Education News Roundup: April 18, 2013

"Shakespeare in the Stacks" by Salem (MA) Public Library/CC/flickr

“Shakespeare in the Stacks” by Salem (MA) Public Library/CC/flickr

Today’s Top Picks:

Renaissance Academy looks to house a space education center. (PDH) (OSE) (CVD)

New foundation looks to make Utah schools more secure. (KTVX)

They’re still talking about the RNC vote on Common Core. This time it’s the conservative-leaning Fordham Institute. (Fordham)

Here’s your chance for your high schooler to take an engineering course from Brown. (NYT)

Shakespeare turns 450 next year and England wants him all over the curriculum. (Telegraph)



Charter school unveils $8 million project

‘Securing Our Schools” aims to protect students from gun violence

A look at judgeship: Students get taste of judicial system through program

Special book club for troubled youths having an impact

CHS students win state competition
Team heads to nationals with winning business plan

Jackie Robinson’s daughter honors Utah boy who fought cancer Contest » He says family helped him overcome the loss of a leg, bone cancer.

Illustrator tells students to strive for success Famed artist speaks to Santa Clara kids

Provo School District looking into new parent notification system

Davis School Board Approves Random Drug Testing

Canyons School District Superintendent Stepping Down

Granite Education Foundation names teachers as Excel Award winners

Hillcrest First Robotics headed to world competition

Brockbank Junior High gets into the spirit of the Bard

Students perform in annual Hope of America

Students get a visit from animals thanks to SeaWorld

Hillside Elementary students Jazz up reading contest

A+ Teacher

Gender gaps in school achievement: study yields surprises

Teacher fired for giving a student his copy of the Bible


Olympus High losing more than a beloved mural Column » Tile painting has been a balm to my late friend’s family for nearly two decades.

Davis will teach kids they’re guilty until proven innocent

The RNC on the CCSSI, OMG!

The Kids Are (Not) All Right

The right — and wrong role — for teachers

School principals and the rhetoric of ‘instructional leadership’

Will value-added measurement survive the courts?

Michelle Rhee and the unproven teacher evaluation

A U.S. Makeover for STEM Education: What It Means for NSF and the Education Department

Standards-based tests and public schooling

Governors like talking about education. A lot.

‘Just Say No’ Turns 30

Promoting Consumption at School: Health Threats Associated with Schoolhouse Commercialism


Brown University Creates Online Course for High School Students

Senators to Arne Duncan: Stop Flat-Funding Key K-12 Programs

School Boards Join Movement Against Out-of-School Suspensions

‘Real World’ Social Media Helps Students Bond, Say Researchers

Managers of Hedge Funds Hit by Union

More Than 50 Years Of Putting Kids’ Creativity To The Test

Official: School couldn’t Expel Accused Teens

Plan calls for stricter sex-ed guidelines Ohio going backward, critics say

Backers rally for fired gay teacher
She says Catholic school was told of her female partner

Meet the family who sent six kids to college by age 12

Five-year-olds to be given lessons in Shakespeare Children as young as five will learn about Shakespeare in maths, drama, art and cookery under Government-backed plan to place the Bard’s “cultural legacy” at the heart of the education system.


Charter school unveils $8 million project

LEHI — Renaissance Academy executive director Marc Ursic unveiled plans Wednesday evening for a $8 million building project that will house a space education center in north Lehi.
Called the Farpoint Institute, the center will be based on programs developed by Victor Williamson.
“I was planning on retiring and then Marc showed up,” said Williamson joking at the school presentation. Ursic laughed from the audience sideline.
As a student teacher, the former director of Alpine School District’s space center at Central Elementary had wanted to get an A grade on his student teaching performance assessment. To do that, he reached to go beyond the ordinary and did something extraordinary in the classroom. (PDH) (OSE) (CVD)

‘Securing Our Schools” aims to protect students from gun violence

SALT LAKE CITY – There’s a new foundation in Utah aimed to protect kids from gun violence in schools. It’s called “Securing Our Schools” and is the idea of Tom Panuzio, a former FEMA official in the Bush administration and a homeland security expert who lives in Utah.
“We’ve seen Columbine, we’ve seen Virginia Tech, we’ve seen Newtown and enough is enough,” said Panuzio.
The shooting in Newtown hit close to home for Panuzio and sprang him into action. (KTVX)

A look at judgeship: Students get taste of judicial system through program

Two high school students stepped outside of the classroom and into the courtroom Monday where they spent the day with 1st District Court Judge Kevin K. Allen.
Kalyani Kannan of Logan is a junior at In-Tech Collegiate High School and also taking classes at Utah State University. Government and politics were common topics of discussion in her home as she was growing up, but she was frequently bored with the conversation until she took an AP government class at school.
“I always thought it (government) was a bunch of old people making rules I don’t agree with,” Kalyani said.
Since taking the class, she has obtained a whole new perspective, which has led to an active quest to learn more about all branches of government. (LHJ)

Special book club for troubled youths having an impact

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Division of Juvenile Justice Services estimates that 31 percent of Utah youths will have some contact with DJJS before they turn 18. Division leaders also say one out of 56 youth will be committed in some kind of residential program.
The Salt Lake County Library System has teamed up with DJJS to help the youths in these resident programs.
“We believe the future outcomes of these youth can be greatly and positively affected through literacy and education,” said Carrie Rogers-Whitehead, senior librarian for teen services at Salt Lake County Library.
Early this year DJJS and Salt Lake County Library started a monthly book club for youths in the Salt Lake Boys and Girls Observation and Assessment Program. (KSL)

CHS students win state competition
Team heads to nationals with winning business plan

CEDAR CITY — A group of Cedar High School students recently won a statewide competition called ProStart by presenting a complete business plan for a restaurant.
Thursday, the team travels to Baltimore to compete against other teams from across the nation in the competition sponsored by the National Restaurant Association. In the competition, judges act as investors and decide which plan they believe would work best.
The restaurant the team invented is called the Hot Spot and sits in a historic abandoned firehouse in a fictional town. (SGS)

Jackie Robinson’s daughter honors Utah boy who fought cancer Contest » He says family helped him overcome the loss of a leg, bone cancer.

As a child, Sharon Robinson would watch her dad walk out to the middle of the frozen lake near their home to test the ice before letting her skate.
Now, as an adult, Robinson views the memory as a metaphor for what her father, Jackie Robinson, did in sports in 1947, when he became the first African American to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier.
“He stepped out alone, and he did it against great odds,” Sharon Robinson said during a Wednesday visit to Holladay’s Morningside Elementary. She noted that despite her dad’s athletic prowess, he never learned to swim.
Sharon Robinson spoke with students about her dad’s accomplishments and those of Utah fifth-grader Steven Blodgett, 11, who won an essay contest inspired by her father. Steven wrote about overcoming bone cancer and a leg amputation, and his essay was chosen as one of 10 winners out of 18,000 submitted from across the country. (SLT) (KTVX) (KSTU)

Illustrator tells students to strive for success Famed artist speaks to Santa Clara kids

SANTA CLARA — When Brandon Dorman was young, he once stole a stogie from Arnold Schwarzenegger during a visit to an Idaho art gallery and had to hoof it to get away from The Terminator.
But on Wednesday, the illustrator of famed books such as the “Fablehaven” series, “The Wednesday Tales,” and recent editions of Goosebumps told grade school students how he achieved success after starting out as a budding artist just like them.
Dorman, of Puyallup, Wash., presented workshops to select students at Santa Clara Elementary and discussed his work at two assemblies for the entire student body, thanks to funding obtained through a Utah State Library grant. (SGS)

Provo School District looking into new parent notification system

PROVO, Utah – After a 14-year-old girl went missing on Monday, the Provo School District is re-evaluating their policies on when to notify parents that their child is not in school.
Charice Beaumont left for school on Monday morning at 8:30, but her parents weren’t notified that she wasn’t at school until 3:30 that afternoon. She was found on Tuesday morning.
The district decided that for next school year, parents will be contacted by phone if their child is absent by the end of second period, or by 10 a.m. for elementary school students. (KSTU)

Davis School Board Approves Random Drug Testing

High school students in the Davis District — who participate in sports or other extracurricular activities — will be subject to random drug testing, beginning next fall.
The Davis School Board approved the controversial policy change Tuesday night. (KNRS)

Canyons School District Superintendent Stepping Down

The only superintendent the Canyons School District has ever had, in its four year history, shocked board members by announcing his resignation, effective June 30.
Dr. David Dody said he has accepted a position with a Salt Lake-based, private education consulting company. (KNRS) (CVD)

Granite Education Foundation names teachers as Excel Award winners

SOUTH SALT LAKE — The Granite Education Foundation has named this year’s Excel Award winners.
The foundation annually names a handful of educators who have made a difference in the lives of their students and the community, according to the organization. (DN)

Hillcrest First Robotics headed to world competition

Midvale, UT – Some local high school students are combing science, math, technology and engineering to build the ultimate robot – HARV-E.
Hillcrest’s First Robotics is going to St. Louis to compete with others schools in a world competition. (KTVX)

Students perform in annual Hope of America

As families and friends watched, more than 6,000 fifth-grade students from 70 Utah County schools came together for the 17th annual Hope of America Student Showcase on Wednesday at the Marriott Center at Brigham Young University. Hope of America is part of America’s Freedom Festival. (PDH)

Students get a visit from animals thanks to SeaWorld

WEST VALLEY CITY — Students at Hillsdale Elementary School had the zoo come to them on Wednesday.
SeaWorld San Diego’s SeaWorld Cares program visited 200 third- and fourth-graders at Hillsdale with an alligator, lemurs and much more. (DN)

Hillside Elementary students Jazz up reading contest

Students from Hillside Elementary celebrate the end of their reading contest with a silly string war. Photo courtesy of Granite School District Reading is important to students at Hillside Elementary, and their participation in the Utah Jazz reading program showed their commitment. During the annual reading contest that ran from mid-February through mid-March, Hillsidestudents read for more than 358,679 minutes.
The school was one of the top 20 participating schools in the state and earned a basketball signed by Utah Jazz players for the students’ efforts (WVJ)

Brockbank Junior High gets into the spirit of the Bard

Brockbank Junior High Principal Terri Van Winkle and dance teacher Megan Brown sell tickets during the annual Shakespeare festival while Brockbank student Lydia Flores wears one of the decorative masks made by English teacher Michelle Clark.
According to William Shakespeare, all the world’s a stage, and students from Brockbank Junior High took that to heart recently.
The third annual Shakespeare night at Brockbank gave students the chance to have some fun and watch “Romeo and Juliet” performed by members of the Utah Shakespeare Festival. (WVJ)

A+ Teacher

Brent Prince is a metal worker, a rancher and Fox 13’s A+ Teacher of the Week.
Prince teaches fifth grade at Sunset Elementary in St. George Utah. The principal of his school says Prince goes the extra mile and has fun with his students while teaching them to respect humanity and the animal kingdom. (KSTU)

Gender gaps in school achievement: study yields surprises

It’s not exactly a news flash, but boys and girls are different — and not just physically. Around the world, boys have somewhat higher achievement in mathematics, a well-known phenomenon. But the gap between reading achievement is three times as large, and it’s the girls who get the high scores. The results come from a study that examined math and reading scores over 10 years on the Program for International Student Assessment — 1.5 million students in 75 countries participated.
“Girls’ higher scores in reading could lead to advantages in admissions to certain university programs, such as marketing, journalism or literature, and subsequently careers in those fields,” according to a press release for the study. “Boys lower reading scores could correlate to problems in any career, since reading is essential in most jobs.” (DN)

Teacher fired for giving a student his copy of the Bible

PHILLIPSBURG, N.J. — A teacher has filed a lawsuit against the school district that fired him after he gave a student a copy of the Bible.
Walt Tutka was employed as a substitute teacher for the Phillipsburg School District in New Jersey. According to the Express-Times, the incident began this past fall when he told a student waiting last in line, “Just remember the first will be last and the last will be first.”
Later that day, the student stopped Tutka and asked where the quote was from, according to the Express-Times. Tutka replied that it was from the Bible and promised to look it up and tell the student where he found it the next time he taught. (KSL)


Olympus High losing more than a beloved mural Column » Tile painting has been a balm to my late friend’s family for nearly two decades.
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Peg McEntee

Holladay » We walked through dark hallways, past empty trophy cases, drooping water fountains and abandoned classrooms Saturday, heading for what could be a last look at an epic tile painting.
Then we slipped around a wire fence and into a rubble-littered courtyard where, high on an aging brick wall, was the painting that captivated students and teachers at the old Olympus High, now under demolition.
The painting, completed over three years in the early 1990s, was the work of Rebecca Bullough-Horne and her sister, Patricia Bullough, a longtime art teacher at Olympus. Rebecca launched the project in 1992 after being told her cancer had been cured. By the time it was finished and installed on Oct. 4, 1996, the cancer had returned. Rebecca died in 1998.
And now, it seems, her cherished mural will be lost, too.

Davis will teach kids they’re guilty until proven innocent
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner letter from Joe Percival

Thank you, Mr. Smith and Mr. Lovato, two board members, who voted against the Davis School Board’s degrading policy of random drug-testing of students (April 17, “Davis district OKs drug tests”).
It takes great courage and integrity to stand up for what’s right when it is unpopular, especially when this involves our youth and keeping them safe.
More important is the responsibility, especially of educators, to teach students truth, arm them with knowledge, and inspire them to become successful members of society.

The RNC on the CCSSI, OMG!
Fordham Institute commentary by Executive Vice President Michael J. Petrilli

Count us as among those surprised and alarmed by the Republican National Committee’s ill-considered decision to adopt a resolution decrying the Common Core standards as a “nationwide straitjacket on academic freedom and achievement.” There’s little doubt that this action will bestow a degree of legitimacy upon the anti-standards coalition—and put pressure on Republican governors and legislators to fall in line.
Which is something approaching tragedy. It was Republicans, even conservatives, who first blazed the trail toward higher standards and rigorous accountability in education—the likes of Ronald Reagan, Bill Bennett, Lamar Alexander, and Jeb Bush. To cede this ground to Democrats is an enormous policy and political mistake.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: The Common Core standards are worth supporting because they’re educationally solid. They are rigorous, they are traditional—one might even say they are “conservative.” They expect students to know their math facts, to read the nation’s founding documents, and to evaluate evidence and come to independent judgments. In all of these ways, they are miles better than three-quarters of the state standards they replaced—standards that hardly deserved the name and that often pushed the left-wing drivel that Common Core haters say they abhor.

The Kids Are (Not) All Right
New York Times commentary by columnist CHARLES M. BLOW

The United States has done it again — and not in a good way.
According to a Unicef report issued last week — “Child Well-Being in Rich Countries” — the United States once again ranked among the worst wealthy countries for children, coming in 26th place of 29 countries included. Only Lithuania, Latvia and Romania placed lower, and those were among the poorest countries assessed in the study.
But let’s start with the good news, or what little there is to glean from the report: the United States has one of the lowest rates of children reporting that they smoke regularly or have been drunk at least twice, and our children are among the most likely to exercise daily. We also have one of the lowest levels of air pollution. We’re in the middle in terms of overall educational achievement, so I guess that could be considered “good” (give me a break, I’m reaching here). But that’s where the good news ends.

A copy of the report (Unicef)

The right — and wrong role — for teachers Washington Post commentary by Marion Brady, author of “What’s Worth Learning”

Bill Gates spent$45 million trying to find out what makes a school teacher effective. I’ve studied his Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project, and think it ignores a matter of fundamental importance.
Consider: What makes an effective lawyer, carpenter, baseball player, surgeon?
The answer is that it depends—depends on what they’re being asked to do. An effective divorce lawyer isn’t necessarily an effective criminal defense lawyer. A good framing carpenter isn’t necessarily a good finish carpenter. A good baseball catcher isn’t necessarily a good third baseman. A good heart surgeon isn’t necessarily a good hip-replacement surgeon.
Put lawyers, carpenters, baseball players, and surgeons in wrong roles, test them, and a likely conclusion will be that they’re not particularly effective. So it is with teachers. Put them in wrong roles, and they probably won’t be particularly effective.
Gates’ faith in test scores as indicators of effectiveness makes it clear that he buys the conventional wisdom that the teacher’s role is to “deliver information.” But what if the conventional wisdom is wrong?

School principals and the rhetoric of ‘instructional leadership’
Washington Post commentary by Larry Cuban, author of “Inside the Black Box of Classroom Practice: Change without Reform in American Education”

Past and current research on principals reveal that school-site leaders perform managerial, instructional, and political roles in and out of their schools. Of these multiple (and often conflicting) roles, however, the instructional leader role has been spotlighted as a “must” for these men and women because, as the theory (and rhetoric) goes, it is crucial to improving teacher performance and student academic achievement.
Yet studies of principal behavior in schools makes clear that spending time in classrooms to observe, monitor, and evaluate classroom lessons do not necessarily lead to better teaching or higher student achievement on standardized tests. Where there is a correlation between principals’ influence on teachers and student performance, it occurs when principals create and sustain an academic ethos in the school, organize instruction across the school, and align school lessons to district standards and standardized test items. There is hardly any positive association between principals walking in and out of classrooms a half-dozen times a day and conferring briefly with teaches about those five-minute visits. The reality of daily principal actions conflicts with the theory.

Will value-added measurement survive the courts?
Hechinger Report commentary by columnist Sarah Garland

An ongoing argument raging across the country over whether student test score gains are a fair way to gauge a teacher’s skill has hit the courts.
In what may be among the first of many lawsuits over the new evaluations—which have been adopted by multiple states—the Florida teachers union is challenging the state’s use of test scores in decisions about which teachers are fired and which receive pay raises. The Florida Education Association argues the system violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection and due process clauses.
The debate over the new systems has often centered on the frequent errors in what’s known as value-added measurement, which can lead to effective teachers being misidentified as ineffective, and whether the potential problems for teachers outweigh the potential benefits for students.
A new paper published this week explores both sides.

A copy of the paper (Carnegie Knowledge Network)

Michelle Rhee and the unproven teacher evaluation Los Angeles Times commentary by columnist Karin Klein

The debate — and that’s putting it nicely — over the use of standardized test scores in teacher evaluations has always confused me, because the answer seemed so simple. One of the things we ask of teachers — but just one thing — is to raise those scores. So they have some place in the evaluation. But how much? Easy. Get some good evidence and base the decisions on that, not on guessing. The quality of education is at stake, as well as people’s livelihoods.
Much to my surprise, at a meeting with the editorial board this week, Michelle Rhee agreed, more or less. As one of the more outspoken voices in the school-reform movement, Rhee is at least as polarizing as the topic of teacher evaluations, and her lobbying organization, Students First, takes the position that the standardized test scores of each teacher’s students should count for no less than 50% of that teacher’s rating on performance evaluations.
But asked where the evidence was to back up that or any other percentage figure, Rhee agreed quite openly that it’s lacking.

A U.S. Makeover for STEM Education: What It Means for NSF and the Education Department American Association for the Advancement of Science analysis by Jeffrey Mervis

A proposed reshuffling of federal STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education programs in the United States would move the Department of Education (ED) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to the head of the class. Their new status would be a major change for the federal government, which now spends nearly $3 billion on 226 STEM education programs run by a dozen agencies.
Many of those programs were created to address a specific problem or at the behest of Congress to serve a specific constituency. However, the resulting fragmentation has hampered efforts to coordinate and assess the impact of the government’s investment. The proposed realignment, part of the president’s 2014 budget request to Congress, would slice the overall number of programs in half by slashing the education activities of mission agencies such as NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Institutes of Health.
The reorganization unveiled last week surprised science educators, legislators, and even other federal officials. While the upcoming debate in Congress is likely to focus on whether some of the programs targeted for elimination should be preserved, the broader issue is the wisdom of creating two executive branch heavyweights in STEM education.

Do Math and Science Teachers Earn More Outside of Education?
Brown Center on Education Policy commentary by Martin R. West, deputy director of Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University

The urgency of improving American students’ skills in math and science is hardly in dispute. Performance in these subjects is increasingly critical to individual and national economic success, yet far too few of our students graduate from high school equipped for post-secondary work in technical fields. For example, the ACT reports that just 46 percent of high school graduates taking its college entrance exams in 2012 met college-readiness benchmarks in math; fewer than one in three did so in science. Among all 17-year-olds, the most recent data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows that as many as 36 percent lack even a basic level of math proficiency.
Improving the caliber of our math and science teachers is essential to changing this picture. A large body of evidence confirms that teacher effectiveness is a key determinant of students’ academic progress. Indeed, it is likely the case that, as President Obama has said, “The quality of math and science teachers is the most important single factor influencing whether students will succeed or fail in science, technology, engineering and math.”
Unfortunately, the same labor-market trends that have made math and science skills increasingly valuable to students may make it increasingly difficult to attract teachers with the talent and training necessary to address the challenge.

Standards-based tests and public schooling The Economist commentary

NEW YORK — EVERY child in the third through eighth grade in New York’s public schools will be asked to sit this week for three days of testing in the English Language Arts, to be followed by another three days of mathematics assessment next week. This has been the ritual in New York for some time, a sign of spring as sure as the first daffodils. But this year promises greater anxiety than usual: students will encounter much more challenging questions when they open up their test booklets, and some of the items will include material their teachers haven’t covered in class.
New York is one of the first states to revamp its annual exams to match up with the new Common Core Standards, a comprehensive set of academic expectations designed with the goal of better preparing American children for “college and careers”. Forty-six states and the District of Columbia have formally adopted the Common Core, but reviews are mixed. Diane Ravitch, an education analyst at New York University, calls the standards a “fundamentally flawed” mandate foisted on the states without “any idea how they will affect students, teachers, or schools”. Other commentators argue that the standards honour “data, not children”, neglect creativity in the classroom and weave an unholy bond between public education and test-development companies.
But the Common Core is here, like it or not, and today New Yorkers will get a taste of the tests for the first time. State education officials warn that scores are very likely to drop this year.

Governors like talking about education. A lot.
Washington Post commentary by columnist Sean Sullivan

As lawmakers in Washington have been wrestling over guns, immigration and sequestration, the nation’s governors have their sights on a different issue: Education.
Fully a quarter of all the initiatives governors proposed during their 2013 “State of the State” addresses involved education, according to a study conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm. Jobs and the economy placed second, accounting for 18 percent of all proposals, while taxes and health care were the third most popular issues, clocking in at about 10 percent apiece.
Republican governors really like to talk about education, the study shows. They released nearly twice as many education proposals as they did on the issue of jobs or the economy.
Democratic governors, too, are fond of laying out education policies. But they pitched a few more proposals on jobs and the economy.
While education is still on top for the nation’s governors, it’s become a less prominent focus at state of state speeches over the years. In 2005, 33 percent of total “State of the State” proposals were education-related. That number dipped to 27 percent in 2006 and 23 percent in 2009. The study did not have data for 2010-2012.

A copy of the study (Public Opinion Strategies)

‘Just Say No’ Turns 30
Huffington Post commentary by Marsha Rosenbaum, Founder, Drug Policy Alliance ‘Safety First’

If you are under 40, it is very likely that you, like 80 percent of schoolchildren in the U.S., were exposed to Drug Abuse Resistance Education, which celebrates its 30th birthday this month.
D.A.R.E. was created by the Los Angeles Police Department in 1983, following the rise of a conservative parents movement and First Lady Nancy Reagan in need of a cause. The purpose of D.A.R.E. was to teach students about the extreme dangers of drugs by sending friendly police officers into classrooms to help kids resist the temptation to experiment; to stand up in the face of peer pressure; and to “just say no.”
Because of its widespread use in elementary schools all across America (and in over 40 countries around the world), D.A.R.E .was evaluated extensively. The reviews consistently showed that while students enjoyed interacting with police (especially examining the sample cases of drugs used for show and tell), and may have been initially deterred, effects were short lived. In fact, by the time D.A.R.E. graduates reached their late teens and early 20s, many had forgotten what they had learned or rejected the exaggerated messages they’d heard. And by 2001, D.A.R.E. was deemed by none other than the United States Surgeon General, “an ineffective primary prevention program,” and lost 80 percent of its federal funding shortly thereafter.
Yet D.A.R.E .has kept going — trying to keep up with the times, at least rhetorically, with its new “Keepin’ it Real” curriculum.

Promoting Consumption at School: Health Threats Associated with Schoolhouse Commercialism National Education Policy Center analysis by Alex Molnar, Faith Boninger, Michael D. Harris, Ken Libby, Joseph Fogarty

Beleaguered educators are ever more open to offers of corporate “partnerships” that might bring in additional money for their schools. However, many school-business partnerships are little more than marketing arrangements that have few benefits for schools while carrying with them the potential to harm children in a variety of ways. The 2011-2012 Annual Report on Schoolhouse Commercializing Trends, the third in a series of annual reports to examine how commercializing activities in schools threaten children’s well-being, examines the health threats posed by the marketing of food and beverage products in school. The report’s authors conclude that potential threat to children posed by marketing in schools is great enough that the default assumption for schools, districts, and state and federal policymakers must be that marketing in schools is harmful unless explicitly proven otherwise. They recommend that policymakers prohibit advertising in schools unless the school provides compelling evidence that their intended advertising program causes no harm to children.


Brown University Creates Online Course for High School Students New York Times

When Yaser S. Abu-Mostafa, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the California Institute of Technology, began promoting his online course on machine learning, one person he turned to was Caltech’s dean of admissions. Dr. Abu-Mostafa believed that prospective Caltech students would benefit from learning what it actually takes to be an engineer — something that high schools, on the whole, fail to teach adequately.
National Science Foundation statistics lend credence to his worries: while one in 10 students in the United States enter college with the intention of majoring in engineering, nearly half of those students fail to complete their degree requirements.
Caltech admissions officials agreed wholeheartedly, and promptly sent out an e-mail blast to applicants suggesting Dr. Abu-Mostafa’s course, Learning From Data, on iTunes U.
“University is a mystery to these students, and they really don’t know what they’re getting into a lot of the time,” said Dr. Abu-Mostafa, whose course ultimately attracted 100,000 subscribers. He estimates that one in 10 were in high school, based on the number of e-mails he received from different age groups.
“The class crystallized their interests,” he said, “and gave them some confidence going into the field.”
Now, in what seems to be the first major effort by a university to tailor a massive open online course, or MOOC, specifically to high school students, Brown University is preparing to offer a free online engineering class with the aim of teaching high school students about the merits and challenges of the field.

Senators to Arne Duncan: Stop Flat-Funding Key K-12 Programs Education Week

Washington — The Obama administration has been a big fan of using competitive grants to drive its agenda on everything from teacher quality to standards to “personalized learning,” much to the chagrin of some advocates for school districts.
So far, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have resisted that strategy. But Democrats in the U.S. Senate have continued to finance the administration’s favorite competitive-grant programs, such as Race to the Top, although not always at the level the administration has sought.
Meanwhile, formula grants that go out to just about every school district—Title I grants to districts and special education—have been virtually flat-funded in Senate appropriations bills. And typically, the Senate approach has prevailed. (Possibly thanks to administration support?)
But Democratic senators who oversee K-12 spending may be rethinking this strategy since President Barack Obama’s re-election. U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who oversees the panel that deals with K-12 spending, has already made it clear he’s none too happy with the administration’s decision to ask for level funding for formula programs, while seeking big increases for competitive grants.

School Boards Join Movement Against Out-of-School Suspensions Education Week

The National School Boards Association has labeled the use of out-of-school suspensions a “crisis” in a new report.
The NSBA’s new policy guide, developed jointly with the National Opportunity to Learn Campaign, for school board members urges change, citing statistics that show 3.3 million students were suspended out of school during the 2009-10 school year, including one in six black students.
“School board members should lead the charge to reduce, if not eliminate, the practice of out-of-school suspensions and instead push comprehensive strategies for preventing the removal of students from school for disciplinary reasons,” reads the introduction to “Addressing the Out-of-School Suspension Crisis: A Policy Guide for School Board Members.”

A copy of the report (National Opportunity to Learn Campaign)

‘Real World’ Social Media Helps Students Bond, Say Researchers Education Week

As technology becomes ever more ubiquitous in children’s social lives, new research suggests fundamental skills still apply, particularly in environments that mirror real life.
Children’s online social lives were a big topic at the annual Society for Research in Child Development conference in Seattle on Thursday. Several new studies presented there suggest that while socializing virtually can make it harder for students to make deep connections with one another, situations that more closely mimic the real world—such as video-chat or avatar environments—can lead to more natural engagement.
Both in and out of school, students are socializing more online. According to an annual report released last month by the Pew Internet and American Life project, 95 percent of teenagers are active online, and nearly three out of four children ages 12 to 17 access the Internet via mobile devices, making virtual connections much more integral to most students’ daily lives.
At the same time, more than 6.7 million students took at least one online class in 2012 according to an annual national survey; most of those classes require students to interact or collaborate with classmates and instructors virtually.

A copy of the study (Pew Internet and American Life Project)

Managers of Hedge Funds Hit by Union
Wall Street Journal via Yahoo Finance

The nation’s second-largest union for teachers said some prominent managers of hedge funds get investments from public pensions while supporting groups that attack traditional pensions.
In a report to be released on Thursday, the American Federation of Teachers listed 34 executives at hedge funds and other investment firms that help lead or make contributions to organizations with a hostile stance toward traditional defined-benefit plans, according to the union.
The teachers union urged pension-fund trustees to consider such ties when deciding whether to invest with a specific money manager.
“Does the American Federation of Teachers think they should divest [from firms named in the report?] The answer would be yes,” said Michael Powell, an assistant to the union’s president, Randi Weingarten.
American Federation of Teachers members belong to public pension plans across the U.S. with combined assets of about $800 billion.

A copy of the AFT report (WSJ)

More Than 50 Years Of Putting Kids’ Creativity To The Test NPR All Things Considered

Let’s start with a question from a standardized test: “How would the world be different if we all had a third eye in the back of our heads?”
It’s not a typical standardized question, but as part of the Next Generation Creativity Survey, it’s used to help measure creativity a bit like an IQ test measures intelligence. And it’s not the only creativity test out there.
So why bother measuring creativity? James Catterall, a psychologist and director of the Centers for Research on Creativity in Los Angeles, says the simple answer is that if society, business and education demands it, then we need to know when it’s happening; otherwise, we’re just guessing when it’s there.
He says, “Measuring is an important aspect of knowing where our investments pay off.”

Official: School couldn’t Expel Accused Teens Associated Press

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — The attorney for the family of a 15-year-old Northern California girl who hanged herself after she was allegedly sexually abused by three boys disputed an explanation by the school superintendent of why the boys were not kicked out of school.
Saratoga schools Superintendent Bob Mistele said Wednesday the teens suspected of assaulting Audrie Pott were at a party that was not on campus or related to school, so they could not be expelled.
Attorney Robert Allard responded by saying his reaction and that of the Pott family was “one of disgust and dismay” and outlined four areas of disagreement with the statement.

Plan calls for stricter sex-ed guidelines Ohio going backward, critics say Toledo (OH) Blade

An amendment added to the proposed Ohio budget would bar sex-education instructors from promoting “gateway sexual activity” among young people or face civil fines of up to $5,000.
The amendment reinforces a state law, which requires sex education programs to teach that abstinence is the only certain way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
The amendment was introduced by state Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R., Napoleon) and was adopted in the two-year budget bill by the House Finance Committee on Tuesday. It is up for a vote today, along with the rest of the proposed budget, said Mike Dittoe, spokesman for the House Republican caucus.
The bill doesn’t spell out what is meant by “gateway sexual activity.”

Backers rally for fired gay teacher
She says Catholic school was told of her female partner Columbus (OH) Dispatch

When Bishop Watterson High School teacher Carla Hale returned to work last month after her mother’s death, administrators at the Catholic school in Clintonville confronted her with a letter.
An anonymous parent had written to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus, appalled that Hale had listed her female partner’s name in an obituary.
Within weeks, Hale said, she was fired because she is in a gay relationship.
Students and other supporters recently caught wind of the firing, and on Monday, a petition was initiated on to seek Hale’s reinstatement. It had gained about 4,000 signatures by yesterday afternoon.

Meet the family who sent six kids to college by age 12 NBC Today Show

Seth Harding grabs a two-handed rubber sword, adjusts his helmet made with electrician’s tape, and starts to teach. “Try to block her sword with the base of your sword.”
“Why aren’t you wearing shoes?” I wonder.
“We’re peasants.”
“En garde!” Seth yells. The battle begins. He is bringing light to the Dark Ages.
At 7, when many kids figure they might be firemen, Seth announced he would be a military archeologist. His mom, Mona Lisa, encouraged that curiosity. “Wow! That kid was into this!” she marvels.
By 12, Seth was hanging out with students nearly twice his age, studying the Middle Ages at Faulkner University, near his home in Montgomery, Alabama. “How’s he doing?” I ask assistant professor Grover Plunkett.
“He’s got the highest average in the class.”
Seth was motivated by his brother Keith’s success. Keith is just down the hall, studying finite mathematics, a college senior — at 14.

Five-year-olds to be given lessons in Shakespeare Children as young as five will learn about Shakespeare in maths, drama, art and cookery under Government-backed plan to place the Bard’s “cultural legacy” at the heart of the education system.
(London) Telegraph

Primary schools across Britain will be able to access a new bank of teaching resources designed to promote lessons about the playwright across the curriculum.
The move is being backed by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, who said it was vital that schoolchildren were given more exposure to Shakespeare from the age of five upwards.
Leading academics have also thrown their weight behind the campaign – being launched to mark the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth in 2014 – amid claims primary school pupils should be exposed “to the language of Shakespeare before it’s too late”. It is also backed by actors including Dame Judi Dench.


USOE Calendar

UEN News

April 18:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
1 p.m., 250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

May 9:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
250 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City

May 14:
Executive Appropriations Committee meeting
1 p.m., 445 State Capitol

May 15:
Education Interim Committee meeting
9 a.m., TBD

Related posts:

Comments are closed.