Education News Roundup: June 27, 2012

stack of books, books on shelves in English and Japanesse

books/no_typographic_man/CC/flickr

Today’s Top Picks:

Weber and Murray voters both approve school bonds and local school board candidates face the voters in primaries.
http://goo.gl/HRsMk (SLT)
and http://goo.gl/48Ov5 (OSE)
and http://goo.gl/zgDxh (PDH)
and http://goo.gl/jSCQ1 (SGS)

D-News continues its demographics series.
http://goo.gl/CQnYf (DN)

Pennsylvania teacher who blogged about her students as “dunderheads” is fired.
http://goo.gl/PNlBf (Inquirer)

Athletic trainers issue guidelines for conditioning camps.
http://goo.gl/JR4Ce (AP)
or a copy of the guidelines
http://goo.gl/Nx8NS

Books are no longer cool for the under 11 crowd.
http://goo.gl/iGvLf (Telegraph)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Weber, Murray voters back school bonds
New facilities are approved; incumbents rule board races.

Provo selects candidates for school board seats

Adams, Florence advance in primary

Primary spells trouble for lawmakers
Bill Wright, sponsor of sex-ed bill, and veteran lawmaker Neal Hendrickson are defeated.

Governor Selects Candidates for Utah State Board of Education

Jordan school board, teachers at an impasse

Latino students face barriers to higher education

Utah camp shows science, math aren’t just for boys Education » Westminster camp aims to show eighth-grade girls that math, science and technology aren’t just for boys.

Utah study: Expanded definition finds more disabled kids with autism Most of the children labeled as “challenged” in the 1980s would now be classified as autistic.

Family and friends mourn the loss of coach killed in DUI crash

As a dad, Kalani Sitake sees Title IX payoff

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Are school rules effective? It depends on what scares you

Charter school boards are a training ground

Teachers’ positive impact

Let’s thank our ‘superhuman’ teachers

Bus monitor vs. bullies

School choice works and is constitutional

Voters aren’t buying school choice snake oil

Low confidence in public schools is warranted

Input Sought on Math Frameworks Pegged to Common Core

There’s More Than One Way to Flip a Classroom

Mayors Support “Parent Tricker” Law

A New Type of Ed School
Linking candidate success to student success

NATION

Bucks County teacher whose blog made headlines is fired

Athletes’ deaths in workouts prompt new guidelines

Obesity in America: Schools on the front line of the fight With one-fifth of Americans between the ages of 6 and 19 overweight, schools are central in the campaign to fight obesity. Educators, nutritionists hope healthier school lunches, daily recess, and PE requirements can help reverse the trend.

Idaho to negotiate for laptops after too few bids for Luna’s schools plan

‘Digital Badges’ Would Represent Students’ Skill Acquisition Initiatives seek to give students permanent online records for developing specific skills

Vouchers Help Catholic Schools Survive
Poll shows 56% in support of government assistance. Programs expanding, helping to keep parochial schools afloat.

Teach for America Alums Take Aim at State Office

Children with short attention spans ‘failing to read books’
Growing numbers of children are being turned off books by the end of primary school because of the influence of the internet and lack of reading in the home, according to research.

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UTAH NEWS
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Weber, Murray voters back school bonds
New facilities are approved; incumbents rule board races.

Throughout Utah, 20 counties held primaries for commission and council seats, while voters narrowed the fields in school board races and approved two multimillion-dollar school construction bonds.
Murray voters overwhelmingly passed a $33 million bond to build a new Hillcrest Junior High, according to unofficial returns. The measure, with nearly 70 percent backing, will require a $58 property tax increase on a $200,000 house.
The existing school was built in 1948 and has been remodeled multiple times, according to district officials.
Weber School District voters embraced a $65 million bond to build four schools to replace five existing ones: West Weber Elementary, Wahlquist Junior High, North Park Elementary, as well as Marlon Hills Elementary and Club Heights Elementary (which would be consolidated). The district has mushroomed by 1,649 students since the last bond.

In Park City School Board contests, unofficial returns show Nancy Joy Garrison earned the most votes, followed by Ron Huggins for Seat 2. Both will move on to the November election.
In the race for Seat 3, Tania Knauer and Kristen Brown edged Paul Marsh and Anne Bransford.
The race for District 3 in the Canyons School District was a squeaker. Nancy Tingey earned a sure spot on the general election ballot, but Clay Pearce edged Cindy S. England by a mere 40 votes.
In the race for Jordan School Board’s District 1 seat, the gap was wider, with J. Lynn Crane and Michael Livsey breezing past Patrick Hart.
http://goo.gl/HRsMk (SLT)

http://goo.gl/48Ov5 (OSE)

Provo selects candidates for school board seats

PROVO — The candidate list for Provo’s board of education was reduced by five during Tuesday’s primary election. Elizabeth Rhoades and Julie Rash from District 5 received the nod from voters. In District 6, it appeared at deadline that Sandy Packard and Marsha Judkins would garner the top two spots.
Districts 3, 5, 6, and 7 are up for re-election this year with only one incumbent, Richard Sheffield from District 3, in the race. Sheffield has only one challenger and did not need a primary. District 7 also has two challengers keeping them out of a primary. Incumbents choosing not to run include board chairwoman Kristine Manwaring, Darryl Alder and Mary Ann Christiansen.
Earlier this year the fervor for residents to join the “oust ’em” bandwagon swelled as a backlash at the board and district for issues surrounding popular high school football coach Louis Wong. The issue also played a part in the retirement of former district superintendent Randy Merrill, and the subsequent selection of a new superintendent from outside of the area. Keith Rittel, who recently relocated from Washington, takes over the district July 1.
http://goo.gl/zgDxh (PDH)

Adams, Florence advance in primary

CEDAR CITY – Five candidates were competing for the 2nd district seat for the Iron County School Board. The relatively large number of candidates prompted a primary election Tuesday.
The seat is being relinquished by Board member Alan Adams, who won a place on the Parowan City Council during last year’s city elections. The second district covers Parowan, Paragonah, Brian Head, Summit and some areas in north Cedar City.
Of the five candidates, Shane Adams finished first in the primary with close to 28 percent of the vote, and Mark Florence finished second with close to 21 percent of the votes.
http://goo.gl/jSCQ1 (SGS)

Primary spells trouble for lawmakers
Bill Wright, sponsor of sex-ed bill, and veteran lawmaker Neal Hendrickson are defeated.

Several incumbent legislators were on the ropes Tuesday night, in danger of losing their re-election bids to challengers in their own parties.
Sen. Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe, appears headed to hold onto his Senate seat, covering huge swaths of rural Utah, after staving off a challenge from Rep. Patrick Painter, R-Nephi.

In a race that went back-and-forth much of the night, Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden, lost to challenger Merrill Nelson, 52 percent to 48 percent. Wright was the sponsor of a controversial bill to restrict sex education offered in schools and legislation creating Utah’s one-of-a-kind state-issued guest-worker card for immigrant workers.
http://goo.gl/zS4bN (SLT)

Governor Selects Candidates for Utah State Board of Education

Salt Lake City, UT – The 18 candidates who will vie for nine Utah State Board of Education seats during November’s election were selected Friday by Governor Gary Herbert.
Unlike other elections in the state, candidates for the state school board are vetted by a nominating and recruiting committee, which then narrow the field and forward names to the governor for selection. The committee passed 27 names to the governor from an initial field of 59.
http://goo.gl/ZqErJ (KCSG)

Jordan school board, teachers at an impasse

SALT LAKE CITY — Repeating a pattern that has played out two of the past three years, negotiations have stalled between the Jordan Education Association and the school board. That means federal mediators will step into the fray over the impasse.
At issue in this dispute are teachers’ continued ability to have a voice in negotiations that are related to students’ learning environments and employee working conditions.
Jennifer Boehme, president of the Jordan Education Association, said Tuesday the dispute now gets batted to Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services, which will facilitate discussions over a two-day period. The time frame for that to happen, however, is uncertain because it depends on scheduling. The office handles disputes throughout the Western United States.
http://goo.gl/4fpXL (DN)

http://goo.gl/WE9wz (KSL)

Latino students face barriers to higher education

Chris Lopez (not his real name) has an impressive résumé. He graduated from one of Utah’s top high schools with a 3.6 grade point average. He is fluent in two languages. He was the leader of his Boy Scout troop and participated in a youth leadership and college preparation program at school.
As a freshman, Lopez secured a spot as a starting forward on his school’s varsity soccer team. His small stature and impressive speed earned him the nickname “Chicharito,” which means “little pea.” He shares the moniker with Javier Hernandez, a top Mexican professional who plays for Manchester United.
Lopez has been accepted to Utah Valley University and intends to enroll there this fall. For many top high school graduates, the move would be a modest accomplishment, but Lopez is a pioneer. He is the first person in his family to graduate from high school — let alone be accepted to a university. He was even offered a small scholarship.
http://goo.gl/CQnYf (DN)

Utah camp shows science, math aren’t just for boys Education » Westminster camp aims to show eighth-grade girls that math, science and technology aren’t just for boys.

The girls stared at it, trying to decide what it was. A slug? A worm? A leech?
Erika Yellowhair, 13, picked up the slimy, wiggly creature with tweezers, repositioning it under the microscope in hopes of getting a closer look.
“It’s awesome,” said the grinning eighth-grader. “I’ve seen worse.”
It takes far more than a bug to scare the girls at Westminster College’s Awe+Sum camp aimed at sparking their interest in science, math and technology. Erika is one of more than 60 attending the camp this summer, including one of nine campers from the Navajo Nation in New Mexico.
Camp leaders hope to show the eighth-grade girls — most of whom are from Utah and some of whom are attending the three-day, overnight camp on scholarships — that college is within their reach and that math, science and technology aren’t just for boys.
http://goo.gl/dL8WG (SLT)

Utah study: Expanded definition finds more disabled kids with autism Most of the children labeled as “challenged” in the 1980s would now be classified as autistic.

One reason for the dramatic increase in children diagnosed with autism in Utah is the expanded definition of the disorder, according to a new study.
University of Utah researchers applied today’s criteria for autism-spectrum disorders to children who were considered challenged in the 1980s and who participated in an autism study at that time. The new study found a majority of those kids would now be classified as autistic.
“The modern criteria have expanded the number of folks who are included in this diagnosis,” said one of the study’s authors, Deborah Bilder, an assistant professor of psychiatry who works in the U.’s autism diagnostic clinic.
It is known that the expanded definition has increased the identification of high-functioning individuals with autism. The new study shows it has also boosted identification of those who have both autism and an intellectual disability.
http://goo.gl/i8ivw (SLT)

Family and friends mourn the loss of coach killed in DUI crash

SALT LAKE CITY – Family and friends of Michael Gallegos, 39, are in mourning after Cottonwood HS assistant coach was hit and killed by an intoxicated driver while waiting at a stop light on Bangerter Highway early Saturday morning.
The crash happened at 9800 South and Bangerter Highway.
http://goo.gl/aHvMO (KTVX)

As a dad, Kalani Sitake sees Title IX payoff

Riding down the escalator at the Los Angeles airport during one of his many recruiting trips, Utah defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake found himself irritated at the slow pace.
“I’m getting so mad and then I think, ‘Well all I have to do is step down the thing,’ ” he said. “It was so funny. We’ve made everything so easy in our society, I’m even complaining about how slow an escalator moves. We have all this obesity in our country because we’ve made it so easy.”
Being mindful of the rising obesity numbers plus knowing firsthand the value of competition in building one’s fitness as well as confidence is one of the reasons Sitake is a big supporter of Title IX.
Football coaches are generally expected to oppose Title IX, since money made by football is often used to fund smaller sports. And some believe it threatens football’s scholarship numbers as schools seek fair participation.
However, Sitake values the opportunities of Title IX not so much as someone involved in athletics, but as the father of 8- and 5-year-old girls, Skye and Sadie.
http://goo.gl/s346L (SLT)

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Are school rules effective? It depends on what scares you Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Robert Kirby

If you could blame my column on any one thing (other than Satan), blame it on the fact that I received my formal education in the 1960’s. Had I attended school today, I’d be illiterate.
No way would I have survived today’s stupid school rules. Case in point: the Tacoma, Wash., mother outraged last week because her children were sunburned on a school field trip.
Note: This news story could have been fabricated. Of the roughly 100 days total I’ve spent in the Pacific Northwest, the actual sun was only visible on two of them.
Anyway, unbeknownst to the mother, the school field trip was to Chernobyl. Her two fair-skinned daughters came home looking like they’d been boiled.
As it turned out, not only were the girls not permitted to bring sunscreen to school without a doctor’s permit, they couldn’t have borrowed any while they were there. The school has a zero tolerance policy on any kind of drugs, including over-the-counter sunscreen.
Remember that 48 other states, including this one, have the same general rule about sunscreen.
http://goo.gl/opl1Q

Charter school boards are a training ground Commentary by Charter Solutions President Lincoln Fillmore

Serving on a charter school board is experiencing a microcosm of public education as a whole. District school boards, are too, but not as micro. Long ago, Democrats figures out that serving on a district school board was a good way to start in politics, build name recognition, and then use that as a jumping off point for higher office. Get people used to voting for you without a party label by your name and then they might keep voting for you even if there’s a D after it later.
The lack of a party label is also why the State Board of Education is so full of, well, liberals. The state legislature is 75% Republican and almost that high with really conservative ones. Utah votes Republican. But the State Board of Education, which is filled with non-partisan elections, is decidedly less so, though it’s become more so in recent years.
This isn’t a partisan post, I’m just making some points, leading to this year when many of the candidates nominated to run for the State Board of Education have experience serving on the board of a charter school.
http://goo.gl/V1lEW

Teachers’ positive impact
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Rosemary Baron

On June 12, The Tribune featured front-page reporting on EnergySolutions’ loss of revenue, exorbitant salaries and severance packages and monthly consulting bonuses for their high-level operations officers (“EnergySolutions shake-up brings new boss, new questions”). So … don’t do your job and get big dollars?
Public distrust envelopes EnergySolutions’ ethical, environmental and economic issues. The public that EnergySolutions claims to be serving is suffering from inept leadership.
In stark contrast, tucked away at the back of the second section, is the story, “Two Utah teachers win national math, science awards.” Jim Larson and Vivian Shell devoted a lifetime to the education and formation of hundreds of students.
Day by day, they serve students with love and compassion, skill and expertise. Now, after careers dedicated to the education of students, they receive $10,000 each!
http://goo.gl/P8xfn

Let’s thank our ‘superhuman’ teachers
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner letter from Christine Lopez Jarvis

Teachers are a great example to our students and our children in general. It is wonderful when teachers are recognized for their extra efforts.
I have had the privilege of knowing many great teachers in many schools in this great state of Utah and in one school in particular, Kanesville Elementary (in West Haven).
There is a lot more to teaching than most parents and grandparents know.
http://goo.gl/Vxm2k

Bus monitor vs. bullies
USA Today editorial

Bullying on school buses has been going on ever since school buses started rolling. So why has a recent episode involving the Greece Central School District in Upstate New York attracted national, even international, attention?
For one thing, the target of four seventh-grade boys wasn’t other kids but a 68-year-old grandmother serving as a bus monitor. The taunts were unusually vicious: The boys mocked Karen Klein’s appearance, her age, her clothing, her family and whatever else they could go after, all laced with potty-mouth epithets. Most significantly, a video of the 10-minute verbal attack made its way to YouTube, where it has attracted more than 7 million hits and an outpouring of support for Klein.
At one level, it’s heartening to see that the incident struck a chord with the public. But other aspects of the story have been less satisfying.
http://goo.gl/FJmEI

School choice works and is constitutional USA Today op-ed by Richard Komer, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, which represented parents in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris

Wednesday marks the 10th anniversary of one of the most important U.S. Supreme Court decisions since Brown vs. Board of Education. In Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, the court upheld the constitutionality of a school choice program in Cleveland for low-income children long ignored by the educational establishment. The ruling laid to rest the argument of public school apologists that giving parents the means to choose private religious schools for their children’s education violated the Constitution’s Establishment Clause. The court held that so long as a program is religiously neutral — neither favoring nor disfavoring a religious school option — and so long as that choice is driven by the independent choices of parents, the fact that many families will choose religious schools does not violate the Constitution’s guarantees of religious freedom for all nor advance the establishment of religion.
Zelman represented a huge step forward in a then decade-long effort to vindicate the constitutionality of programs that enable parents to select the best available education for their children with publicly funded vouchers — whether the schools the parents selected were public, private or religious. Zelman opened the way for an explosion of choice programs across the nation — programs that represent a truly fundamental change from the educational status quo. Developments in Ohio exemplify this trend that continues to expand nationwide.
http://goo.gl/oessj

Voters aren’t buying school choice snake oil USA Today op-ed by Walt Gardner, who writes the Reality Check blog for Education Week

Despite mounting anger and frustration over the glacial pace of school improvement, voters consistently turn thumbs down on plans to give parents wider choice. The results have emboldened reformers to try an end run around their will. In the process, they’ve made a travesty of the separation of church and state.
From 1966 through 2007, voters rejected vouchers or their variants by about 2 to 1 in 27 statewide referendums. The most recent was in Utah, where more than 60% of voters in November 2007 said no to the most comprehensive voucher program in the country up to that time. This outcome came even after the plan passed both houses of the state legislature and was signed by the governor.
Realizing that putting the issue to voters once again would be futile, reformers devised a clever strategy in the form of scholarship programs. So far, these programs have been working smoothly because combining personal-use and donation credits are less controversial than parental choice programs.
http://goo.gl/5aNXi

Low confidence in public schools is warranted Washington Times op-ed by Marybeth Hicks, author of “Don’t Let the Kids Drink the Kool-Aid: Confronting the Left’s Assault on Our Families, Faith and Freedom.”

Perhaps it was the rash of sexual-abuse cases on the part of public school teachers discovered during the 2011-2012 school year.
Or maybe it was the poor impression of educators left by Wisconsin teachers union members in the wake of protests against Gov. Scott Walker.
Or maybe parents finally took the time to go through their children’s backpacks and found the work product that passes for learning these days.
Whatever the reason, last week the Gallup Organization revealed a poll that indicates confidence in our nation’s public schools is at an all-time low.
According to the poll measuring Americans’ confidence in public institutions, confidence in schools is down 5 percentage points from 2011, with just 29 percent expressing “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in them.
“This is a new low from the 33 percent measured in Gallup’s 2007 and 2008 Confidence in Institutions polls,” Gallup’s website says. “The high was 58 percent the first time Gallup included public schools, in 1973.”
Put another way — because it’s frankly more startling — roughly 70 percent of Americans have low or no confidence in our public schools. The vast majority of us seem to get that our system of public education simply is not getting the job done.
http://goo.gl/yWiVa

Input Sought on Math Frameworks Pegged to Common Core Education Week commentary by columnist Erik Robelen

A state-led testing consortium is inviting public comment on two sets of “model content frameworks” in mathematics that aim to serve as a “bridge” between the Common Core State Standards and the aligned assessments under development.
The voluntary resources from the 24-state Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) are offered as a way to help curriculum developers and teachers as they work to implement the new standards, as well as to inform the development of item specifications and blueprints for the forthcoming PARCC assessments.
In the case of the grades 3-8 assessments, this represents the second round of public comment, according to a press release.
http://goo.gl/jQLS5

There’s More Than One Way to Flip a Classroom Education Week commentary by columnist Katie Ash

In a packed session this afternoon at ISTE 2012 here in San Diego, a panel of nine educators, as well as two moderators presented their ideas and experiences with “flipping” their classrooms.
The session was led by Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergmann, two chemistry teachers who pioneered the flipped learning model back in 2006. The pair recently co-wrote a book, published by ISTE and ASCD, called Flip Your Classroom.
Defining what “flipping your classroom” meant was the first topic of conversation, which proved to be somewhat more difficult than you might expect. In fact, the reason the panel consisted of nine educators, instead of two or three, was precisely to demonstrate that there were many different ways to effectively flip a classroom.
The flipped classroom has become somewhat synonymous with using videos to have students view lectures at home while in-class time is used for applied knowledge. However, as the educators on the panel talked about, not all flipped classrooms work quite that way.
http://goo.gl/cxAr3

Mayors Support “Parent Tricker” Law
Education Week commentary by Diane Ravitch, professor at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

On June 18, the U.S. Conference of Mayors unanimously endorsed “parent trigger” laws that would let parents “seize control of low-performing public schools and fire the teachers, oust the administrators, or turn the schools over to private management.” I call it the “parent tricker” law for reasons I explain below.
Let’s be clear what the so-called parent trigger means. If 51 percent of the parents in a public school sign a petition, they can take control of the school, fire the staff, and hand the school over to a private corporation run by themselves or someone else.
Parent trigger laws are an invitation, as economist Bruce Baker put it, to mob rule.
I wonder how the mayors would react to a similar proposal to allow citizens to seize control of the public housing projects they live in or their local firehouse or police station, if they are dissatisfied with them. Perhaps they should also be permitted to take control of the sanitation trucks and give the jobs to one another.
It is frankly bizarre to pass a law allowing 51 percent of the present users of a public facility or public service to seize control and hand it off to a private corporation. The public paid for it, why should the people who use it this year claim the power to give it away? What about the rights of those who plan to attend the school in years to come?
http://goo.gl/xoeRX

A New Type of Ed School
Linking candidate success to student success Education Next commentary by contributing editor June Kronholz

I was observing a class called Designing Assessments at the new Relay Graduate School of Education when a student asked if it was OK to rework questions from a teachers’ guide to fit the English lesson she was teaching in a Brooklyn middle school that week. Sure, said Mayme Hostetter, Relay’s dean: “No need to totally invent the wheel. Just make the wheel amazing.”
Hostetter might just as surely have been talking about Relay, which aims to transform teacher education to fit the needs of urban schools. The amazing—or at least attention-getting—improvement on the wheel is that New York–based Relay is linking the success of its students to the success of their students.
During their second year in Relay’s two-year masters-degree program, elementary-school teachers are asked to show that their own students averaged a full year’s reading growth during the school year. They must also set a reading goal for each child, perhaps two years’ growth for a child who is three years behind, for example. Students can earn credit toward an honors degree if 80 percent of the children they teach meet their individual reading goals.
To earn their degrees, elementary-school teachers are also asked to show that their students earned, on average, 70 percent mastery on a year’s worth of state or Common Core Standards in another subject, usually math. In other words, a math class would meet the goal if students’ individual mastery scores, when averaged, were 70 percent or better. Middle-school teachers use the same yardstick, but only in their specialized subject.
http://goo.gl/qVUxy

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Bucks County teacher whose blog made headlines is fired Philadelphia Inquirer

The Bucks County high school teacher whose blog drew national attention for calling students “frightfully dim” and “utterly loathsome” was fired Tuesday for “unsatisfactory performance.”
Natalie Munroe, an 11th-grade English teacher at Central Bucks High School East for six years, was dismissed by a 7-0 vote of the school board. The board followed the administration’s recommendation, based on a year of class observations and evaluations that Munroe’s lawyer has called retaliatory.
“Ms. Munroe was, at best, a satisfactory teacher and was experiencing performance difficulties well before her blog became an issue,” the board’s president, Paul Faulkner, said, reading from a statement.
Seeking to keep her job, Munroe filed suit Friday in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, claiming the school district violated her constitutional right to free speech “by harassing and retaliating against her.” The alleged retaliation was for her blog posts labeling some students as “ratlike,” “tactless,” and “dunderheads.”
The posts by “Natalie M” were meant to be anonymous and did not name the school, students, or colleagues, but they included her photograph.
http://goo.gl/PNlBf

Athletes’ deaths in workouts prompt new guidelines Associated Press

CHICAGO — The most dangerous time for amateur athletes may not be during the heat of the game or even in rigorous practices. A total of 21 college football players have collapsed and died during conditioning workouts since 2000 – many on the first few days, when even the fittest players are often pushed too hard.
There’s little regulation of these sessions, and coaches “just run willy-nilly” trying to make men out of boys, said athletic trainer Douglas Casa. “A lot of them are not focused on health and safety issues.”
Conditioning sessions typically include running sprints, lifting weights, and endurance exercises. Games and practices have more oversight and safeguards. These include heat acclimatization rules limiting equipment worn, intensity and number of sessions for summer practices. Between 2000 and 2011, there were no deaths among top-level college football players in practices or games.
Now, health and sports professionals are seeking to make conditioning sessions just as safe. They have collaborated to create the first consensus guidelines on preventing sudden deaths during these workouts.
http://goo.gl/JR4Ce

A copy of the guidelines
http://goo.gl/Nx8NS

Obesity in America: Schools on the front line of the fight With one-fifth of Americans between the ages of 6 and 19 overweight, schools are central in the campaign to fight obesity. Educators, nutritionists hope healthier school lunches, daily recess, and PE requirements can help reverse the trend.
Christian Science Monitor

Eat better. Move more. That’s what more schools are urging young people to do to avoid becoming seriously overweight.
As society tackles obesity, many efforts center on schools’ potential to create a generation of children who value staying active and eating balanced, less-processed meals.
“Schools have access to children in [Grades] K through 12 for almost 2,000 days of their lives, so schools have got to play a big role…. The whole goal of education is to change behavior to [make it] more positive,” says Rhonda Clements, program director of physical education and sport pedagogy at Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y.
A big motivator for school officials may be the statistics: About 20 percent of people ages 6 to 19 were obese in 2008, up from less than 10 percent in 1980, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
http://goo.gl/yhhVn

Idaho to negotiate for laptops after too few bids for Luna’s schools plan Associated Press via (Boise) Idaho Statesman

BOISE, Idaho — Citing insufficient competition, Idaho officials have abandoned their original bidding process meant to equip public school teachers with laptop computers starting this fall.
Instead, the state will negotiate directly with providers of computers and services, in hopes of keeping this five-year estimated $60 million piece of public schools chief Tom Luna’s “Students Come First” reforms on track even as he tries to fend off repeal measures on November’s ballot.
State purchasing officials say only three private groups submitted bids following a request for proposals, or “RFP,” earlier this year.
One missed the June 11 deadline and was excluded. Another was on time, but failed to meet state requirements. Only one actually met the qualifications.
As a result, the Department of Administration said Tuesday it will negotiate with suppliers of mobile computing devices and accompanying services to get the best deal for taxpayers. The state says this isn’t entirely unexpected and believes devices will still be on teachers’ desks by September or October, as planned.
http://goo.gl/yKI1s

‘Digital Badges’ Would Represent Students’ Skill Acquisition Initiatives seek to give students permanent online records for developing specific skills Education Week

For many adults, the thought of earning badges evokes childhood memories of sewing Boy Scout or Girl Scout patches onto sashes and vests.
But some educators are hoping that the current generation of children will associate the word with something new: digital badges.
In this vision, electronic images could be earned for a wide variety of reasons in multiple learning spaces, including after-school programs, summer workshops, K-12 classrooms, and universities. And once earned, the badges could follow students throughout their lifetimes, being displayed on websites or blogs and included in college applications and résumés.
The concept originated at the end of 2010 at a conference held by the Mozilla Foundation in Barcelona, Spain. The idea is getting a toehold in higher education and is being tried with some youths at the precollegiate level.
Advocates of this vision for K-12 contend that such badges could help bridge educational experiences that happen in and out of school, as well as provide a way to recognize “soft skills” such as leadership and collaboration.
http://goo.gl/YmllZ

Vouchers Help Catholic Schools Survive
Poll shows 56% in support of government assistance. Programs expanding, helping to keep parochial schools afloat.
National Catholic Register

At least partly thanks to a growing wave of states enacting school voucher programs, many Catholic schools are again seeing increased enrolments.
Indiana began offering vouchers in 2011, as did Douglas County, Colo., while Congress reinstated the District of Columbia’s voucher system that had been defunded by the Obama administration. Now, nine states, the District of Columbia and a single school board in Colorado offer vouchers, while four other states offer educational savings accounts, scholarships or other aid. These plans cover 210,000 students across America, up sevenfold from 2000.
Estimating that more than 50% of the students using vouchers in many cities are going to Catholic schools, John Schilling, the chief operating officer of the non-sectarian Alliance for School Choice, offered this explanation: “The Catholic schools have been successfully educating children from every economic and ethnic background for decades, and doing it very well. Tragically, we are seeing a lot of Catholic schools closing. One of the promising things about the expansion of vouchers is that it could keep those schools and opportunities open.”
http://goo.gl/YbGYk

Teach for America Alums Take Aim at State Office Stateline

When Teach for America alumnus Bill Ferguson took on six-term incumbent George Della for a Maryland Senate seat two years ago, he benefited from the energetic support of his fellow Teach for America alumni—but he had to overcome the strident opposition of the teachers’ unions.
Ferguson upset Della in the Democratic primary and went on to win the general election, making him only the second Teach for America alumnus to secure a seat in a state legislature—following Mike Johnston, who joined the Colorado Senate in 2009.
Johnston and Ferguson aren’t likely to be alone for long: At least six TFA alumni are running for state legislatures this year, and many others are running for boards of education. Like Ferguson and Johnston, most of these former teachers likely will have to overcome union opposition to win.
http://goo.gl/RSP66

Children with short attention spans ‘failing to read books’
Growing numbers of children are being turned off books by the end of primary school because of the influence of the internet and lack of reading in the home, according to research.
London Telegraph

More than four-in-10 teachers said children failed to read for pleasure at the age of 11, it emerged.
The study – by the publisher Pearson – found that many schools fear children have short attention spans and prefer to spend time online rather than reading a novel.
Teachers also said that books were not seen as “cool” by pupils and raised fears that parents are failing to do enough to promote a love of reading in the home.
http://goo.gl/iGvLf

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