Education News Roundup: March 11, 2013

School Buses at Capitol

School Buses at Capitol

Today’s Top Picks:

Legislature nearly done with budget. Growth and 2 percent growth in WPU funded.

http://goo.gl/cfqwR (SLT)
and http://goo.gl/iGQoC (DN)
and http://goo.gl/Wb7KR (OSE)
and http://goo.gl/XA2TQ (KUTV)

Sen. Reid pulls his bill on giving the Governor and Senate say over State Superintendent.
http://goo.gl/9kGPb (SLT)
and http://goo.gl/XX2qQ (DN)
Trib will be happy with this news.
http://goo.gl/P23lk (SLT)

$4.7 million reading software bill passes Senate.
http://goo.gl/xNXbT (SLT)

Tribune looks at all the STEM bills.
http://goo.gl/XRzQM (SLT)

D-News looks at funding the achievement gap.
http://goo.gl/ZXmBf (DN)

Sen. Dayton pleased with college prep in Utah.
http://goo.gl/QsfPo (Senate Site)

WaPo looks at the debate over a hard deadline of reading proficiency in third grade.
http://goo.gl/iFN8l (WaPo)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Legislators go into final weekend with budget mostly done Education is big winner as lawmakers tweak $13B spending package.

Utah lawmaker kills own education bill that gave guv, Senate more power

Senate passes $4.7 million reading software program Education » Amid debate about the role of lawmakers in education, two bills to purchase software pass.

Utah lawmakers weigh STEM craze against basic school needs Education » STEM has been the “buzzword” for proposed projects this session, but lawmakers appear to be focusing on key bills.

No legislative bridge for achievement gap for Utah’s at-risk students

‘Robin Hood’ bill to fund schools generates division

House approves extra funding for state’s small schools

U.S. Department of Education Announces 11 States Will Receive Funding to Continue Efforts to Turn Around Their Lowest-Performing Schools

Iron County schools offer choices
Kindergarten registration puts focus on education direction

Davis School District to consider random drug testing

Eagle Mountain officials not pleased with school location change

CCSD looking at land near Eccles Ice Arena for new high school

Sevier School District Superintendent Announces Retirement

Long-time educator Topham to retire
Assistant superintendent to step down after 40 years of education

World-class athletes — and no sports teams

East Elementary homework challenge a boon to students Teachers challenge students to hit 100 percent

Teens design educational app for national competition

Herriman High DECA team wins state competition

Seven Nebo schools receive awards for healthy eating

Conference encourages girls to expand educational horizons

Corner Canyon High School to install ‘victory light’

Syracuse Arts Academy holds assembly for eating right

Impatient woman endangers Syracuse students by barrelling over curb onto sidewalk

Test scores might not be telling us the real story about students

Character education boosts academic achievement

Lone Peak basketball players shoot hoops with the governor

Public invited to see Vujicic presentation

Utah boy takes a stand against bullying

Carbon Dinos vying to be nation’s top mascot

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Power grab
Bill would politicize public education

Something not-so-sexy

Voucher backers manhandle education

Afraid of our own children

Issues change, values should not

The last four days of legislative session a final frenzy

Legislators should support HB139

What’s Right With Utah Ed: College Prep

Another Education Group, Same Result?

Non-Teaching Staff Growth Dwarfs Student Growth in Utah

Drawing the line in third grade?

Teachers vs. students: Pet peeves

Embarrassed by GOP

A whiff of racism

So much for Utah values

Educate, not incarcerate

Judging teachers

Pageant was special event

Economists Study Early Education

Secretary Of Education Arne Duncan Plays Not My Job

NATION

States draw a hard line on third-graders, holding some back over reading

Commission Calls for ‘Radically Different’ Tests Panel offers a 10-year plan

School Reform Program Targets Students at Risk of Falling Behind, Dropping Out

Education proposals have Gov. Rick Scott stuck between a rock and Republicans

Schools chief warns that plan to give parents power in school turnarounds is flawed

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UTAH NEWS
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Legislators go into final weekend with budget mostly done Education is big winner as lawmakers tweak $13B spending package.

Nothing is final at the Legislature until the gavel drops on Thursday night, but Utah’s $13 billion-plus budget for the coming year is largely complete, with tax hikes highly unlikely, no borrowing to build roads or buildings and smiles from the education community.
Legislative leadership tied up some remaining loose ends Friday, shuffling money around to cover a handful of odds and ends.

Ultimately, however, lawmakers said one only needed to follow the money to find their top priority: education.
“We are thrilled,” said Martell Menlove, state superintendent of public schools.
Legislators paid to cover the 13,500 new students entering classrooms next fall and provided a 2 percent increase in per pupil spending — which for years has been the lowest in the nation.
Arts programs, teacher supplies, extended-day kindergarten, language immersion programs and new testing technology added another $24 million.
http://goo.gl/cfqwR (SLT)

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

http://goo.gl/Wb7KR (OSE)

http://goo.gl/XA2TQ (KUTV)

Utah lawmaker kills own education bill that gave guv, Senate more power

In an unusual move, a senator essentially killed his own controversial education legislation Monday and urged other lawmakers to look critically at their school proposals.
Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Odgen, asked Monday on the Senate floor to basically withdraw SJR5, which sought to change the state Constitution to give the governor and Senate approval power over the appointment of the state superintendent. He said he believed he had the votes to pass SJR5 through the Senate, but would rather see the issue discussed over the next year by a task force to be created under one of his other bills, SB169.
That bill would create a $64,000 education task force composed entirely of lawmakers with the goal of crafting an overall plan for how to improve education.
He also urged other lawmakers to reconsider some of their education bills, though he didn’t name specific proposals.
http://goo.gl/9kGPb (SLT)

http://goo.gl/XX2qQ (DN)

Senate passes $4.7 million reading software program Education » Amid debate about the role of lawmakers in education, two bills to purchase software pass.

The Senate passed a $4.7 million bill Monday to expand a software literacy program in schools despite concerns that the money might be better spent on other educational needs.
“Technology is not the future of education, it’s the current best practice in education,” said bill sponsor Sen. Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George. “Instead of the herd moving on, each student moves on individually.”
He and Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, championed SB260, saying a number of schools have already seen dramatic improvements in reading thanks to the software. Urquhart said it’s time the state tried something new, noting that despite years of spending up to $30 million on a different K-3 reading program, students have not improved their reading skills.
Sen. Patricia Jones, D-Holladay, however, said if reading scores haven’t improved with that K-3 program, it’s likely because of larger class sizes, increasingly diverse student bodies and financially strapped schools. She also said she’s concerned about the new literacy program’s price tag given the scarcity of funds for schools, which she said should be making decisions about how to best educate kids.
http://goo.gl/xNXbT (SLT)

Utah lawmakers weigh STEM craze against basic school needs Education » STEM has been the “buzzword” for proposed projects this session, but lawmakers appear to be focusing on key bills.

As always, money for education is tight this year at the Legislature — except, potentially, when it comes to these four letters: STEM.
STEM — science, technology, engineering and math education — became a craze this session, with lawmakers rushing to lash their projects to the popular initiative, aimed at getting Utah graduates trained and certified in fields in high demand.
Critics worried that STEM programs were muscling out the traditional school budget and argued bills for companies pitching specific technology were getting special attention. Advocates argued STEM programs were crucial for Utah to remain economically competitive.
http://goo.gl/XRzQM (SLT)

No legislative bridge for achievement gap for Utah’s at-risk students

SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers rejected a bill designed to close the educational achievement gap for at-risk students through an expansion of high-quality public preschool.
Some Senate Republicans objected to the public-private partnerships that would have provided the funding; they objected to the idea of public preschool taking children out of the home; and ultimately, they objected to the bill.
But the achievement gap for at-risk students remains.
http://goo.gl/ZXmBf (DN)

‘Robin Hood’ bill to fund schools generates division

SALT LAKE CITY — Homeowners in high property value areas such as Park City will see some of their local taxes moved to cash-strapped, rural school districts if a bill debated Friday by the Senate becomes law.
SB81 was described by opponent Sen. Pat Jones, D-Holladay, as a “Robin Hood” bill, in that it is designed to take from rich districts to give to financially poorer districts.
“This takes existing monies and makes people winners or losers depending on what district you’re in,” Jones said. “Unless we have greater funds, real new money, this bill, I believe, is unwarranted.”
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, said the bill would seek to address the arbitrary inequities between school districts created by the Legislature.
http://goo.gl/iDxcT (DN)

House approves extra funding for state’s small schools

SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers in the House gave unanimous approval to a bill to provide additional dollars to the state’s small schools.
HB373, sponsored by Rep. Kay McIff, R-Richfield, would appropriate an additional $3 million to the Necessarily Existent Small Schools program.
Because schools are funded largely on a per-pupil basis, many of the state’s smallest schools struggle to finance educational opportunities such as foreign language, Advanced Placement or concurrent enrollment courses, McIff said.
Because of that lack of opportunity, he said, students from smaller schools are less likely to pursue higher education after completing college and are not given the same educational experience as their peers along the Wasatch Front.
http://goo.gl/145vw (DN)

U.S. Department of Education Announces 11 States Will Receive Funding to Continue Efforts to Turn Around Their Lowest-Performing Schools

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced that 11 states will receive funding to continue efforts to turn around their persistently lowest achieving schools through the Department’s School Improvement Grants (SIG) program. The states that will receive continuation awards are: Connecticut—$3.6 million; Kentucky—$7.7 million; Maryland—$6.8 million; Minnesota—$5.5 million; Mississippi—$6.1 million; New Mexico—$4.1 million; Ohio—$20.2 million; South Carolina—$7.4 million; South Dakota—$1.5 million; Utah—$3.4 million; and West Virginia—$3.3 million.
http://goo.gl/UsGol (US Department of Education)

Iron County schools offer choices
Kindergarten registration puts focus on education direction

CEDAR CITY — As kindergarten registration in the Iron County School District gears up in the coming weeks, parents preparing to send their 5- and 6-year-olds off to school next fall have decisions to make regarding the direction of their children’s education.
Parents may prefer to have their children close to home and choose the elementary school located within the boundaries of their neighborhood, or they may choose one of two options with a special emphasis in curriculum.
North Elementary School offers a curriculum integrating science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics — a STEAM school. East Elementary school offers a dual language immersion program in English and Spanish, with students beginning the program in first grade.
http://goo.gl/vFJ3Z (SGS)

Davis School District to consider random drug testing

FARMINGTON — The Davis Board of Education will consider a proposed random drug testing policy for student-athletes, cheerleaders and student government officers at its next meeting.
If the policy is adopted, each high school in the district would randomly test up to five students weekly. Consequences for those who test positive would include sitting out games or performances but would not be of a criminal nature.
The board will consider the policy at its meeting on March 19. A final vote is scheduled for the April 16 meeting. The community can view the proposed policy at www.davis.k12.ut.us/Page/57.
http://goo.gl/PHcpu (DN)

Eagle Mountain officials not pleased with school location change

EAGLE MOUNTAIN — Eagle Mountain officials are not happy that the location of an elementary school has been changed without their knowledge.
In a recent meeting with the city, school officials announced a new location had been chosen for Meadow Ranch Elementary, which is in the early design stage. The response was not enthusiastic. Mayor Heather Jackson took issue with the new location, saying it is too close to Camp Williams and in too rural of an area.
“That much lighting in a rural neighborhood will make problems for the animals,” she said.
District officials said they “don’t run lights all night long.”
“Yes, you do,” said the mayor feistily, noting she can see the lights of a nearby school from her home.
http://goo.gl/2dzzX (PDH)

CCSD looking at land near Eccles Ice Arena for new high school

LOGAN— It looks like Cache County could get involved in the Cache County School District’s building bond plans. County Executive Lynn Lemon said Lance Anderson, representing the school district, will make a presentation at Tuesday’s county council meeting.
“We were in a meeting with them about a month and a half ago. They said, ‘Well, we’re thinking about building a middle school there, maybe like in four or five years.’ Now they’ve come back with their new proposal, and they want to move forward immediately with a high school there,” Lemon said.
http://goo.gl/xCipR (CVD)

Sevier School District Superintendent Announces Retirement

Sevier School District Superintendent Myron Mickelsen announced his plans for retirement recently. Mickelsen’s final day with the District will be July 15th of this year. Mickelsen has been the Superintendent since July of 2010 and prior to that served as Assistant Superintendent. A graduate of North Sevier High School, Mickelsen went on to study at Utah State University and Southern Utah University. He obtained his Master of Education degree from Brigham Young University.
http://goo.gl/2EuzY (MUR)

Long-time educator Topham to retire
Assistant superintendent to step down after 40 years of education

Marshall Topham, Washington County School District assistant superintendent for secondary education, is retiring after 40 years as a teacher and education administrator.
Topham leaves his current role in the district after 10 years in the position. During his tenure, the district instituted numerous new programs, including the Washington Online School, the Southwest High School diploma and GED program and the Success Academy, a partnership with Iron County to that focuses on science, technology, math and engineering.
http://goo.gl/MkXi4 (SGS)

World-class athletes — and no sports teams

PARK CITY — The irony of the school’s name is not lost on Rob Clayton, headmaster of The Winter Sports School that is located in and around the ski jumps and bobsled track at Utah Olympic Park.
“We’re called the winter sports school, but we go to school in the summer and we don’t field any sports teams,” he says.
But if they did field sports teams, they would be something to behold.
http://goo.gl/CFj5C (DN)

East Elementary homework challenge a boon to students Teachers challenge students to hit 100 percent

When school began at East Elementary this year, Principal Teria Mortensen presented a proposal that encouraged students be proactive in completing their homework. All year long they have averaged 90 percent or higher.
All of the teachers developed a plan on how they were going to challenge their class to aim for 100 percent homework completion. Third-grade teacher Sara Wahlberg took a unique approach to encourage her students to complete their homework. She first talked with her students about why teachers give out homework.
“I think it is important the students understand why they are doing something,” said Wahlberg. “This helps build a foundation in their minds of the importance of completing their homework.”
Wahlberg also believes the students need to have a reward to look forward to. She had a student ask her why she took her lunch back to her class and didn’t stay and eat with them in the lunchroom. Her students now have the opportunity to eat lunch in their classroom every Friday if they bring back their homework completed.
http://goo.gl/0mza9 (SGS)

Teens design educational app for national competition

PROVO, Utah — Seven sophomore students at Timpview High School are close to winning $10,000 after developing an app that won a statewide competition.
The Verizon Innovative App Challenge required students to come up with a clever app idea and write an essay about its design.
http://goo.gl/psVKV (KSTU)

Herriman High DECA team wins state competition

HERRIMAN — Herriman High School’s DECA team recently took top honors at the Utah state competition in business and marketing skills.
The team had 28 event finalists and 20 first-place winners and won the Mountain America inaugural DECA Financial Literacy Challenge. That’s where clubs had to compete to create the most effective financial literacy marketing campaign.
http://goo.gl/iZo8M (DN)

Seven Nebo schools receive awards for healthy eating

SPANISH FORK — It was an exciting morning full of cheers, prizes and celebration at Rees Elementary School in Spanish Fork. Not only were students celebrating a successful week of participating in the National School Breakfast Week, but the school and six others in the district were presented with the HealthierUS School Challenge Bronze Award, after meeting criteria relating to healthy eating and physical activity.
“We are excited to have schools increasing fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans into healthy menus for students,” said Luann Elliott, director of child nutrition programs at the State Office of Education. “These schools are also incorporating more physical activity for students and creating a healthy environment at school.”
http://goo.gl/1IP51 (PDH)

Conference encourages girls to expand educational horizons

SALT LAKE CITY — A yearly conference aimed at encouraging young girls into investigating educational and career opportunities they might otherwise overlook was held in Salt Lake City on Monday.
Expanding Your Horizons held several hands-on classes at the event, which invites girls in sixth-grade through ninth-grade to attend.
Kathy Hurd, Expanding Your Horizons co-chairperson, said the conference helps get more women interested in fields that lack a strong female presence.
http://goo.gl/lfp1f (KSTU)

Corner Canyon High School to install ‘victory light’

DRAPER — A generous donation has provided the new Corner Canyon High School with a “victory light.”
Electric-blue lights will shine when the Chargers claim a victory, whether it be athletic or academic. The aim of the light is to unify the community behind the achievements of the school, according to a press release.
http://goo.gl/AYXHF (DN)

Syracuse Arts Academy holds assembly for eating right

SYRACUSE — To eat or not to eat, that was the question on Sean Carter’s mind Friday morning as he was contemplating whether to eat his broccoli.
Paraphrasing Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Carter, along with fellow actors Emilie Starr and Erica Walters, drove home the message that broccoli, along with other vegetables and fruits, have always been good for the body, no matter what era you’re living in.
http://goo.gl/KOynP (OSE)

Impatient woman endangers Syracuse students by barrelling over curb onto sidewalk

SYRACUSE — Police are investigating why a woman drove her black SUV over a curb, across a sidewalk and onto the grass, heading toward a group of students at Syracuse Junior High School.
Syracuse Police Chief Garret Atkin said the incident happened at the end of the school day on Thursday when parents were picking up students from the school at 1450 S. 2000 West.
http://goo.gl/0NBnw (OSE)

Test scores might not be telling us the real story about students

Test-taking as an accountability measure is rampant in U.S. schools, and the results can have a big impact on how teachers and schools are evaluated. But a pile of research shows that test scores are subject to subtle manipulation by a variety of factors outside the test-takers’ conscious control.
The belief that competition boosts performance isn’t necessarily true when it comes to test-taking, for instance. That’s according to “Top Dog,” a new book about the science of winning and losing by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.
http://goo.gl/x1ZhA (DN)

Character education boosts academic achievement

Character education at school is often touted as a way to help students become better citizens. But teaching kids skills and values like respect, honesty and persistence improves their academic success, too, said a February story in Education Week magazine.
That could mean that the time it takes to teach values at school — often viewed as an intrusion on busy school schedules — might be worth spending. Discussions about teaching character at school have a couple of friction points, though.
http://goo.gl/AoBrx (DN)

Lone Peak basketball players shoot hoops with the governor

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary R. Herbert and the Utah Legislature welcomed the Lone Peak high school boys basketball team to the Capitol to honor them for a phenomenal season.
Lone Peak recently won the 5A boys’ state championship and was one of the top-ranked teams in the nation.
http://goo.gl/Kl60r (DN)

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

http://goo.gl/7nBJV (KSTU)

Public invited to see Vujicic presentation

OGDEN — The community is invited to a free presentation at 7 tonight at Ogden First Baptist Church, 2519 Jefferson Ave. A video from Thursday night’s presentation by Nick Vujicic at Roy High School will be shown.
Vujicic is a motivational speaker who talks about his journey facing his life without limbs.
http://goo.gl/7IHeg (OSE)

http://goo.gl/TnQO3 (KUTV)

http://goo.gl/XLu7i (KTVX)

http://goo.gl/NgDV6 (KSTU)

Utah boy takes a stand against bullying

SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah – A boy in Saratoga Springs is taking a stand against bullying. Once a victim himself, Tyler Garcia has now come up with a way to get schools involved in the fight against it… and he’s only nine years old.
“He would like be mean like grab my wrists and slap my face I just didn’t like the way he treated me,” said Tyler when describing his experience with bullying.
Tyler started making anti-bullying bracelets to remind himself and others how hurtful bullying can be.
http://goo.gl/Mus3W (KTVX)

Carbon Dinos vying to be nation’s top mascot

PRICE — The Carbon Dinos need some help from fans and foes alike.
The high school in Price is one of nine vying for the title of best mascot in USA Today’s western region. Carbon High School’s mascot is named for the numerous fossils found in the central Utah county where the school is located.
http://goo.gl/D6mhs (DN)

http://contest.usatodayhss.com/vote/mascot/r6

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Power grab
Bill would politicize public education
Salt Lake Tribune editorial

It’s not likely the governor’s chair in Utah will be filled anytime soon by a Democrat. Not as long as Utah voters continue to close their eyes and hit the straight-party “R” button on their voting ballots.
That’s why conservative Republican legislators feel comfortable in proposing that the governor be given more power over public education than the Utah Constitution now allows.
http://goo.gl/P23lk

Something not-so-sexy
Salt Lake Tribune editorial

Last year, the Utah Legislature unwisely passed a bill gutting sex education programs in Utah public schools. Gov. Gary Herbert wisely vetoed it. This year, some members of the Legislature attempted to pass a bill — SB39 — that would command state education officials to create an online program to help Utah parents provide sex education in their own homes. It passed the Senate but, Wednesday, the House voted it down. They did so amid no small amount of laughter, appropriate for any suggestion that the Internet somehow needs more sexual information posted on it.
http://goo.gl/4JHiR

Voucher backers manhandle education
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Paul Rolly

Educators concerned about a bill they feel would ensure all public schools in Utah would get a failing grade under the new formula to evaluate student progress recently asked its sponsor, Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, to come off the Senate floor and explain the measure.
He deferred all questions about the bill to Judy Clark, executive director of Parents for Choice in Education, the group that led the fight a few years ago for private school vouchers.
When Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, was presenting his SB82, a bill that would establish a student achievement record accessible to parents and other stakeholders, which public educators say duplicates already existing programs, he asked Judy Clark to explain the bill to the Senate Education Committee.
Another bill backed by Parents for Choice in Education requires the State Board of Education to select a vendor for a personalized development plan for educators. State Office of Education officials have told legislators the bill is written in such a way that only one vendor would qualify.
The education community worries that these examples point to a pattern of legislators allowing a group that has worked against public education to write legislation setting public education policy.
The school grading bill, SB271, is the most troubling, they say.
http://goo.gl/GfPYl

Afraid of our own children
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist George Pyle

A wise friend of mine once observed that there are two kinds of parents in the world: Those who are afraid that their children will be smarter than they are, and those who are afraid that their children won’t be smarter than they are.
And both kinds of parents are likely to be disappointed.
http://goo.gl/jiCt3

Issues change, values should not
Deseret News commentary by columnist John Florez

We all want a government we can trust; however, sometimes our lawmakers seem to have flexible standards and principles. It’s hard to understand.
Last Tuesday was one of those instances when Utah lawmakers nixed a bill, SB71, to provide pre-school for at-risk kids. While they tout the importance of children, families, education, caring for those in need and promoting private/public partnerships, they seem to have abandoned those beliefs in this case. Rather than debating the value of an education policy to help at-risk kids get an early start that would improve their chances of succeeding, and involving private investors willing to risk $10 million to the state’s $1 million, legislators focused on the technical aspects and failed to see where the proposed bill could save tax dollars. (On the same day, lawmakers voted to advance the prison relocation without debate; the possible cost to taxpayers — more than $480 million.) http://goo.gl/boqIp

The last four days of legislative session a final frenzy Deseret News commentary by columnists Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb

Hang onto your wallet for four more days, and you’ll be OK — Utah’s 104 citizen lawmakers will return home to their farms, businesses and law firms. Here are some items to watch in the final frenzy:

Will there be an increase in education funding?
Pignanelli: In December, Gov. Herbert staked a strong position for increased funding and the Legislature will try to out do him — a great position for teachers.
Webb: No one will be happy with actual dollar amounts. The good news is that a consensus is slowly forming around a long-term plan to improve public education and align post-high school training with real workforce needs.
http://goo.gl/6Pzax

Legislators should support HB139
Deseret News op-ed by Fraser Bullock, co-founder and managing director of Sorenson Capital

As leaders of the top businesses in Utah Valley and the state of Utah, we need the help of our Legislature.
Our biggest challenge today is finding qualified workers to fill our technology-related jobs. Many of our companies have hundreds of high-paying jobs going unfilled because graduates from our colleges and universities have not been trained in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). That must change if Utah is to retain its spot as an economic leader in our country.
We need our legislators to support HB139, which establishes a STEM Center and better aligns and promotes STEM education from kindergarten through college. We also encourage support of other STEM initiatives being brought forward by higher education and the Utah College of Applied Technology. Legislators must act now to produce more STEM graduates in order to keep our businesses competitive and our state a leader in technology and innovation.
http://goo.gl/xHnGE

What’s Right With Utah Ed: College Prep
Utah Senate Site commentary by Sen. Margaret Dayton

Extensive college preparation for the over 30,000 students who graduate from high school each year in Utah is essential if we want 66% of adults to earn a post-secondary degree or certificate. Utah has become a national leader in students enrolled in and passing Advanced Placement (AP) tests. In 2012, 20,499 students took 33,017 AP exams, passing them at a rate of 68%. This is over 9 points higher than the national average of 59%. Because of this, Utah now ranks 11th in the nation in percentage of students passing AP exams.
These results show that more Utah students are better preparing themselves for college and careers,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Martell Menlove, “and that’s good news for those students and for our collective future.” Students who pass AP classes enter college with credits they can apply towards their degree. This saves students money on tuition and cuts down on time until graduation and them entering the workforce.
http://goo.gl/QsfPo

Another Education Group, Same Result?
Utah Taxpayers Association commentary by Royce Van Tassell, association vice president

The Legislature is frustrated by the dissonance in Utah’s education debates. They recognize that our students’ achievement has stagnated, just like the rest of the country. They also recognize that inflation adjusted spending per student has doubled since 1971. To identify what will and won’t work, they plan to convene a legislative task force to separate the educational wheat from the chaff.
Educational task forces and commissions have come and gone. Some have business participation. Others include only representatives of the education establishment. Some are national in scope, while others focus on individual states. They all have one thing in common: their recommendations don’t get implemented.
http://goo.gl/u5oCz

Non-Teaching Staff Growth Dwarfs Student Growth in Utah Utah Taxpayers Association commentary

Utah is one of 21 states that have more non-teaching staff than teachers, a new study by the Friedman Foundation shows. That means that more and more resources are not making it into the classroom, but are being tied up in administration and other costs. This finding is not a surprise, however. In our latest edition of our School Spending Report, 25 out of 41 school districts employ more non-teaching staff than teachers. According to our analysis, 51% of Utah’s school district employees are non-teaching staff. The nearby chart shows a breakdown of teachers as a percentage of employees in Utah’s 41 school districts.
As with any expenditures in education, the goal should be to improve student achievement. But, the outpaced growth of non-teaching staff compared to students has not resulted in improved student achievement.
http://goo.gl/u5oCz

Drawing the line in third grade?
Deseret News commentary by columnist Mary McConnell

Okay, here’s one where I’m genuinely torn. Today’s Washington Post included an article entitled “States draw a hard line on third-graders, holding some back over reading”. A number of states, including the usual reform-minded suspects such as Florida and Indiana, have adopted a policy of holding back students who cannot read at the end of third grade. Their reasoning: After third grade students are expected to read for information, and students who remain functionally illiterate by fourth grade are heading for trouble.
http://goo.gl/rdJGs

Teachers vs. students: Pet peeves
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner commentary by Olivia Andrus, a sophomore at Ogden High

The battle between students and teachers has been going on since the first day of school, thousands of years ago.
Today, it appears the battle continues in our Top of Utah classrooms. Each “side” has its own list of things they don’t like about the other, whether it’s a teacher who loses assignments or a student who sits in the back of the classroom, texting the entire class period.
We asked some local high school teachers and students to share their pet peeves about each other.
http://goo.gl/gJ4dL

Embarrassed by GOP
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Bryce Abplanalp

Our Republican representatives seem to feel that pursuing an unconstitutional bill (HB114, which seeks to place Utah’s gun laws above federal laws) is more important than allowing private investors to fund a preschool program for at-risk kids (SB71).
Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, indicated that closing the achievement gap is not “a noble goal”; all the while, our lawmakers waste time debating and attempting to pass a law that any 12th-grade civics student would clearly agree is unconstitutional, all in an attempt to score political points.
I’m embarrassed to call myself a Republican as they continue to place guns and politics above children and education.
http://goo.gl/RP0k1

A whiff of racism
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Michael Denker

In explaining why she voted to kill a bill that would have expanded preschool for at-risk kids, Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, said that trying to close the achievement gap between low- and high-performing students is not “a noble goal” because students should be allowed to learn at their own pace (“Utah lawmakers kill preschool bill for at-risk children,” Tribune, March 6).
Minority students are overrepresented among low achievers, so it seems Dayton is insinuating that minority students are incapable of learning as fast or as well as their white, middle-class peers. I want to believe she is simply ill-informed and her statement poorly worded, but it sure smells like racism to me.
As a teacher who works in a school whose top priority is to close the achievement gap, we examine the practices of numerous schools across the nation that have had success in this endeavor.
http://goo.gl/Gfaot

http://goo.gl/1Ucij (DN)

So much for Utah values
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Joan S. Wolf

I was horrified to see The Tribune’s front page this morning (March 6) with these two headlines: “Senate OKs prison move” and “Bill to expand preschool for at-risk children dies.”
So we ignore the needs of these preschool-age, at-risk children, wait for many of them to fail and falter, and build prisons to contain them.
Meanwhile, the prison may be turned over to private management, a step that has invoked serious and worrisome criticism. Developers like Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, rake in profits (no conflict of interest or potential benefit indeed!).
Then we find excuses and false arguments to support our refusal to invest in helping young, at-risk children prepare for school. The denial of support for these preschool programs is not only a bad educational decision for our children — all of them, rich and poor — but it is in conflict with both ethical standards and fiscal benefits for our community.
http://goo.gl/pv85E

Educate, not incarcerate
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Alex Steckel

It isn’t surprising to read that a bill to move the prison met with little resistance in the Utah Senate (“Senate OK’s prison move,” Tribune, March 6). Ironically, on the same day, a bill to expand preschool for at-risk children died in the Senate.
Unfortunately, that kind of juxtaposition is all too common during the legislative session. These so-called fiscal conservatives obviously would rather line the pockets of the real estate/construction sector than truly care about the future well-being of at-risk children.
http://goo.gl/Hffr0

Judging teachers
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Mark A. Besendorfer

Once again, the Legislature is rearranging the deck chairs while ignoring the gaping hole in the hull. SB133 would make classroom test scores public so anyone could see them. According to Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, “parents should have a right to look at data to hold teachers and teacher teams accountable” (“Should Utah parents get to see teacher performance data?” Tribune, March 4).
I and my teacher colleagues have no problem being “accountable,” as long as you account for the number of special education students in our classes, students with chronic absences, students who move in, move out, don’t speak the language fluently, or any number of other reasons affecting student performance.
Stephenson loves that word “accountability.” I just wish he would apply it to the Legislature and its failure to adequately fund education or come up with a long-range plan.
http://goo.gl/T5Ydt

Pageant was special event
(Provo) Daily Herald letter from Beth Hymas

If you weren’t fortunate enough to be in the Spanish Fork High School Auditorium on Thursday, February 28, you missed out on a heart tugging experience. It was the third annual Miss Teen Extraordinaire Pageant for special needs young ladies in the Nebo School District. The Pageant is the brain child of Whitney Talbert, Miss Spanish Fork of 2011. Whitney serves as the director.
With the help of generous sponsors, cooperative parents, and beautiful sweet girls, this event just filled the room with love, appreciation, smiles, tears, and acceptance.
http://goo.gl/aB9o4

Economists Study Early Education
Wall Street Journal commentary by columnist Carl Bialik

My print column examines the economic argument made by proponents of expanding early-childhood education in the U.S.: that it more than pays for itself in economic returns, in the form of better employment prospects for participants and lower costs in crime and social programs for society.
Economic analysis isn’t the only way to evaluate such programs, which also should demonstrate, for instance, whether they are adequately preparing children for kindergarten and beyond. But researchers say that economic analysis is necessary because early education is competing with other programs for scarce public funds. “Morally the question is whether we are doing right by the youngest generation,” said Megan Gunnar, professor of child development at the University of Minnesota. “But we do need to put that in economic terms if we are competing against all the other goods that society has to determine to use this money on.”
“The economic analysis helps provide tangibility to investments in early-childhood education,” said Rob Grunewald, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. “As a society we can pay less in upfront prevention, or pay more years later in attempts at remediation.” Economic analysis, he added, “does put tangibility to the benefits we see,” even if “certainly there is a coldness to it.”
http://goo.gl/X7ikW

Secretary Of Education Arne Duncan Plays Not My Job
NPR Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!

Arne Duncan is President Obama’s secretary of education, and if, while he’s on this show, a disaster befalls the president, the vice president, the speaker of the House and every other member of the Cabinet except Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security, he would be president.
We’ve invited Duncan to play a game called “Now, don’t be fresh … I just take dictation!” Three questions for the secretary of education about the education of secretaries.
http://goo.gl/OjEsQ

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NATIONAL NEWS
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States draw a hard line on third-graders, holding some back over reading
Washington Post

A growing number of states are drawing a hard line in elementary school, requiring children to pass a reading test in third grade or be held back from fourth grade.
Thirteen states last year adopted laws that require schools to identify, intervene and, in many cases, retain students who fail a reading proficiency test by the end of third grade. Lawmakers in several other states and the District are debating similar measures.
Not every state requires retention; some allow schools to promote struggling readers to fourth grade as long as they are given intensive help.
Advocates of the new tough-love policies say social promotion — advancing students based on age and not academic achievement — results in high-schoolers who can barely read, let alone land a job or attend college. Literacy problems are best addressed at an early age, they say.
Critics say the policies reflect an accountability movement that has gone haywire, creating high-stakes tests for 8-year-olds. The child, not the school, bears the brunt of the problem, they say, pointing to research that shows that the academic benefits of repeating a grade fade with time while the stigma can haunt children into adulthood.
http://goo.gl/iFN8l

Commission Calls for ‘Radically Different’ Tests
Panel offers a 10-year plan
Education Week

Emerging technology and research on learning have the potential to dramatically improve assessments, if educators and policymakers take a more balanced approach to using them.
That’s the conclusion of two years of analysis by the Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in Education, a panel of top education research and policy experts that was launched in 2011 with initial funding from the Educational Testing Service.
In a report that was set for release this week, the commission lays out a 10-year plan for states to develop systems of assessment that go beyond identifying student achievement for accountability purposes and toward improving classroom instruction and giving greater insight into how children learn.
http://goo.gl/Cc0dS

A copy of the report
http://www.edweek.org/media/gordonpublicpolicy.pdf

School Reform Program Targets Students at Risk of Falling Behind, Dropping Out
NewsHour

Currently implemented in 44 U.S. schools, a data-driven dropout prevention program called Diplomas Now targets students who start to fall behind in middle school, and offers them nurturing, mentoring relationships. Ray Suarez reports on how a Baton Rouge middle school was able to turn itself around by adopting this approach.
http://goo.gl/v1Jz6

Education proposals have Gov. Rick Scott stuck between a rock and Republicans
Miami Herald

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott is in a tight spot with teachers.
To score points with rank-and-file educators, Scott has made $2,500 pay raises for classroom teachers a top budget priority.
But to stay in their good graces — and possibly win their votes in 2014 — Scott will need to bat down a number of education proposals moving through the Florida Legislature, including the hot-button “parent trigger” bill and a pitch to increase facilities funding for charter schools.
There’s just one problem. Opposing those bills will land Scott in the doghouse with Republicans and put him at odds with former Gov. Jeb Bush, whose nonprofit foundation has driven Florida’s education agenda for more than a decade.
What’s a governor with sagging poll numbers to do?
http://goo.gl/OMCLl

Schools chief warns that plan to give parents power in school turnarounds is flawed
Palm Beach (FL) Post

TALLAHASSEE — A controversial “parent trigger” plan to let parents take over failing schools is on the fast track, but Education Commissioner Tony Bennett cautioned lawmakers this week that the proposal gives the state too much power and creates too much red tape for parents.
Bennett, Indiana’s former superintendent of schools, sent a memo to the sponsors of the measure, warning that the plan “may let local elected school board members off the hook when it comes to respecting a parent’s role” in turning around failing schools.
The state Board of Education picked Bennett over two other finalists in December, a month after the Republican lost his bid for re-election to a Democrat who used his conservative education reform agenda against him. Bennett’s legacy in Indiana included merit pay for teachers, expanding charter schools and vouchers and school grades.
Indiana is one of seven states with parent trigger laws. At least 20 other states, including Florida, have considered similar proposals.
http://goo.gl/8pKr4

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

UEN News
http://www.uen.org

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

March 28:
Utah Foundation’s 1013 Annual Meeting
11:30 a.m., 500 South Main, Salt Lake City
http://www.utahfoundation.org/reports/?page_id=665

April 14-15:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda.aspx

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