Education News Roundup: August 1, 2013

Chinese Dual-Immersion Kindergarten ClassEducation News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:

Jordan District considers a $501 million bond.
http://goo.gl/mxBrLL (SLT)

Jordan will get some eco-friendly vehicles as part of the Chevron clean up.
http://goo.gl/d22UiK (SLT)
and http://goo.gl/pMroR6 (DN)
and http://goo.gl/DdvtC2 (KSTU)

Sneaking science in through Utah public school gym doors thanks to a collaboration between the U and USOE.
http://goo.gl/RTLWKw (National Geographic)

Lots of Chinese teachers (that is, Mandarin teachers from China) heading to U.S. schools, with the greatest concentration in Ohio, Utah and North Carolina. Utah will have 28 Chinese dual immersion programs in the next school year (http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/dualimmersion/Home/DLI-Schools-2013-14.aspx).
http://goo.gl/n7lZBB (China Daily USA)

Florida Superintendent Tony Bennett resigns following school grading report.
http://goo.gl/JF59V0 (AP)
and http://goo.gl/CVNDcJ (Orlando, FL, Sentinel)

Oregon governor doesn’t like using income tax to fund schools.
http://goo.gl/Smg4sx (Oregonian)

And in case you’re feeling a little overconfident and need to take yourself down a peg or two, try this 8th grade test from 1912.
http://goo.gl/6IZWKI (Smithsonian)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Jordan: We need a record $501M bond for schools revamp If school board OKs it, district residents could vote this fall on the largest request ever in Utah.

Chevron to pay fine, clean up emissions, buy buses Company agrees to overhaul refinery engines, give Jordan schools four eco-friendly vehicles.

5 Unconventional Ways to Get People Hooked on Nature From “Treetop Barbie” to science raps, Nalini Nadkarni thinks outside the box.

Health Department, School District Urge Parents to Check Immunization Records

Former La Sal resident named associate superintendent for Salt Lake City School District

Salt Lake mom tries to fund show ‘too educational’ for networks

Centro Hispano, other groups collecting shoes for schoolchildren

The top 50 elementary schools in Utah according to the Utah Comprehensive Accountability System

Should parents have complete control over home schooling?

OPINION & COMMENTARY

What’s wrong with Utah’s math core?

Arguments against repealing compulsory education are insulting

The problem with ‘the problem with teachers’

3 Dubious Uses of Technology in Schools
Technology can inspire creativity or dehumanize learning

No, You’re Probably Not Smarter Than a 1912-Era 8th Grader

NATION

In Missouri, Race Complicates a Transfer to Better Schools

Fla. Education Chief Resigns Amid Grading Scandal

Ohio legislators try to repeal Common Core school standards

Income tax system ‘crazy way’ to pay for Oregon schools, says Gov. John Kitzhaber

US schools get more Chinese teachers
Language instructors headed for K-12 classrooms in 30 states

$20-million Walton donation will boost Teach for America in L.A.

Secretary Duncan Names Five Leaders to National Assessment Governing Board, Overseeing the Nation’s Report Card

Sartell student’s team wins World Geography Championship

LAUSD adding kid-friendly options to cafeteria fare

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UTAH NEWS
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Jordan: We need a record $501M bond for schools revamp If school board OKs it, district residents could vote this fall on the largest request ever in Utah.

Jordan School District residents could be voting on the largest bond proposal in Utah history — a request for more than $500 million.
The district’s student population has boomed in the last dozen years, rocketing 60 percent to 51,000 students, with more than 2,000 new students expected this fall.
Board members this week reviewed a preliminary plan for a $501 million, five-year bond, which would allow them to build eight new elementary schools, two new middle schools and a new high school. It would pay for new buildings at West Jordan elementary and middle schools, among many other projects for 2014-2019.
Homeowners would pay about $8 to $10 more in monthly taxes per $100,000 of house value, according to district estimates.
The Jordan school board will vote on the bond during a public meeting Tuesday from 3 to 5 p.m. Members are likely to approve the bond request and set the exact amount, which could increase up to $520 million. If approved, voters would consider the bond on Nov. 5.
http://goo.gl/mxBrLL (SLT)

Chevron to pay fine, clean up emissions, buy buses Company agrees to overhaul refinery engines, give Jordan schools four eco-friendly vehicles.

Chevron has agreed to pay $384,000 in penalties for pollution violations at its Salt Lake City refinery.
Under a settlement announced Wednesday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the company will pay $284,000 in fines and buy four new compressed-natural-gas school buses for the Jordan School District that will cost about $25,000 each.
http://goo.gl/d22UiK (SLT)

http://goo.gl/pMroR6 (DN)

http://goo.gl/DdvtC2 (KSTU)

5 Unconventional Ways to Get People Hooked on Nature From “Treetop Barbie” to science raps, Nalini Nadkarni thinks outside the box.

As a young biologist in the 1980s, hopping through the gorgeous rain forest canopies of Central America, Nalini Nadkarni still “felt there was something missing.”
On a path of rigorous academia, she eventually realized she wanted to share her love of trees with the wider public. But at the time, there were no outlets for scientific outreach, so “I suppressed that part of me.”
Yet as Nadkarni saw the growing toll of deforestation, invasive species, and other forest threats, she knew she had to act. So she started reaching out to the public by giving talks at schools and writing magazine articles. In 2002, she finally got the boost she needed: a year-long fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, which allowed her to combine academics with creative work—in her case, communicating about nature.
Since then, Nadkarni—now at the University of Utah—has been doing just that, including as a grantee for National Geographic. We caught up with the scientist between tree-climbing expeditions to talk about some of her most interesting strategies to get people hooked on nature.

Nadkarni has also applied this principle to sports, since “a lot of people value sports over science.”
At the University of Utah, Nadkarni went to the athletics department and said to director Chris Hill, “You’ve got the glory of sports, but I’ve got the power of science. Why don’t we get together to link these two?”
Hill thought it was a great idea, especially as a way to dispel the stereotype of athletes being “dumb jocks,” she said.
So the team put together an initiative to show the public the science behind sports. They created short videos about sports physics that played on stadium Jumbotrons, invited mathematicians to talk at sports camps, and put up posters around campus showing how football relates to mathematics.
And this year, they’re working with the Utah State Office of Education to bring scientists into schools to talk to physical education classes.
http://goo.gl/RTLWKw (National Geographic)

Health Department, School District Urge Parents to Check Immunization Records

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah – School starts on August 14th, and the Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) along with the Washington County School District (WCSD) are reminding parents to make sure their children are up to date on their vaccinations. Utah law requires that students be fully immunized in order to attend school.
http://goo.gl/ciicwt (KCSG)

Former La Sal resident named associate superintendent for Salt Lake City School District

Patrick Garcia, formerly of La Sal, was recently appointed the associate superintendent for the Salt Lake City School District. Garcia was the executive director of Human Resources for the district prior to his appointment.
In his career, Garcia has also been a classroom teacher, elementary school principal, and K-12 area director, according to a news release.
In his new role, he will have two primary responsibilities: school support and learning services.
http://goo.gl/uaxgJY (Moab Times-Independent)

Salt Lake mom tries to fund show ‘too educational’ for networks

Yeah, yeah, take it to PBS, right? Rachel Colmen has tried that. Well-meaning parents often advise the Salt Lake City performer to pitch her educational preschool show to public stations, she says, but even PBS is concerned about its bottom line, and her show doesn’t fit their ratings-grabbing formula.
So Coleman has taken to Internet fundraiser Kickstarter to summon the roughly $500,000 she says she needs to produce “Rachel & The Treeschoolers,” a 12-episode series that would approximate a full preschool curriculum.
http://goo.gl/7Nw90a (SLT)

Centro Hispano, other groups collecting shoes for schoolchildren

Back to school time is usually exciting. Whether or not the student is particularly interested in studying or attending classes, it is usually a time of anticipation to see old friends, make new ones and get a new bunch of school clothes and supplies. However, there are some students who won’t have newly sharpened pencils, let alone new shoes or a backpack for the pencils.
The public can help with that need through the Back to School Bonanza, which anticipates providing at least 400 pairs of shoes for Utah County students, plus other items. Donations will be accepted through Sunday.
http://goo.gl/fQAmKM (PDH)

The top 50 elementary schools in Utah according to the Utah Comprehensive Accountability System

This is a ranking of the top 50 public elementary schools in Utah — as listed in the Utah 2012-2013 educational directory — according to Utah Comprehensive Accountability System data.
Under the Utah State Office of Education’s UCAS system, ratings are given based on scores from end-of-year Criterion Referenced Tests, which assess student proficiency in math, science and language arts, as well as the direct writing assessment in applicable grades.
http://goo.gl/ADuJf8 (DN)

Should parents have complete control over home schooling?

Josh Powell is a 21-year-old Georgetown University student who grew up in rural Virginia with 11 siblings. Powell’s parents decided to home-school all their children for religious reasons.
“I think it’s important that parents have a role in instilling in their children a world view that does not exclude God,” said Powell’s father, Clarence Powell, in a Washington Post article published Monday. “It’s a sacred honor to be able to home-educate your children and instill in them values in a way that’s consistent with your faith.”
Yet Josh Powell asserts his home schooling yielded an inferior education, and so he wants his younger siblings to have the option of attending public school.
http://goo.gl/dgoiYr (DN)

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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What’s wrong with Utah’s math core?
Deseret News op-ed by David Wright, professor of mathematics at BYU

Utah has a serious math problem, as shown by our performance on the NAEP (the nation’s report card). When broken down by ethnicity, our students perform poorly. Eighth grade white students are in the bottom 27 percent and eighth grade Hispanic students are in the bottom 4 percent.
The new Utah Mathematics Core adopted from the national Common Core, gives us a chance to improve math education in Utah. I favor common math standards, and I think it is possible to implement the Common Core standards in a responsible way. Any new program can be improved. I am offering my suggestions.
http://goo.gl/2jYd4g

Arguments against repealing compulsory education are insulting Sutherland Institute commentary by President Paul Mero

Periodically, our friends at Utahpolicy.com survey their readers on political issues of the day. Just this week, it ran a survey about State Senator Aaron Osmond’s idea to repeal Utah’s compulsory attendance law for education.
You would think by the comments of opponents to this idea that Senator Osmond had just recommended that we outlaw knowledge. Critics argue soft-racist sentiments about how irresponsible minority parents are, elitist ideas about how kids will suffer if we let parents do their job, and selfish business interests about the need for skilled workers. I’ve yet to hear an actual rational argument from these petty critics.
http://goo.gl/Dbf39r

The problem with ‘the problem with teachers’
Washington Post commentary by Marcus D. Pohlmann, professor of political science at Rhodes College in Memphis

Every so often on the nightly news, we are uplifted by a story about an amazing teacher who is making a difference in the lives of students in an American city school. So why, we ask, can’t all teachers be like that?
The truth is not all teachers are “great,” just as not all doctors, lawyers, politicians or any group of professionals are great.
But judging by the cries for school reform that are sweeping the nation, it would seem that the highest level of excellence and performance is expected of every teacher in every school. Here in Tennessee, for example, the Department of Education has just made it more difficult to become a teacher and to maintain one’s license. Yet here, as in many states, it’s not clear that the necessary high-quality mentoring and training accompanies such mandates, not to mention the requisite compensation.
We want the best public education possible for our children, and teachers are a key component in providing that education. So naturally we want to find the best people we can to teach our children. And we want government to follow up in a systematic way to make sure that a high level of education is actually taking place.
There are, however, several problems with attempting to hold our public schools and their teachers to a standard of “greatness.”
Most heart surgeons fail to rise to greatness.
http://goo.gl/aznDvO

3 Dubious Uses of Technology in Schools
Technology can inspire creativity or dehumanize learning Scientific American commentary by Diane Ravitch, a historian of American education and a research professor of education at New York University

Technology is transforming American education, for good and for ill. The good comes from the ingenious ways that teachers encourage their students to engage in science projects, learn about history by seeing the events for themselves and explore their own ideas on the Internet. There are literally thousands of Internet-savvy teachers who regularly exchange ideas about enlivening classrooms to heighten student engagement in learning.
The ill comes in many insidious forms.
One of the malign manifestations of the new technology is for-profit online charter schools, sometimes called virtual academies. These K–12 schools recruit heavily and spend many millions of taxpayer dollars on advertising. They typically collect state tuition for each student, which is removed from the local public schools’ budget. They claim to offer customized, personalized education, but that’s just rhetoric. They have high dropout rates, low test scores and low graduation rates. Some have annual attrition rates of 50 percent. But so long as the virtual schools keep luring new students, they are very profitable for their owners and investors.
Another dubious use of technology is to grade essays. Major testing companies such as Pearson and McGraw-Hill are using software to score written test answers. Machines can grade faster than teachers, but they cannot evaluate factual statements or the imaginative use of language.
http://goo.gl/dV2Dn5

No, You’re Probably Not Smarter Than a 1912-Era 8th Grader Smithsonian magazine commentary

In the early years of the 20th century, the students in Bullitt County, Kentucky, were asked to clear a test that many full-fledged adults would likely be hard-pressed to pass today. The Bullitt County Geneaological Society has a copy of this exam, reproduced below—a mix of math and science and reading and writing and questions on oddly specific factoids–preserved in their museum in the county courthouse.
But just think for a moment: Did you know where Montenegro was when you were 12? Do you know now? (Hint: it’s just across the Adriatic Sea from Italy. You know where the Adriatic Sea is, right?)
Or what about this question, which the examiners of Bullitt County deemed necessary knowledge: “Through what waters would a vessel pass in going from England through the Suez Canal to Manila?”
http://goo.gl/6IZWKI

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NATIONAL NEWS
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In Missouri, Race Complicates a Transfer to Better Schools New York Times

ST. CHARLES, Mo. — When the Missouri Supreme Court upheld a law in June allowing students from failing school districts to transfer to good ones, Harriett Gladney saw a path to a better education for her 9-year-old daughter.
But then she watched television news clips from a town hall meeting for the Francis Howell School District, the predominantly white district here that her daughter’s mostly black district, Normandy, had chosen as a transfer site. Normandy, in neighboring St. Louis County, has one of the worst disciplinary rates in the state, and Francis Howell parents angrily protested the transfer of Normandy students across the county line, some yelling that their children could be stabbed and that the district’s academic standards would slip.
“When I saw them screaming and hollering like they were crazy, I thought to myself, ‘Oh my God, this is back in Martin Luther King days,’ ” said Ms. Gladney, 45. “ ‘They’re going to get the hoses out. They’re going to be beating our kids and making sure they don’t get off the school bus.’ ”
Public schools here in the St. Louis region, as in many other metropolitan areas across the country, have struggled for decades to bridge a wide achievement gap between school districts — a divide that often runs along racial and socioeconomic lines. By affirming the right to transfer students out of failing school districts, the State Supreme Court opened the doors for hundreds of families to cross the lines and move their children into better schools.
But the ensuing contention has shown that the process remains a tricky one, complicated by class, race, geography and social perceptions.
http://goo.gl/Q9u1qF

Fla. Education Chief Resigns Amid Grading Scandal Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida’s education commissioner resigned Thursday amid allegations that he changed the grade of a charter school run by a major Republican donor during his previous job as Indiana’s school chief.
Tony Bennett announced his immediate resignation at a news conference, saying that he while he did nothing wrong he didn’t want to be a distraction to Gov. Rick Scott’s efforts to overhaul Florida’s education system. Emails published by The Associated Press this week show that Bennett and his Indiana staff scrambled last fall to ensure Christel DeHaan’s school received an A, despite poor 10th-grade algebra scores that initially earned it a C.
Bennett called that interpretation “malicious and unfounded” and said he would call for Indiana’s inspector general to look into the allegations because he is certain he will be cleared of wrongdoing.
He said it would be unfair to Scott “to have to spend my time and the State Board (of Education’s) time, as things continue to trickle out, defending myself.” He called the allegations “politically motivated.”
http://goo.gl/JF59V0

http://goo.gl/CVNDcJ (Orlando, FL, Sentinel)

Ohio legislators try to repeal Common Core school standards Columbus (OH) Dispatch

Just weeks before Ohio children return to school, conservative lawmakers introduced a last-minute bill yesterday to block new and more-rigorous curriculum guidelines championed by governors and education leaders.
Opponents of the Common Core standards hope to throw the brakes on what they fear is a federal takeover of education. Rep. Andrew Thompson, R-Marietta, said local districts and state leaders should be the ones deciding what’s best for Ohio students.
“I’m not sure the Common Core standards are that great,” he said. “Beyond that, I don’t think Ohio is just like California or just like Montana.”
In Ohio, districts must be using Common Core this fall, although many had already begun to phase in the new standards. Students will continue to use existing assessments this school year with new online PARCC testing — the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers — set to begin in the 2014-15 school year.
Thompson’s legislation, House Bill 237, would repeal Ohio’s adoption of Common Core standards, prohibit the state Board of Education from using assessments based on the standards and outlaw any state entity that deals with education from collecting data on students except for limited administrative purposes. The bill is co-sponsored by 13 other Republicans in the 99-member House.
http://goo.gl/ukCnCg

Income tax system ‘crazy way’ to pay for Oregon schools, says Gov. John Kitzhaber
(Portland) Oregonian

HOOD RIVER – Oregon’s income tax system is “a crazy way” to pay for schools, Gov. John Kitzhaber said Wednesday, suggesting a better way would be with a sales tax or even a statewide property tax.
Barring those two unlikely solutions, he urged a group of educators and local officials to get behind his plan to rein in public pension costs and raise a bit more revenue.
That combination, he told a gathering of educators and local officials at Hood River Middle School, would put an end to a decade-long trend of laying off teachers, bulking up classroom sizes and shortening the school calendar in many districts.
“The crisis in school funding is no longer just a revenue problem, it’s also a cost problem,” Kitzhaber said, noting that retirement benefits are eating a bigger and bigger share of the dollars sent to schools.
http://goo.gl/Smg4sx

US schools get more Chinese teachers
Language instructors headed for K-12 classrooms in 30 states China Daily USA

San Francisco — A group of 130 Chinese teachers is undergoing 10 days of intensive training at UCLA before heading off to teach Mandarin in kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms across America.
The teachers are part of the Chinese Guest Teacher Program, a collaboration between the College Board and China’s Confucius Institute.
Started in 2007, the program is intended to help US schools develop Chinese language and cultural studies programs.
“We started with 30 teachers, and now the program is growing and growing. We have 130 new teachers this year,” said Lisa Healy, associate director of Chinese Language and Culture Initiatives at the College Board.
According to the board, this year at least 187 Chinese teachers will be at work in elementary, middle and high schools in 30 states, with the largest concentration in Ohio, Utah and North Carolina. Since 2007, almost 800 guest teachers have served in the program, reaching more than 100,000 students.
Because most of the teachers will be assigned to small towns, in many cases they will be the only Chinese person in the entire community, Healy said. “they are really the pioneers of starting Chinese programs,” she said. “In addition to teaching Chinese, they are also cultural ambassadors.’
http://goo.gl/n7lZBB

$20-million Walton donation will boost Teach for America in L.A.
Los Angeles Times

The Arkansas-based Walton Family Foundation announced Wednesday that it is donating $20 million to a nonprofit that recruits talented college graduates to teach in public schools for two years. The largest number of instructors, more than 700, is slated for Los Angeles.
The gift is a continuation of support that has totaled more than $100 million to New York City-based Teach for America over its 24 years. Walton’s cumulative contribution to TFA in Los Angeles is more than $10 million, according to the foundation.
http://goo.gl/ST6CXb

http://goo.gl/L8yxOo (WaPo)

Secretary Duncan Names Five Leaders to National Assessment Governing Board, Overseeing the Nation’s Report Card U.S. Department of Education

Five education leaders from around the country—including a state legislator, elementary school principal, testing and measurement expert, and two parent/general public members—have been appointed to the National Assessment Governing Board to serve four-year terms, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced today. Four leaders were reappointed and one, a former New Jersey education commissioner and current education advisor, is a newcomer. Terms for all members officially begin October 1, 2013, and are slated to end on September 30, 2017.
The appointees will help set policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as The Nation’s Report Card. NAEP makes objective information on student performance available to policymakers and the public at the national, state and local levels for nearly a dozen subjects. NAEP has served an important role in evaluating the condition and progress of American education since 1969.
http://goo.gl/l4yYom

Sartell student’s team wins World Geography Championship St. Cloud (MN) Times

ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA — Being a National Geographic World Geography champion still hasn’t sunken in for Sartell’s Gopi Ramanathan, but he’s getting there.
Ramanathan, 15, was the captain of the U.S. team that won the 11th National Geographic World Geography Championship Wednesday in Russia.
He, along with Asha Jain, 13, from Minocqua, Wis., and Neelam Sandhu, 14, from Bedford, N. H., competed against 17 other countries to earn the United States its fifth title.
http://goo.gl/ttC5Tk

LAUSD adding kid-friendly options to cafeteria fare Los Angeles Daily News

Los Angeles Unified plans to introduce more kid-friendly options, such as taco salad and chicken-and-waffles, to its healthful lunch menu this fall, while eliminating mess-making cereal from the Breakfast in the Classroom program, district officials say.
After introducing an exotic menu in 2011, then overhauling it last year because students hated the unfamiliar food, Food Services chief David Binkle said this year’s menu will feature a slate of standards — such as enchiladas, lasagna and beef sliders — along with a handful of new offerings.
“There’s nothing that the kids said, out and out, ‘Get rid of that,’ ” Binkle said. “We’re trying to keep the menu cycle the same and interject a few new things here and there, based on student feedback. This emphasizes the importance of continuing to work with students.”
http://goo.gl/pMRl5c

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

UEN News
http://www.uen.org

August 1-2:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda.aspxpr

August 8:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
250 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://goo.gl/Mu36l

August 28:
Public Education Appropriations Committee meeting
8 a.m., 210 Senate Building
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2013&com=APPPED

September 17:
Executive Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
1 p.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2013&com=APPEXE

September 18:
Education Interim Committee meeting
9 a.m., 30 House Building
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?Year=2013&Com=INTEDU

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