Education News Roundup: March 8, 2012

The Utah State Capitol at sunset on the final day of the 2012 Legislative SessionToday’s Top Picks:

The budget appears resolved.
http://bit.ly/xhyVXZ (SLT)
and http://bit.ly/zdKfcj (DN)
and http://bit.ly/ylsNuC (UPD)
and http://bit.ly/wctZHQ (PDH)
and http://apne.ws/wA4IEN (CVD)
and http://bit.ly/zvXh4Q (KUTV)
and http://bit.ly/wYv4Pu (KTVX)
and http://bit.ly/yBUt4G (KSTU)

While the common core battle goes on.
http://bit.ly/ww3M8G (SLT)
and http://bit.ly/wPhJM2 (DN)
and http://bit.ly/wmwVuz (KSTU)
and http://bit.ly/xPFBih (KCPW)
and http://bit.ly/wH6D4F (MUR)
or Paul Rolly’s take involving the Eagle Forum http://bit.ly/yDTz4F (SLT)

Suicide prevention bill goes to the Governor.
http://bit.ly/xuYWsK (SLT)
and http://bit.ly/w9crQR (DN)

Are there enough Hispanic teachers in Davis County?
http://bit.ly/w8aRB1 (KTVX)

Sen. Stephenson wants the Governor in charge of education in Utah.
http://bit.ly/y71zvM (DN)

Rep. Wilson discusses education in the legislative session.
http://bit.ly/x1abd4 (OSE)

Obama and GOP Govs akin on ed?
http://apne.ws/yw2g4m (AP)

And now if you’ll excuse ENR, he’s off to lead a conga line on the way to the Oklahoma department of education where they know how to fund slush and how to use that fund to keep state education employees happy with wine and crabcakes. Woo-hoo. Conga, conga, conga.
http://bit.ly/waSEPw (Oklahoman)

————————————————————
TODAY’S HEADLINES
————————————————————

UTAH

Legislators resolve remaining budget issues Budget » Last-minute decisions will provide state worker pay raise, save dual-immersion language expansion, fund roads.

U.S. ed secretary: Utah in control of school standards Education » Conservatives challenge Common Core program.

Suicide-prevention bill goes to Utah governor

Should Utah schools offer sex education for parents?

Teacher Evaluation Bill Passes Legislature

Utah Colleges May Soon Charge for Concurrent Enrollment

House votes down bill to fine principal for violating equal access law

Will Utah’s immersion language programs grow or stagnate?

Progressives rally against Legislature on lands, sex ed

Not enough Hispanic teachers in Davis County

State refuses to release audit of Provo athletics

Groundbreaking for charter school set for Saturday

Learning through a ‘Dream’
Students tackle Shakespeare to find out about themselves

Fifth-graders get sneak peek at middle school

Schools prep for shake from quake

New film teaching America the problem of bullying

Viewmont student recovering after suffering seizure while weightlifting

High school students pledge to not text and drive

Retirement

Students of the month

Fifth grade talent show

Penny Warz

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Lost in translation
‘Message bills’ a big waste of time

Eagle Forum sees a socialist plot in math equation

The Sex Talk

Nobody’s in charge of governing Utah education

How I vote

Teacher Evaluations: the fine print

Priorities

Book Matters: Boys would rather hunt aliens than read

Land-grab diversion

Delicate Arch Taco Bell

Not All School Bullies Are Kids

No sex ed used to work fine

Chinese program uses qualified, cost effective teacher

ASD boosts muscles over reading

Property taxes keep going up

Neither Broad Nor Bold
A narrow-minded approach to school reform

Restoring Civic Purpose in Schools

Middle-Schoolers Like Math, But P.E. More Popular, Survey Finds

NATION

Obama, GOP governors share many views on education

Teacher Evaluations Pose Test for States

States Loosening ‘Seat Time’ Requirements A growing number of states are starting to award academic credit based on what students know—not how much time they spend learning it

Growing Gaps Bring Focus on Poverty’s Role in Schooling

‘Parent Unions’ Seek to Join Policy Debates

RPT-Cash-poor U.S. schools raid rivals in bid to boost student rosters

Students Demand the Right to Use Technology in Schools

Homework for Teachers: Their Investment Plans

Oklahoma Education Department spent $2.3 million through slush funds, audit claims An investigative audit conducted by the Oklahoma auditor’s office shows $2.3 million was spent by the Oklahoma Education Department through undisclosed accounts. The audit claims the money was used to pay for drinks and food at education conferences.

————————————————————
UTAH NEWS
————————————————————

Legislators resolve remaining budget issues
Budget » Last-minute decisions will provide state worker pay raise, save dual-immersion language expansion, fund roads.

In a flurry of last-minute activity, Utah House and Senate leaders agreed Wednesday to spend about $47 million to douse budget hot-spots before they adjourn Thursday.
“We’re pretty happy with what we’ve done,” Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, said.
Most notably, legislators have approved a 1 percent pay raise for public employees on top of covering their health care and retirement increases. The pay raise was a major priority for Gov. Gary Herbert as budget negotiations wound up.
Legislators also cut a deal on how to pay for a list of road projects without having to borrow any additional money through state bonds and actually will reduce the state’s authorized debt by $130 million.
Lawmakers found enough to put money into computer testing in schools, to lock up state inmates in county jails and to expand language dual-immersion programs for about 1,000 students in 23 public schools.
http://bit.ly/xhyVXZ (SLT)

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

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

http://bit.ly/wctZHQ (PDH)

http://apne.ws/wA4IEN (CVD)

http://bit.ly/zvXh4Q (KUTV)

http://bit.ly/wYv4Pu (KTVX)

http://bit.ly/yBUt4G (KSTU)

U.S. ed secretary: Utah in control of school standards
Education » Conservatives challenge Common Core program.

The nation’s top education official confirmed Wednesday that Utah — not the federal government — is in charge of setting its own academic standards.
But it was unclear Wednesday evening whether that assurance by Education Secretary Arne Duncan would deter Utah lawmakers from backing a resolution asking the state school board to “reconsider” its adoption of Common Core academic standards.
The Senate passed the resolution, SCR13, 21-6 on Wednesday and sent it to the House despite months of commitments from state education leaders that Utah is not losing local control by using the standards, which outline the concepts students should learn in each grade to be ready for college and careers. The standards were developed as part of a states-led initiative.
Resolution sponsor Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, said, “It’s great to see that the federal government has taken a stand to reinforce states’ rights.” Osmond said the letter was something to take into consideration, but added he didn’t feel Wednesday night that it would make him want to give up on the resolution. He says concerns aren’t just about state sovereignty but also about cost.
http://bit.ly/ww3M8G (SLT)

http://bit.ly/wPhJM2 (DN)

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

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

http://bit.ly/wH6D4F (MUR)

Suicide-prevention bill goes to Utah governor

The Senate gave final passage Wednesday to a bill requiring public school teachers to complete two hours of training every five years on how to recognize signs of suicidal thoughts and behavior in youths.
It voted 27-1 for HB501, sponsored by Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, and sent it to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature.
http://bit.ly/xuYWsK (SLT)

http://bit.ly/w9crQR (DN)

Should Utah schools offer sex education for parents?

SALT LAKE CITY — Sex education took center stage at the Utah Legislature again Wednesday. But this time it revolved around teaching parents rather than students.
In a House bill requiring school districts to hold an annual parents seminar on topics such as drug abuse and mental health, the Senate added “human sexuality” to the list.
“And that became nuclear over at the House,” said Sen. Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, who made the amendment.
Niederhauser said lawmakers passing the abstinence-only sex education bill this week prompted the change to HB420. Public schools must now teach abstinence-only or nothing. The thinking, he said, is “hey, let’s teach parents to teach their children.”
That thinking touched off a firestorm in the House.
http://bit.ly/y4zUS6 (DN)

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

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

http://reut.rs/wBbTZ4 (Reuters)

Teacher Evaluation Bill Passes Legislature

SALT LAKE CITY – A bill that focuses on educator accountability has passed the full Utah Legislature.
Senate Bill 64 would require teachers and administrators to have annual evaluations.
Teachers who perform poorly would not get scheduled raises and they would have 120 days to improve, or they could get fired.
http://bit.ly/xeWSQx (KUTV)

Utah Colleges May Soon Charge for Concurrent Enrollment

It looks as though many Utah high school students won’t be able to get college credit through concurrent enrollment courses for free in the near future. As KCPW’s Jeff Robinson reports, a bill that allows Utah colleges and universities to charge them for that privilege is close to becoming law.
http://bit.ly/y6W2zO (KCPW)

House votes down bill to fine principal for violating equal access law

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would have fined public school principals for failing to provide equal access to all teacher unions failed in the Utah House after prolonged debate Monday.
Sponsors of SB82 say they’ve received reports of schools not complying with a 2007 law to treat all education associations the same. Some are being blocked from participating on committees or getting enough tables at a school function, said Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper.
The bill proposed to fine principals $1,000 and school districts $10,000 for violating the law.
http://bit.ly/AnKaKt (DN)

Will Utah’s immersion language programs grow or stagnate?

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah has a national reputation as a leader in language immersion programs. But that reputation could be in jeopardy as lawmakers consider funding for school language programs.
While the state has goals to greatly expand these programs to help thousands of students become bilingual, lawmakers may not provide the funding, and that has parents disappointed. They don’t want lawmakers to take away such an important opportunity for Utah students.
6-year-old Bryson Garland will learn French at school in the Fall, if his elementary school in Park City gets the money it needs to teach the curriculum.
“The demand here for the schools is wait list to get into the program,” said Bryson’s mother, Melissa Garland. “People are moving into districts to get into the program because parents, I think, recognize the value.”
http://bit.ly/zBevqj (KSL)

Progressives rally against Legislature on lands, sex ed

Utah progressives rallying to shout their displeasure at a lost legislative session gathered Wednesday evening in the Capitol basement to decry bills that would privatize federal lands, curtail anti-pollution efforts, gut sex education and more.
About 150 people gathered in a circle and chanted, “We are the majority! Represent us now!” after each in a series of speakers noted what the Legislature had done to thwart their causes this year.
http://bit.ly/AdVTL8 (SLT)

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

http://bit.ly/Ahq067 (MUR)

Not enough Hispanic teachers in Davis County

Bountiful, Utah – The opportunity for a decent paying job is attracting Latinos to Davis County. That means their kids are getting an education here too, but there aren’t enough Hispanic teachers who can help them. The district is trying to meet their needs.
The faces of students in Davis County are changing. “I’ve been with the Davis School District since 8th grade and the numbers just with my class have been growing,” said Andres Lancheros, a senior at Woods Cross High.
Lancheros came to the U.S. with his dad in 2005 from Colombia. He knew very little about this country, but he worked hard to adjust all on his own. “Personally when I came to this country, I needed someone to look up to, because if I had any concerns I could go talk to them,” he said.
The district is looking into hiring more Hispanic teachers by the time the next school year kicks off.
http://bit.ly/w8aRB1 (KTVX)

State refuses to release audit of Provo athletics

PROVO — An audit of athletics and club accounts in the Provo School District prompted by fundraising efforts for a new state-of-the-art weight room at Timpview High School is complete.
But the Utah state superintendent of schools refuses to make the state audit public.
Former Provo Superintendent Randall Merrill asked the Utah State Office of Education to conduct an audit of the district’s athletics and club programs after questions arose last year about donations made to Timpview’s football program as head coach Louis Wong oversaw the construction of a new weight room.
The audit was expected to be discussed by the Provo School Board as members attempted to draft a policy governing fundraising and donations. The issue has been of intense interest in Provo, where residents rallied to support Wong in December when they feared he’d be fired over fundraising questions. The issue also prompted, at least in part, the resignation of the Provo school superintendent.
The audit was set to be released publicly for the first time March 2 during a Utah State School Board meeting. One week before, State Superintendent Larry Shumway instead announced that after consulting with the Utah Attorney General’s Office, the audit would be legally classified as “protected,” preventing it from being released to the public.
http://bit.ly/A0IeZ9 (DN)

Groundbreaking for charter school set for Saturday

ST. GEORGE- A groundbreaking ceremony for the Valley Academy charter school in Hurricane begins at 2 p.m. Saturday and officials expect the construction of the school to be completed by August.
Valley Academy Director Ed Woodd said he is looking forward to bringing a new option for education to Washington County.
The new school will provide kindergarten through seventh-grade classes, and enrollment will be decided through a lottery, Woodd said.
http://bit.ly/yAgGlK (SGS)

Learning through a ‘Dream’
Students tackle Shakespeare to find out about themselves

LAYTON — When William Shakespeare wrote “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” he couldn’t have known how the play would benefit the self-esteem of elementary school students 400 years later.
Students at Whitesides Elementary School portrayed kings, queens, fairies and nymphs Wednesday during their unique adaptation of the classic Shakespeare play.
The 60 young actors spent months memorizing and rehearsing the tricky language, adding their own modern interpretations to bring the words to life.
http://bit.ly/yfSoF6 (OSE)

Fifth-graders get sneak peek at middle school

PROVIDENCE — Attempting to take a shortcut around the busy halls of Spring Creek Middle School on Wednesday morning, a half-dozen girls wandered into the gymnasium just as a large group of slighter younger kids were settling into spots on the floor.
“Who are they?” one girl asked.
“I don’t know,” another replied before suddenly recognizing the familiar situation.
“Oh,” she said. “They’re fifth-graders.”
Now veterans of life in middle school, the sixth- and seventh-graders clearly enjoyed getting a look at the rookies-to-be Tuesday and Wednesday as Spring Creek hosted two Transition Day tours for students who will attend middle school this fall.
http://bit.ly/AyKDhM (LHJ)

Schools prep for shake from quake

OGDEN — Principals and specialists knew they had been called to an Ogden School District meeting Wednesday to talk about earthquake preparedness.
What they didn’t know before the meeting started was that they would be given a catastrophic scenario and be asked to work through the first-responder steps to secure the safety of students.
“We have a major earthquake every 350 years, and we are now at 350 years,” said Donna Corby, OSD spokeswoman. “I was a Southern California girl, and a 7.0 earthquake is huge. It brings down buildings.”
http://bit.ly/ysBenH (OSE)

New film teaching America the problem of bullying

KAYSVILLE, Utah – Over 13 million American kids will be bullied this year making it the most common form of violence experienced by young people in our nation. One film is trying to educate America to stop it, but its R rating could stand in the way.
The Peterson family in Kaysville knows of the reality of bullying. Their now 9-year-old dealt with a bully for nearly two years. The problem has been resolved, but Gwen Peterson’s daughter still deals with the anxiety of the trauma daily.
Peterson gets the reality of bullying, but she worries most of America doesn’t.
http://bit.ly/x1h16v (KTVX)

Viewmont student recovering after suffering seizure while weightlifting

BOUNTIFUL — A Viewmont High School student remained hospitalized Thursday, recovering from a seizure he suffered after collapsing while lifting weights in school the day before.
Family members say Riley James Hansen, 16, underwent surgery Wednesday night for a torn carotid artery.
He was at the school’s weight room Wednesday doing arm curls when he felt something “pop,” said his grandmother Pat Hart. “And he didn’t know if it was in the back of his head or where it was, but immediately he said he got a really bad headache.”
Riley got up to talk to the gym coach, and while he spoke with him he went into a seizure, Hart said. Paramedics were called and he was flown by medical helicopter to the hospital.
http://bit.ly/A9BOFu (DN)

http://bit.ly/y9FxdX (KSL)

http://bit.ly/w6HFOo (KSTU)

High school students pledge to not text and drive

Motivational speaker, Chad Hymas, spoke with students at Judge Memorial High School about the dangers of driving and texting on Thursday.
http://bit.ly/wSPfPU (KSTU)

Retirement

In a recent assembly, Maureen Warren announced her retirement as Foothills Elementary school secretary effective March 2.
http://bit.ly/AfZBbb (PDH)

Students of the month

Mapleton Jr. High School is pleased to announce the February 2012 Students of the Month.
http://bit.ly/y1XeCw (PDH)

Fifth grade talent show

The fifth-grade students at Shelley Elementary School will have a talent show today from 12:45-2:15 p.m. in the gym and on the stage
http://bit.ly/yI7lgT (PDH)

Penny Warz

Through Friday American Fork Junior High School will be holding its Annual Penny Warz. Money raised will benefit Haiti Orphanage.
http://bit.ly/y2WiDq (PDH)

————————————————————
OPINION & COMMENTARY
————————————————————

Lost in translation
‘Message bills’ a big waste of time
Salt Lake Tribune editorial

Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?
— William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1

Members of the Utah Legislature this session have spent a great deal of their time, and a fair amount of your money, trying to call spirits from the deep. Or, perhaps to banish them back to the depths of Washington, D.C., whence, to hear some of our elected officials talk, most evil spirits come.
It all amounts to a giant waste of the body’s precious time. It is a nasty habit that needlessly frightens some and dishonestly raises hopes among those few who truly think that seizing millions of acres of federal land, opting out of Medicare or sheltering Utah children from a set of national education standards are either possible or a good idea.
In terms of pure grandiose hubris, a package of bills and resolutions that seek to evict the United States of America from the 30 million or so acres of land it owns inside the borders of Utah has to take the cake.
http://bit.ly/zwC84v

Eagle Forum sees a socialist plot in math equation
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Paul Rolly

Gov. Gary Herbert has been a strong supporter of the Utah Common Core Standards initiative for education, his Commission on Excellence in Education endorsed it, and his lieutenant governor, Greg Bell, reaffirmed the administration’s support in a blog last month.
But after a lengthy meeting with Utah Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzika last week, Herbert signed on to a concurrent resolution with the Legislature asking the State Board of Education to reconsider its adoption of the program 18 months ago.
Herbert spokeswoman Ally Isom said the governor has not changed his position, that he strongly supports the Common Core standards, and once all the stakeholders have a chance to thoroughly review it, they will be on board as well. The resolution to reconsider just gives everyone a chance to understand it better.
Of course, they all had that chance nearly two years ago when it was adopted by the board. But the controversy surrounding it now, and the fact that nearly all Republicans in the Legislature and the governor feel the need to have it reconsidered, indicates just who really is running the show at the State Capitol.
Ruzika and her Eagle Forum soldiers see a federal conspiracy to take over the minds of the school children, according to blogs and posts on Eagle Forum friendly social media sites. And some legislators have shared their concerns with me that there may be a hidden “gay agenda.”
http://bit.ly/yDTz4F

The Sex Talk
Salt Lake Tribune editorial cartoon by Pat Bagley

http://bit.ly/x0wosJ

Nobody’s in charge of governing Utah education
Deseret News op-ed by Sen. Howard Stephenson and Cody Jenkins, intern from the Hinckley Institute of Politics

The Soviet agricultural system has been relegated to the ash heap of history, but American public education continues with one five-year reform plan after another.
Shortly after the Reagan administration unveiled the “Nation at Risk” report, financial journalist and author Peter Brimelow wrote, “The public school system is the American version of Soviet agriculture, beyond help as currently organized because its incentive structure is all wrong. Symptoms include: … constant mismatching of supply and demand … prices administered without regard to incentives, so that all teachers must be paid on the same scales; and absence of internal checks and balances … ”
While Brimelow’s comparison was insightful, he failed to recognize why American public education has not utterly failed like Soviet agriculture did: the innate difference between a teacher’s love for a child and a farmer’s lack of affection for a turnip. Caring professionals are the reason government education has not utterly failed, in spite of the dysfunctional system in which they work.
http://bit.ly/y71zvM

How I vote
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner op-ed by Rep. Brad Wilson

Each year the Legislature considers 1,000 plus bills in a very short 45-day time period. Some of the bills deal with public policy changes, others with budgetary matters, and some are a combination of both.
I’m often asked how I make my decision to vote yes or no on a particular bill.
On some bills, it can be a very easy decision on how to vote.

Several of the questions dealt with finances and how to spending the estimated $280 million in revenue growth the state expected to gain. I asked respondents to rank their priorities from one to 10.
It will likely come as no surprise that public education came out as the top priority followed by economic development. Tourism and health care ranked as the bottom two spending priorities.
In keeping with the survey results, I’m happy to report that public education captured the majority of the revenue growth funding.
http://bit.ly/x1abd4

Teacher Evaluations: the fine print
Deseret News commentary by columnist Mary McConnell

The main response to my blog postings about publishing teacher scores seems to be “don’t blame teachers.” Some readers also suggest – and I’ve seen this comment frequently this past year – that parents need to step up responsibility for their kids’ schooling.
Fair enough. As a teacher and parent, I agree that families ultimately make more difference than schools. And I also agree that putting all the onus on teachers for improving schools is simply unfair.
BUT – improving teachers still matters.
http://bit.ly/yVe5gQ

Priorities
Commentary by Charter Solutions President Lincoln Fillmore

The Legislature passed the education appropriations bill for 2013. It includes a small increase in overall funding, plus growth throughout the public school system. The DNews reported that many projects and programs weren’t funded because, “(Senator Lyle) Hillyard said funding simply ran out after the ninth item on the list.” So, priorities that the legislature had set below number nine simply didn’t get funded.
The two big charter school items, the startup grants and the moral obligation for bonding, were prioritized as number our, just below an increase in the WPU and funding for enrollment growth. These charter priorities were even placed higher than the State Board of Education’s top priorities. How does that happen? When your Association is strong enough that it rivals or surpasses the strength of the others.
http://bit.ly/zBPoKw

Book Matters: Boys would rather hunt aliens than read
KSL commentary by Teri Harman, who writes and reads from home amid the chaos of three young children

SALT LAKE CITY — I recently asked Harman, a 9-year-old third grader (and my husband’s nephew), if he thinks girls read more than boys. He said, “Yes. Because they don’t do lots of stuff like us boys. We find things to do like hunt aliens and play Xbox.”
Reading experts agree with Harman. Boys are doing a lot of things these days, but sadly, reading is not on the list for most. The male-female reading gap is staggeringly large and shows no signs of closing. This canyon-sized problem is having far-reaching effects on our society as a whole. Boys who don’t read turn into men who may not do as well in the professional, adult world.
http://bit.ly/wzvEf6

Land-grab diversion
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Jim Harris

Peter Metcalf’s “Herbert’s unholy alliance hurts economy” (Opinion, March 1) on the inane bills in the Utah Legislature to take possession of federal lands in the state, was spot-on. The stated rationale for the legislation — improving public education funding — is just a red herring for the radical agenda that really drives these bills.
The Legislature and the governor’s office would have us believe that Utahns are economically hamstrung because we can’t do whatever we’d like with America’s public lands. The reality is actually quite different.
http://bit.ly/zyLhG9

Delicate Arch Taco Bell
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Mike Bailey

Re “Utah fires up a new Sagebrush Rebellion” (Tribune, March 3):
President Barack Obama and Congress should stand firm against the legislators in my state of Utah who want to wrest control of millions of acres of land, including national parks, from the federal government.
They claim it will benefit us and our education system here in Utah. But I don’t trust them. The poor care they give to our state parks and the lousy attention they give to education right now are ample evidence.
http://bit.ly/AFo40g

Not All School Bullies Are Kids
Salt Lake City Weekly letter from Anita Ferroni

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute survey of 2007, 37 percent of workers have been bullied, and 72 percent of those were bullied by their bosses. No workplace is immune to it. This is a serious and underestimated problem, even in institutions of learning, where one might think that the administrations in our public schools would be above such a thing.
Utah Teachers United represents public- school teachers, and we’ve seen this aggressive behavior toward teachers escalate. When effective teachers with no history of problems are targeted by an administrator, an alarm should sound. However, we have seen firsthand how administrators abuse their positions of authority over teachers in a way that is so insulting, so demeaning, it demands a policy be put in place to deal with workplace bullying.
It is troubling to see the many negative comments by the public, in addition to discouraging legislation on national and local levels, aimed at making teachers appear to be the sole problem of what is wrong with education today. Making their job more difficult is not the solution to better outcomes in our schools.
http://bit.ly/ykYjRu

No sex ed used to work fine
(Provo) Daily Herald letter from Amos L. Wright

When I was in school quite a number of years ago, no sex education classes were given.
From reading Ms. Toth’s column of last week, I would suppose we children were very much deprived of essential knowledge on this subject. Yet out-of-wedlock births were much rarer than today, and venereal disease (now called STD) was almost non-existent among school-age young people. In fact HIV was not known then.
Our parents gave us no explicit instruction on human reproduction and the use of procreative powers. There were no birth control pills, and prophylactic devices were never openly displayed nor advertised. In view of these facts, I would ask Ms. Toth why our rates of unwed pregnancy and VD were almost infinitesimal compared to those of today?
http://bit.ly/xaPvPD

Chinese program uses qualified, cost effective teacher
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner letter from Paul Liston

I’m responding to the letter of Mar. 1, “School’s Chinese language program needs review.” The program he referred to is the Chinese Language immersion program at Heritage Elementary in Layton. This is one of 30 immersion programs which, over the past six years, have been administered by the Davis County School District (DCSD). These programs have proven to be successful. Students learn foreign languages from native speakers just as they learned their first language. As a bonus, they are learning about Chinese culture. The letter writer singled out the program at Heritage as needing review.
He contends this program is deficient in three aspects: First, the teacher is not qualified, nor effective in her teaching methods; second, it is not cost effective; third, it has a negative impact on other teachers at the school.
My review reveals a much different picture:
http://bit.ly/zCMNrt

ASD boosts muscles over reading
(Provo) Daily Herald letter from Steven G. Johnson

Last week I received word that the Alpine School District would be cutting Reading Recovery teachers due to the loss of state Early Literacy Grants. It is unfortunate that the funding for this important program has been cut.
The district hopes to reduce the impact by hiring parents as “aids” to read with struggling students. Untrained and inexperienced parents, despite their good intentions, cannot replace teachers who have been specifically educated in the techniques to assist these needy students.
The very same day, I received in the mail the Alpine School District February 2012 Stakeholders’ Report. I noticed that the district intends to allocate many hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a new fieldhouse at Pleasant Grove High School, and to build a weight and cardio facility at Lone Peak High School.
http://bit.ly/wNZlIU

Property taxes keep going up
(Provo) Daily Herald letter from Gerald Erickson

For 45 years I have seen the value of my home go up every other year and pay more property tax. In the last two years the value of my home went down $30,000, but my property tax went up $100 (Alpine School District). Value goes down; taxes go up, reassuring us that no matter how bad things are the government can make them worse.
Why are educators allowed in the legislature? State employees are not allowed in the legislature. Teachers are members of the state employees’ retirement fund and possibly their health and welfare fund. Can anyone get in the state retirement fund? There is no greater conflict of interest than teachers voting for their own raises.
http://bit.ly/yneuBN

Neither Broad Nor Bold
A narrow-minded approach to school reform
Education Next commentary by Paul E. Peterson, director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution

Children raised in families with higher incomes score higher on math and reading tests. That is no less true in the Age of Obama than it was in the Age of Pericles or, for that matter, in the Age of Mao. But is parental income the cause of a child’s success? Or is the connection between income and achievement largely a symptom of something else: genetic heritage, parental skill, or a supportive educational setting?
The Broader, Bolder Approach to Education, a coalition of education professors and interest-group leaders, including the heads of the country’s two largest teachers unions, have concluded that family income itself determines whether or not a child learns. In the first paragraph of its mission statement, the coalition claims that it has identified “a powerful association between social and economic disadvantage and low student achievement.”
“Weakening that link,” the Broader, Bolder group goes on to say, “is the fundamental challenge facing America’s education policy makers.” For this group, poverty and income inequality, not inadequate schools, are the fundamental problem in American education that needs to be fixed. Other possible approaches to improving student achievement—school accountability, school choice, reform of the teaching profession—are misguided, counterproductive, and even dangerous. The energy now being wasted on attempts to enhance the country’s education system should be redirected toward a campaign to either redistribute income or expand the network of social services.
The Broader, Bolder platform has won the wholehearted support of the country’s teachers unions. But it’s much to the credit of the current U.S. secretary of education, Arne Duncan, that he has carefully kept his distance, insisting instead on accountability, choice, and teacher policy reforms that the Broader, Bolder group finds dispensable.
http://educationnext.org/neither-broad-nor-bold/

Restoring Civic Purpose in Schools
Education Week op-ed by James E. Davis, H. Michael Hartoonian, Richard D. Van Scotter, & William E. White (The writers are authors of an online history and civics program developed through the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and published by Pearson Education.)

Ask most social critics what ails America, and “low-performing public schools” will be high on the list. Pundits offer little supporting data (as if the pronouncement were self-evident), but when they do, they usually refer to test scores, not higher-level thinking skills, creativity, and resourcefulness—the tangible abilities that best serve a democratic society and market economy. K-12 schools, in effect, have become a scapegoat for a society incapable of or unwilling to face deeper problems associated with our education system.
This count-the-widget evaluation of the public schools has undermined the American education system. America’s greatness is reflected in our ability to innovate, analyze complex problems, ask cogent questions, assemble and evaluate critical data, and seek creative solutions, not recall factual information. These are the skills of a democratic citizen, and failure to teach them imperils the future of the republic.
This decline of our education system began in earnest with the 1980s when corporate crusaders and other critics, supported by willing federal and state leaders, targeted public schools—an institution that plays a significant role in creating informed citizens, expanding the middle class, and thus expanding the economy. Schools do this by serving all students, regardless of cultural background and academic ability.
http://bit.ly/zM5OFI

Middle-Schoolers Like Math, But P.E. More Popular, Survey Finds
Education Week commentary by columnist Erik Robelen

Do you think most middle-school students would rather do their math homework or take out the trash? What if the choice was between those math equations and eating broccoli?
While you’re puzzling over these questions (the answers aren’t altogether obvious, are they?), I’ll share a few other tidbits from a new survey that aims to tease out the learning preferences and habits of U.S. middle school students, with an emphasis on mathematics.
http://bit.ly/xoROYK

————————————————————-
NATIONAL NEWS
————————————————————-

Obama, GOP governors share many views on education
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A funny thing is happening between President Barack Obama and many Republican governors when it comes to improving America’s schools: They are mostly getting along.
After Obama spoke recently to the nation’s governors, Louisiana GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal publicly praised the administration’s efforts on education, and Virginia Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell said there was a lot of room for “common agreement” on fixing schools. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, another Republican, introduced Obama in September at the White House before the president announced that states could be freed from stringent rules under the No Child Left Behind law if they met certain conditions.
http://apne.ws/yw2g4m

Teacher Evaluations Pose Test for States
Wall Street Journal

Efforts to revamp public education are increasingly focused on evaluating teachers using student test scores, but school districts nationwide are only beginning to deal with the practical challenges of implementing those changes.
Only an estimated 30% of classroom teachers in the U.S. work in grades or subjects covered by state standardized tests. Currently, most states test students only in math and reading in third through eighth grades and once in high school, as mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind law. Few states test students in other core subjects, such as science and social studies, and for many other subjects there is no testing at all.
Rolling out systemwide tests and devising ways to measure educator effectiveness require additional spending for states and districts, many already low on cash. And some parents and teachers complain that the effort has translated into more testing for children, taking away from classroom learning.
“Nothing like this has ever been done on this scale, and states and districts have to ensure it’s done in a rigorous way so we feel confident the information actually reflects how well teachers are helping students learn,” said Mariann Lemke, a researcher with the National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality, a federally funded research group that advises states.
http://on.wsj.com/wQZLa2

States Loosening ‘Seat Time’ Requirements
A growing number of states are starting to award academic credit based on what students know—not how much time they spend learning it
Education Week

States have established an array of policies in recent years to free schools from having to award academic credits based on “seat time,” with the goal of making it easier for struggling students to catch up, exceptional students to race ahead, and students facing geographic and scheduling barriers to take the courses they need.
Thirty-six states have adopted policies that allow districts or schools to provide credits based on students’ proving proficiency in a subject, rather than the time they physically spend in a traditional classroom setting, according to the National Governors Association. One state, New Hampshire, has required high schools to assign credits based on competency, rather than seat time, while others have encouraged schools to do that or allowed them to apply for waivers from state policy to do so.
In addition to their desire to increase academic opportunities for students, state policymakers are eager to boost high school graduation rates by re-engaging struggling teenagers through online or alternative courses, and potentially putting them on the path to a two- or four-year college degree or career certification.
http://bit.ly/xebnzl

Growing Gaps Bring Focus on Poverty’s Role in Schooling
Education Week

The fractious debate over how much schools can counteract poverty’s impact on children is far from settled, but a recently published collection of research strongly suggests that until policymakers and educators confront deepening economic and social disparities, poor children will increasingly miss out on finding a path to upward social mobility.
The achievement gap between poor children and rich children has grown significantly over the past three decades and is now nearly twice as large as the black-white gap, according to Sean F. Reardon, a Stanford University sociologist. He examined data on family income and student scores on standardized tests in reading and math spanning 1960 to 2007.
As the income gap has grown, so too has the disparity in how much money and time affluent parents invest in the development of their young children compared with such efforts by low-income parents. For example, between birth and age 6, children from high-income families now spend an average of 1,300 more hours in “novel” places outside their homes, schools, and day-care centers than children from poor families, a trend documented by Meredith Phillips, an associate professor of public policy and sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
http://bit.ly/xyjMCI

A copy of the study
http://bit.ly/xkOcKb

‘Parent Unions’ Seek to Join Policy Debates
Education Week

Whether they’re organizing events, buttonholing legislators, or simply trading ideas and information, a growing number of “parent unions” are attempting to stake out a place in policy debates over education in states and districts, amid a crowded field of actors and advocates.
As the term implies, some of these organizations see themselves as countering the political might of teachers’ unions, though others see the labor groups as allies. Still other parents’ unions are less concerned with teacher and labor-management issues than with advancing their own tightly focused—or very broad—agendas. Those agendas include improving school gifted-and-talented programs, for instance, and closing achievement gaps between minority and white students.
Many parents’ unions are still in their infancy, and can count few outright successes or failures in trying to shape policy. Whether such groups emerge as powerful voices, or fade into obscurity, remains to be seen.
http://bit.ly/AkfShr

RPT-Cash-poor U.S. schools raid rivals in bid to boost student rosters
Reuters

As American public school administrators look to bring in more money by recruiting students overseas, they are also hunting closer to home – hoping to poach pupils from rival schools and to draw in home-schooled children.
Schools generally get more state funding as their enrollment rises, so districts across the United States are seeking to boost their numbers by attracting students from other public schools in their town or even elsewhere in the state. They’re also trying to reel back in students who have left the public system to be home-schooled.
One of the most successful tactics: Creating an online school that can enroll students statewide. Districts can run the online program on their own or hire an outside contractor – often a private, for-profit firm – to handle every aspect, from designing the curriculum to hiring teachers to marketing the school.
Though cyber students don’t pay tuition, districts do typically get state funding to educate them – and can effectively turn a profit if they can keep the cost of the online program low.
http://reut.rs/AziVHA

Students Demand the Right to Use Technology in Schools
Mind/Shift

We’ve heard arguments from ed tech experts about how using technology for learning may in fact deepen the divide between wealthy and low-income kids. Students who have access to technology and are encouraged by teachers and parents to leverage it for new ways of learning, the argument goes, will leap even further ahead than low-income students who are forbidden to use it in public schools.
Those arguments were personified last week in the collective voices of students from Morningside, Crenshaw, Roosevelt, Locke, and Manual Arts high schools, who presented their case at the Digital Media and Learning conference in San Francisco.
Holding up cell phones, tablets, and video cameras, students spelled out to listeners in the packed conference room a message loud and clear: We demand access to the same technology that privileged students have in order to survive in the working world, to compete in any meaningful way, and to amplify our voices.
http://bit.ly/yWc207

Homework for Teachers: Their Investment Plans
New York Times

WHEN Dan Otter started teaching in 1992, an insurance agent walked into his fourth-grade classroom in Southern California after school to try to sell him an annuity.
That was hardly unusual. Back then, people who worked in many schools, church offices and other nonprofit institutions could set up retirement accounts in almost any financial vehicle they could find. Their employers offered little guidance, and local insurance agents wooed teachers in the lunchroom with pizza and sandwiches.
In 2009, however, new federal regulations required employers to be more directly involved in running these programs, known as 403(b) plans for the section of the tax code authorizing them. To make that task easier, the nonprofit institutions began culling the numbers of managers and using more widely available mutual funds.
Today, the streamlined 403(b)’s look more like the private sector’s 401(k) retirement plans, with employees putting part of their paychecks into individual accounts, sometimes with matching amounts from the employer, and choosing investments.
http://nyti.ms/y7TtG7

Oklahoma Education Department spent $2.3 million through slush funds, audit claims
An investigative audit conducted by the Oklahoma auditor’s office shows $2.3 million was spent by the Oklahoma Education Department through undisclosed accounts. The audit claims the money was used to pay for drinks and food at education conferences.
(Oklahoma City) Oklahoman

The state Education Department used two undisclosed bank accounts as slush funds for drinks, food, entertainment, travel and more to host state education conferences, spending $2.3 million over the past 10 years, according to an investigative state audit released Wednesday.
The hidden accounts first appear on records in 1997 — seven years after former state schools Superintendent Sandy Garrett took office — and they were transferred to new accounts maintained by the Oklahoma State School Boards Association months before she left office in 2010.
“These off-book and unauthorized accounts allowed (Education Department) officials to pay, at a single event, $2,600 for 85 bottles of wine and 3 kegs of beer and $5,700 for food items including a ‘chocolate fountain,’ ‘Maryland crabcakes,’ ‘mini beef wellingtons,’ and ‘smoked salmon mousse in a puff pastry,’ without following any of the requirements normally associated with government expenditures,” the report from the state Auditor and Inspector’s Office says.
http://bit.ly/waSEPw

Related posts:

Leave a Reply