Education News Roundup: Aug. 20, 2012

photo of students by USOE staff
USOE photo

Today’s Top Picks:

Trib looks at academic redshirting of kindergarteners. (SLT)

Timpview High is part of an ACT study. (By the way, Utah and national 2012 ACT scores will are scheduled to be released on Wednesday.) (PDH)

Where should Cache County’s third high school be built? (LHJ)

Chet Linton, CEO of Midvale-based School Improvement Network, discusses private/public answers on education. (NBC)

Rep. Brad Last talks charters. (SGS)

Sen. Steven Urquart talks quicker paths to finishing higher ed. (Blog)

Education is suddenly a topic in the presidential campaign. (Ed Week)
and (USAT)
and (Reuters)

Hispanics now comprise 26% of the country’s nursery school and kindergarten students, 25% of elementary school students and 21% of high school students. (CNN)
or a copy of the report (Pew Center)

Tourism-related business groups aren’t happy about how soon school is starting. (WSJ)



Kindergarten redshirting: Start school at age 5 or 6?
Education » Debate about what leads to success is ongoing.

Timpview selected for national ACT study

New Cache Valley schools planned — the big debate will be on high school location

AP scholars don’t always receive credit for courses passed

Private, public partnerships for education improvement

School nurses’ duties wide ranging
Nurses handle more than medical needs

Former teacher takes on expanded role at Iron Springs Elementary

Utah writer returns to ‘Princess Academy’
Books » Shannon Hale writes a sequel to most popular novel and reflects on young readers.

St. Joseph High to host Catholic youth conference

1000s of Utah students get donated backpacks with supplies

The kids are all right: footballer’s kindness campaign spreads

South Salt Lake may partner with private sector on Granite High

District plans employee ‘institute’

Shelley Elementary School

American Fork High School

American Fork Junior High School

Barratt Elementary School

Lindon Elementary Back to School Night

Rocky Mountain Elementary open house



Judging charters

Algebra teaches us logic

Study habits

Beehives and Buffalo Chips

Education reform around the country: tightening teacher tenure in New York

What we’ve learned from our charter schools

The Most-Affordable Pathway to a College Degree (MAP Degrees)

Schools are more important than a new prison

Teachers on the Defensive

The Real Reason America’s Schools Stink

Never Mind Algebra. Is Literature Necessary?

School cafeteria’s palm scanner is ‘mark of beast,’ says parent An elementary school in Louisiana introduces a palm scanner to help kids pay more quickly for their lunch. Parents are seriously freaked. Seriously.


Education Aid Emerging as Campaign Issue Democrats attack Paul Ryan’s budget plan

Obama says plan will save teachers’ jobs

Pew report: Record numbers of Latinos in U.S. colleges, public schools

School in August Gets Low Grades
A Move by Some Districts to Reopen Before Labor Day Is Angering Parents, Students and Businesses

Extreme couponing
Indiana has seen a quiet whirlwind of education reform

Media Companies, Seeing Profit Slip, Push Into Education

Special needs kids staying in traditional schools

Education’s digital divide more about bandwidth than computer hardware

Middle TN schools make religious accommodations for students Space provided, absences allowed so that students can practice their faith

To Survive, a Catholic School Retools for a Wealthier Market

Ex-charter students swell St. Louis, KC enrollment

Lunch workers study how to get kids to eat healthy

First lady hosts kids at lunchtime ‘state dinner’

U.S. Department of Education Launches Enhanced Version of Online Learning Community for School Turnaround

Valedictorian fights for diploma


Kindergarten redshirting: Start school at age 5 or 6?
Education » Debate about what leads to success is ongoing.

Amanda Moody began thinking about when to enroll her son in kindergarten soon after he was born on a late summer day.
She and her husband eventually decided it would be best for Asher to start kindergarten at Summit Academy this month — after he turned 6 on Aug. 1 — rather than a year ago, when he’d barely turned 5 by the first day of school.
Research and friends’ opinion were split. “I did kind of waver a couple of times,” she said. “For boys especially, I think that socially they can use that extra year at home before they are put into a group of other kids where they are expected to share and interact socially.”
Moody joined the growing national trend of parents who “redshirt” kindergartners — a term borrowed from athletics — holding them back from school until they turn 6. Parents may hope that being an older student will give their child an edge in academics, sports or leadership, now or in the future. Others, like Moody, want to make sure their child is socially ready and mature enough to handle school. (SLT)

Timpview selected for national ACT study

PROVO — Timpview High School recently participated in an ACT study on college and career readiness. The report provides an inside look on how teachers and administrators can improve college and career readiness among their students as they begin using the Common Core State Standards.
Timpview was selected because it is considered one of 63 higher performing high schools in the U.S. where students are progressing more rapidly toward college and career readiness. Among the 272 educators interviewed from those schools, 12 were from Timpview. (PDH)

New Cache Valley schools planned — the big debate will be on high school location

When the Building Task Force submitted its recommendations to the Cache County School District Board of Education on Thursday night, there was seemingly no disagreement that Wellsville and Lewiston elementary schools need to be torn down and rebuilt.
Everyone also seemed to understand that a new high school needed to be built in Cache County.
However, it also became obvious that determining a location for a third high school is going to be a challenging and potentially divisive issue. (LHJ)

AP scholars don’t always receive credit for courses passed

PARK CITY — It’s common these days for students to graduate high school with college credit, but two students from Park City graduated with so many credits — nearly 20 AP classes — they could have been the majority of the way through college. So how is it they still started as freshmen?
In Utah, the College Board says that nearly 20,000 students took AP exams; 68 percent passed. Utah ranks tenth in the nation for passing exams.
Earlier this month Libby Malcolm and Roman Amici won the State AP Scholar award.
Compared to other Utah students, though, Malcolm and Amici passed the greatest number of AP tests with the highest average score.
Lots of kids take AP tests to get college credit and save money. Libby said, “Lots of my friends that are at in-state schools can use the AP credit, and it definitely is worth it for the financial side because you can enter as a sophomore or a junior your freshman year.
With so many tests, the dollars rack up quick, but neither Malcolm nor Amici got their full reward. They chose out-of-state schools. (KSL)

Private, public partnerships for education improvement

Chet Linton, CEO of the School Improvement Network, offers a solution for America’s educational system that relies on the cooperation between both the public and private sectors. (NBC)

School nurses’ duties wide ranging
Nurses handle more than medical needs

While some people may have a picturesque image of a school nurse sitting in an office at a single school, bandaging scraped knees and offering comfort to a feverish child waiting for his parent to arrive, today’s school nurses have much more on their plate.
Far from serving just one school, the average nurse-to-student ratio in Utah is one nurse for every 4,000 students. In Washington County, there are eight nurses serving approximately 30,000 students. In Iron County, 2 full-time and 2 part-time nurses serve approximately 9,000 students, with nurses in both districts dealing with everything from students with diabetes to paralysis and a host of allergies, in addition to the regular screenings school nurses conduct for vision, scoliosis, head lice and more. (SGS)

Former teacher takes on expanded role at Iron Springs Elementary

CEDAR CITY — As the new school year begins, Bylynda Murray, who has been helping students learn to read at South Elementary School for several years, is now leading Iron Springs Elementary School forward as its principal.
Murray said she sought the principal’s position at Iron Springs Elementary after former principal Jane Twitchell’s retirement was announced because she enjoys working with students, parents and other faculty members.
“This has been something that’s kind of been a dream of mine to lead a school and help support the teachers and parents of students to achieve what they (the students) can and to reach academic excellence,” she said. (SGS)

Utah writer returns to ‘Princess Academy’
Books » Shannon Hale writes a sequel to most popular novel and reflects on young readers.

South Jordan • Don’t ask Shannon Hale why she doesn’t write more books about boys.
The author of best-selling young-adult novels such as The Goose Girl and Princess Academy suggests another question: Why aren’t boys reading books about girls?
Conventional wisdom long has held that boys need to be tricked into reading a book by a Susan Hinton or a Joanne Rowling. Hale is convinced that most boys don’t come by that attitude naturally.
“As adults, we make that true,” she said. “We assume [boys] won’t read about girls.”
Hale said many teachers have told her of male students grumbling when the teacher began reading Princess Academy aloud in class, only to end up being bigger fans of the book than their female classmates.
More troubling to Hale is learning that some teachers have left the boys back in the classroom when she speaks at school assemblies. (SLT)

St. Joseph High to host Catholic youth conference

OGDEN — The northern deanery of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City will hold a youth conference Sept. 8 at St. Joseph High School, 1790 Lake St., in Ogden.
Students in grades seven to 12 are encouraged to attend.
“Basically any youths who are interested are invited to attend,” said the Rev. Erik J. Richtsteig.
“It’s to get our youths from the northern area up here so they can meet other youths,” he said, noting that the northern deanery consists of the eight Roman Catholic parishes from Layton northward. (OSE)

1000s of Utah students get donated backpacks with supplies

A donation drive was able to supply 2,400 students, from preschool to high school, with new backpacks loaded with school supplies.
Several local businesses and non-profit organizations sponsored the Backpack Donation Drive. (KSTU)

The kids are all right: footballer’s kindness campaign spreads

SALT LAKE CITY — A high school football player is getting national attention after fighting cyberbullying with kindness on Twitter.
Kevin Curwick, a 17-year-old student at Osseo High School in Osseo, Minn., couldn’t imagine sitting on the sidelines while his classmates and those at other schools got mercilessly attacked online. He told KARE 11 he had never been attacked, but knew some who had seen their reputations ruined by cyberbullies.
He decided to do something about it: he created the Twitter account @OsseoNiceThings, from which he tweets positive messages. (KSL)

South Salt Lake may partner with private sector on Granite High

SOUTH SALT LAKE — Voters said no to a civic center, so city leaders are turning to the private sector to develop the former Granite High School campus.
Sharen Hauri, South Salt Lake’s urban design director, said the city hopes to make an announcement in early September about a proposed commercial use for the campus. (KSL)

District plans employee ‘institute’

OGDEN — All Ogden School District employees have been invited to attend the “Opening Institute” at 8 a.m. Tuesday in Ogden High School’s auditorium 2828 Harrison Blvd.
District “Employees of the Year” will be introduced and Superintendent Brad Smith will deLiVer the keynote address. He will share school year 2011-2012 successes and the goals for the new school year. (OSE)

Shelley Elementary School

Kindergarten lists — School officials will post kindergarten class lists Aug. 24, from 2:15 to 4 p.m. on the school’s front doors.
Kindergarten open house — There will be a kindergarten open house Aug. 27, from 3 to 5 p.m. in rooms 14, 16 and 17 of the school. It is for students and parents to visit the classroom and meet their assigned teacher to be ready for their first day of school on Tuesday. (PDH)

American Fork High School

Sophomore orientation — Sophomore orientation is Monday from 10 to 11 a.m. in the main gym. This opportunity allows sophomores to prepare for the first day of school by walking through their class schedule, finding their locker location and meeting teachers. (PDH)

American Fork Junior High School

Seventh grade day — Seventh grade students have an optional day of attendance on Monday.
First day of school — All students will attend their A-day classes on Tuesday. (PDH)

Barratt Elementary School

First day — School will begin Tuesday for grades 1 to 6. For kinderarten students, it starts Tuesday Aug. 28. (PDH)

Lindon Elementary Back to School Night

Students who attend Lindon Elementary can come meet their teachers Monday from 4 to 6 p.m. For more information call (801) 610-8111. (PDH)

Rocky Mountain Elementary open house

Students who attend Rocky Mountain Elementary can come meet their teachers Monday from 3 to 5 p.m. For more information call (801) 610-8117. (PDH)


Oak Canyon Junior High School will be holding auditions for “The Pirates of Penzance.” Singing auditions will be held Aug. 27 and 28 from 2:30 to 6 p.m. Students should have 16 measures of song prepared for the audition. Dance audition will be Aug. 30 from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Rehearsals will be Monday through Friday, from 2:30 to 5 p.m. For more information contact Ms. Bytheway at 801-610-8138. (PDH)


Judging charters
Salt Lake Tribune editorial

When the Legislature created charter schools, legislators hoped they would be able to improve education by being innovative and offering more personalized instruction. But has that happened? Sometimes. Maybe. Maybe not. Charters are public schools founded by groups that are responsible for initial financing, including providing a site. Operating costs are paid through per-pupil allocations of state education funds. The trouble is too little data has been analyzed to know how well Utah charter schools are performing, how their students fare compared to students in traditional public schools and in charter schools across the country. Some have serious financial problems. The Charter School Board is rightly concerned and is considering tougher financial and academic standards. It’s about time.

Algebra teaches us logic
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner editorial

There’s no doubt that learning algebra can be a royal pain in the migraine for many of us. However, suggestions from some opinion leaders that its inclusion as a required course in U.S. high schools be reconsidered is not a good idea. Algebra, no matter how brain-busting it can be for many, teaches logic. It provides careful templates for solving tough problems. Gutting out tests in algebra offer students excellent practice for problem-solving in the real world.
Also, could one imagine the future state of the U.S. educational system is algebra, and its cousins geometry, calculus, etc., were devalued by schools? Besides the loss of potential professional engineers and other high-tech, high-knowledge professions for the still-new century, elements of algebra are part of our daily life. Studying algebra in high school increases the ability of anyone — regardless of their future profession — to understand the fast-paced IT changes in our lives, whether they are found in our TV sets, music players, smart phones, personal computers, etc,

Study habits
(St. George) Spectrum editorial

A new school year is under way, and students already are trying to get back into the routine of listening in class, reading their textbooks, doing their homework and, perhaps most difficult of all, retaining all of the new information.
It’s not an easy task, but educators are urging students — and the parents supporting them — to do their best to get off to a good start. It’s much better to put in the effort to get off to a strong start to a new school year then to have to work to catch up and improve grades later.
With getting off to a good start as our collective goal, here are some helpful hints for students and parents provided by multiple websites and educators.

Beehives and Buffalo Chips
(Provo) Daily Herald editorial

Buffalo Chip to the Deseret News for “reporting” that the death of Provo elementary school teacher Jason Zimmerman was the result of an “apparent suicide.” That’s nothing but a rumor, and newspapers should not be dealing in rumor. Just because some parents at a meeting are buzzing about suicide doesn’t justify cooking a news story. No one in Provo School District could confirm the suicide rumor. Nor could the local police. Nor could police or the coroner in Idaho, where the death happened. Nor could the Deseret News itself. After saying Zimmerman died by “apparent suicide,” it said nothing more. Zero, zip, nada. That’s because there was no source to cite. If Zimmerman had left a suicide note, the motive could be established, but there was no note when the article was published. The death might have been a suicide; and it might just as well have been accidental. Reporters should know before they publish.

Education reform around the country: tightening teacher tenure in New York Deseret News commentary by columnist Mary McConnell

The last several years have witnessed a flurry of educational reform movements. Recently Utah residents – and this blog – have zeroed in on a federal initiative, the common core standards for math and language arts. I’ll have still more to say about that issue in coming blogs. But as readers think about how to improve Utah education within the context of the state’s resource constraints, I think it’s worth looking at what’s happening in other states.
Today’s New York Times includes an article about how New York City has tightened standards for teacher tenure. (Okay, I know that Utah doesn’t have tenure. The law provides for “a reasonable expectation of continued employment.”

What we’ve learned from our charter schools (St. George) Spectrum op-ed by Rep. Brad Last

Like many parents, my focus this month is on getting my kids ready for the school year. We are picking classes, shopping and getting in a few late trips before we knuckle down to a school schedule.
My two boys will be in high school and intermediate school this year. In addition, my wife will be a first-year teacher at LaVerkin Elementary. The academic choices available now are astounding. The options are significantly different than when I attended school and even different from what my daughters experienced just a few years ago.
I have been interested in public education issues for some time.

The Most-Affordable Pathway to a College Degree (MAP Degrees) Commentary by Sen. Steve Urquhart

Thursday, the Higher Education Appropriations Committee discussed my idea of the Most-Affordable Pathway to a college degree (MAP Degrees). As outlined here, the MAP Degrees would combine high school concurrent enrollment, a New Century Scholarship ($1,250/semester for college students who complete their associates degree while in high school), and 2 years of residential college. Utah residents could obtain a college degree for $3,000 to $10,000 (depending on the state institution they choose to attend).
Yes, you read that right. High-quality college degrees for a TOTAL COST of $3,000 to $10,000.
I chose the acronym MAP for good reason. Utah parents and students need better direction regarding affordable higher education options.

Schools are more important than a new prison Deseret News letter from Orval Wilson

We do not need a new prison. Any tax money we can get should be used for our schools.

Teachers on the Defensive
New York Times commentary by communist FRANK BRUNI

Los Angeles – RANDI WEINGARTEN, the powerful president of the American Federation of Teachers, took a rare vacation last week, but tweeting knows no holidays, nor does frustration with what can sometimes seem like constant assaults on the men and women at the nation’s blackboards. So her Twitter account remained active, and on Wednesday it took on a soon-to-open Hollywood movie, “Won’t Back Down.”
In one tweet she expressed her wish that it “didn’t vilify teachers as so uncaring.” In another she noted that the main financing for the movie came from a school-privatization advocate who is no fan of teachers’ unions.
“Won’t Back Down” tells the David-versus-Goliath story of a single mother, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, who leads a rebellion to wrest control of her daughter’s persistently abysmal public elementary school from local officials. It’s scheduled for release next month, although it was shown to Weingarten a few weeks ago. I saw it on Wednesday.
And it actually takes pains to portray many teachers as impassioned do-gooders who are as exasperated as parents are by the education system’s failures — and by uncaring colleagues in their midst. But I understand Weingarten’s upset. The union that represents one of those do-gooders (Viola Davis) has lost its way, resisting change, resorting to smear tactics and alienating the idealists in its ranks. What’s more, some of the people who are assertively promoting “Won’t Back Down” are those who cast teachers’ unions as a titanic impediment to the improvement of public education. So “Won’t Back Down” is emerging as the latest front in the continuing war between those unions and their legions of critics, and it has become yet another example of how negatively those unions are viewed.
“When did Norma Rae get to be the bad guy?” asks a union leader (Holly Hunter) in the movie. I don’t know, but that’s indeed the state of play when it comes to teachers’ unions, and it’s a dangerous one.

The Real Reason America’s Schools Stink
Businessweek commentary by Charles Kenny, a fellow at the Center for Global Development

Over the next few weeks, millions of American schoolchildren will return to the classroom from summer vacation, and not a moment too soon. Compared to those hard-studying kids in China, Korea or Finland, U.S. students appear to be chronic underachievers. The average kid in the U.S. does less than one hour of homework on average at all grade levels, according to a study from a few years ago by RAND and the Brookings Institution. A recent Council on Foreign Relations Task Force on Education Reform and National Security led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein, former head of New York City public schools, concluded that the country’s “educational failure puts the United States’ future economic prosperity, global position, and physical safety at risk.”
There’s no question that the performance of the U.S. education system is less than stellar. The Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, gives tests to high school kids across a range of countries. The evaluation finds that the US ranks behind sixteen other economies including Poland, Estonia and South Korea in terms of student literacy –the ability to read, integrate and evaluate texts. U.S. student rankings on mathematics are even lower — dropping under countries including Slovenia, Hungary and Taiwan. The United States also produces some of the biggest gaps in test scores between stronger and weaker students.
So, where’s the group in the U.S. that could try harder? Is it the teachers, more concerned with their tenure and pension rights than actually teaching kids? Is it miserly federal and state lawmakers, starving their educators of resources? Or maybe it is the lackadaisical students, too addicted to questing with their avatar through World of Warcraft to think about algebra?
The answer, it turns out, is none of the above. If there’s a crisis in U.S. education, the fault lies with a group more accustomed to leveling blame than receiving it: parents.

Never Mind Algebra. Is Literature Necessary?
New York Times commentary by Tim Clifford, author of several education books, as well as children’s fiction and non-fiction

I know it’s summer, but it’s time for a pop quiz. Read the following quote:
Now, what I want is facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root everything else out.
Who said the above?
a. Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and educational gadfly
b. Michelle Rhee, staunch proponent of standardized testing
c. David Coleman, author of the Common Core standards
Of course, any one of the above could have made that statement, but the correct answer is:
d) Thomas Gradgrind, a fictional character created by Charles Dickens in the 1854 novel “Hard Times.”
Dickens created Gradgrind to satirize the emphasis on practicality and reason over imagination that prevailed during the Industrial Revolution and beyond.

School cafeteria’s palm scanner is ‘mark of beast,’ says parent An elementary school in Louisiana introduces a palm scanner to help kids pay more quickly for their lunch. Parents are seriously freaked. Seriously.
C/Net commentary by columnist Chris Matyszczyk

Technology is taken for granted by those who design it, grow up with it, or worship it as if it’s a digital deity.
Yet not everyone believes that, for example, giving 24-Hour Fitness your fingerprint in order to lose a little blubber is such a natural, safe act.
Take certain parents at Moss Bluff Elementary School in Louisiana. Their arms are raised up high in celestial fright at the school’s heathen attempts to introduce a palm scanner into the cafeteria.
As KPLC-TV reports it, the parents see the devil in the details.
Mamie Sonnier, a very concerned parent, told KPLC-TV: “As a Christian, I’ve read the Bible, you know go to church and stuff. I know where it’s going to end up coming to, the mark of the beast. I’m not going to let my kids have that.”
Naturally, there will be some who thoughtlessly scoff at such a notion.


Education Aid Emerging as Campaign Issue Democrats attack Paul Ryan’s budget plan Education Week

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s selection as the Republican vice-presidential candidate could spark a national debate about the future of education spending, an issue that’s gotten short shrift in the presidential campaign so far.
As the two national party conventions approach, Democrats are already charging that the Wisconsin lawmaker’s controversial budget blueprint, which presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney has largely endorsed, would scale back college financial aid and slash other funding for education.
Rep. Ryan’s plan seeks to put the nation on a firmer financial footing in part by dramatically curbing domestic spending. But it also sets up a clear contrast with the record of President Barack Obama, who has pumped unprecedented sums of money into education programs. That record is due in large part to the big, but time-limited, infusion of money through the 2009 economic-stimulus package.
“Having Ryan on the ticket really forces a discussion: Do we think the federal government has a role in propping up education spending in the face of cutbacks, or do we think that’s better placed in the hands of district and state officials?” said Arnold Shober, who has studied politics and education as an assistant professor of government at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis.

Obama says plan will save teachers’ jobs USA Today

President Obama again urged Congress to pass his jobs bill Saturday, this time with an emphasis on teachers.
“Since 2009, we’ve lost more than 300,000 education jobs, in part because of budget cuts at the state and local level,” Obama said during his weekly radio address.
In the 11 months since Obama proposed his jobs bill, congressional Republicans have said the plan would be ineffective while adding to the national debt.
Obama said Republicans are pushing a budget that would cut education while giving tax breaks to the wealthy when the USA faces intense global competition for high-skill jobs.
Education cuts are “the opposite of what we should be doing as a country,” Obama said. “States should be making education a priority in their budgets, even in tough fiscal times. And Congress should be willing to help out — because this affects all of us.” (Reuters)

Pew report: Record numbers of Latinos in U.S. colleges, public schools CNN

Latino student populations have been on an upward trajectory in the U.S. for decades, and a report released Monday says the group’s growth reached record levels last year, both in public schools and colleges.
The number of 18- to 24-year-old Latinos in college topped 2 million in 2011, accounting for 16.5% of all enrollments, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center. The number means Latino representation in U.S. colleges and universities is on par with the percentage of Latinos among the U.S. population, also 16.5%.
Record numbers of Latinos are also finishing college, with 112,000 earning associate degrees and 140,000 earning bachelor’s degrees. Pew states both statistics are new highs, yet Latinos still lag behind whites (1.2 million bachelor’s degrees and 553,000 associates) and blacks (165,000 bachelor’s and 114,000 associates) in degree attainment.
“Some of the growth in Hispanic college enrollments simply reflects continued growth in the nation’s Hispanic population – since 1972, the number of Hispanic 18- to 24-year-olds has grown nearly five-fold, rising from 1.3 million then to 6 million in 2011,” the report said.
However, population alone cannot explain the numbers, as eligibility to attend college also is a factor. In 2011, 76% of Latinos age 18 to 24 had completed high school, another record and a 3.5% improvement over 2010 numbers.
At the pre-kindergarten-through-12th-grade level, Latinos made up 23.9% of students in 2011, another record, according to the report from the nonpartisan Washington-based think tank.
To break the 2011 numbers down further, Latinos made up 26% of the country’s nursery school and kindergarten students, 25% of elementary school students and 21% of high school students, the report states.

A copy of the report

School in August Gets Low Grades
A Move by Some Districts to Reopen Before Labor Day Is Angering Parents, Students and Businesses Wall Street Journal

Early this month, as her cousins in Michigan spent their summer vacation splashing in area lakes, 11-year-old Ryan Duffin sat learning about the Great Lakes in social-studies class at Richview Middle School in Clarksville, Tenn.
“I could be enjoying my summer, but I’m stuck in class,” Ryan complained. “I hate it.”
Ryan is one of hundreds of thousands of students whose summer breaks ended early this year as schools from Toppenish, Wash., to Kettering, Ohio, to Harrisburg, Pa., have bucked a long—but waning—tradition of starting classes after Labor Day.
In Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest district, the first school bell rang for 600,000 students on Aug. 14, three weeks earlier than the normal start. In Chicago, more than a third of the district’s 675 schools opened Aug. 13, part of a year-round schooling effort that spreads out the school calendar with shorter summer and winter breaks.
Proponents say the August start dates allow more instruction time before students take mandatory state achievement tests and Advanced Placement and college-entrance exams. John Deasy, superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District, said the new calendar lets students wrap up finals before the three-week winter break and gives high-school students more time to complete college applications. “This was a purely academic decision for us,” he said.
But opponents—including tourism groups and many parents—grumble the August school bell ruins summer vacations and punishes businesses that thrive during the summer months.

Extreme couponing
Indiana has seen a quiet whirlwind of education reform The Economist

IN THE summer of 2011 a 16-year-old girl called Dayana Vazquez-Buquer arrived at the reception desk of Roncalli High School, a nice private school in the south side of Indianapolis. Her parents were Mexican immigrants who could not afford the $8,030 tuition fees. Yet Miss Vazquez-Buquer felt Roncalli would be better for her than her current public school and said she had heard about a new school voucher scheme that would pay most of the fees. She was correct. Today she is a student at Roncalli and on track to attend university.
The voucher scheme, potentially the biggest in America, was set up a year ago as part of a big package of educational reforms led by Indiana’s governor, Mitch Daniels, and his superintendent of schools. These include teacher evaluations that take student performance into account, giving school heads more autonomy and encouraging the growth of charter schools. Jeanne Allen, president of the Centre for Education Reform, a Washington-based advocacy group, says the reforms are unique because Indiana has looked at education reform in its “totality”, rather than taking a piecemeal approach as many other states have done.
Nationally there are now 32 school voucher programs in 16 states and Washington, DC, serving at least 210,000 students. Yet despite their limited reach vouchers are controversial. Parents with vouchers use them to enter private education, and so detractors argue they drain finance from public schools and “privatise” education. Another concern is that vouchers can be used at religious schools and therefore erode the barrier between church and state.
However, as vouchers often pay less than the cost of educating a single pupil in public schools, they offer a way for a state to make savings in education spending, while increasing choice for parents. Moreover, the Indiana scheme has allayed fears that vouchers will not reach their target audience of low-income families.

Media Companies, Seeing Profit Slip, Push Into Education New York Times

LOS ANGELES — As another academic year starts, about 500,000 children across the country will find themselves learning subjects like middle school history or high school biology from a new line of digital textbooks. These manuals, branded Techbooks, come with all the Internet frills: video, virtual labs, downloadable content.
But the Techbook may be most notable for what it does not have — backing from a traditional educational publisher. Instead it has the support of Discovery, the cable TV company.
Discovery, which also sells an educational video service to school districts, is entering the digital textbook market largely because it sees a growth opportunity too good to pass up.
Conventional textbooks for kindergarten through 12th grade are a $3 billion business in the United States, according to the Association of American Publishers, with an additional $4 billion spent on teacher guides, testing resources and reference materials. And almost all that printed material, educators say, will eventually be replaced by digital versions.

Special needs kids staying in traditional schools Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — The high cost of educating students with special needs is disproportionately falling on traditional public schools as other students increasingly opt for alternatives that aren’t always readily open to those requiring special education.
The issue is particularly acute in districts where enrollment has declined due to demographic changes such as low birth rates and population shifts combined with an influx of charter schools and voucher programs that have siphoned off students.
School district officials say all schools that receive public funds should share the cost of special education.

Education’s digital divide more about bandwidth than computer hardware Denver Post

On Colorado’s education landscape, the “digital divide” looks something like this: While one classroom streams online coursework to students, others log off the Internet so a school’s meager bandwidth can handle the load.
The gap between the technological haves and have-nots, once defined by access to the computer hardware that drives high-tech learning, now centers on an information superhighway that too often recedes to the digital equivalent of rutted rural back roads.
As a result, classes ranging from Advanced Placement to world languages to credit-recovery courses may not be available in areas with lagging local Internet connections — denying many students the same instructional options as their better-connected counterparts.
“If a kid on the plains has good broadband access, he can mitigate those differences with online courses,” said John Watson, founder of the Durango-based Evergreen Education Group and co-author of a study for the Colorado Department of Education. “When you don’t, it’s difficult — or impossible.”
And as the state moves toward online assessment, such as some high-stakes testing slated for 2014, questions remain about whether the technological infrastructure will be able to handle it.

Middle TN schools make religious accommodations for students Space provided, absences allowed so that students can practice their faith Nashville Tennessean

At the beginning of every school year, Hedy Bernstein of Nashville sends her kids to school with a backpack full of school supplies.
She also sends a list of Jewish holidays, so that teachers will know in advance when her children will be absent.
For an Orthodox family such as Bernstein’s, that list includes about a dozen days off for religious reasons.
“We don’t pick and choose which holidays to observe,” she said. “I have to say the schools have been great to work with.”
Fifty years after the United States Supreme Court banned official prayers in public schools, religion remains alive and well on school campuses. That’s because the same First Amendment that bars government-sponsored religion also gives students such as the Bernsteins the right to freely practice their faith.
“We have a diverse student population that represents more than 120 countries and make accommodations for religious holidays and practice,” Olivia Brown, director of communications for Metro Nashville Public Schools, wrote in an email.

To Survive, a Catholic School Retools for a Wealthier Market New York Times

Catholic schools have been bleeding enrollment and money for years, and many have been forced to close. But some, like St. Stephen of Hungary, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, have found a way to thrive — attracting a more affluent clientele by offering services and classes more commonly found in expensive private schools.
Selling points include small class sizes and extracurricular activities beginning in the youngest grades. And by often charging far less, these schools have been able to stabilize themselves and even grow.
“Our competition or our standard isn’t another good Catholic school,” said the Rev. Angelo Gambatese, the pastor at St. Stephen of Hungary church, which shares a building with the school. “It’s the best independent schools in Manhattan, and we intend to achieve the same level of performance that they do, academically, developmentally.”

Ex-charter students swell St. Louis, KC enrollment Associated Press via St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Enrollment has swelled in unaccredited St. Louis and Kansas City public schools as about 5,000 students from shuttered charter schools find a new place to get an education.
Years of declining enrollment, spurred by families moving to the suburbs or enrolling child in private, parochial or charter schools, meant the two districts saw less money from the state, which forced deep budget cuts. The Kansas City district had to close nearly half of its buildings before the 2010-11 academic year to avoid bankruptcy.
But when classes began Monday, the St. Louis district had 20,029 students, up about 6 percent from last year’s first-day enrollment of 18,841. And in Kansas City, the district’s first day count was nearly 1,000 students higher than last year, and officials projected that K-12 enrollment will hit 18,200, up about 15 percent from last year’s 15,826 students.
Several academically struggling charter schools that had been run by Virginia-based management company Imagine Schools closed after classes ended in the spring. St. Louis’ six Imagine-run campuses had 3,500 students when they were ordered to close, and Kansas City’s only Imagine-run school had about 1,100 students.

Lunch workers study how to get kids to eat healthy Associated Press

DENVER — There will be more whole grains on school lunch menus this year, along with a wider selection of fruits and vegetables and other healthy options. The challenge is getting children to eat them.
“We don’t want healthy trash cans. We want kids who are eating this stuff,” said Kern Halls, a former Disney World restaurant manager who now works in school nutrition at Orange County Public Schools in Florida.
At a School Nutrition Association conference in Denver this summer, food workers heard tips about how to get children to make healthy food choices in the cafeteria.
The problem is a serious one for the nation’s lunch-line managers, who are implementing the biggest update to federal school-food guidelines in 15 years.

First lady hosts kids at lunchtime ‘state dinner’
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — At the first ever White House “kids state dinner,” first lady Michelle Obama told America’s top junior chefs Monday that the dishes they cooked up are proving that fun eating can be “healthy and tasty at the same time.”
“Your recipes truly stood out,” she said to an East Room filled with kids who won a nationwide recipe competition. “You came up with dishes that were packed with nutritious, delicious ingredients – dishes that are good for you but more importantly they taste good, too. See? It can happen.”
The event was the latest effort in Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to combat childhood obesity with more exercise and a better diet.

U.S. Department of Education Launches Enhanced Version of Online Learning Community for School Turnaround U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education today launched the School Turnaround Learning Community (STLC), an enhanced version of its online learning community for school turnaround. The site now features improved search and chat functions and a user-friendly reorganization of STLC resources and materials.
“Turning around the lowest performing schools is challenging work. Driving the dramatic changes needed in many of our hard-to-serve schools requires states, districts, and schools to collaborate and share promising practices in new ways,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “The enhanced School Turnaround Learning Community can better support this important work by providing an easy-to-use, interactive and public platform for turnaround leaders and community members to connect with peers and learn about effective strategies.”

Valedictorian fights for diploma

PRAGUE, Okla.– There’s a bit of diploma drama going on between a local high school and that school’s valedictorian.
David Nootbaar is furious his daughter’s school is keeping her diploma.
He said, “She has worked so hard to stay at the top of her class and this is not right.”
Kaitlin Nootbaar graduated from Prague High School in May and was named valedictorian.
When tasked with writing the graduation speech, her dad said she got her inspiration from the movie “Eclipse: The Twilight Saga.”
Nootbaar said, “Her quote was, ‘When she first started school she wanted to be a nurse, then a veterinarian and now that she was getting closer to graduation, people would ask her, what do you want to do and she said ‘How the h*** do I know? I’ve changed my mind so many times.’”
He said in the written script she gave to the school she wrote “heck,” but in the moment she said h*** instead.


USOE Calendar

UEN News

September 6-7:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
250 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City

September 13:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
250 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City

September 18:
Executive Appropriations Interim Committee meeting
1 p.m., 445 State Capitol

September 19:
Education Interim Committee meeting
2 p.m., 30 House Building

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