Education News Roundup: Nov. 28, 2012

"Pertussis bacteria" by Sanofi Pasteur/CC/flickr

“Pertussis bacteria” by Sanofi Pasteur/CC/flickr

Today’s Top Picks:

School-level whooping cough outbreak gets defined.
http://goo.gl/2PaEI (SLT)
and http://goo.gl/gJVcB (KSTU)
and http://goo.gl/X5Rql (MUR)

Park City’s budget is on track.
http://goo.gl/Q1i2Y (PR)

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman nominates Arne Duncan for Secretary of State.
http://goo.gl/y28Oc
Duncan says no. http://goo.gl/HxBXw (Washington Times)

How to win a school board election in eight Facebook postings or less.
http://goo.gl/IEP1t (Romanesko)

Minnesota task force recommends ending high stakes tests in high school.
http://goo.gl/ykASm (Star-Tribune)

Ed giant Pearson ranks U.S. 17th in world education systems.
http://goo.gl/nPeut (BBC)
or a copy of the report
http://goo.gl/ZsPBW

Y’know, if universities are ordering these things, it would be a positive PK-16 alliance thing for USOE to get one, too. And ENR steps up to volunteer to run the agency’s program out of Public Relations. (Note: ENR promises to keep to a minimum use of the system to check out how long the lines are at the gelato place down the street.) http://goo.gl/bCE9E (San Francisco Chronicle)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Utah health officials target whooping cough in schools Public health » An outbreak is two or more cases within 20 days.

School district budget on track
Fiscal audit shows balanced budget in coming years

Students repairing Hill’s vintage aircraft as part of Clearfield High class

S. Jordan school stunned by popular teacher’s death in auto-ped accident Crisis counselors on scene » Middle school students may have seen crash.

Teenager Hit By Car Outside High School

Winter Sports School graduates Class of 2012 Graduates take to slopes, college and more

Proposed high school realignment would shake things up Proposal would directly affect storied Park City-Wasatch rivalry

Struggling with math? Family survival guide for algebra and geometry

Utah ranks 32nd in nation in overall high school graduation data State’s Hispanic students show a graduation rate of just 57 percent

Ogden district still in running for grant of up to $29M

Nearly 2,000 Students in Utah and Idaho Have Earned GED Credentials This Year Through Stevens-Henager College’s Good Neighbor Initiative Free GED Preparation Course Pays for Exam Fees and Helps Improve Earning Potential

A Call For Quality

Rockwell Charter High School performs ‘The Curious Savage’

Sky View students to compete in Farm Bureau meet

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Two education myths that stifle learning

Graduation numbers not good

My Secretary of State

Sequestration: A red mark for education

Teachers Unions vs. Black Kids

Voucher school expansion may do little to help kids Gov. Scott Walker should focus on how to ensure that more poor kids do better in school. They are the ones who need help.

Journalist wins school board seat with 24-hour write-in campaign on Facebook

NATION

Minnesota urged to drop high-stakes graduation exams Advocates for the change say what’s needed is an emphasis on remedying weaknesses before students start college or a job.

UK education sixth in global ranking

Online schools spend millions to attract students Virtual, for-profit K-12 schools have spent millions in taxpayer dollars on advertising, an analysis shows.

Suit targets ‘locator’ chips in Texas student IDs

Alabama students to begin new physical fitness assessments

State Rep Wants to Ban Soda in Public Schools. For Real This Time.

Push to step up domestic use of drones

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UTAH NEWS
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Utah health officials target whooping cough in schools Public health » An outbreak is two or more cases within 20 days.

Utah parents may soon be receiving letters from schools warning of a whooping cough “outbreak.”
It’s been a banner year for the bacterial infection, with more than 1,100 cases in the state, almost double last year’s count. In response, leaders of the state’s 12 local health districts, along with the Utah Department of Health, recently created guidelines on how to deal with the spread at schools and day cares.
The state has defined an “outbreak” as two or more cases within the same school or child care center within 20 days of each other. In some cases, unimmunized staff and children may be sent home.
http://goo.gl/2PaEI (SLT)

http://goo.gl/gJVcB (KSTU)

http://goo.gl/X5Rql (MUR)

School district budget on track
Fiscal audit shows balanced budget in coming years

The Park City School District released an annual audit of the past fiscal year online this week, all evidence of what the school district has been going through to get its financial house in order.
The 58-page document outlined the nuts and bolts of where the school district spent tax dollars over the past fiscal year.
And one point came forward: the financial health of the Park City School District is on the mend.
Last year, the local Board of Education faced serious concerns about a looming deficit. Original projections estimated a $4 million shortfall. When Business Administrator Todd Hauber was brought on to the school district staff, he estimated a shortfall closer to $2.7 million.
At the end of the fiscal year in June, between budgetary cuts and an influx of incoming property taxes, the school district ended the fiscal year with a $1.7 million shortfall from a roughly $45 million operating budget, which the school district will be able to compensate for.
http://goo.gl/Q1i2Y (PR)

Students repairing Hill’s vintage aircraft as part of Clearfield High class

CLEARFIELD — Students at Clearfield High School are getting hands-on experience in repairing airplanes at Hill Aerospace Museum as part of an aeronautical mechanics course. On Tuesday, a small group of students lined up around a C-7 Caribou that was damaged during a windstorm last year.
Using a hydraulic lift, several students were lifted to the plane’s rudder to assess what tools were needed to remove it. Museum curator Nathan Myers said the rudder was anything but stable, with countless dents and rope strapping it onto the airplane.
To prepare for this week’s field trip to the museum, 15 students in Chief Master Sgt. Darrel Gronau’s aircraft structural repair course have spent the past three months learning about typical structural repairs, including how to work with rivets, how to repair latches and how to patch the skin on an aircraft.
The students will spend a couple of days getting the tail off, then the next several months fabricating new parts, putting the rudder back together and applying a fresh coat of paint before putting it back on the plane.
http://goo.gl/xrJOS (OSE)

http://goo.gl/JmRQl (KSTU)

S. Jordan school stunned by popular teacher’s death in auto-ped accident Crisis counselors on scene » Middle school students may have seen crash.

A longtime physical education teacher died of his injuries after being struck by a car as he jogged to his job at Elk Ridge Middle School in South Jordan Wednesday morning.
Jordan School District spokeswoman Sandy Riesgraf withheld the teacher’s name while his family was being notified, but she said the 61-year-old man was a popular, career educator at the school.
“This is just a tragedy beyond words for us,” Riesgraf said. “Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and that school community, which is a rather tight-knit one.”
http://goo.gl/2h0Yw (SLT)

http://goo.gl/2mit0 (DN)

http://goo.gl/aKiBc (KUTV)

http://goo.gl/DuvHc (KTVX)

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

http://goo.gl/3u9fM (KSTU)

Teenager Hit By Car Outside High School

A teenager is in the hospital after she was hit by a car Tuesday morning.
The accident occurred outside of Cottonwood High School is Murray. Authorities say a teenager girl got out of a car outside the school when she was hit by another vehicle.
She was taken to the hospital. She suffered a leg injury.
http://goo.gl/ejI98 (KUTV)

Winter Sports School graduates Class of 2012 Graduates take to slopes, college and more

With the end of another year at the Winter Sports School, a graduating class of athletes moves on to whatever may come next. WSS is a private school that uses a summer-based schedule to allow the athletes attending to focus on competing in the winter months.
Twenty-seven seniors, accompanied by family and friends, walked across the stage at the Egyptian Theatre this month. Several students were from the Park City area, others came from as far away as Squaw Valley, Cali., Jackson Hole, Wyom. and Stowe, VT.
http://goo.gl/RGNDB (PR)

Proposed high school realignment would shake things up Proposal would directly affect storied Park City-Wasatch rivalry

On a cold February night in 2011, the gymnasium at Park City High School was a platform for another round in one of the more storied rivalries in the history of Utah high school athletics. More important than the action on the basketball court, there was something else going on in the packed gym — something that meant way more than points or rebounds.
http://goo.gl/k9ABZ (PR)

Struggling with math? Family survival guide for algebra and geometry

Struggling through math homework can be a misery for kids and their parents. That frustration often intensifies when studying difficult math concepts in junior high and high school. Parents deserve forgiveness for having foggy memories of the math concepts they learned decades ago. But that doesn’t stop them from feeling left behind and unable to help their children.
There is no need for despair, though — help is available.
Most of today’s math textbook publishers sponsor websites that furnish helps for parents and students. These typically include chapter-by-chapter explanations of math concepts, along with problem demonstrations, glossaries, videos and more.
http://goo.gl/igu1C (DN)

Utah ranks 32nd in nation in overall high school graduation data State’s Hispanic students show a graduation rate of just 57 percent

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lags behind 31 states in the percentage of students graduating high school and is among the worst in the nation for graduating minority students, according to data released Monday by the U.S. Department of Education.
Utah reported a 76 percent overall graduation rate for the 2010-11 academic year. That rate places Utah near the middle of state rankings, which range from a low of 59 percent in the District of Columbia to a high of 88 percent in Iowa.
http://goo.gl/TZiiV (DN)

http://goo.gl/ajEkb (KUTV)

http://goo.gl/8rjjh (KTVX)

http://goo.gl/CFVqP (KSL)

http://goo.gl/DnuGX (KCPW)

Ogden district still in running for grant of up to $29M

OGDEN — The Ogden School District is one of 61 school districts nationwide to be named a finalist to receive a federal Race to the Top grant that could be as much as $29 million.
“I was so excited, I couldn’t even think,” said district grant writer Kathleen Bideaux.
The district applied for the grant at the end of October and received the news Monday afternoon that the field of 372 had been narrowed to 61.
http://goo.gl/6qz4P (OSE)

Nearly 2,000 Students in Utah and Idaho Have Earned GED Credentials This Year Through Stevens-Henager College’s Good Neighbor Initiative Free GED Preparation Course Pays for Exam Fees and Helps Improve Earning Potential

SALT LAKE CITY — Between January and October 2012, more than 1,900 students in Utah and Idaho went through the GED exam preparation classes offered by Stevens-Henager College’s Good Neighbor Initiative and went on to pass the GED exam. Students who enrolled in the free program have ranged from teenagers who left high school without graduating to senior citizens who finished careers or raised families without receiving a diploma.
“We launched the Good Neighbor Initiative this year to help those within the communities we serve better their circumstances and further their education. It’s having an impact and helping a lot of people,” said Eric Juhlin, president of Stevens-Henager College. “Our course is free and provides hard-working adults who didn’t receive a high school diploma the opportunity to receive the equivalent now.”
http://goo.gl/jDLFM (PRNewswire via MarketWatch)

A Call For Quality

Washington, D.C. – While a great many public charter schools are among their states’ best performers and are paving the way for educational innovation across the U.S., too many are failing to provide a quality education. The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), which represents government and other entities that approve and oversee charter schools, today called on charter authorizers to be more proactive in closing failing schools and opening great ones.
NACSA issued the challenge as its new membership survey shows the closure rate for charters in renewal has doubled from year to year but is still leaving far too many schools among the lowest performers, according to state accountability data. As a result, too many children still do not have access to a quality education.
http://goo.gl/xdffi (KCSG)

Rockwell Charter High School performs ‘The Curious Savage’

Sheer craziness contrasts with a mad dash for dollars in the Rockwell Charter High School production of “The Curious Savage.” The warm-hearted comedy will be on stage at the charter high school in Eagle Mountain on Thursday, Friday, Monday and Dec. 5-7.
http://goo.gl/LssQt (PDH)

Sky View students to compete in Farm Bureau meet

Two Sky View High School FFA members will compete in the state Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers discussion meet in St. George on Feb. 1-2.
http://goo.gl/QP5ar (LHJ)

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Two education myths that stifle learning
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner op-ed by Lynn Stoddard, author of four books and numerous articles on child-centered education reform

Myth number One: Children learn reading from phonics. There may be no other myth that is so deeply embedded in our culture as this. Most people feel it is as true as 2+2=4. If a child asks a parent for help with a word, the answer most often is, “Sound it out.”
A prominent linguist, Frank Smith, explains why this hardly ever works:
http://goo.gl/Hqoiu

Graduation numbers not good
Commentary by Charter Solutions President Lincoln Fillmore

Nearly one out of four students in Utah fails to graduate from high school, and the numbers are worse for minorities.
http://goo.gl/zK0Yw

My Secretary of State
New York Times commentary by columnist THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

President Obama is assembling his new national security team, with Senator John Kerry possibly heading for the Pentagon and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice the perceived front-runner to become secretary of state. Kerry is an excellent choice for defense. I don’t know Rice at all, so I have no opinion on her fitness for the job, but I think the contrived flap over her Libya comments certainly shouldn’t disqualify her. That said, my own nominee for secretary of state would be the current education secretary, Arne Duncan.
Yes, yes, I know. Duncan is not seeking the job and is not the least bit likely to be appointed. But I’m nominating him because I think this is an important time to ask the question of not just who should be secretary of state, but what should the secretary of state be in the 21st century?
Let’s start with the obvious. A big part of the job is negotiating. Well, anyone who has negotiated with the Chicago Teachers Union, as Duncan did when he was superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools before going to Washington, would find negotiating with the Russians and Chinese a day at the beach.
http://goo.gl/y28Oc

Duncan’s answer:
http://goo.gl/HxBXw (Washington Times)

Sequestration: A red mark for education
Politico op-ed by C. ED MASSEY, president of the National School Boards Association

Our recent national election has highlighted many unresolved challenges facing our families and communities, including the economy, unemployment and national security.
Another challenge could devastate our public schools: the budget cuts that are slated to occur on Jan. 2, 2013, because of the sequestration provisions of the 2011 Budget Control Act. As a local school board member, I see firsthand the impact of the planned reductions in federal funding for education. The end result for many of our nation’s public schools would be larger class sizes, fewer course offerings, four-day school weeks, fewer extracurricular activities, less access to intervention programs and teacher/staff layoffs.
In fiscal 2013, these budget cuts would total more than $4 billion. That means that for every $1 million in federal funding a school district receives, sequestration would cut $82,000 — or more than one teacher. Furthermore, these cuts would continue over a 10-year period and have a devastating effect on our schools, eroding the base of funding for key programs year after year.
http://goo.gl/DNfI5

Teachers Unions vs. Black Kids
Wall Street Journal commentary by columnist JASON L. RILEY

Earlier this year, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana signed into law an expanded school choice program for underprivileged kids. Naturally, the teachers unions are suing to block it. Oral arguments begin tomorrow.
The program provides scholarships to poor families with children in failing schools. Last year, 36% of the state’s public schools received a D or F ranking, according to the Louisiana Department of Education. Some 5,000 kids are participating in the program and many are black, which is why the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) is defending the law.
“There is no greater injustice than to tell children that they don’t deserve a chance at the best possible education because their family can’t afford it,” said Kenneth Campbell of BAEO in press release from the Institute for Justice, which represents families using the program. “No one should be treated any less or be prevented from gaining access to high quality educational options based on their income or zip code.”
The teachers unions claim to be taking issue with how the program is funded. The reality is that they oppose its existence.
http://goo.gl/IzPqa

Voucher school expansion may do little to help kids Gov. Scott Walker should focus on how to ensure that more poor kids do better in school. They are the ones who need help.
Milwaukee (WI) Journal-Sentinel editorial

During his now-famous speech at the Reagan Library in California earlier this month, Gov. Scott Walker said that he wanted to do more to promote choice, charter and virtual schools in Wisconsin.
We think whatever he has in mind should address the needs of low-income minority students – the kids who need the most help.
In 2011, the Legislature eliminated the voucher enrollment cap and relaxed income eligibility limits – two ideas we still believe were sorely misguided. We’ve long thought the program should have remained exclusively for the poor because those are the students who need the most help. Those are the students who don’t have choices. Reading levels for minority boys, in particular, are among the lowest in the nation. More needs to be done to help them succeed.
Now, Walker is talking about expanding voucher schools again. Will he do that at the expense of more low-income students? Already, low-income kids in both the voucher school and in Milwaukee Public Schools trail their white peers in achievement. The state has one of the widest educational gaps in the nation between white and minority students.
http://goo.gl/ntETi

Journalist wins school board seat with 24-hour write-in campaign on Facebook Jim Romenesko commentary

South Jersey Times online editor Jim Cook Jr. noticed there was only one candidate running for the Woodstown-Pilesgrove school board, so he “half-jokingly” encouraged his Facebook friends to write him in.
“My first post went up around 10:30 p.m. Monday night [Nov. 5], and my last went up less than 24 hours later,” he writes. “Eight posts total, asking for votes.” (He also had a little Twitter campaign going.)
Cook ended up winning a three-year term — but he couldn’t accept the job.
http://goo.gl/IEP1t

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Minnesota urged to drop high-stakes graduation exams Advocates for the change say what’s needed is an emphasis on remedying weaknesses before students start college or a job.
Minneapolis Star Tribune

A state education task force voted Tuesday to recommend dropping Minnesota’s high-stakes graduation exams and replacing them with new exams designed to help students prepare for college or a job.
On a 26-2 vote, the educator-dominated group supported ending the GRAD tests in a recommendation to Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, but the proposal would have to make it through the Minnesota Legislature.
The only legislator attending the meeting of her department’s Assessment and Accountability Working Group, Rep. Kathy Brynaert, DFL-Mankato, said she expects dropping the exit exams to be “well received” by legislators because of its focus on helping students gain skills where they are deficient.
http://goo.gl/ykASm

UK education sixth in global ranking
BBC

The UK’s education system is ranked sixth best in the developed world, according to a global league table published by education firm Pearson.
The first and second places are taken by Finland and South Korea.
The rankings combine international test results and data such as graduation rates between 2006 and 2010.
Sir Michael Barber, Pearson’s chief education adviser, says successful countries give teachers a high status and have a “culture” of education.
International comparisons in education have become increasingly significant – and this latest league table is based upon a series of global test results combined with measures of education systems, such as how many people go on to university.
http://goo.gl/nPeut

A copy of the report
http://goo.gl/ZsPBW

Online schools spend millions to attract students Virtual, for-profit K-12 schools have spent millions in taxpayer dollars on advertising, an analysis shows.
USA Today

If your local public high school has empty seats, the district might lay off teachers. If it’s operated by K12 Inc., the company will take out an ad on CNN, The Cartoon Network or VampireFreaks.com and fill those seats.
An analysis by USA TODAY finds that online, for-profit schools have spent millions in taxpayer dollars on advertising over the past five years, a trend that shows few signs of abating. The primary and high schools, operated online but with local taxpayer support, are buying TV, radio, newspaper and Internet ads to attract students, even as brick-and-mortar public schools in the districts they serve face budget crunches.
Virtual schools have become lightning rods for critics who say their operators are profiting from students’ dissatisfaction with neighborhood schools, but don’t produce better results. Supporters say the schools, operating in more than 30 states, are giving kids and families second chances.
http://goo.gl/3ILom

Suit targets ‘locator’ chips in Texas student IDs Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas — To 15-year-old Andrea Hernandez, the tracking microchip embedded in her student ID card is a “mark of the beast,” sacrilege to her Christian faith – not to mention how it pinpoints her location, even in the school bathroom.
But to her budget-reeling San Antonio school district, those chips carry a potential $1.7 million in classroom funds.
Starting this fall, the fourth-largest school district in Texas is experimenting with “locator” chips in student ID badges on two of its campuses, allowing administrators to track the whereabouts of 4,200 students with GPS-like precision. Hernandez’s refusal to participate isn’t a twist on teenage rebellion, but has launched a debate over privacy and religion that has forged rare like-mindedness between typically opposing groups.
When Hernandez and her parents balked at the so-called SmartID, the school agreed to remove the chip but still required her to wear the badge. The family refused on religious grounds, stating in a lawsuit that even wearing the badge was tantamount to “submission of a false god” because the card still indicated her participation.
On Wednesday, a state district judge is expected to decide whether Northside Independent School District can transfer Hernandez to a different campus.
http://goo.gl/5cGI5

Alabama students to begin new physical fitness assessments Montgomery (AL) Advertiser

To encourage exercise and nutrition, beginning this school year every Alabama student in grades 2-12 will participate in a new Alabama Physical Fitness Assessment (APFA), according to a news release from the state Department of Education.
The APFA replaces the President’s Challenge Fitness Test adopted almost 30 years ago.
The assessment will allow physical education teachers to monitor and assist students in improving overall health, identify strengths and weaknesses, improve communication between students and parents about fitness, and generate data for tracking student health-related fitness at the school, district and state levels.
Data collected will be kept private and treated as confidential information, but parents and students will receive assessment results.
http://goo.gl/ok8g6

State Rep Wants to Ban Soda in Public Schools. For Real This Time.
Dallas Observer

In 2003, the state of Texas took a halfhearted swing at skyrocketing childhood obesity rates when it took steps to ban the sale of soda and candy — though only in elementary schools and only during breakfast and lunch. Those rules were strengthened in 2009, but middle and high school students can still get sugary beverages.
State Representative Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, is out to change that. She filed a bill on Monday that would outlaw schools from providing or selling sweetened beverages — including but not limited to soda, sports drinks, Kool-Aid and frozen margaritas — on Texas’ public school campuses. Still allowed would be 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice, vitamin-enhanced water, non-fortified water and milk, 1 percent fat or less.
This will be Alvarado’s second go at the measure.
http://goo.gl/A5I1D

Push to step up domestic use of drones
San Francisco Chronicle

Washington — Are unmanned aircraft, known to have difficulty avoiding collisions, safe to use in America’s crowded airspace? And would their widespread use for surveillance result in unconstitutional invasions of privacy?
Experts say neither question has been answered satisfactorily. Yet the federal government is rushing to open America’s skies to tens of thousands of the drones – pushed to do so by a law championed by manufacturers of the unmanned aircraft.
The drone makers have sought congressional help to speed their entry into a domestic market valued in the billions. The 60-member House of Representatives’ “drone caucus” – officially, the House Unmanned Systems Caucus – has helped push that agenda. And over the past four years, caucus members have drawn nearly $8 million in drone-related campaign contributions, an investigation by Hearst Newspapers and the Center for Responsive Politics shows.
The Federal Aviation Administration has been flooded with applications from police departments, universities and private corporations, all seeking to use drones that range from devices the size of a hummingbird to full-size aircraft like those used by the U.S. military to target al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan and elsewhere.
http://goo.gl/bCE9E

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CALENDAR
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USOE Calendar
http://tinyurl.com/5x9oh9

UEN News
http://www.uen.org

December 3:
Executive Appropriations Interim Committee meeting
2 p.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?Year=2012&Com=APPEXE

December 7:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
250 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda.aspx

December 11:
Public Education Appropriations Committee meeting
8:30 a.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?Year=2012&Com=APPPED

December 13:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
250 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://1.usa.gov/Axtt5K

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