Education News Roundup: March 28, 2013

3-16 Expanding Your Horizons 2Today’s Top Picks:

Gov. Herbert signs the ACT for all bill.
http://goo.gl/FV974 (OSE)
and http://goo.gl/2N9Xv (PDH)

U’s Go Girlz reaches out to middle school students.
http://goo.gl/rmhdO (SLT)

Cache District proposed bond won’t be on the ballot in June.
http://goo.gl/emzcR (LHJ)

Sevier School District superintendent search will be from within the district.
http://goo.gl/7sSfK (MUR)

Provo Herald looks at increased security in Alpine schools.
http://goo.gl/xdN9j (PDH)

Sen. Reid offers an opinion on the school grading bill (which passed the Legislature, but has not been acted upon by Gov. Herbert).
http://goo.gl/94pSz (Senate Site)

ENR hopes this service helps to broaden policy reading even if Twitter followers are more narrowcast.
http://goo.gl/J8K15 (Ed Next)

NYT looks at the next steps for vouchers.
http://goo.gl/04cqA (NYT)

Ed Week look at the efficacy of pushing algebra in middle school.
http://goo.gl/cRicq (Ed Week)
or a copy of the study
http://goo.gl/Q2wVm (Brookings Institute)

Maybe teachers are happier than we first thought.
http://goo.gl/OyuCF (NYT)
or a copy of the analysis
http://goo.gl/42NYi (Gallup)

You say this whole ENR thing is really, really boring? Official response: You’re welcome for the creative boost.
http://goo.gl/3Zkva (BBC)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Utah law will require all high school juniors to be tested

Mentoring helps close school, wage gaps for women

Cache County School District bond proposal doesn’t get enough votes for June ballot

Search for a New Superintendent

Police becoming more visible in Alpine schools

Teachers with guns

For kids, by kids: School opera opens today in Highland

Sandy students get a world-class education South Korean teachers in training spent almost three weeks learning and teaching at Oakdale Elementary.

Students prepare for Skills USA competition

Salt Lake Arts Academy receives $100K grant from the Daniels Fund Largest-ever donation » School to use money to furnish classrooms, buy new technology.

Bottle caps become a masterpiece, teach kids about art

Students test creativity in Easter egg drop

Maple Mountain High art teacher honored

Highland cheerleaders kicked out of tryouts due to too many absences

Second Grader With Cancer Becomes Cop For A Day

Spanish Fork club organizes 5K to help family with medical bills

Suicide no stranger to local teens

Driver flips truck at Utah high school, two students injured

Timpview High searching for 75 missing sports trophies

A+ Teacher

Truancy linked to a high social cost in the United States

No kid is an island: Homeschool co-ops give social opportunities to children who learn at home

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Poster Child

Charter schools should be accountable

Accountability and Transparency in Education

On the question of student privacy

Tweet Thine Enemy
How “narrowcast” is the education policy debate?

Democracy and the Policy Preferences of Wealthy Americans

Five ways to get kids to want to read and write

NATION

With Vouchers, States Shift Aid for Schools to Families

Study: Middle School Algebra Push Yields Minimal Performance Gains

What’s needed for preschool to pay off? Two studies offer insights President Obama and members of Congress aim to make preschool more widely available. Two new studies on preschool programs evaluate academic gains – and offer clues about what it takes to boost student progress.

Beleaguered? Not Teachers, a Poll on ‘Well-Being’ Finds

Republicans back bill to create new board to govern NC charter schools

Texas reviews school curriculum targeted by conservatives over alleged communist propaganda

Civil Rights Groups: School Safety Not Dependent on Guns

Levelland approves policy change to arm school employees LISD ecomes 6th and largest district in Texas to arm employees

Welfare bill now pushes parents’ role in schools

Education budget’s rejection stalls Legislature Senators reject the $1.3 billion budget for public schools, meaning a Friday adjournment is lost.

Full Allegations in Complaint about Dietrich Science Teacher’s Human Reproduction Lesson

SC school’s policy to nix Confederate duds upheld

Liquid assets
Prohibition continues to play a role in Pennsylvanian politics

Children should be allowed to get bored, expert says Children should be allowed to get bored so they can develop their innate ability to be creative, an education expert says.

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UTAH NEWS
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Utah law will require all high school juniors to be tested

SALT LAKE CITY — All juniors at Utah high schools will take the ACT or a similar exam under a new state requirement.
Gov. Gary Herbert gave the final go ahead on the measure Wednesday, signing the measure into law.
It requires juniors to take the test in order to graduate.
http://goo.gl/FV974 (OSE)

http://goo.gl/2N9Xv (PDH)

Mentoring helps close school, wage gaps for women

As a 7th-grader at Salt Lake City’s Bryant Middle School, Tamara Sanchez-Fletes knew she wanted to go to college. But a mentoring program called Go Girlz reinforced that goal by providing a broader network of women and girls for her to look up to.
“I personally was very shy,” Sanchez-Fletes said. “If I didn’t have Go Girlz, I would have just gone through school keeping to myself. The program opened up doors for me.”
Anyone who has had a mentor knows they can encourage and inspire in ways that parents often can’t. And in a state where fewer women graduate from college than the national average and where they earn 69 percent of what their male counterparts do, researchers are looking to mentoring to help narrow those gaps.
The Go Girlz and Go U mentoring programs sponsored by the University of Utah teach middle school students valuable lessons about leadership, networking, communication and respect in addition to offering academic support, said Jenny Netto of the university’s Women’s Resource Center.
http://goo.gl/rmhdO (SLT)

Cache County School District bond proposal doesn’t get enough votes for June ballot

In a 4-3 vote, the Cache County School District Board of Education failed to secure the needed two-thirds majority to approve a bond resolution Wednesday night.
The divide, however, was not due to having to choose between two proposals — but rather between whether to hold the election in June or in November.
Boardmembers Allen Grunig, Brian Leishman, Kathy Christiansen and Richard Knight voted for the resolution to ask the public to approve a $120,144,000 bond in a June special election.
Jonathan Jenkins, Garrick Hall and Board President Bart Baird voted against the resolution.
In order to approve a bond resolution, at least five boardmembers need to vote affirmatively.
http://goo.gl/emzcR (LHJ)

Search for a New Superintendent

The Sevier School District Board of Education has received mixed reviews on opening the application process for its Superintendent to employees within the district. Myron Mickelsen the current Superintendent for Sevier School District is set to retire at the end of the current school year in May. The School board made the decision to find candidates in the district for five basic reasons. Clint Johnson stated, “Our test scores are awesome, we don’t want to kill the momentum. There are also eight different districts looking for a superintendent, we honestly feel that we have outstanding people in our district, and we want to be open in our process”. But there are many in the surrounding communities who disagree with the School Districts decision to keep it closed. Qualified candidates outside the district will not have the chance apply and many believe opportunities will be lost for new ideas in the district. The application period for the new Superintendent ends Tuesday, April 16.
http://goo.gl/7sSfK (MUR)

Police becoming more visible in Alpine schools

A seasoned policeman, Colby Bateman parks his vehicle in the front of Meadow Elementary — where it gets the most visibility — and saunters into the school. Part of a new program in the Lehi Police Department, the uniformed and armed officer is there just to say hi.
Bateman kneeled down to get at eye level with Gage Fossum, a 7-year-old Meadow student he met in the hallway. Fossum said he thinks it’s cool to have an officer visit the school. He should know, his dad is a Lehi officer too.
“It’s nice to live in the city you work in for that reason. It’s a good opportunity to know what’s going on in your community and a nice way to keep your kids and their friends safe,” reserve officer Zach Fossum said.
Staff members never know when an officer will arrive, but each of the seven public elementary school principals in Lehi have reserved a desk for the officers so they can sit down and write up their reports while they are there. Officers also visit charter and private schools in the city.
http://goo.gl/xdN9j (PDH)

Teachers with guns

EPHRAIM– With the devastating shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Americans are looking for new ways to protect their children. One idea is to allow teachers to carry concealed weapons.
According to a new survey found by Salt Lake Tribune, nearly six-out-of-ten Utahns want teachers to pack a hidden weapon. Many people believe that if teachers were allowed to have a concealed weapon, there would be a much quicker response time to a threat at a school, resulting in fewer casualties. The problem with this is the teachers lack training. Unlike police officers, teachers would not have that professional training needed to properly address a threat.
“I just don’t think it’s a good idea to have a teacher, who is not as well-trained as a police officer, using a gun to try to protect themselves or anybody else. I think the likelihood of something bad happening … is very high,” said Steve Gunn, an attorney with the Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah.
http://goo.gl/uFLWT (Sanpete Pyramid)

For kids, by kids: School opera opens today in Highland

HIGHLAND — Jack Arnold is a freckle-faced, copper-haired 9-year-old who plays the librarian in “Books Have Feelings Too,” a Highland Elementary School opera.
Not some heavyset Brunhilde in Richard Wagner’s “Gotterdammerung,” he sports a tie and a sweater, looking mature for his age and at the same time smacking of Dennis the Menace.
“I didn’t really like writing it because I just don’t really write a lot. I liked painting and practicing,” Arnold said.
His classmates in the third grade Advanced Learning Lab — all 23 of them — worked together to write the play and had every word set to music by Becky Hainsworth.
http://goo.gl/tMFK5 (PDH)

Sandy students get a world-class education South Korean teachers in training spent almost three weeks learning and teaching at Oakdale Elementary.

You might say that Utah and South Korea are worlds apart in language, culture and distance. But recently, students and educators came together in Sandy to share a love of learning in common.
Six teachers in training from Busan National University of Education in South Korea made a special two-week visit to Sandy to participate in the learning process in classrooms at Oakdale Elementary.
http://goo.gl/TVpY9 (Sandy Journal)

Students prepare for Skills USA competition

SALT LAKE CITY – Students across Utah will converge on Salt Lake City for the Skills USA competition this weekend.
The competition features groups of aspiring journalists from schools across Utah.
Students from Lehi High School and Tooele High School came into the ABC 4 studio to show off their skills.
http://goo.gl/DjGe4 (KTVX)

Salt Lake Arts Academy receives $100K grant from the Daniels Fund Largest-ever donation » School to use money to furnish classrooms, buy new technology.

When cable television pioneer Bill Daniels passed away in 2000, he left behind a legacy.
Through the Daniels Fund, he made it a goal to provide an education to nontraditional students of all kinds, from adults returning to college to disadvantaged youth.
This year, he’s made one 10-year-old very happy.
The Salt Lake Arts Academy, one of the oldest charter schools in Salt Lake City, is celebrating its 10th year in operation. As a birthday present, the school received a $102,000 grant from the Daniels Fund to furnish new classrooms, buy state-of-the-art technology and continue to create an enriching alternative experience for students in Salt Lake Valley.
The grant was the largest single donation the school has ever received and represented the full amount the board requested, a testament to what SLArts has accomplished.
http://goo.gl/Q74Yd (SLT)

Bottle caps become a masterpiece, teach kids about art

SMITHFIELD — Students at Birch Creek Elementary in Smithfield used a most unusual method to create an artistic masterpiece. It also taught them something about recycling.
Using nothing more than bottle caps and glue, the students recreated Vincent Van Gough’s painting “Starry Night.”
The students’ creation, which measures about 10 feet by 8 feet, differs from other art because most other art includes drawing, said one student.
This undertaking is different.
http://goo.gl/ies4Y (KSL)

Students test creativity in Easter egg drop

WEST JORDAN, Utah – Students at West Jordan’s Mountain Shadows Elementary got to test their creativity at the school’s Easter egg drop.
Principal Annette Huff challenged her students to come up with a creative way of keeping an egg from cracking when dropped from the school’s roof.
http://goo.gl/lF36Z (KSTU)

Maple Mountain High art teacher honored

SPANISH FORK — The National Art Education Association has named Maple Mountain High School art teacher Jethro D. Gillespie to receive the 2013 Utah Art Educator of the Year Award.
The award, determined through a peer review of nominations, honors an outstanding member from each state or province association whose service and contribution to art education merits recognition and acclaim.
http://goo.gl/DuQe9 (DN)

Highland cheerleaders kicked out of tryouts due to too many absences

SALT LAKE CITY — Some Highland High School cheerleaders and their parents are furious after they were told they could not try out for the squad for this coming school year. The Highland High School administration says it’s because the girls have too many unexcused absences.
Four girls who were on the team last season say they were unaware of how many unexcused absences they had accumulated. But the school says they gave them a constitution that they signed that says no more than 18 unexcused absences are allowed. The girls are now asking for a compromise.
http://goo.gl/fy6RU (KSL)

Second Grader With Cancer Becomes Cop For A Day

A Utah second grader who is fighting for his life became a cop for a day – and his entire school was there to cheer him on.
Brandon Flores-Royo has terminal cancer and doctors say he may only have weeks to live, but yesterday, it was all about making his lifelong wish of riding in a police cruiser a reality.
His teachers at Whittier Elementary and the Granite School District police gave Brandon a full cop uniform and even let him ride in the cop car.
http://goo.gl/E74AC (KUTV)

Spanish Fork club organizes 5K to help family with medical bills


Nancy Miramontes, a school psychologist for Nebo School District and a close family friend of the Youngs, wanted to help her friends during this time. Knowing how expensive medical treatment was, she decided to help them pay for it. To do that, she turned to her students, the Latinos in Action at Spanish Fork High School. They opted to plan a 5K.
http://goo.gl/esqer (PDH)

Suicide no stranger to local teens

SYRACUSE — Abigail would’ve been anticipating her graduation from high school this spring.
But graduation day will never come for Abigal because she took her life four years ago, just three months shy of her 14th birthday.
“She was a beautiful child” her mother, Hartina Martinez said. “She was a poet, had completed two novels.”
Martinez spoke to about 300 parents, students and leaders from various community groups who met in a suicide awareness/prevention seminar at Syracuse High School on Saturday.
http://goo.gl/oHtXM (DCC)

Driver flips truck at Utah high school, two students injured

Taylorsville • A teenage driver flipped his truck during a street race Wednesday near Taylorsville High School, injuring himself and a passenger who was riding in the truck’s bed.
The accident happened about 2 p.m. when a small brown Mazda truck rolled over in a parking lot adjacent to the high school. Unified Police Department Lt. Justin Hoyal said the driver and passenger, both 16-year-old boys, were transported via ambulance to Intermountain Medical Center. They both had serious injuries, though Hoyal said those injuries were not life-threatening.
Two other teenagers were riding in the bed of the truck. Hoyal said they either jumped or fell out before the accident and escaped major injuries. A passenger sitting inside the truck also walked away without suffering serious harm.
http://goo.gl/C5ezW (SLT)

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

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

Timpview High searching for 75 missing sports trophies

PROVO — After months of searching through closets, offices, nooks, and crannies, Timpview High School’s athletic director is turning to the community to help him locate 75 missing trophies.
Athletic Director Al Polland has headed the effort to raise nearly $13,000 to build and install trophy cases in the Thunderdome. He has spent countless hours over the last year repairing and polishing the trophies he has found throughout the school to put in one single place — something he says the school hasn’t had in the past.
http://goo.gl/YWT5h (KSL)

A+ Teacher

Chelsey McHenry from Heartland Elementary is the A+ Teacher of the Week!
http://goo.gl/187lg (KSTU)

Truancy linked to a high social cost in the United States

Illinois state prison data reveal an iron-clad link between school truancy and crime, according to a series on truancy in the Chicago Tribune.
“Of 182 boys and young men recently locked up in Illinois’ three medium-security youth prisons, at least 135 used to miss so much school that they were labeled chronic truants,” the story said. “Nearly 60 percent couldn’t even read at the third-grade level when they were booked in.
“At the largest of the three facilities, the Illinois Youth Center St. Charles, all but nine of the 72 youths had dropped out of school entirely by the time they were incarcerated.”
http://goo.gl/3jxcy (DN)

No kid is an island: Homeschool co-ops give social opportunities to children who learn at home

Olive Ward’s busy life includes trips with friends to New York City’s Museum of Natural History and other nearby cultural landmarks. The 8-year-old Manhattanite plays violin in a small orchestra, and makes craft projects with a weekly art group. The lecture series she attends recently featured Nobel laureate Eric Kendel. And Olive’s family goes on educational trips with other families — like one to Cape Cod, where she joined other kids in touring a potato chip factory.
This is how homeschooling looks for the sociable, urban Ward family — a lively blend of group activities offset by quiet hours in which Olive is taught at home by her mother, Bea Ward. Her dad, Ryan Ward, is a scientist who helps out by supervising science experiments for groups of homeschooled kids.
http://goo.gl/jpm6M (DN)

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Poster Child
Salt Lake City Weekly commentary by columnist Katharine Biele

If kids are the future, then it makes sense to start targeting them now with political propaganda. The Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining recently held an Earth Day poster contest for elementary school children with the theme, “Where would we be without oil, gas and mining?” The contest was sponsored by the Society of Petroleum Engineers. And, gee, this is the second year running for the contest, which the division spokesman says is meant to “improve awareness” of the important role that oil, gas and mining play. And he noted that alternative energy won’t be able to meet the demand for energy in the future. Well, with that attitude, it certainly won’t. Meanwhile, Utah Moms for Clean Air is sponsoring an alternative poster contest: “Explore the economic, environmental and health costs of fossil fuels on Utah.” Color them mad.
http://goo.gl/h3yKf

Charter schools should be accountable
(St. George) Spectrum op-ed by Glenn Mesa of St. George

In recent years, Utah charter schools have fulfilled the needs of students that otherwise might not have been met.
The Northern Utah Academy for Math, Engineering & Sciences and Tuacahn are a couple of noteworthy examples. However, when voters defeated the legislatively proposed educational vouchers in 2007, they did not expect charter schools to incrementally replace public education. But that seems to be happening.
Initially intended to augment public schools, charters were a steady, need-based alternative with strict limits on their growth. In 2011, charter schools ran 36.7 percent over budget — yet start-ups continue to expand, recently ballooning to 88 schools, with no growth caps.
In the current school year, each public education student was provided $2,848. Charter school students received this amount, plus area replacement funding of $1,673, for a total of $4,521. All of this puts a drain on the general education funding pot. Estimates put outlays to charter schools at about $229 million.
http://goo.gl/dkwKg

Accountability and Transparency in Education Utah Senate Site commentary by Sen. Stuart Reid

In 2011, Senator Wayne Niederhauser proposed SB59 – School Grading System. The purpose of the bill was to replace the current U-PASS accountability system with a system considerate of transparency, and with a focus on both the proficiency and the learning gains of Utah students.
School Grading (which is set to go into effect this year) assigns letter grades A-F to every school based on student performance on our standardized tests. The system balances proficiency and learning gains of students via a formula that the State Board is authorized to determine. It includes an additional component for high schools that awards points based on graduation rates and passing a college readiness assessment.
Statute authorizes school grading to replace the current U-PASS accountability system. The bill did not create the Utah Comprehensive Accountability System (UCAS). School Grading is recognized in law as the state’s accountability system. It is the first system, and has been law since its effective date in 2011.
http://goo.gl/94pSz

On the question of student privacy
Washington Post commentary by inBloom counsel Steve Winnick

Since the launch of non-profit inBloom earlier this month, there has been much discussion regarding the privacy and use of student data and the role of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). In particular, the 2011 FERPA regulatory amendments were discussed in Valerie Strauss’ earlier post. She has given us the opportunity to address some misunderstanding about inBloom’s service and its compliance with FERPA.
Technology needs to do a better job helping teachers and parents with the important mission of educating our children. inBloom is working to make it easier for teachers, parents, and students themselves to see a coherent picture of student progress and give parents more options to be involved in their children’s education.
Data-driven instructional technology has been available in classrooms for over a decade. School districts that purchase these systems are burdened with the expense and complexity of connecting these tools to the systems they already have. inBloom eases this burden by providing a secure service to help school districts manage their instructional data. Only school districts can make decisions about how information about students can be used.
http://goo.gl/v9FnD

Tweet Thine Enemy
How “narrowcast” is the education policy debate?
Education Next analysis by Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute

People today are awash in news, commentary, analysis, and opinion. Whereas newspapers used to have a lock on the “public debate,” the field of play has now expanded infinitely, to incorporate blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and on and on. Anyone with a good idea, a flair for writing, and an Internet connection has a shot at influencing public opinion.
Yet amidst the flood of words and images, we information consumers are adapting in a predictable, if unsettling, way: migrating toward sources that share our underlying biases and prejudices, which is leading to less real dialogue and inevitably to greater polarization.
At least that’s the evidence from media researchers, who call this phenomenon “narrowcasting.” As columnist Nicholas Kristof put it in the New York Times a few years ago, “We generally don’t truly want good information—but rather information that confirms our prejudices. We may believe intellectually in the clash of opinions, but in practice we like to embed ourselves in the reassuring womb of an echo chamber.” Conservatives watch Fox; liberals watch MSNBC. Liberals read the New York Times, while conservatives peruse the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal. Views become more extreme, as do the policies promoted by Republicans and Democrats alike.
Is this happening in the education policy debate, too? Are proponents and opponents of reform having a spirited conversation, or are we not even listening to one another?
http://goo.gl/J8K15

Democracy and the Policy Preferences of Wealthy Americans Perspectives on Politics analysis by Benjamin I. Page (Northwestern University), Larry M. Bartels (Vanderbilt University) and Jason Seawright (Northwestern University)

It is important to know what wealthy Americans seek from politics and how (if at all) their policy preferences differ from those of other citizens. There can be little doubt that the wealthy exert more political influence than the less affluent do. If they tend to get their way in some areas of public policy, and if they have policy preferences that differ significantly from those of most Americans, the results could be troubling for democratic policy making. Recent evidence indicates that “affluent” Americans in the top fifth of the income distribution are socially more liberal but economically more conservative than others. But until now there has been little systematic evidence about the truly wealthy, such as the top 1 percent. We report the results of a pilot study of the political views and activities of the top 1 percent or so of US wealth-holders. We find that they are extremely active politically and that they are much more conservative than the American public as a whole with respect to important policies concerning taxation, economic regulation, and especially social welfare programs. Variation within this wealthy group suggests that the top one-tenth of 1 percent of wealth-holders (people with $40 million or more in net worth) may tend to hold still more conservative views that are even more distinct from those of the general public. We suggest that these distinctive policy preferences may help account for why certain public policies in the United States appear to deviate from what the majority of US citizens wants the government to do. If this is so, it raises serious issues for democratic theory.

Education Policy
As we have seen, our wealthy respondents put a high priority on education as a “very important” problem facing the country. Federal aid to education is apparently one of the few programs the wealthy want to expand rather than cut back. As Table 7 indicates, a majority (58 percent) of our wealthy respondents also said they would be willing to pay more taxes for early childhood education in kindergarten and nursery school, which is comparable to the 66% level of willingness among the general public.
The wealthy tend to favor market-oriented educational reforms to an even greater extent than the general public does. An overwhelming majority of the wealthy (93 percent), like a large majority of the general public (77 percent), favored the idea of merit pay for teachers. A similarly overwhelming majority of the wealthy (90 percent), agreeing with a large majority of the public (71 percent), favored schools that operate under a charter or contract that “frees them from many of the state regulations imposed on public schools and permits them to operate independently.” About half of the wealthy (55 percent) and of the general public (52 percent) favored vouchers—saying that “parents should get tax-funded vouchers they can use to help pay for tuition for their children to attend private or religious schools instead of public schools.” Overwhelming majorities of both the wealthy (98 percent) and the public (92 percent) favored providing vocational education as well as a college track in high school.
Despite these areas of agreement, however, there are some critical differences between the wealthy and other citizens in their views about supporting public schools and providing equal opportunity to all Americans through education and training.
http://goo.gl/XVzdA

Five ways to get kids to want to read and write Washington Post commentary by Larry Ferlazzo, author of Self-Driven Learning: Teaching Strategies For Student Motivation

Even though it’s not necessarily an either/or situation, I would suggest that both educators and students would be better served by emphasizing creating the conditions for intrinsic motivation over teaching techniques designed to communicate standards-based content.
This focus on strengthening students’ appetite for learning can result in exceptional academic learning of that standards-based content.
It’s similar to the perspective held by most community organizers (I was one for 19 years prior to becoming a teacher)—when they approach a problem such as the lack of affordable housing or the need for more neighborhood safety, they first ask themselves, “How can we develop leadership and intrinsic motivation by working on this issue, and then how can that energy be used to get more affordable housing built or more police in the neighborhood?”
They don’t first ask themselves, “How can we get more affordable housing built or more police in the neighborhood?”
http://goo.gl/WaB02

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NATIONAL NEWS
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With Vouchers, States Shift Aid for Schools to Families New York Times

PHOENIX — A growing number of lawmakers across the country are taking steps to redefine public education, shifting the debate from the classroom to the pocketbook. Instead of simply financing a traditional system of neighborhood schools, legislators and some governors are headed toward funneling public money directly to families, who would be free to choose the kind of schooling they believe is best for their children, be it public, charter, private, religious, online or at home.
On Tuesday, after a legal fight, the Indiana Supreme Court upheld the state’s voucher program as constitutional. This month, Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama signed tax-credit legislation so that families can take their children out of failing public schools and enroll them in private schools, or at least in better-performing public schools.
In Arizona, which already has a tax-credit scholarship program, the Legislature has broadened eligibility for education savings accounts. And in New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie, in an effort to circumvent a Legislature that has repeatedly defeated voucher bills, has inserted $2 million into his budget so low-income children can obtain private school vouchers.
Proponents say tax-credit and voucher programs offer families a way to escape failing public schools. But critics warn that by drawing money away from public schools, such programs weaken a system left vulnerable after years of crippling state budget cuts — while showing little evidence that students actually benefit.
http://goo.gl/04cqA

Study: Middle School Algebra Push Yields Minimal Performance Gains Education Week

Many states are pushing students to take Algebra 1 in middle school to prepare them for advanced math in high school. A new analysis, however, suggests that increased enrollment hasn’t led to higher math performance for states on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
The study was released last week as part of the annual report on education by the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution, in Washington.
Brookings senior fellow Tom Loveless tracked the number of students taking the 8th grade NAEP between 1990 and 2011 who reported taking an advanced math class, which could mean Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, or an algebra course “stretched over two years.”
In 1990, only 16 percent of 8th graders enrolled in an algebra course, versus 81 percent in a more basic pre-algebra course. By 2011, fully 47 percent of 8th grade students reported taking Algebra 1 or higher math.
Between 2005 and 2011, 45 states boosted the number of 8th graders taking Algebra 1, with an average increase of 5.5 percent more of those students taking a math course at the level of Algebra 1 or higher.
Mr. Loveless found no connection, though, between increases in the number of 8th graders enrolled in Algebra 1 and states’ average NAEP math scores, even after controlling for changes in the states’ rates of children in poverty, English-language learners, and black and Hispanic students.
http://goo.gl/cRicq

A copy of the study
http://goo.gl/Q2wVm (Brookings Institute)

What’s needed for preschool to pay off? Two studies offer insights President Obama and members of Congress aim to make preschool more widely available. Two new studies on preschool programs evaluate academic gains – and offer clues about what it takes to boost student progress.
Christian Science Monitor

President Obama’s plan to expand high-quality preschool is expected to emerge in greater detail with his budget proposal in early April. While it’s unclear if it will go anywhere given the austere mood in Washington, members of Congress have already introduced (or reintroduced) no fewer than half a dozen pre-K bills.
As Washington and the public debate how much and how best to invest in preschool, two new studies of large-scale programs – one in multiple districts in New Jersey and one in Boston – have shown significant gains for students, compared with similar peers who were not enrolled.
Backers of these programs have identified factors they believe contribute to success. The following were found to be the case in both settings:
http://goo.gl/6UOQC

Beleaguered? Not Teachers, a Poll on ‘Well-Being’ Finds New York Times

Recent battles over school funding, performance evaluations and tenure have given rise to public perceptions of a beleaguered teaching corps across the United States.
But a new analysis of polling data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index that examines “well-being” as measured by a number of indicators, including physical and emotional health, job satisfaction and feelings of community and safety, found that teachers ranked second only to physicians.
In addition, teachers ranked above all other professions in answers to questions about whether they “smiled or laughed yesterday,” as well as whether they experienced happiness and enjoyment the day before the survey.
The findings initially may seem surprising given widespread reports that teachers are unhappy and demoralized. Just last month, the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher grabbed headlines when it showed that job satisfaction had dropped to a 25-year low among teachers.
http://goo.gl/OyuCF

A copy of the analysis
http://goo.gl/42NYi (Gallup)

Republicans back bill to create new board to govern NC charter schools Raleigh (NC) News & Observer

RALEIGH — Frustrated by current restrictions, Republican lawmakers are crafting an entirely new system to manage charter schools, establishing a separate governing board filled with advocates and eliminating requirements for licensed teachers.
The measure takes authority from the State Board of Education to approve future charters and monitor existing ones – a move that critics say would spawn a shadow public school system.
The sweeping changes left a pile of questions Wednesday as the legislation surfaced for the first time in the Senate Education Committee and House lawmakers introduced a companion bill.
http://goo.gl/nUx0J

Texas reviews school curriculum targeted by conservatives over alleged communist propaganda NBC News

Texas authorities are beginning a sweeping review this week of the state’s dominant public school curriculum under pressure from critics who charge that it indoctrinates the children of Texas with communist, pro-terrorist propaganda from behind a shield of secrecy.
The State Board of Education will hold the first of a series of public meetings to organize the review in Dallas on Friday, three days after the state attorney general’s office told NBC News that it has been looking into “potential improprieties” that raise “significant legal concerns about the program’s operations.”
It didn’t specify those concerns, but legislative hearings have questioned the program’s nonprofit status and the locking of some materials behind passwords accessible only to teachers and other “authorized users.”
The designers of the curriculum — which is used in 875 of the state’s 1,028 districts — say the program is closely aligned with standards mandated by the State Board of Education and is based on educational principles proven over decades. Critics, they say, are taking isolated parts of lessons out of context, equating simply teaching a controversial issue with endorsing it.
http://goo.gl/MpTwF

Civil Rights Groups: School Safety Not Dependent on Guns Education Week

In a pre-emptive move against a school safety proposal from the National Rifle Association that is expected to include a call for more people trained and approved to carry guns at schools, a coalition of civil rights groups unveiled its own safety plan Thursday. It seeks the creation of positive school climates, thoughtful and comprehensive crisis plans, and improved safety features that don’t turn schools into fortresses.
Both plans—from groups not necessarily considered school safety experts—come as schools have been reworking safety and security measures after the deadliest shootings on a K-12 campus in U.S. history. The December shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., took the lives of 20 1st graders and six employees.
The plan from the civil rights groups, which include the Advancement Project, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the NAACP, reiterates a message they sent soon after the shootings: Schools should not add armed officers to improve safety because, instead of protecting schools, the strategy could lead to more juvenile arrests for minor offenses administrators could handle themselves.
Instead of adding police officers to schools, the civil rights groups’ “Safe, Gun-Free Schools” plan says school safety can be achieved by giving significant weight to students’ mental-health needs and their academic engagement. It guides schools on creating emergency plans, but emphasizes the prevention of crises through the creation of nurturing school environments.
http://goo.gl/9O2Y7

Levelland approves policy change to arm school employees LISD ecomes 6th and largest district in Texas to arm employees Lubbock (TX) Avalanche-Journal

The Levelland Independent School District may have become the largest Texas school district to OK guns on school property, but Superintendent Kelly Baggett said he is in no hurry to implement the policy change.
In January, following the Dec. 14 attack by a lone gunman at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 first-graders dead, Levelland began looking at the idea of changing its policy, which banned all guns on school property, to allow select employees to carry guns to help protect students and staff.
Texas law gives public school boards the right to designate specific individuals to carry guns on campus.
http://goo.gl/QyUZL

Welfare bill now pushes parents’ role in schools Nashville Tennessean

A state Senate committee passed an amended version of a bill reducing federal welfare benefits for families with students who fail a grade in school.
The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Stacey Campfield, would reduce a parent’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families payments by up to 30 percent for students who fail a grade. It was amended to limit maximum penalties to parents who do not attend parent-teacher conferences, enroll their child in tutoring or attend a parenting course. Special needs students would be exempt from the law.
http://goo.gl/Ikd0A

Education budget’s rejection stalls Legislature Senators reject the $1.3 billion budget for public schools, meaning a Friday adjournment is lost.
Associated Press via (Boise) Idaho Statesman

The 18-17 vote in the Idaho Senate on Wednesday was the result of an insurrection of lawmakers who concluded that the proposed spending plan for fiscal year 2014 infringed too severely on state education policy.
The education budget, the state’s biggest single spending plan, had been considered the last major hurdle to ending the 2013 session. Republican Dean Cameron of Rupert, co-chair of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, predicted that its failure could add 10 days to the session.
Others were a little more optimistic.
http://goo.gl/cpvN7

Full Allegations in Complaint about Dietrich Science Teacher’s Human Reproduction Lesson Twin Falls (ID) Times-News

DIETRICH • A Dietrich science teacher is being investigated by the state’s professional standards commission after a complaint from parents over his teaching methods.
Tim McDaniel is being investigated after a complaint was filed by a handful of parents who objected to how McDaniel taught the reproductive system, Dietrich Superintendent Neil Hollingshead said.
“It is highly unlikely it would end with his dismissal,” Hollingshead said. “Maybe a letter of reprimand from the school board.”
According to McDaniel, four parents were offended that he explained the biology of an orgasm and included the word “vagina” during his lesson on the human reproductive system in a tenth-grade biology course.
http://goo.gl/2T6ll

SC school’s policy to nix Confederate duds upheld Associated Press via (Columbia, SC) The State

COLUMBIA, SC — A federal appellate court Monday upheld a South Carolina school district’s decision to bar a student from wearing shirts with the Confederate battle flag on campus, ruling that school officials need to keep order and promote education.
“Although students’ expression of their views and opinions is an important part of the educational process and receives some First Amendment protection, the right of students to speak in school is limited by the need for school officials to ensure order, protect the rights of other students, and promote the school’s educational mission,” the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote.
http://goo.gl/WtvdJ

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

A copy of the ruling
http://goo.gl/Tb8m2 (4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals)

Liquid assets
Prohibition continues to play a role in Pennsylvanian politics The Economist

PHILADELPHIA — THE “Fine Wine & Good Spirits” shop on South Christopher Columbus Boulevard, near Penn’s Landing, is one of the few places in Philadelphia that sells alcohol on a Sunday. On March 24th Josh France, a thirsty customer, found himself having to drive across the city to get some liquor there. Because of antiquated and peculiar laws, buying alcohol in the state is not easy.
For a start, there is no single place to buy beer, wine and spirits. Beer distributors can sell cases of beer (24 cans) or kegs; but not six-packs. Supermarkets cannot sell wine. It is illegal for Pennsylvanians to ship wine home from out-of-state wineries. And all hard-liquor shops are state-owned. They close relatively early, and most are not open on Sundays.
Pennsylvania is one of only two states that maintain monopolies on liquor and wine sales (Utah is the other). Its laws date to the end of Prohibition in 1933. Gifford Pinchot, then governor, was “dry”. When the 13-year national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transport of alcohol was lifted, Pinchot was determined that alcohol would not be sold without restrictions. He also believed that “liquor must be kept entirely out of politics”. He succeeded on the first count but, 80 years on, liquor is being eagerly discussed at the state capitol.
Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania’s Republican governor, wants the state to get out of the booze business altogether. He has a plan to privatise the 600 shops run by the state’s liquor control board. Pennsylvania has been in the dubious position of regulating as well as promoting alcohol sales: critics complain that the liquor board promotes its own labels, including one bottled in California, which undermines local outfits. Privatisation would allow the state to focus on regulation, says Mr Corbett. It would also give consumers more choice and more convenience. If he has his way, the sale’s proceeds, which may be about $800m, would go towards education.
http://goo.gl/L9jWJ

Children should be allowed to get bored, expert says Children should be allowed to get bored so they can develop their innate ability to be creative, an education expert says.
BBC

Dr Teresa Belton told the BBC cultural expectations that children should be constantly active could hamper the development of their imagination
She quizzed author Meera Syal and artist Grayson Perry about how boredom had aided their creativity as children.
Syal said boredom made her write, while Perry said it was a “creative state”.
The senior researcher at the University of East Anglia’s School of Education and Lifelong Learning interviewed a number of authors, artists and scientists in her exploration of the effects of boredom.
http://goo.gl/3Zkva

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

UEN News
http://www.uen.org

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 4-5:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda.aspxpr

April 11:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
250 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://goo.gl/Mu36l

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