showing that about half of the city’s children live west of I-15.
http://bit.ly/wvMobw (SLT)

Analysis: More Utah children live in areas of poverty Study » 27,000 Utah children now living in such areas.

Utah is among states with relatively few children living in areas where poverty is prevalent. That’s the good news.
The bad news, according to a newly released study, is that the number of Utah children residing in poor neighborhoods increased 80 percent since 2000, with some 27,000 children now living in communities with high concentrations of poverty.
Utah’s increase was more than triple the 25 percent increase notched across the country, based on a comparison of 2000 Census numbers and 2006-2010 data from the Census’ American Community Survey. Nationally, nearly 8 million children are now living in areas of concentrated poverty. Some states saw dramatic increases — such as Colorado, where numbers rose 360 percent to 72,000 children — while eight states recorded decreases, according to a Kids Count data snapshot from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
http://bit.ly/xWQ4YD (SLT)

http://bit.ly/yiM3ai (KCPW)

Artist surprises boy with father’s ‘fallen soldier’ portrait

PLAIN CITY — Nine-year-old Jase Brostrom leaned forward in his chair seemingly transfixed.
With his classmates, he was watching a slideshow of family photos that showed him with his father, 1st Lt. Jonathan Brostrom, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2008. The photos showed Jase and his father swimming, goofing around on the couch and at other family activities.
The show was part of a big day for the nine-year-old, who was about to see another dipiction of his late father. At the slideshow’s end, Texas artist Phil Taylor unzipped a large black folio case, and pulled out a portrait Jonathan Brostrom.
“Is there anything you want to say?” Taylor asked the near-speechless third-grader standing in front of his classmates and family at Plain City Elementary School.
“I got nothing,” the boy said.
http://bit.ly/ySusjt (DN)

http://bit.ly/zpdOrr (OSE)

http://bit.ly/x9Q27t (KSL)

Fallen Cache Valley soldier honored with ceremony at Mountain Crest

HYRUM — Since founding The American Fallen Soldiers Project in 2007, Phil Taylor has, unfortunately, had thousands of opportunities to create portraits of servicemen and women killed in action.
But when looking over the request submitted by a relative of U.S. Army Cpl. Micheal B. Alleman, the Texas-based artist said he was “drawn” to the former Nibley Elementary School teacher who was killed in Iraq on Feb. 23, 2009.
“I love his face,” Taylor said Thursday at Mountain Crest High School. “When I saw those gentle brown eyes, and that cute, thin-lipped smile, I just felt like that was a sweet spirit, and that was a family I needed to serve.”
Part of Freedom Week and the annual Heroes Assembly at Mountain Crest, Taylor presented his portrait of Micheal Alleman to members of Alleman’s family, including his wife, Amy, sons Kai and Kennet, and his parents, Boya and Susan Alleman.
http://bit.ly/xp4LJ8 (LHJ)

Skyline teen mom athlete plays for her son Prep sports » Skyline’s Ta’a Tuinei balances basketball and motherhood.

There was a time when Ta’a Tuinei didn’t think she would be here, standing on a basketball floor with fans cheering her.
She’s anxious – tears are already welling in her eyes. The announcer calls Ta’a’s name, and the 17-year-old senior walks to the middle of the basketball court at Skyline High and smiles as her sister hangs a yellow lei around her neck.
It’s Senior Night, and Ta’a is one of the honorees. Her teammates have gifts for her: a quilt, an autographed portrait, warm embraces.
Her mother, Paloma Tuinei, comes to meet her, cradling a 4-month-old baby. His name is Tereinga. He is Ta’a’s son.
http://bit.ly/zjVFjU (SLT)

Copper Hills students rally to raise money for injured classmate Accident » Teen was accidentally shot by his father.

West Jordan • With one of their classmates in intensive care at Primary Children’s Medical Center, students at Copper Hills High School dug into their pockets Thursday to show their support — even with just a dollar or two.
On Saturday, sophomore Chance Sackett was accidentally shot in the neck by his father, Bret Sackett, who was putting away a gun after the two had been target-shooting.
“He’s in our prayers right now. And we just hope he gets better,” said Morgan Turner, a sophomore who is on the wrestling team with Chance. Morgan and another teammate gathered $350 for Chance’s medical bills. Other donations had not been tallied Thursday afternoon.
http://bit.ly/AeV1em (SLT)

http://bit.ly/yoGiew (DN)

http://bit.ly/yRUzcX (KUTV)

http://bit.ly/Ahiohr (KTVX)

http://bit.ly/wIKRxF (KSL)

http://bit.ly/xWzkJ8 (KSTU)

Herriman boy gets wish to fly jet fighter

SALT LAKE CITY — A cancer-stricken 12-year-old Herriman boy got the chance to live out a lifelong dream of flying in a fighter jet, thanks in part to students a county away who had never met him.
“I was having a good time up there,” Tim Wright said of the adventure. “It was awesome.”
Wright — through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and fundraising efforts of a marketing class at Davis High School — flew over California in a privately owned L-39 Albatros training aircraft at the end of January. He even had control of the plane for a time, pulling off some barrel rolls.
http://bit.ly/wZse2c (DN)

Students try to answer real-life questions in Davis science fair

LAYTON — Selected students enjoyed finding science in everyday aspects of their lives and presenting their results at Davis School District’s science fair Wednesday.
One of the most-viewed projects on display in the Davis Conference Center explored why animals cross the road in certain spots, sometimes leading to their deaths.
The project, referred to as the “road kill” project by numerous onlookers, was the work of North Layton Junior High eighth-grader Rosalyn Carlisi. It started when she began noticing how many dead animals lined U.S. 89 near her home.
She began researching why animals would risk their lives to cross the street.
http://bit.ly/Abgyrj (OSE)

Cache Valley art students do well in state competition

It’s not like Hannah Holloway had never dabbled with watercolors before.
After all, the junior at Sky View High School painted a “practice” floral arrangement to learn some techniques before creating “Spring in Cache Valley.”
“That was Hannah’s first real watercolor,” Sky View High School art teacher Zan Burningham said of the piece that was honored as the First Congressional District award winner at the 40th Annual Utah All-State High School Art Show in Springville. “So, that’s pretty good for your first attempt.”
http://bit.ly/xDhnZ0 (LHJ)

Morgan High to break tradition by holding graduation at Dee Events Center

MORGAN — For the first time in nearly a century, Morgan High School graduation ceremonies will be held outside the county.
Morgan High student body officers and senior class officers asked the school board for the change of venue because of space limitations.
In the past, each graduate was allowed four tickets for ceremonies held in the auditorium. Tickets are not required for overflow seating in the gym, where ceremonies are projected on a screen.
http://bit.ly/w7aUbo (OSE)

Students welcome computer apps to further education

SALT LAKE CITY — Flash cards and photocopies used to be a staple for elementary students learning to read. Now teachers have animated, digital options.
When East Midvale Elementary leaders won a $1,000 reward for reading progress, they chose to buy computer apps — applications that make reading and learning more like a game.
http://bit.ly/yUSCe5 (KSL)

Students enjoy socializing in Layton High’s upgraded digs

LAYTON — With about 1,700 students sharing one lunch period, Layton High School, thanks in part to a $23 million two-phase construction upgrade, has a new cafeteria and commons area that allows them to eat and meet together.
“It’s big and beautiful — a ton more room to socialize,” Layton High sophomore class officer Breann Wise said of the school’s new amenities.
“I like the cafeteria, how everyone is together,” she said of the terraced cafeteria that offers table seats as well as standing-room counter space.
Before the cafeteria’s January opening, students gathered for lunch in the halls in different places throughout the school, Breann said. The old cafeteria and old commons area space was significantly smaller.
School officials say the new Layton High commons and cafeteria — set for an official ribbon-cutting at 5:30 p.m. Monday as part of the incoming sophomores’ orientation — is “at least triple” the size of the old cafeteria and commons area.
http://bit.ly/xiJFfV (OSE)

High 5: Student raises funds for teacher with cancer

BOX ELDER COUNTY — A college student who organized a fundraiser for a beloved teacher facing cancer wins this week’s High 5.
Courtney Hansen’s mother, Tracey, nominated her for the honor. Courtney, now a freshman at Weber State University, didn’t think twice about organizing a fundraiser for her former teacher Wayne Burrell, who was recently diagnosed with lymphoma.
http://bit.ly/y1LCNY (KSL)

Glimpse of evidence in Roy High bomb plot postponed as FBI scrutinizes computers

OGDEN — The first in-court glimpse of the evidence in the Roy High School bomb plot has been put off for a month or more.
At Thursday’s status conference for Dallin Todd Morgan, the prosecution and defense agreed more time was needed for forensic examiners to complete their probe of computers tied to Morgan and co-defendant Joshua Kyler Hoggan.
Both are charged with possession of a weapon of mass destruction, a first-degree felony punishable by five years to life in prison.
Police and prosecutors say Morgan, 18, and the 16-year-old Hoggan planned to detonate a bomb at a Roy High assembly, steal an airplane at Ogden-Hinckley Airport and flee the country.
http://bit.ly/xOMlQ3 (OSE)

Supreme Court avoids talking about God in school

The pledge of allegiance isn’t the only place where the presence of God is debated in schools.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of a former high school student who sued his history teacher for allegedly making anti-Christian comments, according to the Orange County Register. Chad Farnan said his Capistrano Valley High School teacher, James Corbett, violated his First Amendment rights when he called creationism “religious, superstitious nonsense” in a 2007 lecture.
U.S. District Court Judge James Selna agreed with Farnan, yet granted Corbett immunity­ — a federal protection that shields government workers from financial liability if they’ve violated someone’s constitutional rights. Although he won, Farnan appealed to a three-judge 9th Circuit panel in Pasadena who reversed the lower court’s decision altogether in August 2011, ruling that Corbett could not have known he might be breaking the law.
The Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the appeal means the 9th Circuit’s ruling will stand.
http://bit.ly/yNFTpD (DN)

Parents’ attempt to take over school prompts debate and a movie

Who has the power to shut down a school?
The question, one of the hottest in education today, was temporarily answered this week in Adelanto, Calif., when the city’s school board rejected a petition from parents to close down a struggling elementary school.
The discussion, however, is far from over. California’s “Parent Trigger” Law, which gives parents with sufficient support power to take action against faltering public schools, is attracting fierce opponents and equally vocal defenders — and the drama is high enough that Hollywood is taking interest, shaping a feature film around this very question.
http://bit.ly/w3WG7f (DN)

‘Beauty’ continues at Clearfield High; kids’ party planned

CLEARFIELD — Clearfield High School’s version of the magical musical “Beauty and the Beast” continues its production with shows tonight, Saturday and Monday.
http://bit.ly/zjkXfl (OSE)

American Heritage School

No school — There will be no school Friday because of teacher in-service.
http://bit.ly/wQFSVu (PDH)

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Common Core
Standards help Utah kids compete
Salt Lake Tribune editorial

“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.” — Bertrand Russell
It was bound to happen. After the State Board of Education voted last year to adopt the Common Core academic standards, some conservative Utahns and groups such as the really conservative Eagle Forum became suspicious. After all, the standards did not originally spring from Utah, specifically from Utahns like themselves.
They want Utah schoolchildren isolated from any outside influence. It’s the provincial fear of “otherness” that most often stems from ignorance. Apparently not understanding that adopting the Common Core standards dictates nothing related to political views or social agendas, the Legislature has made changes in several bills related to Common Core. Discussion during a late-night meeting of Republicans brought forth a recommendation that federal directives having to do with the Common Core would have to be approved by the Legislature.
The recommendation is evidence of the ignorance of xenophobic legislators: The Common Core is not a federal initiative, but an agreement among states, including Utah, to adopt a standardized set of academic concepts that children should master at each grade level.
Other assumptions simply are not true.
http://bit.ly/wFD3FG

Launching a counterattack
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Paul Rolly

Sen. Howard Stephenson’s inside knowledge of the clandestine attempt to destroy the Republican Party by Sen. Luz “The Jackal” Robles and Sen. Karen “The Cobra” Mayne may have motivated his shock-and-awe maneuvers at the Legislature last week.
After weeks of public meetings and committee hearings on funding education, the Education Appropriations Subcommittee, which Stephenson chairs, inserted last-minute language into the bill that would shift as much as $80 million away from local school districts to pay for students transferring to charter schools.
Even Republican Sen. Aaron Osmond was aghast at the secretive move, objecting that such a policy should have had public scrutiny before being inserted as intent language while the committee was giving final approval to the bill.
Stephenson was understanding toward his fellow Republican. After all, Osmond is just a rookie. He doesn’t understand the trench warfare tactics needed to counter those subversive “Colorado Plan” sneaks.
http://bit.ly/wIllKB

What would Dougall’s tax cuts impact?
Deseret News op-ed by Joe Jarvis, chair of the Utah Health care Initiative

About 20 years ago while serving as the principal public health officer for the state of Nevada, I was frequently harassed by citizens who expressed a belief that their state government had grown too big and that I, and other civil servants, were “slopping at the public trough.” It seemed to me that these same finger pointing citizens would be the first to complain if the well on their residential property was contaminated. Never mind that the budget for regulatory enforcement had never been functionally sized.
These experiences as a state public official came to mind with the recent filing of a bill by Rep. John Dougall that would cut the state’s income tax from 5 percent to 4 percent, the state’s share of the sales tax from 4.7 percent to 3.5 percent, according to Bob Bernick, reporting on the website Utah Policy. He quotes Dougall as saying, “I ask, can we do more with less? But I also ask, can we do less with less — in other words, how do we stop the growth in government?”
Bernick asked: “Could state government function with this ($600 million) cut?”
“Yes we could,” said Dougall, who as budget vice chair deals intricately with state spending. “We could do this and still fund growth in public education. At the very least, we will have a discussion about growth in government — which is always worthwhile.”
Having a discussion about negative growth in government should never be separated from a discussion about which functions of government should be cut and how.
http://bit.ly/wm7EQl

Evaluating the data on school choice
Deseret News commentary by columnist Mary McConnell

Proponents and opponents of various school choice options – vouchers, scholarships, charter schools, trigger laws – love to throw data at each other . . . selectively. Not surprisingly, each side tends to cite the studies that seem to reinforce a pro- or anti-educational choice position.
Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute is a qualified choice supporter, but he’s also a careful scholar who frequently warns about the dangers of overselling school reform proposals. He and a group of fellow scholars have just published a survey entitled What Research Says about School Choice.
The full report is well worth reading. I’ll note a few of the major conclusions here.
http://bit.ly/ypPxLN

Do standards make any difference?
Deseret News commentary by columnist Mary McConnell

I attended a dinner party this past Monday with some individuals who are fighting in the legislative and school board trenches to halt state adoption of the common core standards. Opponents of federal control of education, they argued that the common core – and accompanying, as yet undeveloped assessments – will inevitably be hijacked by ideologues.
Since that’s pretty clearly what happened with the history standards back in the 1990s, I sympathized with this argument. But I also noted, a little sheepishly, that I rather liked the current common standards for English and Language Arts, which put more emphasis on skills such as argumentation and document analysis.
http://bit.ly/xaArKL

Giant cabbage is a Utah winner
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Kathy Stephenson

I hope Drew Brunson likes coleslaw.
Brunson, a student at Cedar Ridge Elementary, in Cedar Hills, was recently named the state winner of the National Bonnie Plants Colossal Cabbage Contest . His giant cruciferous vegetable weighed 25.7 pounds and earned him a $1,000 education savings bond.

More than 1.5 million third graders in 48 states — 13,862 from Utah — participated in this free program, sponsored by Bonnie Plants, the largest producer of vegetable and herb plants in North America.
http://bit.ly/Alfe0k

The Birds and the Bees in the Beehive State Education Writers Association commentary by public editor Emily Richmond

Utah’s lawmakers moved a step closer to making sex education optional in its public school curriculum, advancing a bill that would also prohibit teaching about contraception.
“We’ve been culturally watered down to think we have to teach about sex, about having sex and how to get away with it, which is intellectually dishonest,” said bill sponsor Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. “Why don’t we just be honest with them upfront that sex outside marriage is devastating?”
But Utah lawmakers who voted against the bill suggested it was irresponsible not to teach students about the health risks associated with unsafe sexual activity, and that contraception had to be a part of such discussions.
http://bit.ly/wojd1G

Genuine accountability
Deseret News letter from Lynn Stoddard

It is wrong to hold teachers accountable with achievement testing for something that is impossible to do. It is impossible to make students alike in knowledge and skills. Students cannot be manufactured like automobiles or airplanes. Every person was born to be unique and different from all others.
What would happen if teachers were held accountable for doing things that are possible — like helping students develop their unique talents? What would happen if teachers were held responsible for stimulating student curiosity, developing the power to ask penetrating questions and to fall in love with learning? A better way to teach reading is to help students develop an insatiable curiosity about something.
http://bit.ly/zw00gF

Boys are collateral damage
Deseret News letter from Clark Larsen

I read with great interest the recent article “The war on boys” (Feb. 19). It pointed out that in the 1960s, 60 percent of college graduates were male; today only 40 percent are. The article states, “It is the first time in U.S. history that sons have less education than their fathers.” “Boys across America are losing ground.” They have higher suicide rates, drop out rates, more are held back and more of them are drugged up with “teacher’s little helper,” ADD medications.
I much appreciate this article, but I do have a question about their assertion, “It is not deliberate, but society seems to have declared war on boys.” I would love to see their documentation for this because the rapidity and magnitude of the change suggests otherwise.
Equality of rights and a level educational playing field for women was long overdue, and I applaud society’s efforts in that respect. I do not, however, believe that society has “declared war on boys.” I think it is the women’s liberation movement and many female public school teachers who have done so, and I think for them at least, it was deliberate.
http://bit.ly/wpLgZW

Don’t take focus on learning of English, other important subjects (St. George) Spectrum letter from Alice Blair

My letter is in regard to bilingual teaching at the Washington County Schools to a lot of Anglo kids.
As a reading and spelling teacher in four different grade schools for the past 18 years – both paid and volunteer – I find it a bit ridiculous to consider such a thing!
Our taxes are barely paying for the big student body we have, and many of the children need help in grammar, reading, spelling, history and geography. Obviously, at the age of 86, I’m behind the times, but we are living in America, and English is our primary language.
http://bit.ly/yBEKWu

U.S. Ed Secretary Lambastes S.C. Anti-Common-Core Push Education Week commentary by columnist Catherine Gewertz

Remember that bill we told you about yesterday in South Carolina? The one that would block implementation of the common standards? The one that got voted down in a state Senate subcommittee, but was still going to move on to the full education committee anyway?
News of its progress zapped up to Washington, where none other than U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan issued a statement that appears designed to dismantle support for the proposed legislation, S. 604.
Duncan takes a swipe at some of its supporters for seeing the common standards as a conspiracy, and invokes the names of Republican leaders who support the standards. He takes a swipe at South Carolina itself, too, saying that the state was particularly egregious in lowering its own performance standards for students.
This morning, the state’s superintendent of education, Mick Zais, issued a statement agreeing with Duncan’s accusation that South Carolina watered down its expectations for students.
http://bit.ly/y33sZT

A copy of the statement
http://1.usa.gov/zUmXqQ

Duncan and the Abuse of Research (As Well As Power) Commentary by Jay P. Greene, endowed professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas

Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s press statement on South Carolina was a bizarre display of the opposite of what it intended. As Greg pointed out, the statement’s harsh and threatening tone did nothing to support the claim that Common Core national standards and assessments are a purely voluntary consortium of the states. Instead, the statement was a not so veiled threats that South Carolina would lose out on the opportunity for federal grants like Race to the Top and lose the opportunity to receive waivers from impossible to satisfy NCLB requirements if it followed through with a proposal to withdraw from Common Core. If it is purely voluntary, why the need for threats and intimidation from the Education Secretary?
In addition to this abuse of power given the legal prohibitions on the US Department of Education from establishing national standards, testing, and curriculum, Duncan’s statement also displayed an abuse of research. He distorted the findings of a National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) analysis to suggest that South Carolina had particularly weak performance standards when the research had not shown that.
http://bit.ly/yMyR4M

Will your kid be taught that climate change is a hoax?
Washington Post commentary by columnist Brad Plumer

One revelation from the recent Heartland Institute document leak is that the group is crafting a K-12 curriculum to teach kids that global warming is “controversial.” Heartland officials have confirmed this. So is climate change set to join evolution as the next big classroom controversy?
Things do seem to be trending that way. Joshua Rosenau spends most of his time defending the teaching of evolution in schools for the National Center for Science Education. But a few years ago, he noticed that the teachers he was doing workshops with were far more interested in learning how to talk about global warming. “They were getting pressure from their own communities, from parents,” Rosenau says. “And they were looking for help on how to deal with this issue.”
At the moment, it’s still unclear how frequently spats over climate change actually break out in classrooms. There are some 17,000 school districts around the country, and there’s no set curriculum for climate science. In some states, students might first encounter the topic in middle school; in others, it might show up in high-school earth science, or biology.
http://wapo.st/xf9B9D

The Middle School Plunge
Achievement tumbles when young students change schools Education Next analysis by Martin West and Guido Schwerdt (Martin R. West is assistant professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and deputy director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance [PEPG] at Harvard’s Kennedy School. Guido Schwerdt is a researcher at the Ifo Institute for Economic Research in Munich, Germany.)

In 2010, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (North Carolina) school district shuttered four of its eight middle schools, opting to serve students in elementary schools spanning kindergarten through grade 8. In so doing, it followed in the footsteps of urban school districts such as Baltimore, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and New York City, all of which have in the past decade expanded their reliance on the once ubiquitous K–8 model.
Not all school systems are moving in that direction. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, a district with surprisingly low student performance given the substantial per-pupil resources at its command, the school committee has decided to try to boost student achievement by abandoning its K–8 model in favor of having separate middle schools that serve grades 6 through 8 (though, in an unusual twist, each of the latter will be housed in the same facility as an elementary school).
In short, policymakers nationwide continue to wrestle with a basic question: At what grade level should students move to a new school?
http://educationnext.org/the-middle-school-plunge/

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Educators in Search of Common-Core Resources Education Week

As states and districts begin the work of turning common academic standards into curriculum and instruction, educators searching for teaching resources are often finding that process frustrating and fruitless.
Teachers and curriculum developers who are trying to craft road maps that reflect the Common Core State Standards can find themselves in a dispiriting bind: Their current materials fall short, and there is a dearth of good new ones to fill the void.
“Teachers are struggling, and very few people are helping. Almost nothing is available for them to use,” said Aaron Grossman, a former 5th and 6th grade teacher in Nevada’s Washoe County district who now works at the district office writing curriculum.
Many school leaders are finding a rough road as well.
http://bit.ly/xQL2mw

Lawmakers split on new education standards Program would apply national benchmarks to S.C. schools The (Charleston, SC) State

Some are calling it a possible high level of federal intrusion that will bar South Carolina from having control over its schools system.
Others are calling it a 21st century approach that will ensure S.C. students are learning the material they need to be competitive with other students nationally and globally.
At issue is Common Core, a national set of math and English/language arts standards that South Carolina, along with 45 other states, are set to implement. Each state is set to scrap their state standards and replace them with the Common Core ones which lay out the math and English skills students in kindergarten through 12th grade should learn to be ready for college and careers.
South Carolina is far down the road of implementation already. Both the S.C. Board of Education and the Education Oversight Committee, the state’s education watchdog group, have signed off on South Carolina implementing Common Core in 2014. And some districts are already training staff on how to teach the new standards.
But a new bill, introduced by Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, seeks to stop the program in its tracks.
Bill supporters say the new standards will let the federal government – not South Carolina – decide what students at each grade level should learn. They also say the new standards are watered-down and lack the rigor of current state standards.
http://bit.ly/zydH7m

Number of U.S. adults with college degrees hits historic high Washington Post

Representing a historic high, three in 10 adult Americans held bachelor’s degrees in 2011, census officials reported Thursday.
College attainment has crept upward, slowly but steadily. In 1947, just 5 percent of Americans 25 and older held degrees from four-year colleges. As recently as 1998, fewer than one-quarter of the adult population held college degrees.

The new data show African Americans and Hispanics gaining ground in college completion. From 2001 to 2011, Hispanics rose from 4.4 percent to 6.1 percent of the nation’s college-educated population. In the same span, blacks rose from 6.7 percent to 7.6 percent of all degree-holders.
But in terms of future earnings, education level matters less these days than in previous generations, and field of study matters more.
Census data show that an associate’s degree in engineering or computers is worth as much or more, on average, than a bachelor’s in education or the liberal arts.
An associate’s degree in engineering yielded $4,257 in monthly earnings in 2009, compared with $4,000 for a bachelor’s in the liberal arts and $3,417 for a bachelor’s in education.
A two-year degree in computers fetched $4,000 a month, the same median earnings as a four-year degree in the humanities.
Even a vocational certificate, a credential that generally requires months — not years — of school, can yield more future earnings than a bachelor’s degree in a low-paying field. Employees with construction certificates earned $4,904 a month in 2009, better than the median pay for a bachelor’s in the humanities.
http://wapo.st/yGcpyr

A copy of the report
http://www.census.gov/hhes/socdemo/education/index.html

Online Public Schools Gain Popularity, but Quality Questions Persist NewsHour

Full-time public cyber schools are now an option in 30 states, allowing some 250,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade to press buttons to raise their hands and message their teachers. John Tulenko of Learning Matters Television reports from Pennsylvania where the demand for online charter schools is high.
http://to.pbs.org/zaAqRc

City Teacher Data Reports Are Released
New York Times

After a long legal battle and amid much anguish by teachers and other educators, the city Department of Education released individual performance rankings of 18,000 New York City public school teachers to the public on Friday, while admonishing the news media not to use the scores to label or pillory teachers.
The reports, which name teachers as well as their schools, rank teachers based on their students’ gains on the state’s math and English exams over five years and up until the 2009-2010 school year. At a briefing Friday morning, an official from the Department of Education said that over the five years, 521 teachers were consistently rated in the bottom 5 percent, and 696 were consistently in the top 5 percent.
Citing both the wide margin of error — on average, a teacher’s math score could be 35 percentage points off, or 53 points on the English exam ––as well as the limited sample size — some teachers are being judged on as few as 10 students — city education officials said their confidence in the data varied widely from case to case.
http://nyti.ms/zc8b3E

Christie education funding plan would base allocations partly on districts’ enrollment Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger

TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie Thursday unveiled sweeping plans to change the way the state’s schools are funded by reducing the amount of money allocated to at-risk kids; tying funds more closely to the number of students in classrooms each day; and cutting funds for districts where enrollment is declining.
Christie also released district-by-district state aid figures for the coming year that incorporate the changes. This means a loss of state aid for 97 of the state’s roughly 600 school districts.
Among those losing aid are 36 districts with declining enrollment — some, like Newark, where charter schools have cut significantly into the “regular” district population.
The Christie administration hopes to use these changes to shrink the “achievement gap” between poor and wealthy students.
http://bit.ly/zGBSnc

‘Inspirational messages’ in local schools could spark challenges Tampa (FL) Tribune

TAMPA — Inside Freedom High School’s gymnasium, heads are bowed in prayer at a club meeting where students talk openly about their religious beliefs.
Football players from Wharton High say the Lord’s Prayer as part of their pregame ritual on Friday nights before they take the field.
Members of the dance team at Strawberry Crest High School link arms and pray before a performance.
If some members of the Florida Legislature have their way, even more students in more schools may be exposed to the practice of school prayer.
Or “inspirational messages” as they’re worded in a bill that has passed the Florida Senate already and is on deck for a vote in the House.
It would raise the prospect of student-led prayer at events such as concerts, games, graduations and other occasions. Students would serve as the messenger and pick the message; school officials would have no say in it.
It’s an election-year issue that has many wondering about its constitutional ramifications, not to mention the financial impact on a school district that ends up in court.
http://bit.ly/zgb6hW

Washington Post Net Falls 22%; Education Revenue Down 14% Wall Street Journal

Washington Post Co.’s fourth-quarter earnings fell 22% because of lower revenue at its flagship newspaper unit and its education business, which typically is the company’s biggest source of revenue.
The dismal results highlighted the pressure and challenges facing traditional media companies in trying to diversify away from advertising-dependent revenue from publishing.
http://on.wsj.com/z7Ozwj

http://wapo.st/wb6ILt (WaPo)

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