Education News Roundup: March 25, 2013

"huzzah! i did it!" by Aptmetaphor/CC/flickr

“huzzah! i did it!” by Aptmetaphor/CC/flickr

Today’s Top Picks:

What do rising poverty and rising health care costs have to do with education funding? (PDH)

How much time should kids spend in the classroom vs. the playground? (OSE)

KSL looks at what Utah is doing to help at-risk students. (KSL)

School security debate ramps up. (WaPo)

What does the same-sex marriage issue imply for schools? (Ed Week)



State leaders concerned about Medicaid’s impact on school money

Ogden School District cuts recesses in favor of teaching time

Utah schools trying to help at-risk youth

School bond survey finds majority in favor of Proposal 2 for Cache School District

Pools draining classroom funds, could close, district says

2 dual immersion schools added
Bloomington, Santa Clara to add Chinese programs

Students show scientific prowess
SUU hosts Regional Science Fair

High school students show science research

Students design, build robots for national competition

Olympus High Students Get First Look At New School

Board debates ninth graders in high school sports

Program teaches sixth-graders about different cultures

Therapy dogs brighten classtime for Pioneer Elementary students

Schools, foundation team up to ‘boot out bullying’

Earth Day contest sparks debate

Volunteers stuff emergency preparedness kits school

Elementary principal charged with viewing porn at school

Clearfield church to meet at school

Deferred maintenance and obsolete features plague U.S. schools


Grading a bad law

Thumbs up, thumbs down

Senators’ query shows lack of respect

It’s the invisible baggage that prevents learning

Branch out into STEM career field

A teacher asks: Why teach?

Legislators boost Utah economy

Utah’s real ‘land grab’

Another bite at common core science standards

Might as well secede

How to fix local schools

Important to compare Utah not just by money spent on education, but also by results

Schools should spend time and money developing reading skills

Where would we be?

Parents Relying on School Report Cards Can Be Confused

Will Funding Flexibility for Schools Come With Sequestration Cuts?

Connection to Education Research Elusive for States

Why my grandson, 4, won’t be taking a gifted ed test


Debate on school security ramps up

Teachers and school staff turn to self-defense training

Same-Sex-Marriage Cases Hold Implications for Schools

Why Men Don’t Teach Elementary School

Teachers will soon get graded
It’s just one of many changes ahead as Wyoming works on education accountability.

Grant High’s transgender students get unisex bathroom option

Catholic School Enrollment Continues to Decline, Report Finds


State leaders concerned about Medicaid’s impact on school money

Utah’s lawmakers did their best to increase funding to education in the recent legislative session.
Legislators fixed a $25 million hole left in the budget from the previous year, appropriated money to cover the additional students coming into the system next fall and gave a 2 percent increase to the funds districts use for teacher pay. It could be said that in a year when money was tight, education did really well.
Members of the Legislature are sure to tout their accomplishment of sending more than $300 million in additional money to education this year but the question of keeping up that pace is sitting in the back of some lawmakers’ minds.
“The thing that concerns us going forward is the continual increase that Medicaid continues to have on our budget,” Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, said in the final days of the legislative session. (PDH)

Ogden School District cuts recesses in favor of teaching time

OGDEN — Older elementary school students in Ogden School District are getting less recess time. This year almost every elementary school in the district has cut out one recess for students in grades three through six and some schools have cut out the extra recess for all grades.
Students get one regular recess plus lunch recess. Before, students were getting a morning, afternoon and lunch recess. The reason? Administrators feel the students need more instructional time.
“Recess time is counted as instructional time,” district spokeswoman Donna Corby said. Many of the elementary schools have tacked an extra 10 minutes on to lunch time to give the students the missing play minutes, but by cutting the recess it cuts down on the time it takes to get students ready to go outside — things like gathering play supplies and going to the bathroom, plus the time it takes to get them settled with hands washed and ready to work.
“It’s not just a 10-minute recess break. It turns out to be 20 or 25 minutes,” Corby said.
Students do have separate physical education time where organized play is taught, but most schools offer that an average of 45 minutes per week — not the core curriculum requirement of 115 minutes per week. (OSE)

Utah schools trying to help at-risk youth

SALT LAKE CITY — Many at-risk students are slipping through the cracks, skipping school until they are forgotten or they end up not graduating.
That’s setting themselves up for a hard life. But many educators are working hard to change these kids’ lives by creating programs to target and help at-risk students.
It may be called something different in each district or in each school, but the purpose is the same — reaching out to students with problems with attendance, grades, social skills or bullying. (KSL)

School bond survey finds majority in favor of Proposal 2 for Cache School District

Preliminary results from a district-wide survey in the Cache County School District show a majority of patrons are in favor of the bond proposal that includes plan for two new high schools rather than one.
More than 2,400 people took the survey, which was distributed by the district earlier this month. The survey went out March 6 and was open to participants for a week.
The first option, referred to as Proposal 1, would have one high school built in Millville and bus students from North Logan to the high school.
Proposal 2, on the other hand, included plans for one high school to be built in Millville and another in North Logan.
Both options also include plans for seismic remodeling of older schools and security updates to all schools. Proposal 1 would cost $99,600,000, while Proposal 2 would cost $120,144,000. (LHJ)

Pools draining classroom funds, could close, district says

OGDEN — The Ogden School District said Thursday it could no longer afford the high cost of keeping pools in its high schools open, and hoped to transfer the pools to the city.
The pools at Ogden and Ben Lomond high schools cost the district about $260,000 annually. Both pools, which were built in the 1970s, need significant mechanical renovation and updates to the facilities, which would cost $550,000 and $500,000 per pool, respectively, the Ogden Board of Education said. (KSL) (CVD)

2 dual immersion schools added
Bloomington, Santa Clara to add Chinese programs

ST. GEORGE — Washington County School District has been approved by the Utah Office of Education to open two new Chinese Dual Language Immersion schools beginning next fall.
The two new schools are Bloomington Elementary and Santa Clara Elementary, joining the other WCSD dual language immersion schools: Arrowhead Elementary, Chinese; Dixie Sun Elementary, Spanish; Horizon Elementary, Chinese; Hurricane Elementary, Spanish; and Three Falls Elementary, Chinese.
Officials have said the programs have proven to be immensely popular in the local schools, and demand continues to grow. (SGS)

Students show scientific prowess
SUU hosts Regional Science Fair

CEDAR CITY — Students from elementary, middle and high schools throughout Southern Utah presented their scientific efforts to be judged Friday during the annual Regional Science Fair in the Sharwan Smith Center on the Southern Utah University campus.
The area for the southern region of Utah extended as far north as Duchesne and Uintah counties and as far south as San Juan, Kane and Washington counties.
Science Fair Director Kris Bronsema said the university has been affiliated with the science fair since 1974. She said participation in the fair this year, with a total of 390 student projects entered, has been the highest since the university began hosting the fairs. (SGS)

High school students show science research

If you put 700 elementary and high school students together in a room, the potential for chaos is high. If those students are some of the best in state of science projects, that chaotic energy is translated into a real passion and drive for science.
The Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair took place at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Thursday and Friday.
This is the third year the U has hosted this event, where students from six local school districts and many Catholic schools gather to present their research on various topics. (Chrony)

Students design, build robots for national competition

SALT LAKE CITY — The Maverik Center was full of robots on Saturday as teens from across the nation competed in the Utah regional FIRST Robotics Competition.
The FIRST Robotics Competition allows teams made up of 25 or more students to compete in “The varsity sport for the mind,” according to their website. Participants must follow strict rules, limits on resources and time constraints as they design and build their robots. (KSTU)

Olympus High Students Get First Look At New School

Students at Olympus High got a first look inside their new school on Friday.
Students walked from the old building to the new one, which sits right next door. (KUTV) (KSL)

Board debates ninth graders in high school sports

FARMINGTON — At a workshop on Tuesday, Davis School Board members took a good, hard look at ninth graders “playing up” to high school teams.
Though the discussion began with a recent request to allow one ninth-grade student to play for a high school team outside the boundaries of the high school he would normally attend, it quickly escalated to include the value of ninth graders playing on high school teams at all.
Current district policy does not promote the participation of ninth graders in high school programs, but it is allowed.
In most cases, ninth grade students are only allowed to participate with the high school within whose boundaries they live. (DCC)

Program teaches sixth-graders about different cultures

LAYTON — Using song and dance, teachers at E.G. King Elementary School hoped to give sixth-grade students a better understanding of the diverse cultures that span the globe.
In culmination of their yearlong study of countries, 90 students performed a blend of song and dance for their families recently at Central Davis Junior High School.The students performed a dozen musical numbers representing the countries and cultures that they have studied.
Students performed dances from several countries, including Romania, Vietnam, Australia, New Guinea, Nigeria, Israel, Germany, Austria, Ireland and Mexico. (OSE)

Therapy dogs brighten classtime for Pioneer Elementary students

MARRIOTT-SLATERVILLE — Dalton Richmond laughed and rolled on the floor as Bert, a golden retriever therapy dog, cuddled up close to listen to Dalton read his book.
The third-grader got to spend 10 minutes reading to Bert as part of Pioneer Elementary School’s partnership with Therapy Animals of Utah and United Way.
Two different therapy dogs visit the school for one hour twice a week. (OSE)

Schools, foundation team up to ‘boot out bullying’

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City School District is teaming up with the SafeToTalk Foundation to set up an anonymous tip line at schools and you can help out.
Community members can bring unwanted or unused shoes to one of the Salt Lake City schools or Mountain America Credit Unions. The shoes are thrown into a box, symbolizing “booting out bullying,” and then recycled and are donated to the SafeToTalk Foundation. The foundation then donates a tip line to schools to help prevent bullying.
“The tip lines are set up so that each school can receive those tips themselves, and they can respond immediately,” said Misty Suarez, director of student services at the Salt Lake City School District. (KSL)

Earth Day contest sparks debate

SALT LAKE CITY — Reduce, reuse and keep on mining.
That’s the message going out to Utah elementary students this spring in an Earth Day poster contest sponsored by the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining. It is drawing criticism from parents who say it misses the point of Earth Day.
The contest asks Utah elementary school students to use markers and crayons to create 11-by-17-inch posters in the theme “Where would we be without oil, gas and mining?” (DN)

Volunteers stuff emergency preparedness kits school

More than 20 volunteers pitched in at Pleasant Grove Junior High School Friday morning to assemble new emergency preparedness kits to be distributed to each classroom. Wendy Robinson, a parent of a student at the school, orchestrated the effort after finding that the few kits the school did have were sorely lacking in supplies. (PDH)

Elementary principal charged with viewing porn at school

WEST VALLEY CITY — The principal of Gearld Wright Elementary School was charged Friday with viewing pornography at the school.
Chad Allen Christman, 51, of West Valley City, is accused of accessing a pornographic website from his smart phone while he was at the elementary school on Feb. 20, according to charges filed Friday in 3rd District Court. His phone was issued to him by the Granite School District.
A school district police detective spoke to the principal at the school, 6760 W. 3100 South. Christman told the detective he had accessed the website while he was in his office, the charges state. (DN) (OSE) (PDH) (KUTV) (KSL) (KSTU)

Clearfield church to meet at school

CLEARFIELD — Clearfield Community Church will be meeting at Wasatch Elementary School, 210 E. Center St., Clearfield, for the next six weeks.
The church building was significantly damaged in a recent fire. (OSE) (KSL) (KSTU)

Deferred maintenance and obsolete features plague U.S. schools

Everyone from the president of the United States to the PTA president down the street worries about what goes on inside school buildings. A new report from the U.S. Green Building Council suggests that some of that hand-wringing should be directed toward the buildings themselves.
The State of our Schools report, released March 12, states that U.S. schools are facing a $271 billion deferred maintenance bill just to bring buildings up to working order. That’s more than $5,000 per student. The report estimates that modernizing the schools could double that dollar amount. (DN)


Grading a bad law
Salt Lake Tribune editorial

A system for grading public schools in Utah on a scale of A, B, C, D and F is just another example of unneeded and confusing micromanaging of education by the Legislature. Even worse, it appears to be yet another opportunity for lawmakers to take a jab at school teachers and public education in general. After a bill requiring schools to be graded was passed in 2011, the State Office of Education, as bidden, created a system for evaluating all the schools in the Beehive State. Now SB271 mandates a separate method for how schools should be graded starting this year. The bill was passed hurriedly in the final days of the session — another bad example of policy made in haste. The State Board of Education voted 5-5 to refrain from asking Gov. Gary Herbert to veto SB271, but he should anyway.

Thumbs up, thumbs down
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner editorial

Thumbs up: To the Ogden School District, for offering an opportunity for adults to get their GED. Email Zack Snow at for information on when the classes will start.

Senators’ query shows lack of respect
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Paul Rolly

I wrote in Wednesday’s column about what I considered was the bullying of Utah PTA representative Deon Turley by Sens. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, and Mark Madsen, R-Lehi. My premise then was rebutted by Sen. Deidre Henderson, who thought the questioning of Turley was tenacious, but fair.
She argued that legislators have a responsibility to ask the tough questions so they can better understand the issues when they cast their votes. No argument there. She and I listened to the same exchange in the Senate Education Committee on March 6. She heard persistent but fair questioning. I heard an agenda being pushed by Stephenson and Madsen.
We both are sincere in our assessments. But I will suggest her conclusions come from living in an echo chamber. And the line of questioning aimed at Turley by the two conservative, staunch proponents of private school vouchers, brings up a deeper issue.
Many observers at the Legislature, including yours truly, believe that certain constituent groups in Utah, no matter how diligent they are or how many people they represent, have no seat at the table when bills affecting their constituencies are heard. They include environmental organizations, advocates for the underprivileged and disabled and groups sympathetic to public school teachers.
Representatives of the pro-voucher Parents for Choice in Education or the Eagle Forum never get the hostile grilling that Turley was subjected to.

It’s the invisible baggage that prevents learning Deseret News commentary by columnist John Florez

We want all children to come to school ready to learn, but what about those that are not? What about those that come to school every day with backpacks full of “invisible baggage?”
They are the survivors who make it to high school. They show perseverance, the gift of life and hunger for knowledge. They show what the resiliency of the human spirit can do in spite of all odds. They come to school eager to learn, though overloaded with the “invisible baggage” they carry on a daily basis throughout their young lives. Because they seldom complain, some teachers driven by timelines and test scores overlook them. And those that do see a kid in need of help — where do they turn to help them?
These are the kids who must endure the “invisible baggage” they carry on a daily basis — poverty, hunger, poor health, whether it be mental, physical, or emotional, vision and dental problems, no clothing, cramped housing, homelessness and no transportation.

Branch out into STEM career field
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner commentary by columnist Ron Campbell

STEM is an acronym for the fields of study in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, STEM-related careers are some of the best-paying and have a great potential for future job growth.
While these fields typically have been heavily filled by men, recent studies have shown that women are equally qualified to enter STEM-related careers. However, women actually choose other career fields as a simple function of interests and choice and possibly some societal expectations.
The old thought that men are somehow better suited than women for science, technology, engineering and math is simply not true.

A teacher asks: Why teach?
Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Ann Florence, who began her teaching career at age 50

Managing teachers through intimidation is not working. Our morale is at an all-time low. Experienced, inspiring teachers are retiring early. Bright, caring young teachers are looking for work elsewhere. Teachers who have loved their jobs are discouraging their own children from pursuing careers in education.
I teach English at Wasatch Junior High School in Salt Lake City, which consistently ranks near the top in standardized test scores. Most of our students are supported at home by educated and employed parents and have had childhoods filled with music lessons, sports, and vacations. We freely admit that our students’ test results do not truly reflect our teaching skills.
Yet even serving children with fewer problems than many today, we feel exhausted and demoralized by the avalanche of mandates from the state and district. These mandates are often counter-productive, diminishing teacher effectiveness. While legislators constantly raise expectations and think they can motivate us by publicly posting test scores, our time for teaching has shrunk.

Legislators boost Utah economy
Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Ray Pickup, chair of the Salt Lake Chamber Board of Governors and president and CEO of Workers Compensation Fund

In early February, a high-level executive from General Electric met with Lt. Gov. Greg Bell and complimented him on Utah’s reputation as a well-managed state. Thinking the visiting executive had been given the information by his staff and was mentioning it to be polite, Bell thanked him and asked who had told him of our state’s reputation for prudent management. The GE executive assured him that Utah’s solid management is widely acknowledged in the business world.
The 104 members of the Utah Legislature concluded a successful 45-day session on March 14 and they deserve the thanks of all Utahns for their service. Utah’s business community also applauds them for the steps they took to strengthen our state economy and Utah’s reputation for being well managed.
The Legislature invested in Utah’s future workforce. Our elected officials heard the call for greater innovation, investment and accountability in education and took action. Their decision to adopt the dual goals of the Prosperity 2020 movement — to have 90 percent of Utah’s elementary school children proficient in reading and mathematics and 66 percent of all Utah adults with a college degree or skilled trade certificate by the year 2020 — is an important step in the right direction.

Utah’s real ‘land grab’
Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Ty Markham, a licensed psychologist, former teacher, current business owner, town council member

With a residence and business in southern Utah, I have a deep connection to our public lands, and not only because they serve as the anchor for my business and livelihood. The redrock deserts, canyons, towering cliffs and aspen-layered mountains are my soul’s way to transcend the weariness of everyday life.
So I’m not surprised that thousands of Utahns agree that our public lands are a valuable resource. Recent polling by Colorado College’s “State of the Rockies” project shows vast majorities support protection of our public lands. In Utah, 96 percent agree that public lands are essential to the state’s economy. When given the most up-to-date information on proposals to sell off public lands, 67 percent of Utahns are opposed.
These numbers make me wonder why many of our elected officials, including Gov. Gary Herbert, advocate the transfer to state ownership of up to 30 million acres of federally owned land in Utah. We’ve all heard proponents say, “Utah can do a better job of managing those lands,” or “It will benefit our kids through more funding for public education.”
But, frankly, if you believe those arguments I have some ocean front property in Utah to sell you.

Another bite at common core science standards Deseret News commentary by columnist Mary McConnell

My apologies. This is the longest I’ve gone without posting since starting up this blog. A visit to family has been extended to include a funeral, and I’ve slackened off my internet surfing to attend to family issues. But I thought I’d quickly share this interesting article about the proposed common core science standards.
The author’s biggest problem with the standards – the absence of required laboratory experiments – is summarized in the last two paragraphs.

Might as well secede
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Norma Chilcutt

Just think how easy life would be if Utah’s legislators would just secede and take Utah out of the Union:

And why not shut down the education system and let the kids be home-schooled. Then Utah wouldn’t have the lowest per-student funding in the country and the biggest class sizes.
Our legislators wouldn’t have to worry about grading the teachers who work with some of the biggest challenges in the country. They are the ones who need to be graded: F for failure.

How to fix local schools
(Logan) Herald Journal letter from Ralph Call

We can provide quality educations for our children without contracting so much debt and raising property taxes so much that the parents of those children can’t afford to house and feed them. The following are a few modest proposals and some principles:
1.) We should do as Mormon prophets have long counseled: Live within our means and avoid debt. At present Cache County district has nearly $100,000,000 of debt and service obligation. I do not know what Logan’s debt obligation is. 2.) Combine Logan and Cache county school districts. 3.) Elect school board members who actively embrace new technology and who are able to think independent of, and provide supervision to, the administration. 4.) Retire the existing superintendents and their top lieutenants. It is unreasonable to believe that persons who have created a mess are going to be able to clean it up.

Important to compare Utah not just by money spent on education, but also by results Deseret News letter from Joy Pullman

Richard Davis is absolutely right that Utah spends the least of any state in the country on K-12 education, per child (“Republicans keep starving Utah public education,” March 20). While dozens of other proponents of increasing education spending make this claim about their states, it’s actually and exclusively true in Utah.
But just spending less money does not automatically mean you’re getting lower quality. If you buy a can of Coke or a heart surgery at half the price someone else pays, it’s usually still a can of Coke and quality heart surgery. People and governments waste money regularly. That’s why it’s important to compare Utah not just by money spent but also by results it gets out of students. On that measure, Utah is doing incredibly well: Its students rank right next to states that spend twice as much such as Ohio, and above states that spend more (such as New York) on nationwide NAEP tests.

Schools should spend time and money developing reading skills Deseret News letter from Jim Dublinski

The key to our education problems is the ability to read and comprehend by the time students finish third grade. Reading becomes more important from fourth through 12th grades. No child should pass on to the next grade unless he or she knows how to read. This is where schools should spend their time and money.
Computers help students but if they cannot comprehend what the computer is telling them, it’s a waste of time and money. Let’s be realistic in our goals to educate our children.

Where would we be?
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Scott Williams

Re “Endorsed by Utah, Earth Day poster contest sparks outrage” (Tribune, March 20):
The Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining’s public school Earth Day poster contest — “Where Would WE Be Without Oil, Gas & Mining?” — suggests opportunities for other state agencies to make sure their priorities don’t get eclipsed by the distracting ideals behind other holidays.
The Utah Department of Commerce could sponsor this middle-school Christmas carol contest on “Where Would We Be Without Shopping Malls?”

Parents Relying on School Report Cards Can Be Confused Education Week commentary by columnist Michele Molnar

All parents want to send their children to an A+ school. However, a study published online today in Educational Policy, from the March/April 2013 issue, indicates that grades given to schools can be confusing to parents, particularly when the grades are changed arbitrarily.
That happened in New York City, when leaders decided to raise the bar in 2010 by capping the number of schools that could receive an A, dropping many schools from an A to a C grade even though student performance did not necessarily change, explained Rebecca Jacobsen, assistant professor of teacher education at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich., in a phone interview today.
“That rapid change influenced the way parents saw their schools,” said Jacobsen, who is a guest editor of this Educational Policy issue, and co-author of an article in it entitled, “When Accountability Strategies Collide: Do Policy Changes That Raise Accountability Standards Also Erode Public Satisfaction?” Not surprisingly, parent satisfaction with the schools declined when the grades dropped, and even when grades of the schools increased, parent satisfaction did not, Jacobsen’s research shows.

A copy of the study (Educational Policy)

Will Funding Flexibility for Schools Come With Sequestration Cuts?
Education Week commentary by columnist Alyson Klein

So now that school districts are coping with a 5 percent across-the-board cut to all federal programs, thanks to sequestration, many advocates are asking the department for what they see as the next best thing to more money: Greater flexibility with the funds they actually have.
For instance, advocates are wondering how the cuts will affect maintenance of effort, which requires states and districts to keep their own spending up at a certain level in order to tap federal funds. Do they get a break because they’re getting less Title I and special education money?
Nope, department officials told advocates on a conference call about the cuts earlier this month. Just because schools are getting less money this year doesn’t mean the department can issue a blanket waiver to change key parts of the laws that govern funding for Title I grants to districts and special education, officials told advocates. (Daren Briscoe, a spokesman for the department, confirmed that information.)

Connection to Education Research Elusive for States Education Week commentary by columnist Sarah D. Sparks

Washington — State education officials are open to using research to shape policy and practice decisions, but they say that it remains difficult to make practical use of most studies.
Margaret E. Goertz, co-director of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education at the University of Pennsylvania, probed the research use and practices of three states in 2010 and 2011. At an American Youth Policy Forum briefing on Capital Hill this afternoon, Goertz and other experts discussed ways to help researchers and state policymakers get on the same page.
Goertz found that staff in all three states relied the most heavily on research generated in-house, or on advice from other colleagues; more than 70 percent of state education officials consulted colleagues about research at least once a week. A third to half of them also used published original studies and summaries and research-based guidance, particularly from federal sources.
Even though policymakers and program officers in the states were open to research, they also said they need considerably more support from so-called “knowledge brokers,” who can boil down research findings and translate them for the specific state’s context.

Why my grandson, 4, won’t be taking a gifted ed test Washington Post commentary by columnist Jay Mathews

My eldest grandson, Ben Mathews, just turned four. According to the New York Times, that is a perilous age in that big city. Many four year olds are toiling through exercises designed by their parents and tutoring companies to prepare for kindergarten gifted program entrance tests.
It gets worse. Adults are fighting over the very nature of those exams. Should they, as they do now, measure how much academic preparation preschoolers have had? Or should they assess the magic essence of giftedness, something much talked about but so far poorly understood.
Ben can relax. The public schools where he lives in South Pasadena, Calif., like most schools in the Washington area, don’t have gifted programs for kindergartners to compete for. Fairfax and Montgomery counties have separate elementary and middle school classes for those designated gifted, but like many other districts here they provide similarly imaginative teaching and opportunities for creative work to children who don’t score that high on IQ tests. High schools in the Washington area, as well as South Pasadena High, offer the most challenging college-level courses to anyone, gifted or not, who wants to take them.
The national movement for gifted education has done much good. It has made it more likely that a sixth grader ready for algebra will be accelerated. Its research has shown that children can be both gifted and learning disabled. Teaching methods designed for gifted children have helped many children without the designation.
But there is little proof that designated gifted children are getting much more than they would get in any well-taught classroom. On average talented students do as well as adults even without gifted classes.


Debate on school security ramps up
Washington Post

Hoping to head off a push to expand police presence in the nation’s 100,000 public schools, a national civil rights group plans to issue an alternative this week to beefing up school security.
The plan focuses on counselors, campus safety teams, secure entrances and communication. It does not support adding more armed police.
“Law enforcement officers provide the appearance of security, but should not be part of a holistic, concerted effort to ensure that children are safe,” says the report by the Advancement Project, long active on school issues.
The report is scheduled for release Thursday, five days before the National Rifle Association plans to unveil a more detailed version of its December proposal to increase school security by placing armed police in every U.S. school.

Teachers and school staff turn to self-defense training USA Today

As school professionals nationwide re-evaluate plans for keeping schoolchildren safe, more teachers, staff and parents turn to self-defense training, defense instructors across the country say.
Pelting rain blurred Celenea Mitchell’s windshield as she drove through Battle Ground, Wash. A few weeks had passed since the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, and Mitchell, a mother of two and a PTA volunteer, was determined to help get Battle Ground teachers trained in self-defense.
Noticing a billboard for the Mountain View Martial Arts school, she pulled into a parking lot and dialed the number. David Mason, the center’s head instructor, answered. While on the phone, Mitchell, 38, glimpsed a man nearby, seemingly talking in tune to the voice on the phone.
The man, it turned out, was Mason. “It was completely coincidental.” Mitchell laughed.
Mason, a seventh-degree, black belt instructor, agreed to train Battle Ground school professionals in self-defense, free of charge.
As school professionals nationwide re-evaluate plans for keeping schoolchildren safe in light of recent school shootings, more teachers, administrators and some parents are turning to self-defense training, self-defense instructors and educators nationwide say. Some people say it is the wrong approach to improving school safety.

Same-Sex-Marriage Cases Hold Implications for Schools Education Week

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court takes up their case, Hollingsworth v. Perry (No. 12-144), which asks whether California’s limitation of marriage to a man and a woman violates the equal-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. In a second case, United States v. Windsor (No. 12-307) the justices will weigh the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, or DOMA, which defines marriage for purposes of federal law and benefits as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”
Among the scores of briefs filed by parties and “friends of the court” on different sides of those cases are several that address same-sex marriage and the schools. The issues include schools’ treatment of same-sex parents and their children, the impact of the debate on gay students and on those who object to same-sex marriage on religious grounds, and the influence of the trend on the curriculum.
In short, as with many other divisive social issues, the nation’s schools are part of the battleground over same-sex marriage.

Why Men Don’t Teach Elementary School
ABC Good Morning America

When Philip Wiederspan began teaching first-grade at age 25, he was the only male, except for the gym teacher. His former New Jersey college friends would look at him in shock when they learned his profession: “How can you do that? You must have a lot of patience.”
“It requires a lot of patience,” he said. “They are babies when they come in, just out of kindergarten, and by the end of the year, they are independent and can work on something by themselves for 10 minutes. Then they come back in September and, my God, they’re babies, again.”
Today, at 51, Wiederspan has devoted more than half his life to the youngest students at Upper Freehold Regional Elementary School in Allentown, N.J.
“Word got out my first year of teaching,” he said. “Parents would call the office to come and visit my classroom to see if they wanted their kids in my class. I remember that distinctly … they just wanted to see.”
As a man, Wiederspan is a rarity in U.S. elementary-school education. And experts say that as boys continue to lag behind girls academically, schools could use more male teachers.

Teachers will soon get graded
It’s just one of many changes ahead as Wyoming works on education accountability.
(Cheyenne) Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE — Students soon won’t be the only ones getting report cards in Wyoming.
Rather than getting letter grades, Wyoming schools and school districts, teachers and administrators will earn a score in terms of expectations and performance exceeds expectation, meets, partially meets or doesn’t meet expectation.
The grades are part of the ongoing work of establishing the Wyoming Accountability in Education system. Already a work-in-progress, the last pieces of the system are set to be running by 2017.

Grant High’s transgender students get unisex bathroom option
(Portland) Oregonian

Northeast Portland’s Grant High School, addressing an issue schools increasingly face across the nation, has created six unisex bathrooms in response to concerns from transgender students uncomfortable with traditional bathrooms.
Officials say four student restrooms and two staff restrooms — all single-stall — will be open to all students but create another option for the five to 10 transgender students at the high school, Portland Public Schools’ largest. The move is a first in the district and relatively uncommon nationwide for K-12 schools, which typically make staff or other small bathrooms available.
Kristyn Westphal, the Grant High vice principal who helped lead the initiative, said administrators acted after counselors raised concerns.

Catholic School Enrollment Continues to Decline, Report Finds Education Week

The National Catholic Education Association today released new school and enrollment statistics about the nation’s Catholic schools, which found that while 28 schools opened during the 2012-13 school, 148 were closed or consolidated.
More than 2 million students currently attend Catholic schools, a 1.5 percent decrease compared to the 2011-12 school year. That 1.5 percent represents around 30,000 students. The number of students enrolled in Catholic schools in the U.S. reached its peak in the early 1960s with more than 5.2 million students, the report found. That population declined steeply in the 1970s and 1980s, reaching about 2.5 million students by 1990. Between 2000 and 2013, 2,090 Catholic schools closed or consolidated, and the number of students has declined by 651,300.
The decline in enrollment has been attributed to middle-income families’ flight from urban areas, declining financial support from the church, and higher operational costs. Some argue that today’s Catholic schools require new management to weather the fiscal challenges. Others point to the rise of charter schools as one reason why Catholic school enrollment has declined.
The report also found that nearly a third of the nation’s Catholic schools (2,166 of them) have waiting lists for admission.

A copy of the report


USOE Calendar

UEN News

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

April 11:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
250 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City

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