Education News Roundup: July 29, 2013

"Book Boxes" by Franl Hughes/CC/flickr

“Book Boxes” by Franl Hughes/CC/flickr

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:

What will cuts in Title I funding mean for Utah schools? (SLT)

Some Davis County parents are unhappy with school starting on July 25. (OSE)

Trib looks at the new school lunch rules. (SLT)

Utah Sen. Mike Lee joins with fellow senators Paul, Scott, McConnell and Alexander to tout school choice. (HuffPo)
and (Politico)

Did former Indiana State Superintendent ask to have a school’s grade changed? (AP)



Title I cuts: Less technology, fewer teachers in Utah schools School districts to see 7%-11% drop in federal Title I funds, projections show.

Davis parents annoyed with year-round school return day

New healthy lunch rule meets pushback in Utah schools Nutrition » Utah schools find students tossing much of the fresh produce in the trash.

New high school, 2 middle schools open for 2013 school year

Students choosing books below grade level; should parents be worried?

Eye on the Tiger: Class of ’63 grad puts finishing touches on school gift

Is Ritalin hurting your kids’ grades?

Fighting for better financial education

OWATC taking apps for YouthBuild


Prison education pays off in reduction of repeat offenders

The two faces of Aaron Osmond

Sen. Osmond discusses education and we’d like to join

So which kids are worth saving?

Ending Compulsory Education in Utah?

The new math

Shadow a teacher

Back to school

Schools, not fireworks

School Choice: Part of the Solution to Our Broken Education System

Turning public schools into forts
There’s a peril in the mindset of the police state

Top Ten Worst (Most Likely) Back To School Stories


GOP Donor’s School Grade Changes

Idahoans raise objections to Common Core standards The new education standards draw suspicion among those who say they don’t measure up to students’ needs.

Early high school graduation programs gain traction The concept better aligns the education system with students’ needs, advocates say.


Title I cuts: Less technology, fewer teachers in Utah schools School districts to see 7%-11% drop in federal Title I funds, projections show.

School districts in Davis and Washington Counties have virtually eliminated their summer programs. Other Utah school districts are putting off purchases of computers and equipment and have stopped teacher-training programs. Some may lose teacher or aides.
The federal budget slashing of sequestration — along with Utah’s shrinking share of the nation’s poor — means school districts will have less Title I money this year for teachers, aides and technology.
Generally, Utah districts will see cuts of 7 to 11 percent, said Karl Wilson, director of Title | and federal programs for the Utah Office of Education. The funding gives districts additional money to help low-income children succeed, based on the number of students receiving free or reduced price lunches.
The severity of the cuts depends on the district. (SLT)

Davis parents annoyed with year-round school return day

FARMINGTON — The 5,000 Davis elementary-age students who returned to school Thursday morning had good reason to show up for the first day of year-round school with their eyes peeled halfway open.
Having the first day of school follow the Pioneer Day holiday posed a “wrinkle” for some students based on comments parents shared on the Davis School District’s Facebook page, according to Davis School District spokesman Chris Williams.
Less than a handful of parents questioned the district about why it would start year-round school immediately following a holiday that involves, in some instances, late night celebrations — firework displays — that can keep children up at night. (OSE)

New healthy lunch rule meets pushback in Utah schools Nutrition » Utah schools find students tossing much of the fresh produce in the trash.

Watermelon, strawberries and pomegranates grace Josiah Randolph’s summertime plate
For greens, he chooses brussels sprouts because “I think they look kinda cool,” said Josiah, a Santaquin fifth-grader who likes sketching with colored pencils.
Josiah and students nationwide are gearing up for year two of the school lunch overhaul required by the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010. They must now top their lunch trays with more fresh choices: students cannot clear the checkout line without taking a fruit or veggie cup.
The law also trimmed down the portion sizes of meats and grains, shrinking burgers, hoagies and other popular choices.
The changes cost Utah districts in two ways — first to buy the healthier fare and deal with more waste, then in lost customers as students opted to pack lunch or pick it up elsewhere. (SLT)

New high school, 2 middle schools open for 2013 school year

DRAPER — The Canyons School District is getting ready to open three new schools next month.
Students and teachers at Corner Canyon High School and Butler and Draper Park middle schools will have cutting-edge amenities and technology at their fingertips. (KSL)

Students choosing books below grade level; should parents be worried?

SALT LAKE CITY — Most students are reading books below their ability level, both at home and in the classroom, according to a national study.
In April, education software company Renaissance Learning released its annual “What Kids are Reading” study for the 2011-12 academic year. The study — which surveyed the self-reported reading habits of students participating in Renaissance’s Accelerated Readers program — found that most young readers choose books below their grade level and the complexity of assigned reading has been on a downward trend.
The study also found that students’ reading choices were influenced by entertainment, with books recently adapted for Hollywood films surging in popularity, such as Suzanne Collin’s “Hunger Games” series, Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax” and Kathryn Stockett’s “The Help.”
“We’ve been doing this for five years now and one thing that’s standing out this year in particular is the role that pop culture and movies seem to play in what kids are choosing to read,” said Erik Stickney, director of educational research for Renaissance Learning.
But how much, if at all, should parents be worried? (DN)

Eye on the Tiger: Class of ’63 grad puts finishing touches on school gift

OGDEN — It’s hard to miss the gift the Ogden High School Class of 1963 donated to the school this week.
Walking south on the second floor, students and visitors will be greeted with a huge mural painting of two tigers — the school’s mascot — from floor to ceiling covering the wall of the lecture hall.
1963 student body president Alan Hall said as the reunion was being organized he was working with other alumni and they wanted to do something extra special for the school since it was their 50th anniversary of graduation. (OSE)

Is Ritalin hurting your kids’ grades?

Lynne Edris is a Pennsylvania-based life coach who specializes in working with the parents of children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Edris helps clients develop strategies for addressing their child’s troublesome behaviors and helps them decide whether to put their child on medications such as Ritalin or Adderall to help them focus in school.
For Edris, business is booming. ADHD, characterized by difficulty staying focused, impulsiveness and hyperactivity, impacts nearly nine percent of American children according to the Centers for Disease Control, or 5.4 million kids. Traditional thinking is that the behaviors associated with the disorder make it more difficult for afflicted children to succeed academically. (DN)

Fighting for better financial education

In an age of constant — and often conflicting — information, getting a solid financial education can seem like an overwhelming goal. Much of the responsibility to learn the language of finance continues to fall on the individual, with few resources to ease the burden.
As the Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain recently discovered, only 20 states in the U.S. offer what they deem to be an adequate financial education in their schools. (DN)

OWATC taking apps for YouthBuild

OGDEN — Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College is now accepting applications for YouthBuild.
The OWATC would like applications by Aug. 6, if possible.
In YouthBuild programs, low-income people ages 16 to 24 earn money while working full-time toward their GEDs or high school diplomas. They learning job skills by building affordable housing in their communities. Emphasis is placed on leadership development and community service. (OSE)


Prison education pays off in reduction of repeat offenders Deseret News editorial

A study by the University of Utah shows that providing educational opportunities to prison inmates sharply reduces rates of recidivism, a finding that only validates a policy of obvious public value that should be embraced, fostered and perhaps expanded.
The study, released recently by the Utah Department of Corrections, shows that rates of recidivism drop by 18 percent among inmates who complete a prison education program, and by 38 percent among those who also find employment after incarceration. The numbers show the program holds significant public value by reducing the overall number of inmates who at any time are confined in the state’s burgeoning correctional system.
According to the data, every dollar spent on educational programs — about $1 million per year — returns between $6 and $13 dollars in displaced cost value by simply reducing the number of felons who re-offend and end up back in prison.

The two faces of Aaron Osmond
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist PAUL ROLLY

Less than four months before Sen. Aaron Osmond suggested in a blog on the state Senate Site that Utah should do away with compulsory education, he told a group of policy makers and elected officials at a luncheon sponsored by the Utah Foundation that the Legislature should consider raising taxes to fund public education.
“Does the Legislature have the political will to increase tax revenue for public education?” the South Jordan Republican asked. “I don’t know. But this is one legislator who believes the time has come for us to find a new method to generate new money for public education.”
That declaration for boosting public education came in late March.
In mid July, Osmond’s tune was not so sunny toward public education.
“In a country founded on the principles of personal freedom and unalienable rights, no parent should be forced by the government to send their child to school under the threat of fines and jail time,” he wrote on the Senate blog.
Perhaps those two positions could be compatible, in a tortured sort of way.

Sen. Osmond discusses education and we’d like to join Deseret News commentary by columnists Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb

Last week, Utah soared to the top of Internet news searches and was the subject of late night talk shows — and not because of John Swallow or polygamy. State Sen. Aaron Osmond suggested in the Senate blog that compulsory public education be repealed. This set off a firestorm, making it time to address some education issues.
Should public education in Utah be compulsory?

So which kids are worth saving?
Deseret News commentary by columnist John Florez

I thought Utah was a strong family state. So why is state Sen. Aaron Osmond wanting to punish kids for their parents’ problems? He wants to end compulsory education so schools will have to teach only those kids whose parents are engaged in their child’s education, and write off the problem families.
So what does the senator propose to do with those children whose parents are not able to make sure their child comes to school ready to learn? Kick them out of school? Senator, it’s pay now or pay later; we do a lot of that already with our jails, courts, teen pregnancy, unemployment, welfare, broken families and national security. Rather than helping parents become better parents, he would let their kids fail, let schools pick the low hanging fruit to educate and forget the rest. What kind of family policy is that?

Ending Compulsory Education in Utah?
Utah Policy commentary

Sen. Aaron Osmond has suggested Utah get rid of its compulsory education law, arguing parents should decide whether their kids go to school or not. In your opinion, should Utah lawmakers consider ending compulsory education in the state?

The new math
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Scott Dangerfield

In light of the negative publicity regarding Utah’s dead-last ranking among all states in per-pupil spending, State Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, has proposed a plan that could change that distinction without adding a penny to education funding.
His plan is to end compulsory education for all. In doing so, the number of pupils will inevitably decline and the dollar per pupil will rise. This simple math is something Osmond most likely learned serving his “time” in the compulsory education system and before his awakening to its socialist agenda.
Let freedom ring.

Shadow a teacher
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Kay Quealy

In June, Gov. Gary Herbert said, “A teacher could have gone to sleep 100 years ago, come back 100 years later and felt very comfortable in the classroom — because nothing has changed.” Of course, it was couched with, “We can’t be doing the same old, same old and expect different and better results.”
How disheartening there is so little understanding of how the job has changed.
All the century-old responsibilities of teaching are there, but a good part of my day includes technology: email, web pages, online grading and staying current with appropriate uses for teaching tools like You Tube.
Approximately 90 percent of last year’s 12-year-olds had cell phones. Monitoring those is something teachers 100 years ago didn’t do.

Back to school
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Mary Lehman

As the school year approaches, I have talked to many teachers who are dreading going back. This isn’t because they don’t enjoy teaching or their association with the students, but because of the circumstances under which they have to teach.
It is the politics of it, the large class sizes, being forced to spend their own money on needed supplies for the children, and the general under-appreciation for the job they do.
Yet, if you were to ask these teachers who gets their support when election time rolls around you would find that they tend to vote for the same people who continually put education last on their priority list.

Schools, not fireworks
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Ashley Simmons

During the July holidays, I spend my time walking from the house to the barn and back again, hoping to avoid an asthma attack as the smoke gets thicker by the moment, and trying to comfort poor frightened dogs and horses who have no understanding of why we insist on blowing things up in celebration.
Watching the neighborhood explode for over five hours, I have but one observation. If people took the hundreds of dollars they spend on a fireworks show that lasts for only a brief time, and gave that money to their children’s school instead, that money would go toward something that lasts a lifetime and is far better spent than on lights, noise and smoke.

School Choice: Part of the Solution to Our Broken Education System Huffington Post commentary by Senators Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Tim Scott, Mitch McConnell and Lamar Alexander

One of the most important things we do as a society is educate our kids. Opportunity in education is the gateway to opportunity everywhere else — in our economy, in our society and in our democracy.
All children, no matter who they are or where they live, deserve an equal chance to develop their skills and intellect. But today in America, too many kids don’t get that chance.
We have a system in which politicians and bureaucrats have too much control, parents have too little, and students’ needs get lost in the shuffle. Big Government, even at its best, is inherently inefficient, and too easily distracted from core missions by special interests.
Every decision made by bureaucrats in Washington is a decision taken from the people who actually educate — principals, teachers, and especially parents. And as usual, those most vulnerable to the unintended consequences of bad education policy are those most vulnerable, period — the poor, the disconnected, and most of all, their children.
Where the current system hasn’t worked — school choice has. (Politico)

Turning public schools into forts
There’s a peril in the mindset of the police state Washington Times op-ed by John W. Whitehead, uthor of “A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State”

As surveillance cameras, metal detectors, police patrols, zero-tolerance policies, lockdowns, drug-sniffing dogs and strip searches become the norm in elementary, middle and high schools across the nation, America is on a fast track to raising up an Orwellian generation — one populated by compliant citizens accustomed to living in a police state and who march in lockstep to the dictates of the government. Yet as I point out in my book, “A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State,” with every school police raid and overzealous punishment that is carried out in the name of school safety, the lesson being imparted is that Americans — especially young people — have no rights at all against the state or the police. Indeed, the majority of schools today have adopted an all-or-nothing lockdown mindset that leaves little room for freedom, individuality or due process.
Once upon a time in America, if you talked back to a teacher, or played a prank on a classmate, or just failed to do your homework, you might find yourself in detention or doing an extra writing assignment after school. Nowadays, students are not only punished for transgressions more minor than those — such as playing cops and robbers on the playground, bringing Legos to school, or having a food fight — but they are punished with suspension, expulsion and even arrest.

Top Ten Worst (Most Likely) Back To School Stories Scholastic commentary by columnist Alexander Russo

Every year, starting about now and lasting through Labor Day, public relations folks pitch (and editors bite) on back to school stories that are usually pretty badly executed.
It’s not that the topics are so bad but rather that the stories are usually so lightly reported and so overhyped, and often focus on what might happen or what’s happening in a few places but not really many of them.
It’s like education news in general, only worse than usual:
The usual reporter is away, or wishing she/he were away.
Things are slow particularly.
No one can seem to resist (including me).
There are pages to fill.
It’s sort of expected — I mean, how will everyone know that the school year is starting without a back to school story to tell them?
Here are my predictions for some of this year’s worst (and most likely) items.


GOP Donor’s School Grade Changes
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Former Indiana school Superintendent Tony Bennett built his national star by promising to hold “failing” schools accountable. But when it appeared an Indianapolis charter school run by a prominent Republican donor might receive a poor grade, Bennett’s education team frantically overhauled his signature “A-F” school grading system to improve the school’s marks.
Emails obtained by The Associated Press show Bennett and his staff scrambled last fall to ensure influential donor Christel DeHaan’s school received an “A,” despite poor test scores in algebra that initially earned it a “C.”
“They need to understand that anything less than an A for Christel House compromises all of our accountability work,” Bennett wrote in a Sept. 12 email to then-chief of staff Heather Neal, who is now Gov. Mike Pence’s chief lobbyist.
The emails, which also show Bennett discussed with staff the legality of changing just DeHaan’s grade, raise unsettling questions about the validity of a grading system that has broad implications.

Idahoans raise objections to Common Core standards The new education standards draw suspicion among those who say they don’t measure up to students’ needs.
(Boise) Idaho Statesman

Critics of Common Core, hoping Idaho lawmakers will rethink the state education standards they passed in 2011, may be picking up a bit of steam after a four-hour critique Saturday of the goals headed for classrooms this fall.
An audience of 200 at a conference at the Boise Centre applauded as national speakers bashed the standards as weak, not developed by Idahoans for Idaho students and a technique that will gobble up instruction time with testing.
“Let’s just stop it,” one man yelled from the audience.
“Are they rigorous?” asked Sandra Stotsky, a former Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary official who oversaw standards development in her state. “Rigor mortis would be more like it.”

Early high school graduation programs gain traction The concept better aligns the education system with students’ needs, advocates say.
USA Today

Lindsay Kast had a different experience in high school than most of her peers.
The Tell City, Ind., native missed out on senior prom and never took study hall periods, becoming the first student in her alma mater’s history to graduate in three years. The 19-year-old’s accelerated diploma allowed her to enroll in August 2012 at Indiana University in Bloomington and qualified her for a $4,000 scholarship.
“I always felt part of older classes” in high school, Kast said. “And I had a really great experience my freshman year at IU.”
Financial incentives also are offered in Idaho, Minnesota, South Dakota and Utah to students who complete high school in fewer than four years, lowering districts’ instructional costs. Although exact figures remain elusive, the creation of these programs suggests their popularity may be growing among students, said Jennifer Dounay Zinth, a senior policy analyst at the Education Commission of the States.


USOE Calendar

UEN News

July 29:
Administrative Rules Committee meeting
9 a.m., 445 State Capitol

August 1-2:
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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