Education News Roundup for March 21, 2012

Education News Roundup_"Twitter Profile" by Rosaura Ochoa/CC/flickr

Education News Roundup_"Twitter Profile" by Rosaura Ochoa/CC/flickr

Today’s Top Picks:

Rep. Wright thinks abstinence-only is still a good idea.
http://bit.ly/GDLEyE  (PDH)

Signs of the impending apocalypse update: The Provo Herald and Tooele Transcript Bulletin are on the same side as the Salt Lake Tribune in the sex-ed bill veto.
http://bit.ly/GKa1pK  (PDH)
http://bit.ly/GDs5TI  (TTB)

Eureka students protest decision to let principal go.
http://bit.ly/GHL6W1  (DN)
and http://bit.ly/GHDDHv  (KSL)
and http://bit.ly/GHFtIy  (MUR)

Politic It checks the Twitter traffic on the Governor’s veto.
http://bit.ly/GDNOyc

Schools get ready for a shift to a greater emphasis on informational texts (as opposed to fiction or literature).
http://bit.ly/GEXBV8  (Ed Week)

ENR would have thought the whole John Scopes thing (http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/scopes/scopes.htm) would have put Tennessee off on wading further into the evolution debate, but it appears not.
http://tnne.ws/GErVcI  (Tennessean)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Wright says sex ed bill still a good idea

Governor rejects sex ed bill
Herbert says bill deprives parents of their choice

Students in Eureka protest decision to let principal go

Utah mom: Young kids need to learn about mental health Students typically don’t learn about mental health until middle or high school — but by then, some parents say, teasing or ostracism have already begun.

Nutrition director champions healthy school lunches

Davis High students continue a proud tradition of debate

Students learn court system through trial of Big Bad Wolf

Layton Jr. High students self-publish magazine

Solar panels power lights, curriculum at Utah schools Renewable » School officials describe solar panels as real-world example of green energy.

Teacher suspended for reading alleged pornographic material in ‘Ender’s Game’

Giant chocolate bar pays a visit to S.L. school

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Sex education veto: Governor was right

Guv absolutely right to veto abstinence-only bill

Curricula woes in Ogden

Thank you

Insubordination?

An afterthought

Despite all the hate, KJZZ committed to prep sports UHSAA » Channel 14 sees televising high school sports as public service, not a moneymaker.

Authentic accountability in education

The public’s response to Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s veto of HB363

Governor recognizes that parents know best

Governor vetoed HB 363 to retain office

Ruzicka creates our own Harper Valley PTA

Butt out of my life, Mero

Sex talk

Herbert ignored the people

Sex-education

PSD works for us

Utah hasty on Common Core

D.O.G.S. alive in Cache Valley

A Million Teachers Prepare to March Out the Classroom Door

Kline Wants More Aid for Special Ed., Less for Obama Priorities

Michelle Rhee Talks Vouchers

How do we empower parents?

LAUSD Can Now Spy on Teachers’ Online Activity, Punish Them for Facebook Comments

Study: Consistent School Attendance Matters in Pre-K

NATION

States Take Legislative Actions to Expand Virtual Ed.

Districts Gear Up for Shift to Informational Texts

School officials ordered to apologize in prayer case

Parents Upset Over New Case of Math Homework Referencing Slavery

TN science bill protects teachers who allow debate over evolution

Pink-hair suspension overruled by Delaware school district

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UTAH NEWS
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Wright says sex ed bill still a good idea

OREM — Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden, is disappointed that Gov. Gary Herbert vetoed the bill that would have called for all of Utah’s sexual education classes to be abstinence-only.
Wright, who sponsored House Bill 363, which was vetoed on Friday night, was part of a forum on Tuesday that spoke to the Women’s Legislative Council of Utah County; he was joined by representatives from The Sutherland Institute and argued with BYU health sciences professor Cougar Hall and a PTA representative, who believed contraception should have a place in public school sex ed.
Wright expressed his displeasure with the actions of the governor and reiterated his stance that abstinence-only is the only sure way to teach Utah’s children to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
http://bit.ly/GDLEyE  (PDH)

Governor rejects sex ed bill
Herbert says bill deprives parents of their choice

Late Friday, Utah Governor Gary Herbert vetoed House Bill 363, a controversial bill that would ban talk of contraceptives in public schools and enforce abstinence-only sex education.
In a press release from Herbert’s office, he cited the importance of human sexuality instruction and said the topic must be approached with care and should primarily come from the home. However, he added, schools should support and supplement the lessons learned at home instead of avoiding the topic.
According to Herbert, any attempt by the State to regulate sex education must stress the importance of abstinence as the only sure method to avoid “the negative effects of premarital sex” and not interfere with a parent’s right to determine if they want their child instructed on the subject.
http://bit.ly/GI31e3  (PR)

http://bit.ly/GGjqhU  (SLT)

http://bit.ly/GEBBHY  (Ms)

Students in Eureka protest decision to let principal go

EUREKA — Eureka is a town where the high school is the heart of the community. And students here say the school’s principal has won over their hearts and the hearts of their parents in a way the school hasn’t seen in a very long time.
Tuesday, the halls at Tintic High School were quiet and empty. But outside the school and down Eureka’s Main Street more than half of the 109 students enrolled at the school walked out in support of Principal Jaren Wadsworth, whose contract was not renewed.
“He’s become more than a teacher to us. He’s become one of our role models and someone we look up to, and we don’t want to see him leave,” said McKayla Wahlberg, a senior at the school who helped organize the student protest.
The students say the principal has improved test scores, ignited school spirit and got students excited about learning.
Monday night, the school board voted to let him go at the end of the school year, despite emotional appeals from students and parents to keep him. The school board offered no explanation.
http://bit.ly/GHL6W1  (DN)

http://bit.ly/GHDDHv  (KSL)

http://bit.ly/GHFtIy  (MUR)

Utah mom: Young kids need to learn about mental health Students typically don’t learn about mental health until middle or high school — but by then, some parents say, teasing or ostracism have already begun.

After Taylor Green was hospitalized in first grade for mania, he and his mother didn’t know what to say to his friends.
Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the boy was struggling with his medications. He was out of control — running away from school and destroying his toys.
When he returned to school two months later, classmates spread rumors that he had been in jail.
It was then that Jamey Green knew she needed to help her son by educating his classmates about mental illness.
http://bit.ly/GEJHm3  (SLT)

Nutrition director champions healthy school lunches

A nutrition director showed the positive and negative aspects of Utah school lunch options thorugh an array of pictures Tuesday.
Julie Metos, director of masters programs in the division of nutrition, used the Social Soup to show food served to children in elementary, junior high and high schools should be healthier.
“Because I’m an advocate, I have to say not enough has been done, but really we have made progress,” she said.
The formal school lunch program was first implemented in Utah schools in 1946. In 1966, a breakfast program was started.
http://bit.ly/GIykYN  (Chrony)

Davis High students continue a proud tradition of debate

KAYSVILLE — As region champions for 10 consecutive years, the Davis High School debate team has a long-standing tradition of effective speaking and debating.
Last weekend, the squad proved it is among the best in the state, finishing fifth out of 20 teams at the 5-A state debate tournament at Weber State University in Ogden.
http://bit.ly/GJM8QS  (OSE)

Students learn court system through trial of Big Bad Wolf

FARMINGTON — The plaintiff’s jaw dropped in shock as the jury’s verdict was read.
“We, the jury, find the defendant, Curly Pig, not guilty of trying to cook the wolf,” jury foreman Megan Kasparian said Tuesday.
Big B. Wolf, who preferred the name “B.B.” and was brought to life by Aiden Lund, simply couldn’t believe that a jury made up of 16 of his fellow third-graders found that Curly Pig had not tried to kill him with a boiling pot of water.
“I felt angry,” Lund said. “I felt surprised.”
The verdict came after a mock trial held in the courtroom of 2nd District Judge Thomas L. Kay. Kay presided over the proceeding — which included every third-grade class at Endeavour Elementary School — just as he has done for the past 13 years.
http://bit.ly/GDrmod  (DN)

http://bit.ly/GImaMW  (KSL)

Layton Jr. High students self-publish magazine

LAYTON — Junior high students in Layton are getting a unique opportunity to learn how to collaborate by working to put together a student magazine.
The new publication out of Layton Jr. High, called “Blank Page”, is written and formatted by students. It’s touted as one of the first “youth-driven” magazines out of Utah.
Amir Jackson, who founded the non-profit organization Nurture the Creative Mind, helped organize the students to launch Blank Page.
http://bit.ly/GIXIc7  (KSTU)

Solar panels power lights, curriculum at Utah schools Renewable » School officials describe solar panels as real-world example of green energy.

Solar power is no longer just a textbook topic for five Utah charter schools.
A handful of schools, from North Star Academy in Bluffdale to Quest Academy in West Haven, recently installed solar arrays that power not only their schools, but also their curriculums with real-world examples of green energy.
There is no better example of that mix between education and application than at Quest Academy, where officials installed a 42-inch monitor to measure, in real time, the solar panels’ impact on the school and the environment.
The monitor provides data on environmental factors such as CO2 emissions, as well as on the amount of money the school is saving by having its own power source.
http://bit.ly/GDbjST  (SLT)

Teacher suspended for reading alleged pornographic material in ‘Ender’s Game’

SALT LAKE CITY — A South Carolina teacher was suspended after a parent complained about the teacher reading pornographic material to the class.
The teacher was reading Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game,” which the parent said, was pornographic. But Card told the Doug Wright Show, the way he understands it, the teacher had also been reading inappropriate material off the Internet to the class. Card believes the parent must have looked at the reading list, saw “Ender’s Game,” and got upset.
” ‘Ender’s Game’ has been on an evangelical hit list for a long time, for no other reason, but that I’m Mormon,” Card said.
http://bit.ly/GCR24E  (KSL)

Giant chocolate bar pays a visit to S.L. school

SALT LAKE CITY — Chocolate lovers could eat their hearts out 12,000 times over at an elementary school on Tuesday.
The “Think Big. Eat Smart!” Tour, featuring the world’s largest chocolate bar, was at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School in Salt Lake City Tuesday. Guinness World Records certified the 12,190-pound bar to be the world’s largest chocolate bar.
The bar was created by World’s Finest Chocolate as an example of “portion distortion” and the centerpiece of a traveling multimedia display that teaches children about eating right and staying fit. The bar measures 21 feet long, 3 feet high and 4 feet wide.
http://bit.ly/GJLjYe  (DN)

http://bit.ly/GEbonT  (KSTU)

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Sex education veto: Governor was right
(Provo) Daily Herald editorial

Gov. Gary Herbert made the right call in rejecting HB 363, the sex education bill that calls for the public schools to teach an “abstinence only” curriculum and allows schools to avoid teaching the subject altogether.
Herbert said the current system is working fine; parents can choose to “opt-in” on behalf of their children. Nobody is forced to do anything.
There were plenty of good reasons to veto, not the least of which was that all the prudish hoopla from the far right was making Utah — still insular after all these years — appear even more backward to the outside world. And that’s bad for business. A pro-business governor like Herbert is going to want to project an image of normalcy.
http://bit.ly/GKa1pK

Guv absolutely right to veto abstinence-only bill Tooele Transcript Bulletin editorial

For a time, it seemed as if House Bill 363, the brainchild of Rep. Bill Wright that aimed to ban discussion of contraception in sex education classes in public schools, would meet little opposition. Running under the innocuous title of Health Education Amendments, the bill sailed through the House by a 45-28 margin, then, to the surprise of some, went through the Senate comfortably 19-10.
But the bill drew national attention quickly — it would have been the first law of its kind passed in the United States, though a few countries, such as Pakistan, have similar prohibitions — and began to garner awareness within the state. Though opposition was slow to build in the month from when the bill was introduced on the House floor to its passage in the Senate, it finally became apparent that the measure was too radical for mainstream Utahns, even if it wasn’t too radical for many of their legislators. Both parents — in the form of the Utah PTA — and teachers — as represented by the Utah Education Association — voiced strong opposition to the bill.
That mainstream will was reflected when Gov. Gary Herbert vetoed HB 363 on Friday.
http://bit.ly/GDs5TI

Curricula woes in Ogden
(Ogden Standard-Examiner editorial

Ogden School District Superintendent Brad Smith has set some big goals for district schools, including a 90 percent graduation rate goal in 2013 and pay increases for teachers that will be significantly tied to merit.
The new superintendent is trying to shake things up in the Ogden district. And we’ve urged teachers and other education professionals to give him a chance to implement some ideas that have met resistance. The results of a recent district audit will provide Smith the opportunity to walk the talk and effect some change.
The recent audit, conducted by RMC Research of Denver, showed that classes in the Ogden district have curriculum that is roughly a year behind the assigned grade levels. That’s bad. It means that too many students are not receiving the amount of education necessary to succeed in the future. It also indicates that educators and administrators have less confidence in the learning abilities of the students they are assigned to educate.
It will be Superintendent Smith’s responsibility to make sure that the curricula the district provides meets the grades it’s intended for. It will be his first major challenge as leader of the Ogden district.
http://bit.ly/GDt9ac

Editorial cartoon by Cal Grondahl
http://bit.ly/GD8P74

Thank you
Twitter commentary by Gov. Gary R. Herbert

Thank you to all who engaged in the #HB363 conversation in a respectful way, especially the 1,650 people who expressed thanks for the veto.
http://bit.ly/GHjpyS

Insubordination?
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Paul Rolly

Even though the Utah Senate killed the bill to fight teen suicide, the State Office of Education is going ahead with efforts the bill would have required anyway.
The bill, HB420, was to require school districts to conduct an annual seminar for parents to help them recognize suicidal tendencies in their children. The bill passed the House but ran into problems when the Senate added a sex education requirement. That amendment received a number of derisive comments from House members about them having to learn about sex at their age. So the Senate killed the entire bill.
Since the bill failed, its sponsor, Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, got a call from State Schools Superintendent Larry Shumway, who said the state office would prepare suicide-prevention materials and send them to the school districts anyway. The districts could then voluntarily provide the seminars — without having to teach the parents about sex.
http://bit.ly/GHc1gP

An afterthought
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Paul Rolly

The Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority has been sponsoring Spring College Night events at state universities and colleges for high school seniors and their parents.
The event at Weber State University, the closest for students living in Weber and Davis counties, was scheduled for the evening of March 13 — the night of the Democratic caucuses.
Surprise, surprise. There actually are some Democrats in Davis and Weber counties. And some complained.
No college-night event was held March 15, the night of the Republican caucuses. That would have really raised a ruckus.
http://bit.ly/GHc1gP

Despite all the hate, KJZZ committed to prep sports UHSAA » Channel 14 sees televising high school sports as public service, not a moneymaker.
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Scott D. Pierce

KJZZ is talking to the Utah High School Activities Association about extending its contract to televise prep sports. You almost wonder why anyone at the station would want to go through the hassle.
“We have gone out of our way at KJZZ to dedicate hours and hours of air time to high school sports and really give what we see as a service to the community,” said Jeremy Castro, vice president of broadcasting and operations for the Jazz (and KJZZ). “Most of the response I get from the community is, ‘Why did you show that game? Why didn’t you show this game?’ ”
Some viewers seem to mistakenly believe that Channel 14 is in this for profit. But once you factor in production costs, there’s not a lot of profit to be made from televising prep sports.
“I can’t disclose the financials on it, but it’s certainly not a huge moneymaker for us,” Castro said.
So why do it?
“We think it’s important,” Castro said. “It’s a great thing for the kids. And, we hope, it’s good for us, too.”
Not always.
http://bit.ly/GEZXjN

Authentic accountability in education
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner op-ed by Lynn Stoddard, Founder of the Educating for Greatness Alliance

Should teachers be held accountable for things that are impossible to do? Teachers know it’s impossible to make students alike in knowledge and skills. It’s like requiring everyone to run a mile in four minutes, punishing those who can’t do it, and requiring remediation classes for the slow ones even though they may be gifted in other areas.
Ever since the Nation At Risk Report in 1983, when the federal government started to exert excessive power over public education, teachers have been asked to standardize and make students alike in reading and math. What all students should know and be able to do is specified for each grade level. Standardized tests have been used to enforce this mandate. As a result, because it’s impossible to do, teachers are demoralized, student achievement remains flat, bullying, gangs, disruptive behavior, suicides and drop outs have increased. Many good teachers have also dropped out. Students, teachers and parents report that school has lost some very important things — things that make teaching and learning exciting, challenging and fun. Teachers can no longer practice as professionals who interact with individual students and make decisions, but are now subordinate workers who must follow required and often scripted behaviors that don’t fit the needs of students in their classes.
What if we hold teachers, parents and students jointly accountable for things that are possible to do?
http://bit.ly/xnfd1F

The public’s response to Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s veto of HB363 Politic It commentary

During the 2012 Utah legislative session, Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden, sponsored a controversial bill that would limit what public school teachers could teach in sex education classes. House bill 363 would require schools to either teach abstinence-only sex education or discontinue sex education altogether.
Once the bill passed 45-28 in the house and 19-10 in the senate, a statewide debate ensued.
Utah’s current sex education courses teach abstinence-based curriculum but include information about contraceptives. Parents must opt-in their children to attend these, courses and an estimated 90 percent of Utah parents have done so in the past.
Opponents of HB363 started an online petition at signon.org requesting that Governor Herbert veto HB363. Prior to Herbert’s decision, more than 30,000 signatures were delivered to the Utah Governor’s Office. Opponents of the bill also included the Utah PTA, Utah Education Association, and the Alliance for a Better Utah.
On Friday evening, Governor Gary Herbert announced that he would veto the bill via Twitter: “I just vetoed #HB363. I cannot sign a bill that deprives parents of their choice.”
When a governor vetoes a bill that passed by a majority vote in both houses of the Utah Legislature, one might question if the majority of Utah’s elected officials were acting in the public’s interest or if it was Governor Herbert who was doing so. Looking at aggregate data across Utah on social media may help answer this question.
http://bit.ly/GDNOyc

Governor recognizes that parents know best
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner letter from Shanna Anderson

Representative Bill Wright asserts it is “intellectually dishonest” to teach teenagers about contraception because abstinence is the only sure way to prevent STDs or pregnancy before marriage. I believe today’s youth need to be “intellectually prepared” to make healthy decisions regarding sex. Abstinence is ideal, but is not a reality for all teens and young adults. Education is the key in preventing unintended pregnancies and the transmission of STD’s.
Governor Herbert explained his veto of HB363 by saying that the measure would unfairly deprive parents of the choices concerning if and how their children would attend classes on human sexuality.
I applaud Governor Herbert for recognizing that it is parents, not the state, who know what is best for their children.
http://bit.ly/GCFwWQ

Governor vetoed HB 363 to retain office
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner letter from Kimball Kelsey

Governor Herbert’s recent veto of HB 363 elicited a wide array of emotions throughout Utah this past week. Many are quick to call the recent veto an act of pure “political subterfuge.” Some express relief and renewed hope in our local government to provide a well-rounded education to our young men and women.
With this most recent veto, I am grateful that young men and women will have access to sex education which is not often found within many conservative homes throughout Utah. As a skeptic of the Governor’s underlying motives, however, I contend that this most recent veto, as well as most decisions by our elected political leaders–especially in a re-election year, are geared to retain their respective offices.
http://bit.ly/GGejy1

Ruzicka creates our own Harper Valley PTA
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner letter from Roger E. Carrier

We’ve just witnessed another session of Utah’s Harper Valley PTA (the Utah State Legislature). Gayle Ruzicka–our own Mrs. Harper–is back to telling everybody how to live and what to do in their bedrooms. The Eagle Forum–her band of Harper Valley hypocrites–has the cowardly legislature shaking in its tight boots at every hateful and misguided thought that comes out of Mrs. Ruzicka’s mouth.
When are the people of Utah going to say enough is enough to these right-wing fanatics?
http://bit.ly/GIjYaC

Butt out of my life, Mero
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Thomas Fritz

Paul Mero, of the we-want-to-control-your-personal-life Sutherland Institute, still doesn’t get it.
In “Sex ed, government and ‘our better selves’” (Opinion, March 18), Mero mixes apples and oranges when he writes that comprehensive sex education is akin to teaching kids how to safely use drugs or alcohol.
Humans have some basic needs and innate behaviors, like sleeping, breathing, eating and, yes, sex. It’s in us and part of life.
Drinking and drugs are voluntary behaviors that most people can do without. But sexuality will strongly manifest itself in almost all humans.
We can teach abstinence as an option, but evidence suggests that most people will have one or more sexual partners before they marry, so teenagers need to know their options.
http://bit.ly/GHrVfW

Sex talk
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Donna G. Brunger

In the past, prophylactics were hidden in a drugstore’s back room; now, they are in plain view on the shelf in Walmart. Youth can purchase them without someone giving them a questioning look.
On television, boys and girls watch a beautiful, happy couple make sex look exciting with no problems to follow. Boys learn about sex from other boys. Girls are less educated about sex, and their innocence can cause them to become a victim.
http://bit.ly/GHsc2s

Herbert ignored the people
(Provo) Daily Herald letter from Ilene Quilter

Jefferson, Washington, Lincoln and others believed that the power given by the veto is a high conservative power, and that “unless a case is very clear, a just respect for the wisdom of the legislature would naturally decide the balance in favor of their opinion.”
We choose our representatives. I regret that the governor does not look upon them as the voice of the people, but rather listens to those who are unauthorized to speak for us. Do we believe in a republican form of government or not? Remember that many grave mistakes are made when a ruler listens to the shouting of the crowds. It is not always in the interest of the people.
http://bit.ly/GF39Mh

Sex-education
BYU Universe letter from Paul Kokoski

Regarding HB363, sex education should not be taught in schools but rather in the home by parents.
Today, people are telling us that mandatory sex education in schools is good and necessary for children to keep up with the times — even those who have not even reached the age of puberty. The result has been disastrous. There is an extremely high incidence of teenage pregnancy, of abortions obtained by teenagers, and of sexually transmitted diseases. Sex education has been the instrument used in schools to advance everything from contraception and abortion to the acceptance of homosexuality.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, sex education should be left to parents because they know their children well and can impart the proper knowledge to them at the proper time.
http://bit.ly/GIxgUz

PSD works for us
(Provo) Daily Herald letter from Ginger Churchill

I was in attendance at this week’s PSD board meeting when a woman shouted repeatedly, “You work for us!” I want to echo her sentiments. The school board does work for us — all of us. And a great many of us believe in accountability, responsibility and obedience to the laws and governing principles of our society.
I am grateful that this school board, its former superintendent, and the current interim superintendent have had the courage to look into what appears to be longstanding and wide-reaching financial mismanagement in the district.
http://bit.ly/GDUxZa

Utah hasty on Common Core
(Provo) Daily Herald letter from Eryn Pack

Utah recently adopted the Common Core policy along with most of the other states. This is in attempt to better prepare students for college and provide equal education for all children. This is a great aim, but in their haste they have actually lowered expectations of students in many states and adopted a policy before knowing what all it entails.
As many states have looked into the Common Core and changes that are to be made in our children’s education and school curriculum, they have regretted making the switch as it not only will have detrimental effects on grades K-12, but was not worth the money that the government promised it would give for adopting the policy.
Please research Common Core and learn about the actual changes that are being pushed into our children’s schools http://bit.ly/GCR7kV

D.O.G.S. alive in Cache Valley
(Logan) Herald Journal letter from Scott and Kim Hunt

I am writing in response to the article in Sunday’s paper titled “D.O.G.S. help children.” I found it to be quite funny to read.
Although it was a good article about a great program, I am not sure why The Herald Journal would publish this article without mentioning our local involvement. Over the past year, Jennifer Beach has headed up this program at Greenville Elementary with much success. Our response to the program at Greenville has been wonderful and has averaged a dad or grandfather at school every day of this school year. Positive feedback comes in weekly from kids, parents, teachers and administrators.
http://bit.ly/GE88ZB

A Million Teachers Prepare to March Out the Classroom Door
Teacher magazine commentary by columnist Anthony Cody

The Metlife survey of American teachers has been much discussed in recent weeks. The biggest red flag I see waving here is the 70% increase, over the past two years, in the number of teachers who are likely to leave the profession in the next five years (from 17% to 29%). Assuming this data is accurate, this amounts to more than a million teachers who are preparing to march out of our classrooms. And this is in addition to the roughly one million baby boomers approaching retirement age! I wonder if the teaching profession as it is now being redesigned and redefined is one that any of us would have chosen when we began teaching? And I especially wonder who would choose to teach in a school with a high level of poverty?
http://bit.ly/GEVrVy

Kline Wants More Aid for Special Ed., Less for Obama Priorities
Education Week commentary by columnist Alyson Klein

U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, wants to see Congress put more money into state grants for special education. He sent a letter to the leading lawmakers on the House panel that oversees K-12 spending. Check it out here.
Kline’s letter might foreshadow a funding fight similar to last year’s, in which House Republicans sought to shift big bucks into the key formula grants near and dear to education advocates (Title I grants for disadvantaged students and special education) at the expense of some of the Obama administration’s favorite programs (Race to the Top, the Investing in Innovation Grants, and the School Improvement Grants).
Ultimately, the administration won that funding fight. But we may have to wait until the presidential election results are in to see if it prevails again. If Obama’s out, those programs may be, too.
http://bit.ly/GEmQXh

Michelle Rhee Talks Vouchers
Education Week commentary by columnist Sean Cavanagh

If there’s a single education policy that people associate with former District of Columbia schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, it’s almost certainly teacher quality—meaning her support for tying educators’ pay and evaluation to performance, ending seniority-based preferences, promoting alternate certification, and the like.
But where does she come down on private school vouchers, one of the most controversial, and fastest-moving, policy issues in the states these days?
I was curious about Rhee’s views on this topic, because, broadly speaking, she’s been a strong backer of school choice. She’s called for expanding charter schools, open enrollment for students across districts, and “parent trigger” proposals, which would allow parents to vote to convert struggling schools to charters. But her views of private school choice have received a lot less attention.
Rhee’s position also matters, because the education advocacy group she now leads, StudentsFirst, wants to become a major player in state education policy. Though Rhee is a Democrat, she says her group will support governors and lawmakers from either party if they share her group’s agenda.
In a recent interview, Rhee told me she supports targeted voucher programs, such as those that offer taxpayer funds to low-income students in academically struggling schools. But she said she sees more expansive, “universal” vouchers as misguided.
http://bit.ly/GIzqkx

How do we empower parents?
Fordham Institute commentary by John Kirtley chairman of Step Up For Students, a non-profit that administers the tax credit scholarship program

The most important governance question is: “Will low income and working class parents truly direct the taxpayer dollars used to educate their children?”
The definition of “public education” is changing rapidly, even if some don’t want it to. It used to mean giving taxpayer dollars solely to districts to operate all schools, where kids are assigned by zip code. The emerging definition, which I prefer, is using taxpayer dollars to educate children in the best way possible for each of them, using a variety of providers and delivery methods.
Parents with enough means already direct dollars—their own—to the best education providers for their kids.
http://bit.ly/GJ31dV

LAUSD Can Now Spy on Teachers’ Online Activity, Punish Them for Facebook Comments
L.A. Weekly commentary by columnist Simone Wilson

A new policy bulletin out of Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters tells teachers — and any other adult associated with the district — that they’d better keep their social-media persona in check.
Actually, the new policy was put in place almost two months ago. But until the news wire mentioned it in an article today on LAUSD’s hot new social-media director, it seems to have passed quietly under the radar.
Anyway — it’s about time. The need for a new social-media policy became apparent last April, when El Sereno Middle School teacher Nicole Tsugranes called a student “fat” in a typo-riddled Facebook post (ouch), and added “STOP raising lazy ass freaking kids!” as an aside to parents.
Employers have launched a war on employees’ Facebook privacy the nation over. And LAUSD’s new social-media guidelines, too, fall definitely on the harsher end of online policing.
http://bit.ly/GFgXcX

A copy of the policy bulletin
http://bit.ly/GIhfZG

Study: Consistent School Attendance Matters in Pre-K Education Week commentary by columnist Julie Rasicot

Prekindergartners and kindergartners who are chronically absent are more likely than regularly attending students to continue to miss school in later grades and to be held back by grade 3, according to a new study.
The study conducted by the Baltimore Education Research Consortium followed three separate groups totaling nearly 14,000 students in pre-K and kindergarten in Baltimore City Schools through 3rd grade to determine patterns of chronic absence and later attendance and academic performance. Chronically absent is defined as missing more than 20 days in a school year.
According to the report, a snapshot of the school district shows that 21.7 percent of the all prekindergartners enrolled in the 2006-2007 school year were chronically absent. That figure rose to a high of 27.4 percent of enrolled prekindergartners in 2009-2010. Last school year, 26.5 percent were absent.
http://bit.ly/GDpeZ9

A copy of the study
http://bit.ly/GCY45y

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NATIONAL NEWS
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States Take Legislative Actions to Expand Virtual Ed.
Education Week

Online and blended learning opportunities exist for at least some students in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to the 2011 edition of “Keeping Pace With K-12 Online Learning,” a report from the Durango, Colo.-based Evergreen Education Group that annually reviews policies and practices around online learning.
No two states are exactly the same, however, in how they regulate such education. As a result, new legislation each year shifts the online learning landscape for states, putting some ahead of the pack in online opportunities for students, while others provide just a bare-bones set of offerings.
http://bit.ly/GIwR1T

A copy of the report
http://kpk12.com/reports/

Districts Gear Up for Shift to Informational Texts Education Week

In an English/language arts classroom in Iowa, 10th graders are analyzing the rhetoric in books about computer geeks, fast food, teenage marketing, the working poor, chocolate-making, and diamond-mining.
Their teacher, Sarah Brown Wessling, let them choose books about those real-world topics as part of a unit on truth. Students are dissecting the sources, statistics, and anecdotes the authors use to make their arguments in books like Branded by Alissa Quart and Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich. An earlier unit in the class at Johnston High School, in a Des Moines suburb, focused on film documentaries.
The units mark a heftier emphasis on nonfiction for Ms. Wessling. What she is doing reflects an intensifying focus for teachers across the country: how to develop students’ skills at reading and understanding informational texts.
Teachers are rebalancing their fiction-and-nonfiction scales because the Common Core State Standards in English/language arts demand it.
http://bit.ly/GEXBV8

School officials ordered to apologize in prayer case San Antonio (TX) Express-News

As Texas students return to class from Spring Break, some officials with Medina Valley Independent School District have been given a homework assignment by a federal judge: apologize.
Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery issued what he called a “non-Kumbaya” order Monday to district Superintendent James Stansberry and high school band director Keith Riley after they allegedly made comments considered disparaging by the agnostic family that sued the district over school prayer.
Last month, the district reached a settlement with the plaintiffs in which it agreed that administrators and other employees will not pray with students, elicit prayer, proselytize or display religious artifacts in the classroom (except jewelry). The deal also includes a clause in which the district agreed that its employees will not disparage the plaintiffs.
The deal also says commencement programs will have a disclaimer saying statements made by students are their own and not endorsements by the district.
Shortly after the deal was announced, the order said, Stansberry gave a televised interview in which he called the lawsuit a “witch hunt” and mistakenly said the plaintiffs “wanted our teachers to stop wearing crosses.”
http://bit.ly/GF3JIa

A copy of the ruling
http://1.usa.gov/GBy5je

Parents Upset Over New Case of Math Homework Referencing Slavery WAGA

A Clayton County parent is upset after he says his son was given a math homework assignment that referenced slavery.
Christopher Jackson said his 9-year-old son’s homework assignment from a class at James A. Jackson Elementary School contained an extra-credit question that read, “A plantation owner had 100 slaves. If three-fifths of them are counted for representation, how many slaves will be counted?”
In January, some Gwinnett County parents became upset over a third-grade math assignment that contained multiple references to slavery. One teacher later resigned over that controversy. The story received nationwide attention.
Jackson’s son, Chris, said he didn’t want to answer the question.
http://bit.ly/GDagmP

TN science bill protects teachers who allow debate over evolution Nashville Tennessean

The Tennessee Senate approved a bill Monday that would encourage teachers and students to debate evolution in the classroom, setting aside complaints that the measure would drag the state back onto the battleground over the teaching of creationism.
Senators voted 24-8 to pass a bill that says schoolteachers cannot be punished for “helping students to understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories” taught in public schools.
The measure has drawn strong opposition from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Center for Science Education and the American Civil Liberties Union, which said it is cover for teachers who want to teach creationism or intelligent design. Supporters said the measure would give teachers more guidance to answer students’ questions about science topics.
http://tnne.ws/GErVcI

Pink-hair suspension overruled by Delaware school district USA Today

NEWARK, Del. – Some school officials who might have seen red when faced with a pink-haired honors student reversed themselves Tuesday and allowed the girl to return to class — without changing her hair color.
Twelve-year-old Brianna Moore returned Tuesday afternoon to her sixth-grade class at Shue-Medill Middle School after Christina School District officials overruled a school rule that prohibited unnatural or “excessive” hair colors.
Brianna said she was glad the incident was behind her but doesn’t regret her stance.
“I need to stand up for myself when it’s right,” she said after getting off the bus Tuesday.
Her father, Kevin Moore, said he’s glad the district resolved the issue quickly. “It’s a crazy thing to get so uptight about,” he said.
http://usat.ly/GDj0tA

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CALENDAR
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USOE Calendar
http://tinyurl.com/5x9oh9

UEN News
http://www.uen.org

April 12:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
250 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://1.usa.gov/Axtt5K

Utah State Board of Education meeting
250 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda.aspx

April 13:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
250 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda.aspx

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