Education News Roundup: August 9, 2013


"Back to School" by Leland Francisco/CC/flickr

“Back to School” by Leland Francisco/CC/flickr

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:

Teachers and administrators get STEM training at Weber State. (OSE)

Weber District talks technology with teachers. (OSE)

What will Cache District do if the bond vote fails? (LHJ)

Provo District looks at bonding needs. (PDH)

Will Gaylen Rust be the new Beverley Taylor Sorenson? (SLT)

Congrats to Lehi High’s new SkillsUSA gold medalists. (PDH)

Jeb Bush discusses Common Core at the American Legislative Exchange Council conference in Chicago. (AP)
and (Orlando, FL, Sentinel)



Administrators go to camp at WSU for STEM refresher course

Teachers thrive at Brain Blast conference

Cache County School District has no contingency plan if bond vote fails

Provo School District identifying needs for bond in 2014

Rust never sleeps : Gaylen Rust is new musical ambassador in Utah Music » Utah entrepreneur has become the state’s biggest proponent of arts education.

Anti-bullying program to expand in Jordan School District

Lehi students take gold medal at national SkillsUSA competition

West High School teacher participated in fellowship in Wa.

Utah company creates bulletproof partition for classrooms

Granger High football players banned for season Assault, robbery » Charges stem from May incidents in West Valley City.

Jobs program recruiting more females

Back-to-school shopping tips

Back-to-school basics, not just books; vision, dental health tips

American Fork High School to hold open house to reveal new construction

Davis Head Start program scheduling appointments to register


Knowing teachers

Common Core unconstitutional

How to cope with your kids going back to school

Losers in the education wars

Inequality and Opportunity

The envelope, please …
They weren’t hermetically sealed.

Jeff Bezos’s Other Endeavor: Charter Schools, Neoliberal Education Reforms


Common Core Curriculum Brings Big Shifts To Math Instruction

Jeb Bush Backs New School Standards, Choices

Why Aren’t More Girls Attracted To Physics?

Head Start tries to track down more than 27 million alumni

Group: Apps Not Effective Tool for Teaching Babies

Retailers See Slow Start to Back-to-school Season


Administrators go to camp at WSU for STEM refresher course

OGDEN — Aaron Hutchison looked into the blue flame of the blow torch and lowered in a steel paper clip, heating it to red hot.
Not in the normal job description of the NUAMES math teacher, but Tuesday he was at a teachers’ camp at Weber State University to learn about science and how to better engage his students.
And abusing paper clips and bobby pins was part of the process.
“I see integrating both math and science as critical,” said Hutchison, one of 37 area teachers this week attending the ASM Materials Camp. ASM International, formed by the American Society of Metals, offers camps aimed at helping teachers motivate students to get excited about the STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and math). (OSE)

Teachers thrive at Brain Blast conference

PLEASANT VIEW — Brain Blast, the Weber School District’s annual technology conference, went old school this year with a keynote speaker with roots in the past.
Speaker Gene Sessions, Weber State University history professor and author of eight history-based books, told the assembled teachers and administrators at Weber High School that he’s a huge fan of technology and was first among his peers to integrate it into WSU courses. But there’s a key to teaching that is more important than any cutting-edge technology.
“Don’t walk in with an empty head,” said Sessions, 67.
Then he shared the story, but not the name, of an Ogden High history teacher whose class he took in 1964. The man was a wrestling coach, who informed students he was their teacher because he had missed getting a spot teaching drivers’ education.
“His head was as empty as a rusty bucket with holes in it about the subject he was supposed to teach,” Sessions said. “If your heads are empty, this stuff (technology) won’t help. You won’t light a candle in kids’ heads.” (OSE)

Cache County School District has no contingency plan if bond vote fails

The Cache County School District has been working hard to be ready to start construction on a new high school and two elementary school remodels if the district’s $129 million bond passes in the November election. But there has been little to no talk of the district’s contingency plans if the bond does not pass.
Superintendent Steve Norton admitted the district doesn’t have a contingency plan if the bond fails.
“We would definitely look at the results of the election and then see if we can do another survey to find out why it didn’t pass,” Norton said. “But the need would still be there.”
The bond includes not only seismic upgrades and remodels of four elementary schools and the construction of a new elementary school, but also the building of two new high schools to relieve the overcrowding at the current secondary schools. And if the bond doesn’t pass, Norton said that problem of overcrowding is not going to go away. (LHJ)

Provo School District identifying needs for bond in 2014

PROVO – Students aren’t the only ones who are contemplating school work. Provo School District officials have also been doing their homework.
Members of the school board and district representatives have been studying the condition of the city’s schools. While the district’s grade is still unknown, several of the schools have failing grades.
A facilities advisory committee studied information from a consulting architectural firm about items including roofing, cabinetry, electrical, heating and cooling, masonry, acreage requirements, egress locations, asphalt conditions and portable usage. (PDH)

Rust never sleeps : Gaylen Rust is new musical ambassador in Utah Music » Utah entrepreneur has become the state’s biggest proponent of arts education.

During her life, Beverley Taylor Sorenson donated millions of dollars to Utah universities and colleges to train art teachers and integrate arts into schools. Since her death in May, many in the community wondered who might have the money — and the passion — to fill the void.
Northern Utah entrepreneur Gaylen Rust is a likely candidate, although he is far too modest to admit it.
Rust, a Utah native and president of Rust Rare Coin, has quietly become an expert on arts education. Through his Legacy Music Alliance charity, he has given nearly $2 million of his own money to ensure that the arts remain part of the Utah school curriculum, as well as provide opportunities for local musicians once they graduate. (SLT)

Anti-bullying program to expand in Jordan School District

WEST JORDAN — An anti-bullying program at one Jordan District school has been so successful that it’s expanding to sixth-graders around the district this fall.
Sunset Ridge Middle School counselor Julie Scherzinger said officials applied for a grant and secured funding to visit schools in the district with Sunset Ridge’s “student ambassadors” to spread their anti-bullying message and strategies.
“We are seeing (bullying) younger and younger, and that’s why the elementaries have asked us to come in and share our message and empower other students so that they know that they can stop it,” Scherzinger said.
Scherzinger said the program Not in Our Schools, which features merit-worthy ambassadors and focuses on students taking ownership in their school, had been successful at reducing bullying cases at Sunset Ridge, as evidenced by fewer referrals to the principal’s office. (DN)

Lehi students take gold medal at national SkillsUSA competition

LEHI — Lehi High School students Krista Hintze, Matt Pettit, Chase Elison and Baily Holmes began their summer vacation taking home the gold from a national competition, the SkillsUSA Championships.
The feat was a coup for the Alpine School District and for Utah’s public education system. (PDH)

West High School teacher participated in fellowship in Wa.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A local high school teacher was one of just 20 middle and high school teachers from across the country to participate in an elite fellowship program this summer in Washington state.
Carlos Enrique Arce-Larreta stopped by ABC 4 Utah to talk to about what he learned. (KTVX)

Utah company creates bulletproof partition for classrooms

CENTERVILLE — It’s one of the scariest scenarios a parent can imagine: a gunman walks into a school and starts shooting. However, now a Utah company is unveiling a new bulletproof door to prevent students from attacks in the classroom.
International Armoring Corporation, headquartered in Centerville, has already found a profitable niche in a violent world; they’ve armored 8,000 cars for officials, celebrities and business people around the globe.
“We’ve had over 300 attacks on these vehicles,” said CEO Mark Burton. “Many, many individuals have been protected and saved.”
Burton invented a crucial component, ArmorMax, a synthetic fiber panel which is relatively light-weight but which can stop bullets from pistols and even high-powered rifles. The company has now adapted a new, improved version of ArmorMax to protect students in the classroom. (KSL)

Granger High football players banned for season Assault, robbery » Charges stem from May incidents in West Valley City.

A judge has banned seven Granger High students from playing football this fall after the group was charged in juvenile court for a May 3 robbery spree.
The group of nine boys — ranging in age from 15 to 17 — drove around West Valley City that Friday night, targeting other teenagers, assaulting them and taking clothing, phones and electronics, said West Valley police Sgt. Jason Hauer. (SLT) (KUTV) (KSTU)

Jobs program recruiting more females

CLEARFIELD — After experiencing an enrollment freeze for several months earlier this year because of budget cuts, Utah Job Corps, with two centers in northern Utah – Clearfield and Ogden — have lost a lot of their student population.
Now, the group is trying to fill the available slots.
Of concern to Job Corps officials is the drastic decline in female enrollment. Once the enrollment freeze was lifted in April, Director for Corporate Communications Issa Arnita said their administration noticed the alarming numbers. (OSE)

Back-to-school shopping tips

SALT LAKE CITY — If recent reports are correct, you will not be spending as much money on your child’s back-to-school supplies this year as you have in the past.
This is concerning for some educators, since teachers may be asking for more things than they’ve requested in the past.
Ever since last year, teachers have had a little more leeway in asking for donations from their students’ parents. Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley said more teachers are becoming aware of that fact. (KSL)

Back-to-school basics, not just books; vision, dental health tips

It’s that time of year again. You walk into a store and see a colorful display of notebooks, backpacks, lunch boxes, colored pencils and endless rows of kids’ clothing. Back-to-school time is back.
Aside from school supplies, an important part of back-to-school planning is making sure that your child is up to date on their vision and dental exams. Here are a few tips from SouthWest Vision and Children’s Dental to help ensure your kids have bright eyes and beautiful smiles on their first day in class. (SGN)

American Fork High School to hold open house to reveal new construction

AMERICAN FORK — American Fork High School has completed the first phase of new construction at the school and has invited the public to celebrate.
AFHS will host an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15, at the school. (DN)

Davis Head Start program scheduling appointments to register

LAYTON — The Davis County Early Head Start and Head Start program is scheduling registration appointments for the 2013-2014 school year.
This is a free program for income-eligible families with preschool-age children, birth-4 years old, by Sept. 1. (OSE)


Knowing teachers
(St. George) Spectrum editorial

Next week, thousands of students in Southern Utah will return to class, and the annual exercise of getting to know our kids’ teachers and becoming accustomed to the schools begins.
Far too often, parents wait too long to get to know the teachers and to learn about their kids’ schools and their policies. An all-too-common scenario involves a parent noticing their child has poor grades a week or less before the end of a grading period. The parent confronts a teacher who has dutifully kept the grades updated online so the parents can see them. And that parent wants to know what their child can do to improve their grades.
At that point, it’s far too late. Don’t waste time.

Common Core unconstitutional
(Provo) Daily Herald op-ed by Sarah Scorseby of Lehi

I am a mother of four children. I am opposed to Utah’s Office of Education’s choice to adopt and promote Common Core standards (also referred to as Utah State Core Standards). There are many reasons to be found here:, but the following gets down to my core.
First, the decision to adopt Utah State (Common) Core is allowing federal (or centralized control) over our local education.

How to cope with your kids going back to school KSL commentary by Elizabeth Reid, wife and mother

SALT LAKE CITY — My kids returning to school is always difficult for me. I miss them when they’re gone. I enjoy our time together during the lazy days of summer. Those times of staying up late, taking bike rides or reading books disintegrate and are replaced by schedules, carpools and homework.
However, I have developed some ways of coping with their absence. Instead of being anxious about my treasures leaving the nest, I try to focus instead on making the school year fun and memorable for them. The following are some discoveries I have made that help make going back to school easier for our family.

Losers in the education wars
Washington Post op-ed by Elliot Haspel, Elliot Haspel, a former Arizona public school teacher who specializes in education leadership development

The education debate in the United States has taken on a particularly nasty tone, and it’s turning into a needless war. Sides are digging in, accusations are being launched and, sadly, children’s lives are being negatively affected because we are too blind to see that this is all built on false choices.
The latest skirmish came in May, when author Diane Ravitch wrote on her blog that the executive director of Parent Revolution, Ben Austin, was “loathsome” for helping parents petition to remove their school’s principal and that there was a “special place in hell” for Parent Revolution contributors. (Ravitch has since made an apology of sorts for the personal attacks.) The fire and brimstone does not come purely from one camp; prominent education reform supporter Whitney Tilson called Ravitch’s remarks “thuggery” in an e-mail newsletter.
As a former teacher, what saddens me is that the sides draw battle lines where there need not be any. There is a sense that we are continually facing two doors: Address poverty factors or address school factors. Support standards or support teachers. Care about academic outcomes or care about the whole child. The ad nauseam this-or-that creates a house of mirrors that leaves us all turned around.
In each and every one of these cases, the answer is to do both.

Inequality and Opportunity
New York Times op-ed by PHILLIP SWAGEL, professor at the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland

I agree with President Obama’s assertion in his (sadly partisan and seemingly interminable) July 24 speech in Galesburg, Ill., that inequality is an important concern for the nation and that American economic policies should take this issue into account. This is especially the case for the “inequality of opportunity” that Mr. Obama says “undermines the very essence of America.”
I am not convinced, however, that the president’s proposals are well matched to the problem he describes. Indeed, Mr. Obama is better at describing the outcomes he seeks than at putting forward a coherent set of policies to reach those outcomes. But I think I see what he has in mind.
Mr. Obama is looking at two horizons. The main determinant of inequality is what the Harvard economics professors Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz call a “race between technological change and educational attainment.” Technology has increased the demand for skilled workers but educational attainment has not kept up, leading to rising payoffs for those at the top. Widening inequality reflects the fact that too many Americans do not have the skills needed for today’s economy. But changing this takes time. So while he proposes universal preschool to benefit the future work force and new training programs delivered through community colleges for existing workers, Mr. Obama seeks to foster a stronger economy here and now, to drive higher earnings for people at all income levels rather than just those at the top.

The envelope, please …
They weren’t hermetically sealed.
Hechinger Report commentary by Aaron M. Pallas, Professor of Sociology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University

Ten weeks ago, I made some predictions about New York City’s 2013 proficiency rates on the New York State English Language Arts and mathematics assessments—the first New York tests to be aligned with the challenging Common Core State Standards adopted (more or less) by about 45 states across the country. I relied on just two bits of information: (1) New York City’s 2012 proficiency rates; and (2) what happened in Kentucky when it shifted from its previous assessments to Common Core-aligned assessments. The predictions were not based on any knowledge of the specifics of the new assessments in New York, or what the Big Apple’s teachers were doing in their classrooms.
How did I do? The two charts on the right tell the tale. The first displays proficiency rates on the English Language Arts assessments in grades 3-8, overall and for particular demographic subgroups. The blue column is the 2012 proficiency rate; the red column is my prediction for 2013; and the yellow column is the actual proficiency rate in 2013. I underestimated overall proficiency by a bit, predicting that 22 percent of students in grades 3-8 would be classified as proficient, when in fact 26 percent fell into that category. But I was within one percentage point for Black and Latino students, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities.
In math, shown in the second chart, my prediction for 2013 was almost on the mark, as I had predicted a proficiency rate of 31 percent, and the actual rate was 30 percent. I wasn’t quite as accurate with the subgroups in math; I overestimated the percent of Black and Latino children and youth who would be classified as proficient by five percentage points, but missed the mark by only two or three percentage points for all of the other groups displayed in the chart.
What do my powers of prognostication mean? (Other than my opening a storefront on 72nd Street, where I will be happy to read your palm for $15…)
What my parlor trick reveals is that the distribution of scores on the new Common Core-aligned tests in New York is not news at all. And yet many people are behaving as though this is some seismic shift in education policy and practice.

Jeff Bezos’s Other Endeavor: Charter Schools, Neoliberal Education Reforms The Nation commentary by columnist Lee Fang

As news broke yesterday that founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos has dipped into his personal fortune to buy The Washington Post and several Post-related media properties, there has been buzz about Bezos’s potential political agenda.
His record seems to suggest that Bezos is socially liberal, but economically conservative. He has contributed to both Republicans and Democrats, from John Conyers (D-MI) to Slade Gorton (R-WA); donated to the libertarian Reason Foundation; provided $2.5 million to pass gay marriage in Washington State; as well as $100,000 to defeat a modest effort to create an upper income tax in Washington State.
Others have scrutinized Bezos’s record at Amazon to predict his management of the Post. At The New Yorker, David Remnick says that under Bezos Amazon has “demonstrated itself to be ‘a First Amendment absolutist’ when it comes to the sale of controversial books (including Mein Kampf’) and an unwillingness to censor reader comments.” Others are less optimistic, particularly when it comes to Amazon’s lobbying and labor record.
The most troubling part of Amazon’s record, as it might relate to Bezos’ ownership of the Post, is Amazon’s December 2010 decision to shut down WikiLeaks’s server access after the group published a trove of State Department cables. Robert McChesney, citing Amazon’s move to pull the plug on WikiLeaks, released a statement today condemning the sale.
There’s one area where Bezos has been hyper-active, but it is largely unknown to the general public: education reform. A look at the Bezos Family Foundation, which was founded by Jackie and Mike Bezos but is financed primarily by Jeff Bezos, reveals a fairly aggressive effort in recent years to press forward with a neoliberal education agenda:


Common Core Curriculum Brings Big Shifts To Math Instruction NPR All Things Considered

With the implementation of the new Common Core standards, parents across the country will notice a few changes in their kids’ math homework.

Jeb Bush Backs New School Standards, Choices Associated Press

CHICAGO — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is defending new achievement standards for students around the nation while calling for an expansion of school-choice initiatives in states.
Bush spoke Friday at a conference of conservative lawmakers and business executives hosted in Chicago by the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Bush is one the leading potential contenders for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. But he made no mention of political aspirations Friday while outlining his education priorities.
Bush backed new “common core” education standards for states and said students should be held back in third grade if they cannot read well. (Orlando, FL, Sentinel)

Why Aren’t More Girls Attracted To Physics?
NPR Morning Edition

You don’t need to be a social scientist to know there is a gender diversity problem in technology. The tech industry in Silicon Valley and across the nation is overwhelmingly male-dominated.
That isn’t to say there aren’t women working at tech firms. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook have raised the profile of women at high-tech firms. But those prominent exceptions do not accurately portray who makes up the engineering ranks at those and other tech companies.
Visit Silicon Valley and you will hear many people talk about the need to increase the number of female hackers. The conventional wisdom about why there are so few female coders usually points a finger at disparities in the talent pool, which is linked to disparities in tech education. In fact, starting as early as adolescence, girls and boys often choose different academic paths. When the time comes for young people to elect to go into engineering school, serious gender disparities become visible.
A new study by University of Texas sociologist Catherine Riegle-Crumb in the journal Social Science Quarterly offers an interesting new perspective on this divide. Along with co-author Chelsea Moore, Riegle-Crumb decided to dive into the gender divide in high school physics courses. (Even as the gender divide in some areas of science has diminished, a stubborn gap has persisted for decades in high school physics.)
Riegle-Crumb had a simple question: The national divide showed boys were more likely to take physics than girls. But was this divide constant across the country?
In an analysis of some 10,000 students at nearly 100 schools, Riegle-Crumb found that the divide was anything but constant.

A copy of the study (Wiley)

Head Start tries to track down more than 27 million alumni Washington Post

Chuck Mills was the youngest of six children, raised by a single mother with no high school diploma who cleaned houses and clerked at the U.S. Postal Service to support the family. Many of Mills’s neighbors and some of his siblings dropped out of school, battled drug addiction or spent time in prison.
Mills went on to become a valedictorian of his junior high school, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, a pilot who flew Marine One for two presidents, a bond trader in New York City, and the founder and chief executive of two successful companies based in Northern Virginia.

Mills’s story is one of many the National Head Start Association, an advocacy group representing Head Start centers across the country, is collecting as it begins a campaign to find and organize an estimated 27 million alumni of the program. The central office of Head Start, a federal program approved by Congress in 1964 to fight the lasting effects of poverty, is not directly involved in the effort.
Head Start is at a critical juncture. Centers across the country are grappling with budget cuts tied to sequestration, and President Obama’s proposal to dramatically expand government-funded preschool programs has reinvigorated debate about the program’s quality.

Group: Apps Not Effective Tool for Teaching Babies Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Smartphones don’t make smart babies, an advocacy group declared Wednesday in a complaint to the government about mobile apps that claim to help babies learn.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, whose allegations against “Baby Einstein” videos eventually led to nationwide consumer refunds, is urging federal regulators to examine the marketing practices of Fisher-Price’s “Laugh & Learn” mobile apps and Open Solutions’ games, such as “Baby Hear and Read” and “Baby First Puzzle.”
The Boston-based group says developers are trying to dupe parents into thinking apps are more educational than entertaining. (NewsHour)

Retailers See Slow Start to Back-to-school Season Associated Press

NEW YORK — Shoppers are holding off on back-to-school shopping, and those who delay long enough might be rewarded with some steep discounts from desperate retailers.
Revenue at stores open at least a year – an industry measure of a retailer’s health- rose 3.5 percent in July, the slowest pace since March, according to a tally of 11 retailers by the International Council of Shopping Centers. The figure, which excludes drugstores, was below a 5.5 percent increase in June.


USOE Calendar

UEN News

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

September 5-6:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

September 12:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
250 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City

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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