Education News Roundup: June 28, 2012


Crepe Complet/Pabo76/CC/flickr

Today’s Top Picks:

“Utah County has 11 of state’s 12 fastest-growing cities.” If you’d like to do some math and see if there’s a correlation between city growth and median class size, here’s the link to class size: (USOE). (SLT)
and (OSE)

Camp Eagle Summer Program has begun again this year in Nebo District. (PDH)

Préparation des crêpes dans la salle de classe? Muy bueno. (OSE)
and (KSL)

Speaking of speaking in another language, Utah gets some props from the Council on Foreign Relations for its dual immersion program.
or a copy of the report

Texas is still working out some issues on standardized testing. (AP)
and (Austin American-Statesman)



Utah County has 11 of state’s 12 fastest-growing cities Census » SLC’s growth continues; it adds more residents than any city.

Native American students work on mural about their culture

Crepes a la classroom in Clearfield

Indian Principal gets a Top Position in a Utah Global School

Students learn: You text, you drive, you crash Education » U. simulators show perils of distracted driving.

Car show raises money for Stansbury Elementary after-school program “Rods, Hogs & Rigs” » Community members donate $15 to showcase vintage vehicles.

Girls State offers leadership, friendship and life-changing experiences for Catholic students

East High grad wins biology fellowship

Holloway endorsed for Utah House seat by education association PAC

Washington state mother fights no-sunscreen policy in schools Children suffer severe, but preventable, sunburns


Bonding for schools
Voters made right choice

Why Bother?

Is Utah smart to take part in the ‘Smarter Balanced’ Common Core education Consortia?

Granite School District’s new policy takes donors out of coaching

Pioneer High School for the Performing Arts to open in the Fall 2012 semester

Does technology undermine math teaching?

6 fascinating books to read aloud with kids, ages 8-12

Support for Murray and Wong

Foreign Languages and U.S. Economic Competitiveness

Class Struggle
On education, there are big differences between Obama and Romney.

Trying to save vocational education

Teachers and Administrators, Don’t Be Scared of Technology: It Won’t Replace the Classroom

Middle School Girls Want Access to E-Learning

Survey: Education Holding Its Ground on Tech. Integration


Group fears weakening of school accountability

Alabama school officials begin takeover of Birmingham city schools

Segregation Fear Sinks Charter School


Utah County has 11 of state’s 12 fastest-growing cities Census » SLC’s growth continues; it adds more residents than any city.

It’s a statistic that shows the heart of Utah’s growth: Utah County, home to 11 of the state’s 12 fastest-growing cities (with populations of at least 10,000).
And the one exception — Heber City, the state’s fastest-growing municipality — is sort of a back-mountain suburb of Utah County.
New 2011 city population estimates, released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau, also spin the continuing tale of the resurrection of Salt Lake City.
Although in a steady population decline a few decades ago, Salt Lake City’s redevelopment and growth among young families allowed it to add more residents last year than any other Utah city — even if its growth rate was not as fast as its Utah County cousins.
“That is a continuing reversal of trend that is important,” said University of Utah research economist Pam Perlich of Salt Lake City’s rebounding population.
But probably most interesting is what is happening in Utah County and southern Salt Lake County. “That is the epicenter of growth right now,” Perlich said. (SLT) (OSE)

Native American students work on mural about their culture

While most schools are quietly passing the summer months, Sierra Bonita Elementary in Spanish Fork is brimming with activity as Camp Eagle Summer Program takes over the classrooms in June. Nebo’s Title 7 program, Camp Eagle, is an educational program exclusively for Native American students.
The summer program, which involves art projects, mural painting, a pow wow and more, is only one part of an effort on the part of the Native American community to help their children excel in school and life thereafter.
“I was shocked 13 years ago to see the statistics,” said Eileen Quintana, the program’s director. At that time the graduation rate for Native American students in the district was 37 percent, Quintana said. Rallying the community to stand up and declare this unacceptable, Quintana and Natalie Billie work throughout the school year and the summer to motivate each individual student to succeed.
Today, the graduation rate for Native American students in the Nebo district is 94 percent, compared to a national average just more than 50 percent, Quintana said. (PDH)

Crepes a la classroom in Clearfield

CLEARFIELD — Making crepes might not seem difficult, but it ended up being tricky for some students on Tuesday — particularly because they were supposed to speak only French during the process.
The students are participating in a weeklong summer language immersion camp hosted by Davis School District at North Davis High School. The camp attracted nearly 80 students, ages 10 and up from Weber, Davis and Salt Lake school districts.
With the option of studying either Spanish or French, the students are spending the week making ice cream and rockets, singing songs and taking a field trip to the zoo; all with only one catch — the activities must be done while speaking entirely in French or Spanish. (OSE) (KSL)

Indian Principal gets a Top Position in a Utah Global School

When Dev Lahiri retired a year ago as the Principal of India’s famed Welham Boys School in Dehra Dun, everyone, including Lahiri himself, thought that he had reached the pinnacle of his eventful teaching career that had spanned over 30 years. He and wife Indrani had planned to lead a retired life in the quaint little house they had built in a village. At best, they hoped to find a worthy cause and devote their time in promoting it. And in Purukul Youth Development Society in at the foothills of the Himalayas, they found an admirable opportunity to render their services to the community.
The fate, however, had willed otherwise. Lahiri received a tempting offer from an unexpected source, thousands and thousands of miles away in the wilderness of Utah in the American West. Mr. Joseph Loftin, President of Wasatch Academy that was founded as a preparatory school way back in 1875 at Mount Pleasant, asked him to join his school as Director, International Curriculum Development – a new position that he had created principally to make use of Lahiri’s multi-faceted talents. The job is essentially to look at global issues from the perspective of an international school in the mountainous Utah. (Indo American News)

Students learn: You text, you drive, you crash Education » U. simulators show perils of distracted driving.

William Cisneros is texting, talking on his phone and, yes, driving. Suddenly, a bus speeds into the intersection smack-dab in front of him. The 16-year-old slams on the brakes, but it’s too late.
“This bus just came out, man,” he says to his friend on the phone.
Cisneros can afford such a lighthearted reaction, because, thankfully, the car he’s driving and the bus he’s ramming aren’t real. They’re just simulations at the Utah Traffic Lab at the University of Utah.
Similar scenes played out time and time again Tuesday as high school students sideswiped, rear-ended and collided head-on with other vehicles — all part of a simulated effort to show the dangers of texting, talking or otherwise being distracted while behind the wheel. (SLT)

Car show raises money for Stansbury Elementary after-school program “Rods, Hogs & Rigs” » Community members donate $15 to showcase vintage vehicles.

West Valley City • Ernie Broderick knows well the financial concerns facing public education. The fourth-year principal of Stansbury Elementary – a Title I school in West Valley City – has had to get creative with fundraising by seeking grants and encouraging community involvement.
At the heart of Broderick’s plan is the partnership the school formed four years ago with Kenworth Sales Company to host a car, truck and motorcycle show to raise money for some of the school’s ancillary programs. The event has grown every year since, and Broderick said events like “Rods, Hogs and Rigs” have made it possible to give his students more than the bare minimum. (SLT)

Girls State offers leadership, friendship and life-changing experiences for Catholic students

CEDAR CITY — Three Catholic high school girls attended this year’s American Legion Auxiliary Girls’ State, held at Southern Utah University in Cedar City June 4-9.
High school girls who have completed their junior year are selected to participate in the seven-day mock government program where they learn about civics and American government in a fast-paced, interactive program of campaigning, debating, voting and electing mock local and state leaders. Participants create and enforce laws, and participate in all phases of running a working government modeled on city, county and state levels. (IC)

East High grad wins biology fellowship

The Knowles Science Teaching Foundation has named Claire Fassio, a graduate of East High School, as a recipient of a five-year teaching fellowship in biology. Fassio earned a BS and an MA in biochemistry and molecular biology from Lewis and Clark College and the University of California-Berkeley, respectively. She plans to teach in Salt Lake City upon completing her teaching credential program at Westminster College. (SLT)

Holloway endorsed for Utah House seat by education association PAC

ST. GEORGE – The Education Association Political Action Committee (U-PAC) has endorsed Brent Holloway, a Democrat, for House District 62. U-PAC invites all candidates to complete questionnaires and evaluates the responding candidates.
Holloway’s recommendation was based on his plan to improve public education in Utah and boost the state from last place in national per-pupil spending, a spot it has held for several years (SGS)

Washington state mother fights no-sunscreen policy in schools Children suffer severe, but preventable, sunburns

TACOMA, Wash. — A Washington state mother is taking action against her school district after her children suffered severe but likely entirely preventable burns because they were prohibited from applying sunscreen at school.
“Jesse Michener’s daughters Violet, 11, and Zoe, 9, set out from their home last Tuesday for an all-day school event,” reports Jillian Eugenios in a Today Health article. “The morning had been a rainy one but by noon the rain gave way to sun, and the girls began to burn. Violet and Zoe were not allowed to apply sunscreen due to a school policy against it, even though Zoe suffers from a form of albinism, a genetic condition that makes her particularly sun-sensitive.”
The mother is challenging the school policy on sunscreen use, which is in place as a precautionary measure to protect children from potential adverse effects. (DN)


Bonding for schools
Voters made right choice
Salt Lake Tribune editorial

Utahns don’t just pay lip service to the value of public education. They consistently show their commitment to their local neighborhood schools. They volunteer. Parents get involved in PTA and other organizations. And they go even further, most often approving district borrowing to maintain education quality.
Voters in the Murray and Weber school districts are the latest to support going into debt to improve their children’s schools. The two bond issues approved Tuesday are needed to meet the demands of growth and improve safety at schools in the two districts.
Record-low interest rates and relatively low construction costs make this a good time to complete these necessary construction projects.

Why Bother?
Salt Lake City Weekly commentary by columnist Katharine Biele

Speaking of complex and confusing, just look at the races for state school board. Not that anyone really knows who’s representing them now, or what district they’re in. The Legislature has taken this race so far from the people that it’s more about the sound of a name or the place on the ballot than it is about credentials. The governor chooses two candidates from a list sent to him from a nominating committee appointed by, ahem, the governor. Last time around, a couple of incumbents were booted from the ballot, for who knows why. The whole thing is suspect, with a member of the committee coming from the public-utility sector. Say what? And then there are the curious choices of voucher proponents and even a former EnergySolutions employee/ current huckster for the Sutherland Institute. Why even involve the public?

Is Utah smart to take part in the ‘Smarter Balanced’ Common Core education Consortia?
Deseret News op-ed by Norman H. Jackson, a retired Utah Court of Appeals judge

In 2010, Utah and other states rushed to join the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia, or SBAC, for two reasons. First, to escape the strictures imposed on educators and students by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Second, to receive federal money the Obama administration promised to disburse from stimulus funding. President Barack Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan then offered “waivers” from No Child Left Behind with grants as incentives for states to develop their own “Common Core Education Standards.”
However, this was a bait and switch program because the waivers pushed states into “Federal Common Core Education Standards” regarding testing and assessments. Some states, including Utah, are now taking various measures to opt out or step away from the federal standards.
Utah has made two moves to pull away. First, Utah enacted SB287 at the end of the 2012 session attempting to limit our participation. Second, our State Board of Education has placed on its August action agenda a recommendation to change our SBAC status from governing to advisory member.

Granite School District’s new policy takes donors out of coaching Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Kyle Goon

There have been a number of personnel changes for the Cottonwood football team in recent weeks, many of them out of anyone’s control. But at least one of them is directly in the hands of the Granite School District.
Bill Oram reported on offensive coordinator Scott Cate’s ouster after the school district announced a new policy preventing boosters from being coaches. The move leaves Cate, who has donated about $4 million to the school since 2000, off the sideline.
From Josh Lyman’s resignation amid allegations of innapropriate contact with a student to Mike Gallegos’ sudden death in an auto collision over the weekend, the team has had to deal with several jarring changes. With a number of high-level prospects — highlighted by Alabama committed quarterback Cooper Bateman — the team has gone from a preseason contender to a question mark in the upcoming fall season.

Pioneer High School for the Performing Arts to open in the Fall 2012 semester Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist David Burger

Utah students interested in pursuing their passion for the performing arts while still in high school now have a new option in education.
The Utah State School Board approved the charter for Pioneer High School for the Performing Arts to open in the Fall 2012 semester.
School officials anticipate an enrollment of 500 students in the first year.
A tuition-free charter school, PHS will offer training in four areas – dance, drama, music, and musical theater – as well as an academic curriculum.

Does technology undermine math teaching?
Deseret News commentary by columnist Mary McConnell

Most of the best math teachers I know fear and loathe calculators, especially when students are allowed to use them in the early grades. Not only do calculators permit students to bypass the painful but – in their view – necessary step of memorizing math facts; calculators also seem to discourage students from developing the estimating skills that help them evaluate whether the answer that the calculator spits out makes any sense.
But what about other math technology applications? I used Explore Learning’s “math gizmoes” to help students visualize how new variables changed the shapes of graphs. I even wrote to the company encouraging them to develop some economics applications. My own kids blasted critters from outer space as they worked through elementary math (although in my home schooling years I banned calculators for most assignments up until Algebra 2.)
A recent article in Slate magazine seems to confirm this Luddite suspicion of calculators and other math technology aids. The author also praises older textbooks and old-fashioned proof-based geometry lessons – preferences that I share.

6 fascinating books to read aloud with kids, ages 8-12 KSL commentary by columnist Teri Harman

Reading aloud is a skill — one that needs to be practiced and one that helps improve reading, speaking, comprehension, vocabulary and many other skills. This important ability starts in younger kids who are learning to read but is mastered by older elementary school age kids, ages 8-12.
Shelly Harris, a reading expert and teacher, said, “Oral reading is critical even after kids become good readers. This is a skill that must be practiced; all fluency testing is done orally. Sit with your child for a portion of their reading time and make sure they are reading accurately, with expression and that they understand what they have read.”
This summer, take time to sit together and take turns reading — you read some aloud, they read some aloud. Listening to you read aloud demonstrates the skill, reading aloud for himself employs the skill. Not only will your child be improving his reading and speaking, but it’s a great way to get in some one-on-one time. Here are six fun, entertaining books you will both enjoy.

Support for Murray and Wong
(Provo) Daily Herald letter from Sandra M. Covey

I was really shocked to read the editorial about Taz Murray by Randy Wright. Randy is usually so open-minded and fair. Did he get out of bed on the wrong side?
Taz has been raised to be honest and ethical and those who know him believe he is.
Coach Wong is loved by all those who’ve been privileged to have their children or grandchildren know him. He has never been dishonest (maybe sloppy bookkeeping).
He knew how to win state championships and raise money so Timpview could have nice facilities. He offered to help other schools. Hundreds of people have given their support to him, but he was shamefully run out by the school board and even are taking his teaching license. And I hear they are now giving Provo High $1 million.

Foreign Languages and U.S. Economic Competitiveness Council on Foreign Relations commentary by Edward Alden, Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow

Americans are lousy at learning foreign languages. We all know the historical reasons – the United States was long a big, largely monolingual country with a fairly self-sufficient economy. U.S. economic and military might (and that of the British Empire before) spread the English language across the world, so that English became the global second language and the de facto language of international business.
But in the latest Renewing America Policy Innovation Memorandum, A Languages For Jobs Initiative, scholars from the Center for Applied Linguistics argue that Americans in the future are unlikely to get by so well on English alone. Nearly 30 percent of the U.S. economy is now wrapped up in international trade, and half of U.S. growth since the official end of the recession in 2009 has come from exports. The fastest-growing economies in the world are not English speaking. And as Brad Jensen of Georgetown University has shown, the most promising export sector for the United States is business services, which often requires face-to-face interactions with foreign customers. As the authors write: “[F]uture U.S. growth will increasingly depend on selling U.S. goods and services to foreign consumers who do not necessarily speak English.”
Yet American students are woefully unprepared to do that. Foreign language education is actually on the decline in the United States. Only 15 percent of primary schools teach foreign languages, even though it is much easier to learn one by starting very young. Even in middle and high schools, foreign languages are generally optional and not required for graduation. Not surprisingly, just one in five public school students currently studies a foreign language.
The authors argue that the priority of foreign language instruction in education must be increased. This includes proper assessment and accountability, and the development of more immersion programs, which have been shown to be the most effective form of language instruction. The United States should take advantage of its large immigrant population of foreign language speakers to expand and strengthen immersion programs.
Some states are catching on, following Utah which has long been a leader in immersion education.

A copy of the report

Class Struggle
On education, there are big differences between Obama and Romney.
Wall Street Journal op-ed by columnist PETE DU PONT

Much has been written about the choice we face just 19 weeks from now, when we will select the next president. But while we discuss the almost polar opposite views of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on spending, regulation, taxes and health care, we shouldn’t lose sight of another very important issue: education.
While the candidates have some areas of agreement, their beliefs about education are still quite different, and the impact on our nation’s youth of a second Obama term versus a first Romney term would be significant. Not surprisingly, given their differences on most other issues, Mr. Obama’s approach more closely follows the status quo, pro-teachers-union track, while Mr. Romney’s more closely follows the reform, pro-student track. Mr. Romney’s plan includes vouchers that would give disadvantaged children, particularly those in failed schools, and their parents the option of moving to a school of their choice.
In the past, decisions on where children went to school would usually depend primarily upon their ZIP code. Giving parents choices is important, perhaps now more than ever, because we can see it working in many places where it has been tried.

Trying to save vocational education
Washington Post commentary by columnist Jay Mathews

Many American adolescents don’t want to go to college. They reject as boring and aggravating the Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and other college-level courses offered to them in high school. Yet, they need reading, writing, math and time-management skills for good jobs or trade school slots when they graduate. How can they be persuaded to acquire them?
Motivating teenagers is tricky, but new ways are being tried. In Montgomery County and a few other parts of the country, the International Baccalaureate organization is launching a program called the IB Career-related Certificate. Some call it IB Lite, but it is tough enough that Rockville High School has found only about a dozen students willing to try it.
The IBCC requires only two, rather than the usual six, IB courses. But students must take four career-related courses, plus an Approaches to Learning course and a foreign language. They have to do community service and a major project analyzing an ethical issue.
IB officials hope this will attract students who have no interest in French literature or Chinese art but like developing 21st-century technical skills that might get them cool jobs.

Teachers and Administrators, Don’t Be Scared of Technology: It Won’t Replace the Classroom Scientific American commentary by Jody Passanisi and Shara Peters, who teach in an independent school in the Los Angeles area

Last year, our principal posed this question to our faculty: “Can we be rendered obsolete by online learning?”
The Khan Academy was receiving widespread attention for propagating the idea of an online learning experience for younger students. There was a general fear among school administrators and teachers in the K-12 education community that this could become an exclusively online learning system; that a computer could replace a teacher, and an “online learning environment” could replace a classroom.
Could an online learning system replace a classroom? Yes, it could. Will it? Most definitely not.

Middle School Girls Want Access to E-Learning Education Week commentary by columnist Ian Quillen

For years now, advocates of online learning have been pushing virtual education as an answer for students who want a more personalized, self-paced, and technology-based approach to their education.
In other words, as a solution for middle school girls.
That’s perhaps the most surprising finding of a new report released today by nonprofit educational research group Project Tomorrow here at ISTE 2012 in San Diego, the 11th such report to be released as part of the yearly Speak Up survey that asks students, parents, teachers, and administrators about their ed-tech habits, aspirations, and attitudes.
And for middle school girls, those attitudes are decidedly in favor of a learning experience that gives them more control and flexibility, said Project Tomorrow chief executive officer Julie Evans.

A copy of the report

Survey: Education Holding Its Ground on Tech. Integration Education Week commentary by columnist Ian Quillen

Preliminary results from a new survey of K-12 and postsecondary educators shows they perceive their schools and institutions to be holding their ground when it comes to integrating new educational technology, if not actually gaining it.
These first results from the 2012 version of the “Vision K-20 Survey,” the third annual version issued by the Software and Information Industry Association, perhaps suggest that, in tight budget times, educators are prioritizing maintaining funding for technology.
“In spite of all the cutbacks, the schools haven’t fallen behind,” said Susan Meell, the chief executive officer of MMS Education, a consulting group that partnered with the SIIA to help administer the study, during a press conference at ISTE 2012 in San Diego Tuesday. “They haven’t increased, but they’ve maintained.”


Group fears weakening of school accountability Associated Press via Houston Chronicle

AUSTIN, Texas — A coalition of Texas business leaders announced Wednesday that it would oppose future hikes in education funding if Texas officials weaken standardized testing standards, a step the group contends would hurt the state’s efforts to hold public schools more accountable.
The Texas Coalition for a Competitive Workforce blamed teachers and school administrators for “demonizing” standardized testing and panicking parents about exams such as STAAR, which was administered statewide for the first time this year.
“They’ve gone about scaring mom. They’ve told mom that Johnny is not going to UT because of the end of course exam,” Bill Hammond, president of the influential Texas Association of Business, said during a news conference at the state Capitol. He was referring to the University of Texas.
Hammond said superintendents are so worried that their schools will be shown to have poorly prepared students for exams that “they have built a firestorm across the state.” (Austin American-Statesman)

Alabama school officials begin takeover of Birmingham city schools Birmingham (AL) News

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Alabama Education Department officials held a press conference this morning to report on their takeover of the Birmingham city school system, which will bring major staff cuts and a late start to the new school year.
The action followed the Birmingham Board of Education’s failure Tuesday night to approve a state-ordered financial plan that would have produced a large number of personnel cuts.
This morning Assistant State Superintendent Craig Pouncey confirmed that the chief financial officer now running the system is former state superintendent Ed Richardson, according to Tweets from the press conference from Birmingham News education writer Marie Leech.
Richardson called the takeover unfortunate but said years of mounting problems matched by local inaction are forcing the state to order massive cuts. The primary impact initially is para-professionals losing their jobs and a large number of senior central office staff being sent back to the schools.

Segregation Fear Sinks Charter School
Wall Street Journal

Nashville school officials have rejected a proposal to open a charter school in a middle-class part of the city, highlighting a broader national battle over efforts by operators of such publicly financed, privately run schools to expand into more affluent areas.
The Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools board voted 7-2 Tuesday night to reject an application by Great Hearts Academies, a nonprofit that operates prep-school-like charter schools, for five new establishments.
The Arizona-based group planned to open its first Tennessee school in a middle- to upper-middle class area in west Nashville, after being invited by parents who either were unhappy with local public schools or said they favored choice in education.
The board denied the application because members worried that low-income parents wouldn’t be able to easily transport their children across town to a school on the west side, meaning the plan could effectively cause “segregated schools,” said Olivia Brown, spokeswoman for the district. (Nashville Tennessean)

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