Education News Roundup: April 1, 2013

"Eagleplume" Mr. Hall's 5th grade, Lapoint Elementary

“Eagleplume” Mr. Hall’s 5th grade, Lapoint Elementary

Today’s Top Picks:

How should the school trust fund be structured?
http://goo.gl/Ikj5F (SLT)

Regents Scholarship gets a boost.
http://goo.gl/otq9X (SLT)

STEM education also gets a funding boost.
http://goo.gl/8W2uL (KSL)

Salt Lake City School Board member files a second complaint against district.
http://goo.gl/McE2Q (SLT)

Herald Journal looks at prayer in the locker room.
http://goo.gl/Vtuvs (LHJ)

Teachers tend to do very well on job assessments.
http://goo.gl/XnqFT (NYT)

Rep. Eric Cantor has turned his attention to education.
http://goo.gl/Sj8QB (Ed Week)

Florida is changing its schools rating system.
http://goo.gl/WbMBl (Gainesville Times)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Panel looks at de-politicizing Utah’s $1.4B school trust fund Investing » Funds built from state lands, such as school trust, should be protected from politics, panel says.

Popular Utah Regents’ scholarship gets boost as New Century is cut back Both state-funded awards will now be worth $1,100 per semester.

Legislature appropriates $10M for STEM education

School boots Boy Scouts; Salt Lake school board member files federal complaint Scouting » Citing federal law, Salt Lake City school board member Michael Clara wants rejected Cub Scouts to be allowed to meet at elementary school now.

Prayer in the locker room: It’s common in Cache Valley, but teams must walk fine line

Logan School District asking for $55 million bond to repair and replace schools

Legislature 2013, talking about race and Snake Valley water

More Utah schools to get elementary arts program Education » Extra $4M from state will boost participation to 130 elementaries.

Edith Bowen students build projects based around “STEaM” subjects, art

Payson elementary students learn that it pays to read

Renovation of Ogden High auditorium wins recognition Alumni, others give $9M for restoring auditorium in original art deco style; a $49M bond took care of other work, including seismic-safety upgrade.

Fossil Ridge librarian honored

Bountiful 7th grader memorizes more than 350 digits of pi

Teens with special needs elected prom king and queen

Hurricane students receive emergency training

Upset parent believed to have brought down Lone Peak H.S. Football Coach

In praise of principals: They can raise student achievement

America’s school buildings don’t make the grade

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Admitting the need
It’s obvious: Schools underfunded

Athletes, stay at your school

Thumbs up, thumbs down

Buying cereal no way to fund a school

Treat education as we treat business

With AEDs, location is everything

Who the Legislature really represents

Immediate Action Required – Governor Considering a Veto of the School Grading Bill!

Top of Utah students’ essays talk about ethics

An update on the voucher debate

Anything for education

Legislature should revisit early education program issue

America’s 4-Year-Olds Need More High-Quality Preschools

50 ways adults in schools ‘cheat’ on standardized tests

No Cage, and Still No Change

A Good Old-Fashioned Education
As some districts experiment with charters, vouchers, and high-stakes testing, educators in Union City are finding that time-tested, traditional approaches to teaching students work best.

NATION

Curious Grade for Teachers: Nearly All Pass

With GOP Advocate, Ed. Issues Could Gain Steam in Congress Leadership in House may add momentum

Schools will soon be judged on new criteria

A.D.H.D. Seen in 11% of U.S. Children as Diagnoses Rise

Struggling Schools Targeted For Takeovers

Students would do well to learn cursive, advocate says Such writing is about ‘connections, not the slant,’ she says, and cites a study that shows slightly better results on SAT essay subscores.

School suspensions: Does racial bias feed the school-to-prison pipeline?
Rocketing school suspensions may feed the school-to-prison pipeline – and even violate civil rights.

APS officials to begin surrendering

Nevada schools superintendent resigns position

Grand bargain for schools turns to debacle in the Idaho Legislature

Colville boys charged in murder conspiracy

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UTAH NEWS
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Panel looks at de-politicizing Utah’s $1.4B school trust fund Investing » Funds built from state lands, such as school trust, should be protected from politics, panel says.

The state is exploring whether and how to restructure management of the $1.4 billion State School Fund in light of concerns that the fund’s control by elected officials might not be netting the highest returns possible and could even put the trust at risk of being raided.
Oil and gas production and other commercial activities on 3.4 million acres of state trust lands support the school fund and 11 lesser endowments, which have seen an average return of 5.75 percent over the past 10 years.
The state could raise more money for schools if the endowments were handled by a professional staff dedicated to maximizing returns and insulated from political winds, a state education official said Thursday in a presentation to the State Trust and Institutional Lands Administration (SITLA) board.
http://goo.gl/Ikj5F (SLT)

Popular Utah Regents’ scholarship gets boost as New Century is cut back Both state-funded awards will now be worth $1,100 per semester.

Utah students who earn a popular state scholarship though rigorous college preparation classes will get more money for school next year, but awards will shrink for students who complete an associate degree while in high school.
After a Friday vote by the Utah Board of Regents, the amount of Regents’ Scholarship Exemplary Awards will increase and the New Century Scholarship will go down, making each worth $1,100 per semester.
The Regents’ scholarship is far more popular, attracting nearly 3,000 applications so far this year, compared to almost 400 for New Century, said Melissa Miller Kincart, assistant commissioner for outreach and access at the Utah System of Higher Education. It’s also growing — awards could be up by as much as 60 percent this year — while New Century numbers are stagnant.
http://goo.gl/otq9X (SLT)

Legislature appropriates $10M for STEM education

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah legislature has granted $10 million to further the science, technology, engineering and math education, or STEM, throughout the state in an effort to prepare Utah students for high-tech careers.
Students at Granite School District’s Institute of Technology have learned the importance of science and technology to help them find future careers.
http://goo.gl/8W2uL (KSL)

School boots Boy Scouts; Salt Lake school board member files federal complaint Scouting » Citing federal law, Salt Lake City school board member Michael Clara wants rejected Cub Scouts to be allowed to meet at elementary school now.

Salt Lake City School Board member Michael Clara has jumped into the gay membership controversy surrounding the Boy Scouts of America, filing a federal complaint against his district because a principal did not allow a Cub Scout pack to meet at Mountain View Elementary.
The complaint, Clara’s second against the Salt Lake City School District this year, was filed Friday with Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
http://goo.gl/McE2Q (SLT)

Prayer in the locker room: It’s common in Cache Valley, but teams must walk fine line

Before they walk out onto the court, the boy’s basketball team huddles up together in the locker room. Away from the eyes of the public and even the coaches, one of the players begins to pray as his teammates close their eyes and bow their heads.
He asks God to bless his team and their opponents, that no one will be injured and that they will play to the best of their ability. He concludes with an “amen,” a word the other players echo. The captain of the team then leads the team with a short cheer, and they hustle out on the court.
While this may not seem strange to many who were involved in sports or other extracurricular activities while also growing up in a religious environment, the fact that the team is from a public school raises the question of where the separation of church and state gets involved.
Since the team is representing a public high school, and the school is technically the “state,” where is the line drawn?
http://goo.gl/Vtuvs (LHJ)

Logan School District asking for $55 million bond to repair and replace schools

LOGAN – He never anticipated the major cuts in people and programs when the economy went bad and Logan School Superintendent Marshall Garrett says the district still has $2.5 million less and about the same number of students as it did in 2010.
But on KVNU’s Crosstalk program Thursday, Garrett said after seven years on the job he is very proud of the great job being done by parents, teachers and administrators to improve the lives of students.
He said, hopefully, patrons will support a facilities bond and a voted levy on the November ballot. Garret said the much-needed facilities bond comes first and the district is asking for $55 million.
http://goo.gl/6jGA6 (CVD)

Legislature 2013, talking about race and Snake Valley water

SALT LAKE CITY — In this Sunday Edition, Governor vetoes, possible overrides and a closer look at how well the Legislature did on dealing with the issues most important to voters. Plus, race and language. See what happened when Utah students and parents explored the volatility of the “N” word. And, Utah versus Nevada over water rights in the Snake Valley: Doug Wright offers his opinion.
Segment 1
The governor has already vetoed the controversial “constitutional carry” gun bill from the 2013 Legislature, HB76.
But it’s not clear if he’ll veto any more. That point is important, since Many Lawmakers predict an override session could unlikely if only one bill is involved. But the Governor has until Wednesday to decide. Joining Richard Piatt to discuss that and the successes and failures of the legislature: Lisa Riley Roche with the Deseret News, Majority Whip Greg Hughes and Steve Kroes, president of the Utah Foundation.
Segment 2
We think it’s important to talk frankly about race and language. So did a group you’re about to meet, which invited civil rights advocate, Pastor France Davis to get the conversation going. In this investigative report, News Specialist Jed Boal shows what happened when basketball players and parents explored the volatility of the “N” word.
http://goo.gl/WCBYH (KSL)

http://goo.gl/8Az4O (KUER)

More Utah schools to get elementary arts program Education » Extra $4M from state will boost participation to 130 elementaries.

Students are accustomed, in geometry lessons, to drawing, comparing and measuring shapes.
But on a recent day in Angela Challis’ class at South Jordan’s Welby Elementary School, fourth-graders became the shapes. They squeezed into red, pink, blue and purple costumes to demonstrate the meanings of congruent, not congruent and similar. The kids performed dances, twisting their bodies into poses, while singing definitions.
“You’re learning it in more of a fun way rather than just paper and pencil,” said fourth-grader Tyler Sim. “It’s easier to remember because you’re having a fun time.”
The lesson was part of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program, which thanks to an additional $4 million from lawmakers this session, will soon expand. It’s already in 75 Utah schools and will likely be in 130 next school year, or about one-fourth of all public elementaries in the state.
http://goo.gl/t8Oih (SLT)

Edith Bowen students build projects based around “STEaM” subjects, art

Students at Edith Bowen Laboratory School raced cars powered by mouse traps and created smoke rings using vortex cannons as part of the STEaM Expo early this week.
The STEaM Expo, standing for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, gave students the chance to showcase the different projects they have been working on throughout the year. Organizers decided to add arts to the mix for this event — departing from the traditional STEM idea.
http://goo.gl/qfUq3 (LHJ)

Payson elementary students learn that it pays to read

Excitement was in the air at Wilson Elementary in Payson on Friday as the student body attended an assembly to reward students who had read 100 hours or more during the month of March. The energy level was high as students hoped their names would be drawn for a variety of prizes including candy bars, board games, sidewalk chalk, hula hoops, balls and books.
For every 100 hours that each student read, they were given a ticket with their name and class on it, which was put into a drawing for many different prizes.
http://goo.gl/QP15A (PDH)

Renovation of Ogden High auditorium wins recognition Alumni, others give $9M for restoring auditorium in original art deco style; a $49M bond took care of other work, including seismic-safety upgrade.

Ogden • With the economy tanking, 2007 was not a good time to launch a fundraising drive to renovate a public school.
But loyal alumni and supportive locals came through, donating $9 million in private money to restore Ogden High’s iconic auditorium to its original 1930s art deco style and upgrade it to current-day seismic-safety standards.
The result was so stunning that Hughes General Contractors was presented with the Alliant Build America Award earlier this month for its work on the project. The North Salt Lake company won the nationwide award for a renovation project completed in 2012 in the under-$10 million category.
http://goo.gl/c15nf (SLT)

Fossil Ridge librarian honored

Fossil Ridge Intermediate School librarian Jeannie Fernandez has won the ‘Librarian of the Year’ title in Utah.
http://goo.gl/mBytc (SGS)

Bountiful 7th grader memorizes more than 350 digits of pi

BOUNTIFUL — A 7th grader at Mueller Park Junior High School can’t deny her love for pi. Not the dessert though — the number.
Shannon Murray pulled out a big surprise for Pi Day, March 14. Her teacher, Brandon Welker, told his math students earlier this year that there would be a pi-memorizing contest on 3/14. They could write or recite as many digits as they could remember.
http://goo.gl/GkbNm (KSL)

Teens with special needs elected prom king and queen

KAMAS, Utah — Four students at South Summit High School made sure that this year’s junior prom will be a night many students will never forget.
Students at South Summit High School elected Jack Simmons as Junior Prom King and Autumn Russell as Junior Prom Queen—both students have Down Syndrome.
http://goo.gl/HBpQh (KSTU)

Hurricane students receive emergency training

Students at Hurricane High School began training in emergency preparedness last week as part of Student Emergency Response Team training.
http://goo.gl/1KiU5 (SGS)

Upset parent believed to have brought down Lone Peak H.S. Football Coach

HIGHLAND, Utah – ABC 4 is learning new information Friday about the man responsible for exposing a financial scandal with the football program at Lone Peak High School. ABC 4 has discovered that man was a parent upset his son wasn’t playing.
If you’re reading this, you may be asking yourself if the coach broke the law – why does it matter what the motivation is behind the people who exposed it? As Reporter Brian Carlson talked with people involved with the situation, it became clear the motivation helps explain why the Alpine School District is handling it the way they have, and why the championship coach isn’t coming back.
http://goo.gl/vbX1p (KTVX)

In praise of principals: They can raise student achievement

It’s logical to assume that school principals have an academic impact at their schools, but statistical proof is hard to come by. Many factors are at play in any school — teacher quality and students’ economic levels, to name but two of the main ones.
A new study published in Education Next journal uses a complex formula to isolate the effect of school principals on student achievement, and suggests that what was suspected is true: effective school principals do raise academic outcomes for students in their schools.
http://goo.gl/nhLqA (DN)

America’s school buildings don’t make the grade

Everyone from the president of the United States to the PTA president down the street worries about what goes on inside America’s school buildings. Two new reports suggest that some of that hand-wringing should be directed toward the buildings themselves.
U.S. schools are facing a $271 billion deferred maintenance bill just to bring buildings up to working order, said a U.S. Green Building Council report released this month. That’s more than $5,000 per student. Modernizing outdated schools could double that dollar amount, the report said.
http://goo.gl/R57d7 (DN)

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Admitting the need
It’s obvious: Schools underfunded
Salt Lake Tribune editorial

It was refreshing finally to hear a Republican state legislator put into words what so many outside the halls of the Capitol have been saying for years: Utah schools are underfunded, and our children’s chances for success are dwindling because of it.
Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, was only stating the obvious when he told Utah leaders the other day that new revenue must be found for education if we are to arrest the slide of graduation rates and test scores. But his statement demonstrated courage in the face of the unwavering commitment among his colleagues to the Republican mantra of no new taxes, ever.
It should be apparent that no progress can be made toward keeping all children in school through the 12th grade or making sure graduates are ready for work or college, relying on current levels of funding.
http://goo.gl/qP91Y

Athletes, stay at your school
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner editorial

When it comes to high schools and athletes, we have a simple solution: play at the high school that is within your boundaries. It makes no sense for the Davis School Board to approve a policy request that ninth-grade athletes be allowed to play at high schools outside of their boundaries. At this level, a teen’s education is far more important than positioning a teen athlete to a high school sports team.
Frankly, we don’t like the idea of high school students, at any grade level, being allowed to play sports at schools outside their home boundaries. It leads to ludicrous situations, where state champion schools field teams that have a majority of players living outside of the boundaries of their “school.”
http://goo.gl/r37z1

Cal Grondahl editorial cartoon
http://goo.gl/VdZCC

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

Thumbs down: To the Ogden School District’s decision to cut back on recess for students. Their reasoning is that teaching time will be increased if recess is cut, but we need officials who are able to provide a sufficient amount of time for both physical exercise and classroom time.
http://goo.gl/wLAuo

Buying cereal no way to fund a school
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Robert Kirby

Know what they’re teaching kids at school? Vandalism. Our pantry was trashed last week by a couple of elementary school boys.
All the tops of our cereal boxes are gone. It looked like rats chewed into them, but it was the grandkids. They had come looking for box tops … for school.
Not just any box tops. They had to have a special mark on them. “Gimmick for Grammar School” is a postage-size label on certain boxes of cereal.
At my grandsons’ charter school, 12 “Gimmick for Grammar” tags earn each child a dress-down day during the week. They don’t have to wear their junior Republican school uniforms. They can wear jeans.
The “cash” value of a box top is 10 cents. That’s how much the cereal company gives the school for encouraging kids to drive their parents nuts pestering them to buy 12 boxes of Toasted Gooey Corn Whams.
http://goo.gl/oCmiw

Treat education as we treat business
Deseret News commentary by columnist John Florez

All employers want to have a business environment that is free of conflict and a stable regulatory environment they can count on. Lawmakers understand that and how critical it is if employers are to do business in Utah. However, when it comes to education, some lawmakers think adding more regulations will produce better results. Yet all it does is bloat the bureaucracy with even more laws, often conflicting with other laws and adding further confusion to existing laws.
Not only do they keep adding more laws, but they keep amending their past laws, such as SB271, which conflicts with the law they passed in 2011 regarding school performance grading. During the past two years, the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) developed the Utah Comprehensive Accountability System — but it did not comply with the 2011 law. However, the U. S. Department of Education did grant a waiver to the USOE’s plan. Instead of passing legislation that would align the state’s Comprehensive Accountability System, the Legislature passed SB271 that ended up in conflict with both the 2011 law and the USOE’s Accountability System.
Without a common vision, lawmakers appear to pass laws on anecdotal or special interest group information that is counterproductive to sound policymaking. SB271 seems to be one of those laws legislators created without looking at how the law confused the implementation of current laws and compromised education administrators’ ability to carry out their legislative responsibilities. The result is that public education is in a constant state of chaos and flux, thus making it impossible to deliver the quality education necessary in today’s new global economy.
The reality is lawmakers are also victims of the rudderless education system that lacks leadership and a renewed vision and mission for today’s times.
http://goo.gl/bpDR4

With AEDs, location is everything
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Aaron Falk

The Utah Jazz just made a move to help fill a need.
After the team recently replaced its automated external defibrillators, trainer Gary Briggs reached out and found a Utah high school athletics program that didn’t have one of the life-saving devices. The American Fork Cavemen should now breathe a little easier.
But simply having an AED on campus is not enough.
Of the Utah high schools that responded to a survey during the past legislative session, about 90 percent had at least one AED on site.
“I know a lot of our schools have AEDs, but a lot of them are in the principal’s office,” says Utah High School Activities Association assistant director Bart Thompson.
http://goo.gl/TCENF

Who the Legislature really represents
Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Maryann Martindale, executive director of Alliance for a Better UTAH

With the 2013 general session of the Utah Legislature over, now is the time to applaud the wins and survey the damage. As many people have noted, it was not the most exciting of sessions — no open-records law or sex education to get folks riled up. There were guns and gays, education and ethics, but it was more subdued than we’ve gotten used to.
But subdued should not be cause for celebration. Citizens emerged far from victorious. This year, the subtle divide in the Utah Legislature was between industry and individuals. And, unfortunately, for the many ordinary individuals who make up the great state of Utah, industry was the winner.

Public education left everyone tripping over themselves to thank the Legislature for allocating a sufficient amount of money to cover projected increases in enrollment numbers. What one would assume would be a status quo allocation has been withheld in previous years, under the all-too-often-heard mantra on education funding — do more with less! And what of the rest of the education budget? We turned our backs on smaller class sizes, innovative preschool solutions, and other traditional opportunities in favor of industry-favored technology and online bequests.
http://goo.gl/AxFhA

Immediate Action Required – Governor Considering a Veto of the School Grading Bill!
Parents for Choice in Education commentary

WE NEED YOUR IMMEDIATE HELP AND ACTION – Call and email the Governor’s office now and tell him to SIGN SB271 3rd Substitute into law! Tell him NOT to veto this important school accountability bill.
Unfortunately, we find ourselves once more in a situation where our Governor is vacillating over whether or not to sign an important education reform bill that empowers parents.
http://goo.gl/dgzYP

Top of Utah students’ essays talk about ethics
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner op-ed by Melissa Garrett, Cache Hancey and Shaylee Avery

On Tuesday, March 19, high school students were honored at Weber State University for their contributions toward furthering ethics. Students from local high schools earned scholarships provided by the Richard Richards Institute for Politics, Decency & Ethical Conduct. Essays from three students, Melissa Garrett, of Ogden High School, Cache Hancey, of Layton High School, and Shaylee Avery, of Northridge High School, are shared with Standard-Examiner readers.
http://goo.gl/JRGPq

An update on the voucher debate
Deseret News commentary by columnist Mary McConnell

Again, my apologies for the long radio silence. We had a death in the family, and I’ve been too preoccupied to pursue my usual web surfing.
I’m back home now, and wanted to share a couple of interesting articles about school vouchers. Yesterday’s New York Times ran an update on voucher laws around the country. I found the article remarkably balanced, with commentary from voucher supporters and detractors. Here’s the opening paragraph:
http://goo.gl/1UrSQ

Anything for education
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Olivia Pratt

“I will get my education, if it is in home, school, or any place. … They cannot stop me.” These were the words of Malala Yousufzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani girl who a year ago was shot twice in the head by the Taliban for advocating girls’ education. Last week, after getting out of the hospital, she went back to school, in Birmingham, England.
This valiant girl had to endure extreme violence just to live her dream of going to school. But here in America, education is constantly taken for granted by students who do not realize just how lucky they are to have this opportunity.
http://goo.gl/qEXhW

Legislature should revisit early education program issue Deseret News letter from Paige Heyn

The passage of SB71 would have been a win for Utah’s children, expanding early education for at-risk children in Utah and setting students up for future success by teaching them basic skills in the social and cognitive realms.
This expansion can be compared to the Head Start program already in place in Salt Lake City. Here are some facts about that program from a USHHS report: Head Start has immediate positive effects on children’s socio-emotional development, including self-esteem, achievement motivation and social behavior. By the end of their Head Start year, children scored higher in all three areas than their non-Head Start peers.
http://goo.gl/MgwRM

America’s 4-Year-Olds Need More High-Quality Preschools Bloomberg editorial

President Barack Obama’s call for universal preschool exists more as a noble aspiration than as something the White House can realistically expect the present Congress to enact.
The idea is hardly far-fetched though. States are already moving, if unevenly, to expand public pre-kindergarten classes. Programs are taking root and spreading just as public kindergartens did in the mid-20th century. In 2011, 28 percent of American 4-year-olds attended a public academic preschool, up from 14 percent a decade earlier. Thirty-nine states offer some kind of program and eight have more than half of their 4-year- olds enrolled.
This trend should be encouraged, because preschool has been shown to be effective in getting little kids started in school.
http://goo.gl/q5Uti

50 ways adults in schools ‘cheat’ on standardized tests Washington Post commentary by columnist Valerie Strauss

Here’s a list of 50-plus ways that schools manipulate standardized test scores to make the results look better than they actually are. They were compiled by the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, or FairTest, a nonprofit dedicated to ending the misuse of standardized test scores, and were taken from actual cases documented in government and reports.
http://goo.gl/HypLS

No Cage, and Still No Change
Education Week commentary by Ariela Rozman, CEO of The New Teacher Project

We’ve been talking about cage-busting leadership this week. And it is often easy to assume that the only barrier to change is the cage itself–if it can be busted, then all of our problems will be solved. Without question, innovation in public education has been hamstrung on a number of fronts by one-size-fits-all approaches. Over the years, we’ve written about many of these problems: negligent teacher retention (in The Irreplaceables), forced-placement hiring, meaningless teacher evaluations and quality-blind layoff rules.
But, we have witnessed exactly the type of thing that Rick detailed in his latest book – that restrictions and rules are not always the issue, and freedom to act is not a panacea. Our experience has been that even after the cages are gone, leaders still act like they’re trapped.
Consider charter schools. They can pay their teachers based on almost any criteria they want. They certainly don’t have to fall back on the compensation systems most school districts use, which award pay increases only for seniority or academic credentials and completely ignore performance.
It’s exactly this sort of managerial flexibility that supposedly sets charter schools apart. But with the exception of a few particularly innovative networks, they often resort to the way things mostly are, building lockstep compensation systems that fail to recognize and reward great teaching.
http://goo.gl/Duw2l

A Good Old-Fashioned Education
As some districts experiment with charters, vouchers, and high-stakes testing, educators in Union City are finding that time-tested, traditional approaches to teaching students work best.
American Prospect commentary by DAVID KIRP, Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley

When it comes to education policy, inconstancy is the only constant. During the past generation, self-styled reformers have pitched such nostrums as vouchers, charter schools, high-stakes accountability for teachers, and a near-total emphasis on reading and math. Nothing seems to be working, though: American students continue to lag on international tests and racial and ethnic achievement gaps stubbornly persist.
Here’s the good news: From Houston to Long Beach, Charlotte to Brownsville, school systems across the country—big and small; generously and meagerly funded; mainly Latino, mainly black, or heterogeneous; with elected school boards and mayor-appointed school boards—have figured out how to boost reading and math scores and shrink the achievement gap.
The public has never heard about these accomplishments, and it’s easy to see why. Journalists thrive on color, and there’s nothing jazzy to report. Each of these districts has identified a few evidence-based strategies like high-quality early education, heavy emphasis on reading and writing, and frequent assessments to address students’ weaknesses, and has stuck with them
These strategies will be obvious to any educator with a pulse. The trick is to keep doing them well, year after year, while tinkering at the margins. The process takes time, because complex organizations like school systems cannot be remade overnight. Aesop had it right—in education, slow-and-steady wins the race.
http://goo.gl/Gmyu1

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Curious Grade for Teachers: Nearly All Pass New York Times

Across the country, education reformers and their allies in both parties have revamped the way teachers are graded, abandoning methods under which nearly everyone was deemed satisfactory, even when students were falling behind.
More than half the states now require new teacher evaluation systems and, thanks to a deal announced last week in Albany, New York City will soon have one, too.
The changes, already under way in some cities and states, are intended to provide meaningful feedback and, critically, to weed out weak performers. And here are some of the early results:
In Florida, 97 percent of teachers were deemed effective or highly effective in the most recent evaluations. In Tennessee, 98 percent of teachers were judged to be “at expectations.”
In Michigan, 98 percent of teachers were rated effective or better.
Advocates of education reform concede that such rosy numbers, after many millions of dollars developing the new systems and thousands of hours of training, are worrisome.
http://goo.gl/XnqFT

With GOP Advocate, Ed. Issues Could Gain Steam in Congress Leadership in House may add momentum Education Week

Education issues—which haven’t gotten a lot of attention from Congress over the past four years—may have picked up an unlikely but powerful advocate: U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor. As the majority leader in the House of Representatives, the Virginia Republican has a major role in setting the agenda for the chamber.
Throughout President Barack Obama’s first term, Mr. Cantor served as a key counterweight to the administration’s agenda on a broad swath of domestic issues, largely aligning himself with more conservative House Republicans on everything from health care to deficit reduction.
Lately, however, he’s turned his attention to education, signaling that it could be more prominent in this Congress. During the past four years, most of the action on K-12 has come from the U.S. Department of Education, not from legislators, who have been consumed with fiscal issues.
http://goo.gl/Sj8QB

Schools will soon be judged on new criteria Gainesville (FL) Times

A new way to measure school success is rolling out as early as this week, and local school officials say it’s a baby step in the right direction.
The College & Career Ready Performance Index will look at a lot more data than its predecessor, Adequate Yearly Progress, and it will provide schools with a total score out of 100 instead of just a pass or fail. The new index is part of a waiver the state was granted from the No Child Left Behind Act.
But Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield is concerned the index is still paying too much attention to test scores and not enough to how students are growing.
http://goo.gl/WbMBl

A.D.H.D. Seen in 11% of U.S. Children as Diagnoses Rise New York Times

Nearly one in five high school age boys in the United States and 11 percent of school-age children over all have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
These rates reflect a marked rise over the last decade and could fuel growing concern among many doctors that the A.D.H.D. diagnosis and its medication are overused in American children.
The figures showed that an estimated 6.4 million children ages 4 through 17 had received an A.D.H.D. diagnosis at some point in their lives, a 16 percent increase since 2007 and a 53 percent rise in the past decade. About two-thirds of those with a current diagnosis receive prescriptions for stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall, which can drastically improve the lives of those with A.D.H.D. but can also lead to addiction, anxiety and occasionally psychosis.
http://goo.gl/PvXYj

Struggling Schools Targeted For Takeovers NPR Tell Me More

Many political leaders say the solution for failing school systems is a takeover. But can mayors, governors or other government leaders actually fix broken schools? Guest host Celeste Headlee discusses the expectations and consequences of school takeovers with Emily Richmond of the National Education Writers Association.
http://goo.gl/BXi72

Students would do well to learn cursive, advocate says Such writing is about ‘connections, not the slant,’ she says, and cites a study that shows slightly better results on SAT essay subscores.
Los Angeles Times

Before students hunker down to take their SATs this spring, many will have an array of tools to help them with the exam.
Flash cards, study guides and — cursive handwriting?
For many, cursive handwriting is a thing of the past, an archaic method taught in the days before keyboards and touch screens. But some argue that writing longhand could help in placement exams.
National core standards don’t require cursive to be taught to students, but some states, including California, Alabama and Georgia, have included cursive handwriting in their state requirements in early elementary grades, something supporters say should be more widespread.
http://goo.gl/6n62y

School suspensions: Does racial bias feed the school-to-prison pipeline?
Rocketing school suspensions may feed the school-to-prison pipeline – and even violate civil rights.
Christian Science Monitor

Two students set off fire alarms in the same school district. One of them, an African-American kindergartner, is suspended for five days; the other, a white ninth-grader, is suspended for one day.
•An African-American high-schooler is suspended for a day for using a cellphone and an iPod in class. In the same school, a white student with a similar disciplinary history gets detention for using headphones.
•Two middle-schoolers push each other; the white student receives a three-day, in-school suspension, while the native American student is arrested and suspended, out of school, for 10 days.
Civil rights groups have been saying for years that school discipline is not meted out fairly, citing examples like these reported last year from around the country by the US Department of Education.
High rates of suspensions and expulsions for certain groups – particularly African-Americans, Hispanics, and those with disabilities – are evident in data gathered nationally by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
http://goo.gl/URiaa

APS officials to begin surrendering
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The first of almost three dozen indicted educators are expected to walk through the doors of the Fulton County Jail on Monday to be searched, fingerprinted and processed as accused felons.
If they time it right, some may not have to trade their street clothes for the orange jailhouse jumpsuits. They will already have made arrangements for bond and arrived at the jail early enough to be processed before court sessions start.
Otherwise, those who haven’t made bond will stay locked up.
Thirty-five former Atlanta public school employees were named in a 65-count indictment returned Friday alleging racketeering, false statements and writings and other charges related to alleged cheating on standardized test scores and the covering up of those actions.
Retired Atlanta school Superintendent Beverly Hall, some of her top deputies, principals, teachers and a secretary have until Tuesday to turn themselves in. Once processed in the jail, they will have to go before a magistrate, where bond is discussed. The grand jury said Hall’s bond should be set at $7.5 million, but the judge can set a lesser amount.
http://goo.gl/4TIOA

http://goo.gl/vpuU5 (NYT)

Nevada schools superintendent resigns position Las Vegas Review Journal

CARSON CITY — James Guthrie has resigned as state superintendent of public instruction, effective immediately, the Sandoval administration announced Friday.
Reached by telephone, Guthrie would not elaborate on why he resigned, saying, “All I can say is that I submitted my resignation, and it was accepted. It was my honor to have the job. … I’m disappointed that I’m not able to continue the job.”
http://goo.gl/GhIUX

Grand bargain for schools turns to debacle in the Idaho Legislature Associated Press via (Boise) Idaho Statesman

BOISE, IDAHO — What was supposed to have been a grand bargain for Idaho public schools has become a grand debacle, extending the 2013 legislative session indefinitely as opposing sides try to patch together the $1.3 billion education budget.
The Senate last week rejected the appropriations bill 18-17, a narrow defeat for a measure viewed as a compromise that had the backing of Idaho’s public schools chief, school boards and the Idaho teachers union. But it fell apart after Senate opponents charged the Joint Finance-Appropriations budget committee with not properly consulting with the Senate Education Committee about how key slices of the money were to be spent.
Some of the education panel’s members disliked a pay for performance plan; others objected to restoring Idaho’s system of funding teacher pay.
Now, Sen. Dean Cameron, the Rupert Republican who co-chairs the budget committee, said the House and Senate education committees should be given the chance to formally weigh in on provisions guiding how the education budget will be rewritten – but without radical departure from the existing plan.
http://goo.gl/W35FF

Colville boys charged in murder conspiracy Spokane (WA) Spokesman-Review

A Stevens County judge has ruled that two boys, ages 10 and 11, are competent to stand trial in juvenile court for first-degree conspiracy to murder a female classmate.
Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen described the details in the conspiracy as “salacious.” A handwritten plan listing seven steps leading up to the planned killing was submitted as evidence during the mental capacity hearing on Friday in Colville.
One of the boys intended to rape the girl before stabbing her, he said.
http://goo.gl/UE9VI

http://goo.gl/x70EX (NBC Today Show)

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

UEN News
http://www.uen.org

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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