Education News Roundup: Feb. 6, 2013

Utah Capitol Tour

Utah Capitol Tour

Today’s Top Picks:

Bill on bullying and suicide prevention advances.
http://goo.gl/z7jAO (SLT)
and http://goo.gl/dDYgK (DN)

Governor faces some grilling in D.C. over Utah teacher salaries.
http://goo.gl/fTEuz (SLT)

KSL looks at business volunteers in the classroom.
http://goo.gl/ZyY6J (KSL)

AP looks at the national movement of holding struggling kids back in the third grade.
http://goo.gl/mifDV (AP)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Lawmaker wants schools to better train parents on suicide, drugs, bullying advances Education » Lawmaker says Utah schools need to offer families life-saving seminars.

Democratic House member jabs at Utah governor’s education claims

Powell pushes transparency on property taxes Added line could show tax payers how charters are funded

Utah Senate’s bill aims to break cycle of poverty

Seismic study bill moves to full House

House tweaks rules on recounts, special elections

Educators in Utah keeping eye on Legislature, proposed bills

School arts funding focus of Capitol lobbying effort

Catholic school students attend as Gov. Herbert signs a proclamation for ‘Utah School Choice Week’

As Utah students struggle, businesses enter the classroom

Teens Make Last-Ditch Appeal To Stop Deportation

Utah mom charged with choking teen at football game

Recent death prompts one school to battle bullying

Whistleblower teen comes out of shadows

Real world meets the classroom
High school students given chance to implement real business ideas

Lone Peak preparing for Ethics Bowl at UVU this weekend

Granite District administrators receive awards

Hobble Creek Learning Center to offer full-day kindergarten

Lehi students ring in the year of the snake

SLC kids write get well cards to Super Bowl champion

Plans for Springville Junior High moving forward

Dual-immersion registration soon to open Next wave of kindergartners to be accepted in second year of full implementation

Jordan District seeks input on name of new middle school

Students of the Month Honored by St. George Exchange Club

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Taking aim at bullying

White boards that are bullet resistant another proposal to curb school violence

Dollars & Sense

Trust lands have to pay off

Education miracles that aren’t
In seeking reform models, L.A. Unified should be cautious about untested solutions.

New Face of Teacher Unionism, Eyes Fixed on Testing Mania

STEM alone won’t breed innovation:
Remember Steve Jobs and his calligraphy class? Creative background plays a role, too.

Is parent involvement in school really useful?

The “Me” Curriculum at the DOE: Why we need to stop telling students “Narrative writing is all about me.”

The Link Between Kids Who Walk or Bike to School and Concentration

NATION

More States Push Retention of Struggling Readers

School Chiefs Leader Joins Common-Core Project

Girls Lead in Science Exam, but Not in the United States

D.C. Council bill would make cheating on standardized tests illegal

Anonymous ‘confessions pages’ used by Tucson students to bully, harass Tucson High Principal has Site Shut Down; Those for Rincon, Catalina Still Up

Guidance on Athletics and Spec. Ed. Students Draws Sharply Split Response

Youth Org: Students Need Better Sports Safety

Why Can Some Kids Handle Pressure While Others Fall Apart?

Economist says California at risk of losing its educational advantage

Gym shoe tax could fund aid for dropouts

Sony announces education initiative around Xperia Tablet S The electronics giant joins Apple, Dell, Google, and others in hoping to grab a share of the K-12 technology market.

Education website criticized

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UTAH NEWS
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Lawmaker wants schools to better train parents on suicide, drugs, bullying advances Education » Lawmaker says Utah schools need to offer families life-saving seminars.

With tears in his eyes, the stricken father approached Rep. Steve Eliason with a request.
“Please help me do something about this,” the father asked several years ago, Eliason said, “so families don’t have to experience this same tragedy that we’re dealing with.” The man’s middle-school-aged child had committed suicide.
Eliason, R-Sandy, is working to fulfill that request this session with a bill, HB298, aimed at implementing parent seminars in school districts across the state on suicide awareness, substance abuse, bullying, mental health and Internet safety, including pornography addiction. The House Education Committee voted 9-3 Tuesday to advance the measure to the House floor.
http://goo.gl/z7jAO (SLT)

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

Democratic House member jabs at Utah governor’s education claims

Washington • A Massachusetts Democrat criticized Utah Gov. Gary Herbert for not recommending a bigger pay boost for public teachers, an unexpected turn in a congressional hearing focused on linking education with the needs of employers.
Rep. John Tierney argued that Herbert should have accepted the recommendation of public school officials, including his own Education Excellence Commission, by offering a 2 percent increase in the funding tied to salaries and not the 1.16 percent that he put in his budget.
He also noted that most public school teachers have not received a cost-of-living increase in four years.
Herbert said the pointed exchange was a partisan jab with little factual backing.
http://goo.gl/fTEuz (SLT)

Powell pushes transparency on property taxes Added line could show tax payers how charters are funded

While the tax has been around for a while, Utahns may notice an extra line on their property taxes if a bill sponsored by Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City is passed in by the Utah Legislature. House Bill 264 “Property Tax Notice Amendments” would require counties to show taxpayers the portion of collected taxes benefiting charter schools, a tax that is currently incorporated into the local school district tax.
“Right now, the tax code is incorrect,” Powell said. “Money that is under the school district tax is not actually going into school district, but charter schools. This amendment makes sure property owners know that, and that they can see it.”
“There would be more transparency,” he added. “People know where the money is and where it is going.”
http://goo.gl/hbJp3 (PR)

Utah Senate’s bill aims to break cycle of poverty

The Utah Senate tentatively approved the creation of a commission Tuesday aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty that its sponsor says traps one generation after the next.
“Children become victims of this generational lifestyle,” said Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, noting that children who grow up in poverty have higher dropout rates, crime rates, drug and alcohol abuse and teen pregnancy, limiting their potential to break out.
http://goo.gl/w20bO (SLT)

Seismic study bill moves to full House

Utah schools may finally get a checkup to determine if they can withstand a serious earthquake.
Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, is proposing legislation that would require schools built before 1975 to do a seismic safety assessment before issuing new bonds.
“This gives us the first step, that we can say as a state that at least we acknowledge the potential. We’re not hiding from it,” Froerer told the House Business and Labor Committee.
The committee approved 1st Substitute HB278 on a 12-2 vote, sending it to the full House for consideration. Similar bills have been sponsored for the past five years and failed to pass.
http://goo.gl/p4Lqu (SLT)

House tweaks rules on recounts, special elections

The House passed two bills Tuesday to tweak election rules in Utah — changing when a recount may be requested, and when special elections may be scheduled.

The House also voted 73-1 to pass HB40 to allow special elections — such as for bonds or to fill vacancies — to occur only during regular primary or general elections. Its sponsor, Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, said that would lead to greater participation and awareness of such elections.
http://goo.gl/N0ZnE (SLT)

Educators in Utah keeping eye on Legislature, proposed bills

While the Utah Legislature works its way through new bills in its 2013 session, local educators are keeping a close eye on specific bills that could directly affect valley schools.
http://goo.gl/9ABG0 (LHJ)

School arts funding focus of Capitol lobbying effort

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s arts organizations and students converged at the Capitol Tuesday to thank legislators for their support of the arts and to remind them of the importance of arts funding, including programs for Utah’s schools.
The Capitol rotunda resonated with the musical talents of David Horton. A student with the Gifted Music School, he performed for legislators as a reminder of what arts funding can do.
During the past six years, annual funding for arts in education has been between $2.5 million and just more than $3 million, dropping during the recession and reaching the $3 million threshold again last year.
Those representing the arts went to the Capitol to lobby for more funding in 2013.
http://goo.gl/LSolX (KSL)

http://goo.gl/tfb7N (DN)

Catholic school students attend as Gov. Herbert signs a proclamation for ‘Utah School Choice Week’

SALT LAKE CITY — In conjunction with National School Choice Week and in partnership with Parents for Choice in Education, Gov. Gary R. Herbert signed a proclamation Feb. 1 declaring Jan. 27-Feb 2, 2013 “Utah School Choice Week.”
Lt. Gov. Greg Bell and Christine Kearl, education deputy, represented the governor in declaring ‘Utah School Choice Week’ at a rally at which students from Saint Andrew School and Juan Diego Catholic High School attended, along with representatives from other schools from throughout the Salt Lake Valley.
http://goo.gl/tRWbq (IC)

As Utah students struggle, businesses enter the classroom

MORGAN — A business in Morgan has become one of the first to join a statewide movement to get involved in Utah schools.
Employees of Holcim Cement gather at Morgan Elementary twice a week to be Read Today tutors, an unlikely group to be sitting at the desks of little kids.
“When we are working with these kids, big smiles on our faces, it’s a really nice break out of the day,” said plant manager Keith Krugh. “It does I think as much good for us as for them.”
It’s not just corporate responsibility that drew Holcim Cement to be Read Today tutors, though. Twice a week, they send employees to the school knowing they’re making a difference in their own neighborhood.
http://goo.gl/ZyY6J (KSL)

Teens Make Last-Ditch Appeal To Stop Deportation

Two teenage boys from El Salvador filed a brief with the 10th Circuit Court last week in their final attempt to persuade the United States to not deport them from Utah.
Job and Geovanny Canenguez were featured in the recent City Weekly cover story “Homeland Insecurity,” which told of how their mother, Ana, came to the United States illegally in search of work to send money back home for her five children. Eventually, because of threats by gangs and extortionists against her children, she brought them to the United States illegally. Now Ana and four of her children face being deported.
The brief by attorneys Ed Carter and Christopher Keen, who represent Job and Geovanny, goes into some detail regarding the educational history of the two boys in El Salvador and how their commitment to bettering themselves made them a target of gangs seeking to recruit young boys to bolster their ranks.
Carter sat down at the beginning of January with the Trementon family to prepare the brief. “Their commitment seemed pretty remarkable to me,” he says. “They’ve been here two and a half years and, from the beginning, dove into the culture, the language and school.” The family’s belief in education is “not just a pretext in this case, it’s the defining characteristic in the family. Not everybody has that determination and aptitude.”
http://goo.gl/FbDSv (SLCW)

Utah mom charged with choking teen at football game

A Magna woman has been charged with second-degree felony aggravated assault for allegedly jumping into a brawl between a group of teenage girls after a football game in October and choking a 16-year-old girl.
According to charges filed in 3rd District Court on Monday, the 32-year-old’s daughter was one of the girls involved in fight at Cyprus High School on Oct. 17.
Granite School District Spokesman Ben Horsley said the fight broke out after a football game between Cyprus and Hillcrest High School. Cyprus won 38 to 14. Unified Police Officers were on campus at the time and quickly broke up the fight, Horsley said.
http://goo.gl/yTupZ (SLT)

Recent death prompts one school to battle bullying

TAYLORSVILLE — After a Magna student recently took his own life after being bullied, one Utah elementary school decided to take the initiative to stop bullying on their campus.
Calvin Smith Elementary created a slogan for their students to live by: “Don’t stand by, be an ally.” The students raised their hands and pledged to not be bullies. They also signed a mural as a constant reminder to help fellow classmates.
http://goo.gl/Vg8ws (KSL)

Whistleblower teen comes out of shadows

CLEARFIELD Utah – For nearly a year, Megan Wehrman kept quiet about her role in a foiled bomb plot at her high school.
Last year she was a senior at Roy High School when she learned of a bomb plot.
She was then faced of becoming a whistleblower or ratting out on her two friends.
http://goo.gl/H7CtQ (KTVX)

Real world meets the classroom
High school students given chance to implement real business ideas

That next great idea could very well be lurking in the mind of a Park City teenage, somewhere between the folds of physics homework and the latest Netflix marathon. And the Park City School District has a plan to get the idea on paper and into implementation, using the PCCAPS program to partner high school juniors and seniors with business entrepreneurs and Utah companies.
From guest lecturers to semester-long projects, the newest program pairs students with real world projects, anything ranging from developing an iPhone application to engineering a computer system to strategizing on the global business level, the program focuses on offering actual experience outside the classroom. And as an added bonus, the classes may offer between two and four college credits.
http://goo.gl/LHHBb (PR)

Lone Peak preparing for Ethics Bowl at UVU this weekend

A band of four boys at Lone Peak High School plans on winning at the Ethics Bowl Saturday at Utah Valley University.
According to Karen Mizell, UVU professor of philosophy and Ethics Bowl coordinator, the high school bowl has been newly resurrected after a five-year hiatus. Prior to the break, the bowl ran for six years. Last year Joan Cheney, Utah Humanities Commissioner, asked the university to revive it.
The Ethics Bowl is similar to a debate competition, but teams are presented with actual issues and asked to argue the ethics of one side or the other. UVU has a college program, so Mizell said participating in the high school bowl fits right in with the UVU focus on engagement. Saturday’s bowl will be held in the UVU library and will be facilitated entirely by UVU students.
http://goo.gl/m4uxo (PDH)

Granite District administrators receive awards

SOUTH SALT LAKE — The Granite Association of School Administrators has presented awards to the top administrators in the district for the 2012-13 school year.
This year’s winners are: Assistant Principal of the Year, Craig Stauffer, Hunter High School; Elementary Administrator of the Year, Dona Harris, Robert Frost Elementary; Secondary Administrator of the Year, Marijean Woolf, Scott Matheson Junior High; District Administrator of the Year, Ben Horsley, communications director http://goo.gl/SElsz (DN)

Hobble Creek Learning Center to offer full-day kindergarten

Attending full-day kindergarten increases a child’s ability to excel in his or her future school experiences, research has shown. Enter Hobble Creek Learning Center.
“We are enrolling now for a full-day kindergarten program to begin this fall, and as far as I know we are the only ones offering it in Utah Valley for all students, not just at-risk children,” director Stephanie Harker said. “The research has shown that the increased instruction time allows more time for learning activities like writing, reading and math and science exploration. We have found that many parents who have preschoolers and half-day kindergarteners at our school want full-day kindergarten for their children.”
http://goo.gl/EFDNb (PDH)

Lehi students ring in the year of the snake

LEHI — Drums beat, gongs crashed and a dragon danced on Monday night to welcome the Year of the Snake at Lehi High School.
At the third annual Chinese New Year Celebration, the dragon dance was performed by instructor Aaron Andersen’s advanced Chinese language students. He said the students worked hard to choreograph their dance, which included a giant dragon costume.
http://goo.gl/vQLjO (PDH)

SLC kids write get well cards to Super Bowl champion

SALT LAKE CITY – A very special get well wish is on its way to a Super Bowl champion, from the kids at Meadowlark Elementary School.
Students at Meadowlark made their own get well cards for Raven’s Defensive Tackle Haloti Ngata, a former student who is now a Super Bowl champion.
Meadowlark teacher Kathy Porter told ABC4 about the school’s connection to the player, “Haloti Ngata was a student at our school about 20 years ago. We want him to know we are thinking about him and are so proud of his accomplishments.”
http://goo.gl/K2g8T (KTVX)

Plans for Springville Junior High moving forward

SPRINGVILLE — Excavation equipment will be arriving in the next few days to begin work at the site for the new junior high school in Springville. Although there will be no official groundbreaking, work will begin this month with an expected completion date of June 2014. The site is on the east side of the city in the area between 1470 East and 1700 East and 50 South and 400 South.
“We have been told to be ready to take possession of the building June 14 of 2014,” Ken Van Ausdal, principal at Springville Junior High School, said. “The building will then be made ready for students in August. Since the design is basically the same as Mapleton Junior High and the new Salem Junior High, there are considerable savings, not only in funds but in time.”
http://goo.gl/9C6AY (PDH)

Dual-immersion registration soon to open Next wave of kindergartners to be accepted in second year of full implementation

Student registration for the Park City School District dual-immersion program is fast approaching. Parents interested in enrolling their kindergarteners the now fully-implemented program, which was expanded last year to all four elementary schools, will be able to attend an upcoming meeting to learn more about the dual-immersion system and ask administration any questions.
http://goo.gl/LmFyJ (PR)

Jordan District seeks input on name of new middle school

HERRIMAN — Jordan School District is looking for a name for its new middle school in Herriman and wants residents to help.
Residents of Herriman, South Jordan and Riverton are invited to submit three names on behalf of students in their area by participating in an online survey by noon Friday.
http://goo.gl/JbHMf (DN)

Students of the Month Honored by St. George Exchange Club

St. George, UT – All the students that are honored throughout the year are seniors and are recognized for their scholastic achievements, community involvement, and leadership at their respective school.
http://goo.gl/D3K6w (KCSG)

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Taking aim at bullying
Salt Lake Tribune editorial

Nearly everybody hates bullying. Not everybody knows what to do about it. But Maya Miyairi, a graduate student at the University of Utah’s College of Health, has developed and tested an anti-bullying program that helps students deal with body-image and race issues. Implementation of the program at the school level has shown a drop in reported bullying incidents. Miyairi’s approach is to help often awkward middle-schoolers accept themselves and others as they are, rather than buy into unrealistic ideas as portrayed in the mass media. More schools should adopt this program.
http://goo.gl/a0rbH

White boards that are bullet resistant another proposal to curb school violence
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner commentary by columnist Doug Gibson

Since the Sandy Hook school massacre in December, how to prevent these types of massacres have dominated the news. There are various gun control laws being debated and others, notably the NRA, have pitched having armed guards in schools.
One idea that is starting to get some media notice is the idea of teachers and students having white boards, dry erase boards, that are bulletproof, and can be used as shields that are resistant to an attacker’s bullets. (The photo above is courtesy of bullet-resistantdryeraseboards.com) So far as I can see, there are two companies that are manufacturing the bullet-resistant boards. One is Hardwire, a firm in Maryland. Here is an article about its efforts. The other firm, Bullet-Resistant Dry Erase Boards, is in Arizona, and its website is here. FULL DISCLOSURE: The Arizona company is run by a relative of mine. I have no financial interest in the firm and am offering no endorsement or preference. The topic of boards to protect educators and students interests me. It will be interesting to see if these board products become a protection tool at many schools.
http://goo.gl/d3kFB

Dollars & Sense
Salt Lake City Weekly commentary by columnist Katharine Biele

Apparently, the Legislature still hasn’t gotten the message about tinkering with public education. Now, Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, wants all schools to post their financial data online and in detail. As Superintendent Martell Menlove says, school finances fall into hundreds of categories and are not easy to understand. Part of the confusion is due to the proliferation of legislative and federal mandates as everyone tries to control the system. Putting up raw data would be kind of like writing laws in Chinese—you’d need an interpreter. “We are interested in transparency, we’re interested in providing data; however, we want to provide that data in a manner that would make sense,” Menlove says.
http://goo.gl/eg9tw

Trust lands have to pay off
Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Kevin S. Carter, director of the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration

As managers of Utah’s school trust lands, we appreciate The Tribune’s recognition of a Utah State University study showing that Utah has recently outperformed almost all of its peer states in increasing the state’s trust lands endowment (“Short takes on the news,” Jan. 26).
Since Utah’s system for managing school trust lands was reformed in 1994, the paltry $60 million then accumulated since statehood has multiplied to almost $1.5 billion. The School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration is working to build upon this perpetual endowment for future generations of Utah students.
http://goo.gl/VNBnQ

Education miracles that aren’t
In seeking reform models, L.A. Unified should be cautious about untested solutions.
Los Angeles Times editorial

Beware of education miracles. Too often, there’s less there than meets the eye. Remember the extraordinary gains in test scores and lowered dropout rates in Houston schools more than a decade ago? They became the model for the federal No Child Left Behind Act and catapulted the schools’ superintendent, Rod Paige, to his position as U.S. secretary of Education at the beginning of the George W. Bush administration. Only years later was it discovered that schools were recording students as having “transferred” when they had in fact dropped out, and that students who were expected to do badly on standardized tests were often kept from taking them.
Then there was Atlanta’s schools superintendent, who won a national award for the gains made by her students. That was before investigators determined in 2011 that there had been rampant cheating by teachers and principals throughout the school district.
Another much-touted miracle: charter schools, which were supposed to lead the way to success for all students. Now, however, it seems that they have a decidedly mixed record.
http://goo.gl/FqvgL

New Face of Teacher Unionism, Eyes Fixed on Testing Mania Huffington Post commentary by Dennis Van Roekel, President of the National Education Association

In 1946 more than 1,100 St. Paul teachers staged a five-week walkout for better pay and working conditions. It was the nation’s first teacher strike. Over the next six decades, the sight of striking teachers walking a picket line became the indelible image symbolizing teacher might. Now a new face of teacher militancy is emerging.
In Seattle, a small but passionate group of educators is using the art of disruption 2.0 to express their dissatisfaction with the status quo. Over a month ago, teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School took a courageous step to stand up for their students by refusing to administer the flawed and irrelevant Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test. While the Garfield staff doesn’t object to the mandated state test, they oppose the district-wide MAP for solid reasons. Aside from being poorly designed, MAP doesn’t line up with state standards or district curriculum; it doesn’t measure what students are actually learning in their classes; it’s not an appropriate tool for assessing students or their teachers; and it wastes valuable class time.
I visited the Seattle Education Association in December and was impressed by the dedication and professionalism of the teachers I met. In staging the MAP test boycott, they are saying, “Enough is enough.” And on Wednesday, Feb. 6, educators, parents and communities are urged to join them.
http://goo.gl/5zP9w

STEM alone won’t breed innovation:
Remember Steve Jobs and his calligraphy class? Creative background plays a role, too.
USA Today op-ed by Katrina Trinko, who writes for National Review

In his inaugural address last month, President Obama re-enforced his commitment to education and the need for a greater focus on the areas of math and science.
“No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future. … Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation and one people.”
Last week, a bipartisan group of senators unveiled proposals for immigration reform that include rewarding immigrants who receive advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math areas from U.S. universities with green cards. Fine, put more emphasis on education in STEM, but not at the sacrifice of a good liberal arts education.
There’s no doubt in our technology-driven times that we need plenty of graduates who can tackle such subjects. But even technology wizards can become more innovative with a solid background in liberal arts.
http://goo.gl/3yq7d

Is parent involvement in school really useful?
Washington Post commentary by Alfie Kohn, the author of 12 books about education and human behavior, including “The Schools Our Children Deserve”

When people who write about agriculture or dentistry tackle the important issues in their respective fields, do they try to shake things up? Are they feisty and willing to peer beneath the surface of whatever topic they’re exploring? I have no idea. But I do know that those qualities are awfully hard to find in what’s written about education.
Consider the question of parent involvement in schooling. Almost everything published on this subject leaves the ideological foundations of the discussion unexamined. Either we’re treated to a predictable announcement that Involvement Is Good (“Parents should do more!”) or else we’re warned that some folks have a tendency to get, well, you know, a little too involved. (“Jeremy, I’m wondering whether you might have had some help with your science fair project? I ask only because it’s unusual for a sixth grader to build a working nuclear reactor”). Put these two themes together and the message seems to be that the interest parents take in their children’s education is either inadequate or excessive.
Does that mean there’s a sweet spot in the middle that consists of just enough involvement? Or are we looking at an example of what a statistician might call a bimodal distribution when involvement is plotted against socioeconomic status: Poor parents don’t do enough; affluent parents do too much?
http://goo.gl/fI1OT

The “Me” Curriculum at the DOE: Why we need to stop telling students “Narrative writing is all about me.”
Atlanta Journal Constitution commentary by Mark Bauerlein, author of the 2008 book “The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future”

You couldn’t get much farther from the life of a Georgia teenager than the world of Ernest Hemingway’s 1933 short story “A Clean, Well-lighted Place.” There, an old man in a café drinks late into the night while two waiters discuss him. The older waiter goes home with fatalistic thoughts, at one point slipping into the Lord’s Prayer but substituting nada for “Father”— an expression of his atheism whose terrible loneliness he keeps at bay with bright, familiar spaces at home and work.
The irrelevance of that scene to Georgia teens, however, doesn’t prevent the Georgia Department of Education from recommending that 11th Grade teachers issue this writing assignment to English students:
“The characters in Ernest Hemingway’s ‘A Clean, Well-Lighted Place’ are all seeking a home, a place of refuge, a place that is ‘clean and pleasant.’ Describe your own ‘clean, well-lighted place,’ the place where you feel safe, secure, and most ‘at home.’ ”
The assignment appears in a unit on “The Aftermath of Destruction: Reconstructing the American Dream,” with readings also by Stephen Crane, Faulkner, Frederick Douglass, and many others. It comes from a Web page on which the DOE posts lesson plans to help teachers with the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards.
But how does having students write an essay about a personal “refuge” enhance their knowledge of the literature and how to interpret it? Such prompts ask them to reveal things about themselves, not analyze the texts.
http://goo.gl/wJ0Um

The Link Between Kids Who Walk or Bike to School and Concentration Atlantic commentary by columnist Sarah Goodyear

Every day outside my son’s Brooklyn school, no matter what the weather, you will see a distinctive pale blue bicycle locked to the rack. It belongs to a 7th-grade girl from a Dutch family whose members have stuck with their traditional practice of riding to school each day, despite finding themselves in the not-so-bike-friendly United States for a few years. This lovely blue city bike was a gift from the parents to their eldest child, who is now almost as tall as a grown woman. She has graduated from riding with her parents, and deserves a first-class vehicle to get to class each day. She is fiercely proud of it.
According to the results of a Danish study released late last year, my Dutch friends are giving their daughter a less tangible but more lasting gift along with that bicycle: the ability to concentrate better. The survey looked at nearly 20,000 Danish kids between the ages of 5 and 19. It found that kids who cycled or walked to school, rather than traveling by car or public transportation, performed measurably better on tasks demanding concentration, such as solving puzzles, and that the effects lasted for up to four hours after they got to school.
The study was part of “Mass Experiment 2012,” a Danish project that looked at the links between concentration, diet, and exercise.
http://goo.gl/8bfC6

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NATIONAL NEWS
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More States Push Retention of Struggling Readers Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Flunked, retained, held back.
Whatever you call it, increasing numbers of states are not promoting students who are struggling to read at the end of third grade.
Thirty-two states have passed legislation designed to improve third-grade literacy, according to the Education Commission of the States. Retention is part of the policies in 14 states, with some offering more leeway than others.
“Passing children up the grade ladder when we know they can’t read is irresponsible – and cruel,” said Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback in announcing in his recent State of the State address that third-graders should demonstrate an ability to read before being promoted. He also proposed a $12 million program for improving third-graders’ reading skills.
Backers say retention policies put pressure on teachers and parents to make sure children succeed.
But opponents say students fare better if they’re promoted and offered extra help. They say holding students back does nothing to address the underlying problems that caused them to struggle and is the single biggest school drop-out predictor.
http://goo.gl/mifDV

School Chiefs Leader Joins Common-Core Project Education Week

Gene Wilhoit, who directed the Council of Chief State School Officers when it helped lead the design and adoption of the Common Core State Standards, has joined a nonprofit that was founded by the lead authors of the standards.
Student Achievement Partners announced today that Wilhoit has joined the organization, which is playing a central role in guiding assessment and instructional materials for the standards now in place in all but four states.
Last June, Wilhoit retired from his post as executive director of the CCSSO, a membership organization that serves state commissioners of education. He had said at the time that he would continue work to help states implement the common core.
http://goo.gl/9HiiU

Girls Lead in Science Exam, but Not in the United States New York Times

For years — and especially since 2005, when Lawrence H. Summers, then president of Harvard, made his notorious comments about women’s aptitude — researchers have been searching for ways to explain why there are so many more men than women in the top ranks of science.
Now comes an intriguing clue, in the form of a test given in 65 developed countries by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It finds that among a representative sample of 15-year-olds around the world, girls generally outperform boys in science — but not in the United States.
What explains the gap? Andreas Schleicher, who oversees the tests for the O.E.C.D., says different countries offer different incentives for learning science and math. In the United States, he said, boys are more likely than girls to “see science as something that affects their life.” Then there is the “stereotype threat.”
http://goo.gl/qMwF5

D.C. Council bill would make cheating on standardized tests illegal Washington Post

Cheating on standardized tests in the District would be illegal under a bill introduced in the D.C. Council, and a teacher or principal found guilty of violating the law would lose his professional license and face a fine of thousands of dollars.
The measure — which council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) and colleagues Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) and Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) introduced Tuesday — comes in response to persistent allegations that cheating led to inflated scores in some D.C. public schools between 2008 and 2010.
http://goo.gl/6Okl9

Anonymous ‘confessions pages’ used by Tucson students to bully, harass Tucson High Principal has Site Shut Down; Those for Rincon, Catalina Still Up
(Tucson) Arizona Daily Star

For the second time in this month, Tucson High Magnet School officials have been able to shut down a Facebook page that allowed students to anonymously, and publicly, vilify classmates.
The “Tucson High Confessions 2” Facebook page, which was dominated by anti-gay remarks and sexually explicit commentary about specific students, made its debut Tuesday morning. By Tuesday afternoon it already had nearly 300 “likes” before disappearing from the Facebook site. A mirror Twitter feed also was shut down.
Tucson High Principal Clarice Clash said she contacted Facebook and asked to have the site shut down. An earlier version of the page was in operation for at least 24 hours before it was removed on Monday.
Similar Facebook pages for Rincon and Catalina high schools went up on Sunday and Monday and remain active. Both are equally explicit as the Tucson High page.
Hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet, the comments posted – presumably by students – are vicious, touching on the sexual preference, sexual habits, appearance and social worthiness of peers.
http://goo.gl/44Roo

Guidance on Athletics and Spec. Ed. Students Draws Sharply Split Response Education Week

A document from the U.S. Department of Education intended to clarify schools’ responsibility to make sure students with disabilities have access to extracurricular sports has drawn sharply different opinions. Disability-rights advocates welcome the guidance, while critics say federal officials are pushing requirements that could place new financial burdens on districts.
The Education Department, for its part, now finds itself walking a line between stressing that schools must be aware of their legal obligations under decades-old law to open up all their programs to “reasonable modifications” and not stoking fears that it is overreaching its authority by creating new policy.
The 13-page document from the department’s office for civil rights states that schools must make such modifications wherever possible for students with disabilities seeking to take part in extracurricular sports. In addition, the guidance says schools and districts should consider creating additional opportunities for students with disabilities if their current sports offerings cannot not be reasonably modified.
The National School Boards Association—which, separately, intends to press for federal legislation to curb what it sees as Education Department overreach into local school policy—has yet to take a formal position on the newly issued guidelines.
http://goo.gl/92mSl

A copy of the federal guidance
http://goo.gl/zFrHT (ED)

Youth Org: Students Need Better Sports Safety Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Student athletes need access to health care professionals, better-trained coaches and up-to-date equipment, a coalition of groups recommended Wednesday in a call to action aimed at protecting the nearly 8 million students participating in high school sports each year.
The Youth Sports Safety Alliance of more than 100 groups released the proposed rules, which call for health providers such as athletic trainers or doctors available for every school, warnings about performance-enhancing substances for athletes and the creation of a national registry to track student athlete deaths. The rules also would require schools to have clean and well maintained facilities, and require students to have a physical exam – including testing for concussions – before their season starts.
While many of the requirements are already standard practice in many places, the document being presented Wednesday to lawmakers on Capitol Hill is the first comprehensive and national plan aimed at protecting students who participate on their schools’ teams. The group is urging each state to adopt the “Secondary School Student Athletes’ Bill of Rights.”
http://goo.gl/Q1j2a

Youth Sports Safety Alliance
http://www.youthsportssafetyalliance.org/

Why Can Some Kids Handle Pressure While Others Fall Apart?
New York Times

Noah Muthler took his first state standardized test in third grade at the Spring Cove Elementary School in Roaring Spring, Pa. It was a miserable experience, said his mother, Kathleen Muthler. He was a good student in a program for gifted children. But, Muthler said, “he was crying in my arms the night before the test, saying: ‘I’m not ready, Mom. They didn’t teach us everything that will be on the test.’ ” In fourth grade, he was upset the whole week before the exam. “He manifests it physically,” his mother said. “He got headaches and stomachaches. He would ask not to go to school.” Not a good sleeper anyway, Noah would slip downstairs after an hour tossing in bed and ask his mom to lie down with him until he fell asleep. In fifth grade, the anxiety lasted a solid month before the test. “Even after the test, he couldn’t let it go. He would wonder about questions he feared he misunderstood,” Muthler said.
Multimedia
So this year, Muthler is opting Noah out of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, using a broad religious and ethical exemption. Just knowing he won’t be taking the tests in March has put Noah in a better frame of mind about school. “The pressure is off his shoulders now,” his mother said. When he doesn’t grasp a concept immediately, he can talk it through without any panic. “He looks forward to science class and math class again,” Muthler said. “He wants to be a chemical or nuclear engineer.”
Muthler understands Noah’s distress; more mysterious is why her son Jacob, who is in eighth grade, isn’t the least bit unnerved by the same tests. He, too, is in the gifted program, but that seems to give him breezy confidence, not fear. “You would think he doesn’t even care,” Muthler marveled. “Noah has the panic and anxiety for both of them.” Nevertheless, she will opt out Jacob from the tests, too, to be consistent.
Never before has the pressure to perform on high-stakes tests been so intense or meant so much for a child’s academic future. As more school districts strive for accountability, standardized tests have proliferated. The pressure to do well on achievement tests for college is filtering its way down to lower grades, so that even third graders feel as if they are on trial.
http://goo.gl/v3GX1

Economist says California at risk of losing its educational advantage Ventura County (CA) Star

SACRAMENTO — A senior economist with UCLA’s Anderson Forecast warned lawmakers Tuesday that California is at risk of losing what has long been one of its top economic advantages, a workforce that is better educated than those in other states.
Jerry Nickelsburg told members of an Assembly panel that UCLA forecasters expect national economic growth to slow this year as the result of developments in Washington, D.C., but regain steam next year.
“In 2014, after adjustment to the new tax structure, the U.S. starts growing faster, and California even faster,” he said.
Such a phenomenon has been the historical pattern. “Typically, California will grow faster than the U.S. when the U.S. is growing,” he said.
But Nickelsburg cautioned that risks threaten the continuation of that trend.
http://goo.gl/IYFxg

Gym shoe tax could fund aid for dropouts Chicago Tribune

SPRINGFIELD — Buying a new pair of running shoes in Illinois could cost a quarter more if a measure to tax gym shoes gets traction at the Capitol.
The idea behind the 25-cent shoe tax is to pump more money into programs that help high-school dropouts from low-income homes get jobs in the construction trades or get back on track to attend college.
http://goo.gl/q1wPP

Sony announces education initiative around Xperia Tablet S The electronics giant joins Apple, Dell, Google, and others in hoping to grab a share of the K-12 technology market.
ZDNet

Apple is a long-term leader in marketing its products, including its iPad tablets, to the education community, and Google is making recent inroads with its Chromebooks. Even embattled Dell has courted educators with its Latitude tablets. So it’s perhaps inevitable that Sony wants in on the education market, too.
The company has just launched its K-12 Education Initiative, a complete ecosystem that’s based around its Xperia Tablet S Android slate. As expected, schools would get a discount on tablet purchases, as well as get to join the Sony Education Ambassador (SEA) online community, which features solutions implemented by what Sony describes as “distinguished teachers, IT managers and specialists.”
http://goo.gl/Z8Dq1

Education website criticized
Baton Rouge (LA) Advocate

The state Department of Education’s new website sparked criticism Tuesday from a wide range of groups that rarely agree on public school issues.
The revamped version, which was touted as a way to aid parents and teachers, came under fire mostly for what critics called a lack of easily obtainable and current data on teachers, enrollment, demographics and other issues.
“A lot of people are complaining that it is difficult to find the data,” said Brigitte Nieland, who tracks public school issues for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, which often backs public education overhaul initiatives.
Other critics included officials of the Council for a Better Louisiana, the East Baton Rouge Parish school system and the Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives at Tulane University.
http://goo.gl/PC5o0

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

UEN News
http://www.uen.org

February 6:
Senate Education Committee meeting
8 a.m., 210 Senate Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2013/agenda/SEDU0206.ag.htm

Senate Retirement and Independent Entities Standing Committee meeting
12:10 p.m., 30 House Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2013/agenda/SRIE0206.ag.htm

House Retirement and Independent Entities Standing Committee meeting
12:45 p.m., 30 House Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2013/agenda/HRIE0206.ag.htm

February 7:
Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
8 a.m., State Capitol 445
http://le.utah.gov/Interim/2013/html/00000653.htm

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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