Education News Roundup: Feb. 13, 2013

"Lincoln" by Victoria Pickering/CC/flickr

“Lincoln” by Victoria Pickering/CC/flickr

Today’s Top Picks:

Tax credits for cleaner burning fuels fall for education funding.
http://goo.gl/SVFpP (SLT)

ACT for everyone bill advances.
http://goo.gl/a65C6 (DN)

Utah’s International Baccalaureate program survives a Senate vote.
http://goo.gl/na91G (UP)
and http://goo.gl/jNcPi (KCPW)

Early childhood education takes a spot in the State of the Union speech.
http://goo.gl/olGgI (WaPo)
and http://goo.gl/PUCAS (Ed Week)
and http://goo.gl/nwHwI (Hechinger Report) This news scares Rep. Bishop.
http://goo.gl/zKvqn (SLT)

Participant Media goes all Oprah and announces free DVDs of “Lincoln” for all middle and high schools.
http://goo.gl/rceSN (Time)
and http://goo.gl/JQnTD (Yahoo UK Movies News)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

In clean air vs. ed money, schools win
Politics » If bill isn’t revived, state tax credits for clean-fuel vehicles will expire.

Senate committee advances bill to fund ACT for all students

Utah Preparing for Financial Crisis

International Baccalaureate Degree in Utah Survives Again

Huntsville legislator pushes seismic studies of old schools

Education Task Force Bill Passes in Senate, Sent to House

Anti-bullying bill makes progress
Legislators in support of parent information programs

Utah Legislature Looks at Suicide Prevention Classes for Schools

Ogden lawmaker’s bill focuses on helping children in poverty

Lee turned down giving tea party response to Obama

LCSD talks levy, bond issues: First of two scheduled public meetings sees sparse attendance

Ogden educators hope WSU campus tour plants seeds of a dream

Weber science fair teaches varied skills through research, interaction

AF Chamber honors physics teacher as teacher of the year

Salt Lake City kicks off anti-bullying initiative A bullied child’s mother lauds push to teach kids that tormenting others is socially unacceptable.

Working to make schools safer
Newtown tragedy prompts district to retool security procedures, safety protocols

USDA proposal targets school snacks

Parent looks at school policy
Mother insists student dress code isn’t clear

Hurricane High employees back at school, students sent home

Homemade Valentine’s cookies help student with expenses

Sweetheart princesses chase pigs at Springville High

Downtown Salt Lake City theater funding to use a ‘calculated risk’
Advertised at $110M, total cost with interest on playhouse will be closer to $187 million.

Phone-A-Thon raises $41,000
Park City Education Foundation taking off

Civics Central

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Hair color dispute

The key to education reform will be measurement

Financial Ready Utah

Want to know how well students are learning?

Where Uncle Sam stumbles

School seismic info

Former education commissioner blasts Common Core process

Chemistry, Physics, Biology Groups Respond to Science Standards

Great Teachers Can’t Save America’s Schools In last year’s State of the Union address, the president placed too much importance on individual educators. This year, he should talk about a far deeper problem.

NATION

Obama proposal reflects shift in views on early childhood education

Fact Check: Overreaching In State Of Union Speech

Study: NCLB Waiver Weaken Grad Rate Accountability

Marco Rubio’s school voucher plan shows strong Jeb Bush ties Sen. Marco Rubio’s just-announced educational voucher plan for poor kids shows he wants to talk about more than immigration and that his relationship with Gov. Jeb Bush is solid.

Schools Set Boundaries for Use of Students’ Digital Devices Crafting smart policies outlining privileges and restrictions will help keep schools on track for responsible yet dynamic use of student-owned digital devices for learning

State Wants Wider Control of Its Schools

Dads Weigh In On Why Boys Fall Behind

Bill to arm school employees passes committee

Bill passes that would end electing school superintendents

Teacher absenteeism puts students at a loss

Math Rebels Invade Estonia With Computerized Education

Schools rethink perfect attendance awards in bad flu season

An Anniversary Celebration: Lincoln DVDs For U.S. Schools

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UTAH NEWS
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In clean air vs. ed money, schools win
Politics » If bill isn’t revived, state tax credits for clean-fuel vehicles will expire.

In a battle Tuesday over whether to spend money on cleaner air or education, schools won. That means some current tax credits could soon end for vehicles that use cleaner-burning fuels, such as compressed natural gas, propane or electricity.
HB96 to extend those credits for another five years was killed, for now, on a 7-8 vote in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee.
Fiscal analysts figured the bill would cost an extra $2.3 million by 2015 — all coming out of education funds financed by income taxes. That’s because the bill would not just simply extend current credits, but also expand them a bit. Credits are due to expire on Dec. 31 unless they are extended.
http://goo.gl/SVFpP (SLT)

Senate committee advances bill to fund ACT for all students

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill to fund the ACT for all high school students, as well as create an online program for college test preparation, unanimously passed the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, would clear up the language in state statute, establishing a requirement for all students to take a college readiness test and provide ongoing funding for the test’s administration.
Stephenson said states that have already implemented universal ACT testing policies have seen substantial benefits. He said students who struggle in their coursework have been surprised and inspired by their ACT scores, which often motivates them to consider a college education.
http://goo.gl/a65C6 (DN)

Utah Preparing for Financial Crisis

A new group of legislators, CPAs, businessmen and local government leaders launched a new organization Tuesday aimed at getting the state and local governments and school boards ready to face the upcoming cutbacks in federal aid funds.
As reported previously by UtahPolicy, Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, is one of the new financial-crisis organizers, a follow-up effort from his original fiscal warning bill of two years ago.
http://goo.gl/aRREL (UP)

http://goo.gl/e4U1Z (SLT)

http://goo.gl/44zqO (DN)

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

http://goo.gl/ngdD1 (KUER)

International Baccalaureate Degree in Utah Survives Again

Well, the International Baccalaureate degrees in Skyline, West and other top Utah high schools are safe for another day.
Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, who has been against IB for several years, tried Tuesday to eliminate the degree by amending a higher education scholarship bill before the Senate.
Her amendment failed on a voice vote.
But not before Dayton said that IB’s international foundation charter speaks of a “one world government and disarmament.”
Dayton said any number of Utahns won’t allow their children to be in IB because of its un-American ideals.
And thus those smart kids can only take AP or other advanced high school student degrees, thus disadvantaging them in getting college scholarships and other advantages that go to IB “one world government” kind of students.
http://goo.gl/na91G (UP)

http://goo.gl/jNcPi (KCPW)

Huntsville legislator pushes seismic studies of old schools

SALT LAKE CITY — A local lawmaker’s bill forcing school districts to conduct a seismic study on old school buildings in the event of a bond election to build new structures will get a second chance in the House.
A day after HB 278, sponsored by Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, failed to get the needed 38 votes by one vote, an effort by Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, to bring the issue back to the floor for another review was approved.
Briscoe said he found his vote on the bill was recorded differently than he intended.
http://goo.gl/UJHsN (OSE)

Education Task Force Bill Passes in Senate, Sent to House

A bill that would create a task force to improve financial literacy education in Utah schools passed the Senate this morning and will be sent to the House for final consideration. The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Senator Patricia W. Jones of Salt Lake, says that the task force would help to focus existing programs to make students better understand practical financial concepts.
“Senate Bill 43 tightens up financial and economic literacy programs in K-12 in our schools and would create a state office of education task force so that our students can learn important things having to do with the economy and financial literacy in our schools,” she said.
If Senate Bill 43 passes, the task force it creates would be made up of representatives from the State Board of Education, school districts, charter schools and private or public organizations that teach financial education.
http://goo.gl/F4lMB (KCPW)

Anti-bullying bill makes progress
Legislators in support of parent information programs

A surge in the number anti-bullying and suicide prevention organizations has spread across the state, and legislators are looking to share these messages on a broader scale. In Provo, the HOPE Task Force works with teenagers contemplating suicide or suffering from depression. In the Salt Lake and Canyons School District, raising awareness among parents of cyber-bullying is becoming a top priority. And of course in Park City, the Anti-Bullying Coalition is hard at work raising awareness and implementing programs to stem all forms of bullying and create a safer school atmosphere for students.
So when Rep. Steve Elaison (R-Sandy) re-introduced a bill aiming to implement more awareness programs for parents, it was received well from fellow Utah legislators. Passing in the House last week, the bill is currently undergoing readings in the Utah Senate.
http://goo.gl/9wcf1 (PR)

Utah Legislature Looks at Suicide Prevention Classes for Schools

The Utah Legislature is in session and that can mean many things to many people; often encouraging and often discouraging, depending on one’s perspective. But one bill moving through the legislative process that is akin to making sausage certainly cannot be controversial for most.
HB298 was passed out of the House yesterday and currently resides with the Senate Rules Committee, which has heard a first reading http://goo.gl/GhOcY  (Legal Examiner)

Ogden lawmaker’s bill focuses on helping children in poverty

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill aimed at targeting children victimized by intergenerational poverty has moved one step closer to reality.
SB 53, sponsored by Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, was given a favorable recommendation Tuesday by a House committee and will now advance to the full House. The measure has already cleared the Senate.
The bill calls for five state agencies to work cooperatively. It calls for the formation of a commission and advisory group, which will review data about the estimated 50,000 to 70,000 kids caught in the welfare/poverty cycle and will then suggest possible interventions.
http://goo.gl/g6VOk (OSE)

Lee turned down giving tea party response to Obama

Washington • Sen. Mike Lee turned down a chance to give the Tea Party Express’ counter to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech, though it’s clear the Utah Republican would have offered a much different take than the president.

Lee wasn’t the only one who panned the president’s speech.

Rep. Rob Bishop, who watched from home, praised Obama for mentioning the significance of families but there were other parts Bishop didn’t like.
“Some things actually scared the crap out of me,” Bishop, a former school teacher, said in noting the president’s call for preschool for all. “The education part especially brings chills to my bones when I think what that could be.”
http://goo.gl/zKvqn (SLT)

LCSD talks levy, bond issues: First of two scheduled public meetings sees sparse attendance

Attendance was weak at the first of two informational public meetings conducted by the Logan City School District Board of Education on Tuesday night to discuss the proposed voted local levy and bond election, both of which could be on the November ballot. Out of the 22 people in attendance, only 13 were members of the general public, the rest being either board members or district employees.
The voted local levy, previously referred to as a voted leeway, would be instituted to help generate funds to help the district with Prosperity 2020, an ambitious plan issued by Gov. Gary Herbert to have 66 percent of the Utah workforce have either a college degree or a skilled trade certificate by the year 2020.
http://goo.gl/HomgJ (LHJ)

Ogden educators hope WSU campus tour plants seeds of a dream

OGDEN — About 450 fifth- and sixth-graders from Ogden School District got a taste of college life Monday, and they loved every minute of it.
The Ogden School Foundation partnered with Weber State University to give the students a look at what the university is all about.
After their regular school day, students from Dee, T. O. Smith, Lincoln and Bonneville elementary schools boarded buses and met in WSU’s union building, where they were met by a huge pep rally complete with the WSU cheerleaders, Waldo, the spirit squad and the school’s athletic director.
From there students took an 18-stop tour, visiting different parts of the campus.
http://goo.gl/g9oWK (OSE)

Weber science fair teaches varied skills through research, interaction

OGDEN — Kinley Krebs and Hannah Killpack assumed male mice would have a better sense of direction, what with providing for their mates and pups.
But the results of the girls’ science fair project proved otherwise.
“The two boy mice started faster, but the two girl mice got faster later, and they were the fastest,” said Hannah, 14, who attends Harrisville’s Orion Junior High School with her friend.
“We also learned that females are independent, and the males don’t take care of them at all,” said Kinley, 14.
Ten Weber County schools participated in the senior science fair Tuesday at Weber State University. About 190 students, in ninth through 12th grades, did 154 research projects and displayed their information, techniques and findings on trifold poster boards.
http://goo.gl/khWiA (OSE)

AF Chamber honors physics teacher as teacher of the year

Imagine the start of a high school football playoff game, and the home team’s high school physics club is in charge of the kick off. That’s what happened two years ago when Lone Peak High School’s physics club members kicked off the start of the first playoff game by launching a football with a huge trebuchet that they had built.
That’s the kind of real-world application that Tom Erekson teaches his physics students. His innovative approach to help students see physics everywhere and apply what they learn in class is one of many reasons Erekson was recognized by the American Fork Area Chamber of Commerce as Teacher of the Year at Lone Peak earlier this month.
http://goo.gl/yehSC (PDH)

Salt Lake City kicks off anti-bullying initiative A bullied child’s mother lauds push to teach kids that tormenting others is socially unacceptable.

Imagine what the world would be like without bullying.
“This is an issue that will take all our efforts,” said Salt Lake City Councilman Charlie Luke at Tuesday’s kickoff of an anti-bullying initiative sponsored by a coalition of public and private partners.
“We know bullying is a problem, but what can we do about it? People don’t know where to turn,” Luke said. “That’s why we’ve organized the anti-bullying initiative.”
Resources to combat bullying are now available at flipthescriptnow.org/slc. The goal is to make bullying socially unacceptable, Luke said.
http://goo.gl/FgqPN (SLT)

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

http://goo.gl/cBcDO (KCPW)

http://goo.gl/K0Wu3 (KUER)

Working to make schools safer
Newtown tragedy prompts district to retool security procedures, safety protocols

Less than 1 percent of homicides among school-age children occur at school or on the way to or from school, according to a U.S. Center for Disease Control study.
However, the grisly December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., which resulted in the deaths of 20 young students and six educators, has prompted local parents and school staff to rethink safety and security procedures.
Following the shooting at the Connecticut school, Terry Linares, Tooele County School District superintendent, directed all principals to review safety protocols with their staff http://goo.gl/KvXHz (TTB)

USDA proposal targets school snacks

WASHINGTON — Federal rules have taken aim at implementing more healthy food choices in America’s schools, first with school lunches and now school snacks.
A new USDA proposal focuses on snacks sold in schools, and it spawns from the 2010 Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act, which overhauled the nutritional makeup of regular school meals.
Luann Elliot, director of children nutrition programs at the Utah State Office of Education, said the proposal covers all food sold on school campuses, except concessions during games and events.
http://goo.gl/HIAol (KSL)

Parent looks at school policy
Mother insists student dress code isn’t clear

ST. GEORGE — Washington County School Board members met Tuesday to discuss spending priorities for projects and possible boundary changes, as well as hear public comment regarding school dress code policies.
Amy Mackay, mother of Hurricane Middle School student Rylee Mackay, addressed the board during public comment regarding the removal of her daughter from class for dying her hair red.
Rylee MacKay was taken out of class Feb. 6 after Vice Principal Jan Goodwin told her that her hair looked purple and pink in the sunlight and would be distracting to other students.
Amy Mackay asked the school board members to consider an addition or change to the district’s current school dress code, which indicates that hair colors that range outside the natural spectrum will not be allowed in schools. Mackay added that her daughter’s hair did not appear to be outside that natural range and felt like subjective judgment was used to make the decision.
Rylee did return to school Monday after making no changes to her hair color, aside from the normal routine washing, Mackay said.
http://goo.gl/LCZeK (SGS)

http://goo.gl/E2W0y (Christian Post)

Hurricane High employees back at school, students sent home

Students at Hurricane High School were evacuated at approximately 11:45 a.m. Tuesday after construction workers working on an addition to the school ruptured a 3-inch gas line.
Craig Hammer, Washington County School District maintenance supervisor, said construction workers struck the gas line at the street just east of the school.
“We had to dismiss school because they wouldn’t get (the gas line) fixed in time,” Hammer said. “Students are either walking home or are on the bus. Those with cars in the parking lot will have to wait until Hurricane Valley Fire Department clears (the scene).”
http://goo.gl/BYty  (SGS)

http://goo.gl/AziHf (SGN)

http://goo.gl/7ZYra (KUTV)

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

Homemade Valentine’s cookies help student with expenses

PAYSON — At the beginning of February, for the past four years, the phone calls, emails and Facebook messages start coming in to Miranda Hyer from people who are ready to place orders for her homemade Valentine’s cookies. Hyer’s younger brothers also start their trek around the neighborhood passing out fliers to help get the word out that it is time to order the popular Hyer Valentine’s cookies.
Six years ago, Hyer began playing accelerated baseball on a Payson-based team. She knew it would be costly, and coming from a large family she thought it would be nice if she could help out and pay for some of the expenses. Little did she know, she would go from making and selling 100 cookies in 2008 — her first year — to 250 in 2009 and this February taking orders for more than 1,215 sugar cookies.
http://goo.gl/SkdIq (PDH)

Sweetheart princesses chase pigs at Springville High

SPRINGVILLE — The first event of the Springville High School sweetheart competition week required stamina, cunningness and agility. It’s not easy to get a pig to race around orange cones in the school parking lot.
Seventeen girls, who had been nominated by their classmates, came ready to compete in the pig chase. The pigs are being raised as an FFA project at the high school to be competitors themselves. The pink, tan and black cross-breeds currently weigh about 140 pounds, but in May when they participate in the Spanish Fork stock show they will be closer to 250 pounds.
http://goo.gl/uof0p (PDH)

Downtown Salt Lake City theater funding to use a ‘calculated risk’
Advertised at $110M, total cost with interest on playhouse will be closer to $187 million.

It’s not exactly a gamble. Call it a calculated risk.
The unveiling of the design for the proposed Utah Performing Arts Center is a month or two away, with construction to begin in January 2014. But Tuesday, the Salt Lake City Council was still working to fine-tune financing for the $110 million playhouse.
The funding aspect in play is called a “Community Development Area” or CDA. If everything goes as planned, the CDA will bring in $33 million for the theater project over a 25-year period from 2016 to 2040.
While it has been advertised as a $110 million project, the total cost of the mega theater, including interest on the debt, will be closer to $187 million if interest rates were to remain where they are today, about 4.5 percent, according to council budgetary projections.
The debt will be retired by a combination of funding mechanisms, including $15 million in private investment — most notably naming rights.
A CDA is a redevelopment tool much like a redevelopment area, where increased property tax revenues from the increased value of the developed property — known as increment financing — go to the redevelopment agency. In a CDA, however, the redevelopment agency board cannot exercise eminent domain.

Both Salt Lake County and the Salt Lake City School District have signed onto the plan that gives Salt Lake City 70 percent of the increment financing over 25 years. The council’s vote next week will make that official.
http://goo.gl/B0rsd (SLT)

Phone-A-Thon raises $41,000
Park City Education Foundation taking off

Hordes of volunteers made call after call more than 130 in total all in support of the Park City Education Foundation. The annual Phone-A-Thon, an event where volunteers call Park City parents asking for donations for the nonprofit, raised more than $41,000 in a single week including several matching grants from local businesses. And that is not counting the continuing pledged donations coming in through their website.
From high school clubs to principals to parents, volunteers helped raise funds for PCEEF. The donations will reach students in every school in the school district through grant programs. Along with the Phone-A-Thon event, the nonprofit also raised $28,000 with Beat the Call, an additional annual event preceding the phone drive a last opportunity to give before the drive begins.
http://goo.gl/3CWBl (PR)

Civics Central

Here’s your weekly roundup of what local city councils, school boards and other government entities are tackling during regularly scheduled meetings. All meetings are open to the public, and citizens are welcome to voice their opinions during designated times. If you do wish to speak at a particular meeting, you may need to sign up in advance.
South Weber City Council • Will consider creating a scholarship program for Northridge High School students; Tuesday, Feb. 12, 6 p.m., 1600 E. South Weber Drive, South Weber. View the South Weber agenda.
http://goo.gl/HZ4bj (SLT)

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Hair color dispute
(St. George) Spectrum editorial

Teachers and administrators have difficult jobs. They not only are tasked with instructing children on important skills they will need to succeed in life, but they have to cope with a wide variety of social issues that impact students.
Those latter tasks are especially difficult when talking about middle school and high school students. The teenage years can be turbulent for many reasons, and that means the people working with those students face the same drama on a daily basis.
That’s why it’s important for teachers and administrators to pick their battles. It would appear that administrators at Hurricane Middle School didn’t choose wisely when dealing with a dispute over a student’s hair color.
http://goo.gl/EWG7L

The key to education reform will be measurement Deseret News op-ed by Timothy R. Clark, CEO of TRClark LLC, a management consulting and leadership development organization

The biggest challenges in education are access, quality and cost. But that’s going to change. In the next decade, I predict the key to comprehensive reform will be our ability to measure actual learning.
Education is a process. It has inputs such as teachers, content and curriculum, resources, and, of course, students. The inputs interact and create outputs. Today, we rely heavily on inputs as substitutes for outputs that we don’t measure well. For example, we say a school is good if it has good teachers. Teachers are an input. In reality, we don’t know if a teacher is good unless we have an output measure of learning to confirm it. We make a lot of spurious assumptions.
The infinite scalability of the Internet allows access to the best content and the best teachers in the world. All you need is a smart device and Internet access.
http://goo.gl/CXDSZ

Financial Ready Utah
Utah Senate Site commentary

Today, the accountants pulled the fire alarm.
What do we do when nearly 40 cents of every dollar spent in Utah comes from a federal government which is borrowing and printing more than 40 cents of every dollar themselves? What do we do when the problem seems overwhelming and we are drifting toward the most predictable economic crisis in history ?
We step up, and change our circumstance.
http://goo.gl/BeNMm

Want to know how well students are learning?
Commentary by Charter Solutions President Lincoln Fillmore

Then we need a uniform, consistent, widely used assessment to find out.
A bill that would fund the ACT college entrance exam for all high school students is moving through the legislature. That’s great. It’s insufficient.
The rest of Utah’s student assessment system, a morass called UCAS that includes Criterion-Referenced Tests that doesn’t track student growth over time, is ineffective.
Utah should scrap its CRTs in favor of a nationally-norm referenced test that students take each year.
http://goo.gl/zCrEq

Where Uncle Sam stumbles
Deseret News commentary by columnist Mary McConnell

Sorry – I had planned to post the second part of this sooner, but I took a break to get my gall bladder yanked out. Not fun.
At any rate, Rick Hess and Andrew Kelly conclude their article by talking about some of the ways the feds stumble when they try to reform K-12 education.
http://goo.gl/eUgWj

School seismic info
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Barry Welliver

When we walk into a school classroom, most of us judge whether the kids are cramped or the space is too hot. How often do we ask whether the building can withstand an earthquake?
It’s not a silly question. If a school’s seismic status is left unknown, we will regret that we didn’t treat the status as more important should the building fail in an earthquake.
HB278, which has stalled in the Utah House, chips away at the mandate to reveal whether a school building is safe by requiring districts to submit seismic reports on buildings constructed before 1975 — but only if the district is issuing new bonds (“Seismic study bill moves to full House,” Tribune, Feb. 6).
http://goo.gl/7xAKN

Former education commissioner blasts Common Core process Washington Post commentary by columnist Valerie Strauss

A year ago, Robert Scott, then the commissioner of education in Texas, shook up the ed world when he said that standardized test-based accountability had led to a “perversion” of what a quality education should be. He’s no longer the Texas commissioner, but Scott is still worth listening to. He just gave a speech to Georgia legislators in which he detailed how he was pressured to sign on to the Common Core Standards before they were written.
The standards in English language arts and math have been adopted by nearly all of the states and the District of Columbia, and implementation is under way, along with the creation of aligned standardized tests. But there has been some push-back in states that signed on to the standards, including in Alabama, where officials just decided to withdraw from the two consortia developing the tests. Common Core critics are also pushing some state legislatures to abandon the standards.
Scott’s comments last week before the Georgia General Assembly Joint Meeting of the House and Senate Education Committee speak to the concerns of some Common Core critics who say the standards were written without sufficient public input.
http://goo.gl/ImS3y

Chemistry, Physics, Biology Groups Respond to Science Standards Education Week commentary by columnist Erik Robelen

Does chemistry get enough attention in the latest draft of common science standards? Are the performance expectations for students clearly written and easy to understand? And what about this whole business of integrating engineering across science disciplines?
These are a few of the issues raised by reviewers from several content-specific groups I recently contacted, including the American Chemical Society, the American Physical Society, and the National Association of Biology Teachers. All found things to like and some areas for concern.
A second and final public draft of the standards came out last month, with the final product expected in March. The standards are being developed by 26 “lead state partners” in collaboration with experts in science and science education.
http://goo.gl/tx18B

Great Teachers Can’t Save America’s Schools In last year’s State of the Union address, the president placed too much importance on individual educators. This year, he should talk about a far deeper problem.
Atlantic commentary by GERALD GRAFF AND STEVE BENTON (Gerald Graff is a professor of English and education at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the author of Clueless in Academe: How Schooling Obscures The Life of the Mind. Steve Benton is the director of the honors program at East Central University, where he is an assistant professor of English and languages.)

Everybody loves a great teacher. When a student crosses paths with one, the influence can reverberate well beyond the last day of school. In last year’s State of the Union address, President Obama informed us that a “good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000,” a claim supported by a widely reported study by economists at Harvard and Columbia universities.
But by focusing too heavily on the teachers themselves, Obama may have missed an opportunity to bring out a far deeper problem. In this year’s address, he should focus on the disconnected and muddled curriculum that does more damage to our schools and colleges than bad teachers do.
Getting better teachers in the classrooms may be the mantra of the moment, but no matter how wonderful some teachers may be, their work will be consistently undermined if they aren’t teaching out of the same playbook. When they are not, students receive confusingly mixed messages about the do’s and don’ts of academic practices. This leaves them profoundly confused about the intellectual work they are expected to do.
http://goo.gl/nzKhn

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Obama proposal reflects shift in views on early childhood education Washington Post

President Obama’s call for universal preschool in his State of the Union address underlines a national shift in thinking about early childhood education, driven by advances in neuroscience and a growing urgency about the need to close the achievement gap between poor and privileged children.
A small but increasing number of states have invested tax dollars in preschool during the past decade, and millions of parents are walking their 3- and 4-year-old children into classrooms instead of keeping them at home or with a babysitter.
Much of this new emphasis stems from research about the developing brains of young children.
http://goo.gl/olGgI

http://goo.gl/PUCAS (Ed Week)

http://goo.gl/nwHwI (Hechinger Report)

Fact Check: Overreaching In State Of Union Speech Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama did some cherry-picking Tuesday night in defense of his record on jobs and laid out a conditional path to citizenship for illegal immigrants that may be less onerous than he made it sound.
A look at some of the claims in his State of the Union speech, a glance at the Republican counterargument and how they fit with the facts:

OBAMA: “Study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road. … And for poor kids who need help the most, this lack of access to preschool education can shadow them for the rest of their lives. … Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than $7 later on – by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime.”
THE FACTS: Dozens of studies have shown Head Start graduates are more likely to complete high school than their at-risk peers who don’t participate in the program. But a study last year by the Department of Health and Human Services that found big vocabulary and social development gains for at-risk students in pre-kindergarten programs also found those effects largely faded by the time pupils reached third grade. The report didn’t explain why the kids saw a drop-off in performance or predict how they would fare as they aged.
http://goo.gl/adNnG

Study: NCLB Waiver Weaken Grad Rate Accountability Associated Press

Many states granted waivers from the No Child Left Behind law are relaxing or ignoring federal regulations designed to hold schools accountable for the number of students who graduate from high school on time, according to a new study released Tuesday.
When No Child Left Behind was signed into law in 2002, states used so many different ways to calculate graduation rates it was almost impossible to know how many students in the U.S. finished high school with a regular diploma in four years.
The U.S. Department of Education tried to fix that in 2008 when it established federal requirements for reporting and holding schools accountable for how many students graduate. But now, with 34 states and the District of Columbia granted waivers from No Child Left Behind, some are relaxing or ignoring some of those requirements, potentially allowing low-performing students to fall through the cracks once again.
The Alliance for Excellent Education, a D.C.-based policy organization started by former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise, studied the waivers granted to each state and concluded that only a few states are fully complying with the federal graduation accountability requirements.
http://goo.gl/RN68D

A copy of the report
http://www.all4ed.org/files/ESEAWaivers.pdf

Marco Rubio’s school voucher plan shows strong Jeb Bush ties Sen. Marco Rubio’s just-announced educational voucher plan for poor kids shows he wants to talk about more than immigration and that his relationship with Gov. Jeb Bush is solid.
Miami Herald

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio immediately followed his rebuttal to the president’s State of the Union address Tuesday night by releasing a “school-choice” bill to allow taxpayers to subsidize private-school education for poor kids.
By putting legislation where his mouth is, Rubio wanted to reinforce the theme of his speech — that conservative policy is good for the poor and working class.
The legislation, which revolves around tax credits, also makes good on a 2010 Rubio campaign pledge, and reinforces his strong ties to former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, his friend and mentor whose nonprofit education foundation helped shape the legislation.
Bush passed a similar school-choice voucher program in 2001, which Rubio voted for while he served in the Florida House.
If Florida’s experience is any measure, though, Democrats, teacher unions and some church-and-state separatists will oppose the scholarship-voucher program, saying it indirectly uses tax money to fund private, and often religious education.
http://goo.gl/TpRGy

Schools Set Boundaries for Use of Students’ Digital Devices Crafting smart policies outlining privileges and restrictions will help keep schools on track for responsible yet dynamic use of student-owned digital devices for learning Education Week

Administrators in the Forsyth County, Ga., schools say the district’s “bring your own device” initiative, unveiled in spring 2010, has accelerated student learning more than would have been possible with a 1-to-1 computing program alone.
“When you have the same kind of device and software, you wind up with teachers’ doing what they’ve always been doing, except decorating it up with technology,” says Jill Hobson, the director of instructional technology for the 39,000-student district. With BYOD, which encourages students to bring their own technology devices to school, “it’s not really possible to keep doing the same thing,” she explains, “because the technologies aren’t all the same. It requires a change in strategy.”
BYOD initiatives are emerging in an increasing number of school districts around the country. Proponents hail them as an economical way to adopt hardware under tight budget constraints, a gateway to higher and more innovative student achievement, and a better way to serve the individual learning styles of students with special needs.
But the approach raises questions and poses potential problems. What will be the infrastructure upgrades and support necessary to handle multiple points of entry at different access levels with a mix of devices? Will teachers and parents be on board? How do schools deal with equity issues?
http://goo.gl/yBaoX

State Wants Wider Control of Its Schools Wall Street Journal

State leaders in Michigan are again looking to expand an education initiative that takes poor-performing schools out of local hands and bands them together in a single statewide district with a less-structured curriculum and a nonunion workforce.
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder launched the Education Achievement Authority last September, empowering it to take over 15 schools in Detroit, where the state runs the district through an emergency manager. Those schools, with 10,000 students, were absorbed by the EAA and now operate under a longer day and extended school year. The district has attracted attention from the White House, which selected the EAA as one of 61 finalists in its Race to the Top contest for federal funding, which ultimately was awarded to 16 other applicants.
Expanding the authority to bring schools into the district throughout the state is now a top priority for Mr. Snyder; he and his allies in the legislature failed to advance an EAA bill during a lame-duck session in December amid opposition from advocates of local control.
http://goo.gl/TYSu9

Dads Weigh In On Why Boys Fall Behind
NPR Tell Me More

Host Michel Martin continues the conversation about why boys fall behind in school. She speaks with a group of parents and experts: author Christina Hoff Sommers, New York University education professor Pedro Noguera, University of Virginia Dean Bob Pianta, and Glenn Ivey, father of five boys.
http://goo.gl/nNhE3

Bill to arm school employees passes committee Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A bill that would allow school districts to arm employees gained the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee’s approval Tuesday.
House Bill 35, introduced by Rep. Paul Battles, R-Cartersville, would give local school boards the authority to designate any number of employees to carry concealed weapons. The bill would provide some training criteria but largely leaves the decision-making on such issues to the local school boards, Battles said. The person or people appointed to carry firearms would have to obtain a weapons carry permit in addition to meeting other requirements, such as undergoing a background check.
The move is voluntary, and school districts are not required to participate.
http://goo.gl/7S43A

Bill passes that would end electing school superintendents Associated Press via Mississippi Business Journal

JACKSON — State senators want to end the election of local school superintendents, raise the requirements for becoming a teacher and limit the state’s ability to take over schools in Mississippi.
The state Senate has passed bills to do all three. Each bill goes to the House for more debate.
http://goo.gl/Kpmwg

Teacher absenteeism puts students at a loss USA Today

New research suggests that teacher absenteeism is becoming problematic in U.S. public schools, as about one in three teachers miss more than 10 days of school each year. The nation’s improving economic picture may also worsen absenteeism as teachers’ fears ease that they’ll lose their job over taking too many sick days, researchers say.
First-ever figures from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, compiled in 2012, also show that in a few states, nearly half of teachers miss more than 10 days in a typical 180-day school year.
http://goo.gl/5pS0a

A copy of the report
http://goo.gl/IN3Iu (Center for American Progress)

Math Rebels Invade Estonia With Computerized Education Wired

Computerbasedmath.org — the radical mathematics education reform organization — has its first guinea pig: Estonia.
Computerbasedmath.org was founded by Conrad Wolfram, the brother of Stephen Wolfram, the man who created the Mathematica software platform and the Wolfram Alpha search engine. The organization wants students to use computers to explore mathematical concepts instead of having kids spend time solving quadratic equations or factoring polynomials. The aim is to provide a deeper understanding of the material, rather than rote memorization of the steps required to solve problems.
And the project will get started in the nation of Estonia, the former Soviet republic that sits on the Baltic Sea.
http://goo.gl/V2AO9

Schools rethink perfect attendance awards in bad flu season NBC Today Show

Round Meadow Elementary School gives awards to the handful of students who make it through an entire school year with a perfect attendance record – that means no absences, no tardies, and no early sign-outs. (No exceptions.)
But the school, in Hidden Hills, Calif., may change its policy for the 2013-14 school year, says principal Jeremy Resnick. The flu has hit students and staff hard this year, and he doesn’t want to encourage kids to come to school, or their parents to send them, when they have a potentially contagious disease.
Despite automated phone calls reminding parents that their children should stay home if they have a fever, vomiting or diarrhea, “we think there are probably people who are sending their kids to school when they shouldn’t,” he says.
That’s one of the reasons many schools ditched that type of award because of the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, says Andrea Vazzana, a child and adolescent psychologist at the NYU Langone Medical Center.
http://goo.gl/NlyNt

An Anniversary Celebration: Lincoln DVDs For U.S. Schools Time

The 204th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln—16th President and Great Emancipator—is certainly worthy of celebration, and it looks like a lot of people are invited. Specifically, middle- and high-school students in the United States.
Participant Media announced yesterday evening, Feb. 11, that Lincoln’s birthday would mark an educational campaign that would include distributing DVDs of the movie Lincoln to every middle and high school, private and public, in the U.S.
Participant’s social-action arm, TakePart, is orchestrating the campaign “Stand Tall: Live Like Lincoln” and will today screen the movie in eight U.S. towns called Lincoln: Lincoln, Ark.; Lincoln City, Ind.; Lincoln, Kan.; Lincoln, Mich.; Lincoln, Missouri; Lincoln, Mont.; Lincoln, N.D. and Lincoln, N.M. The next step will be screenings in March at schools called Lincoln High.
http://goo.gl/rceSN

http://goo.gl/JQnTD (Yahoo UK Movies News)

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

UEN News
http://www.uen.org

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

House Retirement & Independent Entities Committee meeting
12:10 p.m., 30 House Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2013/agenda/HRIE0213.ag.htm

House Education Committee meeting
2 p.m., 30 House Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2013/agenda/HEDU0213.ag.htm

Senate Government Operations Committee meeting
4:11 p.m., 415 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/~2013/agenda/SGOP0213.ag.htm

February 14:
Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
8 a.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/Interim/2013/html/00001027.htm

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

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

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