Education News Roundup: June 5, 2013

"Taxes" by Tax Credits/CC/flickr

“Taxes” by Tax Credits/CC/flickr

Today’s Top Picks:

Salt Lake Board approves a tax increase.
http://goo.gl/J2xsG (DN)
and http://goo.gl/pwkT7 (KUER)

Jeffrey Nelson, president and CEO of Nelson Laboratories, is Utah’s new chairman of the STEM Action Center board.
http://goo.gl/qxN6G (DN)
and http://goo.gl/7xCJP (UP)

Sen. Weiler opposes the Common Core.
http://goo.gl/t9aqk (UP)

“You can’t fix third-grade literacy by focusing only on third-graders,” Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) said.
http://goo.gl/a8713 (WaPo)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

SLC school board approves property tax increase

Governor appoints Jeffrey Nelson as STEM chairman

Teacher contract negotiations come to an end Long negotiations produce 3-year contract

Latinos in Action end the year strong
Career Day teaches students about diversity

Mother Of Student Prompts Criminal Assault Investigation

State, city and school officials stress safety on new Sandy-Draper TRAX line

Librarians bringing books to life this summer

How to get kids to read during the summer? Magic!

Excellent Educator Express rolls in
Doilney Excellent Educator Express visits schools

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Don’t Dismiss Common Core Critics

Paper wrong about Common Core

Don’t expect Congress to end test-and-punish core of NCLB

Is it really this easy to block the Common Core?

Grading teachers on test scores
For teachers, standardized tests scores can vary from year to year and class to class.

Report urges that federal funds for class-size reduction should instead go to train teachers in data analysis.

We’re not doing enough to engage parents, even though it improves achievement

New data shows school “reformers” are full of it Poor schools underperform largely because of economic forces, not because teachers have it too easy

NATION

Governors, state education chiefs discuss improving child literacy

Education Bill Rewrite Would Protect Gay Students

Movement against Common Core education standards hits NC

Academics Not Only Factor in College Success, ACT Report Says

Teacher-Pension Costs Could Put Squeeze on More Districts

100 Students ejected from NYC-to-Atlanta Flight

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UTAH NEWS
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SLC school board approves property tax increase

SALT LAKE CITY — Following public comment critical of the state Legislature, the Salt Lake City School Board voted Tuesday to approve a property tax increase for the 2013-14 budget.
The tax increase will raise $3.6 million for the district and cost homeowners an additional $12.65 per year for every $100,000 of assessed property value.
Only three members of the public — including Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, and former school board member Amanda Thorderson — spoke during the board’s meeting, and all of them did so in favor of the proposed tax increase.
http://goo.gl/J2xsG (DN)

http://goo.gl/pwkT7 (KUER)

Governor appoints Jeffrey Nelson as STEM chairman

SALT LAKE CITY — Jeffrey Nelson, president and CEO of Nelson Laboratories, has been appointed as chairman of the STEM Action Center board, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development announced Wednesday.
The STEM Action Center was created during the most recent legislative session to advance science, technology, engineering and mathematics education as part of the state’s push to increase degree attainment by 2020.
http://goo.gl/qxN6G (DN)

http://goo.gl/7xCJP (UP)

Teacher contract negotiations come to an end Long negotiations produce 3-year contract

On Friday, May 24, with a unanimous vote, the Park City Board ratified the compensation contract for licensed teachers, ending the months of negotiations.
When the Park City Education Association and the Park City School District started negotiating new teacher contract in April of 2012, neither side anticipated the discussions would take that long, nor include a mediator to help reach a decision.
But, despite the delay, Park City High School teachers and co-presidents for the PCEA, Jim Fleming and Ed Mulick, say the extra time used to hammer out the new contract was worth the three-year contract it produced.
http://goo.gl/MPsFc (PR)

Latinos in Action end the year strong
Career Day teaches students about diversity

Students who participated in the Latinos in Action Program at Park City High School attended their last career day presentation Friday morning in Ali Webb’s classroom.
The 19 students in attendance, which hosted four professional speakers, all earned their seats through efforts made this school year, according to Webb who is the English-as-a-Second Language department chair and teacher.
During the year, students who seek access to the group must maintain a minimum 2.5 Grade Point Average and commit to volunteer work at the school and around the community. Last year, more than 40 students submitted applications to join, but only those at the event last week made the cut.
http://goo.gl/RvofP (PR)

Mother Of Student Prompts Criminal Assault Investigation

A Utah mother pushed school district officials to take action after her daughter was caught on video, being assaulted by another student, inside a Bennion Junior High School classroom.
The video, posted on Facebook in April, depicts one female student confronting another inside a classroom. Other students are seen and heard provoking a fight and recording the altercation.
The mother of the victim says the attacker and her friends weren’t even in that class, but came in to start trouble. “It was planned, these kids knew what they were doing,” said Christine Johnson, who’s ninth grade daughter is assaulted in the video.
“There’s obviously some premeditation on the part of the perpetrator, and that kind of behavior is not tolerated in any of our schools,” said Ben Horsely, a Granite School District spokesperson.
http://goo.gl/lY3ku (KUTV)

http://goo.gl/8VccB (KSTU)

State, city and school officials stress safety on new Sandy-Draper TRAX line

DRAPER — It’s a scenario the Utah Transit Authority and Unified Fire Authority hope they don’t have to respond to but still have to be prepared for just in case.
On Tuesday, emergency crews responded to a TRAX train that hit a van where the rail crosses Pioneer Road (about 12400 South and 1100 East). The passenger of the van was ejected and pinned under the train.
But on this day, the scenario was a training exercise. The new Draper light-rail line is not yet open to the public. The “trapped person” was really just a mannequin. But both UTA and UFA officials said it was a great opportunity to practice emergency rescues on the new stretch of TRAX line.
http://goo.gl/SqlxI (DN)

Librarians bringing books to life this summer

Celebrate Reading with Alpine School District brought several dozen children and their parents to the American Fork Library Tuesday morning where they were treated to story time with several district employees.
Sandy DenBoer, who works in the district’s human resources department, dressed in full princess regalia, complete with a crown and a pink dress, as she read “Tea for Ruby” by Sarah Ferguson to a group of kids.
“If we can do things with them that help them remember and get excited about reading, they’re going to want to read more and it won’t be a drudgery to them,” DenBoer said of the kids.
The district is planning six more Celebrate Reading events for the summer.
http://goo.gl/BbPQU (PDH)

How to get kids to read during the summer? Magic!

EAGLE MOUNTAIN — Eagle Mountain’s city hall was packed with excited children Tuesday as magician Al Lampkin performed his routine. From malfunctioning magic wands to invisible coins, Lampkin continually impressed the audience and kept them on edge.
“Al is always a great draw,” said LeAnn Johnson, Eagle Mountain’s children’s librarian. “What kid doesn’t like a magic show?”
But Lampkin wasn’t in town just for fun. His performance marked the beginning of the city’s summer reading program for children. His act coincided with this summer’s theme of “dig into reading.”
http://goo.gl/DK3Gb (PDH)

Excellent Educator Express rolls in
Doilney Excellent Educator Express visits schools

Teachers around the district were so occupied with their students Thursday morning they didn’t even see the Excellent Educator Express coming before it hit them.
Retired developer and builder, Jim Doilney, has been conducting the Doilney Excellent Educator Awards since 1996, to help honor teachers, counselors, and staff who have been selected by their peers to receive the accolade.
With the school year coming to an end, the unsuspecting educators selected for outstanding efforts during the school year were easy prey Thursday morning, as members of the Park City Education Foundation, Deer Valley Resort staff and members of the Doilney family gathered in a limo, to visit the many PCSD schools to surprise the selected educators.
http://goo.gl/ykPRz (PR)

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Don’t Dismiss Common Core Critics
Utah Policy commentary by Sen. Todd Weiler

The Editorial Board of the Standard Examiner disses the tea party and other ideological groups for campaigning against the Common Core.
But I think it would be a mistake to dismiss the opposition to the Common Core Standards as mere rabble rousing from the extreme right. As a legislator, I have been approached by concerned parents and teachers alike with legitimate complaints about Common Core. Take note, it’s not just the Glenn Beck fans who are contacting me.
With little, if any, input from Utah parents, teachers or lawmakers, our educational leaders have jumped into Common Core with both feet. But why? As I dug into the issue, and earnestly tried to separate facts from emotional hysteria, an interesting subplot emerged.
http://goo.gl/t9aqk

Paper wrong about Common Core
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner letter from Linda Van Tassell

Regarding the June 4 editorial, “Common Core merits support,” where in the world is the paper getting its propaganda from? The paper says the curriculum is coming from the states? Are you kidding?
I strongly suggest the paper do a little research on this topic before writing such an editorial——unbelievable!
http://goo.gl/l4c7M

Don’t expect Congress to end test-and-punish core of NCLB Washington Post commentary by Monty Neill, executive director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, known as FairTest

Both houses of Congress are starting to take another crack at rewriting the flawed No Child Left Behind law through the long-overdue reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. However, the Democratic bill released Tuesday by Senator Tom Harkin and likely bills from House Republicans will be so different that chances of final passage approach zero. Unfortunately, neither house is going to eliminate the test-and-punish core of NCLB – even though the growing public demand for fundamental change is backed by volumes of research.
Far better alternatives to NCLB exist, and they could be readily implemented. For example, the Forum on Educational Accountability, which I chair, has proposed comprehensive reforms to make improving schools that need help the new core of federal policy.
Under NCLB, gains on National Assessment of Educational Progress standardized tests slowed or halted in reading and math at all three grades for almost every demographic group. NCLB’s threat of sanctions for low test scores pushed many schools, especially those serving low-income children (who are disproportionately children of color), into becoming little more than test-prep programs, with dreary, narrow curricula and lifeless rote instruction. It has also led to a wild proliferation of “interim” and “formative” tests as practice for the federally mandated high-stakes exams. These poisonous weeds crowd out time for engaging instruction.
http://goo.gl/5COaS

Is it really this easy to block the Common Core?
Washington Post commentary by Michael McShane, a research fellow in education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute

Michigan state senator Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) doesn’t like the Common Core.
It is, according to him, “An obvious overreach by the federal government into our classrooms.” He believes that “The federal government should not dictate what is taught in every classroom in the nation, especially in Michigan.”
Agree with him or not, he has a perspective that is shared by numerous legislators in states all across the country, from Kansas to Louisiana to Indiana to Georgia to Pennsylvania which is causing headaches for Common Core advocates.
To try and stop the Common Core, McMillin introduced, along with several other senators, HB 4276, which specifically states that “The state board model core academic curriculum content standards shall not be based upon the Common Core Standards.”
Now, trying to pass a bill to openly thwart the Common Core — which, it should be stated, Republican Governor Tom Snyder supports — is probably a bridge too far. To date, it appears that the bill, like several others throughout the nation, has stalled in the Senate Education Committee.
So what is a Senator like McMillin to do? Well, all he needs to do to stop the Common Core is make sure that it doesn’t get funded.
That is exactly what he did.
http://goo.gl/SfimS

Grading teachers on test scores
For teachers, standardized tests scores can vary from year to year and class to class.
USA Today commentary by columnist Patrick Welsh

Signs exhorting students have been springing up at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., where I teach English. “Keep Calm and Crush the Test” is my favorite.
The state’s standards of learning exams have been taking place all week, and the results carry significance not only for the students but for teachers as well.
The test results could mean some seniors will not graduate, others will get token diplomas marked “modified standard,” and the reputation of the school, which the state and federal government labeled persistently low three years ago, could be further sullied. And this year, Virginia, like many states, raised the testing stakes even higher: 40% of teachers’ evaluations will be based on their students’ academic progress.
Evaluating teachers on students’ standardized test scores is at the heart of President Obama’s Race to the Top grant program — and on its face it seems fair. But in the real classroom world, things are not so simple.
http://goo.gl/lnoh3

We’re not doing enough to engage parents, even though it improves achievement Hechinger Report commentary by Jonah Edelman, co-Founder and CEO of Stand for Children, and Tyler Whitmire, Director of Research and Communications at Stand for Children

These days, the battle over public school is more pitched than ever. A veteran journalist told us that, in a 30-year career, he’s never covered an issue that provokes as much disagreement and rancor as education.
But although it receives less attention than more hot-button issues like teacher evaluations or charter schools, there’s one strategy everyone in education should agree on: the importance of high-quality family engagement.
http://goo.gl/vWOup

New data shows school “reformers” are full of it Poor schools underperform largely because of economic forces, not because teachers have it too easy Salon.com commentary by columnist DAVID SIROTA

In the great American debate over education, the education and technology corporations, bankrolled politicians and activist-profiteers who collectively comprise the so-called “reform” movement base their arguments on one central premise: that America should expect public schools to produce world-class academic achievement regardless of the negative forces bearing down on a school’s particular students. In recent days, though, the faults in that premise are being exposed by unavoidable reality.
Before getting to the big news, let’s review the dominant fairy tale: As embodied by New York City’s major education announcement this weekend, the “reform” fantasy pretends that a lack of teacher “accountability” is the major education problem and somehow wholly writes family economics out of the story (amazingly, this fantasy persists even in a place like the Big Apple where economic inequality is particularly crushing). That key — and deliberate — omission serves myriad political interests.
For education, technology and charter school companies and the Wall Streeters who back them, it lets them cite troubled public schools to argue that the current public education system is flawed, and to then argue that education can be improved if taxpayer money is funneled away from the public school system’s priorities (hiring teachers, training teachers, reducing class size, etc.) and into the private sector (replacing teachers with computers, replacing public schools with privately run charter schools, etc.).
http://goo.gl/WuG84

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Governors, state education chiefs discuss improving child literacy Washington Post

Governors and education chiefs from nine states said Tuesday that a focus on early-childhood education, the changing dynamic of families and supporting low-income students could help improve literacy across the country.
Discussing the nation’s literacy crisis at a Washington Post policy forum in the District, the panel of political and education leaders said states need to do more to help children learn to read by the third grade, a key educational milestone at which children shift to “reading to learn.” Those who can’t read proficiently by third grade are more likely to struggle in later grades.
But the work that would ensure that students can read well by the third grade must start long before a child steps into a classroom, panel members said.
“You can’t fix third-grade literacy by focusing only on third-graders,” Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) said.
http://goo.gl/a8713

Education Bill Rewrite Would Protect Gay Students Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Buried in the proposed rewrite of the nation’s massive education law are protections for gay and lesbian students that its supporters liken to the landmark 1972 protections for the rights of female athletes in high school and college.
Senate Democrats on Tuesday released a 1,150-page revision of the law governing the nation’s elementary and secondary schools, formally known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act but more commonly called No Child Left Behind.
In it, they include student nondiscrimination language that, if passed, would threaten schools’ funding if gay and lesbian students are bullied or harassed.
http://goo.gl/E9XE1

Movement against Common Core education standards hits NC Raleigh (NC) News & Observer

A battle against new education standards has been spreading across the nation like a summer wildfire, and it’s now headed to North Carolina.
The K-12 learning standards known as “Common Core” have been adopted by 45 states after being in the works for several years. But recently there has been a growing chorus of tea party and other opponents who say the standards should be dumped. Republican governors in Indiana and Pennsylvania have hit pause buttons, and the state Senate in Michigan approved a budget that would prohibit funding for Common Core implementation.
On Tuesday, North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest posted a nearly four-minute video on YouTube, titled “My Concerns with Common Core.” In it, he said he has serious qualms about the state’s “rush to implement” the K-12 standard. Common Core was rolled out in North Carolina’s classrooms last fall.
http://goo.gl/e0uCd

Report urges that federal funds for class-size reduction should instead go to train teachers in data analysis.
Hechinger Report

The New America Foundation, a non-partisan think tank in Washington headed by Anne-Marie Slaughter, is calling for more federal funds and school time for teachers to use student data to change how they teach. The report, “Promoting Data in the Classroom,” written by Clare McCann and Jennifer Cohen Kabaker, was published on June 4, 2013.
There’s a ton of education data out there now. Every state in the nation now maintains a longitudinal data system that tracks each student’s test scores year after year. (That’s thanks to more than $620 million in federal funds for setting up state data systems since 2005, plus additional Race-to-the-Top grants). But McCann and Kabaker make the argument that, for the most part, they’re not being used by teachers to figure out how to teach their students better.
http://goo.gl/mN6jd

A copy of the report
http://goo.gl/JjCH3 (New America Foundation)

Academics Not Only Factor in College Success, ACT Report Says Education Week

Predicting just who will go to and finish college can be tricky. A new report from ACT Inc. underscores that while academic readiness is important, it is not the sole factor at play in college success.
About 19 percent of high school graduates in 2011 who took the ACT and were considered college-ready in at least three of the four subject areas never enrolled or didn’t return for a second year, the Reality of College Readiness 2013 report released today reveals.
“It’s important for students to find the right college, be aware of financial-aid opportunities, and ensure their major matches their personal interests, among other things. We need to pay attention to multiple dimensions of readiness in helping students achieve their educational goals,” said Steve Kappler, head of postsecondary strategy for ACT, in a statement from the Iowa City, Iowa-based testing organization.
http://goo.gl/Slkyc

A copy of the report
http://goo.gl/J1vTH (ACT)

Teacher-Pension Costs Could Put Squeeze on More Districts Education Week

For years, the St. Louis school district has experienced the convergence of two trend lines school superintendents hope never to see: rising employee-pension costs and falling student enrollment.
Despite years of fully funding its share of the teacher-pension plan, the proportion of the St. Louis district’s budget tied up in paying benefits for its teachers now makes up about 10 percent—a factor that, coupled with other rising costs, is fueling ongoing cuts in this beleaguered district.
“They are tough decisions that have to be made, because they are about the survival of the entire district,” said Kelvin R. Adams, the superintendent of the 22,500-student district. “There are no easy decisions anymore in public education.”
St. Louis’ situation has resonance far beyond the city, because its troubles are similar to those that other districts are likely to face.
To see how state legislatures are dealing with teacher pensions, see “Pension-System Woes Put Legislators on Hot Seat,” June 5, 2013.
Across the nation, states have about $325 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, much of which could be passed along to districts. And, experts note, there are a limited number of ways to handle that debt—cutting services, raising taxes, or trimming benefits, none of which is particularly palatable.
http://goo.gl/hCPXq

100 Students ejected from NYC-to-Atlanta Flight Associated Press

NEW YORK — A group of about 100 high school students traveling from New York to Atlanta were thrown off a flight, along with their chaperones, after the pilot and crew lost patience with some kids who wouldn’t sit down and put away their cellphones.
The teenagers, all seniors at the Yeshiva of Flatbush, in Brooklyn, were ordered off the AirTran flight around 6 a.m. Monday as it sat at a gate at LaGuardia Airport.
AirTran’s parent company, Southwest Airlines, said in a statement that flight attendants asked passengers several times to take their seats and put their mobile devices away. The airline said that when some didn’t comply, the captain repeated the request. When that didn’t work, either, the whole group of students was ordered to disembark for safety reasons, the airline said.
http://goo.gl/EkF01

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

UEN News
http://www.uen.org

June 6-7:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda.aspxpr

June 18:
Executive Appropriations Committee meeting
1 p.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?Year=2013&Com=APPEXE

June 19:
Education Interim Committee meeting
9 a.m., 30 House Building
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?Year=2013&Com=INTEDU

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

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