Education News Roundup: Feb. 15, 2013

"Research Posters"

“Research Posters”

Today’s Top Picks:

Note: ENR will be doing something either Washingtonesque or Lincolnesque (if he’s feeling energetic, maybe both) on Monday. The roundup will return Tuesday.

Senate Education Committee approves local spending bill. (SLT)

Man behind the felons-on-school-boards bill speaks at committee hearing. (SLT)
and (DN)

Full Senate is OK with the International Baccalaureate Program. (SLT)
and (OSE)

Duchesne District won’t change its gun policy. (Uintah Basin Standard)

Provo District figuring out how to cut costs. (PDH)

AP looks at the effect of sequester on schools. (AP)

Stateline looks at how states — including Utah — are regulating online education. (Stateline)

Ed Week looks at guns in the classroom across the U.S., including Utah. (Ed Week)

Have you seen that commercial set in a classroom with a bunch of kids and one kid there through the use of a robot? Here’s the background. (AP)



Bill that would give school principals more budgeting power advances Education » Bill proposes school districts send at least 85% of state dollars directly to schools.

Man behind controversy adds voice to sex offender bill

Utah Senate OKs bill to weigh International Baccalaureate work in scholarships Education » SB100 now moves to the House.

Bill to charge high school students for concurrent credit passes House committee

Bill creating parent seminars on bullying, suicide moves forward

Duchesne school board holsters change to gun policy

Provo district tightening finances

Cache County considers 1 or 2 new high schools

Nebo school board appoints Springville woman to replace Oldroyd

Classroom Flipping: Altering How Teachers Teach

AFHS student breaks rules, unites school

Sandy dad spearheads effort to get fathers inside schools

Students reach out to others with service

Cache Valley students enjoy etiquette tradition each Valentine’s Day

Students serve lunch ladies in Valentine’s Day twist

Salem Hills students have good showing at leadership event

Snow Canyon High finalist in contest
Online voting could help school win $110,000

Art education: ‘Evening of Educators, ‘Art in the Sun Conference’

Teen’s cookies help family pay for sports, college

South Weber sets up scholarship program

Charity donates AED to Utah schools; helps children with heart disease

Canyons School District accepting preschool applications

Alpine district to start school two days early this fall

Residents can vote for name of new middle school in Herriman

Success in math starts early: New study shows kids who are behind in first grade don’t catch up


Seismic matter

Weber School District band concert outstanding

Universal pre-school not the solution
The stark truth is that pre-school can’t “work “unless kindergarten, first and second grade and all of the other grades do. And so far they don’t.

We owe our kids universal pre-school
We can all agree that our students need to be more, not less, prepared for life and for the workforce.

Testing Integrity Symposium
Issues and Recommendations for Best Practice


Budget Cut Impact: Smaller Navy, Fired Teachers

Conservatives Skeptical of Expanding Preschool

States Struggle To Keep Online Schools Accountable

Charter schools put parents to the test

The new U.S. visa rush: Build a charter school, get a green card

Obama honors six educators killed in Newtown massacre

Armed Educators a Reality in Some Schools, Debated in Others

NYC Teachers’ Pension Fund Divests From Gun Makers

My Classmate, The Robot: NY Pupil Attends Remotely

Common Core Faces Fierce Foes in Two Indiana Moms

‘Big Three’ Publishers Rethink K-12 Strategies

R.I. Students Gaining ‘Badges,’ Credits Outside School

Opponents Denounce Call For Anti-gay Prom In IND.

Mom accused in Withrow fight defends her actions


Bill that would give school principals more budgeting power advances Education » Bill proposes school districts send at least 85% of state dollars directly to schools.

A bill that would change the way schools are funded gained committee approval Thursday, despite some lawmakers’ concerns that it might be too dramatic of a switch from the current system.
The Senate Education Committee voted 6-1 to advance SB110 to the Senate floor after about an hour and a half of debate. The bill would force school districts to send at least 85 percent of state dollars received directly to schools. That money would have to be distributed based on student needs, and local principals would be charged with preparing their own school budgets for district approval. (SLT)

Man behind controversy adds voice to sex offender bill

A bill to bar child sex offenders from running for school boards inched closer to becoming law Thursday despite testimony, for the first time, from the man who generated the controversy in the first place.
Nearly two weeks after Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, first introduced HB64 in a hearing, Richard Wagner Jones added his voice to the debate Thursday. Jones, who spent five years in prison and 10 years on probation after a 1990 second-degree felony conviction of sexual abuse of a child, ran for a seat on the Granite School District board last fall.
He lost, but outrage over his candidacy inspired Moss to run HB64, she said. (SLT) (DN)

Utah Senate OKs bill to weigh International Baccalaureate work in scholarships Education » SB100 now moves to the House.

After a heated debate, the Utah Senate approved a bill Friday allowing the Board of Regents to give weighted consideration to credits earned by high school students in the International Baccalaureate program.
SB100 passed 21-7 with one absence and now goes to the Utah House.
Considered a cleanup measure to tighten requirements for students using state-sponsored college scholarships, the bill sparked debate Thursday on wording that would allow the Regents to weigh IB courses like Advanced Placement classes.
Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, who has previously called IB program “anti-American,” said Friday it requires school districts to give up “local control, state control and national control.”
“It’s expensive and it’s an international contract,” she said. The program, which is designed to prepare students for global careers, is based in Switzerland.
But Sen. Patricia Jones, R-Holladay, disagreed and said parents rely on the demanding coursework to challenge their children.
“Really the crux of this program is to teach creativity and creative thinking skills,” Jones said. (SLT) (OSE)

Bill to charge high school students for concurrent credit passes House committee

SALT LAKE CITY — High school students will see the costs of concurrent enrollment courses rise in the future if a bill advanced Thursday by the House Education Committee becomes law.
SB162, sponsored by Sen. Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George, cleans up the language in a law that was passed last year but never implemented due to a series of cumbersome exceptions included in the statute. The law calls for students to pay up to $30 per credit hour in an effort to ensure the financial strength and continuation of concurrent enrollment offerings.
Because high school students currently pay none of the costs associated with the classes, the expense of providing concurrent enrollment is transferred completely to the institutions of higher education and trickle down to enrolled college students through tuition, Urquhart said. (DN)

Bill creating parent seminars on bullying, suicide moves forward

SALT LAKE CITY — In 2010, 70 Utahns between the ages of 15 and 24 years old committed suicide. And each subsequent year families have continued to mourn with school and church communities as young people take their own lives.

Whether parents choose to attend or not, one lawmaker wants to make sure that potentially lifesaving resources and information are available. Rep. Steven Eliason, R-Sandy, has introduced a bill that would require all school districts in the state to hold annual seminars for parents on topics such as bullying, substance abuse, Internet safety and suicide prevention.
HB298 has passed in the House and Thursday was advanced unanimously by the Senate Education Committee. (DN) (OSE)

Duchesne school board holsters change to gun policy

The Duchesne School Board left alone the district’s previously-established policy on concealed firearms during their Thursday night meeting.
Under Utah state law, public schools do not have the permission to ban carrying of concealed weapons by people who have a concealed carry permit. Utah is one of the few states that does not establish “gun free zones” in its public schools.
In last month’s meeting, coming on the heels of the massacre in Newtown, Conn., in which a heavily-armed gunman shot and killed 20 children in an elementary school, along with six educators, the board decided to review the district’s policy on the matter.
One of the questions raised in January was whether district employees could be required to tell the principal of the school they work at whether they are carrying a concealed weapon.
Bruce Guymon, the director of student services for the district, was directed find out if that was an option. Guymon Thursday said that was legal, and presented a draft policy that would require it.
“We can’t prohibit somebody from carrying,” Guymon said. “But we can require them to notify a supervisor.” (Uintah Basin Standard)

Provo district tightening finances

PROVO — Long-term recession woes, continual increases in benefits and some past mismanagement of funds have left Provo School District Superintendant Keith Rittel with few options but to change the way the district conducts business.
Rittel noted the district’s operating budget is $104 million. Of that, 83 percent is used for salaries and compensation.
“That leaves only $17.5 million for technology, curriculum and fuel,” Rittel said. “But in the $17.5 million are things like cell phones, lunches and employee travel.”
It’s the latter items such as cell phones and lunches that has Rittel rethinking systems and procedures in the district. He wants to make sure the district is doing all it can to streamline costs. (PDH)

Cache County considers 1 or 2 new high schools

NORTH LOGAN — The Cache County School District, tasked with finding ways to handle student growth, is considering building a new high school, two new high schools or expanding Sky View High School.
The Cache County School Board is preparing a bond request on the ballot in June and will meet to discuss which option is more viable for the district on Friday. (DN) (CVD)

Nebo school board appoints Springville woman to replace Oldroyd

SPRINGVILLE — On Wednesday night, the Nebo school board appointed Springville resident Shannon Acor to replace Rod Oldroyd, who resigned with two years left in his term.
Oldroyd expressed his gratitude and regrets as he left the school board.
“Today is my last day,” he said with emotion. “The board knew a month ago that I felt it necessary to resign due to my church-related responsibilities and other responsibilities.”
Oldroyd currently serves as a stake president in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is employed by Springville City as an administrator. (PDH)

Classroom Flipping: Altering How Teachers Teach

Long lectures in the classroom may become a thing of the past.
Brighton High School teacher Sarah Carlson has “flipped” the traditional classroom and transformed it into what will likely be the classroom of the future.
“A flipped classroom means you are taking what is done in a classroom and doing it at home and doing what you do at home in the classroom,” Carlson says. (KUTV)

AFHS student breaks rules, unites school

An American Fork High School student has been reinstated to school this week after what may have been the most controversial suspension in recent years.
Fired-up students united their outcries on social media in support of Eli Blair, a senior who had wildly interrupted an American Fork basketball game last week but brought cheers from fans on both sides of the court for his daredevil stunt.
Blair, a member of the American Fork cheer team, stormed the court during the second half of a face-off against top-ranked Lone Peak, which was taking place at UCCU Center at Utah Valley University on Thursday. Blair stole the ball from one of the players and went on to score.
Because of the game’s wide scoring margin, the interruption did little to change its outcome, but it embarrassed American Fork school officials, who suspended the student. (PDH)

Sandy dad spearheads effort to get fathers inside schools

SANDY — Altara Elementary School is about to get a boost of testosterone.
Jeff Jaramillo, a parent with three children at the school, has coordinated the launch of a WATCH D.O.G.S. — Dads of Great Students — program at the school, which aims to increase the presence of fathers in schools. The dads will work in classrooms, play with the students during recesses and seek to provide a role model who will help with security and bullying. (DN)

Students reach out to others with service

LEHI — Instead of the traditional Valentine’s Day party, Eaglecrest Elementary students gave of themselves to children they don’t know and likely will never see.
It’s a third-grade holiday tradition, but no one is sure when the holiday became a day of service.
“We just talked about it as a third-grade team,” teacher Jenny Bailey said. “I don’t know, five years ago?”
Thirty students in teacher Ashley Allen’s class were at three stations as busy as could be for 8-year-olds. They were tying a quilt for The Christmas Box House as a gift for a child; they were making durable I Spy games for children in Haiti; and they were designing and writing cards for school children in Africa. Seven parents were helping the children with their projects. (PDH)

Cache Valley students enjoy etiquette tradition each Valentine’s Day

Elementary school students from all over Cache Valley participated in an etiquette tea on Valentine’s Day in order to learn good manners and celebrate the holiday of love.
At least 17 schools had a manners event in one way or another, a longtime tradition in the valley.
Students came to school in their best dress to set the tone for the etiquette tea. Volunteers from local Parent Teacher Associations then taught lessons in different classes that were tailored for the age groups. (LHJ)

Students serve lunch ladies in Valentine’s Day twist

OGDEN — A different kind of love story than one usually heard on Valentine’s Day took place in an elementary school lunchroom in Ogden, and has as much to do with reading as it does with serving lunch — it’s a recipe for student success.
On Thursday, students at Wasatch Elementary were the ones serving pizza to their beloved lunch ladies. The women volunteer to come early or stay late and read one on one with students who need help. They’re known as the Cooks Books, because they feed kids with food and books. (KSL)

Salem Hills students have good showing at leadership event

Nineteen Salem Hills students participated in a Family, Career and Community Leaders of America regional conference earlier this month and came home with a number of awards, including two gold medals.
Hayden Berg and Blake Provstgaard earned top honors at the Students Taking Action with Recognition conference on Feb. 6 for their illustrated talk about preventing teen suicide.
The national mission of FCCLA is “to promote personal growth and leadership development through family and consumer sciences education,” according to the group’s website. (PDH)

Snow Canyon High finalist in contest
Online voting could help school win $110,000

SANTA CLARA — To help win $110,000 to go toward the purchase of classroom technology, students at Snow Canyon High School are asking for the community’s help in voting for the student-produced video in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest.
Snow Canyon High’s video, which is now in the final 15 of the nationwide contest, focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, and how those topics relate to the September flooding in Santa Clara. Neighborhoods were flooded when a dike across Tuacahn Wash breached after a heavy rainstorm.
Rebecca Scano, special education teacher at SCHS, said she decided to get some of her classes involved in the contest in December with an initial essay entry, which has already won $40,000 in technology grants to be used at the school. (SGS)

Art education: ‘Evening of Educators, ‘Art in the Sun Conference’

ST. GEORGE – Teachers, students and the public interested in art and art education may consider attending the “Evening of Educators” at Dixie State College of Utah (then to be Dixie State University) on Feb. 22 and the Utah Art Education Association‘s 2013 “Art in the Sun Conference” from Feb. 21-23 at Pine View High School.
Both are part of Utah’s “StateWide Art Partnership,” or SWAP, which is one of the longest-running program series of its kind. (SGN)

Teen’s cookies help family pay for sports, college

PAYSON — Paying her way through high school activities by baking and selling cookies, Miranda Hyer is continuing what has become a tradition as she navigates her first year of college.
Miranda was 13-years-old when she joined an accelerated softball team. Coming from a family of seven kids, she knew she was responsible to pay for extra activities. When she asked her mom, Trudi Hyer, what she could do, she suggested baking sugar cookies. (KSL)

South Weber sets up scholarship program

SOUTH WEBER — Councilman Joe Gertge accepted the role of installing a scholarship program, offered by the city to a deserving Northridge High School student.
Discussion followed regarding whether or not a fixed GPA should be attached to the scholarship. Councilman Mike Poff wanted no specific GPA requirement, while Councilman Randy Hilton stressed that a scholarship should go to a deserving student who had done well in academics. (OSE)

Charity donates AED to Utah schools; helps children with heart disease

SALT LAKE CITY – Bonneville Elementary school in Salt Lake is one of two schools across the Wasatch Front to receive a life saving device for children.
Utah-based organization Tender Heartbeats donated the AED. The group was just formed by Carolyn Quigley and is gaining ground (KTVX)

Canyons School District accepting preschool applications

SANDY — Canyons School District is accepting applications for its preschool programs.
New-student applications for available spots in the preschool programs at Altara, Butler, Jordan Valley, Quail Hollow and Willow Springs elementary schools will be taken until Feb. 28. Cost to attend is $70 per month. (DN)

Alpine district to start school two days early this fall

At the request of teachers, Alpine district has decided to start school two days earlier than announced this fall.
The district said in a recent meeting that the start date for fall 2013 that had been advertised on the district’s website for months is now moot. School will now start on Aug. 20, a Tuesday, instead of Aug. 22.
The change is to allow two professional development days to be added to the calendar for teachers. (PDH)

Residents can vote for name of new middle school in Herriman

HERRIMAN — Five finalists have been chosen for the name of Jordan School District’s next middle school.
The names are Copper Mountain Middle School, Herriman Middle School, Mountain View Middle School, North Herriman Middle School and Oquirrh Mountain Middle School. (DN)

Success in math starts early: New study shows kids who are behind in first grade don’t catch up

One in five adults in the U.S. can’t do basic arithmetic problems such as adding fractions, working with measurements and doing whole number arithmetic problems, according to a new study about how math skills develop. More precisely, 22 percent of adult Americans are functionally “innumerate” — a word that sums up the inability to do math problems like the word “illiterate” describes lack of reading and writing skills. These millions of innumerate people don’t have the basic math skills for most modern jobs, including the low-level jobs open to people without college degrees.
The study, by mathematics researchers David C. Geary, Mary K. Hoard, Lara Nugent and Drew H. Bailey, found that before entering first grade, children need to understand that written numerals represent quantities. They also need to be able to solve simple arithmetic problems using methods other than counting. Children who don’t grasp the meaning of numerals and how to work with them before they enter first grade will fall behind their peers in math achievement, and most won’t catch up as years go by, the longitudinal study found. (DN)


Seismic matter
Salt Lake Tribune editorial

A bill that has stalled in the Utah House should be revived and passed. It is not much more than a recognition that some schools in the state would be unsafe during an earthquake, but that would at least be a start toward fixing what could be a major public-safety problem. Right now nobody knows just how many schools would probably collapse on Utah schoolchildren during a temblor, let alone how much it might cost to make them safe. That information is crucial. HB278 would require school districts to conduct a cursory evaluation of schools’ seismic strength any time the district floats a bond for school construction or renovation. It’s not enough, but it’s a start. Some opponents say it would be an unfunded mandate on school districts. But other mandates are embraced when they further a particular ideological value, such as charter schools or online courses. Funding was found to renovate the Capitol. Schoolchildren are at least as valuable as state officials and employees.

Weber School District band concert outstanding
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner letter from Carol and Jerry DeGroot

The evening of Feb. 13, we had the opportunity to attend the Weber School District junior high and high school band concert. It was so rewarding to witness the professional skills that only come from countless hours of practice. If you closed your eyes and listened you would have thought the music was coming from well seasoned, long-tenured bands.

Universal pre-school not the solution
The stark truth is that pre-school can’t “work “unless kindergarten, first and second grade and all of the other grades do. And so far they don’t.
USA Today op-ed by Kay Hymowitz, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute

One of the biggest surprises of Tuesday’s state of the union address was President Obama’s proposal for making pre-school available to all American children. His base is delighted: universal pre-school has been high on the liberal wish list for many decades. But the reality of deficits as far as the eye can see and the mediocre condition of American schools requires some hard-nosed questions about what the tens of billions required for universal pre-school programs will actually accomplish.
It’s easy to understand the appeal of universal pre-school. Pre-school, or nursery school as it used to be called, is now a necessity of middle class life, a way of gently introducing children to the discipline and structure of formal education, of teaching social skills, of expanding a child’s social network, not to mention of providing childcare for working parents. Offering those benefits to children whose parents cannot afford the often daunting tuition seems like a no-brainer for anyone committed to reducing poverty and inequality. After all, cognitive research supports common sense intuition that the early years are of vital importance in a child’s development. For many, high quality universal pre-school programs in places like France and Sweden have always served as a model of governmental commitment to equality and basic fairness.
But two words in particular should dampen some of this pre-school enthusiasm: Head Start.

We owe our kids universal pre-school
We can all agree that our students need to be more, not less, prepared for life and for the workforce.
USA Today op-ed by Jonah Edelman, cofounder and CEO of Stand for Children

On Tuesday night, President Obama pledged to work with states to make high quality pre-school available to all children. I immediately thought of Tre Thompson, a 4-year old in Oklahoma.
Tre’s mom, Christina Thompson, cannot believe how much her son already learned this year in his full-day, free pre-school class in Oklahoma City. “Since he’s been in school his vocabulary has increased tremendously,” Thompson says. “The other day he came home and said, ‘You know what, mom? You are being ridiculous.'” Thompson chuckles. “And then he asked, ‘Do you know what ‘ridiculous means, mom?'” Tre knows the entire alphabet, his numbers to 100, and he’s starting to read. And letters and numbers aside, Thompson is most struck by how fast Tre is absorbing vocabulary and language.
Of course, not all pre-school is created equal. High quality pre-schools have well-trained, well-educated teachers in the classroom (much like Tre Thompson’s teacher Mrs. Wallace, who uses play-based learning to teach both academics and social skills and can rattle off a battery of data on how well her students are progressing towards their year-end goals).

Testing Integrity Symposium
Issues and Recommendations for Best Practice National Center for Education Statistics analysis

Educators, parents, and the public depend on accurate, valid, reliable, and timely information about student academic performance. The availability of test data is important to improve instruction, identify the needs of individual students, implement targeted interventions, and help all students reach high levels of achievement. Testing irregularities – breaches of test security or improper administration of academic testing – undermine efforts to use those data to improve student achievement. Unfortunately, there have been high-profile and systemic incidents of cheating in several school districts across the country in recent years.
While every state has policies in place to address test administration, no “library of best practices” exists that could help state educational agencies (SEAs) and local educational agencies (LEAs) prevent, detect, and respond to irregularities in academic testing. In light of the recent reports of misconduct by school officials in the test administration process, and the importance of that process, the U. S. Department of Education (Department) sought to collect and share information about practices and policies that have been used to prevent, detect, and respond to irregularities in academic testing.


Budget Cut Impact: Smaller Navy, Fired Teachers Associated Press

What does smaller government look like? The budget standoff between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans means Americans may soon find out, and the picture the Obama administration sketches is downright scary.
Cuts in the Navy’s Pacific operations of one-third. Furloughed food inspectors forcing nationwide closures of meat and poultry plants. Ten thousand laid-off teachers. A $1 billion reduction in the relief fund for disaster victims. Less secure airline flights and longer waits on airport security screening lines. Reduced monitoring of air pollution, oil spills and hazardous waste.
All this and more because $85 billion in cuts across most federal programs will be automatically triggered March 1 unless Obama and Republicans do something that’s eluded them for months: approve alternative savings.
A look at the fight over the so-called sequester, and what its impact could be:
-Education: Education Secretary Arne Duncan told Congress that 70,000 Head Start pupils would be removed from the pre-kindergarten program, about 1 of every 13. Duncan warned those cuts would mean layoffs of 10,000 teachers and thousands of other staffers because of cuts in federal dollars that state and local governments use for schools. Cuts for programs for handicapped and other special needs students would threaten 7,200 teachers and aides, he said.

Conservatives Skeptical of Expanding Preschool New York Times

ATLANTA — President Obama’s plan to expand preschool for the nation’s children faces deep skepticism among Republicans, who fear the creation of another federal entitlement program that they say could add to the nation’s deficit and swell the ranks of the teachers’ unions.
In a rally with teachers after visiting a class of 4-year-olds on Thursday, Mr. Obama reiterated his State of the Union pledge to make high-quality preschool available to all children, which could cost as much as $10 billion a year, or nearly a tenth of the entire federal education budget.
“Hope is found in what works,” Mr. Obama said to raucous applause after joining the children as they played with blocks and a magnifying glass. “This works. We know it works. If you are looking for a good bang for your educational buck, this is it. Right here.”
Despite the outlines of a plan that White House officials said would use federal money in support of state-based preschool programs, conservatives said they were suspicious that it would be a foot in the door toward more big government. They also said there was little evidence that large-scale preschool programs do much good for children in the long run. (CSM) (AP)

States Struggle To Keep Online Schools Accountable Stateline

Online classes have exploded in popularity, with more than six times as many students enrolled in electronic K-12 courses now as compared to a decade ago, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Advocates say online classes offer a more flexible and personalized form of education, allowing students to progress at their own pace and on their own time. Supporters also tout online education as a way to dramatically expand course offerings, particularly at rural schools.
But the rapid growth of online education is raising concerns—especially as more for-profit companies launch online programs. While unscrupulous or incompetent online educators may be rare, there are enough of them that many states are considering ratcheting up their oversight.

Utah is one of a handful of states that allow students to pick online courses from an array of providers. It provides students and parents with information about academic performance in those courses with the expectation that students and parents will gravitate to better-performing courses. “At the heart of this program, there’s the idea of market forces,” says Cory Kanth, who oversees the program.
Utah and Florida also build incentives for better performance into their funding structure. In Utah’s course choice program, per student funding from the state depends on whether the student completes the course (the funding is deducted from what the state would have funneled to the student’s neighborhood public school). Providers are paid based on completion in Florida, too.

Charter schools put parents to the test

Charter schools pride themselves on asking a lot of their students. Many ask a great deal of parents, too.
Nearly 40 percent of charters nationwide do not participate in the federal subsidized lunch program, often because they don’t have space for a kitchen or don’t want to deal with the paperwork, according to the pro-charter Center for Education Reform.
That can leave low-income parents scrambling to find a way to feed their children. Nearly half of American school kids are eligible for subsidized meals, and more than 90 percent of traditional public schools provide them.
Most states don’t require charter schools to offer transportation, so that’s often up to parents, too.
And then there’s the forced volunteerism. Traditional public schools can and sometimes do ask parents to help out, but they can’t force the issue. Scores of charter schools, however, require parents to work up to 40 hours a year – or forfeit their child’s seat. To meet the mandate, parents might chaperone field trips, keep order at lunch or direct traffic in the parking lot.

The new U.S. visa rush: Build a charter school, get a green card Reuters

It’s been a turbulent period for charter schools in the United States, with financial analysts raising concerns about their stability and regulators in several states shutting down schools for poor performance.
The volatility has made it tough for startup schools to get financing.
But an unlikely source of new capital has emerged to fill the gap: foreign investors.
Wealthy individuals from as far away as China, Nigeria, Russia and Australia are spending tens of millions of dollars to build classrooms, libraries, basketball courts and science labs for American charter schools.
In Buffalo, New York, foreign funds paid for the Health Sciences Charter School to renovate a 19th-century orphanage into modern classrooms and computer labs. In Florence, Arizona, overseas investment is expected to finance a sixth campus for the booming chain of American Leadership Academy charter schools.
And in Florida, state business development officials say foreign investment in charter schools is poised to triple next year, to $90 million.
The reason? Under a federal program known as EB-5, wealthy foreigners can in effect buy U.S. immigration visas for themselves and their families by investing at least $500,000 in certain development projects. In the past two decades, much of the investment has gone into commercial real-estate projects, like luxury hotels, ski resorts and even gas stations.
Lately, however, enterprising brokers have seen a golden opportunity to match cash-starved charter schools with cash-flush foreigners in investment deals that benefit both.

Obama honors six educators killed in Newtown massacre Reuters

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama, marking a poignant moment in his push to curb gun violence, awarded presidential medals posthumously on Friday to six educators killed in the Newtown school massacre, saying they gave their lives to protect “the most innocent and helpless among us.”
Obama bestowed the honor, which recognizes citizens who have performed “exemplary deeds” of service, on four teachers and two administrators killed in the December 14 shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, a tragedy that sparked nationwide calls for tighter gun control laws.
In a White House ceremony, Presidential Citizens Medals, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor, were presented one-by-one to the slain women’s families, many of them in tears as Obama embraced and consoled them. Twenty first-graders were also killed in the attack by a lone gunman.

Armed Educators a Reality in Some Schools, Debated in Others Education Week

Valley Mills, Texas — Shooting instructor Johnny Price looked at the teachers lined up in front of him, a selection of handguns resting on the table before them. He slid his fingertips over the clean, round bullet holes beyond the outlines of a human torso on paper targets a few yards away.
“That,” Mr. Price said, pointing to a hole that missed the target completely, “is a child.”
Mr. Price, the owner of Big Iron Concealed Handgun Training in Waco, Texas, spent two days this month training teachers and staff members from the Clifton school district in all they need to know to earn licenses to carry weapons out of sight. There is no indication that the 1,000-student district is leaning toward allowing employees to bring guns to school.
But curiosity about carrying concealed weapons has been running high here and all over the country ever since the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14. The massacre has given rise to the perhaps once-unthinkable idea of arming teachers as a possible policy fix for improving school safety.
While many national organizations have rejected the idea, it is now being seriously weighed by some school boards and state lawmakers across the nation. The action wouldn’t be without precedent: In Utah, school employees have been able to carry concealed weapons onto campus for about a decade—without telling a soul—and at least four Texas school districts are known to have granted select employees permission to take concealed weapons to school.
For many educators here and elsewhere, it is no longer a question of whether to take guns to school. Instead, the questions are: How do I carry this thing without anyone noticing? Can I kill someone if the time comes? And, maybe most frightening of all, what happens if I miss?

NYC Teachers’ Pension Fund Divests From Gun Makers Associated Press

NEW YORK — The $46.6 billion pension fund for New York City schoolteachers has sold its stock in companies that make guns and ammunition, city officials announced Friday.
City Comptroller John Liu said the Dec. 14 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., prompted the fund’s board of trustees to review the system’s investments in the gun industry.
He said the board concluded that divestment would be consistent with the fund’s fiduciary standards and overall investment process.

My Classmate, The Robot: NY Pupil Attends Remotely Associated Press

WEST SENECA, N.Y. — In an elementary school hallway, a teacher takes her second-graders to the library, leading a single-file line of giggling boys and girls that’s perfectly ordinary until you get to a sleek white robot with a video screen showing the face of a smiling, chubby-cheeked boy.
Devon Carrow’s life-threatening allergies don’t allow him to go to school. But the 4-foot-tall robot with a wireless video hookup gives him the school experience remotely, allowing him to participate in class, stroll through the hallways, hang out at recess and even take to the auditorium stage when there’s a show.
What’s most remarkable is how unremarkable this gee-whiz technology is viewed by his classmates. In a class of 7-year-olds raised on video games, avatars and remote-controlled toys, they don’t see a robot. They just see Devon.

Common Core Faces Fierce Foes in Two Indiana Moms Education Week

Erin Tuttle and Heather Crossin, co-founders of Hoosiers Against the Common Core, started their opposition movement as two mothers comparing notes about their children’s new math program in 2011. Investigating where it came from took them on an odyssey of discovery about the Common Core State Standards, and a growing list of reasons the two moms did not appreciate Indiana’s adoption of the standards.
Over the past year, Tuttle and Crossin have taken their cause to thousands of parents across Indiana, and into the halls of the statehouse, where they scored their first victory Feb. 13 when a proposal to delay implementation of the common core standards passed the Senate education committee by a vote of 7-4.
The legislation, which has been watered down from a previous version introduced in January, will now go to the full Senate for a vote Tuttle expects next week.

‘Big Three’ Publishers Rethink K-12 Strategies Education Week

Arizona’s Vail school district is the kind of customer that gives big textbook publishers pause.
The 12,000-student school district swapped out printed textbooks for digital material in 2006, but students aren’t using e-textbooks. Instead, the district collects instructional materials the way a teenager creates a song playlist, taking digital content from various places, often for free. Meanwhile, for a fee, the Vail district shares its electronic library of resources with 68 partner districts across the state.
“We are not beholden at all to the big textbook publishers,” says Superintendent Calvin Baker. “We used to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars every year in the textbook cycle, but we don’t do that anymore.”
The push continues for school districts to move away from paper textbooks and toward digital curricula and e-textbooks. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urged educators last year to move quickly to adopt digital textbooks and materials. Also last year, the Federal Communications Commission and the Education Department released a report, the “Digital Textbook Playbook,” which provided a blueprint for schools to make the shift.

A copy of the playbook

R.I. Students Gaining ‘Badges,’ Credits Outside School Education Week

Many schools encourage students to get real-world experience outside school walls. But very few offer course credit and digital “badges”—virtual records of skills and achievements—for those experiences.
Now, the Providence, R.I., school district is in the middle of an initiative that appears to be breaking new ground in giving academic credit and recognizing skills and achievements out of school.
A collaborative project between a nonprofit organization, the Providence After School Alliance, or PASA, and the 23,500-student Providence district is allowing students to engage in for-credit, badge-earning learning experiences outside school. Examples range from developing and pitching business plans to local venture capital firms to learning how to make Android phone applications at Brown University.
While Providence’s approach—to encourage connections between in- and out-of-school learning and get students more engaged in school—is gaining steam both at the state and district levels throughout the country. The district stands out as one of the first to bridge the two goals by having students receive badges and academic credit for out-of-school experiences.

Opponents Denounce Call For Anti-gay Prom In IND.
Associated Press

SULLIVAN, Ind. — A quiet Indiana community known for its parks and corn festival has become the latest setting for the debate over gay rights and bullying after several area residents, including some high schoolers, proposed holding a non-school sanctioned “traditional” prom that would ban gay students.
School officials and many residents of Sullivan, a city of about 4,200 near the Illinois border, have scrambled to distance themselves from the controversy caused by the group’s plans and some strong, anti-gay remarks made by one of its members.

Mom accused in Withrow fight defends her actions Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST PRICE HILL — A mother accused of helping her 15-year-old daughter beat another teenage girl at Withrow High School last week says the police and school officials have it all wrong.
Precious Allen, a mother of five who lives in West Price Hill, said she and her daughter were attacked by the other girl, who was bigger and taller than them. Allen said she was talking with a teacher when the girl cursed at her and charged at her.
Allen said she believes school videos will exonerate her and her daughter.
“I won’t be charged,” she said.
Her version of the fight differs sharply from police reports.


USOE Calendar

UEN News

February 15:
Retirement and Independent Entities Appropriations Committee meeting
Noon, 30 House Building

Senate Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee meeting
2:10 p.m., 215 Senate Building

Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee meeting
2:10 p.m., 415 State Capitol

February 19:
Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
8 a.m., 445 State Capitol

House Political Subdivisions Committee meeting
2 p.m., 450 State Capitol

Senate Education Committee meeting
2:10 p.m., 210 Senate Building

House Education Committee meeting
4 p.m., 30 House Building

February 21:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
Noon, 250 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City

March 14:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
9 a.m., 250 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City

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