Education News Roundup: April 23, 2013

student in cap and gown with diploma

Academic Graduate Student Portrait/Goodimages/CC/flickr

Today’s Top Picks:

ENR hopes his reports add to your already high enjoyment levels rather than your already high stress levels (http://goo.gl/NihcGm, Gallup) with today’s roundup.

Utah banks and credit unions hope to add to students’ finance knowledge.
http://goo.gl/PSRa5 (SLT)
and http://goo.gl/Z86tf (DN)

U hopes to make teaching a more diverse occupation.
http://goo.gl/ypJtF (KSL)

Ed Week takes a look at where education is 30 years after “A Nation at Risk.”
http://goo.gl/lHiJR (Ed Week)
or a copy of “A Nation at Risk”
http://goo.gl/JjjbZ (St. Paul Public Schools)

Business leaders battle back on Common Core in Alabama.
http://goo.gl/t8RlH (Birmingham News)

Will New York add a 1,250-word research paper to high school graduation requirements?
http://goo.gl/sGlb0 (Albany Times-Union)

Florida makes high school graduation a little easier with differentiated diplomas.
http://goo.gl/xJykF (Orlando Sentinel)

U.S. News & World Report releases its annual ranking of high schools.
http://goo.gl/rXmHC (USN&WR)
Here are Utah’s top five, but there are lots more:
InTech Collegiate High School, Academy for Math, Engineering & Science (AMES) Logan High School, Timpanogos High School
http://goo.gl/zYVz0 (USN&WR)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Zions, other banks teach personal finance to Utah kids Personal finance » Some say required class is failing; others say it’s way too soon for a verdict.

U of U partners with local schools to fund minority students’ teaching education

School meal prices to rise due to federal law

One of Truman Elementary’s original students returns to the school — as its principal Deep roots » Christine Christensen carries on her grandmother’s teaching legacy.

Hillcrest High’s ‘Troilus and Cressida’ becomes most successful in school history Standing ovation » Students credit teacher Josh Long for his ability to teach Shakespeare.

Students show off skills at tech fair

Layton school pipe bomb: Police screen security video as classes resume ‘It was made to function’ » Pipe bomb found on school roof lacked only a fuse.

Providence man sentenced in terror threat case

Police search for gun-toting man who sparked Millcreek school shutdown

Former Utah high school teacher charged with sex abuse Courts » Courtney Jarrell is accused of sexually abusing a 17-year-old student.

Utah student spearheading poverty awareness campaign

Charter school plans space center

Seminary enrollment grows to 390K in 150 countries

Valley View Elementary students surpass reading goal Special visit » KSL’s Chopper 5 landed at the school to celebrate their accomplishment.

Shadow Valley students turn lunch leftovers into compost

South Summit Elementary students make banners, flags for Earth Day

Southern Utah principals to bike from coast to coast

Students get life-changing news about college scholarships

Homes for Heroes launches in Utah, promises savings for public servants

CoolSpeak Partners With Utah’s Office of Multicultural Affairs to Deliver First Youth Leadership Summit

Many approve of Bill Gates’ latest words on education, but some question their source — Gates himself

OPINION & COMMENTARY

School districts waste money

A Nation at Risk: Where Are We Now?

When schools cheat, don’t blame tests
It’s like blaming a bank with lots of money for being robbed.

Overuse of tests feeds cheating
When policymakers attach bonuses and sanctions to scores, scandal is sure to follow.

Common Core-spiracy

The Cinnamon Challenge and Why Schools Need to Know Pop Culture

School Size and Interracial Friendship

TED Education Wants Your Help Bringing Cool Science to the Classroom

Redefining the School District in Tennessee

NATION

Movement against common core is based on ‘faulty information and fear,’ Alabama business leaders say

State may add long paper to high school tasks

Scott signs high school grad bill

Judge criticizes teachers union in lawsuit filed by Indiana

School Leader Group Proposes Change to Special Education Due Process

Education reform group forges voucher-like plan for Michigan Proposal would create ‘value schools’ to operate at lesser cost than now

Legislature may forgive loans to charter schools

U.S. News Releases 2013 Best High Schools Rankings Several public schools made significant gains, shaking up the top 10 in this year’s rankings.

Survey shows half of U.S. high school seniors don’t understand cost, terms of college student loans Credit Union Survey Suggests Future College Graduates Will Face Massive Unintended Debt

10 facts you should know about sex education and teen pregnancy rates in Nevada

Readington middle school dance dress code for girls upsets some parents

Pearson acquires Learning Catalytics; cloud-based education tech The educational publishing giant continues on its recent spree of technology-focused acquisitions.

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UTAH NEWS
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Zions, other banks teach personal finance to Utah kids Personal finance » Some say required class is failing; others say it’s way too soon for a verdict.

Buying a new bottle of water every day versus refilling a container from the drinking fountain. Purchasing a new pair of jeans versus waiting until a current pair wears out.
In each scenario that Zions Bancorporation President and CEO Harris Simmons threw out to fourth-graders at Salt Lake City’s Guadalupe School, 10-year-old Audrey Palestino consistently chose the frugal option.
That is, until she had to decide between buying the next volume in the Lemony Snicket series or waiting until a library copy became available.
“That’s a need,” she said.
Distinguishing between needs and wants is a lesson Simmons and thousands of volunteers from various banks and credit unions have been teaching in classrooms and after-school programs across the state as part of Financial Literacy Month.
http://goo.gl/PSRa5 (SLT)

http://goo.gl/Z86tf (DN)

U of U partners with local schools to fund minority students’ teaching education

SALT LAKE CITY — As Utah’s population grows more diverse, education leaders say teachers from difference races, cultures and backgrounds benefit not only minority students, but the community as a whole.
However, the majority of teachers are still white, middle class women. The University of Utah’s Urban Institute for Teacher Education is reaching out to a diverse group of individuals who may be interested in teaching.
“Everyone benefits in the sense that there’s a respect and connection for every student in the classroom, with a range of teachers who represent students in their classrooms,” said Mary Burbank, director of the institute.
http://goo.gl/ypJtF (KSL)

School meal prices to rise due to federal law

School breakfast and lunch prices are set to increase in both the Cache County and Logan City school district in the upcoming 2013-14 school year.
The increases come from a fairly new federal law called the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
In the Logan City School District, elementary lunches will now be $1.65 and $2 for both the middle school and high school. The prices increased 10 cents for elementary and middle school and 5 cents for the high school.
At schools in the Cache County School District, prices will increase 10 cents all across the board. Elementary lunches will now cost $1.75. Lunches at both middle schools and high schools will be $2.05.
http://goo.gl/6YfVX (LHJ)

One of Truman Elementary’s original students returns to the school — as its principal Deep roots » Christine Christensen carries on her grandmother’s teaching legacy.

It was an emotional experience when Christine Christensen was offered the job to be principal at Harry S. Truman Elementary in West Valley City.
Not only was it her first principal opportunity, but Truman Elementary was the school she attended for fifth and sixth grades when the school opened in 1978. That connection has given Christensen more of an attachment and pride toward Truman.
“When people talk to me here, I tell them that this is my school, and not only because I am the principal,” she said. “I was here just like the students that are here. The parents that come in were my neighbors.”
http://goo.gl/OlgkE (SLT)

Hillcrest High’s ‘Troilus and Cressida’ becomes most successful in school history Standing ovation » Students credit teacher Josh Long for his ability to teach Shakespeare.

Shakespeare’s “Troilus and Cressida” isn’t the most well-known play. Its tone is ambiguous, shifting from dark, psychological drama to straightforward comedy. In fact, there isn’t a documented performance of the play in Shakespeare’s lifetime.
That didn’t deter Hillcrest High’s theater director Josh Long from producing it.
He’s no stranger to rising to the occasion. After all, his production of “Aida” won numerous Best Musical awards, he has helped several students receive performing-arts scholarships and he’s done it all in just a six-year tenure.
“Troilus and Cressida” was no exception to his track record.
Instead of adding to four centuries of bewildered audiences, it turned into the school’s most profitable play ever produced.
http://goo.gl/rQGO6 (SLT)

Students show off skills at tech fair

CEDAR CITY — High school students from across Utah showed off their woodworking, metalworking, graphic design, electronic and other technical skills at the 2013 Southern Utah University Tech Fair.
The event, which continues through today, is sponsored by the SUU Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science & Engineering.
The annual event kicked off Monday night with a fair showcasing student works.
http://goo.gl/tlIss (SGS)

Layton school pipe bomb: Police screen security video as classes resume ‘It was made to function’ » Pipe bomb found on school roof lacked only a fuse.

Detectives are screening video from security cameras in hopes of identifying the person believed to have thrown a primed pipe bomb onto the roof of a Layton school.
Layton police Lt. Shawn Horton said Tuesday that the device found by a janitor on the roof of Mountain View Elementary School Monday morning appeared to be a working explosive device, missing only a fuse.
Horton described the device as a 4-inch length of three-quarter-inch diameter white plastic PVC pipe, filled with gunpowder and capped at both ends.
“It was made to function,” Horton said. “We have no suspects at this time, but we have a lot of video footage to go through from the [security] cams, at least a week’s worth.”
http://goo.gl/cFizp (SLT)

http://goo.gl/w8rxc (OSE)

http://goo.gl/kelX5 (KSTU)

http://goo.gl/GtjIS (Reuters)

Providence man sentenced in terror threat case

A Providence man was sentenced Monday for one third-degree felony count of making a threat of terrorism, a crime his attorney chalked up to really bad timing and “pure stupidity.”
Kirby Alan Hivner, 22, was ordered to spend a total of 180 days in the Cache County Jail, with credit for the 95 days he has been there.
He was arrested in January after investigators say he made several phone calls threatening violence to schools and businesses.
A man in Colorado received one of those calls in January. He told police he received an anonymous call from an individual who said there would be a shooting at “Mountain Creek High School,” according to Cache County officials.
That information was passed on to the Cache County Sheriff’s Office, who traced the call to Hivner, Nelson said.
http://goo.gl/wgx2a (LHJ)

http://goo.gl/afKlW (SLT)

http://goo.gl/XeDYS (OSE)

Police search for gun-toting man who sparked Millcreek school shutdown

Police continued Tuesday to search for a pistol-toting man whose behavior triggered a lockdown of a Millcreek middle school all day Monday.
Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal said the suspect — described as 6-foot Latino in his 20s, 170 pounds, with short dark hair and wearing a tan coat and blue jeans — had not yet been located.
Meanwhile, operations at Roosevelt Middle School, 3225 S. 800 East had returned normal Tuesday morning.
http://goo.gl/KWObA (SLT)

Former Utah high school teacher charged with sex abuse Courts » Courtney Jarrell is accused of sexually abusing a 17-year-old student.

A former Riverton High School math and basketball teacher has been charged in the sexual abuse of a 17-year-old student.
Courtney Louise Jarrell, 22, was charged Friday in 3rd District Court with object rape, a first-degree felony and forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony.
http://goo.gl/gkU6F (SLT)

http://goo.gl/MRCkP (OSE)

http://goo.gl/MHREC (KUTV)

http://goo.gl/4tIAJ (KSTU)

http://goo.gl/rZUhk (HuffPo)

Utah student spearheading poverty awareness campaign

SALT LAKE CITY – An Orem ninth-grader is challenging her fellow Utahns to live on $1.50 worth of food and drink or less for five days in order to raise awareness for global poverty.
Sydney Pedersen is an ambassador with the Global Poverty Project, and she is spearheading the Live Below the Line campaign in Utah.
The campaign asks participants to live on only $1.50 worth of food and drink each day between April 29 and May 3. The goal is to raise awareness for the 1.4 billion people who live below the extreme poverty line, according to a press release from the Global Poverty Project.
http://goo.gl/1iXWP (KSTU)

Charter school plans space center

LEHI — A charter school has announced plans for an $8 million building project to house a space education center.
The Daily Herald in Provo reports Renaissance Academy executive director Marc Ursic unveiled the plans last week for the Farpoint Institute to be built in north Lehi.
http://goo.gl/m6Wec (DN)

Seminary enrollment grows to 390K in 150 countries

SALT LAKE CITY — Enrollment in seminary programs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has increased some 4 percent in the past year to reach its highest enrollment yet.
The church’s four-year religious educational program for high school-age students now includes more than 390,000 teenagers in 150 countries.
Mormon Newsroom notes that seminary enrollment has usually grown over the past several years, but this increase is more than double that of the previous year.
http://goo.gl/Qyhqy (KSL)

Valley View Elementary students surpass reading goal Special visit » KSL’s Chopper 5 landed at the school to celebrate their accomplishment.

Students at Valley View elementary school in read like they had never read before.
The Bountiful kids had a lofty goal: read 256,944 minutes in one month. Students had a variety of reasons for reading. Some enjoyed reading others wanted to improve their skills and comprehension. However, the biggest motivator involved immediate gratification. The students were promised a party — one replete with not only pizza, but also a helicopter visit.
The students surpassed their goal, notching up 361,004 minutes during the month of February. To achieve this goal, all the students and adults in the school read at least 20 minutes a day, seven days a week.
As a reward for their accomplishment, KSL Chopper 5 landed at the school on March 28.
http://goo.gl/nbwOV (SLT)

Shadow Valley students turn lunch leftovers into compost

OGDEN — Students at Shadow Valley Elementary School finished their lunches and bused their trays, but not before setting aside valuable fruit and vegetable scraps earmarked for composting.
Many Utah schools had activities Monday for Earth Day, but composting at Shadow Valley is something that happens every day of the school year.
“People throw away fruit when it could be used to help the soil,” said Tanner Leishman, a sixth-grader from Ogden and a member of Shadow Valley’s Green Ambassadors service club. “Making compost is a good thing to do.”
http://goo.gl/VCMus (OSE)

South Summit Elementary students make banners, flags for Earth Day

KAMAS, Summit County — South Summit Elementary students raised flags and banners symbolizing countries around the world they made for Earth Day on Monday to show that all are connected to a larger earth community.
http://goo.gl/D1RuD (DN)

Southern Utah principals to bike from coast to coast

HURRICANE – Two Southern Utah principals are literally going the extra mile for their students: They’re planning a 3,000-mile coast-to-coast bike ride.
Hurricane High School Principal Jody Rich and Hurricane Middle School Principal Roy Hoyt said it’s been a plan for a few years, but late in 2012 they decided to make that plan a reality.
http://goo.gl/mogml (KSTU)

Students get life-changing news about college scholarships

DENVER — Thirty students out of a pool of more than 250 in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico were at the State Capitol Monday to find out which of the semi-finalists would be awarded scholarships from the Daniels Scholarship program.
“These students bring so much hope and promise to their schools and families,” said the fund’s CEO Linda Childears. “To date, more than 2,512 Daniels Scholarships have been awarded and with today’s group, more than 2,762 students will have received the awards.”
http://goo.gl/bHpiO (Denver, KDVR)

Homes for Heroes launches in Utah, promises savings for public servants

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah became the 44th state to welcome the Homes for Heroes initiative Monday, meaning nearly 200,000 local homebuyers may eventually be eligible to qualify for discounts on lending fees and closing costs.
Homes for Heroes was launched in Minnesota in 2001 and now works with 750 affiliates across the county offering homebuyer discounts to military members, law enforcement, firefighters and teachers, among others.
http://goo.gl/kMg1n (DN)

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

CoolSpeak Partners With Utah’s Office of Multicultural Affairs to Deliver First Youth Leadership Summit

PHILADELPHIA, PA–CoolSpeak, the leader in building and implementing the nation’s best youth engagement practices, today announced its partnership with Utah’s Office of Multicultural Affairs (MCA) to launch the first youth Summit at the Davis Conference Center, Layton, Utah on April 30, 2013. Aimed at engaging and investing in Utah’s youth-of-tomorrow, CoolSpeak is charged with delivering a one-day event, instilling commitment by bringing together students, parents, community leaders and state government and organizations for a series of presentations and breakout sessions enabling youth to better bridge the gap between themselves and their communities.
“The focus of our new Multicultural Youth Leadership Summit is to engage and invest in the youth of tomorrow,” stated Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert. By guiding the underserved and at-risk students to realize their true potential, the Summit will help support the state’s education initiative to ensure 66% of all working-age individuals receive a post-secondary degree or certificate by 2020. “I am honored to be involved at the stage where grassroots vitality and longevity will help form the basis for the success of tomorrow’s youth,” states Carlos Ojeda Jr., chief executive officer, CoolSpeak.
http://goo.gl/WBCN8 (Marketwire)

Many approve of Bill Gates’ latest words on education, but some question their source — Gates himself

Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates wrote an April 3 opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal decrying the practice of evaluating schoolteachers solely on the basis of their students’ achievement on standardized tests — a process called value-added measurement in education circles. Many educators are lauding Gates’ words, but some question their source — the billionaire philanthropist whose money and influence supported the development of value-added teacher evaluation and test-based performance metrics in education.
“As states and districts rush to implement new teacher development and evaluation systems, there is a risk they’ll use hastily contrived, unproven measures,” Gates wrote. ” … Some states and districts are talking about developing tests for all subjects, including choir and gym, just so they have something to measure.”
http://goo.gl/drPFL (DN)

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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School districts waste money
(Logan) Herald Journal letter from Ralph Call

As I was listening to Arthur Brooks lecture at USU this past Wednesday, he again reminded me of a fact that I came to understand as a member of a public school board a few years ago. Public schools in the United States in general, and specifically in Cache Valley, are not about parent’s wishes, or children, or in fact about education. They are about the employees.
Public schools are an advanced-stage monopoly that exhibits all of the pathologies of final-stage monopolies. 1) The board of directors is ineffective and sterile. 2) The management is arrogant, insular and grossly overpaid. 3) The product is declining in quality. 4) Costs are out of control and mountains of debt are consummated. 5) The organization is grossly inefficient and wasteful. 6) Customers are abused. 7) Innovation and change are stoutly resisted. 8) Competition is crushed, if possible. 9) Pertinent facts are misrepresented or omitted. 10) As many jobs as possible are created and defended.
http://goo.gl/bZI80

A Nation at Risk: Where Are We Now?
Education Week editorial

This week marks the 30th anniversary of the release of A Nation at Risk by the National Commission on Excellence in Education formed by U.S. Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell. The landmark report declared that “the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and a people.” Pointing to what it said were flagging test scores, diluted curricula, and weak teacher-preparation programs, among other issues, A Nation at Risk argued that an “incoherent, outdated patchwork quilt” of instruction was creating a culture of passive learning in which students could advance with minimum effort.
The commission recommended “five new basics” for students seeking a high school diploma: four courses in English, three in mathematics, three in science, three in social studies, and one-half credit in computer science. Two courses in foreign language were proposed for students planning on attending college. Other recommendations included taking steps to improve teacher quality, allowing for more classroom time devoted to the new basics, increasing academic rigor, and raising standards for college admission.
In the first installment of the new OpEducation blog, a panel of five education thought leaders discusses the impact of A Nation at Risk. Read more.
A catalyst for the academic-standards movement, the report was widely circulated and its findings strongly influenced policymakers and opinion leaders. But it was not without its detractors. Among the criticisms leveled against the authors was a lack of attention to K-8 education, a dearth of sourcing for the cited statistics, and a failure to identify root causes of education problems.
Here is a look at comparative data on selected aspects of American education over the decades since the report, highlighting academic, demographic, and other trends.
http://goo.gl/lHiJR

A copy of “A Nation At Risk”
http://goo.gl/JjjbZ (St. Paul Public Schools)

When schools cheat, don’t blame tests
It’s like blaming a bank with lots of money for being robbed.
USA Today editorial

The cheating scandal in Atlanta, which led to the indictment of 35 teachers and school officials last month, is breathtaking in its scope.
According to the indictment and a state investigation, teachers held cheating “parties” to erase and change answers on state-mandated tests. One principal wore gloves to guard against leaving fingerprints.
Teachers who failed to meet testing goals were fired. So were whistle-blowers. Teachers who succeeded garnered financial rewards. The indicted schools superintendent, who has denied wrongdoing, pocketed $580,000 in bonuses for her achievements.
Nearly as breathtaking as the scandal itself are some of the reactions from union leaders and critics of high-stakes testing. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and her Georgia counterpart denounced cheating, then diluted that message by adding that the scandal “crystallizes the unintended consequences of our test-crazed policies.”
Actually, it crystallizes what dishonest people do when bonuses are at stake and they’re afraid they won’t get them: They cheat.
http://goo.gl/OMhfr

Overuse of tests feeds cheating
When policymakers attach bonuses and sanctions to scores, scandal is sure to follow.
USA Today op-ed by Bob Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing

The behavior of some school administrators and educators in Atlanta was clearly outrageous. There’s no excuse for cheating.
Unfortunately, Atlanta’s scandal is the “tip of an iceberg” in a national sea of standardized test score manipulation. In just the past four years, cheating on high-stakes exams has been confirmed in 37 states and Washington, D.C., according to a survey posted at fairtest.org.
The epidemic of cheating scandals is one reason to reverse education policies. More compelling is overwhelming evidence that test-and-punish strategies fail to improve our schools.
The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law had laudable objectives — boosting achievement and narrowing racial gaps. But the U.S. made more progress toward these important goals in the decade before the law than since its passage.
Test score gamesmanship is fallout from the nation’s explosion of standardized exam misuse and overuse. When policymakers attach bonuses and sanctions to test scores, some schools feel compelled to generate the numbers they need, by hook or by crook. They also narrow curriculum and drill test content.
http://goo.gl/b7yGo

Common Core-spiracy
New Schools Venture Fund commentary by Benjamin Riley, director of Policy and Advocacy

***EMERGENCY ACTION ALERT***
TO: All members of the Illuminati Common Core-spiracy
FROM: Benjamin Riley, NewSchools Venture Front
CC: Governors of 45 US states; NEA & AFT leadership; Scholastic, Pearson and McGraw Hill; US Chamber of Commerce; Gates Foundation; Aspen Institute; ExxonMobil; Trilateral Commission; Council on Foreign Relations; All European Heads of State; Professor Bill Ayers; the Rothschilds; the Rockefellers; Parallax Corporation; Fair Play for Cuba Committee; [REDACTED BY CHENEY]; Dennis Rodman
RE: Discovery of our plot to destroy the American way of life through the raising of academic standards
Gentlemen (and Condi), I write with great urgency. Despite our best efforts to conceal our true aims behind the development and adoption of the Common Core State Standards, our plot is on the verge of unraveling. (Reminder: our plan is to “dumb down schoolchildren so they will be obedient servants of the government and probably to indoctrinate them to accept the leftwing view of America and its history,” even though most of us are wealthy capitalists.) We did not anticipate that a small, select band of truth seeking American patriots would see through our ruse and reveal our true intentions.
As you know, we intend to shred this country’s fabric of freedom through a complex, multi-pronged assault on everything this nation holds sacred – starting with cursive handwriting. We intentionally removed cursive from the Common Core because we broadly agreed that the ability to write in round letters that flow together is a key skill for all freethinking persons to possess in 2013. The Declaration of Independence, after all, was written in cursive – coincidence?
http://goo.gl/VHI2H

The Cinnamon Challenge and Why Schools Need to Know Pop Culture Education Week commentary by columnist Ross Brenneman

Years ago, someone, somewhere, had the idea to take a spoon, fill it with ground cinnamon, and shovel that cinnamon into his mouth. This becomes the closest anyone can reasonably get to fulfilling the expression “hacking up a lung.”
Long after it started, the Cinnamon Challenge endures. For those who understand food science, or who have seen the challenge personally, they know the conclusion: Hacking, coughing, and sputtering, with cinnamon going everywhere.
The Cinnamon Challenge is a mainstay among youthful dares. As the old saying goes, it’s always fun until someone puts out an eye. Or a lung. Which is possible, as a paper published today for the May issue of Pediatrics outlines. Researchers examined the extent to which the challenge has grown, as well as the damage cinnamon can cause.
“The Cinnamon Challenge is a behavioral phenomenon, a popular dare fueled by peer pressure that, along with competition, often instigates risk-taking behaviors among adolescents,” the paper says.
http://goo.gl/aws6N

A copy of the report
http://goo.gl/oeXf8 (Pediatrics)

School Size and Interracial Friendship
Huffington Post commentary by author and journalist Carlin Flora

School brochure pictures notwithstanding, by and large, students hang around kids of their same race. But it turns out that the type of school they go to might encourage or subvert this tendency.
A new study by Siwei Chang and Yu Xie of the University of Michigan analyzed simulated data from a model of how we form friends as well as the real friendships of 4,745 American high school students and concluded that the smaller the school (i.e., the context for making friends), the more likely students were to form interracial friendships.
In a press release, Xie is quoted as saying, “We found that total school size had a major effect on the likelihood that students would form interracial friendships. Large schools promote racial segregation and discourage interracial friendships.”
http://goo.gl/ZnVYx

TED Education Wants Your Help Bringing Cool Science to the Classroom Scientific American commentary by columnist Rose Eveleth

At TED Education, we’re obsessed with learning. Whether it’s about the history of the cell theory, or how to write a slam poem. And since I happen to be obsessed with science, I have a particularly fond place in my heart for our science lessons. Which brings me to you, Scientific American reader, because I know you’re probably obsessed, or at least a little curious, about science too. TED-Ed needs your help. What are you curious about? What do you want to learn about? What do you want to teach the world? We’re looking for your lesson ideas, science or otherwise, to create a whole new set of TED-Ed lessons.
But first, let’s back up. What is TED-Ed? We’re an initiative of TED Conferences, known for TED Talks. Our focus is on creating and sharing lessons to spread great ideas for all educators and learners–mainly high school and college students. So we team up with educators and animators to make short, beautiful and educational videos that anyone who’s curious about the world can enjoy.
http://goo.gl/Dko92

Redefining the School District in Tennessee Thomas B. Fordham Institute analysis by Nelson Smith

As the challenges of education governance loom ever larger and the dysfunction and incapacity of the traditional K–12 system reveal themselves as major roadblocks to urgently needed reforms across that system, many have asked, “What’s the alternative?”
Part of the answer is the Recovery School District, a new state-created entity that that has the potential to turn around schools that have—often for decades—produced dreadful results under district control.
This is both a governance innovation and an imaginative response to pressure (from No Child Left Behind, from Secretary Arne Duncan, and from many other sources) to transform the nation’s most egregious “dropout factories” into providers of quality education and sources of worthy school choices for children who urgently need them.
Redefining the School District in Tennessee examines the progress of the Tennessee Achievement School District (ASD), a statewide model for school turnarounds based on Louisiana’s pioneering Recovery School District.
http://goo.gl/8P6mT

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Movement against common core is based on ‘faulty information and fear,’ Alabama business leaders say Birmingham (AL) News

In their second letter urging Republican lawmakers to rethink their planned repeal of Alabama’s common core curriculum standards, the state’s top business leaders today asked that the Senate Rules Committee block Senate Bill 403 from coming up for a floor vote.
“We believe the national movement against Common Core State Standards is based on faulty information and fear, and that the business friendly status and workforce readiness of our state will be significantly damaged if this repeal movement is successful,” they wrote.
The letter, addressed to the Senate Rules Committee members, is undersigned by Daniel “Chip” Cherry Jr., president of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce; Brian Hilson, president of the Birmingham Business Alliance, Randall George, president of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, and Win Hallet, president of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce.
http://goo.gl/t8RlH

State may add long paper to high school tasks Albany (NY) Times Union

Albany — New York’s high school students could soon face a new challenge before they earn their diplomas: a 1,250-word research paper.
That is the new proposal by the state Education Department to better prepare New York’s students for life after high school. On Monday, the Board of Regents considered the proposal, which could apply to students entering high school as freshmen in the 2013-2014 school year.
New York could be the first state in the nation to require a research paper before graduation, state Education Commissioner John King said. The goal is to ensure students have mastered important English skills that cannot be measured by standardized testing.
“It’s an acknowledgement that a single assessment can give you lots of important information but can’t tell you everything you want to know about a student’s skills,” he said.
If approved, the new requirement would apply to students taking the English Regents exam beginning in January 2015. It would be recommended, but not required, for students before then.
http://goo.gl/sGlb0

Scott signs high school grad bill
Orlando (FL) Sentinel

Some high school students should have an easier time earning diplomas under a sweeping education bill Gov. Rick Scott signed Monday.
The bill (SB 1076) scales back some of the tougher requirements the Florida Legislature put in place in 2010 for students who want a “standard” high school diploma. It deletes from those requirements some must-pass math and science courses and some must-pass state exams. It also encourages all students to learn “high-tech” job skills while still in high school.
Local administrators supported the legislative change, fearful the current requirements were unfair to youngsters not planning on a four-year college or university after high school.
http://goo.gl/xJykF

Judge criticizes teachers union in lawsuit filed by Indiana Indianapolis (IN) Star

A federal judge ripped the legal arguments of the National Education Association, one of the nation’s most influential labor unions, in a court order that keeps the NEA as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by the State of Indiana.
U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker called the NEA’s reasoning that she reconsider one of her previous rulings “both puzzling and preposterous.”
The Washington, D.C.-based teachers union wanted the judge to reconsider her March denial of an NEA motion for summary judgment that would have dropped it as a defendant in the case.
In her order from last week, the judge denied the reconsideration request in biting style.
http://goo.gl/bVSdS

School Leader Group Proposes Change to Special Education Due Process Education Week

Due process hearings are adversarial, expensive, and distracting, says the American Association of School Administrators, and the organization believes it has a fix: a new process that would bring in an outside consultant who would create an education plan for a student with disabilities that parents and a school would have to follow for a mutually agreed-upon period of time before any lawsuits were filed.
In a new report, Rethinking the Special Education Due Process System, the Alexandria, Va.-based association says that the current process is so broken that tinkering around the edges will not fix it.
“Our goal is to start a dialogue about this, together with other groups, to see if we can find a compromise,” said Sasha Pudelski, the AASA government affairs manager and the author of the report. And even though Congress is not currently showing any signs of taking up reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the time to talk about the issue is now, she says. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think lawmakers would consider this.”
However, at least one advocacy group, the Baltimore-based Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, sees the AASA proposal as an attack on parents.
http://goo.gl/qzoFp

A copy of the report
http://goo.gl/cdkLW (American Association of School Administrators)

Education reform group forges voucher-like plan for Michigan Proposal would create ‘value schools’ to operate at lesser cost than now Detroit News

Lansing — A secret work group that includes top aides to Gov. Rick Snyder has been meeting since December to develop a lower-cost model for K-12 public education with a funding mechanism that resembles school vouchers.
The education reform advisory team has dubbed itself a “skunk works” project working outside of the government bureaucracy and education establishment with a goal of creating a “value school” that costs $5,000 per child annually to operate, according to meeting minutes and reports obtained by The Detroit News.
The records show designers of the “value school” are in talks with Bay Mills Community College about opening a technology-centric charter school by August 2014. The school would seek to maximize the roughly $7,000 annual per-pupil funding regular schools get from taxpayers by applying “concepts familiar in the private sector — getting higher value for less money.”
Other records distributed to group members indicate they want to explore using fewer teachers and more instruction through long-distance video conferencing. Each “value school” student would receive a “Michigan Education Card” to pay for their “tuition” — similar to the electronic benefits transfer used to distribute food stamps and cash assistance for the poor.
Students could use leftover money on the “EduCard” for high school Advanced Placement courses, music lessons, sport team fees, remedial education or cyber courses, according to an outline of the advisory team’s agenda.
http://goo.gl/w31jC

Legislature may forgive loans to charter schools Associated Press via South Bend (IN) Tribune

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana lawmakers are considering forgiving $12 million in loans that “failing” charter schools accepted from the state, as part of a broader package of state aid for charters.
The Indiana Department of Education loaned roughly $12.9 million to eight charter schools to help with startup costs, and they still owe $12 million to the state, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. Seven whose charters were revoked by Ball State University in January would be absolved of payments, along with another school which did not seek to renew its charter.
“Why did they get their charter revoked?” asked Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville. “If they were (educating students) and it was a good faith effort and they were in good standing at that time, maybe it should be paid for them.”
http://goo.gl/ie8i5

U.S. News Releases 2013 Best High Schools Rankings Several public schools made significant gains, shaking up the top 10 in this year’s rankings.
U.S. News & World Report

The importance of a strong high school education cannot be overstated.
Good schools challenge students academically, while giving them ample opportunity to explore their interests. This combination can set teens up to succeed long after graduation. By contrast, subpar schools can leave students struggling to make the transition from high school to college or the workforce.
The 2013 Best High Schools rankings, released today, can help parents wade through the ever expanding options of public high schools. U.S. News collected data on more than 21,000 public high schools from 49 states and the District of Columbia.
http://goo.gl/rXmHC

Utah’s top ranking schools:
InTech Collegiate High School
Academy for Math, Engineering & Science (AMES) Logan High School Timpanogos High School
http://goo.gl/zYVz0 (USN&WR)

Survey shows half of U.S. high school seniors don’t understand cost, terms of college student loans Credit Union Survey Suggests Future College Graduates Will Face Massive Unintended Debt CPA Practice Advisor

WASHINGTON — Nearly 50 percent of high school seniors in the U.S. can’t even guess how much money they will need to pay for college, and even greater numbers appear unable to understand the basic terms of a student loan. These are the key findings of the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) first annual High School Student Borrowing Survey.
The CUNA survey also found that a majority of students (70%) are confident that they will receive a high-paying job upon graduating, suggesting that students are willing to pay the cost of college tuition even while not understanding how their associated borrowing will affect their financial futures.
http://goo.gl/3eSXQ

10 facts you should know about sex education and teen pregnancy rates in Nevada Las Vegas Sun

Should sex education be a school or a parent’s responsibility? Or both?
That’s perhaps the most contentious question surrounding Assembly Bill 230, which would change sex education in Nevada from an opt-in to an opt-out program.
Currently, state law requires local school districts to teach about the human reproductive system, sexually transmitted diseases and “sexual responsibility.” Parents must sign a consent form at the beginning of the year to allow their children to participate in sex education classes.
AB230 beefs up the language in the state law, requiring that districts provide medically accurate and age-appropriate comprehensive sex education, including topics such as domestic violence, sexual assault and sex trafficking. Students automatically would be enrolled in sex education classes; parents may sign a form to opt their children out of these classes.
Proponents of AB230, such as Planned Parenthood, argue these changes would help curb Nevada’s teen pregnancy rate, which is the fourth-highest in the nation.
Critics have taken issue with AB230’s opt-out clause, which they argue undermines parents’ ability to teach what they feel is appropriate sex education to their children.
http://goo.gl/OBsDM

Readington middle school dance dress code for girls upsets some parents Bridgewater (NJ) Courier News

READINGTON — The annual year-end dinner dance is supposed to be a way for eighth-graders at Readington Middle School to relax and celebrate.
But this year it has become a lesson on civil liberties and gender studies, thanks to the school principal banning strapless dresses for girls. The reason? She considers them too distracting for boys.
This dress-code fight, however, isn’t being waged by rebellious preteens. It’s their parents who plan to attend the Board of Education’s meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, at Holland Brook School, 52 Readington Road, Whitehouse Station, to petition for a rule suspension.
Charlotte Nijenhuis, a mother who is leading this battle, called the rule arbitrary, sexist and a violation of her daughter’s 14th Amendment rights to due process and equal protection.
Plus, strapless dresses were allowed in previous years, parents said.
http://goo.gl/mDjeS

Pearson acquires Learning Catalytics; cloud-based education tech The educational publishing giant continues on its recent spree of technology-focused acquisitions.
ZD Net

Pearson, the British publishing giant best known for its educational bent, announced yesterday that it has acquired Learning Catalytics, a cloud-based learning analytics and assessment system developed in the U.S.
The terms were not disclosed.
Learning Catalytics’ aim is to use instant feedback and peer-to-peer engagement to improve student comprehension of topics. The company’s system makes it possible for faculty to receive responses to open-ended or critical thinking questions in real time, determine which areas require further explanation, and automatically group students for further discussion and problem solving.
In other words, instructors can better understand—while lecturing, in real time—the performance of their students and adjust accordingly. This concept has been called the “flipped classroom.”
http://goo.gl/bShnC

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

UEN News
http://www.uen.org

May 2:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda.aspxpr

May 9:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
250 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://goo.gl/Mu36l

May 14:
Executive Appropriations Committee meeting
1 p.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?Year=2013&Com=APPEXE

May 15:
Education Interim Committee meeting
9 a.m., TBD
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?Year=2013&Com=INTEDU

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