Education News Roundup: August 2, 2013

Supt. Martell Menlove and USBE Chairwoman (white suite) talk to the news media.

Supt. Martell Menlove and USBE Chairwoman (white suite) talk to the news media.

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:

State Board of Education will seek changes in management of the permanent School Trust Fund. (KCSG)
and (USOE)

Trib follows up on audits coming the way of districts and charters. (SLT)

Group protests Common Core at State Board meeting. (KTVX)

State Board Member Jennifer Johnson offers some clarification on the Common Core. (DN)

Utah Policy’s Bob Bernick discusses the future of education funding in Utah and compulsory education. (UP)

Whither school grading in Indiana in the post-Tony Bennett world? (AP)



State Board to Seek Changes in School Trust Fund Management

After scandals, Utah auditor to schools: You’re being watched Goal is to ensure districts and charters obey rules on donations and fundraising.

Teachers & Parents Protest Outside School Board Office

Jordan School Board considering $500 million bond for new buildings, renovations

Kaysville principal tries new approach to better reach students, parents

SLC Chevron Refinery Fined and Forced to Help Buy Natural Gas Buses for Jordan School Dist.

Jimmer Fights Bullying

Davis Moves’ program seeking to reduce medical costs for school district

Elementary school recess aides sought

4-H experts take on ‘dual sheep’ for the win

Pre-registration for Logan after-school clubs starts Saturday

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


Clarifying criticism of Common Core

Utah – Not as Crazy as We Could Be

Tempest over attendance law: It’s all about money and power

High marks for standardized tests

The Tony Bennett flap

Jeb’s Education Racket
The former Florida governor and his GOP cronies have lowered standards and increased corruption.

District administrators balk at calculating how much each school spends per student


Fate of Indiana School Grading System Uncertain

‘Sequester’ Impact Proves Tough to Track

Poll: Teacher Engagement Starts Low, Worsens With Time

Ark. school district’s plan to arm teachers nixed by AG The superintendent notes that the Legislature has power to change the law.

At Street Fair, Science Replaces Sausage


State Board to Seek Changes in School Trust Fund Management

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah State Board of Education voted today to seek changes in state law to move governing control of the $1.6 billion permanent State School Trust out of the State Treasurer’s Office and into the hands of an independent board of investment professionals.
The vote came in response to recommendations from the School Trust Investment Task Force, which the Board created in February. The permanent State School Fund consists primarily of income earned by the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA). (KCSG) (USOE)

After scandals, Utah auditor to schools: You’re being watched Goal is to ensure districts and charters obey rules on donations and fundraising.

School districts and charter schools were put on notice this week: Be ready for an audit of how you handle donations, fundraising and advertising for sports, clubs and other activities.
And not only that.
The Utah State Auditor also will keep an eye on how well schools follow laws designed to ensure that no employee steers business to family or friends or gets kickbacks for contracting with a particular vendor for computers, math books or even construction of a new school building.
The auditor’s office said it alerted all districts and charter schools that they can expect audits beginning in September 2014, one year after the deadline for implementing policies to meet a new Board of Education rule. A revised state law on purchasing also took effect last spring, and schools’ compliance with that also will be scrutinized. (SLT)

Teachers & Parents Protest Outside School Board Office

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Dozens of Utah parents picketed outside the Utah School Board Education Office Friday.The protest is over the Utah Core Standardized testing for Math and English currently taking place in Utah schools and across the country.
Common Core is the nation’s latest set of standardized testing sweeping across the country.However, many Utahn’s like Christel Swasey, who attended the board’s open meeting aren’t standing for it. She Tells ABC 4 Utah “They say these standards are more rigorous but in fact they take away calculus, they reduce classic literature, and cursive, although Utah had to add that back in we had to ask permission from un-elected DC groups to get cursive added back into our curriculum.”
On the flip side board members say common core is being *misunderstood* and the curriculum is what’s needed to prepare children for the future. “Part of the frustration I feel is this whole concept of federal takeover and who’s in control,” says Martell Menlove the State Superintendent for Public Instruction. Debra Roberts with the Board of Education says it’s disappointing they don’t understand the good that can come from these standards and it really is about educating children.” (KTVX)

Jordan School Board considering $500 million bond for new buildings, renovations

WEST JORDAN — The Jordan School Board will soon decide whether to advance a five-year, $500 million bond to voters.
Board members reviewed a tentative proposal this week that calls for raising a half-billion dollars through taxpayer-supported bonding to construct 11 new schools and two replacement schools and make roughly $150 million in renovations to existing facilities.
The bond would cost taxpayers between $8 and $10 per month for every $100,000 of assessed property value, district spokeswoman Sandra Riesgraf said. For the average Jordan District home valued at just less than $250,000, residents would see a monthly cost of around $20, or a 30 percent increase on their current school district property tax. (DN) (KUTV) (KSL) (KNRS)

Kaysville principal tries new approach to better reach students, parents

KAYSVILLE — One elementary school is taking an innovative approach to seeing what improvements need to be made at the school.
Principal Denece Johnson set up an unprecedented town hall forum this week for parents to offer ideas on how Burton Elementary School could improve.
In her second year as principal at Burton, Johnson conceded she may never do something like it again but felt the forum would ultimately benefit the students. (OSE)

SLC Chevron Refinery Fined and Forced to Help Buy Natural Gas Buses for Jordan School Dist.

SALT LAKE CITY – Thursday the U.S. EnvironmentalProtection Agency announced a settlement with Chevron in which the company agreed to pay $384,000 in penalties for violating the Clean Air Act at its refinery in Salt Lake City.
The settlement stems from Clean Air Act violations which were discovered through an inspection by EPA and the State of Utah. The inspections found that Chevron made changes to the refinery’s Fluid Catalytic Cracker Unit resulting in excess emissions of nitrogen oxides. (KTVX)

Jimmer Fights Bullying

Jimmer Fredette was back in Utah to play a little basketball. It wasn’t a pro game, but a 3-on-3 event with kids.
Hundreds of youth showed up for the event at the Provo Rec Center, which aimed to help raise awareness of bullying at schools. Kids were asked to sign a contract that they would stop bullying if they saw it. (KUTV)

Davis Moves’ program seeking to reduce medical costs for school district

LAYTON — Davis School District employees know the hard realities of increased health insurance and medical costs, which ultimately reduces their take-home pay.
To help counteract those ever-increasing costs, the district is moving forward with a program that it hopes will reduce medical costs for its employees.
Starting next month, all Davis School District employees who receive health benefits will see a $6.25 reduction in their paycheck as incentive toward the new “Davis Moves” program. (OSE)

Elementary school recess aides sought

WASHINGTON TERRACE — Recess aides are needed this fall at Roosevelt Elementary School, 190 W. 5100 South.
The aides will help with a Weber Moves pilot program to get fourth-grade students more active in school. (OSE)

4-H experts take on ‘dual sheep’ for the win

Can you name two dual sheep breeds?
Seventeen-year-old Kamrey Olsen can. This Spanish Fork teen is just one of nearly 300 Utah 4-Hers who competed recently at the Utah State University Extension 4-H State Contests on the USU campus. (PDH)

Pre-registration for Logan after-school clubs starts Saturday

Pre-registration for after-school clubs in the Logan City School District will be from 9 a.m. to noon this Saturday at the Logan Recreation Center.
Students who will attend Adams, Bridger, Ellis, Hillcrest, Wilson and Woodruff elementary schools can be registered for the after-school club at their specific school.
Registrars will be required to pay a fee of $120 for one child, $160 for two children per family or $200 for three children per family. That fee is for the first session of the year. (LHJ)

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

This is a ranking of the bottom 50 public elementary schools in Utah — as listed in the Utah 2012-2013 educational directory — according to 2011-2012 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. (DN)


Clarifying criticism of Common Core
Deseret News op-ed by Jennifer Johnson, a member Utah State Board of Education

I have a hard time believing Sandra Stotsky and Ze’ev Wurman in their criticisms of the Common Core State Standards (“This is why I oppose Common Core,” July 25). In Stotsky’s My View column in the Deseret News, she offered a negative opinion about the rigor of the Common Core state standards for English language arts and math. She then cited two well-respected experts, William McCallum and Jason Zimba, to support her position on the math standards. Wurman has made similar references.
However, the references being made by Wurman and Stotsky are incorrect. McCallum addressed the errors in a recent email to me, which I quote from with his permission:

Utah – Not as Crazy as We Could Be
Utah Policy commentary by columnist Bob Bernick

Utah is one of, if not the, most Republican states in the nation.
And while any number of Democrats and left-leaning groups like to complain about how archconservative the Utah Legislature is, I would argue that our archconservatives – for the most part – are not the kind of crazies we see in other state houses, especially in the South.

— Public education. Utah remains far in last place in per-student funding for public education.
There are not-so-quiet discussions going on in “reasonable” GOP circles that there needs to be some kind of revenue enhancement for the public education side of government.
What forms that will take, and what kind of other education reforms will accompany it, are yet to be seen.
But even some conservative legislators are talking about a tax hike/reform to bring more money into the public education system.
— Compulsory public education. When state Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, floated the idea that Utah should do away with compulsory attendance in public schools for our children, he found few officeholders willing to stand with him.
Osmond, a reasonable conservative, quickly pointed out that he would never harm at-risk kids, and a new and better safety net must be provided troubled children and their families.
Osmond backed away from that public relations cliff real fast.

Tempest over attendance law: It’s all about money and power Sutherland Institute Commentary by President Paul Mero

Much will be argued over Senator Aaron Osmond’s proposal to revise Utah’s compulsory attendance law, but my guess is, most people will ignore the central question: Who (or what) has final say over the education of children? Utah’s compulsory attendance law provides one answer: the state. But other Utah statutes, not to mention the Utah Supreme Court and United States Supreme Court, provide another answer: parents.
I think there is some room for fact-based, reasonable compromise to align Utah’s compulsory attendance law with federal and state constitutional law and other state statutes.

Desire to learn
Deseret News letter from Scott Woodruff

“I have a chance to learn!” The Washington Post’s recent article about Virginia’s religious exemption statute includes this quote from Josh Powell, the young man who never attended public school because his parents obtained an exemption on religious grounds.
But how many public school teachers ever hear their students say anything like that? Very few. Because sadly, public schools crush many kids’ desire to learn. And this has been documented.

High marks for standardized tests
Washington Post op-ed by Norman R. Augustine, chairman of the National Academies’ congressionally mandated review of U.S. competitiveness

The chief problem with U.S. schools apparently isn’t high dropout rates or underqualified teachers but standardized testing. This is the only conclusion that can be drawn from the push by parents and teachers in Buffalo, Philadelphia, Seattle and elsewhere to help students opt out of taking standardized tests.
Members of this burgeoning anti-test movement fail to grasp testing’s valuable role in motivating and guiding students and teachers. Preparing young Americans for success in the global economy will require our schools to improve, not abolish, academic standards.

The Tony Bennett flap
Fordham Institute commentary by RiShawn Biddle, Kevin Carey, Anne Hyslop, Kathleen Porter-Magee, Marc Porter Magee, Mike Petrilli, and Andy Smarick

In light of the news of Tony Bennett’s resignation, Gadfly asked several top education-policy analysts to tell us what it means for school accountability going forward.

Jeb’s Education Racket
The former Florida governor and his GOP cronies have lowered standards and increased corruption.
National Review commentary by Michelle Malkin, author of Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies

The resignation of Florida education commissioner Tony Bennett couldn’t have come at a better time. His disgraceful grade-fixing scandal is the perfect symbol of all that’s wrong with the federal education schemes peddled by Bennett and his mentor, former GOP governor Jeb Bush: phony academic standards, crony contracts, and big-government and big-business collusion masquerading as “reform.”
Bennett stepped down Thursday after the Associated Press reported that he had meddled with charter-school accountability ratings in Indiana last fall while serving as that state’s schools superintendent. The beneficiary of his intervention? Big GOP donor and charter-school operator Christel DeHaan, who has forked over nearly $3 million to Republicans (including $130,000 to Bennett).

District administrators balk at calculating how much each school spends per student Hechinger Report commentary by columnist Jill Barshay

Since President Johnson’s War on Poverty Program in 1965, policy makers have been trying to equalize education spending across the United States. The lofty goal is for schools with lots of poor students to have access to the same resources that schools with rich kids have. But researchers and advocates for the poor have pointed to loopholes in Title I funding that effectively allow affluent schools to operate at higher levels of funding than low-income schools. For example, Marguerite Roza at the Center on Reinventing Public Education found that less money is spent on salaries in high-poverty schools than on low-poverty schools within the same district.
Because there can be so much variation in poverty within a school district (just think about the socio-economic differences between Tribeca and the Bronx), the Department of Education is making a big push to calculate exactly how much each school spends on a student. That might sound simple enough. But like any data project, the devil is in the details.
The issue is, how do you allocate administrative and other centralized expenses among schools? For example, say you have an itinerant teacher who spends a few hours at one school, then moves to another, and then another — each day of the week. To properly figure out how much of that teacher’s salary to attribute to each school, districts would need to create some sort of time-and-attendance punchcard system. But who wants to create such an expensive system or put teachers on punch cards?


Fate of Indiana School Grading System Uncertain Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — A school grading system designed to hold Indiana schools accountable faced an uncertain future Thursday after the state’s former schools chief resigned as Florida’s education commissioner amid revelations his staff changed a grade for a top Republic donor’s charter school.
AFT Indiana, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, called for an immediate suspension of the grading system, saying former Superintendent Tony Bennett’s “unethical and deplorable” actions made a suspension necessary. School superintendents around the state said they don’t want an accountability system “connected to corruption and manipulation.” Gary Superintendent Cheryl L. Pruitt demanded the state overturn its takeover of Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy, saying the grading system that led to the takeover was tainted.
“Bennett’s resignation should confirm that Indiana’s flawed, and now manipulated, A-F grading system is evidence enough to call for immediate suspension of this process,” said Rick Muir, president of AFT Indiana.
The tensions are likely to set off an internal tug-of-war between Democratic state schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz and Bennett’s allies on the State Board of Education.

‘Sequester’ Impact Proves Tough to Track Education Week

As Congress shifts focus to next year’s spending bills, education advocates are getting ready to renew their push against the across-the-board funding cuts known as “sequestration.” But the fallout from the cuts, which trimmed roughly 5 percent from federal K-12 funding overall this year, is often hard to illustrate or quantify, even for seasoned number-crunchers.
The sequestration cuts—which were put in place for virtually all federal agencies in 2011 to force a long-term budget agreement—are hitting most districts at the start of this coming school year. While some Head Start early-childhood programs already have had to make painful choices, sequestration’s impact on K-12 education in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 is very uneven around the country.

Poll: Teacher Engagement Starts Low, Worsens With Time Education Week

K-12 teachers in the U.S. tend to become less engaged at work after their first year, according to a just-released Gallup poll. For educators with between six months and a year of teaching, professional engagement is at 35.1 percent. But that figure goes down to 30.9 percent for teachers who have been on the job for one to three years, and it continues to drop for teachers in their third to fifth year. At more than 10 years, there’s a slight bump back upwards, bringing engagement to 31.8 percent.
The Gallup poll categorizes people in three ways: engaged, not engaged, or actively disengaged. Gallup defines engaged workers as those who are “deeply involved in and enthusiastic about their work and actively contributing to their organization” and not engaged workers as “satisfied with their workplaces, but … not emotionally connected to them.”

A copy of the poll

Poll: Americans like Obama’s universal pre-K plan Daily Caller

Over two-thirds of Americans support increased public funding for universal preschool programs, though experts find little evidence that this education policy works.
A new poll found that 70 percent of respondents supported or strongly supported a deficit-neutral plan to fund universal preschool through a 94 percent increase on cigarette taxes. And although President Obama is the chief proponent of such a policy, 60 percent of Republicans support it, according to the poll.
The poll’s authors concluded that voters were Americans were highly supportive of immediate legislative action on universal preschool.

Ark. school district’s plan to arm teachers nixed by AG The superintendent notes that the Legislature has power to change the law.
USA Today

A plan by a small Arkansas school district to arm 20 teachers and staff with 9 mm handguns has run aground after the state attorney says the program is not covered by state law.
The Clarksville School District was trying to mount its program using a little-known state law that is meant to apply to licensing private security agencies.
A state lawmaker requested the opinion a day after The Associated Press reported on a plan by the school district in western Arkansas to use more the teachers and staff as volunteer security guards armed with concealed handguns.
“Simply put, the code in my opinion does not authorize either licensing a school district as a guard company or classifying it as a private business authorized to employ its own teachers as armed guards,” Attorney General Dustin McDaniel wrote.

At Street Fair, Science Replaces Sausage New York Times

From a distance, it could have been just another New York City street fair. But instead of the usual socks, scarves and sausages, the booths in a park on 14th Street in Manhattan flaunted wares of a far more technological nature.
There were Lego robots, virtual games and speed Rubik’s “cubers” who could solve one of the world’s most popular puzzles in very short order.
The daylong event, called “Geek Street Fair,” was sponsored by Google, and organized in partnership with the city’s Department of Youth and Community Development as part of a larger effort to promote the study of hard sciences and technology among young New Yorkers, especially those of modest means and timid dreams.


USOE Calendar

UEN News

August 2:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
8:15 a.m., 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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