Education News Roundup: April 2, 2012

school bus on rural road

Here Comes The School Bus/Big Grey Mare/CC/flickr

Today’s Top Picks:

Fair warning to those of you interested in influencing school policy at the state level: The Utah State Board of Education Nominating and Recruiting Committee meets tomorrow at 8 a.m. in the Board Room at the State Capitol. Here’s a list of the candidate filings: http://1.usa.gov/HAkQQd. Here’s the meeting agenda: http://www.utah.gov/pmn/sitemap/notice/109117.html. And here are the committee members (along with the grizzly details of how the group is formed according to Utah statute): http://gva1.utah.gov/boards/board.aspx?id=106623.

Trib takes a look at Salt Lake District redistricting.
http://bit.ly/HePXxS (SLT)

Bus problems crop up in Four Corners.
http://bit.ly/H8R6YK (Farmington, NM, Daily Times)
and http://bit.ly/HaLtHx (DN)
and http://bit.ly/HalYKo (KSL)

State school chiefs try to decipher federal education action/inaction.
http://bit.ly/HHKC2I (Ed Week)

Wyoming has common core problems, too.
http://bit.ly/HCupgh (Cheyenne)

What legal ground does a teacher stand on when she refuses to share her Facebook page with her superintendent?
http://cnet.co/H9ezcl (CNET)
and http://bit.ly/H968tY (WSBT)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Will new SLC school district boundaries boost west-side focus?
Redistricting » Challengers gear up for Salt Lake School Board race.

Law stays out of polygamous sect’s home-schooling
Advocates say it’s time to change hands-off system that harms kids in polygamous sect.

Arizona PED: Red Mesa district axed bus routes on its own

Herbert Defends Signing Public Lands Bill

Sex Ed Bill Vetoed For Taking Away Parental Choice

Utah’s geography champ stages a three-peat
Youth will represent the state again at national bee in D.C.

Spanish Fork show choir qualifies for national competition

American Fork fifth-grader showcases art in NYC

Principal prepares for opening of new charter school

William Joseph shares love of piano with N. Ogden students

iCougar program increases student engagement at Kearns High School

Private LDS school to become Utah’s first iSchool

New rules for healthier meals may start next school year

East High students walk out of class to protest tardiness policy

Student charged for Roy High bomb plot wants hearing

Students add foreign flavor to fairy-tale skits

Sidewalk issue snags in Kaysville

Students at Forbes Elementary get bike helmets through grant

Bullying documentary opens in only select cities

It pays to read at Hobble Creek Elementary

Reading goals spell fun for Ellis Elementary students

Davis schools screen social studies textbooks

Salem Hills AP class conducts soil tests for fundraiser

Students plant Pinwheel Garden for child abuse awareness

High School students walk all night for Habitat for Humanity

Riverdale students fill Easter baskets for peers at Primary Children’s

Students, teachers ride donkeys for a cause

Provo students dance to fight obesity

Murray students know health occupations

Roy High student tweets, wins scholarship

Nebo School District Title 1 preschool screenings

OPINION & COMMENTARY

World Autism Awareness Day Monday, more research essential

Short takes on issues
Too much autism

Thumbs up, thumbs down

How to increase grad rates

A different Utah

Education, sadly, still not a Utah Legislature priority

Move to 6 classifications dilutes state titles
Prep football » UHSAA board makes a mistake in capitulating to request of a few 3A programs.

Replace me with a computer . . . not

How to start a college savings account using Utah’s 529 program

Too much information

Stories about kids appreciated

Voters See Science Ed. As Priority, Give Schools Middling Grade

Flunking the Test
The American education system has never been better, several important measures show. But you’d never know that from reading overheated media reports about “failing” schools and enthusiastic pieces on unproven “reform” efforts.

The Cinema of Educational Despair: A Bad Narrative Reinforced

NATION

Federal Dysfunction Sets Stiff Challenge for State K-12 Chiefs
Funding, ESEA gridlock on radar

Common confusion
Comments on education changes highlight some misunderstandings

Albany Eyeing Ways to Shield Teacher Data

Despite similarities, officials say they did not use model ALEC bills for Christie’s education legislation

Teacher’s aide refuses to share Facebook access, is suspended
School authorities insisted that Kimberly Hester open up her Facebook account following complaints over a picture she posted. Now she’s fighting for her job and her rights.

Ads on buses, buildings boost revenue for cash-strapped Dallas-area schools

Denver Public Schools can better improve through charter schools, study says

What’s Inside The 26-Ingredient School Lunch Burger?

Speak Up? Raise Your Hand? That May No Longer Be Necessary

An Eighth-Grade Sports Encyclopedia Finds Himself Without a High School

Comments on Jewish school irk Catholics

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UTAH NEWS
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Will new SLC school district boundaries boost west-side focus?
Redistricting » Challengers gear up for Salt Lake School Board race.

Salt Lake City’s recently redrawn school board map has prompted one newly eligible west-side challenger — and four overall challengers — to compete for the four district seats to be contested in November.
Two of the city’s seven school district boundaries were stretched anew into west-side neighborhoods as part of the redistricting mandated by the 2010 census. That means residents spanning Glendale to Rose Park now have a shot at four west-side seats, albeit not in this year’s election.
The vision, steered by new District 2 City Councilman Kyle LaMalfa, is to expand west-end representation and to diversify the school board. He also hopes the move eventually will give voice to the area’s wide swath of ethnically diverse students — dozens of languages are heard in multiple west-side schools — along with its refugees. LaMalfa sees the recent candidate filings — two challengers are black and two others are west-side activists — as a “strong start.”
http://bit.ly/HePXxS (SLT)

Law stays out of polygamous sect’s home-schooling
Advocates say it’s time to change hands-off system that harms kids in polygamous sect.

Colorado City, Ariz. » Thomas Barlow was about 16 when his education came to a halt.
“I wasn’t done with school, I didn’t feel like I was finished. I wanted to keep going,” said Barlow, a voracious reader who as a child devoured biographies of famous Americans. “I didn’t want to be in construction when I was as old as my father.”
His father put him to work anyway. Had he been in public school, a sudden absence might have been noticed. But Barlow, now 23, grew up in a Utah-Arizona border town as a member of the polygamous sect led by Warren Jeffs.
Like all young members of the sect, he was pulled out of public school in 2000 at Jeffs’ order. Children in the sect are educated at home.
And in both states, the government stays out of home-schools. Utah school districts are forbidden from making parents keep records of instruction or attendance, requiring them to have any teaching qualifications or testing home-school students.
Twelve years after Jeffs’ edict, an educational dichotomy has appeared within the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: While local educators say some young people seem to get an education roughly on par with those in public school, advocates say hundreds more see their schooling stop at the eighth grade or before.
http://bit.ly/HhdquW (SLT)

http://bit.ly/H9XzRF (SLT)

Arizona PED: Red Mesa district axed bus routes on its own

FARMINGTON — The Arizona Department of Education never asked for more than 170 Utah and New Mexico students’ bus routes to be axed, spokesman Andrew LeFevre said Friday.
This week, the Red Mesa Unified School District in Red Mesa, Ariz., halted all bus routes to out-of-state students, most of whom live in the San Juan School District in Utah and the Central Consolidated School District in New Mexico.
Parents and students both were startled by the notice, which came in a March 12 letter from Interim Superintendent Spencer Singer. The bus routes stopped March 26.
“After conferring with district staff and state of Arizona officials, it is my duty to report to you that the district is not legally permitted to provide bus service outside the state of Arizona,” Singer wrong.
The department, however, never told Singer to cut off transportation to the students, nor did it tell him to do so on such short notice, LeFevre said.
Students and parents are outraged by the “lack of cooperation,” Red Mesa Chapter President Herman Farley said.
More than 100 students and parents protested the decision on Wednesday by marching 10 miles over the Utah border to the Red Mesa district offices.
That same evening, the district’s board of education held a meeting in which community leaders proposed a resolution not only to reinstate the bus routes until the end of the year, but also a separate proposal to terminate Singer’s position as interim superintendent.
http://bit.ly/H8R6YK (Farmington, NM, Daily Times)

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

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

Herbert Defends Signing Public Lands Bill

Governor Gary Herbert is defending his decision to sign a bill demanding the federal government transfer its public lands in Utah to the state by the end of 2014, despite a warning from legislative attorneys that it could be declared unconstitutional. Speaking at his monthly news conference on KUED, Herbert said the legislation has been mischaracterized.
“We’re not going to destroy our national monuments, we’re not going to take away the national parks, we’re not going to start drilling at Arches or Canyonlands,” he said. “In fact, we will manage those areas appropriately and protect the wilderness areas and the pristine areas that need the protection.”
http://bit.ly/HaXPPK (KCPW)

Sex Ed Bill Vetoed For Taking Away Parental Choice

SALT LAKE CITY – Governor Gary Herbert vetoed a controversial sex education bill a week ago, but he just now spoke publicly about his reasons at his KUED monthly news conference.
Governor Gary Herbert says he vetoed the bill limiting sex ed because it took away parental choices.
http://bit.ly/H91VtZ (KUTV)

Utah’s geography champ stages a three-peat
Youth will represent the state again at national bee in D.C.

Lehi • Anthony Cheng, an eighth-grader at Midvale Middle School, can name obscure bodies of water, identify African nations by their neighbors and link U.S. states with their biomes.
But it’s doubtful many other U.S. kids — or adults — could match Anthony’s prowess with geographic trivia.
On Friday, Anthony, for the third year in the row, won Utah’s state championship in the National Geographic Bee, earning a spot to compete in the national event in Washington, D.C., in May. One hundred students in grades four through eight jockeyed for the title at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi.
http://bit.ly/Hfbvv8 (SLT)

http://bit.ly/H7D0bd (KSTU)

Spanish Fork show choir qualifies for national competition

SPANISH FORK — They are American Leadership Academy’s own “Glee” show choir. The ALA show choir Evolution recently competed in the prestigious Fame Hollywood competition where it was awarded second runner-up. Fame Hollywood is one of five nationwide qualifying show choir competitions where the top three finalists qualify for the National Show Choir competition.
This year the national competition will be held April 20 and 21 in Chicago, but getting there will be a challenge with little time to raise the needed funds. The 42 choir members and nine-member show band have been saving for the trip and are even giving up their prom to go.
http://bit.ly/HPF7M4 (PDH)

American Fork fifth-grader showcases art in NYC

It’s a long way from a bulletin board in the hall of an American Fork school to a jumbo screen at a convention in New York City, but Shelley Elementary School student James Hammond made that trip, along with his artwork, “Sunny Beach,” to the National Art Education Association Conference.
Hammond, a fifth-grader, has been attending a before-school art program, led by art teacher Joseph Germaine. He and student teacher Bethany Lott decided to send in an entry of a picture with hopes it would be chosen for the exhibition. Lott was planning on attending the conference.
http://bit.ly/H4pWzJ (PDH)

Principal prepares for opening of new charter school

SOUTH WEBER — The next few months will be busy for Kent Fuller as he prepares to open the newest charter school in Davis County.
HighMark Charter School, at 2467 E. South Weber Drive, will open in August to approximately 580 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
“The focus of the school is on business and the application of different skills using the technology actually used in the workplace,” Fuller said.
Fuller, who lives in Salt Lake City, was hired as the principal in March. He worked eight years as a teacher and 15 years as a principal in the Granite School District.
http://bit.ly/HaEWRe (OSE)

William Joseph shares love of piano with N. Ogden students

NORTH OGDEN — North Ogden Junior High music students sat spellbound for one hour as they listened to world-renowned pianist William Joseph tickle the ivories and offer words of wisdom on being successful in both music and life.
A year ago there wasn’t even a piano to play at the school. The Legacy Music Alliance, a nonprofit group in Salt Lake City, helped the school purchase a baby grand piano for its music program because the school’s piano was 50 years old and falling to pieces.
So when the group started working with Joseph’s label to promote his latest CD, it seemed like a natural fit to visit North Ogden Junior High School. Keith Sorensen works for the alliance and was excited to visit the junior high and present Joseph to the students Thursday.
http://bit.ly/HaOXcT (OSE)

iCougar program increases student engagement at Kearns High School

KEARNS — Walk into a math class at Kearns High School and you’ll find dozens of students staring down into the bright screens of Apple iPod Touches.
The teachers have no desire to remove the gadgets from the hands of students. In fact, they encourage their use.
“They are completely engaged when they are using them, and they are good at it too,” said principal Maile Loo.
The devices are in each classroom thanks to school media specialist Rachel Murphy. Nearly three years ago, she applied to receive a technology grant for the school and was awarded the funds.
http://bit.ly/HfiWlN (DN)

Private LDS school to become Utah’s first iSchool

LEHI — Hundreds of parents and students packed Thanksgiving Point’s Show Barn on Friday night for the announcement that Liahona Preparatory Academy, a private LDS-based K-12 school in Pleasant Grove, will become Utah’s first iSchool next month.
All students, beginning in kindergarten, will be using iPads and apps as their primary education tool. The move, which begins in May, is necessary because moving to a digital education model is the only way to ensure students are prepared for the new digital world, said school officials.
http://bit.ly/HEA9kw (PDH)

http://bit.ly/HfwFt3 (KSTU)

New rules for healthier meals may start next school year

OGDEN — Utah school districts, including Ogden and Weber, are preparing for a potential food fight that may hit with the August start of the 2012-13 school year and a new government mandate to make lunches more healthful.
Among the new rules is that all students who purchase school lunch must choose or accept a daily fruit or vegetable on their tray. If any student does not accept a fruit or vegetable, that student’s lunch cannot be counted among those eligible for federal reimbursement and the schools will lose some funding.
So cafeteria workers will be making sure a fruit or vegetable lands on every tray. But schools cannot force students to eat those fruits and veggies.
http://bit.ly/H8QdPY (OSE)

East High students walk out of class to protest tardiness policy

SALT LAKE CITY — About 100 students at East High School walked out of class Friday in protest of a tardiness policy.
The policy, which was implemented in 2010, allows teachers and administrators to fine tardy students for each infraction. The $5 fine can be waived for a 30-minute after-school detention session, but students say the fine makes the policy unfair.
“I think they’re being way intense about this,” said student Jazmond Clemons. “It’s ridiculous.”
The fines, they say, add up quickly and cost them money that some may not have. Clemons said she had about $300 in fines.
http://bit.ly/HAIuvX (DN)

http://bit.ly/H8IcXo (OSE)

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

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/UT_TARDINESS_POLICY_PROTEST_UTOL-?SITE=KVNU&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

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

Student charged for Roy High bomb plot wants hearing

OGDEN — A student accused of a plot to bomb Roy High School has opted to have a hearing on the evidence against him.
Dallin Todd Morgan, 18, will have a preliminary hearing May 14 for use of a weapon of mass destruction, a first- degree felony, attorney Pete Lowe confirmed.
Morgan and fellow Roy High classmate Joshua Kyler Hoggan, 16, were arrested Jan. 25 after a student at the school alerted officials of some disturbing text messages. Hoggan is facing the same charge in 2nd District Juvenile Court. Prosecutors, however, are attempting to certify him as an adult.
Police believe the pair was planning to bomb the school during an assembly and escape on an airplane they intended to steal from nearby Ogden-Hinckley Airport.
http://bit.ly/HCdhae (KSL)

Students add foreign flavor to fairy-tale skits

KAYSVILLE — Students of the Spanish and French languages put their knowledge on display Thursday morning, performing fairy-tale plays for their peers.
Fairfield Junior High students, who are in their third year of studying the languages, have been working on the foreign language fairy-tale theater for several months.
Students performed fairy tales such as Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Jack and the Beanstalk, the Three Little Pigs, Rumpelstiltskin, and Little Red Riding Hood. Each play was performed in either French or Spanish.
http://bit.ly/H97JVA (OSE)

Sidewalk issue snags in Kaysville

KAYSVILLE — A citizens group claims its effort to connect sidewalks from Kaysville homes to Snow Horse Elementary and Centennial Junior High is being slowed by the Davis School District.
The group says the district has been unwilling to allow it access to those most likely to contribute to the project.
But district officials point out the responsibility of installing a sidewalk at that location rests with the city, and the district’s request for rent and insurance coverage from the citizens group in order to use one of the schools to host an informational meeting on the project is no different from how the district treats any other group that wants to use its buildings.
http://bit.ly/HO3rRg (OSE)

Students at Forbes Elementary get bike helmets through grant

AMERICAN FORK — Many teachers have expressed passion about their subjects. Most add on a passion for the teaching process itself and what education does for the students. At least one teacher has an added passion for safety.
Alisa Nelson of Forbes Elementary School in American Fork has a special spot in her heart for the safety of the students she teaches in health and physical education.
“My husband was in an accident in 2003,” she said. She and her husband, Brian, like to ride bikes, and while riding he was in that accident. “His helmet saved his life. I wanted the students to understand that it is truly important.”
She went a step further than just telling the students to wear helmets: she helped them get their own.
“It was something we went to the PTA with,” she said. “I am also the PTA secretary. It works great with my health lessons.”
Nelson heard about a grant available from the Utah County Health Department of $500 for bike helmets, nothing else. They decided to pursue it.
http://bit.ly/Ha89YZ (PDH)

Bullying documentary opens in only select cities

LAYTON, Utah – First the movie was given an R Rating and now “Bully” isn’t available everywhere. The film opens Friday but unfortunately not everyone will be able to see it.
This year 13 million American kids will be bullied and three million students will be absent because they feel unsafe at school. That’s why producers put together “Bully.” The documentary chronicles what’s really happening in our schools.
While hundreds of Utah families live through the pain, two Davis County families shared their stories with ABC4.
http://bit.ly/HOoCTe (KTVX)

It pays to read at Hobble Creek Elementary

MAPLETON — Principal Dave Rowe was handing out the dough at the “It Pays to Read” assembly at Hobble Creek Elementary in Mapleton on Friday. For every 100 minutes read, students entered their name in a drawing for the chance to win cash and prizes. The assembly was a reward from the PTA for reading during March.
http://bit.ly/HF0GRw (PDH)

Reading goals spell fun for Ellis Elementary students

When asked if she had, indeed, died in the latest installment of the “Garbage Monster” movies before being brought back to life, Ellis Elementary School Principal Sue Sorenson clarified her status.
“No, no,” she declared. “I didn’t die. I just went into a mirror.”
Sorenson then added, “I’ve also been turned into cotton candy and was shrunk in one of ’em. But I’m always happy that Captain Eagle and The Ellis Kid save us all in the end.”
Students at Ellis Elementary were treated to the premiere of “Garbage Monster 7,” the brainchild of RJ Cox, at a private screening in the gymnasium of the LDS ward building next door. Now a fourth-grade teacher at Bridger Elementary, Cox created the first six “Monster” movies while serving as a janitor and later a computer specialist at Ellis.
http://bit.ly/Hfbu9H (LHJ)

Davis schools screen social studies textbooks

FARMINGTON — Davis School District has announced the adoption of new textbooks for secondary social studies courses.
These courses include Utah studies, U.S. history, geography, world history, U.S. government, sociology and psychology.
http://bit.ly/H8IZb4 (OSE)

Salem Hills AP class conducts soil tests for fundraiser

SALEM — Those who have tried gardening in Utah might have struggled to grow plants because of the soil’s pH problems and nutrient deficiencies. Students in AP environmental science at Salem Hills High are testing soil to identify these problems. As a fundraiser, the AP students and the school’s Envirothon teams who will compete in the 2012 Utah Envirothon competition in April at Zion National Park are testing local residents’ soil and will provide results that show what can be done to better grow plants.
http://bit.ly/HaS70g (PDH)

Students plant Pinwheel Garden for child abuse awareness

SALT LAKE CITY — Students, faculty and school district officials planted Utah’s first Pinwheel Garden of the year on Friday at Rose Park Elementary.
The event launched Prevent Child Abuse Utah’s activities planned throughout April as part of Child Abuse Prevention Month. The students took part in a safety and awareness assembly and then all students and faculty surrounded the school with pinwheels, showing a combined effort to keep Utah’s children safe.
The pinwheel garden is part of a statewide campaign, Pinwheels for Prevention. Pinwheels are popping up in front yards, at community events and in front of City Halls.
http://bit.ly/HGY9HZ (DN)

http://bit.ly/HfwiK5 (KSL)

http://bit.ly/H7CTw3 (KSTU)

High School students walk all night for Habitat for Humanity

SPANISH FORK — One hundred twenty high school students went “homeless” for a night as they walked from dusk ’til dawn at a Spanish Fork High School indoor track Friday night into Saturday morning. The school’s student council organized the second annual event to raise money for Habitat for Humanity.
Students were organized in teams with six to eight on each team. They walked relay style through the night, with at least one team member walking at all times. As a whole the group tracked 5,017 laps or 313 miles. The winning team contributed more than 600 of those laps and walked away with prize packages donated by local businesses. The event raised more than $1,000 for Habitat for Humanity.
When not walking, students participated in activities including video games, ping-pong, midnight snacks and a movie.
http://bit.ly/HE2skA (PDH)

Riverdale students fill Easter baskets for peers at Primary Children’s

RIVERDALE — Big purple boxes were overflowing with Easter treats Friday at Riverdale Elementary. Those treats will now fill more than 100 Easter baskets to be delivered to children at Primary Children’s Hospital just in time for Easter next week.
The service project has been going on for eight years at the school, and every year the students, teachers and parents look forward to filling the baskets.
http://bit.ly/HO4C3c (OSE)

Students, teachers ride donkeys for a cause

What do eight donkeys, 11 faculty members, a basketball and 32 high school students have in common? Well, they all came together on Thursday night at Spanish Fork High School to raise money for a good cause and provide a night of fun and entertainment for others. The Future Farmers of America chapter at SFHS organized a donkey basketball event to raise money for scholarships.
http://bit.ly/H9kFpC (PDH)

Provo students dance to fight obesity

Students at Dixon Middle School in Provo choreographed a dance and performed it in the school’s cafeteria during lunch.
The performance is part of the Let’s Move! program that aims to fight childhood obesity.
http://bit.ly/HhHvun (KSTU)

Murray students know health occupations

Murray High students made a good showing at the recent State Health Occupations Students of America competition: Daryl Goettsche placed third in Dental Science, seventh in Health Care Display; Mikayla Miller, seventh in Health Care Display; Sam Pannier, seventh in Biotechnology; Doug Getty, tenth in Medical Spelling; Aspen Monson, a Murray student participating with (Jordan Applied Technology Center), first in Veterinary Science, third in Debate.
http://bit.ly/H917q8 (SLT)

Roy High student tweets, wins scholarship

Katrina Hess, of West Haven, a student at Roy High School, will receive a $5,000 scholarship for her entry in the “Free to Tweet” event celebrating the First Amendment. A total of $110,000 in scholarships is being awarded by sponsors 1 for All and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Hess, grounded from using the Internet, took the risk of participating by quickly writing a blog post and tweeting only the link to it.
http://bit.ly/H4f5WE (SLT)

Nebo School District Title 1 preschool screenings

Each year, Nebo School District offers free screenings for children ages 3 and 4 (very limited 3-year-old spots) who live within Title 1 school catchment areas to apply for preschool. Preschool is offered free of charge, but parents are expected to volunteer in the classroom each month. The preschool age child must be 3 or 4 years old by Sept. 1, 2012. Please call your school to make an appointment.
http://bit.ly/HfnyUz (PDH)

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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World Autism Awareness Day Monday, more research essential
Deseret News editorial

According to striking new figures released by the CDC last week, 1 in 88 children in the U.S. has been diagnosed with autism. That represents a 78 percent increase over just one decade.
In Utah, it’s even more stark: One in 47 children, including 1 in 32 boys, has an autism diagnosis.
True, this increase is due at least in part to broader screening and better tools for diagnosis, according to experts, especially among minorities. But they hasten to add that the cause of autism is unknown — and since it is likely a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors, there may in fact be something triggering an increase in cases of autism.
http://bit.ly/HOCTh6

Short takes on issues
Too much autism
Salt Lake Tribune editorial

Utah is ranked No. 1 in autism diagnoses in the country. The statistics are striking: One in 32 Utah boys has autism. The rate for girls is one in 85, and that represents a 1,200 percent increase between 2002 and 2008. Overall, Utah’s rate is one in 47 children. The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is based on 2008 data. It means, on average, that every classroom in Utah schools has a child with autism spectrum disorder, which can cause symptoms ranging from severe to mild. The findings, based on 2,000 children in an urban area on the Wasatch Front, indicate Utah has a significant spike not attributed to overdiagnosis or an uncommon definition of autism. No scientists or officials will speculate yet on the cause, but these numbers cry out for thorough investigation.
http://bit.ly/H9ZiGE

Thumbs up, thumbs down
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner editorial

Thumbs down: To Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s decision to sign into law a foolish bill that attempts to provide Utah control over federal lands. Now we have a costly, long, losing court battle to look forward to.
Thumbs up: To Davis School District high school students Helena Ma and Landon Willey, who achieved a score of 36, the highest possible, on their ACT tests. Ma is a junior at Davis High School in Kaysville, and Willey is a senior at Viewmont High School in Bountiful.
http://bit.ly/Hfj4gs

How to increase grad rates
Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Lynn Stoddard, co-founder of The Educating for Greatness Alliance

If school district superintendents want to increase graduation rates, they should not tighten the screws on teachers to standardize students. A recent study found that teacher job satisfaction is at an all-time low, with nearly a third of new teachers saying they are very, or fairly likely to leave the profession.
This confirms my perception that teacher morale has never been lower. I lay the blame on federal government intrusion into public education, which the 10th Amendment says is a state responsibility. Ever since the “Nation at Risk Report” in 1983, the U.S. Office of Education has applied several “reforms,” all based on the idea that it is possible to make students alike in knowledge and skills — and that teachers should try harder to do so.
Standardized achievement tests are used as a whip to make sure all students know and can do the same things at grade-level check points.
No wonder teachers are demoralized!
http://bit.ly/HDtVTq

A different Utah
Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Ray Diehl, a business analyst

Mitt Romney and others are fond of saying “I want my country back.” In a similar vein, “I want my state back.” There was a time, in the not so distant past, when Utah was much more progressive and open than it appears now.
Once, we had comprehensive public school sex education. My seventh grade classmates and I benefited from having a teacher who answered any and all questions we asked on the topic. No question was off limits. Now teachers are tightly restricted in what they can say, and the Legislature sought this year to remove sex education completely or limit it to abstinence-only instruction in public schools.
Once, the educational curriculum for the state’s public schools was directed by parents, professional educators and elected school boards. Now legislators attempt to direct curriculum based on input and pressure from the Eagle Forum. The recent abstinence-only sex education bill is a prime example.
http://bit.ly/HeP8VS

Education, sadly, still not a Utah Legislature priority
(Logan) Herald Journal op-ed by Thad Box, of Logan

When I was in college, one of my mentors was Dr. Clarence Cottam. He was born in Utah’s Dixie, a world-renowned ornithologist, a former dean at BYU and a stake president. He often said, “The Glory of God is intelligence.” My major professor, Dr. Vernon Young, was raised in Moab, graduated from USU and was a bishop. He also used the intelligence saying to encourage students. I figured it was a Mormon thing.
Growing up in Texas, those two and an Army buddy named Preston Angell were the only Mormons I knew. That small sample indicated Mormons had a powerful, almost spiritual, respect for education. When I came to USU, I figured my students would be well prepared for college. I was shocked to find many Utah high school graduates needed remedial courses.
Now, over a half century later, Utah schools are still struggling. Utah is traditionally last in the amount of money spent per student in public education. Our schools rank just above average — about a C-minus in most rankings. The Legislature says there is not enough money to do better.
http://bit.ly/HaTEn4

Move to 6 classifications dilutes state titles
Prep football » UHSAA board makes a mistake in capitulating to request of a few 3A programs.
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Bill Oram

Looking for the nicest group of men and women in the state? Try the Utah High School Activities Association’s board of trustees. If you have a request, those folks will do their best to accommodate it.
Collectively, they’re like a shopping mall Santa Claus, but with actual power.
Which is how we ended up here, on the fast track to six classifications for 101 high school football teams, starting in 2013. A pocketful of Class 3A school administrators and coaches successfully pleaded to play schools more like them, as the class has been dominated by urban schools for years.
So schools such as Delta, Juab and Millard are now happy, and Class 5A and 4A representatives are mostly indifferent. But this decision matters, and may be a mistake.
http://bit.ly/HaIK0J

Replace me with a computer . . . not
Deseret News commentary by columnist Mary McConnell

In my earlier posts I suggested several ways that a computer could enhance teacher productivity and therefore, potentially, permit schools to get by with a few fewer (and potentially better paid) teachers. Computers can help disseminate lectures, streamline grading, drill students on basic facts and skills, and even promote more meaningful class discussion.
But they aren’t very good cops.
http://bit.ly/H8I1LN

How to start a college savings account using Utah’s 529 program
Deseret News commentary by Russ Lindberg, one of the “Guys That Know”

If you have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or others who will be attending college and you or they are going to be paying money to do so, then you may want to take a look at the Utah Educational Savings Plan.
I am not a financial adviser by any qualification; rather, I am a father who has been there (is there) and done it (doing it), and I want to share what I’ve learned. Be sure to look at the actual program materials for legal terms, stipulations, etc. If you have questions, visit their website or ask your financial adviser.
http://bit.ly/Hffy5S

Too much information
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Brad Rasmussen

There have been several stories recently in both the local and national news about deaths from drug overdoses. We need to stop teaching our schoolchildren about the harmful effects of drugs. It’s just making them too curious.
http://bit.ly/H9Z02w

Stories about kids appreciated
(Logan) Herald Journal letter from Mike Monson

I would like to extend my compliments to the Herald Journal for an outstanding Bridgerland Edition last weekend which featured the accomplishments and the inspiring struggles of many students from throughout the valley. A great way to bring our community together is to build an understanding of one another and develop relationships build on empathy. There are some outstanding young people in our valley.
http://bit.ly/HacWJO

Voters See Science Ed. As Priority, Give Schools Middling Grade
Education Week commentary by columnist Erik Robelen

The vast majority of American voters believe improving the quality of science instruction is “extremely” or “very” important to the nation’s ability to compete globally, but a majority grade the quality of such instruction as a “C” or below in this country, according to new survey data.
In fact, even when asked about their local schools (a question that generally tends to produce a more optimistic view of educational quality), only 3 percent of registered voters surveyed gave them an “A” for the quality of science teaching.
The survey data, released today at the annual conference of the National Science Teachers Association, also sought to probe attitudes toward the development of common standards in science. Nearly two-thirds, or 62 percent, say it’s better for all states to have the same science standards at each grade level. The survey was commissioned by Achieve, a Washington-based organization formed by governors and corporate leaders that just so happens to be working with a group of states on developing a set of uniform, “next-generation” science standards.
Voters also seemed to think the quality of science education in the United States falls short of that in some other nations.
http://bit.ly/HEAaGO

A copy of the poll
http://bit.ly/Hb0NUy

Flunking the Test
The American education system has never been better, several important measures show. But you’d never know that from reading overheated media reports about “failing” schools and enthusiastic pieces on unproven “reform” efforts.
American Journalism Review commentary by Paul Farhi, a reporter for the Washington Post

Fareed Zakaria is worried about the state of American education. To hear the CNN host and commentator tell it, the nation’s schools are broken and must be “fixed” to “restore the American dream.” In fact, that was the title of Zakaria’s primetime special in January, “Restoring the American Dream: Fixing Education.” Zakaria spent an hour thumbing through a catalog of perceived educational woes: high dropout rates, mediocre scores by American students on international tests, inadequate time spent in classrooms, unmotivated teachers and their obstructionist labor unions. “Part of the reason we’re in this crisis is that we have slacked off and allowed our education system to get rigid and sclerotic,” he declared.
This is odd. By many important measures – high school completion rates, college graduation, overall performance on standardized tests – America’s educational attainment has never been higher. Moreover, when it comes to education, sweeping generalizations (“rigid and sclerotic”) are more dangerous than usual. How could they not be? With nearly 100,000 public schools, 55 million elementary and secondary students and 2.5 million public school teachers currently at work in large, small, urban, suburban and rural districts, education may be the single most complex endeavor in America.
Zakaria’s take, however, may be a perfect distillation of much of what’s wrong with mainstream media coverage of education. The prevailing narrative – and let’s be wary of our own sweeping generalizations here – is that the nation’s educational system is in crisis, that schools are “failing,” that teachers aren’t up to the job and that America’s economic competitiveness is threatened as a result.
http://www.ajr.org/Article.asp?id=5280

The Cinema of Educational Despair: A Bad Narrative Reinforced
Edutopia commentary by Mark Phillips, columnist for the Marin Independent Journal

The least productive current narrative about public education goes something like this. Our schools, especially high schools, are failing. There is a predominance of ineffective teachers. Short of closing bad schools, firing bad teachers and sending kids to charter schools, there is little we can do to change this. Most good teachers, buried alive in the testing mania, are impotent to deal with the system. For the general public this narrative, partially reinforced by films like Waiting for Superman, provides a misguided message of total failure. For teachers struggling in underfunded schools, it encourages anger and self-pity rather than productive action.
To then have a major film come along that reinforces this narrative and takes it even further into bleak anger and despair infuriates me.
So it is with the new film Detachment, and what makes this film even more concerning for me is that it is good enough to be potentially seductive for many viewers.
http://bit.ly/HFbizW

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Federal Dysfunction Sets Stiff Challenge for State K-12 Chiefs
Funding, ESEA gridlock on radar
Education Week

Washington – With Congress seemingly deadlocked on reauthorizing the main federal K-12 education law, state school leaders feel they are being asked by the federal government to blaze a trail on school improvement and innovation while looking over their shoulders.
For the most part, those gathered at the Council of Chief State School Officers’ legislative conference last week have gladly stepped into what they see as the power vacuum left by Washington, with praise from federal officials.
But the consistent drumbeat that Congress is too paralyzed to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act this year—five years after reauthorization was due—seemed to embody the school chiefs’ consternation with federal lawmakers, even as they came to town in part to lobby their elected leaders.
At the same time, federal budget decisions with major ramifications for education funding loom, and those ramifications could hit states at the beginning of next year.
http://bit.ly/HHKC2I

Common confusion
Comments on education changes highlight some misunderstandings
(Cheyenne) Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE — Public comments on proposed changes to Wyoming education standards reflect some common confusion.
The State Board of Education has been considering updates to state standards in language arts, math and health.
Of the 142 comments submitted to the department on the proposed standards, about 100 were positive and 41 were negative, according to Board of Education information.
But many negative comments received on those changes showed a few shared misconceptions.
Proposed changes in the state language arts and math standards would put them in line with the Common Core State Standards, said Julie Magee.
http://bit.ly/HCupgh

Albany Eyeing Ways to Shield Teacher Data
Wall Street Journal

A top Albany lawmaker said Friday that restrictions on public access to schoolteacher evaluations could be taken up as soon as legislators return from a two-week hiatus in mid-April.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Friday he wants to work out a compromise with Gov. Andrew Cuomo to protect teacher privacy while also ensuring that parents have access to information.
“Information and evaluation should be out there for parents to know,” Mr. Silver said Friday on an Albany radio program. “But beyond the parents, I’m not sure that we shouldn’t treat teachers” like police and firefighters whose records are prohibited from release.
http://on.wsj.com/HayJkJ

Despite similarities, officials say they did not use model ALEC bills for Christie’s education legislation
Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger

TRENTON — Even the shortest, simplest bills in New Jersey are products of a long, convoluted process.
Lawmakers usually take the first step by drawing up a wish list of what they’d like to see. Inspiration can come from anywhere: an advocacy group, a lobbyist, a news article, a constituent — or from the American Legislative Exchange Council, a national group bankrolled by corporations that writes pro-business model bills.
Less often, legislators agree to sponsor bills from the governor’s office, where policy advisers do their own research and writing.
Then it falls on the Office of Legislative Services, a nonpartisan wing of the Statehouse, to do independent research and to actually write the legislation. Staff members make sure the bill will pass legal muster in New Jersey, but they don’t change specific policies, numbers, or dates requested by legislators.
Model bills can be helpful during the drafting process, said OLS Executive Director Albert Porroni.
“Usually it’s been done before, it’s been tried and tested before, and there’s nothing like good, tested language,” he said.
But the OLS said it did not use model bills when drafting Gov. Chris Christie’s education bills. Three bills authored or co-authored by the governor’s office bear striking similarities to model bills from ALEC, but the OLS said it has no ALEC education bills on file.
http://bit.ly/HFfj7m

Teacher’s aide refuses to share Facebook access, is suspended
School authorities insisted that Kimberly Hester open up her Facebook account following complaints over a picture she posted. Now she’s fighting for her job and her rights.
CNET

Teacher’s aide Kimberly Hester has found herself on suspension and in the middle of a legal battle with her school after reportedly refusing to show a superintendent her Facebook account.
Working as an aide at the Frank Squires Elementary School in Cassopolis, Mich., Hester was employed by the Lewis Cass Intermediate School District, according to news site WSBT.
The issue arose in April 2011 when Hester posted a picture on her own time of a co-worker’s pants around her ankles and a pair of shoes. Hester thought the picture harmless enough. But one of her Facebook friends, also the parent of a student, apparently did not.
After the parent complained to the school, Hester found herself summoned to the office of Lewis-Cass Intermediate superintendent Robert Colby, who wanted to see her Facebook account.
http://cnet.co/H9ezcl

http://bit.ly/H968tY (WSBT)

Ads on buses, buildings boost revenue for cash-strapped Dallas-area schools
Dallas Morning News

Splayed across school buses, embedded in test papers and even splashed on campus roofs, advertisements have crept into the once sacred realm of the school zone.
Marketers find an eager host in the state’s school districts, which are scrounging for funds to bolster baseline budgets. Just this school year, North Texas districts have started launching companies’ ads in parent newsletters, plastering signs on campus vehicles and booking commercials on video scoreboards. But as more schools embrace this option, questions emerge about the commercialization of public education and the effort’s real beneficiaries.
“Schools should be a place where students grow into critical thinkers and develop skills that enable them to question established ideas,” said Elizabeth Ben-Ishai, the author of an analysis released last month by Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer interest group. “Marketing and ads targeting students is running in the opposite direction.”
http://dallasne.ws/HfGPK2

Denver Public Schools can better improve through charter schools, study says
Denver Post

Denver Public Schools may be able to more quickly improve performance through charter schools than by using federal turnaround strategies for the entire system, according to a report out today.
The study by the nonprofit Donnell-Kay Foundation compared data from 36 schools that have opened since 2007.
“One thing that’s clear about what’s working is high-performing charters,” said Alexander Ooms, a Donnell-Kay Foundation senior fellow and the report’s author.
“A lot of this is preliminary and early, but I am heartened to see some school improvements,” Ooms said.
http://bit.ly/HaxeX9

A copy of the report
http://bit.ly/H9LsCj

What’s Inside The 26-Ingredient School Lunch Burger?
NPR Morning Edition

Thiamine mononitrate, disodium inosinate, pyridoxine hydrochloride.
Why are these hard-to-pronounce ingredients added to everything from a burger served in schools to veggie burgers in the frozen food aisle of the grocery store? We try to answer that on this edition of Tiny Desk Kitchen.
It turns out the answers are as varied as the ingredients. But as we yearn to know what’s in our food and how it’s made, these kinds of ingredients with unfamiliar names make people suspicious.
http://n.pr/HF5ZNX

Speak Up? Raise Your Hand? That May No Longer Be Necessary
New York Times

When sororities elect officers, this is how they typically conduct voting: Members write names on paper slips, which are then folded, collected, unfolded and counted. And if there are runoffs? Repeat process. When you’re electing 13 officers, the evening becomes a triumph of sisterly dedication over marathon tedium.
The sound of this venerable tradition crumbling? Click.
Nearly 200 Alpha Phi sisters at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign gathered in November in their chapter house with devices that they typically use for class — clickers, hand-held wireless devices with just a few buttons.
The names of three candidates were projected on a dining hall wall. Clickers were placed on tables, and a supervisor checked that nobody was hiding a second one in her lap. Voters clicked their choice: A, B or C. The results were transmitted on a laptop. Five minutes later, Colleen Leahy, a 20-year-old sophomore, was named president.
“I liked finding out quicker,” Ms. Leahy said. “Our lives are fast-paced.”
In recent years, college students have been bringing clickers to lecture halls, where professors require their use for attendance, instant polls and multiple-choice tests. Corporate executives sometimes distribute the devices at meetings, and then show survey responses immediately on Power Point slides. Just two of many companies that make clickers have sold nearly nine million units, which typically cost between $30 and $40 apiece, in under a decade. One the companies, Turning Technologies, sold 1.5 million in 2011 alone.
But clickers can now be found in some surprising corners of American life, too, as churches, fire departments, cruise ships and health care providers discover uses for them, essentially spreading the phenomenon of online crowdsourcing to off-line crowds. Fans of the devices say they are efficient, eco-friendly and techno-tickling, allowing audiences to mimic TV game-show contestants.
While giving an opinion by actually raising one’s hand may never become completely extinct, the devices can give voice to people too shy to speak up.
http://nyti.ms/HfoZGD

An Eighth-Grade Sports Encyclopedia Finds Himself Without a High School
New York Times

When Omri Shefet started at East Side Middle School two years ago, as a sixth grader, he felt quite small. He had learning problems and needed special education services, including speech and physical therapy, as well as extra support in math and English.
He was mainstreamed in regular classes, but in some ways that made things harder. The school is on Manhattan’s well-to-do Upper East Side, serving mostly high-achieving students. They often get top scores of 3 and 4 on the state tests and go on to selective high schools.
The thing Omri is really good at — sports knowledge — doesn’t get graded.
http://nyti.ms/HaZtkm

Comments on Jewish school irk Catholics
San Antonio (TX) Express-News

A group representing 43 Catholic high schools said Sunday it was surprised by critical comments levied against Houston’s Beren Academy by the director of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, and said it continues to question whether its members will remain affiliated with TAPPS.
TAPPS executive director Edd Burleson, in an interview with the Dallas Morning News published Sunday, said TAPPS should not have admitted Beren Academy, an Orthodox Jewish day school, as a member.
His comments came in the wake of a scheduling controversy that led TAPPS to reset game times for its recent boys basketball tournament so Beren would not have to compete on the Jewish Sabbath.
“We shouldn’t have accepted them (Beren) in the first place,” Burleson told the newspaper. “What else would you want me to say? Want me to come up with some politically correct gobbledygook? I can’t. I’m telling you that’s how I feel.”
http://bit.ly/H9u5Gk

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1 comment to Education News Roundup: April 2, 2012

  • I must admit it sounds nice and simple solution when reading, but I’m 200% sure it will be complicated for most of users anyways.