Education News Roundup: March 13, 2013

"Students in Classrooms..." by Jeremy Wilburn/CC/flickr

“Students in Classrooms…” by Jeremy Wilburn/CC/flickr

Today’s Top Picks:

Housekeeping note: ENR is abandoning ship prior to the end of the legislative session to go watch the Division II college hockey national championships in St. Louis ( Utah is one of two states to send two schools to the sweet 16. Sorry, Utes and Cougars; it’s the Aggies and Wildcats. And if any of you are heading to Vegas over the weekend, ENR’s inside tip is that Weber’s goalie is quite good even if he does share the same last name as this piece’s author (who was never any good at sports). The Roundup will return on Tuesday with way too much to read.

Suicide prevention bill gets lots of co-sponsors.  (SLT)

Rep. Handy’s bill to adjust ed funds distribution is back on track. (OSE)

Logan likely to seek $55 million bond. (LHJ)

Davis considers drug testing for extracurricular activities. (OSE)

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush endorses Sen. Adams school grading bill. (Utah Senate Site)
or a copy of the letter (Utah Senate Site)

The economy may be recovering, but the latest report says education jobs aren’t. (Reuters)

Ed Week looks at the latest survey of math and science teachers. (Ed Week)
or a copy of the survey (NSSME)

Where are the math ed majors? (Inside Higher Ed)
or a copy of the report

Tower computers? Pfft. So last century. Notebook computers? Ho-hum. Smartphones. That’s where kids are connecting to the Internet. (AP)
and (Ed Week)
or a copy of the report (Pew Internet & American Life Project)



46 lawmakers sign on as co-sponsors of suicide prevention bill

House to reconsider bill that fixes glitch, aids Davis schools

Lawmakers balance budget, push last-minute legislation on day 43

Bill studying Utah public records site advances

Senate supports tax credits for clean-fuel cars

Legislature endorses 66 by 2020 education goal

Logan School Board likely to ask for $55 million bond for district buildings

Davis district students involved in extracurriculars may face random drug testing

Granite School District supports families with autistic children Group » Monthly meetings designed to educate parents, let siblings vent.

Sixteen Utah seniors ace the ACT college prep exam Education » Two Utah students also recognized for excellence in AP STEM courses.

Eighth-graders at St. Francis Xavier hold own election for new pope

Kearns teen hit by car ‘stable but critical’ Wednesday

Kids conquer fears during fun visit to McKay-Dee Hospital

Students handle human brains as part of program

Read a book, get a Slurpee

Smith’s makes $4.2M in donations

Sky View dedicates week to fundraising for African school library

Students represent Nebo District at state FBLA competition

President Obama’s State of the Union speech touches off renewed debate about pre-K programs

How to make kids’ app time educational


Preschool bill

Short takes on legislation

Is education just job training?

Jeb Bush endorses SB271

Back to school

Hypocritical legislators

The problem with high-tech ‘personalized’ learning tools

Lawsuit charges Ed Department with violating student privacy rights

Motivation Matters: 40% Of High School Students Chronically Disengaged From School

11 heinous lies conservatives are teaching America’s school children The right has a new plan to capture the country’s youth vote: Take over public school curriculums


Waiting for recovery: U.S. public schools continue to lose jobs

Survey Suggests Hurdles for Math, Science Teaching Mismatch seen in classroom practices, standards

Colorado Student Receives $100,000 Intel First Prize

Missing Math Experts

Report: More Youth Use Smartphones as Route to Web

Fund That Subsidizes Internet for Schools Should Expand, a Senator Says

RI City Wins $5M Bloomberg Prize with Word Gap Fix

Arizona bill ties funds to school performance

Parts of Act 10 union law still on hold, appeals court rules

Fifth-grader can hand out Christmas party invitations in public school, court rules

LA Schools Settle Claims over Lewd ‘Tasting Games’

Study: More sleep gives home-schooled students academic edge National Jewish Health researcher says home-schoolers get 90 more minutes of nightly rest than public school students, potentially better equipping them to learn.

Putin Urges Revival of Soviet-era Fitness Tests


46 lawmakers sign on as co-sponsors of suicide prevention bill

SALT LAKE CITY — In a display of bipartisan support, 46 representatives — both Republicans and Democrats — have joined as co-sponsors of a bill that requires parental notification of suicide threats, bullying and harassment at schools.
A substitute version of HB134, listing the House co-sponsors and specifying that parent notification records classify as private under the Government Records Access Management Act, was adopted Tuesday by the Senate and granted a third reading after a 27-1 vote. A version of the bill has already passed the House of Representatives.
HB134, sponsored by Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, would require schools to notify parents if a student expresses a suicidal threat or is involved in an incident of bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, hazing or retaliation. It would also require schools to obtain a statement from the student’s parents acknowledging that they were notified of the school’s concerns. (SLT)

House to reconsider bill that fixes glitch, aids Davis schools

SALT LAKE CITY — A local lawmaker’s bill removing a procedural glitch in the timing of educational fund distribution, which is expected to provide a one-time infusion of $3 million into Davis School District, has cleared the Senate and is headed back to the House for final review.
The Senate voted 26-0 Tuesday night to approve HB 49, which amends provisions in the Minimum School Program Act in regard to board levy programs and would require the state to appropriate the full amount of the state’s contribution to local districts each year.
It would benefit four school districts, including Davis. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Stephen Handy, R-Layton. (OSE)

Lawmakers balance budget, push last-minute legislation on day 43

SALT LAKE CITY — With the session winding down, the House and Senate are pushing through last-minute legislation, which isn’t out of the ordinary.
However the biggest hurdle lawmakers have managed to overcome is balancing the State’s budget. Typically lawmakers are wrangling with balancing the budget until midnight on the last day of the session, but Governor Gary Herbert has already signed off on a number of base budgets, including funding public education.

During his weekly address with the media, Herbert said he is satisfied with the work the legislature has done so far this year.
“We can see the finish line is ahead of us,” he said.
The legislature has already reached the finish line on the state’s budget. More than $68 million will cover growth in public education. Another $6 million will go to supplies and materials. Teachers also get a raise.
“The fact that we’re going to be putting in probably around $20 million of new money into S.T.E.M. education is a significant step forward too,” Herbert said.
Rep. Chavez-Houck said she is happy with the funding in public education this year, and she agreed that it was made a priority, but she is not completely satisfied with the session. (KSTU)

Bill studying Utah public records site advances

The Utah House has advanced a bill that would task a state transparency board with studying ways to create a one-stop shop for open records in Utah.
West Valley City Republican Rep. Craig Hall says the bill asks the Utah Transparency Advisory Board to look for solutions for records that are already public.
Critics of the legislation said they feared it did not have protections for private information and gave the board too much authority. (PDH)

Senate supports tax credits for clean-fuel cars

The Senate voted Tuesday to extend expiring tax credits for vehicles that use cleaner fuels.
It voted 19-8 to pass HB96. Because it was amended — to allow the extension for just one year — it was returned to the House for further consideration.
It would provide credits of up to $2,500 for buying or converting vehicles that use cleaner-burning fuels, including hybrids or vehicles that use natural gas or electricity.
Such credits would otherwise have expired this year. State figures showed 552 vehicles were bought in 2011 using the clean-fuel tax credits that would be extended, which state air quality officials figure reduced pollution by 485.8 tons, Rep. Jack Draxler, R-North Logan, the bill’s sponsor, said in earlier debate.
The bill once appeared dead early in the session. A committee voted it down when some were concerned that money lost from the tax credits would hurt education funds that come from income taxes.
But the bill was reconsidered and amended so that only the first $500,000 would come from education funds — less than the $1.14 million that current credits cost schools. The rest would come from general funds. (SLT)

Legislature endorses 66 by 2020 education goal

A resolution backing the goal that 66 percent of Utahns hold post-high school degrees or certificates by 2020 has passed the full Legislature.
The Governor’s Education Excellence Commission, higher education leaders, public education leaders, and business leaders have been talking about the goal for more than two years. The resolution, SCR5, shows the Legislature’s support for it as well. It also sets a goal that 90 percent of students be proficient in reading by the end of third grade. (SLT) (MUR)

Logan School Board likely to ask for $55 million bond for district buildings

The Logan City School District Board of Education has tentatively decided it will ask voters to approve a $55 million bond in November.
During a work session earlier this week, the board agreed on the amount, which would pay for structural renovations and new buildings. However, boardmembers indicated they may choose to use only a portion of that amount.
However, if approved, $35,565,000 of the bond would be issued for a major remodel at Logan High School. The rest of the money would then be put on hold so that the district could pay off its existing general obligation debt of $11,340,000. (LHJ)

Davis district students involved in extracurriculars may face random drug testing

FARMINGTON — High school athletes, cheerleaders, drill team members and student body officers may have to consent to random drug testing when the new school year begins in August.
Davis School District officials began looking at a random-drug-testing proposal after parents, coaches and administrators said they were concerned about possible drug use among those who participate in extracurricular activities, said John Robison, the district’s health lifestyle director.
The proposed policy will be presented to the Davis School Board for a first reading at its Tuesday board meeting, said Shauna Lund, the district’s community relations specialist. (OSE)

Granite School District supports families with autistic children Group » Monthly meetings designed to educate parents, let siblings vent.

West Valley City • On a cold Thursday in late January, parents, kids with autism and their siblings gathered in three Whittier Elementary School rooms for dinner, fun and education.
The 30 families are part of the Granite School District’s Autism Parent Support Group, a second-year program funded by a federal grant designed to prevent child abuse that is administered by the Utah Division of Child and Family Services.
“I would dare to use the word vital,” said Andrea Brown of Magna, about the programs, which are held 12 times a year. (SLT)

Sixteen Utah seniors ace the ACT college prep exam Education » Two Utah students also recognized for excellence in AP STEM courses.

Sixteen Utah high school seniors who took the ACT college readiness exam in 2012 earned the top composite score of 36.
On average, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all test takers earn the top score of 36, according to ACT, a nonprofit assessment organization based in Iowa.
The Utah students honored for their ACT scores and their schools are: (SLT) (PDH) (KUTV) (KSL)

Eighth-graders at St. Francis Xavier hold own election for new pope

KEARNS — As cardinals in Vatican City met behind doors Tuesday to begin the process of selecting a new pope, students at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School held their own conclave of sorts.
Eighth-graders in Veronica Brand’s class are on “Pope Watch.” They wrote their names on a map with pictures of frontrunners to replace Pope Benedict XVI. The majority of the votes from the Kearns students went with Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana. (DN)

Kearns teen hit by car ‘stable but critical’ Wednesday

A teenage Kearns boy remains in critical condition Wednesday after a car hit him as he walked to school Tuesday.
Walter Peralta, 15, was hit just before 7:15 a.m. near 5300 W. 5400 South in Kearns, according to Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal. Wednesday morning Hoyal said Peralta’s condition remained unchanged from the night before, when he was “extremely critical, but stable.”
The boy and three other teenagers were crossing from the north to the south side of the street, Hoyal explained, when an eastbound car stopped to wait for them. A Chevrolet Metro then swerved to miss the stopped car but didn’t see the pedestrians and hit Peralta. (SLT) (KSL) (KNRS)

Kids conquer fears during fun visit to McKay-Dee Hospital

OGDEN — Rylee Funk was at McKay-Dee Hospital, having a cast put on her right arm Monday morning.
The West Haven Elementary School second-grader didn’t actually break any bones, however. She was on a field trip with classmates to learn about the ins and outs of the hospital and how it’s not such a scary place to visit.
“Our Friend the Hospital,” sponsored by the Weber Medical Alliance, is designed to help children alleviate and conquer fears they may have while visiting a hospital. (OSE)

Students handle human brains as part of program

SALT LAKE CITY — Students at Glendale Middle School put their brains to work Tuesday — studying brains.
The event was part of Brain Awareness Week, in which volunteers make presentations to 2,500 schoolchildren statewide. Students handle human brains to see firsthand how brains are damaged by injury or drugs. School activities stress the importance that nutrition and exercise have for brain function, wearing helmets to prevent head injury, and avoiding drugs.
Brain Awareness Week is part of a global campaign and is presented locally by the Utah Brain Education Alliance, which is a network of volunteers from the University of Utah, Weber State University and Brigham Young University. (DN)

Read a book, get a Slurpee

A Provo 7-Eleven is now offering a sweet incentive for local children to read more books. The store at the corner of 300 S. and Freedom Blvd. has a program allowing children to take home a book home, read it and return it for a free Slurpee or treat.
Provo 7-Eleven manager Todd Hansen fixes his bookshelf before local schools get out. (Photo by Elliott Miller) The program has only been underway for a few weeks, but the word is spreading quickly. Local children who do not live close to a library now have a new location to get reading material. Todd Hansen, the 7-Eleven franchise owner, is involved in this program for that exact reason. (Universe)

Smith’s makes $4.2M in donations

Smith’s Food & Drug Stores made $4.2 million in donations to Utah nonprofits in 2012.
Smith’s released the figures in its 2012 Report to the Community, which includes donations to 983 schools and charities in Utah.
Including donations made in Utah, Smith’s gave out about $10 million worth of cash and products to more than 2,200 organizations in seven Western states of Smith’s operations.
The donations are mainly meant to fight hunger, support K-12 education, children’s hospitals, promote women’s health and the development of minorities and women, and support local grass-roots organizations. (OSE) (SGN)

Sky View dedicates week to fundraising for African school library

SMITHFIELD — Students at Sky View High School played carnival games Tuesday night to help raise money for a library in Ghana.
Members of 13 clubs at the school manned the booths, selling candy and food and offering various games to other students and members of the community.
Carnival Night was part of Sky View Cause Week, a week dedicated to raising money to build the library in Accra, Ghana. In 2010, members of the Sky View studentbody built a school in the city. The library would be an addition to the school and would cost $27,000. (LHJ)

Students represent Nebo District at state FBLA competition

Students from Nebo School District came home with awards this month after the annual Utah State Future Business Leaders of America Conference and Competition.
Of the 28 students from Salem Hills, Maple Mountain and Springville high schools in attendance, two students were appointed Utah FBLA state officers. James Carrington of Salem Hills was elected to serve as central region vice president, and Springville High’s Hannah Cook was elected state historian. (PDH)

President Obama’s State of the Union speech touches off renewed debate about pre-K programs

Last fall, teacher Amanda Jones faced 23 kindergartners who displayed eagerness, excitement and some fear. At the age of 5, she noticed, some students were already years ahead of others in their academic and social development.
“On the first day of school, you can tell that there is a huge academic gap,” Jones said of her class at Pioneer Elementary School in Preston, Idaho. “We’ve got kids that can actually read, and some that know maybe two letters of the alphabet. We’re expected to get every one of those kids on the same level.”
Some students had no idea how to sit still, listen quietly, or raise a hand before speaking. Some didn’t know how to treat other children respectfully — they hit others, and slowed the pace of instruction.
Kids who start kindergarten lacking a strong foundation for academic achievement rarely catch up to their peers, and research shows that society pays a high cost later. (DN)

How to make kids’ app time educational

Naomi Lopez is in kindergarten, but she reads and can do math at a second-grade level. She’s also bilingual.
Carlos Lopez attributes his daughter’s early academic success to educational games. In addition to a half day of regular schooling, Naomi averages an hour a day engaged in games and programs on an iPad or the computer that help her practice spelling and math.
“It’s super duper fun,” the 6-year-old said with a smile.
“I highly recommend it, as long as it is something educational,” Carlos Lopez said.
More than two hours a day spent watching television or playing computer games could put a child at greater risk for psychological problems regardless of their activity levels, according to a study by the University of Bristol.
However, in a day and age when young children spend hours on a parent’s tablet or phone, some parents and educators find that turning them on to apps, software and other technology with fun, educational content can help establish a strong foundation of core skills and accelerate academic progress. (DN)


Preschool bill
(St. George) Spectrum editorial

Many Utah lawmakers routinely say they value education and rank it among their top priorities. Many of those same lawmakers state they want to ensure people have the opportunity to succeed.
They have a funny way of showing that they truly hold those values because their actions don’t live up to their words.
A bill sponsored by Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, sought to expand preschool programs for at-risk children in the state. Using a “best-practices” approach from the Granite School District, the bill would have allowed the state to seek out $10 million in private investors to expand and raise the quality of preschool programs for at-risk children. The state would have set aside $1 million to repay the investors, with interest, if the program succeeded in helping kids improve in school and if the program saved Utah money.

Short takes on legislation
Salt Lake Tribune editorial

Inherent ignorance » The basic idea behind SB169, sponsored by Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, is good one. It would create an education task force to identify primary goals for public education, a time frame and a plan for accomplishing them. Considering all the diverse pieces of legislation having something to do with education in the current legislative session, an overall vision is definitely needed. The problem with the idea — and it’s a big problem — is that the task force would be comprised of majority and minority leadership from both the House and Senate, chairpersons of the House and Senate education committees and higher education appropriations committees. Missing would be anyone from the education community, the very people who are trained and experienced in education and who know first-hand the needs of Utah schools and their students. Once again, it means micromanaging education by legislators who are driven more by ideology, and too often arrogance, than knowledge.

It’s a tax increase » Republican legislators perennially refuse to raise taxes to increase funding for public education, even though polls show many Utahns would agree to pay higher taxes specifically for schools. But SB81 is a way to raise taxes without putting any legislator’s anti-tax credentials in jeopardy. The bill would take money from school districts where voters have already approved property tax increases for their schools and give it to others with smaller tax bases. And it would allow districts to raise property taxes to make up the loss. It’s a sneaky tax increase on small groups of Utahns when what’s needed is straightforward income tax reform to require large families to pay their fair share.

Is education just job training?
Deseret News commentary by columnists Linda & Richard Eyre

You hear it all the time: “We don’t have the luxury of learning things that don’t help us make money.” Or, “Whatever you do in college, major in something that will lead directly to a well-paying job.”
The problem with these ideas is that education should not be considered only a means to an end. What we learn through schooling should help us live life more fully, in all of its aspects. If all one wants is job training, he should go to trade school. By the way, there is nothing wrong with trade school; indeed, it is a smart choice for a great number of people.
What we object to is thinking of all education, particularly at the secondary and university level, only as job training. Education should be an end in itself as well as a means to other ends. Often, our education is actually more important than the jobs it leads to. Some have totally inverted the equation, arguing that the reason we work is to be able to afford the wonder of various kinds of education.

Jeb Bush endorses SB271
Utah Senate Site Commentary

In 2011, Senator Wayne Niederhauser ran SB59 – School Grading System – which established a school grading system based on the performance of a school’s students on statewide assessments, and for high schools, the graduation rate and measures that indicate college and career readiness.
Currently, Senator Stuart Adams is sponsoring legislation which modifies the School Grading Act. See SB271 – School Grading Amendments.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush sent us a letter in support of the current legislation:

A copy of the letter (Utah Senate Site)

Back to school
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Kathy Joffs

Thank you, Bob Halloran, for your comments in “Teaching tutorial” (Forum, March 4), including, “Many of our underappreciated legislators would benefit greatly by spending one day in the shoes of a Utah educator.” Thanks for being willing to substitute teach — a difficult job.
Teachers have opportunities to meet with legislators during Educator Day on the Hill. I propose that legislators meet teachers in schools for Legislator Day in the Trenches.

Hypocritical legislators
Deseret News letter from Wayne Wagner

Let me get this straight. Sen. Margaret Dayton (among others) with marching orders from the Eagle Forum, voted against Sen. Aaron Osmond’s bill to provide voluntary pre-school programs for at risk children. She said, “3 and 4-year-old children belong at their mother’s knee.” On the planet those poor mothers inhabit, they likely work 60-80 hours a week at minimum wage to help feed and clothe those 3 and 4-year-olds. The same day, Utah legislators voted to opt out of the 100 percent federally funded ACA Medicaid expansion, which would cover 131,000 poor uninsured residents. These are folks who are victims of the pathetic free market health care system conservatives so proudly support.
Those same legislators are beneficiaries of a generous taxpayer paid health care benefit (for part-time work) which converts to lifetime state paid Medicare premiums at age 65, after 10 years of legislative service. So, is this how they practice compassionate, conservative Christian values? There could be no better definition of hypocrisy.

The problem with high-tech ‘personalized’ learning tools Washington Post commentary by Sabrina Joy Stevens, of the American Federation of Teachers

To me, that’s personalized learning—when a person sees and recognizes in another person (or in him- or herself) what’s needed to keep learning and growing. Personalized learning occurs when a teacher and a learner know and respect each other enough to interact in meaningful ways, and when a learner begins to know herself well enough to know the next step she should take to master a new skill, or the next step on her path to becoming who she wants to be.
That’s why I couldn’t help feeling a bit disturbed at SXSWedu last week, hearing tech vendors and venture capitalists use the term “personalized learning” as though it was 1) new (what, exactly, do these people think has been going on in human brains for millennia??) and 2) a ground-breaking thing that could only be enabled through their proprietary technology.
Language-check: what many of these people are selling as “personalized” learning is actually digitized standardized learning. Creating tools and products that offer digital ways to deliver drill-and-kill instruction is not revolutionary. Attaching that to a large bank of flawed, standardized data merely automates and speeds the process of selecting those drill-and-kill activities and marketing more of them to teachers, students and parents. But making it easier to do more of a problematic thing does not make that thing less problematic.

Lawsuit charges Ed Department with violating student privacy rights Washington Post commentary by columnist Valerie Strauss

The U.S. Education Department is being sued by a nonprofit organization for promoting regulations that are alleged to undercut student privacy and parental consent. The rules allow third parties, including private companies and foundations promoting school reform, to get access to private student information.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center has been fighting for the department over 2011 regulations involving the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, also known as FERPA, a law that is supposed to protect the privacy of student education records at all schools that receive federal education funds. FERPA was passed to give parents specific rights in regard to their children’s education records, rights which transfer to the student he/she becomes 18 or goes to a school beyond the high school level.
But in 2011, regulations issued by the department changed FERPA to allow the release to third parties of student information for non-academic purposes. The rules also broaden the exceptions under which schools can release student records to non-governmental organizations without first obtaining written consent from parents. And they promote the public use of student IDs that enable access to private educational records, according to EPIC, a nonprofit public-interest center based in Washington D.C.

Motivation Matters: 40% Of High School Students Chronically Disengaged From School Forbes commentary by columnist James Marshall Crotty

It’s unsurprising that many students are perceived as unmotivated, suggests a series of papers released by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) at the George Washington University. Based on a review of research from various sources going back decades, the papers suggest that while existing efforts to increase student achievement are an important part of education reform, they have not focused enough on what it takes to motivate students in school.
Too often, strategies that adults use to boost student achievement — such as raising academic standards and giving high-stakes standardized exams — do not address the real reasons why students are disengaged. Even the most dedicated teachers and parents may be sending messages that leave children believing they don’t have what it takes to succeed.
Lack of motivation is a real and pressing problem. Upwards of 40 percent of high school students are chronically disengaged from school, according to a 2003 National Research Council report on motivation.

11 heinous lies conservatives are teaching America’s school children The right has a new plan to capture the country’s youth vote: Take over public school curriculums commentary by columnist AMANDA MARCOTTE

If recent elections have taught us anything, it’s that young Americans have taken a decided turn to the left. Young voters delivered Obama the election: the under-44 set voted Obama and the over-45 set broke for Romney. The youngest voters, age 18-29, gave Obama a whopping 60% of their vote.
Now Republicans have a plan to try to recapture the youngest voters out there: Take over the curriculum in public schools, replace education with a bunch of conservative propaganda, and reap the benefits of having a new generation that can’t tell reality from right-wing fantasy.
How well this plan will work is debatable, but in the meantime, these shenanigans present the very real possibility that public school students will graduate without a proper education. To make it worse, many of these attempts to rewrite school curriculum are happening in Texas, which can set the textbook standards for the entire country by simply wielding its power as one of the biggest school textbook markets there is. With that in mind, here’s a list of 11 lies your kid may be in danger of learning in school.


Waiting for recovery: U.S. public schools continue to lose jobs Reuters

WASHINGTON – Nicole Lyons gave up.
After she was laid off from her job teaching at a public elementary school she bounced through longer-term substitute postings and held a part-time job, all the while hoping she would land a permanent placement.
“In 2012, after two years working as a sub and continuing to see layoffs, I was like, ‘I can’t work 50 hours a week one more year,'” said the Los Angeles resident. “I want a full-time job. I want my benefits back.”
Even her mother, a former school principal who told Lyons she was destined to teach, agreed with her recent decision to become a paralegal.
“She said: You know what? At this point, you’re right, it’s not going to get better,” Lyons said.
Indeed, as the latest data shows momentum gathering in U.S. private-sector employment and overall unemployment dropping to a four-year low of 7.7 percent, government jobs – education positions in particular – are still disappearing as local government budgets remain pressured by the residual effects of the housing crisis and recession.
Since the peak in local public school employment in July 2008, about 361,000 jobs in the sector have been eliminated, roughly half of the 725,000 government jobs lost overall in the same period, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show. The losses are continuing, with 4,500 local government education jobs shed in the first two months of this year compared with 412,000 private-sector jobs created.

Survey Suggests Hurdles for Math, Science Teaching Mismatch seen in classroom practices, standards Education Week

A rich new set of survey data on math and science teachers highlights some big challenges the nation faces if it hopes to significantly increase student achievement in those disciplines. It also drives home, experts say, the huge need to support teachers as districts begin implementing the common-core math standards, and as an effort to develop common standards for science nears completion.
Just one-third of middle school math teachers have a degree in mathematics or math education, for instance, according to the national survey of nearly 7,800 educators, including elementary teachers as well as secondary math and science teachers, issued last month. Fewer than half of elementary teachers feel “very well prepared” to teach science. And just one in five K-3 educators teaches science every day.
Meanwhile, a lot of teachers don’t feel well-equipped to plan instruction that meets the needs of students at varying levels of math and science understanding. Also, many don’t place a high priority on asking students to explain and justify their method for solving a math problem, or to supply evidence in support of a scientific claim, approaches emphasized in the new math standards and the ones forthcoming in science.
Those are just a few findings experts are emphasizing in the report, which provides a wealth of information, including teachers’ backgrounds, instructional practices, beliefs, and professional-development experiences.

A copy of the survey (NSSME)

Colorado Student Receives $100,000 Intel First Prize New York Times

A high school senior who cultivated populations of algae under her loft bed won first place and $100,000 in the Intel Science Talent Search on Tuesday night.
The contestant, Sara Volz, 17, of Colorado Springs, Colo., researched ways to create populations of algae cells with high oil content; this algae oil can be converted into an economically feasible biofuel. “It’s something she’s worked on for years, and that shows a certain passion and drive that you don’t always see in heavily mentored projects,” said David Marker, a mathematics professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the chairman of the judging panel. “And what really set her off was that she’s so well-rounded in all areas of science — I was able to ask her very advanced math questions that she answers easily.”
Second prize in the contest, $75,000, was awarded to Jonah Kallenbach, 17, of Ambler, Pa., for his project, “Characterizing and Identifying Interactions of Intrinsically Disordered Proteins.” Mr. Kallenbach’s research, in the burgeoning field of bioinformatics and genomics, focused on “disordered” regions in protein chains — areas with abnormal molecular structures. These areas eventually may serve as targets for newly developed drugs to treat diseases like breast cancer, ovarian cancer and tuberculosis.
Adam Bowman, 17, of Brentwood, Tenn., won third prize and $50,000 for research into less expensive ways to create ionized gases called plasmas, which have applications ranging from semiconductor manufacturing to nuclear physics. Current plasma sources are prohibitively expensive, and Mr. Bowman’s findings, which grew out of a tabletop plasma “gun” he built in his garage, could make the gases widely accessible to lower-budget institutions.

Missing Math Experts
Inside Higher Ed

Amid a national push to improve math and science education, a new study shows college and universities report they can’t fill faculty positions that focus on math education.
The number of unfilled positions has been halved since the study’s authors last explored the topic in 2006, but institutions surveyed during the 2011-12 academic year still reported they were unable to fill about one-quarter of their job openings. The study will appear in the April 2013 edition of the American Mathematical Society publication Notices.
“[W]hile there is not the excess of jobs for doctorates in mathematics in institutions of higher education that there has been in the past, there are still jobs for doctorates in mathematics education that were unfilled,” the survey reads.

A copy of the report

Report: More Youth Use Smartphones as Route to Web Associated Press

CHICAGO — Keep computers in a common area so you can monitor what your kids are doing. It’s a longstanding directive for online safety – but one that’s quickly becoming moot as more young people have mobile devices, often with Internet access.
A new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project finds that 78 percent of young people, ages 12 to 17, now have cellphones. Nearly half of those are smartphones, a share that’s increasing steadily – and that’s having a big effect on how, and where, many young people are accessing the Web.
The survey, released Wednesday, finds that one in four young people say they are “cell-mostly” Internet users, a percentage that increases to about half when the phone is a smartphone.
In comparison, just 15 percent of adults said they access the Internet mostly by cellphone. (Ed Week)

A copy of the report (Pew Internet & American Life Project)

Fund That Subsidizes Internet for Schools Should Expand, a Senator Says New York Times

WASHINGTON — The $2.3 billion federal E-Rate program, which subsidizes basic Internet connections for schools and libraries, should be overhauled and expanded to provide those community institutions with new, lightning-fast connections to the Web, the chairman of a Senate committee that oversees the F.C.C. said Tuesday.
Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, a West Virginia Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said that the fund should be used to create one-gigabit connections to every school in America — a speed that is 60 to 100 times faster than most schools or homes now receive — and wireless connections in every school building.
The initiative is one that Julius Genachowski, the F.C.C. chairman, has already endorsed, but with a less-aggressive goal. In January, Mr. Genachowski called for the nation’s mayors to support bringing one-gigabit Internet access to one community in each state by 2015.
With 92 percent of classrooms now having Internet access, up from 14 percent when the subsidy program started in 1996, “we need to think big about the future of E-Rate,” Mr. Rockefeller said.

RI City Wins $5M Bloomberg Prize with Word Gap Fix Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island’s capital city has won a $5 million contest created by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg with a high-tech plan to overcome a language skills problem known as the word gap that puts low-income children at a profound disadvantage in the classroom.
Providence was one of 305 cities that pitched an idea to Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge, a contest designed to spur innovation in America’s cities. Houston, Philadelphia, Chicago and Santa Monica, Calif., were selected for $1 million runner-up prizes. The winners are set to be announced Wednesday in New York.
Providence’s winning proposal will equip low-income children with recording devices that count the words and conversations they are exposed to. Combined with coaching lessons for parents,, the plan is designed to help poor children overcome a language skills deficit that develops before they even start kindergarten. (ProJo)

Arizona bill ties funds to school performance
(Phoenix) Arizona Republic

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is putting her weight behind a bill that would give more money to schools where students perform well or improve on state tests, but opponents fear the proposal could take money from struggling schools.
Senate Bill 1444, proposed by Brewer and sponsored by Senate Education Chairwoman Kimberly Yee, would base a portion of school funding on the state’s A-F system, which grades schools and districts primarily on how students perform on state tests.
The higher the grade and the greater the improvement, the more money a district or charter group could earn.

Parts of Act 10 union law still on hold, appeals court rules Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The state Court of Appeals on Tuesday kept in place – at least for now – a lower court’s ruling striking down parts of Gov. Scott Walker’s union law as unconstitutional.
The court’s ruling comes in the early stages of the appeal, and the three judges could later restore the law known as Act 10, which all but eliminated collective bargaining for most public workers.
Two unions, Madison Teachers Inc. and Public Employees Local 61, which represents City of Milwaukee workers, sued in Dane County Circuit Court. They argue the law violated the state constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech, freedom of association and equal protection under the law. Circuit Judge Juan Colás sided with the unions in September, striking down portions of the law.
Walker’s law left intact unions for police, firefighters and state troopers, but barred other unions from negotiating over anything but wages, and it limited any negotiated raises to the rate of inflation unless voters approved higher raises in a referendum. Colás’ ruling meant local workers could negotiate over a broad array of issues, such as workplace safety, and that there were no limits on how much they could seek in raises.
Act 10 also required public workers to pay more for their pensions and health care. Colás’ ruling said the provision in the law requiring City of Milwaukee workers to pay more for their pensions violates the “home rule” clause of the state constitution. His ruling did not change the requirement that all public workers pay more for their health care and did not change the requirement that public workers outside of Milwaukee pay more for their pensions.
The Colás ruling also didn’t change the fact that public employers can now impose on workers their best and final offer if bargaining fails to produce a deal.

Fifth-grader can hand out Christmas party invitations in public school, court rules Allentown (PA) Morning Call

A fifth-grader has the same right to give her classmates invitations to a church Christmas party as older students have to protest political and social issues in school, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
Siding with a former Pocono Mountain School District fifth-grader, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled school officials violated the girl’s right to free speech when they told her the invitations promising face painting, foosball and other fun and games at the church event violated district policy.
The girl, identified only as K.A. in court papers, sued in federal court two years ago and won a court order barring the school district from prohibiting her distribution of religious fliers and materials. The school district appealed.
Free speech advocates called the appeals court decision an important victory for all students. (Ed Week)

A copy of the ruling (3rd Circuit Court)

LA Schools Settle Claims over Lewd ‘Tasting Games’
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles school district will pay millions of dollars to settle claims and lawsuits filed by students and families from an elementary school where a third-grade teacher was accused of spoon-feeding children semen in what he called “tasting games,” lawyers in the cases said Tuesday.
District officials did not reveal the total amount of the settlement, but attorney Raymond Boucher, who represents several Miramonte Elementary School students, said each claimant will receive $470,000.
District General Counsel David Holmquist said the settlement covers 58 of the 191 claims and lawsuits filed by students and parents against the district after the January 2012 arrest of former third-grade teacher Mark Berndt on 23 charges of lewd behavior spanning five years at Miramonte.

Study: More sleep gives home-schooled students academic edge National Jewish Health researcher says home-schoolers get 90 more minutes of nightly rest than public school students, potentially better equipping them to learn.
(Fort Collins) Coloradoan

The first-of-its-kind, yearlong study of more than 2,600 U.S. adolescents, including about 500 home-taught kids, found that home-schooled students slept an average of 90 minutes more per night than students attending public or private schools.
By the end of the week, that’s almost an entire night’s sleep traditional students are missing, says study author Lisa Meltzer, an assistant professor of pediatrics at National Jewish Health in Denver. She says the changes brought by adolescence include alterations to when the sleep hormone melatonin is released in teens’ bodies, making it harder to get to sleep and wake up early.

Putin Urges Revival of Soviet-era Fitness Tests Associated Press

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin called Wednesday for the revival of a Soviet-era physical evaluation program that required all schoolchildren to pass fitness tests.
Putin, a judo enthusiast and a regular swimmer, said that the restoration of GTO, the Russian acronym for Ready for Labor and Defense, would teach children “to stand up for themselves, their family and, in the final run, the Fatherland.”
GTO, which was introduced in 1931 under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s rule, required all school and university students to regularly pass physical training tests. Those managing to qualify would receive silver- or gold-colored badges.


USOE Calendar

UEN News

March 13:
Executive Appropriations Committee meeting
4:10 p.m., 210 Senate Building

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

March 28:
Utah Foundation’s 1013 Annual Meeting
11:30 a.m., 500 South Main, Salt Lake City

April 4-5:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

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