Education News Roundup: Jan. 14, 2013

"Glasses and Smile" by Paul Schultz/CC/flickr

“Glasses and Smile” by Paul Schultz/CC/flickr

Today’s Top Picks:

There’s lots of follow up on school security.
http://goo.gl/2KGp2 (SLT)
and http://goo.gl/c2Duc (KUTV)
and http://goo.gl/Al8vw (KCPW)
and http://goo.gl/bmnBj (PDH)
and http://goo.gl/GrvOa (MUR)
and http://goo.gl/pDg0l (LHJ)
and http://goo.gl/rrWIz (SGS)
and http://goo.gl/xgauU (KSTU)

Rep. Briscoe offers a plan to increase funding for Utah schools.
http://goo.gl/prCaH (SLT)

Eagle Forum will work against Sen. Osmond’s bill on preschool funding.
http://goo.gl/veuwN (SLT)

The Chrony looks at the Accuplacer math test.
http://goo.gl/pi2zv (Chrony)

Seattle teachers rebel against standardized tests.
http://goo.gl/Vt642 (Reuters)
and http://goo.gl/SgcrV (CSM)

Lily Eskelsen fans/foes can catch up on her latest doings here.
http://goo.gl/sjGB  (Voxxi)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Utah ed leaders seek school safety assurances
Education » Districts and charter schools are asked to confirm their compliance by July 1.

Guns in the Classroom

School walk-through reassures parents, students, faculty

School security: Valley officials explore all angles in wake of Connecticut massacre

Iron County schools tighten security measures

Dad volunteers to be school’s watchdog

Lawmaker’s bill could add $10-$15 million to Utah schools each year
Schools » Proposal would put a freeze on property tax rate and exemption amount.

Eagle Forum has warnings on debt ceiling, abortion, preschool
Convention » Lee, Chaffetz among conservatives warning “Eagles” of challenges to the American way.

Utah school board ousts superintendent of deaf, blind schools
Education » Steve Noyce unsure why he wasn’t reappointed for next school year.

Accuplacer changes impact math classes

New unified approach effort to prevent Utah teen suicide
Education » Schools adopt unified suicide prevention strategy as a new law requires Utah educators to be trained for recertification.

Davis district’s fair helps students transition out of school

Girl in wheelchair plays title role in ‘Annie’

Grant gives Orem elementary students reading success

Southern Utah students head to robot state finals
Kids compete at Sunrise in regional meet

Fossil Ridge teacher honored

Kindergarteners commit to graduation by discovering fun in learning

Students celebrate reading at Road to Success festival

Motivational speaker visits Mount Logan Middle School

Freedom Academy breaks ground for new addition

Jordan School Board elects leaders

Alpine School District to host parent night on autism

Snow shuts down schools along Wasatch Front

Utah receives low marks in separate education reports
Utah schools receive low grades in national education reports

Federal cuts will slash Clearfield Job Corps population in half

Logan High groups making last preparations for Inauguration

All Davis County schools getting AEDs

Cache County School District raises over $11,000 for Sandy Hook

Young Chevrolet to make donation

Girls are getting better grades than boys, but is anyone getting a good education?

Education lessons from abroad: a tale of two countries
opposite approaches yield positive results in singapore, finland

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Looking for leaders
Get serious about school funding

Thumbs up, thumbs down

Armed schools: MSNBC’s Schultz goes deeper on Utah

Free Advertising

Blended Learning 2.0
Paying Teachers as Other Professionals — Empowering Students as Self-Directed Learners

Utah’s math problem . . . and Finland’s?

Guns, kids and mental health

Elected clowns

Family friendly?

Reject partisan boards

Unjustly vilified

Drama mirrors nature

To Close The Achievement Gap, Don’t Lower The Bar

Eric Bolling: Schools ‘pushing the liberal agenda’ by teaching algebra

NATION

Newtown residents ponder future of school building
What should be done with Sandy Hook Elementary School, which has been unused since a mass shooting a month ago? The people of Newton, Conn., are considering its fate.

Texas Lt. Gov.: Fund Weapons Training for Teachers

Could Janitors Be One School’s Line of Defense?

Guns already allowed in schools with little restriction in many states

Police in schools ‘not the answer,’ coalition says, urging broader strategy
Civil rights groups, educators, and law enforcement representatives say police in schools, ‘while well-intentioned,’ can end up causing other problems for students the police are there to protect.

To lock classroom doors or not?
After the Newtown and Taft shootings, educators in L.A. debate whether teacher transparency or school security is paramount.

Teachers at Seattle school boycott standardized test

Will Longer School Year Help or Hurt US Students?

Should students grade their teachers?

New Fla. education commissioner followed Bush lead

Lily Eskelsen: From lunch lady to national education leader

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UTAH NEWS
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Utah ed leaders seek school safety assurances
Education » Districts and charter schools are asked to confirm their compliance by July 1.

Amid news of another school shooting in California on Thursday, Utah’s top education official is asking school leaders here to ensure they’re fully following all safety policies.
State Superintendent Martell Menlove sent a memo to all district superintendents and charter school leaders Thursday asking that they certify before July 1 to the state school board that they are following rules and laws concerning school safety.
http://goo.gl/2KGp2 (SLT)

http://goo.gl/c2Duc (KUTV)

Guns in the Classroom

In the wake of the Newtown massacre, National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Calls for armed guards in schools followed and teachers from Ohio to Texas to Utah have been flocking to free gun trainings. On Thursday, we’ll explore how educators, parents and others are processing the Newtown tragedy and what it will take to keep schools safe.
http://goo.gl/Al8vw (KCPW)

School walk-through reassures parents, students, faculty

PLEASANT GROVE — The Pleasant Grove Police Department recently started a program that has officers visiting every school in the city, every school day at random times. There are four charter schools and six regular public schools in Pleasant Grove.
“I give a big applause to the officers, in that they put the program together quickly,” city councilwoman Cindy Boyd said.
The mayor’s liaison for the police department, Boyd said because of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Connecticut, she asked police chief Mike Smith and the officers at a January meeting if they had any ideas that would help calm the feelings and concerns that many residents had felt.
Smith said the School Walk Through Program, an effort to help provide for the safety of the children as well as the teachers and administrators, grew from that staff meeting.
http://goo.gl/bmnBj (PDH)

http://goo.gl/GrvOa (MUR)

School security: Valley officials explore all angles in wake of Connecticut massacre

Not even a month has gone by since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that claimed the lives of 26 victims, 20 of whom were children.
http://goo.gl/pDg0l (LHJ)

Iron County schools tighten security measures

CEDAR CITY — In the wake of the shooting of teachers and students in Newtown, Conn., a month ago, the Iron County School District is working to make sure parents are aware the distict’s top priority is maintaining safe schools.
Jim Johnson, superintendent for the ICSD, said the district has sent a letter to students’ parents communicating the security plan and policies. He said the district asks that parents follow the plan carefully by checking in at the office whenever they go onto a school campus and not entering rooms unless they have permission to be there.
“It’s not that they’re not welcome,” Johnson said. “We just want to make sure we’re following our procedures.”
Johnson said one of the school district’s procedures is for teachers to be vigilant in keeping classroom doors locked if they can be accessed from outside of the school. The district has asked principals to review their schools’ outside security procedures and make sure that teachers are following it.
http://goo.gl/rrWIz (SGS)

Dad volunteers to be school’s watchdog

OREM, Utah – In the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, an Orem father is taking a closer look at security at his kids’ school and vowing to do something about it.
Joe Tuiaana has two elementary school kids and says the events made him think about his own kids.
“I was like thousands of other parents that afternoon when I picked them up from school,” says Tuiaana. “[I] hugged them and kissed them and cried right there on the playground.”
Tuiaana already volunteers at Cherry Hill Elementary, but wanted to do more about safety. He spoke to the principal about a Watchdog program. Similar programs are already in place at other Alpine District schools.
http://goo.gl/xgauU (KSTU)

Lawmaker’s bill could add $10-$15 million to Utah schools each year
Schools » Proposal would put a freeze on property tax rate and exemption amount.

In a state that has long lagged behind the rest of the country when it comes to school spending, one Utah lawmaker plans to run a bill this year to boost funding by adding dollars to education over time — though some see it as little more than a tax increase.
Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, is sponsoring HB55, which would do two main things to increase school funding. For one, it would freeze one property tax rate, called the basic levy. At present, that rate decreases as values rise, because the state doesn’t need the rate to be as high to collect the cash needed.
The bill would also freeze certain state tax exemptions at a specific dollar amount. Currently, Utah taxpayers are allowed to claim exemptions for each person in a family, up to 75 percent of the federal income tax exemption. Briscoe’s bill would change that rate from a percentage to a fixed amount: $2,850 per person.
By setting an amount instead of a percentage, more taxes could be collected over time as incomes increased, he said.
The changes could mean $10 million to $15 million of additional cash for schools a year.
http://goo.gl/prCaH (SLT)

Eagle Forum has warnings on debt ceiling, abortion, preschool
Convention » Lee, Chaffetz among conservatives warning “Eagles” of challenges to the American way.

The big snowstorm didn’t deter Utah Eagle Forum devotees from braving many still-slick streets to reach a downtown Salt Lake City hotel early Saturday for the group’s annual meeting, which offered a refresher course on threats to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness at the international, national, state and local levels.
By 8:45 a.m., when first-term Republican Sen. Mike Lee was beginning his speech on the dangers of international treaties that limit U.S. sovereignty, about 250 “Eagles” had filled most every available seat in the Radisson ballroom.
Utah Attorney General John Swallow praised the work on Capitol Hill by Utah Eagle Forum leader Gayle Ruzicka, predicting at the group’s convention Saturday that “when she passes, she’ll be going straight to the Celestial Kingdom.” That is the highest level of heaven Mormons can reach.

Within Utah, Eagle Forum leader Gayle Ruzicka vowed to be vigilant at yet another legislative session, “mostly working against bad legislation.”
One of her targeted bills is a proposal by state Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, to provide state funding for some preschool programs. Ruzicka said the state does not need to fund preschool.
http://goo.gl/veuwN (SLT)

Utah school board ousts superintendent of deaf, blind schools
Education » Steve Noyce unsure why he wasn’t reappointed for next school year.

The state school board decided Thursday not to reappoint Steve Noyce as superintendent of the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind for next school year.
Debra Roberts, state school board chairwoman, declined to discuss Thursday why the board decided not to continue Noyce’s appointment, citing privacy concerns. She said there was no wrongdoing.
The board discussed the issue in a closed session before voting unanimously, in open session, not to renew Noyce’s appointment. Roberts said the board has been discussing the issue for months.
Noyce said Thursday he was alerted that he might not be reappointed, but he didn’t know why. He said he had hoped to continue in his position for another school year and then retire.
http://goo.gl/gBR5k (SLT)

Accuplacer changes impact math classes

Much of college life is characterized by a mad grab for required credits. For some, the most dreaded are inevitably the math requirements that hang over their heads. Once graduated from high school, many have dreams about never having to prove another matrix or graph another line again. This is no longer the case now that the math department’s Accuplacer test has reinvented the way a student completes the math requirement.
“Students are placed into math classes based on [Accuplacer] math scores that are less than two years old, and AP calculus scores, or math courses taken at other colleges or universities,” said Angela Gardiner, a math department adviser.
Most means of assessing a student’s math ability expire after two years, after which the only way to avoid an empty-credit prerequisite mathematics course is to place highly enough on the Accuplacer to test into college-level course, Gardiner said. Whereas a simple add code would suffice for a restricted class in past times, many college-level math and writing courses are unreachable without the proper Accuplacer score.
For returning students who might have taken pre-college level math coursework in high school or community college, or those who have simply taken time off college studies for a period, the Accuplacer requirement can be a burden.
http://goo.gl/pi2zv (Chrony)

New unified approach effort to prevent Utah teen suicide
Education » Schools adopt unified suicide prevention strategy as a new law requires Utah educators to be trained for recertification.

More than 30,000 Utah teachers, counselors and principals will begin training next month in hopes of improving a grim state statistic: Two youths are treated for attempting suicide every day.
The Legislature passed a law last year that requires educators, for the first time, to take suicide prevention training as part of recertification, which occurs every five years.
Educators will watch a 38-minute online video produced by state education officials on suicide prevention. Then, each district across Utah will conduct its own one-hour training.
http://goo.gl/1Xba7 (SLT)

Davis district’s fair helps students transition out of school

KAYSVILLE — Amanda Nieforth has become keenly aware that she will be graduating from Syracuse High School in a few months, and is starting to worry because she doesn’t have a plan after graduation.
Nieforth, 17, struggles with an autistic disorder and she wasn’t sure what options were available to her, so she attended Davis School District’s special education transition fair this week to start making some plans.
“I’m a little lost about my future, so this fair has been really helpful so I can get some ideas so I won’t freak out so much,” Nieforth said.
Helping out people like Nieforth is why the Davis School District hosted its fifth annual fair at Davis Applied Technology College in Kaysville.
http://goo.gl/x9Uwm (OSE)

Girl in wheelchair plays title role in ‘Annie’

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – The hit Broadway musical “Annie” is making its debut at Kennedy Junior High School in West Valley City, but this year’s production will be a little different thanks to the actress playing the lead.
Melissa Salguero says she wants to be a Broadway star. Her latest step to that dream is the lead role in “Annie.”
A wheelchair helps Melissa get around, but she doesn’t let it get in the way of her acting.
“I don’t think it really depends on if you’re in a wheelchair or not, it really just depends on if you can do the job in whatever way you can and make it look good,” Melissa said. “I use to think that being in a wheelchair was a bad thing, but it’s not. Honestly we all have a disability. Mine’s just easier to see.”
http://goo.gl/v8ECs (KSTU)

Grant gives Orem elementary students reading success

OREM — Orem elementary students are now rocketing to success in reading, thanks to local credit unions.
Foothill Elementary kindergarten teacher Kristi Graham has been awarded a $1,000 grant from the 100% For Kids Foundation, which is funded by credit unions statewide and gives money to Utah teachers for classroom supplies. She will use the money to buy a special series of reading books targeted to each child’s ability. Students borrow the books from school.
http://goo.gl/2aJ9U (PDH)

Southern Utah students head to robot state finals
Kids compete at Sunrise in regional meet

ST. GEORGE — A dozen St. George elementary, middle and intermediate school students will compete for the state championships in robot building Jan. 26 using a Lego computer module they programmed to help them dominate a regional qualifier in St. George on Saturday.
The second-annual FIRST Lego League qualifier at Sunrise Ridge Intermediate School drew seven teams from around the county. The students employed math and science concepts to build the robots and program them to do tasks in keeping with this year’s theme – identifying obstacles senior citizens face and finding a way to assist them.
http://goo.gl/P4GnZ (SGS)

Fossil Ridge teacher honored

ST. GEORGE — Kristin Snow, a sixth-grade science teacher at Fossil Ridge Intermediate School, was one of 10 educators honored with the 2012 Arch Coal Foundation Excellence in Teaching awards during the KeyBank Superstars in Education banquet.
The percentage of Kristin Snow’s students scoring proficient in science went from 69 percent in 2009 to 87 percent in 2010 to 93 percent in 2011. In 2012, she had the highest progress score of all the teachers in her school.
http://goo.gl/jGl0i (SGS)

Kindergarteners commit to graduation by discovering fun in learning

TAYLORSVILLE — Kindergarteners from elementary schools across the Granite School district gathered Thursday to commit to graduating from high school. The program is part of an effort to keep kids excited about learning.
When they’re young, learning is fun.
“I just like learning everything,” said kindergartener Miles Jenson.
And that’s the attitude the Granite School District Board of Education wants to keep up.
http://goo.gl/iGlrp (KSL)

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

Students celebrate reading at Road to Success festival

TOOELE COUNTY, Utah – The Tooele County School District hosted its fourth annual Road to Success Children’s Book Festival on Saturday.
Children from across the county gathered to celebrate learning and reading.
“We want them to see the importance of being a lifelong learner all the way from being a child to an adult, the importance of reading and how being a good reader that will help them in the future,” educator April Sunshine Robinson said.
The event included visits from children’s authors, reading, theater productions and other activities.
http://goo.gl/qP2J6 (KSTU)

Motivational speaker visits Mount Logan Middle School

Local businessman Rigo Chaparro took to the stage in the Little Theater at Mount Logan Middle School last week to help motivate young students who are part of the Gear Up program to seek higher education.
http://goo.gl/M0alz (LHJ)

Freedom Academy breaks ground for new addition

Freedom Preparatory Academy students, families, staff, faculty, board members and community members gathered Saturday afternoon for the groundbreaking of the school’s new building in Provo.
The new school, which will be built near the current building, will house students in grades seven through 12. Kindergarten through sixth grade classes will remain in the old building. The expansion will be finished in August, in time for the 2013-14 school year.
The decision to expand the charter school to include a high school involved a lengthy application process and much discussion in the community about the building of the new school.
http://goo.gl/gNEIv (PDH)

Jordan School Board elects leaders

WEST JORDAN — The Jordan Board of Education has elected new leadership.
Richard Osborn has been elected as board president, Susan Pulsipher as vice president and Janice Voorhies as secretary.
http://goo.gl/2LdDa (DN)

Alpine School District to host parent night on autism

AMERICAN FORK — The Alpine School District will hold a parent night to discuss needs of students with autism.
The event will run from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, at the Legacy Elementary Media Center, 28 E. 1340 North. The topic is behavior strategies for students on the autism spectrum.
http://goo.gl/XuQNv (DN)

Snow shuts down schools along Wasatch Front

DAVIS COUNTY — Snowpacked and slick roads from a winter storm that was still dropping snow Friday morning forced several school closures Friday, especially in Davis and Weber counties.
The following is a complete list of school closures. Additional closures will be posted as they are announced.
http://goo.gl/gQx5H (DN)

http://goo.gl/6RKmZ (KUTV)

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

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

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

Utah receives low marks in separate education reports
Utah schools receive low grades in national education reports

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah received low grades from two separate education reports released recently.
The first, a national report card by advocacy group StudentsFirst, earned the state a D grade and a 25th-place ranking based on reforms such as school choice and performance-based pay.
In the second report, the annual Quality Counts report by Education Week, Utah ranked 38th in the country with a C grade, based on a more in-depth review of student performance and school-climate factors.
The grades likely would disqualify Utah from participating in extracurricular sports or serving in student government, but the state can take some comfort in knowing most of its classmates did not make the honor roll either.
http://goo.gl/yJfPB (DN)

http://goo.gl/M6n5Q (DN)

http://goo.gl/Ganfa (OSE)

http://goo.gl/2GdO5 (MUR)

Federal cuts will slash Clearfield Job Corps population in half

CLEARFIELD — One of the federal government’s largest educational programs for disadvantaged students between the ages of 16 and 24 may see its enrollment capacity cut in half by later this year.
The Job Corps in Clearfield received verbal notice from the Department of Labor this week that as many as 400 enrollment spots would likely be vacated, but the department later increased its written estimation to 534 slots. The Clearfield Jobs Corps currently enrolls 1,057 students.
This leaves the Management & Training Corporation, which contracts with the federal government to operate the Clearfield Job Corps, to haggle with the Department of Labor over the decision.
http://goo.gl/ORIvS (DN)

http://goo.gl/nel32 (OSE)

Logan High groups making last preparations for Inauguration

One week from today approximately 160 people representing Logan High School’s band and choir, along with parent-chaperones, will be taking off for Washington, D.C. where the band and choir have been invited to participate in the presidential inauguration activities.
Randy Smith, director of the choir, says about 80 choir members and 45 to 50 band members will be going.
http://goo.gl/6hUoy (CVD)

All Davis County schools getting AEDs

FARMINGTON, Utah – The Davis County School District is improving the safety of their students by installing new automated external defibrillators.
Utah State University’s shooting guard knows first-hand how helpful those AEDs are. He collapsed in practice just over a month ago when his heart stopped. But the presence of an AED and a prepared coach saved his life.
And now thanks to a $300,000 federal stimulus fund, those life-saving devices are being placed in every Davis County school. The district offers training on the devices to certain teachers and staff members at the beginning of the year.
http://goo.gl/9LdIl (KSTU)

Cache County School District raises over $11,000 for Sandy Hook

More than $11,000 has been raised by the Cache County School District to help victims of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
Teri Lewis, executive director of the Cache Education Foundation, says the effort was spearheaded by a parent, Kelly Arnold, who contacted the Foundation first. Lewis says Arnold met with elementary school principals to get permission, then launched the fundraising drive that brought in well over $11,000.
http://goo.gl/cnZ4a (CVD)

Young Chevrolet to make donation

FARMINGTON — Young Chevrolet in Layton will donate $11,775 to the Davis Education Foundation.
http://goo.gl/txDbo (OSE)

Girls are getting better grades than boys, but is anyone getting a good education?

A new study from the University of Georgia and Columbia University suggests girls get better grades than boys because of their classroom behavior. According to Psychcentral.com, girls in the study were rated higher on six measures: “the child’s attentiveness, task persistence, eagerness to learn, learning independence, flexibility and organization.”
Less than two decades ago, researchers were working to help schools better address the needs of girls, who lagged behind, especially in math and science. Girls’ quiet, “good” behavior led teachers to ignore them more often and call on them less frequently than their more rambunctious male peers.
One study from 1995 found that “girls receive fewer academic contacts, are asked lower level questions, and are provided less constructive feedback and encouragement than boys — all of which translates into reduced preparation for independent effort.”
http://goo.gl/8YSbD

Education lessons from abroad: a tale of two countries
opposite approaches yield positive results in singapore, finland

SALT LAKE CITY — Tan Leng Goh grew up in Singapore and remembers a strict, competitive school system focused on math and science classes built around rote drills and tests. Elena Yorgason grew up in Finland, where music, art and creative play were emphasized, and testing and competition were rare. Both women live in Salt Lake City now, and look at education in the United States through the lens of their past experiences.
Despite stark differences in educational philosophies, the two women’s homelands rank near the top in international tests that compare student achievement around the globe. Those same tests reveal mediocre performance by U.S. students. That dichotomy is prompting the U.S. government to look for education ideas from abroad, and Finland and Singapore star on the list of countries being studied.
http://goo.gl/WXfX9 (DN)

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Looking for leaders
Get serious about school funding
Salt Lake Tribune editorial

Utah public schools need more money. Teachers are underpaid, many youngsters desperately need early-childhood education — preschool and all-day kindergarten. Too many older students need remedial help to reach a level of academic achievement that means they’re ready for college, technical training or a good job.
When some conservative members of the Legislature say money isn’t the answer to all our educational problems, they’re right. But in a state that spends far less on education per pupil than any other state, where classes are the largest in the nation, where teachers are not making a competitive wage and a third of them leave during their first five years, the need for more revenue is obvious.
So Rep. Jim Bird’s idea to increase funding for schools should be considered by legislators who are serious about improving education in the Beehive State as a point of discussion that might lead to other, better ideas.
http://goo.gl/Ow1bf

Thumbs up, thumbs down
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner editorial

Thumbs up: To Ogden High School’s new renovation, which is now on display. It’s been a long process, but the architectural renovation has been completed. Millions of dollars were spent, including $9 million from local funds, to renovate the auditorium.
http://goo.gl/j3Hfa

Armed schools: MSNBC’s Schultz goes deeper on Utah
Washington Post commentary by columnist Erik Wemple

Wednesday night, MSNBC’s Ed Schultz welcomed a grade-school teacher from Utah, who talked about the possibility of carrying a gun into the classroom. A concealed gun, that is: The teacher, Carolyn Cain, said that neither the students nor the parents of her pupils needed to know about it. That whole dynamic, it was clear, bothered Schultz. But he didn’t explode at Cain, a soft-spoken and polite educator. Instead, he just kept the story alive, with a Thursday night segment on the same topic. Cain’s comments, in particular, cried out for a response from someone in Utah officialdom.
Enter Rhonda Bromley, spokeswoman for the Alpine County school district, who essentially confirmed Cain’s story to Schultz: “We follow the state law, which says that if someone does have a concealed firearm permit, they are allowed to have a weapon with them.” When asked whether a lot of teachers carry firearms, Bromley responded, “We don’t know because as part of the law, they do need to keep that concealed, and that includes not letting people know at the school that they have that. It’s not something that administrators require employees to share that information. It’s not something that the teachers or the employees should be talking with their students about. It’s supposed to be concealed. That includes being physically not seen by the students, but also they shouldn’t be talking about it with people.”
Schultz asked if there’s a moral question here — do parents have a right to know? Bromley thereupon earned her salary as a public official: “Well, obviously there are different opinions … on that,” she said.
http://goo.gl/24Puz

Free Advertising
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Paul Rolly

Jim Fikar sent an email last week to Rep. Jim Bird, R-West Jordan, responding to Bird’s proposal that $37 million be diverted to education from state liquor profits and the lawmaker’s comment that “if they have an idea to come up with $37 million in some other way, I’m all ears.”
Fikar suggested the Legislature eliminate the child tax credit after the third child. “That way, those burdening the school system with a lot of kids pay their fair share.”
Bird responded from his government-issued email account:
“Jim,
Thanks for your email.
Jim Bird
Oak Leaf Financial, your Insurance Professionals.”
http://goo.gl/awzj4

Blended Learning 2.0
Paying Teachers as Other Professionals — Empowering Students as Self-Directed Learners
Utah Taxpayers Association commentary by Sen. Howard Stephenson

I recently attended a conference on improving teacher quality in the public schools. National experts described the need for better preparation in colleges of education, high quality teacher development for educators already in the classroom, and tiered levels of teaching professionals similar to Finland’s system. One expert stated that teachers today typically come from the bottom performing quartile of college students. Another stated that only one of the top ten universities in the United States has an undergraduate teacher college.
Two teachers of the year spoke of success they were having in the classroom in two innovative school models in different parts of the country. Among their approaches, one teacher described taking texts from students as late as 11:00 p.m. Another told of coming to school on Saturdays to prepare his lessons for the coming week.
When my time to speak came, I expressed appreciation for the two exemplary teachers and noted that their extraordinary personal sacrifices for their students were admirable, but questioned whether their approach was scalable for married teachers with family demands.
http://goo.gl/zhC3V

Utah’s math problem . . . and Finland’s?
Deseret News commentary by columnist Mary McConnell

A blog reader sent me an email expressing concern about his (Utah) school’s new policy of compulsory tracking for math and science students who fail to pass the CRT exam. I thought his comments were worth sharing with the class:
http://goo.gl/TJfuy

Guns, kids and mental health
Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Bryan Bushman, a licensed psychologist in Ogden

A month ago, on Dec. 14, I spent much of the day contacting the parents of children I work with as a child psychologist. Specifically, I called the parents of the children who were already anxious. “When he gets home, don’t let him watch TV or go on the Internet.
“Just unplug this weekend,” I said. “You’ll have to tell him what happened soon enough, but do it when the images on TV and the Internet have faded.”
I reasoned that already anxious children did not need to see those images from Sandy Hook Elementary: adults running in terror; children huddled in fear; SWAT teams storming yet another place that should be safe — but wasn’t. It is up to adults to reassure.
But, as someone who gives reassurance professionally, this is getting hard. We can (and should) remind children that the overwhelming majority of schools are safe. While true statistically, this reassurance is sometimes of little comfort.
http://goo.gl/SNN3M

Elected clowns
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Gwen Miner

Ever since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, letters to the editor have understandably and rightly been obsessed with guns, guns and guns. However wearisome, it’s an important topic and, sadly, I don’t see a consensus forming before the public’s attention moves on (until the next mass shooting).
For Utah, that shift in focus will happen when the Legislature convenes on Jan. 28. Then our attention will be drawn to our damn entertaining elected clowns who dazzle us each year by topping the previous year’s idiocies.

2. Fully fund education so every elementary child is at grade level for reading, writing and arithmetic. If not, at least fund schools with the same zeal you fund highways; that’d be a start.
http://goo.gl/FH3Zs

Family friendly?
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Jack Mitchell

Re “Utah lawmaker: Let’s use booze profit for schools” (Tribune, Jan. 9):
Why is it that we’re so willing to tax booze drinkers to pay for educating all of Utah’s children, but we’re so reluctant to raise everyone’s taxes to educate their own children?
http://goo.gl/rtcEd

Reject partisan boards
Deseret News letter from Gerald Nebeker

The Davis County Republican Central Committee will meet on Jan. 5. A pending resolution, submitted by Leg 15 Chair Marv Cook, proposes the following: “Advocate to the Utah Republican Party and State Elected Officials to pass legislation, which will make all School Board Elections Partisan. The URP system of selecting candidates to run for elected positions has proven itself to be a valuable tool for vetting candidates for public office and should be expanded to include all State and County School Boards.”
How on earth does party affiliation have anything to do with making a person suitable for public office? Let the best qualified people run for state and county school boards without the meddling and negative influence of party politics.
http://goo.gl/twa6C

Unjustly vilified
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Craig Hansell

Re “Cottonwood benefactor built football program into success, only to be told to leave” (Tribune, Dec. 31):
With a paltry 68 percent graduation rate (“High school graduation rates up in Utah,” Tribune, Jan. 3), the Granite School Board should be showering Scott Cate with roses, not vilifying him for his hours and hours of donated time and millions spent in support of Cottonwood High School students.
http://goo.gl/IkiCx

Drama mirrors nature
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Rick Fontana

The Jordan School District will only let the students of Herriman High perform the musical “All Shook Up” if they rewrite a song and other lines that don’t meet “community standards.” There are a lot of other musicals that our morals board should be on the lookout for:
• “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” celebrates kidnapping.
• “The Fantasticks” has a phony rape, and “Man of La Mancha” a real one.
• “The Music Man” romanticizes a swindling con man and “Guys and Dolls” does the same for gamblers.
http://goo.gl/dN6pD

To Close The Achievement Gap, Don’t Lower The Bar
NPR Talk of the Nation commentary by columnist Leonard Pitts

Florida and Virginia adopted new academic standards for students based on race and ability — refocusing attention on the U.S. achievement gap. In a piece in the Miami Herald, syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts argues that lowering the bar is not the way to fix the education system.
http://goo.gl/ROUf4

Eric Bolling: Schools ‘pushing the liberal agenda’ by teaching algebra
Raw Story commentary by columnist David Edwards

Fox News host Eric Bolling on Wednesday accused some schools of “pushing the liberal agenda” for teaching an algebra lesson about the distributive property.
During a segment about “indoctrination in schools,” Bolling reminded viewers of a 2009 video of children chanting, “Mmm. Mmm. Mmm. Barack Hussein Obama,” which outraged conservatives at the time.
“But even worse is the way some textbooks are pushing the liberal agenda,” the Fox News host explained, pointing to an algebra worksheet that Scholastic says gives students “[i]nsight into the distributive property as it applies to multiplication.”
“Distribute the wealth!” Bolling exclaimed, reading the worksheet. “Distribute the wealth with the lovely rich girl with a big ole bag of money, handing some money out.”
Co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle explained that the algebra worksheet had put her on “high alert” for the liberal agenda in her 6-year-old son’s curriculum.
http://goo.gl/k7zE4

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Newtown residents ponder future of school building
What should be done with Sandy Hook Elementary School, which has been unused since a mass shooting a month ago? The people of Newton, Conn., are considering its fate.
USA Today

NEWTOWN, Conn. — Thirty days after their town was scarred by tragedy, Newtown residents gathered Sunday to discuss what to do with Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and six adults were killed in a Dec. 14 shooting rampage.
More than 300 people attended the discussion in the Newtown High School auditorium, a few minutes drive from the Sandy Hook school.
For 90 minutes, about 30 residents — mostly parents whose children survived the shooting — stood at a microphone and expressed varying ideas: Return students to the school, renovate or raze it, or build a replacement school elsewhere. Students are now in a temporary school in nearby Monroe, Conn.
http://goo.gl/HKNZ7

http://goo.gl/l974K (Reuters)

Texas Lt. Gov.: Fund Weapons Training for Teachers
Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst called Friday for state-funded, specialized firearms training for teachers and administrators to guard against school shootings.
Dewhurst, a Republican, said school districts would nominate who they wanted to carry weapons on campus. The training would be more extensive than what is currently required for a Texas concealed handgun license and include how to react in an active shooter situation.
http://goo.gl/Px1Z5

Could Janitors Be One School’s Line of Defense?
Associated Press

TOLEDO, Ohio — A rural school district in Ohio is drawing attention with its plans to arm a handful of its non-teaching employees with handguns this year – perhaps even janitors.
Four employees in the Montpelier schools have agreed to take a weapons training course and carry their own guns inside the district’s one building, which houses 1,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, school officials said.
http://goo.gl/xvEd7

Guns already allowed in schools with little restriction in many states
NBC News

With the debate over gun violence reshaped by the shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school last month, lawmakers across the country are pushing proposals to arm teachers in the classroom. But many of them may be wasting their time.
More than a third of the states already allow teachers and other adults to carry guns to school. In most cases, all you need is the equivalent of a note from the principal — you usually don’t even need law enforcement approval.
NBC News reviewed the firearms and education laws in all 50 states and found that 18 of them allow adults to have a loaded gun on school grounds, usually as long as they have written permission.
http://goo.gl/UJ8ph

Police in schools ‘not the answer,’ coalition says, urging broader strategy
Civil rights groups, educators, and law enforcement representatives say police in schools, ‘while well-intentioned,’ can end up causing other problems for students the police are there to protect.
Christian Science Monitor

As communities around the country rush to place more armed officers in schools in the wake of the Newtown shooting, a coalition of civil rights groups, educators, and law enforcement representatives are trying to draw attention to the negative side effects that could result. They are urging Congress and the Obama administration to direct resources instead toward more comprehensive school-safety strategies.
“More police are not the answer,” said Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights group that organized a press conference call Friday. “While well-intentioned … often officers end up arresting the young people they are there to protect … [and often it’s for] incidents that are not threats to safety.”
The heavy reliance on police in schools has a disproportionate impact on students of color – who are more likely to be suspended or pushed into the juvenile justice system for adolescent behaviors that should be corrected instead by educators, say groups such as the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF).
http://goo.gl/7xRP4

To lock classroom doors or not?
After the Newtown and Taft shootings, educators in L.A. debate whether teacher transparency or school security is paramount.
Los Angeles Times

Behind a locked classroom door, a Los Angeles third-grade teacher purportedly committed lewd acts against students. The charges spurred demands for classrooms to remain open during the school day.
But after the shooting deaths of 20 first-graders in Connecticut last month, calls were made to keep classrooms locked.
The intent of both efforts is to keep students safe. But as school districts nationwide examine their security measures following the Newtown, Conn., massacre, the question of locked versus unlocked classroom doors is in debate. Should teachers and administrators use their secured doors as a shield from an outside danger? Or does a locked door conceal a potential danger inside?
http://goo.gl/4bDwH

Teachers at Seattle school boycott standardized test
Reuters

OLYMPIA, Washington | Teachers at a Seattle high school, in a rare boycott by educators against a standardized test, are refusing to give students a decades-old reading and math test after the city’s school district decided to factor the exam into the instructors’ evaluations.
The 19 teachers at Garfield High School have complained they are unable to adequately prepare students for the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test, which was created over 25 years ago but was introduced to Seattle Public Schools in 2009.
The revolt by the Garfield teachers, who comprise all the instructors at the school required to give the MAP test, comes at a time of fierce political battles over teacher evaluations that has played out in cities from Chicago to Los Angeles.
The MAP test that has become a point of contention at Garfield is given at schools around the country but is not required by Washington state.
Unlike the tests required by the state, which are the High School Proficiency Exam and the End-of-Course exams, it has no bearing on students’ grades or their ability to graduate.
http://goo.gl/Vt642

http://goo.gl/SgcrV (CSM)

Will Longer School Year Help or Hurt US Students?
Associated Press

Did your kids moan that winter break was way too short as you got them ready for the first day back in school? They might get their wish of more holiday time off under proposals catching on around the country to lengthen the school year.
But there’s a catch: a much shorter summer vacation.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a chief proponent of the longer school year, says American students have fallen behind the world academically.
“Whether educators have more time to enrich instruction or students have more time to learn how to play an instrument and write computer code, adding meaningful in-school hours is a critical investment that better prepares children to be successful in the 21st century,” he said in December when five states announced they would add at least 300 hours to the academic calendar in some schools beginning this year.
The three-year pilot project will affect about 20,000 students in 40 schools in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee.
http://goo.gl/Y0QEt

Should students grade their teachers?
Hechinger Report

With all the debate in New Jersey and elsewhere about evaluating teachers on how well their students perform, another idea is starting to surface that could prove equally provocative: judging teachers by what their students think of them.
One of the options available to New Jersey school districts as they build teacher evaluation systems is including student surveys among the “multiple measures” of student achievement. The idea is gaining popularity, at least among policy-makers.
Several districts that have been part of the pilot program testing evaluation models have included or plan to include student surveys, although not necessarily as part of a teacher’s grade.
http://goo.gl/nkfj0

New Fla. education commissioner followed Bush lead
Associated Press via Miami Herald

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — As schools chief in Indiana, Florida’s new education commissioner had a reputation as a hard-charging, caustic, union-battling advocate for the kind of conservative policies pushed by former Sunshine State Gov. Jeb Bush – a friend and supporter of the Republican.
Tony Bennett’s style didn’t sit well with Indiana voters. In November, they voted him out of office after one term in favor of school librarian Glenda Ritz, a Democrat, while electing another Republican governor and backing Mitt Romney in the presidential race.
Bennett may fare better when he begins his new job Monday in Florida, where Republicans control the governor’s office and Legislature. His agenda includes private school vouchers, charter schools, accountability standards for school administrators and teachers, high-stakes testing, and teacher pay based on annual evaluations. Florida already has adopted many of the changes he fought for in Indiana.
And in Florida, Bennett won’t answer to voters. The governor-appointed State Board of Education has the power to hire – and fire – education commissioners.
Bennett, 52, and most of the board members share a devotion to Bush, who continues to influence education policies through his Foundation for Florida’s Future.
http://goo.gl/J87E8

Lily Eskelsen: From lunch lady to national education leader
Voxxi

Lily Eskelsen went from working in a school cafeteria to becoming a top leader at the nation’s largest advocacy group for public education.
She is currently the vice president of the National Education Association and is gearing up to compete for the NEA’s president seat. She will announce her candidacy for president at the group’s annual convention, which will be held in Atlanta, Georgia, from June 26–July 6.
If she is elected president by the NEA’s 3.2 million members, she will become the organization’s first Hispanic president. That position would also give her an even more powerful voice to advocate for Latino students.
http://goo.gl/sjGBn

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

UEN News
http://www.uen.org

January 28:
Utah Legislature 2013 General Session
Utah State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Cal.asp

January 31:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
Noon, 250 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda.aspx

February 13-14:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
9 a.m., 250 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://goo.gl/Mu36l

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