Education News Roundup: July 22, 2013

"Diplomas!" by Sergio Rivas/CC/flickr

“Diplomas!” by Sergio Rivas/CC/flickr

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:

Davis District considers alternative diploma. (OSE)

Congratulations to María Fránquiz, new Education dean at the U. (DN)

D-News follows up on cost-benefit analysis of the prison’s education program. (DN)

Wall Street Journal profiles Secretary Duncan. (WSJ)



Davis District may make it easier for some students to graduate

University of Utah names new dean for the College of Education

Educating Utah prison inmates pays off, study says

Conley to remain steadfast
Superintendent’s husband faces charges

Utah teacher union leader decries move to end compulsory ed

Syracuse High grad wins interior design scholarship at national conference

Computer shopping tips for back to school Tech » Consider these questions when finding a PC or Mac for your student.


Not optional
Education should be required

Sen. Aaron Osmond has drunk the Kool-Aid

Wise investment in preschool

The Tea Party has Congressional Republicans Running Scared

Training teachers the way we train doctors

Math core

Cheerleader safety

A Chat With the ‘Repeal Common Core’ Bill Sponsor in Ohio

Snapshots of Upwardly Mobile Areas

Chromebooks Gain Ground In The Education Market; But A Majority of Educators Still Prefer iPads


U.S. Schools Chief Arne Duncan Labors to Straddle Political Divide

Poll: Parents don’t support many education policy changes

Decision to pad school grades shows Bush-Scott split

Emails: LePage wanted to hire Miss Maine for education position; Bowen called plan ‘nuts’


Davis District may make it easier for some students to graduate

FARMINGTON — High school students in Davis School District may be able to graduate with fewer credits, given an option the district is in the early stages of researching to cut dropout rates.
The plan would entail an alternate diploma, allowing select students who are struggling, to graduate with only 24 credits, currently the mandated state requirement, rather than 27 credits, currently Davis district’s requirement.
Though it may not seem like a huge difference, for some students staring down the line of a further widening gap to meet the requirements for graduation, it can make graduation a possibility. “A credit diploma just gets farther and farther from their grasp, and we feel like we could prevent them from dropping out if they have another option, a secondary diploma that aligns with the standards in the state of Utah,” said Casey Layton, Davis district comprehensive counseling and guidance counselor. (OSE)

University of Utah names new dean for the College of Education

SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah has named María E. Fránquiz as dean of the College of Education, effective Jan. 6, 2014, contingent upon the approval of President David Pershing and the University board of trustees.
“María Fránquiz is a nationally recognized scholar in the field of education who brings to Utah and the university a rich and extensive background of teaching, research and community engagement,” said Michael Hardman, interim senior vice president for Academic Affairs. “She is committed to the highest quality faculty scholarship, has a lifelong passion for teaching and possesses a deep understanding of literacy, learning and culture.” (DN)

Educating Utah prison inmates pays off, study says

UTAH STATE PRISON — Utah sees a more than 13-to-1 return on investment when inmates complete vocational secondary education in prison and gain employment afterward, according to a University of Utah study released this week by the state’s Department of Corrections.
The study looked at spending on corrections education, the benefit to the state, and the effect of an education and post-prison employment on recidivism rates.
“It shows that we’re actually doing something out here, rather than just warehousing individuals,” said Lt. Vic Smith.
The report, dated October 2012, takes into account data from the Department of Corrections and the Utah State Office of Education and applies it to the 2012 Utah Benefit Cost Model. (DN)

Conley to remain steadfast
Superintendent’s husband faces charges

The Park City School District’s new superintendent Dr. Ember Conley remains dedicated to her new position in the community despite the recent charges her husband is facing in Pinal County, Arizona. Conley’s first day of work was Monday, July 1.
Maricopa, Arizona, Police Detective Jose Lizarraga, 45, was arrested on Tuesday, July 2, on six counts: fraudulent schemes and artifices, theft, willful concealment, forgery, tampering with a public record and money laundering, according to case information provided by the Arizona Judicial Branch. He was released on Wednesday, July 3, on a $10,000 bond.
According to the court records, Lizarraga allegedly stole $1,300 during a joint investigation of a drug smuggling case with the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI on April 7. An arraignment hearing for Lizarraga is scheduled for Friday, July 12, at 8:30 a.m. at the Pinal County Superior Court in Florence, Arizona. (PR)

Utah teacher union leader decries move to end compulsory ed

OGDEN — The president of the American Federation for Teachers in Utah says a state senator’s proposal to eliminate compulsory education ignores some stark realities about families in the district in which he teaches.
Brad Asay, an art teacher in the Ogden School District who heads the AFT in Utah, said Sen. Aaron Osmond’s call for an end to compulsory education misses some of the realities he sees in the classroom every day. The biggest reality the proposal misses is pressure on families to get by, Asay said. He said the measure would hurt economically distressed families.
“Many of my older students are required to come home from school to cook meals, to clean the house, take care of the younger siblings and wait up for mom and dad to get home, so they can warm up dinner for them,” Asay said. “If compulsory education ended in Utah, I’m sure that many students from situations such as these would choose to stay home and not attend school after their elementary grades.” (OSE)

Syracuse High grad wins interior design scholarship at national conference

WEST POINT — Kaitlyn Burgess is No. 1 nationally when it comes to interior design.
Medals and certificates proclaim it, but so does a $31,000 scholarship to the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, one of the top 20 ranking fashion schools in the nation. The college has four campuses in California.
“Who would have thought a little girl from West Point would go there?” said Burgess, 18, a recent Syracuse High School graduate. “Hard work really does pay off.” (OSE)

Computer shopping tips for back to school Tech » Consider these questions when finding a PC or Mac for your student.

Shopping for back to school used to mean a trip to Target to buy notepads, binders, pencils, erasers and a “Spongebob Squarepants” pencil box.
Now it means a visit to Best Buy, Office Max or clicking online at to buy a laptop and Microsoft Office.
Those lucky enough to have money to buy their kids new laptops this year needn’t be in a perpetual state of confusion. Here’s a guide to what to look for in a computer for your student’s needs. (SLT)


Not optional
Education should be required
Salt Lake Tribune editorial

Poor Aaron Osmond. Tossed into the Utah Senate in midstream (filling the unexpired term of retiring Sen. Chris Buttars), the South Jordan Republican quickly immersed himself in the details of one of the most important and controversial responsibilities of state government — public education.
He met with stakeholders on all sides, avoided the stereotypical teacher-bashing that is all too common on his side of the aisle, even proposed some good ideas, including a plan that could have attracted private money to such underserved needs as pre-kindergarten education.
Then, just the other day, he punted. Gave up. Threw in the towel. Surrendered. Retired from the field. Pulled the plug. Called it quits.
Or maybe he just found a way to get people thinking.

Sen. Aaron Osmond has drunk the Kool-Aid Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Paul Rolly

Sen. Aaron Osmond appears to have drunk the Kool-Aid.
The South Jordan Republican entered the Legislature upon the resignation of right-wing stalwart Chris Buttars and at first seemed to be a breath of fresh air, with enthusiasm, understanding and a willingness to hear all sides of an issue.
He was obviously conservative and pushed proposals undoubtedly aimed at the Utah Education Association, a favorite target of the right wing. But he was willing to listen to educators and other stakeholders concerned about a move that would basically do away with collective bargaining for teachers, and reach some compromises.
Still, he bought into the right-wing ideology that Common Core, a multistate-produced set of educational standards, was an Obama-led plot to undermine Utah values.
At the same time, he pushed for funding to extend universal preschool for at-risk children, which indicated he was looking at education issues through a thoughtful, not completely ideological, eye.
But now, like his predecessor Buttars, he has become a tool for the Utah Eagle Forum and like-minded extremists.

Wise investment in preschool
Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Ben McAdams, mayor of Salt Lake County, and Michael Jensen, a member of the County Council

All of us want a bright future for our children. Every child should have the opportunity to achieve his or her potential — regardless of their zip code or economic circumstance.
Utahns have long recognized that educating our kids is an important responsibility. The Utah Constitution, in Article X, Section 1, requires “a public education system which shall be open to all children of the state.”
Salt Lake County has traditionally supported programing for before-school and after-school care for children in grades K-12.
This past week, we proudly announced that Salt Lake County has now joined a first-of-its-kind partnership to help expand access for thousands of children to enroll in voluntary, high quality preschool.

The Tea Party has Congressional Republicans Running Scared Utah Policy commentary by columnist Bryan Schott

The ascendency of the Tea Party has left the GOP rudderless and leaderless. Don’t believe it? Look at gridlock in Washington for proof.
The Daily Beast’s Peter Beinart says Republicans in Congress are so terrified of being primaried by the Tea Party they can’t get anything done because compromise with Democrats could enrage the base.
What’s worse is Tea Partiers chose ideological purity over the health of the GOP.
Why have Republican leaders become so weak? Partly, it’s the result of not holding the presidency. In the American system, unlike parliamentary ones, opposition parties lack centralized leadership, and thus tend to be fractious. Still, McConnell and Boehner enjoyed a far tighter grip on their rank and file in Obama’s first two years in office, when Republicans stood virtually unanimous against Obama’s fiscal stimulus and health-care overhaul.
What’s changed is the ascendance of the Tea Party. In April, a group of William and Mary political scientists did the most comprehensive survey of Tea Party supporters yet. They found that Tea Partiers have become the foot soldiers of the GOP. Between 2010 and 2013, 73 percent of the movement’s backers were Republicans who attended a political meeting or rally. Those foot soldiers are far more conservative than other Republicans. Indeed, when asked whether they support government regulation of the environment and the existence of the Department of Education, non–Tea Party Republicans were closer to Democrats than to their own party’s activist wing.

Training teachers the way we train doctors Deseret News commentary by columnist Mary McConnell

I’ve fulminated before about teacher education. Ed schools don’t attract the best students and don’t teach the skills that teachers really need in the classroom. Education courses crowd out other, more meaningful and demanding college classes. Education departments are often relentlessly ideological, and if the ideology doesn’t match real world (classroom) experience, too often it’s the ideology that wins out. Worst of all, new teachers often, maybe almost always, flounder during their first year or two. I certainly did!
So I enjoyed an op-ed in today’s Washington Post, written by a teacher who describes her experience this way:

Math core
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Diane Knight

As an educator who has studied the math Common Core extensively and implemented it in my own classroom, I am excited about the opportunities it affords. This is not a “dumbing down” of the curriculum; rather, on every grade level, expectations have been thoughtfully increased.
However, instead of merely requiring more material to be covered, the Common Core addresses fewer concepts, but in much greater depth. Our core is no longer “a mile wide and an inch deep.”
Coherence between the grades has also been carefully coordinated, so that each grade level builds solidly upon the previous one. (PDH)

Cheerleader safety
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Geraldine T. Coombs

My granddaughter was dropped and sustained a brain injury while practicing a cheerleading stunt at a local high school.
It took a year to determine the serious and long-lasting nature of her injury. At first, she seemed to heal and she wanted to continue cheerleading. Her parents didn’t assign blame or threaten to sue.
What followed was a lack of care or concern — from the cheerleaders, her coaches and the principal — and my granddaughter was bumped from the program.
Something is wrong here.
It is my understanding that the Utah High School Activities Association doesn’t consider cheerleading a sport. Why not? (DN)

A Chat With the ‘Repeal Common Core’ Bill Sponsor in Ohio Education Week commentary by columnist Andrew Ujifusa

Although I haven’t been able to update my anti-common-core tracker with this piece of legislation because it hasn’t been officially introduced yet, a piece of legislation designed to blow up the Common Core State Standards in Ohio is indeed set to be introduced by state Rep. Andy Thompson, a Republican. The “repeal common core” bill will likely introduced in about a week, since Thompson is hunting down any potential cosponsors.
I rang up Thompson to chat about it, and he said he has been following the political scrum surrounding the common core across the nation this year. How did get interested in common core? Old fashioned constituent service—Thompson said he spoke with a resident in his district in Noble County, east of the state capital Columbus, who didn’t like what she had heard about the standards. He started doing his own research, and several of the issues that have alarmed or outraged conservatives around the country began to crop up in his mind. And the volume of social media he saw about the topic also spurred him on. (It’s a similar story to how Indiana Sen. Scott Schneider, a prime opponent of the common core in Indiana, became interested in the topic.)
“Given the level of concern not just in communications to my office, but on Facebook around the state, I introduced the bill,” Thompson told me.
He brought up the connection of common core to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, known as the stimulus, through Race to the Top, and how in his belief states were required to adopt the new standards in order to grab the federal cash. (Common core wasn’t mentioned explicitly in Race to the Top applications, but adopting common core was very clearly the easiest path for states to take in terms of standards.) Despite the steadfast and repeated statements from common-core supporters that the instructional standards have been a state-led initiative, Thompson said he believes that National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers merely provided their blessing but weren’t actually involved in common core’s development.

Snapshots of Upwardly Mobile Areas
New York Times commentary by columnist ANDREW SIDDONS

Scranton, Pa., may not be anybody’s idea of a boom town. A year ago, with the industrial city in northeastern Pennsylvania on the verge of bankruptcy, the mayor cut city workers’ pay to the minimum wage.
But Scranton still stands out as one of the American cities where poor people have among the best odds of climbing into the middle class, according to a large new study. A poor person from Scranton is almost twice as likely to rise into a higher income bracket than a poor person from Toledo, Ohio, or South Bend, Ind. By the measurements of the professors who did the research — four economists, at Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley — rates of upward mobility in Scranton are similar to those in Seattle, Boston and New York.
“I was one of those kids who quite honestly probably should have never went to college because I never had the money,” said Peter Danchack, who grew up in Scranton. His father repaired laundromat equipment, and before Mr. Danchack and his three sisters were born his mother worked in a dress factory.
At the University of Scranton, Mr. Danchack worked 35 hours a week while studying accounting full-time and paid his way through college. One of his jobs was at a PNC bank branch. He’s now a regional president for PNC and lives in one of Scranton’s wealthier suburbs.
The authors of the new study found four factors that areas with more upward mobility tend to have in common: a large and geographically dispersed middle class; better than average schools; a high share of two-parent households; and populations engaged with religious and community organizations. (NYT Interactive)

Chromebooks Gain Ground In The Education Market; But A Majority of Educators Still Prefer iPads Forbes commentary by columnist Elise Ackerman

Schools around the world are trading in desktop PCs for tablets, netbooks and increasingly Chromebooks, especially in the United States, new research shows.
The unexpected popularity of Chromebooks, which were dismissed when they first came out as stripped-down machines with limited appeal, is a challenge for Apple. Less than a year ago, Apple appeared poised to inherit a significant share of the education market from vendors of traditional PCs. Today, Apple’s dominance seems far less assured.
According to the National Survey on Mobile Technology for K-12 Education, 81 percent of respondents had adopted or planned to adopt an iPad, up from 73.5 percent in 2012, while 31 percent had adopted or planned to adopt a Chromebook, up from 14 percent in 2012.


U.S. Schools Chief Arne Duncan Labors to Straddle Political Divide Wall Street Journal

Education Secretary Arne Duncan was riding to the airport in a black government SUV late last week, working his cellphone to try to save a plan to reduce interest rates on new student loans that is expected to face a vote in the Senate as early as Tuesday.
He called three Republicans and three Democrats who would be critical, and his message was the same to each. “We gotta bring this home,” he recalls telling each senator.
‘The only pressure I ever get is that I’m going too fast, but I think I’m going too slow. I have only 3½ years left,’ says Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
The outreach was emblematic of Mr. Duncan’s term as the government’s top education official. In a miasma of partisanship on virtually every front, education stands out as an issue where partisan lines are bent in strange directions and odd-bedfellow relationships are forming.

Poll: Parents don’t support many education policy changes Washington Post

Most parents with children in public schools do not support recent changes in education policy, from closing low-performing schools to shifting public dollars to charter schools to private school vouchers, according to a new poll to be released Monday by the American Federation of Teachers.
The poll, conducted by Democratic polling firm Hart Research Associates, surveyed 1,000 parents this month and found that most would rather see their neighborhood schools strengthened and given more resources than have options to enroll their children elsewhere.
AFT President Randi Weingarten is expected to highlight the poll’s findings during a speech Monday at the union’s annual meeting in Washington. The AFT is the nation’s second-largest teachers union and represents school employees in most of the major urban school districts.

Decision to pad school grades shows Bush-Scott split Tampa Bay (FL) Times

TALLAHASSEE — The state Board of Education’s decision last week to inflate school grades for a second year was widely praised by parents and educators, but it also exposed a hard-to-miss rift between the closest allies of former Gov. Jeb Bush and those who back Gov. Rick Scott.
The 4-3 decision to reduce the number of F schools in the state by nearly 60 percent was divided along Bush-Scott lines, with Bush allies against.
None of the seven board members nor Education Commissioner Tony Bennett would speak with the Times/Herald about Tuesday’s vote.
Their silence, however, has fueled speculation about the motives on each side. Scott allies have been accused of padding grades to help Scott’s re-election prospects.

Emails: LePage wanted to hire Miss Maine for education position; Bowen called plan ‘nuts’
Bangor (ME) Daily News

AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage wanted to hire the winner of the 2011 Miss Maine USA pageant to promote career and technical education, an idea the state’s education commissioner firmly rejected, according to emails requested by a central Maine newspaper.
“All of a sudden, we are supposed to hire some beauty queen with, from what I can tell, no CTE knowledge or background, and bring her on board to fill a position we don’t have and have never had,” education chief Stephen Bowen wrote on Dec. 17, 2011, after the subject was broached by one of LePage’s advisers.
“Well, I can’t let that happen,” Bowen wrote in the emails, first reported by the Kennebec Journal. “I’m not going to be the one sitting in front of Appropriations defending hiring Miss Maine while we cut subsidy to schools and fend off complaints that we have always seem to have money squirreled away somewhere when we need it.”


USOE Calendar

UEN News

July 23:
Administrative Rules Committee meeting
9 a.m., 445 State Capitol

August 2:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

August 8:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
250 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City

August 28:
Public Education Appropriations Committee meeting
8 a.m., 210 Senate Building

September 17:
Executive Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
1 p.m., 445 State Capitol

September 18:
Education Interim Committee meeting
9 a.m., 30 House Building

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