Education News Roundup: June 12, 2012

students in lab coats_"Discover Science"

NO FEE SCIENCE AND MATHS AWARDS 4/CC/Discover Science & Engineering/CC/flickr

Today’s Top Picks:

Community panel discusses “In Our Mothers’ House.” (DN)
and (OSE)
and (KSL)
and (KSTU)

Congratulations to Salt Lake Center for Science Education math teacher Vivian Shell and J.E. Cosgriff Memorial Catholic School math and science teacher Jim Larson on winner the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. (SLT)
and (MUR)
and (PAEMST)

Los Angeles judge says student scores can be used in teacher evaluations. (LAT)
or a copy of the ruling

Tennessee panel says maybe we shouldn’t put too much emphasis on student scores in teacher evaluations. (AP)
and (Tennesseean)
or a copy of the report

Governors and state budget officers have good feelings about state budgets. (AP)
and (Stateline)



Community panel discusses removal of alternative family book from school libraries

Two Utah teachers win national math, science awards Education » Teachers win $10,000 each.

Whittier kids don’t chicken out on playground safety Recess » Students research safe schoolyard play, find recess rules reasonable.

USU student keeps kids learning outside as part of master’s project

School nurses encouraging meningitis vaccination for teens

Honors for Teacher Who Helped Raise $100-Thousand For Kids

Elks donate funds to students

Civics Central: Salt Lake City free-fare zone up for hearing; new contract for Canyons school boss

Davis School District offers summer free lunch program


Counting graduates
Rate affected by Latino dropouts

The back to school bad dream . . . online

New report: 8 ways to enhance digital learning in Utah schools

Not allowing kids’ use of public fields in summer appalling

What Lies Ahead for NGA and the Common Standards?

Colorado’s READ Act challenges status quo

The moral imperative for education policy


Judge backs using student achievement to evaluate L.A. teachers In a preliminary ruling, the court supports charges that L.A. Unified is violating the law by not using students’ performance — including test scores — in reviewing teachers.

Tenn. Study: Less Emphasis on Test Scores in Teacher Evals

US states forecast highest tax revenue in 5 years

Vouchers Unspoken, Romney Hails School Choice

No mention of ‘bisexual,’ ‘transgender’ under Romney Words brought halt to antibullying guide

Obama Uses Aid, Executive Muscle to Drive Education Agenda

Anger, frustration envelop Philadelphia schools

Investors Go to School on Charters
Bonds Issued by the Educational Institutions Offer Rare High Yields at a Time of Near-Zero Rates

More than seven in 10 US teens jobless in summer

Law backs Collingswood student on Pledge, school says

‘Kids have to stumble, they should fall’


Community panel discusses removal of alternative family book from school libraries

WASHINGTON TERRACE, Weber — Community members met Monday at the Pleasant Valley Branch for a panel on same-gender families and to discuss whether it’s right to pull a book that deals with an alternative family structure from school library bookshelves.
The meeting, hosted by the OUTreach Resource Center, came a week after a Davis School District decision to pull “In Our Mothers’ House” from its elementary school shelves. The book is still be available to students, but will be kept behind the checkout counter and will require a parent’s permission slip to be checked out.
The book, by Patricia Polacco, tells the story of two women and their children. Davis School District spokesman Christopher Williams said the decision to remove the book from shelves came after a mother of a kindergartner who checked out the book objected to its subject matter. After a school committee decided to move the book to the third- to sixth-grade section of the library, the mother returned with 24 other parents to petition a review of the book. The decision was then made to store the book behind the counter and require parental consent.
“That way parents are in the driver seat,” Williams said. “They can allow the student to read the book if they choose to.”
But some parents see the decision as an overstep for a book that promotes tolerance of non-traditional families. Some said the caveat of a permission slip does not undue the fears of censorship. (DN) (OSE) (KSL) (KSTU)

Two Utah teachers win national math, science awards Education » Teachers win $10,000 each.

Two Utah teachers have won the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
Vivian Shell, a math teacher at the Salt Lake Center for Science Education, and Jim Larson, a science and math teacher at J.E. Cosgriff Memorial Catholic School in Salt Lake City, are among 97 teachers nationwide to earn the honor this year. As winners, they’ll get $10,000 each from the National Science Foundation and are invited to an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., later this month.
A panel of scientists, mathematicians and educators chose the winners. President Barack Obama announced them on Monday. (SLT) (MUR) (PAEMST)

Whittier kids don’t chicken out on playground safety Recess » Students research safe schoolyard play, find recess rules reasonable.

Whittier Elementary students understand the importance of playground safety. The days of hot metal slides, swing set back flips and monkey bar chicken fights are over.
Yearly, 2,300 Utah children suffer an injury on public school fields, a statistic that raised concern with one group of fifth graders at Whittier Elementary School.
Whittier student Justin Crowley said he and the rest of the class felt that many activities were being taking away from them. For example, the entire Salt Lake City School District chose to remove all swings from elementary schools because of injury risk and cost of maintenance.
Instead of simply accepting the adult administrators’ reasoning, the class did their own research to determine if playgrounds were indeed as dangerous as they had heard. The statistics were enough to leave the entire class convinced.
“Our school’s recess rules are exactly what they should be,” said Darrell Chang, a Whittier student. “The rules are in place to keep us out of harm’s way.” (SLT)

USU student keeps kids learning outside as part of master’s project

While there was seemingly no shortage of insects that a small army of small children with small nets managed to collect Monday morning at Denzil Stewart Nature Park, one little girl definitely brought home the gold.
The brilliant yellow of a goldenrod crab spider had both parents and children raving as they admired it sitting atop an equally colorful flower inside a glass jar.
“Look at that thing! That’s awesome!” proclaimed one.
“That is a beautiful spider!” declared another.
Forty-five minutes earlier, it’s hard to say how many of the kids and adults in the park would have had such a strong appreciation for a spider. But following a presentation titled “Give a Bug a Hug” by local entomologist Virginia Bolshakova, young and old alike seemingly couldn’t wait to wade into deep grass and explore trees and rocks in search of unique insects.
“I’m really excited,” Jamie Clark admitted as she looked on.
A student at Utah State University, Clark has made Cache Valley No Child Left Inside Week her master’s project. (LHJ)

School nurses encouraging meningitis vaccination for teens

School nurses are coming together to raise awareness about meningitis, a rare but deadly disease. The Voices of Meningitis campaign is working to educate parents and children about the dangers of the disease and to advocate for getting teens vaccinated against meningitis.
Stacy Drew, Utah spokeswoman for the Voices of Meningitis campaign, said meningitis is rare but can have deadly consequences.
“The main focus is to educate parents. A lot of parents don’t know about it but it can be so deadly so quickly,” Drew said. “Meningitis can kill a healthy child within a day. It starts out like many other illnesses but sometimes before there is a diagnosis the victim will be dead.” (PDH)

Honors for Teacher Who Helped Raise $100-Thousand For Kids

Riverton High School teacher Katie Borgmeier helped raise more than a hundred-thousand dollars for abused, neglected and abandoned kids, and now she’s been honored at Molina Healthcare of Utah’s Education Community Champion. Borgmeier advises the student body officers at Riverton High and during the school year they raised 107-thousand dollars for the Christmas Box House organization. In addition to the recognition, the award includes at two-thousand-dollar grant for a charity of Borgmeier’s choice. (MUR)

Elks donate funds to students

ST. GEORGE — The Elks National Foundation notified the St. George lodge that the grant application for the gratitude grant had been approved and the check is in the mail. Betty Archambault submitted an application to the foundation for a backpack project to supplement the program run by the local group. The students at Millcreek High School need about 150 backpacks to start the year, and the local programs provide about 20 to the school. (SGS)

Civics Central: Salt Lake City free-fare zone up for hearing; new contract for Canyons school boss

Here’s your weekly roundup of what local city councils, school boards and other government entities are tackling during regularly scheduled meetings. All meetings are open to the public, and citizens are welcome to voice their opinions during designated times. If you do wish to speak at a particular meeting, you may need to sign up in advance.
Canyons Board of Education • Is scheduled to approve a new contract for superintendent David Doty, adopt a budget for next school year and approve the employee insurance benefit package; Tuesday, June 12, 7 p.m., 9361 S. 300 East, Sandy. View the Canyons agenda.
Granite Board of Education • Discusses the ninth grade reconfiguration at Granger High School and a policy on donations; Tuesday, June 12, 7 p.m., 2500 S. State St. View the Granite agenda.
Jordan Board of Education • Adopts 2012-13 budget and discusses proposed bid of $90,440 to provide a GPS tracking system for district vehicles to allow real-time tracking and historical information on where vehicles travel; Tuesday, June 12, 6 p.m., 7905 S. Redwood Road, West Jordan. View the Jordan agenda. (SLT)

Davis School District offers summer free lunch program

The Davis School District has announced the sponsorship of the Summer Food Service Program. Free lunch will be available to attending children 18 years of age and younger.
Lunch will be served Monday through Friday, at the following schools through Aug. 3. (OSE)


Counting graduates
Rate affected by Latino dropouts
Salt Lake Tribune editorial

Utah education officials finally entered the realm of reality by revising how they figure the state’s high school graduation rate. They are no longer insisting, despite evidence to the contrary, that Utah public schools are sending 90 percent of their students out into the world with diplomas.
Furthermore, for 2009, using the more realistic formula mandated by the federal government, Utah educators can cite an undeniably improving graduation rate. No one can argue that is anything but good news.
The Education Week report called Diplomas Count shows Utah’s high school graduation rate at 78.4 percent in 2009, an increase of 6.5 percentage points over the previous year.
The mandated formula tracks students from ninth grade through the 12th. Utah previously started tracking at 10th grade, ignoring the sadly significant number of ninth-graders who never returned for the 10th grade, among them an alarming number of Latino students.
Education Week begins tracking the classes within each school, beginning at ninth grade.

The back to school bad dream . . . online Deseret News commentary by columnist Mary McConnell

My three summer online courses open today, so sure enough, I had THE DREAM last night. I’ve talked to other teachers about this, and many report that they too experience this particular nightmare every year, a day or so before school starts.
Somehow we show up in class without lesson plans, maybe without even knowing what classes we’re teaching. In one variant, which I’ve dreamed three or four times, I walk into the classroom and discover that I’ve been assigned to teach chemistry – a subject that I last studied in 1971!
My recurring nightmare now has an online variation. Last night I dreamed that I forgot to enroll students electronically. Even after years of dreaming THE DREAM, I still logged on to my computer at 5:45 this morning to check. Turns out there were some computer issues – welcome to my world – but the students were, indeed, enrolled. Whew.

New report: 8 ways to enhance digital learning in Utah schools Sutherland Institute commentary by Matthew Piccolo, policy analyst

Digital learning is transforming K-12 schooling in Utah – whether through fully digital courses available from the Statewide Online Education Program, district programs or charter schools, or through “blended learning” models that incorporate aspects of digital learning into a physical classroom setting.
This positive transformation will continue to occur thanks in part to recent laws passed that have created one of the best policy environments for online learning in the nation. Still, Utah can do more to expand and improve this innovative and productive environment so students can use digital learning to learn what, where, when and how is best for them.
Sutherland has released a new policy report, “8 Ways to Enhance Digital Learning in Utah Schools,” which provides eight specific recommendations for helping expand and improve digital learning opportunities for children in Utah. Here is a list of the eight recommendations:

A copy of the report

Not allowing kids’ use of public fields in summer appalling
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner Doug Lemmons

A lot of attention has been made about childhood obesity and the need to get our kids out exercising. However, Davis County city administrators and Davis school officials seem to be establishing policies that are contrary to this pursuit. Davis schools require a reservation and payment to utilize school fields. Local cities, especially Kaysville and Layton, prohibit the use of park gaming fields. As of June 9, open, grass-space at city parks is off limits.
I coach local soccer teams and have approximately 110 kids practicing or playing games at least three times per week. There are many others like me in other sports. Isn’t this exactly what Mrs. Obama is asking, to encourage physical activity? Two years ago, Davis County Schools said that I could not use their fields for my teams unless I reserved and paid for them.

What Lies Ahead for NGA and the Common Standards?
Education Week commentary by columnist Catherine Gewertz

Imagine being a new governor in a state that has adopted the Common Core State Standards. You weren’t one of the ones who signed your name as a pledge to support the initiative a few years ago. You didn’t help shepherd it through the tangle of interest groups in your state. But now, sitting down in the governor’s chair, it’s already a done deal. Your board or your education commissioner adopted the standards.
This is the scenario that has unfolded in more than half the states in the country, since the last round of gubernatorial elections produced new governors in 26 states that had adopted the common-core standards. And it’s this situation that’s a key area of focus now at the National Governors Association’s education division.

Colorado’s READ Act challenges status quo Denver Post op-ed by Jeb Bush, chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education

Coloradans and Floridians share a common belief: that all children can learn and succeed. And for this to happen, they must first know how to read.
The ability to read is universally recognized as a great separator, and Colorado’s state and education leaders are focusing on early literacy to ensure every student is equipped with this powerful tool. By passing the READ Act during the 2012 legislative session, these education visionaries have taken a fundamental step toward empowering all children with the vital, lifelong gift of literacy.
From mathematics to social sciences, students need to be able to read in order to learn. Research shows that the transition between learning to read and reading to learn typically happens in third grade. If kids are unable to read on grade level by the end of that benchmark year, they are four times more likely to dropout than those who are reading on grade level.
This is why Colorado’s leaders acted to ensure every child can read at the appropriate level before leaving third grade.

The moral imperative for education policy CNN commentary by Jesse Jackson Sr., president and founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition

It has been two years since the administration’s Race to the Top education competition was implemented, and scholars, advocates, practitioners and journalists are asking whether the program has been effective. From my perspective, this is the wrong question. We must instead determine whether a contest that provides support to some but not others is sufficient for addressing the structural inequities that make separate and unequal education a persistent fact of life in America today.
Race to the Top and other competitive grant programs are essentially designed to help those who can run, but our nation must be committed to lift from the bottom in order to provide equal, high-quality education for all children everywhere. Our present education policy does not meet this moral imperative.
Heralded as an innovative method for incentivizing states to adopt higher academic standards, “turn around” low performing schools, improve student and teacher evaluations, and recruit and train more effective teachers and principals, the Race to the Top contest is an inherently political response to the widely recognized need for education reform. It pretends to offer a solution for all when it provides only a band-aid for some.


Judge backs using student achievement to evaluate L.A. teachers In a preliminary ruling, the court supports charges that L.A. Unified is violating the law by not using students’ performance — including test scores — in reviewing teachers.
Los Angeles Times

In a tentative ruling that could potentially transform California teacher evaluations, the Los Angeles Unified School District was ordered Monday to use students’ academic achievement in reviewing instructors.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant upheld contentions by a group of Los Angeles parents that the district was violating a 40-year-old state law, known as the Stull Act, which requires that teacher evaluations include measures of how well pupils are learning what the state and district expects them to know each year. The law was amended in 1999 to specifically require the use of state standardized test scores as one measure.
Chalfant said the law required the district to use California standardized test scores to determine how well students have mastered state-required material. But he gave the district wide discretion in how to measure pupil progress in meeting its own local academic expectations. Which specific measures are used, how they are incorporated into performance reviews, how the different elements are weighted and how administrators are trained in using them “may well be a matter subject to collective bargaining,” he wrote.
The ruling, while preliminary, lends significant legal clout to a growing movement to use students’ test scores as part of a teacher’s performance review.

A copy of the ruling

Tenn. Study: Less Emphasis on Test Scores in Teacher Evals Associated Press via Education Week

Nashville, Tenn. – About two-thirds of Tennessee teachers should be allowed to opt for a smaller portion of their evaluations to be based on student testing data, according to a study released Monday.
The report by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, or SCORE, was commissioned by Gov. Bill Haslam to review the state’s new teacher evaluation system. The Republican governor asked lawmakers not to enact any changes to the system while the study was being conducted.
Fifty percent of teachers’ evaluations are based on student testing data, but only about one-third teach subjects where value-added testing data is collected. The SCORE report recommends that teachers in subjects or grades without specific testing data be allowed to reduce that component to 25 percent of their evaluation.
The recommendation seeks to address concerns raised repeatedly by teachers since the evaluation measure was first enacted as part of Tennessee’s federal Race to the Top grant application in 2010. Tennessee was one of the first two states selected for the grants. (Tennesseean)

A copy of the report

US states forecast highest tax revenue in 5 years Associated Press

WASHINGTON — U.S. states expect to collect higher tax revenue in the coming budget year that combined would top pre-recession levels, according to a survey released Tuesday. The increase could reduce pressure on states to cut budgets and lay off workers.
A slowly healing job market and modest growth have boosted sales and income taxes, which provide nearly three-quarters of state revenue. Overall corporate income taxes are also growing.
Still, many states continue to struggle with budget shortfalls. And some states, such as California, are seeing greater revenue only after raising taxes to stem deficits.
Total tax revenue is forecast to rise 4.1 percent to $690.3 billion in the 2013 budget year, according to a twice-yearly survey by the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers. It’s the third straight year of revenue growth and $10 billion more than the budget year that ended June 2008. The recession began in December 2007. (Stateline)

Vouchers Unspoken, Romney Hails School Choice New York Times

“Voucher” is a fighting word in education, so it may be understandable that when Mitt Romney speaks about improving the nation’s schools, he never uses that term.
Nonetheless, as president, Mr. Romney would seek to overhaul the federal government’s largest programs for kindergarten through 12th grade into a voucherlike system. Students would be free to use $25 billion in federal money to attend any school they choose — public, charter, online or private — a system, he said, that would introduce marketplace dynamics into education to drive academic gains.
His plans, presented in a recent speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, represent a broad overhaul of current policy, one that reverses a quarter-century trend, under Republican and Democratic presidents, of concentrating responsibility for school quality at the federal level.
“I will expand parental choice in an unprecedented way,” Mr. Romney said, adding that families’ freedom to vote with their feet “will hold schools responsible for results.”
His proposals are the clearest sign yet that Republicans have executed an about-face from the education policies of President George W. Bush, whose signature domestic initiative, the No Child Left Behind law of 2002, required uniform state testing and imposed penalties on schools that failed to progress.

No mention of ‘bisexual,’ ‘transgender’ under Romney Words brought halt to antibullying guide Boston Globe

Former governor Mitt Romney’s administration in 2006 blocked publication of a state antibullying guide for Massachusetts public schools because officials objected to use of the terms “bisexual’’ and “transgender’’ in passages about protecting certain students from harassment, according to state records and interviews with current and former state officials.
Romney aides said publicly at the time that publication of the guide had been delayed because it was a lengthy document that required further review. But an e-mail authored in May of that year by a high-ranking Department of Public Health official – and obtained last week by the Globe through a public records request – reflected a different reason.
“Because this is using the terms ‘bisexual’ and ‘transgendered,’ DPH’s name may not be used in this publication,’’ wrote the official, Alda Rego-Weathers, then the deputy commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Because the Department of Public Health was the primary sponsor and funding source of the guide, the move effectively blocked its publication. Rego-Weathers said in the e-mail that she had been consulting with Romney’s office on the issue.

Obama Uses Aid, Executive Muscle to Drive Education Agenda Education Week

Back in 2008, it wasn’t clear just where candidate Barack Obama’s heart lay when it came to the big issues facing schools.
Although Mr. Obama had been a community organizer, a law professor, and a state legislator, the junior U.S. senator from Illinois didn’t have a long record on K-12 issues, and he rarely spoke about them in his presidential campaign. His advisers included voices from all parts of a Democratic Party bitterly divided on such issues as teacher quality and the role of high-stakes tests.
Some moments hinted at what was to come—such as his expression of support for performance pay for teachers, which was met with boos from the National Education Association. But no one knew for sure just how ambitious Mr. Obama intended to be on K-12 policy if elected.
“Now, as President Obama prepares to face the electorate again, there’s little question of where he stands on some of the most hotly debated issues—and little doubt that, if re-elected, he plans to stick with his education redesign agenda.

Anger, frustration envelop Philadelphia schools Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — The school system’s chief recovery officer was trying to explain how broke the district is, but no one could hear him.
“Save our schools! Save our schools!”
More than 200 protesters had packed the Philadelphia school board meeting and were drowning out the official presentation; they also waved signs expressing “No confidence” in next year’s austere budget. It was the second major demonstration at district headquarters in just over a week.
The City of Brotherly Love is boiling over with frustration. It’s not just the $700 million in education cuts this past year. It’s not just a loss of state aid, which led to a massive rally and 14 arrests. And it’s not just the plan to close 40 of Philadelphia’s 249 schools within a year.

Investors Go to School on Charters
Bonds Issued by the Educational Institutions Offer Rare High Yields at a Time of Near-Zero Rates Wall Street Journal

Charter schools, publicly financed alternatives to traditional public schools, are drawing more than just increasing numbers of students: Bond investors also are signing up.
As charter schools have grown, their bond sales—which usually go toward financing construction of new facilities—have gotten bigger as well, a sign of rising interest from investors. And while the relatively high yields are burdening the schools with higher borrowing costs, they are proving particularly enticing to market participants at a time of near-zero interest rates.
Bond offerings of $30 million or more accounted for nearly 12% of all charter-school bond sales last year, compared to 5% in 2007, according to Wendy Berry, a former analyst at Moody’s Investors Service and a charter-school finance consultant for the Local Initiatives Support Corp., a community development organization. About 10% of the new deals this year have crossed that threshold.
Charter schools, which have branched out into statewide networks, are a small but growing corner of the multitrillion-dollar municipal-bond market, with nearly $4 billion in bonds outstanding.

More than seven in 10 US teens jobless in summer Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Once a rite of passage to adulthood, summer jobs for teens are disappearing.
Fewer than three in 10 American teenagers now hold jobs such as running cash registers, mowing lawns or busing restaurant tables from June to August. The decline has been particularly sharp since 2000, with employment for 16-to-19-year olds falling to the lowest level since World War II.
It’s partly a cultural shift. More youths are spending summer months in school, at camps or in other activities geared for college. But the trend is especially troubling for teens for whom college may be out of reach, leaving them few options to earn wages and job experience.
Older workers, immigrants and debt-laden college graduates are taking away lower-skill work as they struggle to find jobs in the weak economy.

Law backs Collingswood student on Pledge, school says Cherry Hills (NJ) Courier-Post

COLLINGSWOOD — A student here has stood up for the right to sit down during the Pledge of Allegiance.
Chelsea Stanton, a Collingswood High School senior, regularly declines to recite the Pledge or to rise when fellow students say it. As a result, Stanton said, she’s been sent twice this school year to administrators’ offices for violating a rule in a school guidebook.
“I was told that, according to New Jersey law as printed in our school agenda books, I must stand each morning during the Pledge of Allegiance ceremony,” said Stanton.
But that requirement’s going to change.
Stanton’s research found that the law requiring people to stand was declared unconstitutional in 1978. School officials made the same discovery after the district’s solicitor looked into Stanton’s case.
“It has probably been in the agenda book for years,” Scott Oswald, the district’s superintendent, said of the requirement to stand during the pledge. “It will be removed next year.”
Not everyone agrees with Stanton’s stand, however.

‘Kids have to stumble, they should fall’
NBC Nightly News

Veteran English teacher David McCullough Jr., whose unusual graduation speech at Wellesley High School went viral, told NBC Nightly News it’s important for kids to embrace failure rather than always striving to avoid it. Creativity, he added, should be for the good of others because ‘selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself.’

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