Education News Roundup: Feb.1, 2013

Liberty Bell replica at Utah Capitol

Liberty Bell replica at Utah Capitol

Today’s Top Picks:

Legislature begins looking at the education budget.
http://goo.gl/MX1f0 (SLT)
and http://goo.gl/7AHvN (DN)
and http://goo.gl/j1hNi (OSE)
and http://goo.gl/pDUim (KSL)

Should more of the budget be decided at the school level?
http://goo.gl/61jxr (KUER)

Davis District resolves the “In Our Mothers’ House” issue.
http://goo.gl/kQF3q (SLT)
and http://goo.gl/TQ1ub (DN)
and http://goo.gl/6fbgY (OSE)
and http://goo.gl/KreaN (PDH)
and http://goo.gl/pG3zM (KSL)

http://goo.gl/Pjvwd (USAT)

Bad news: New rules are out on school snacks. Good news: Hey, at least they don’t have to crack down on Twinkies and Ho Hos.
http://goo.gl/Cev6r (USAT)
and http://goo.gl/9VMAB (AP)
or http://goo.gl/AR2wP (USDA)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Utah lawmakers start work on schools budget Education » Funding for enrollment growth, other initiatives awaits federal fiscal cliff deal.

Bill Gives Local Schools More Control Over Spending

Should Utah sex offenders be allowed to run for school board?
Legislature » The bill is in response to a registered offender running for the Granite school board.

School board election bills fall short of board member support

State Lawmakers Push Crackdown on Cancer-Causing Radon

Davis District to leave book about lesbian mothers on library shelves Settlement » Agreement ends suit over access to “In Our Mothers’ House.”

Cache school district modifies bond plan, changes would affect many students Millville high school boundaries changed in new proposal

Mormons at Catholic schools? Protestants at a Jewish school? It’s common in Utah Education » They like the academics, the diversity and the values.

Polynesians thriving in Utah
Growth » Utah’s per-capita share of Pacific Islanders highest in continental U.S.

Utah (is the place) to recruit Polynesian football players Decades after a Polynesian pipeline began to flow to Utah, families with football in their blood have put down roots and transformed the state into the home of top-notch recruits.

Father of suicide victim speaks at anti-bullying assembly

Cyberbullying prompts teen to attempt suicide

Love is the answer to bullying, interfaith leaders told

15-year-old becomes youngest student to enroll at Weber State

Report: Utah education ranks below national average

Nebo School Board seeks to fill vacancy

Third-grade Davis teacher busted for heroin at school

School Bus Drives Into Ditch On Snowy Cache County Road

Lakeview Hospital donates $12K from softball fundraiser to Davis district Healthy kids » Money will fund programs such as pedometers and a decathlon.

Children’s Theatre puts on performance for special needs kids

Canyons District seeks volunteer science fair judges

Romantic Valentine’s Dinner in Support of Tuacahn

OPINION & COMMENTARY

School funding

Transparency is good

Utah’s postsecondary challenge

The road we’re on

When “transparency” makes things less transparent

Utah tax revenue leans heavily on income, consumption

To do and don’t do

Stray bullets

School decisions carefully made

Teachers and Policy Makers: Troubling Disconnect

What Uncle Sam can (and cannot) do to improve K–12 schooling: Lessons for the next four years

The Plan to Save Catholic Schools
How to combat falling enrollment while keeping standards high.

NATION

Growing number of educators boycott standardized tests Since 2002, standardized tests have taken on more significance because of federal mandates.

Top K-12 Leader in Congress Sets Retirement Date

Goodbye, high-fat chips: New rules for school snacks New government proposals would set limits on calories, fat and sugar in some school foods.

Court Backs School District in Principal’s Whistleblower Case

Wyoming schools chief Hill announces bid for governor in 2014

Arizona Lawmakers Struggle To Stay On Priorities

Bill would mandate school-choice guide

U.S. Department of Education Releases School-Level Assessment Data in Reading and Math for All Schools for 2008-09 to 2010-11

A Map For Including Disabled Students In Sports

Alabama Hostage Standoff Enters 3rd Full Day

Metal Detectors at Ga. School Where Student Shot

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UTAH NEWS
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Utah lawmakers start work on schools budget Education » Funding for enrollment growth, other initiatives awaits federal fiscal cliff deal.

The Senate passed a preliminary education budget on Thursday, with lawmakers saying they plan to build upon it in coming weeks to create a final budget for Utah schools.
The $3.7 billion budget bill, SB1, is meant as a starting point to ensure schools get most of the money they need in case lawmakers can’t agree on a budget later or the governor vetoes the final budget. The initial budget, of which about $2.5 billion comes from the state’s education fund, does not include cash to fund growing enrollment or money spent this year on certain programs.
Bill sponsor Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, said lawmakers will decide how much to add for enrollment growth, programs and other items in coming weeks.
Stephenson said that final budget, however, could be affected by whether Congress and the president are able to reach agreement on spending, avoiding a fall off a fiscal cliff. Discussions were delayed in January and the new deadline is in early March.
If the feds can’t agree by then, automatic federal spending cuts will kick in across the country — and in Utah schools.
http://goo.gl/MX1f0 (SLT)

http://goo.gl/7AHvN (DN)

http://goo.gl/j1hNi (OSE)

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

Bill Gives Local Schools More Control Over Spending

Republican Senator Howard Stephenson wants local schools to have more control over where they spend their money. The Draper lawmaker is sponsoring a bill that would require school districts distribute education dollars directly to schools; giving principals control over how it’s spent. But state education leaders say there are problems with the measure.
Stephenson says decisions about hiring employees, and buying textbooks and supplies are currently made by large school districts that handle 60,000 or more students. Right now local schools have to spend the money however the district decides. He argues local schools know what’s best for their students.
http://goo.gl/61jxr (KUER)

Should Utah sex offenders be allowed to run for school board?
Legislature » The bill is in response to a registered offender running for the Granite school board.

Lawmakers are debating a bill that would prohibit sex offenders from running for school boards — a piece of legislation authored after a registered sex offender ran for a seat on the Granite Board of Education last year.
The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday discussed and ultimately voted to hold onto the bill, HB64, to give its sponsor, Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, more time to tweak it.
Moss decided to run the bill this session after Richard Wagner Jones unsuccessfully campaigned against incumbent Dan Lofgren for a term on Granite’s board. Jones spent five years in prison and 10 years on probation after a 1990 second-degree felony conviction of sexual abuse of a child.
http://goo.gl/QY0E5 (SLT)

http://goo.gl/9I5PE (KCPW)

School board election bills fall short of board member support

SALT LAKE CITY — Two bills being debated at the Capitol seek to give voters more power in selecting State Board of Education members, but the proposed legislation failed to gain formal support by the board itself Thursday amid concerns of partisanship and cost.
The bills, HB59 and HB267, would remove the roles of the governor and nominating committee in the selection process and instead establish a system of direct, nonpartisan elections for State School Board members.
The key difference between the bills is that HB59, sponsored by Rep. Jim Nielson, R-Bountiful, would move school board elections to odd-numbered years when nonpartisan municipal elections are typically held.
State School Board members are currently selected through a non-direct voting process in which candidates are filtered through a review committee and then by the governor prior to being placed on the ballot. The system has been criticized because incumbents are sometimes barred from running without input from their constituents.
A motion to formally support both bills received a majority vote during the board’s Thursday meeting but fell short of the eight votes required for adoption.
http://goo.gl/ZvPmw (DN)

State Lawmakers Push Crackdown on Cancer-Causing Radon

Lawmakers in at least three states are combatting what public health experts call the “silent killer” — radon, an invisible, odorless gas that that seeps into buildings through cracked walls and foundations.
Bills filed in Iowa and Nebraska, and a proposal taking shape in Utah aim to reduce people’s exposure to the gas, the second-leading cause of lung cancer behind tobacco. Radon kills about 21,000 people each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
http://goo.gl/qFrdR (Stateline)

http://goo.gl/ZA5dj (KSL)

Davis District to leave book about lesbian mothers on library shelves Settlement » Agreement ends suit over access to “In Our Mothers’ House.”

The Davis School District agreed Thursday to leave a book about lesbian mothers on its library shelves, and won’t remove any other books just because they include content on homosexuality.
The agreement settles a lawsuit over the removal last spring of In Our Mothers’ House from the regular shelves of four district libraries. The children’s book by Patricia Polacco is about a family with two mothers.
“I am happy that all parents will now have the chance to make their own decisions about their own children,” Tina Weber, a Kaysville mother who filed the suit, said in a written statement. “Nobody should be able to tell other people’s kids what they can and can’t read.”
The district does not make any admission of liability in the settlement. Under the agreement, it must pay $15,000 in attorneys’ fees to the ACLU Foundation of Utah Inc., which represented Weber in the suit that was filed in November in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.
http://goo.gl/kQF3q (SLT)

http://goo.gl/TQ1ub (DN)

http://goo.gl/6fbgY (OSE)

http://goo.gl/KreaN (PDH)

http://goo.gl/pG3zM (KSL)

Cache school district modifies bond plan, changes would affect many students Millville high school boundaries changed in new proposal

In reaction to negative responses from patrons across the valley, Cache County School District has presented a modified bond proposal that addresses several concerns.
The modified proposal was introduced Tuesday night at the bond information meeting at Sky View High School and again discussed Wednesday night during a special meeting among North Logan residents and members of the district’s Board of Education.
The new plan might appease some North Logan residents, who were concerned about sending high school students to Millville; under the proposal, students living in North Logan would stay at Sky View High.
However, the new proposition allows for the new North Logan school to someday be converted into what would be the district’s fourth major high school.
http://goo.gl/hVezh (LHJ)

Mormons at Catholic schools? Protestants at a Jewish school? It’s common in Utah Education » They like the academics, the diversity and the values.

On a recent morning, Waverly Merrill woke before dawn to attend Mormon seminary.
She then trudged a short distance in the snow for the rest of her classes at a seemingly unlikely destination: Juan Diego Catholic High School.
“I like being in a religious school,” said Merrill, a senior at the Draper school and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “I’m not Catholic, but we all still pray to the same God.”
Merrill is far from alone in Utah. It’s quite common throughout the state for students to attend religious schools even though they don’t belong to the schools’ religions.
About a quarter of the more than 5,400 students enrolled in Utah’s Catholic schools are not Catholic. Roughly half the students at Grace Lutheran School in Sandy are not Lutheran. And about 80 percent of students at The McGillis School in Salt Lake City — which doesn’t teach religion classes but does honor Jewish traditions and values — are not Jewish.
http://goo.gl/vVuXR (SLT)

Polynesians thriving in Utah
Growth » Utah’s per-capita share of Pacific Islanders highest in continental U.S.

The very first Tongan in the United States is said to have come to Utah with a returning LDS missionary, in 1924, followed by another in 1936.
And from such tiny numbers, Pacific Islander communities in Utah flourish today, spreading rich and distinctive cultural influences as they grow.
Utah’s per-capita share of residents with ancestral links to the tropical Pacific isles of Tonga, Samoa, Hawaii, Tahiti, Guam, Fiji and to Maori peoples of New Zealand is now the highest on the continental U.S., and behind only to Hawaii and Alaska nationwide. In raw numbers, only California, Hawaii and Washington boast larger populations of residents claiming exclusively native Hawaiian and other Pacific Island descent than the Beehive State.
And while Pacific Islanders in Utah still live primarily where they have clustered for decades — along the urban Wasatch Front and in Washington County — census tallies in 2011 marked the first time all 29 counties counted Pacific Islanders among their residents.
“Watching the local football teams, there are Polynesian names all over the place,’’ said Ben Au, 61, chairman of the Salt Lake City-based Pacific Islander Chamber of Commerce. “Instead of just Hunter High School, Granger and Kearns, these days it’s Brighton, Skyline, Bingham, up north, all over Utah County.’’
http://goo.gl/c0rbY (SLT)

Utah (is the place) to recruit Polynesian football players Decades after a Polynesian pipeline began to flow to Utah, families with football in their blood have put down roots and transformed the state into the home of top-notch recruits.

In the back of a tidy split-level Glendale home, Merrill Taliauli gazes up at a giant flat-screen television and flips between a pair of college basketball games. The 17-year-old cares little about either. His father, Toni, played hoops in college, but it never was Merrill’s game.
His love was football. Always football.
http://goo.gl/Trlqs (SLT)

Father of suicide victim speaks at anti-bullying assembly

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – After two teenage boys who say they’d been bullied committed suicide this month, their family and friends are taking their heartache and trying to make a difference for teens.
13-year-old Buddy Peterson shot and killed himself in Salt Lake County on January 13. The next day, 12-year-old Dylan Aranda took his life in Davis County. Both left notes saying they’d been bullied.
Friends and family of those two boys are now working to remind young people that no matter how tough things seem, there are people out there who care and want to help.
Bud Peterson, Buddy’s dad, spoke at Westlake Junior High in West Valley City on Thursday.
http://goo.gl/hd8i1 (KSTU)

Cyberbullying prompts teen to attempt suicide

PAYSON, Utah – A cyberbully is targeting teens in Utah County. The culprit posted nasty comments over the pictures of forty teens in the Payson area.
“I’ve been called a slut, a whore,” said Taneisha Yates.
“My first reaction was to just start crying,” said Shyanne Spencer.
http://goo.gl/QAhNb (KTVX)

Love is the answer to bullying, interfaith leaders told

SALT LAKE CITY — Love is the answer to bullying, a noted expert on educational climate told members of the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable during its annual Interfaith Month breakfast meeting Thursday morning.
“I know that sounds simplistic, but it works,” said David A. Parker, a professor of teacher education and associate director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Center for Community of Caring Institute at the University of Utah. “We can talk about a lot of other things, but ultimately love is the thing that is going to make a difference.”
Parker said he wanted to speak to the Interfaith Roundtable, an 11-year-old organization that includes representatives from almost every faith group in the Salt Lake area, because of Utah’s unique faith climate.
http://goo.gl/UwoBL (DN)

15-year-old becomes youngest student to enroll at Weber State

OGDEN — Jessica Brooke has wanted to work in the medical field for as long as she can remember.
“In preschool, they asked us to dress up as what we wanted to be when we grew up,” she said. “My classmates would come as princesses or superheroes, but I came in scrubs.”
But few would have anticipated that Jessica, at 15 years old, would become a math prodigy and the youngest student ever to enroll at Weber State University.
http://goo.gl/CRUKu (DN)

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

http://goo.gl/R81PK (Signpost)

Report: Utah education ranks below national average

Education Week has released their 2013 “Quality Counts” report that grades each state’s education performance.
The study grades examines six areas: chances for success; K-12 achievement; assessment and accountability; transitions and alignment; teaching profession; and school finance.
Maryland came in first place for the 5th year straight, with a grade of a B+. The national average was a C+.
Utah scored below the national average, receiving a C. Utah’s lowest category was school finance, ranking 47th.
http://goo.gl/WBzn0 (KSTU)

Nebo School Board seeks to fill vacancy

SPANISH FORK — The Nebo School Board is seeking to fill a vacancy that will be left by the resignation of board member Rod Oldroyd.
Oldroyd, who has served on the board for six years, said he is resigning effective Feb. 13 due to obligations to his family, career, and ecclesiastical calling as a stake president in the LDS Church.
http://goo.gl/jpzAe (DN)

Third-grade Davis teacher busted for heroin at school

SYRACUSE — A third-grade teacher was arrested Thursday afternoon after police found heroin in her car and residue amounts in her purse and classroom.
Claudia Reaney, 49, was booked in the Davis County Jail on one count of second degree felony possession of a controlled substance.
http://goo.gl/CmkX4 (OSE)

School Bus Drives Into Ditch On Snowy Cache County Road

No kids are hurt after a school bus slid into a canal in Cache County. The incident occurred yesterday afternoon on 400 East in Trenton. There were three children and two adults onboard when the accident occurred. One of the students was in a wheelchair and had to be carried out by emergency responders. Cops say drifting snow made visibility difficult, and the bus driver got too close to the edge of the road.
http://goo.gl/nYQWc (MUR)

Lakeview Hospital donates $12K from softball fundraiser to Davis district Healthy kids » Money will fund programs such as pedometers and a decathlon.

The Davis Education Foundation got a shot in the arm for some health-related programs for students from a Lakeview Hospital-sponsored fundraiser.
The Lakeview Midnight Madness softball tournament was held in September. The hospital got their final tally on proceeds from its third annual fundraiser in late December. A total of $12,422.93 made its way to the foundation, a non-profit entity that funds school programs in the Davis County School District.
http://goo.gl/yBz7E (SLT)

Children’s Theatre puts on performance for special needs kids

SANDY, Utah – The Children’s Theatre of Utah in Sandy put on a special performance for children with disabilities on Thursday.
The kids, all from Functional Skills Classrooms in the Salt Lake City School District, got a chance to see a performance of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” a play about a boy trying to find out where he belongs in a story about respecting others and learning from mistakes.
“Theater has such a wide range of what it can target. The fact that we have a show that we know they are going to love and really enjoy. It’s kind of an exciting day for us,” said actor Craig Williams.
http://goo.gl/S8DXg (KSTU)

Canyons District seeks volunteer science fair judges

SANDY — Canyons School District is seeking community members to serve as volunteer judges in the 2013 District Science Fair.
http://goo.gl/A10m2 (DN)

Romantic Valentine’s Dinner in Support of Tuacahn

Ivins, UT – This Valentine’s Day (Thursday – Feb. 14th @ 6pm) The Valderra-Fish Rock Grille at the Ledges is hosting a romantic Valentine’s benefit dinner and concert on behalf of the soon-to-be Music Conservatory at Tuacahn High School for the Performing Arts.
http://goo.gl/ChNGV (KCSG)

Read more: KCSG Television – Romantic Valentine s Dinner in Support of Tuacahn

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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School funding
(St. George) Spectrum editorial

Gov. Gary Herbert reiterated the importance education plays both in his administration as a high policy priority and as an economic development engine for Utah in his state of the state address.
Herbert has been quite clear since the campaign for re-election began that education would be the top priority, and he has set a lofty goal of having 66 percent of the state’s adults having either a degree or vocational certification by 2020.
To get to that point, Utah has to step things up in the classroom and, most likely, in the pocketbook. Our state is dead last — by quite a few dollars — in per-student spending. And nothing short of a dramatic reduction in the Utah birthrate is going to change that anytime soon.
To be blunt, we have a lot of children here.
http://goo.gl/dxqOh

Transparency is good
Deseret News editorial

In the digital world there are increasingly fewer technical barriers to the dissemination of public information, and therefore there are fewer excuses for government to withhold data citizens may find valuable. As such, we look favorably on a bill before the Legislature that would have school districts put online the details of their ongoing finances.
A bill offered by Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley, would require that the data school districts and charter schools are obliged to present to the State Office of Education also be made available online.
The proposal sets forth a simple requirement to share a rather large cache of financial data collected by schools on the state’s Utah Public Finance website, which is designed to facilitate transparency in government.
http://goo.gl/R01Mp

Utah’s postsecondary challenge
Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Jamie P. Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation

Like most states across America, Utah’s economy is fragile. So leaders from around the state are busy devising strategies designed to grow jobs, create opportunity and build for a better tomorrow. That’s good, but a significant challenge threatens to block their efforts if it’s not addressed soon.
Education attainment, or lack thereof, is the issue and it’s poised to decide Utah’s economic future, and whether Utahns will enjoy greater prosperity and a better quality of life. Here’s why, and some ideas on what needs to be done.
When it comes to education beyond high school, Utah ranks a respectable 20th in America. Yet, only 39 percent of adults hold at least an associate degree. That’s troubling when you consider that a study — by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce — found that 66 percent of jobs in Utah will require some form of postsecondary education or training by 2018.
The gap between where Utah is and where it needs to be is significant, and that’s one reason to be encouraged by Gov. Gary Herbert’s “On PACE to 66% by 2020” plan. Achieving this bold plan won’t be easy, but strategic and targeted efforts make it possible.
http://goo.gl/zu5Ek

The road we’re on
Commentary by Charter Solutions President Lincoln Fillmore

A new study has disappointing, but not really surprising findings.
In short, schools that start out with poor academic results usually don’t significantly improve those results. Schools that start out strong tend to remain strong.
http://goo.gl/2gpVV

When “transparency” makes things less transparent Commentary by Charter Solutions President Lincoln Fillmore

The Tribune editorialized in favor of HB264, which I wrote about earlier in the week. Their position is, “Taxpayers should know more about where their money is going. It’s a matter of transparency, not ideology. The Legislature should support it.”
They are wrong, and not just in their opinion. They are wrong on the facts, and they publish those wrong facts in their editorial. I don’t think that it would make any difference if they did know the facts–their position isn’t really a matter of transparency, but of ideology.
In fact dishonesty for a political purpose will make education funding less transparent, not more.
Here are some of the Trib’s false claims:
http://goo.gl/GRU4M

Utah tax revenue leans heavily on income, consumption Sutherland Institute commentary by Derek Monson, director of public policy

According to a new Tax Foundation analysis of Census Bureau data on state and local government tax revenues, state and local governments in Utah rely more on individual and corporate income taxes and sales taxes, and less on property taxes, than the rest of the nation, on average.
According to the report, state and local government tax revenues in 2010 broke down as follows: 35 percent property tax, 34 percent sales tax, 20 percent individual income tax, and 3 percent corporate income tax (other taxes and fees represent the remaining 8 percent). In Utah, on the other hand, the breakdown was 27.6 percent property tax, 37.5 percent sales tax, 25.3 percent individual income tax, and 3 percent corporate income tax (other taxes and fees were 6.6 percent). Presumably, a primary reason why the property tax portion of tax revenues in Utah is lower than rest of the nation is due to the state’s Truth in Taxation law, which requires an advertised public hearing whenever an increase in property tax revenues is proposed.
This seemingly academic question on the structure of tax revenues in a state has real impacts on Utahns’ lives. According to economic research on this issue, different forms of taxes impact economic growth differently, and thus the ability of Utahns to get a good job and earn the income they need to support their families. The results of this research suggest that the tax that harms the economy the most (and thus jobs and incomes) is corporate income taxes, followed by individual income taxes, sales taxes, and property taxes.
http://goo.gl/he6SI

A copy of the report
http://goo.gl/7f4tu

To do and don’t do
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Kim Stucki

For the Utah Legislature, a list of things to work on this legislative session:
1. Our appalling air quality.
2. Our abysmal education funding.
Things to not worry about:
1. Sex education.
http://goo.gl/xxR9F

Stray bullets
Salt Lake Tribune letter from James Hull

The Jan. 24 Tribune carried these two articles: “More than half of Utahns favor teachers packing heat in classrooms” and “Security guard accidentally fires gun in downtown Salt Lake City library.”
An armed and presumably trained and qualified security guard, whose singular duty is to provide security, accidentally sent a bullet “through two walls and embedded [it] in a third.” The equivalent of the bullet traveling through three rooms before stopping.
Meanwhile, six in 10 Utahns support armed teachers in classrooms. Teachers don’t have just one duty, but several. On top of teaching their overstuffed, undersupplied classes on wages slightly above poverty level, teachers should now play the added role of armed security guards?
http://goo.gl/1zqde

School decisions carefully made
(Logan) Herald Journal letter from Tamara Grange

As a former but recent member of the Cache County Board of Education, I would like to share just a few insights about the discussion regarding the bond proposal.
And at this point it is still just a proposal. The reason for the town meetings is to inform and receive input from the public. Afterwards, if needed, the board and district staff can adjust the proposal before it goes to a vote.
http://goo.gl/ntYCW

Teachers and Policy Makers: Troubling Disconnect New York Times commentary by SARA MOSLE, a teacher at St. Philip’s Academy

Can the school reform movement accept constructive criticism? Gary Rubinstein hopes so. Mr. Rubinstein joined Teach for America in 1991, the program’s second year, and has now been teaching math for 15 years, five of them in some of the nation’s neediest public schools and 10 more at the prestigious Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. He has a bachelor’s degree in math and a master’s in computer science, has written two books on classroom practice and at one point helped train new corps members for Teach for America. For years, he was a proponent of the program, albeit one with the occasional quibble.
Then, in 2010, Mr. Rubinstein underwent a sea change. As he grew suspicious of some of the data used to promote charter schools, be became critical of Teach for America and the broader reform movement. (The education scholar Diane Ravitch famously made a similar shift around this time.)
Mr. Rubinstein, who knows how to crunch numbers, noticed that, at many charter schools student test scores and graduation rates didn’t always add up to what the schools claimed. He was also alarmed by what he viewed as misguided reforms like an overreliance on crude standardized tests that measure students’ yearly academic “growth” and teacher performance. Mr. Rubinstein, who favors improving schools and evaluating teachers, says using standardized test scores might seem “like a good idea in theory.” But he also thinks the teacher ratings based on the scores are too imprecise and subject to random variation to be a reliable basis for high-stakes hiring and firing decisions.
http://goo.gl/N5GWY

What Uncle Sam can (and cannot) do to improve K–12 schooling: Lessons for the next four years American Enterprise Institute analysis by Frederick M. Hess, executive editor of Education Next , and Andrew P. Kelly, research fellow in education policy studies at AEI

During his first term, President Barack Obama has, with the help of his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, pushed many aggressive reforms to improve K–12 education in the United States. Programs such as the $4.35 billion Race to the Top competition have been widely praised even by conservatives who are otherwise critical of the Obama administration. As Obama and Duncan prepare for a second term, it is worth examining what the federal government can and cannot do to reform America’s system of education. Washington has been particularly effective in ensuring constitutional protections are upheld in education, connecting education reforms to national priorities, giving states and districts incentives for implementing policy changes, and collecting and reporting data related to school reforms. However, because decisions directly affecting individual schools are made at the state and local levels, Washington bureaucrats have largely failed at enforcing mandates and fixing poorly performing schools. The new Obama administration would do well to embrace a more measured approach to education reform that reflects lessons learned from past successes and failures.
Key points in this Outlook:
With the aid of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the Obama administration has devoted billions of dollars to bold K-12 reform efforts like Race to the Top. But too often, federal policy fails to reflect an understanding of what the federal government can and cannot do when it comes to improving the nation’s schools.
Although Washington has had success in placing educational reform on the national agenda and in providing states and school districts with incentives to implement clear policy changes, it has been much less successful in its efforts to fix poorly performing schools.
In the next four years, the Obama administration will have fewer resources to work with and significant implementation concerns and should work to ensure that any new reforms avoid overreaching in areas where the federal government has previously failed.
http://goo.gl/7nRxK

The Plan to Save Catholic Schools
How to combat falling enrollment while keeping standards high.
Wall Street Journal op-ed by CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN, archbishop of New York

This is Catholic Schools Week, when dioceses across the country celebrate the great gifts that are our Catholic schools. It has been a somewhat somber Catholic Schools Week for me, since in the Archdiocese of New York we recently announced that 24 of our schools will be closing at the end of this academic year. According to the National Catholic Education Association, the closings will join a national trend that has seen Catholic-school enrollment in the U.S. decline by 23.4% since 2000, a loss of 621,583 students.
It is sometimes hard to understand why enrollment has dropped. After all, even the enemies of Catholic education—and, sadly, there are some who wish our schools would disappear altogether—grudgingly admit that Catholic schools are unparalleled in providing a first-rate education that also emphasizes character and virtue.
I have heard from many leaders in business and finance that when a graduate from Catholic elementary and secondary schools applies for an entry-level position in their companies, the employer can be confident that the applicant will have the necessary skills to do the job. Joseph Viteritti, a professor of public policy at Hunter College in New York who specializes in education policy, recently said, “If you’re serious about education reform, you have to pay attention to what Catholic schools are doing. The fact of the matter is that they’ve been educating urban kids better than they’re being educated elsewhere.”
The evidence is not just anecdotal.
http://goo.gl/7GLbI

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Growing number of educators boycott standardized tests Since 2002, standardized tests have taken on more significance because of federal mandates.
USA Today

The decision by a group of Seattle teachers to boycott a standardized test this winter could spill out to other cities as a decade of frustration over testing simmers.
Teachers at Garfield High School, Seattle’s largest high school, said in December that theyw would take a pass on giving the latest Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test, a diagnostic tool that also screens students for remedial or gifted classes. Given several times a year, it’s also used indirectly to rate teachers, but Garfield teachers say it’s not aligned to the state curriculum and produces “meaningless” results. They have until Feb. 22 to administer the test or face unpaid suspension.
Since then, teachers at two more Seattle schools have said they’ll sit out the test, with the approval of leading academics and both major U.S. teachers unions.
Elsewhere, the Chicago Teachers Union this week launched a campaign “in support of local and nationwide efforts to eliminate standardized non-state mandated tests” from public schools.
http://goo.gl/Pjvwd

Top K-12 Leader in Congress Sets Retirement Date Education Week

The retirement in two years of the most powerful lawmaker in Congress when it comes to education policy and funding—U.S. Senator Tom Harkin—will create a major leadership turnover on everything from the future of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to special education issues, which the Iowa Democrat has championed for decades.
Sen. Harkin sits at the top of both the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee—which oversees education legislation—and the Senate appropriations subcommittee that deals with K-12 funding. He announced Jan. 26 that he would step down when his current term ends in 2014, and it’s unclear who will take over those influential roles after his departure.
Education advocates couldn’t yet say what Sen. Harkin’s move will mean for the long-stalled renewal of the ESEA, the current version of which is the No Child Left Behind Act, or the legislative logjam that faces his committee. Congress must also act to reauthorize a whole host of other education laws, including the Higher Education Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
http://goo.gl/C0vae

Goodbye, high-fat chips: New rules for school snacks New government proposals would set limits on calories, fat and sugar in some school foods.
USA Today

Out with the candy bars, high-fat chips, full-calorie sodas and sugary pastries sold in school a la carte lines, vending machines and snack bars during the school day.
Today, the government released its proposed standards for “competitive foods,” the name given to foods that are not part of the regular school meals. The standards set limits for calories, fat, sugar and sodium.
The proposed rules do not apply to foods sold at after-school fundraisers, bake sales or concession stands at sporting events and other after-school activities. They also don’t affect the foods kids bring in their lunches or what’s served at birthday parties, holidays and other celebrations at school.
http://goo.gl/Cev6r

http://goo.gl/9VMAB (AP)

http://goo.gl/AR2wP (USDA)

Court Backs School District in Principal’s Whistleblower Case Education Week

A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of an Illinois middle school principal who contends she was terminated for raising questions about alleged financial improprieties by her predecessor.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, in Chicago, ruled unanimously that the whistleblowing complaints by principal Julie McArdle were job-related speech not protected by the First Amendment under a key U.S. Supreme Court precedent.
McArdle took over as principal of Lindbergh Middle School in Peoria, Ill., School District No. 150 in the fall of 2008. Her predecessor at Lindbergh, Mary Davis, became academic officer of the Peoria district and was McArdle’s immediate supervisor. Court papers say McArdle soon discovered financial irregularities, including Davis’s alleged use of a school credit card for personal expenses and payments to a student teacher in violation of district policy.
http://goo.gl/GvVjm

A copy of the ruling
http://goo.gl/gQRIU

Wyoming schools chief Hill announces bid for governor in 2014 Casper (WY) Star-Tribune

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill announced this morning on KGAB-AM radio in Cheyenne that she’s running for governor in 2014.
It was the latest episode in a tumultuous week for the embattled schools chief.
Hill filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the constitutionality of Senate File 104, which was signed into law by Gov. Matt Mead that same day. SF104 dramatically stripped much of the elected schools superintendent’s powers and created the governor-appointed Wyoming Department of Education director position.
In an interview with the Star-Tribune today, Hill said she woke up this morning after a restless night and decided to run for governor.
http://goo.gl/XES3h

Arizona Lawmakers Struggle To Stay On Priorities Associated Press

PHOENIX — One Republican proposal would ban state enforcement of federal gun laws.
Another would require that hospitals check the citizenship of anyone treated in an emergency room.
Still another would call for students to pledge loyalty oaths to the Constitution before high school graduation.
It’s early on in the Arizona legislative session, but so far the proposals described by one top Republican as “esoteric” and criticized by Democrats as unconstitutional have dominated the headlines – despite promises from GOP leaders to focus on top-tier issues such as balancing the state budget and improving education.
It comes as Republicans nationally try to rebrand the party, highlighted by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal calling on his GOP colleagues to “stop being the stupid party” and focus on issues that matter to more Americans.
http://goo.gl/xdTeP

Bill would mandate school-choice guide
(Phoenix) Arizona Republic

A bill in the state Legislature would require the Arizona Department of Education to mail a “how-to” guide of educational options each year to the parents of 1 million children.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, envisions a 12-page handbook that would outline K-12 educational choices besides a child’s assigned public school. Options include charter schools, private schools, open enrollment, homeschooling, a tax credit and a voucher-type program. Each option would include contact information for the state agency overseeing that area.
Only days after being introduced, Senate Bill 1285 is drawing criticism from some educators. They say school-choice information is already available on websites, including one maintained by the Governor’s Office.
http://goo.gl/7ctCh

U.S. Department of Education Releases School-Level Assessment Data in Reading and Math for All Schools for 2008-09 to 2010-11 U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education announced today the release of student performance data in reading and math for all schools in the country for school years 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11. This is the first time the Department is releasing school-level state assessment data. The data are being released as part of the Department’s ongoing transparency efforts.
“It is important for the Department to continually provide transparency into our programs and the performance of our schools,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Releasing this school-level assessment data is an important step toward that goal. As we know, test scores alone will never determine how effective our schools are, and we are working to release more varied school-level data that we collect over the coming months.”
http://goo.gl/jg45c

A Map For Including Disabled Students In Sports Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. — After a tough 5-1 loss, Jordan Anderson was sweaty, short of breath and sorry he hadn’t played stronger defense during the floor hockey game at Humboldt High. He resolved to improve next time.
“I can get the puck out of my team’s end better,” he said.
The junior with epilepsy and a developmental disability spends a lot time in the gym. He plays soccer in the fall, floor hockey in the winter and softball and bowling in the spring.
As the federal government pushes schools to include more students like Anderson in sports, Minnesota offers a map for how to do it and a look at the challenges that come along the way.
http://goo.gl/9Z58R

Alabama Hostage Standoff Enters 3rd Full Day Associated Press

MIDLAND CITY, Ala. — More than three days after authorities said a gunman shot a school bus driver dead, grabbed a kindergartner and slipped into an underground bunker, the man showed no signs Friday of turning himself over to police.
Speaking into a 4-inch-wide ventilation pipe leading to the bunker, hostage negotiators have tried to talk the gunman, identified by neighbors as Jimmy Lee Dykes, into freeing the 5-year-old boy. One local official said the child had been crying for his parents.
Dykes, a 65-year-old retired truck driver, is accused of pulling the boy from a school bus Tuesday and killing the driver who tried to protect the 21 youngsters aboard. The gunman and the boy were holed up in a small room on his property that authorities likened to a tornado shelter.
http://goo.gl/JAcpP

Metal Detectors at Ga. School Where Student Shot Associated Press

ATLANTA — A middle school where a 14-year-old boy was shot and wounded in the neck by a fellow student had metal detectors, and school officials were investigating how the shooter made it past them.
Police swarmed Price Middle School just south of downtown Thursday afternoon minutes after reports of the shooting. A crowd of anxious parents gathered in the streets, awaiting word on their children, and later many questioned why they were kept in the locked-down school for more than two hours before being dismissed.
Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis said he sympathized with the parents. He said emergency protocol was followed, but that school district officials would meet Friday to review their response.
http://goo.gl/doxwF

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

UEN News
http://www.uen.org

February 1:
House Health and Human Services Committee meeting
2 p.m., 25 House Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2013/agenda/HHHS0201.ag.htm

February 4:
Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
8 a.m., State Capitol 445
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2013&com=APPPED

February 7:
Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
8 a.m., State Capitol 445
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2013&com=APPPED

February 7-8:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
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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