Education News Roundup: Sept. 4, 2013

Sara Hacken

Sara Hacken

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:

There’s plenty of follow up on school grades. (SLT)
and (DN)
and (OSE)
and (KUTV)
and (KTVX)
and (KSTU)
and (KSTU)
and (OSE)
and (DN)
Including opinion pieces from:
Salt Lake Tribune:
USBE Member Tami Pyfer: (UP) USBA President Peggy Jo Kinnett:  (SLT) Senate President Niederhauser and Speaker Becky Lockhart: (DN) And Charter Solutions President Lincoln Fillmore: (Blog)

Utah Teacher of the Year Sara Hacken talks with The Universe (that’s the BYU newspaper, not everything that exists). (Universe)

Secretary Duncan calls out Common Core critics. (Portland Oregonian)

Critics remain critical. (Fox)



Will Utah’s school grading system erode support for public schools?
Opponents of letter grades for public schools fear privatization; supporters hail new transparency.

Grades for Utah schools bring strong reaction from parents and educators

State schools superintendent on school grading system

Ogden School District superintendent shows support for grading system

School grading systems: a hot topic around the nation

Utah County schools rank high in grades

Nebo School District and Utah top the nation for ACT scores

Cache County School District OKs bond plan with two new schools for ballot

Report: Utah has boosted standards for keeping kids safe in disasters

Sara Hacken, Utah Teacher of the Year, reflects with The Universe

State senator proposes that Utah ditch compulsory education

Governor visits Westmore, his alma mater

Teenager hit in crosswalk by Kearns Junior High

Parents invited to student safety seminars in Cache County School District

Nominate an A+ Teacher of the Week!

Writer’s private school essay sparks Internet outrage


Who gets an F?
Success depends on Legislature

Retiree can’t be a crossing guard because of his wheelchair

High school athletic directors challenge salary claims made in Salt Lake Tribune

Transparency: Shining the Light on School Grading

New Utah school grading plan full of flaws

Why Utah’s schools need grading

School grades are out

Everything I learned, I learned in high school

Long-term funding plan for public education

Changes will do a disservice

Keep children in school

The Algebra Imperative: Assessing Algebra in a National and International Context

Obama vs. Education

The Wrong Kind of Education Reform
Three new books decimate the case for charter schools and vouchers.

American Schools Are Failing Nonconformist Kids. Here’s How In defense of the wild child


U.S. education secretary Arne Duncan says critics of Common Core standards ‘are lying’ about federal role

Common Core critics warn of fuzzy math and less fiction

L.A. sheriff: Pay for preschool, not prisons

Funding diverted to online schools
Districts lose millions in per-student state money as Web classes increase

Education Chief: Maybe Start School Later in Day

Michigan ranks 11th in education reform group’s list of ‘parent power’ states

Mass. Court Hears Pledge of Allegiance Challenge

Mexican Senate Passes Major Education Reform


Will Utah’s school grading system erode support for public schools?
Opponents of letter grades for public schools fear privatization; supporters hail new transparency.

Parents should care deeply about Utah’s new school grading system, educators say, but not because it shows which schools are excelling and which schools are failing.
Rather, it is proof that a decades-old movement to privatize America’s public schools is making serious headway in Utah, said school board leaders, superintendents and teachers at a press conference Tuesday.
“Your average parent doesn’t know what’s going on,” said Utah Education Association President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh. “And if we don’t wake up the citizens of this state, it’s going to be too late.”
But state lawmakers say the letter grades, A through F, assigned Tuesday to traditional and charter schools will force educators to pay attention to inequities that have been ignored for too long. (SLT)

Grades for Utah schools bring strong reaction from parents and educators

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s controversial school grades were released Tuesday, drawing strong reaction from parents, educators and lawmakers seeking explanation for the results of this first-of-its kind report.
The grades, available on the website of the State Office of Education, are intended to increase school accountability by giving parents a clear and concise snapshot at the academic preparation of Utah’s children.
“I think this is the most significant day for education in the last 20 years,” said Sen. Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George. “Every parent wants to know how his or her child’s school is doing and this is the best tool they’ve ever had.”  (DN)  (OSE)  (KUTV)  (KTVX)  (KSTU)

State schools superintendent on school grading system

Martell Menlove, Utah’s state schools superintendent, talks with Nineveh about the Utah State Office of Education’s grading system for schools.  (KSTU)

Ogden School District superintendent shows support for grading system

Ogden School District Superintendent Brad Smith on Wednesday voiced his support for the School Grading System, which on Tuesday published letter grades for all public schools in Utah.
Backed by local and state business leaders, and flanked by school children from the “B”-graded Ogden Preparatory Academy and Polk Elementary, Smith said the new system, based on House Bill 271, is not perfect, but he welcomes anything that draws attention, parental concern and resources to schools in need of significant improvement.
Alan Hall, founder of MarketStar and chairman of Prosperity 2020, said a better education is key to improving the workforce and the economy. Rich Nelson, of the Utah Technology Council, said Utah’s “talent shortage” is one of the biggest obstacles that keeps the state from moving forward in fields he represents. (OSE)

School grading systems: a hot topic around the nation

Handing out grades to the best schools of Fort Wayne, Ind., always gave school board president Mark GiaQuinta a queasy feeling. GiaQuinta imagined staff from his district’s toughest urban schools watching the televised ceremony and asking, “Why not me, after what I accomplished today?”
Proponents say giving letter grades to schools — usually on the basis of students’ standardized test scores — focuses attention on struggling schools and heightens parents’ ability to choose the best schools for their children. Detractors say the school grades tell more about the prosperity of school neighborhoods than the quality of schools, and are a one-size-fits-all solution that doesn’t allow for differences in circumstances.  (DN)

Utah County schools rank high in grades

Utah County schools fared well in the school grading released Tuesday by the Utah State Office of Education. Statewide, 56 percent of schools received an A or B grade. Eighty percent of Alpine School District schools and 72 percent of those in the Provo School District earned the same grades. Nebo School District trailed slightly behind the average, at 51 percent with an A or B grade.
This is the first year a single letter grade has been issued for each school in the state. The Utah Legislature passed the school grading bill in 2011 and made modifications in 2013. The intent was to give the public information about the health of individual schools.  (PDH)  (OSE)  (LHJ)  (PR)  (CVD)  (SGN)  (UPC)  (San Juan Record)  (KSL)  (KCPW) (KUER)

Nebo School District and Utah top the nation for ACT scores

With an average composite score of 20.7, Utah’s class of 2013 received the highest average score on the ACT college entrance examination among the nine states that showed statistical full participation. Nebo’s class of 2013 did even better with a composite score of 21.8 beating the national composite score of 20.9.
According to Lana Hiskey, Community Relations Specialist for the district, “Nebo’s and Utah’s average composite ACT score held steady from 2012 to 2013 despite Utah’s increase of nearly 1,700 students taking the test and a new way of calculating state and national results that included, for the first time, the scores of 1,200 Utah students and 72,202 students nationally who were granted extended time to take the test. Nationally, average ACT scores declined from 21.1 to 20.9. Among the states that ACT shows with full student participation, Utah led the way with an average 20.7.”  (PDH)

Cache County School District OKs bond plan with two new schools for ballot

The Cache County School District Board of Education approved a final building and bond plan to take to the voters during a meeting Tuesday night.
The plan laid out the details of how the bond’s potential $129 million would be spent.
Voters will decide Nov. 5 whether or not to fund the bond. If it’s approved, construction could begin within months.  (LHJ)

Report: Utah has boosted standards for keeping kids safe in disasters

Utah is lauded in a new national report as one of four states that this year raised the bar on safety standards for protecting children during disasters.
But 28 states and the District of Columbia still fail to require the emergency safety plans for schools and child care providers that were recommended by a national commission after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, according to a report from Save the Children.
The lack of such plans could endanger children’s lives and make it harder for them to be reunited with their families, the report said.
Included in the report are pleas for heightened school safety and better disaster preparation by a former Ogden couple, Robbie and Alissa Parker, whose 6-year-old daughter, Emilie, was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut last December.  (SLT)  (AP)  (Ed Week)  (USAT)

A copy of the report  (Save the Children)

Sara Hacken, Utah Teacher of the Year, reflects with The Universe

Teaching was the last thing on 9-year-old Sara Hacken’s mind.
After her father passed away when she was just nine years old, Hacken spent the rest of her upbringing moving from house to house, and was all-too-familiar with the feeling of being the new kid in town.
“Teaching was never on my radar,” Hacken said. “Never. As a teenager, we just moved a lot and I really didn’t see myself doing anything in particular. There was a time where we moved 10 times in nine years. I spent my time just trying to kind of grow up.”
Today, after teaching throughout Utah for nearly 30 years and receiving one of the most prestigious awards available to educators, Hacken has reached one of the pinnacles of her profession.
Hacken, an English and history teacher at Lakeridge Jr. High in Orem, was named the 2013 Utah Teacher of the Year — and almost didn’t attend the banquet where the winner was announced because she felt she didn’t have a shot.  (Universe)

State senator proposes that Utah ditch compulsory education

The idea of eliminating school attendance in Utah may seem unorthodox — but it is definitely on the minds of state legislators.
Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, has begun a public discussion about the possibility of getting rid of compulsory education throughout the state, arguing that too much responsibility has fallen on schools to nurture and take care of children.
According to Osmond, the removal of compulsory education would open the door for alternative education options allowing families to decide which “type” of school would best suit the needs of their child. Hypothetically, schools would be focusing more on meeting the student’s actual needs rather than meeting standards such as requiring students to log a certain amount of classroom hours or even an amount of classroom years during their schooling.
No official proposal has been made, but Osmond and his supporters are testing the waters by openly asking whether compulsory education benefits the state of Utah.  (Universe)

Governor visits Westmore, his alma mater

Gov. Gary Herbert returned to his former elementary school Tuesday, but he didn’t recognize much. Westmore Elementary School in Orem has been rebuilt, and just reopened in time for the school year.
“This is a wonderful facility,” he said as a group of students took him on a tour prior to him speaking at an assembly. “This is a beautiful school. You guys are very fortunate.”
The visit did evoke some memories.
“Here is the playground,” he said. “I was good at recess. I used to play a lot of kickball right over there.”  (PDH)

Teenager hit in crosswalk by Kearns Junior High

A 14-year-old boy was seriously hurt after getting hit by a car on his way to school.
The boy was crossing north in a crosswalk at 4040 W. Sams Blvd. (5295 South) toward Kearns Junior High School when a westbound car struck him, said Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal. The accident occurred about 7:43 a.m.  (SLT)

Parents invited to student safety seminars in Cache County School District

Parents with children in the Cache County School District are invited to attend a parent seminar on student safety.
The same seminar will take place on three different days in order to accommodate different schedules. All three will take place between 6:30 and 8 p.m.  (LHJ)

Nominate an A+ Teacher of the Week!

Mobile users, make your nomination here: (KSTU)

Writer’s private school essay sparks Internet outrage

Slate columnist Allison Benedikt posted a provocative essay Thursday morning with the look-at-me title, “If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person.” (DN)


Who gets an F?
Success depends on Legislature
Salt Lake Tribune editorial

For years, Utah legislators criticized No Child Left Behind as a matter of principle because they believe the federal government (even President George W. Bush’s federal government, where it started) should butt out of public education, and also because of its one-size-fits-all inflexibility.
Today, with the launch of the Legislature’s school grading system and its lists of school grades, it’s obvious the state has adopted many of the failed practices of NCLB.
Legislators behind the grading legislation say its purpose is to “shine a light” on schools with problems. That is essential. But whether this system does anything more than degrade the reputations of schools, which it surely does, or if it identifies truly failing schools better than other assessment systems, depends on what legislators do next.
Assigning letter grades to all public schools seems like a simple way of showing parents and educators which schools should get extra attention so they can improve the job they’re doing. But, simplicity of evaluation should not be the primary goal. Improved student learning should be.

Retiree can’t be a crossing guard because of his wheelchair Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Paul Rolly

Monte Hancock had a successful 33-year career at L-3 Communications, with a perfect attendance record. He had many jobs at the large technology company, from running a huge wire wrap machine, which he often climbed to make repairs, to crawling deep inside military shelters to make repairs.
He has received many awards for the excellence of his work and letters of appreciation from military generals and former President Bill Clinton.
So he was shocked when he was turned down for a job as a school crossing guard because he supposedly is unqualified.
Why? He is in a wheelchair.

High school athletic directors challenge salary claims made in Salt Lake Tribune Deseret News commentary by columnist Doug Robinson

Lynn Moncur, a teacher at Brighton High School, recently found his name and salary listed in a local newspaper not named the Deseret News.
It was in a box at the top of the first page of the UTAH section under the headline, “High School Athletic Director Salaries.” Moncur was one of nine athletic directors whose salary was listed. He was at the top of the list.

Transparency: Shining the Light on School Grading Utah Policy commentary by Tami Pyfer, District 1 Utah State Board of Education

When the roll-out of a landmark educational policy is prefaced by statements from legislative leaders like, “you should expect resistance from some who are uncomfortable with transparency,” or, in referring to comments from concerned educators, “don’t take them seriously,” it does not bode well for concerned, engaged citizens seeking to educate themselves about the initiative. Such is the atmosphere surrounding the launch of the Utah Legislature’s new School Grading law.
Modeled after Florida’s school grading program, Utah’s version was initiated in the 2011 legislative session. It has been touted by policymakers as a key strategy to increase educational outcomes in Utah, and, as noted on the Legislature’s new school grading website, “a transparent and easy-to-understand accountability system that focuses on outcomes instead of inputs.”
Will a single school letter grade accurately reflect outcomes? Are parents and community members really incapable of comprehending anything other than a letter grade? Is it reasonable to disregard inputs? And, how does Utah compare to the model state, Florida, in both inputs and outcomes?

New Utah school grading plan full of flaws Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Peggy Jo Kennett, president of the Utah School Boards Association

The school grading program, created by SB271 S3 (2013 Session) is a one-size-fits-all system that dishonors students, their schools and the dedicated educators who serve them. Consider four of several concerns:

Why Utah’s schools need grading
Deseret News op-ed by Senate President Wayne Niederhauser and Speaker of the House Becky Lockhart

This week, every public school in Utah received a letter grade based on student academic progress.
This new Utah policy was patterned after Florida’s system, which has helped propel student achievement gains there and in several other states. The legislature set up the mandate, framework and transparency but the grades are based on standards set by the elected members of the State Board of Education.
Elementary schools and junior high schools will receive a letter grade based on the answer to the following questions:
1) Are students performing at grade level? and
2) Are students achieving adequate academic growth each year?

School grades are out
Commentary by Charter Solutions President Lincoln Fillmore

And most schools got Bs. I guess that’s not quite right. More schools got Bs than any other grade.
Some charters did well. The Early College High Schools (InTech, UCAS, AMES, NUAMES, Itineris) as a group did very well, with four As among the five schools. (Itineris, with a C, has a legitimate complaint that its highest performing math students, who take math on campus at SLCC, aren’t part of the data set used to calculate the grade.)
In fact, that’s the biggest shortcoming of the grading system. A uniform set of data points doesn’t quite fit when there are many schools in the system that don’t fit the mold.

Everything I learned, I learned in high school (St. George) Spectrum commentary by Kandi Johnson of St. George

Back to school — oh what joy! Parents of kindergarten children view back to school with trepidation. As children grow, parents begin to embrace the time-honored back-to-school traditions eagerly because they know their lives will soon be in a routine that the school year governs instead of a routine that summer-break children govern.
Twenty-five years ago, Robert Fulghum wrote “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” but I have come to realize that “everything I need to know as an adult facing the challenges of life, I learned in high school.” Many view high school as a time to prepare for college, while others view high school as a time for the last bit of fun.
I view the time in high school as the time when value systems are gelled more firmly into place, when work ethics are established and when we begin to understand work/life balance.

Long-term funding plan for public education Deseret News letter from Andrea Inglesby

As a citizen concerned about and supportive of our public school system, I applaud the efforts of Sen. Pat Jones, D-Holladay, who is sponsoring legislation to raise upwards of $400 million for our students (“Utah senator wants money for schools by eliminating family child tax exemption,” Aug. 23).
Sen. Jones is courageous. She knows her bill asks us all to sacrifice one state tax exemption, but she is starting an important conversation. Lip service is all we get from many politicians who want to run as the “education candidate” and then forget about the basic necessities we need in the classroom when the election is over.

Changes will do a disservice
Deseret News letter from Mel Broberg

Last night, my wife, a high school drama teacher, came home from work and told me of changes to the Sterling Scholar program about which she had just been informed. Apparently, the category for “speech and drama,” which already splits focus between two disciplines as it is, has been expanded to also include “debate/forensics,” and now “drama” has become “drama arts,” pulling in technical theater and all of its complexities in addition to the acting/performing areas.
Apparently, a category that already seemed diluted with two areas needed a little more watering down.

Keep children in school
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner letter from Beverly E. Zimmerman-Davis

God gave children parents because their ability for good judgment is non-existent. That’s why we don’t let them choose to eat only junk food, stay up all night, play with fire, run out in front of speeding vehicles, etc. Why in the world would we let them decide that hard work and diligent effort are not to their liking and therefore, they are not going to school? Of course, they will choose to play, watch TV, and sleep.
Their futures are priceless and we as the responsible adults must guard them for them until they are wise enough to know how valuable a good education can be.

The Algebra Imperative: Assessing Algebra in a National and International Context Brookings Institute analysis by Tom Loveless, Governance Studies, Brown Center on Education Policy

Over the past two decades, algebra has acquired elevated status within the U.S. school curriculum. Researchers have documented that readiness for both college-level mathematics and technically-oriented employment hinges on students gaining, at least by the end of high school, a basic knowledge of algebra. The recognition of algebra’s “gatekeeper” role within the continuum of high school math courses–that it must be taken and passed by any student who aspires to take calculus or other advanced mathematics–led Robert Moses, a 1982 MacArthur fellow, to declare algebra a civil rights issue.
These developments present a challenge for policymakers: the need to measure–in a sound, trustworthy manner–national progress in learning algebra. The essay below explores how that goal can be accomplished. The essay is organized by four sections. The first section describes the current state of affairs in assessing algebra—the national and international tests that Americans rely on to measure progress. Section two presents evidence that the current battery of assessments is inadequate. Section three discusses prospects for remedying the situation. Section four concludes.

Obama vs. Education
National Review editorial

It was 50 years ago this June that George Wallace, the Democratic governor of Alabama, made his infamous “stand in the schoolhouse door” to prevent two black students from enrolling at an all-white school. His slogan was “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!”
These many years later, Democrats still are standing in the schoolhouse door to prevent black students from enjoying the educational benefits available to their white peers, this time in Louisiana instead of Alabama. Playing the Wallace role this time is Eric Holder, whose Justice Department is petitioning a U.S. district court to abolish a Louisiana school-choice program that helps students, most of them black, to exit failing government schools.
The Obama administration is a serial offender on this issue, and its cynicism is startling. The Justice Department says that Louisiana’s school-choice program must be constrained because failing to do so would threaten to make the schools less racially integrated than they are today. As noted, the majority of the students who benefit from the program are black, and the great majority of them — 86 percent — are enrolled in schools rated D or F by state education authorities. Which is to say, the DOJ objects to Louisiana’s program precisely on the grounds that if we allow more black children to escape the worst schools, then the worst schools will have fewer black children in them.

The Wrong Kind of Education Reform
Three new books decimate the case for charter schools and vouchers.
Slate commentary by David L. Kirp, public policy professor at UC–Berkeley

The case for market-driven reforms in education rests on two key premises: The public school system is in crisis, and the solution is to let the market pick winners and losers. Market strategies—high-stakes teacher accountability, merit pay, shuttering “failing” schools—are believed to be essential if public schools are ever going to get better. And these maxims underlie the commitment to charter schools and vouchers. Freed from the dead hand of bureaucracy and the debilitating effects of school board politics, the argument runs, schools are free to innovate.
If you follow education debates, you’ve heard that again and again. Here’s what’s new: A spate of new books undercuts both propositions, simply decimating the argument for privatizing education.

American Schools Are Failing Nonconformist Kids. Here’s How In defense of the wild child The New Republic commentary by ELIZABETH WEIL, author of No Cheating, No Dying

Of the possible child heroes for our times, young people with epic levels of the traits we valorize, the strongest contender has got to be the kid in the marshmallow study. Social scientists are so sick of the story that some threaten suicide if forced to read about him one more time. But to review: The child—or really, nearly one-third of the more than 600 children tested in the late ’60s at Bing Nursery School on the Stanford University campus—sits in a room with a marshmallow. Having been told that if he abstains for 15 minutes he’ll get two marshmallows later, he doesn’t eat it. This kid is a paragon of self-restraint, a savant of delayed gratification. He’ll go on, or so the psychologists say, to show the straight-and-narrow qualities required to secure life’s sweeter and more elusive prizes: high SAT scores, money, health.
I began to think about the marshmallow kid and how much I wanted my own daughter to be like him one day last fall while I sat in a parent-teacher conference in her second-grade classroom and learned, as many parents do these days, that she needed to work on self-regulation. My daughter is nonconformist by nature, a miniature Sarah Silverman. She’s wildly, transgressively funny and insists on being original even when it causes her pain. The teacher at her private school, a man so hip and unthreatened that he used to keep a boa constrictor named Elvis in his classroom, had noticed she was not gently going along with the sit-still, raise-your-hand-to-speak-during-circle-time program. “So …” he said, in the most caring, best-practices way, “have you thought about occupational therapy?”
I did not react well.


U.S. education secretary Arne Duncan says critics of Common Core standards ‘are lying’ about federal role
(Portland) Oregonian

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan emphatically called on education reporters today to truth-squad critics’ claims that the federal government is staging a takeover of education by pushing Common Core State Standards, adopted by Oregon and 44 other states.
Such claims are “just not intellectually honest. For journalists, the truth should matter,” he said. Speaking of the Common Core standards, Duncan said, “Anyone who says we developed them or mandated them, they are lying.”
In a session arranged by the Education Writers Association, Duncan spoke briefly to education reporters from around the country, then answered more than a dozen questions on topics ranging from intercollegiate athletics to preschool to mental health.

Common Core critics warn of fuzzy math and less fiction Fox News

If the new national Common Core educational standards influence curriculum the way some fear they will, students can say goodbye to literary classics and hello to fuzzy math, say critics.
The Common Core State Standards initiative, a plan devised by the nation’s governors and backed by the Obama administration, seeks to set a uniform standard for grades K-12, to ensure kids all over the nation reach the same minimum level of learning. Some 45 states, in many cases enticed by federal grants, have signed on and testing of students in grades 3-8 and once in high school is scheduled to begin next year.
Supporters say Common Core only tests students in math and English, but critics say school districts will devise curriculum to maximize their students’ performance on the national exams, and, in fact, have already begun that measure. And those same critics claim Common Core math standards barely cover basic geometry or second-year algebra and that the classics are all but ignored in English classes.

L.A. sheriff: Pay for preschool, not prisons Washington Post

The man who runs the nation’s largest jail system came to Washington on Monday to promote what he considers a potent tool in crime-fighting: universal pre-school.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca is heading a lobbying effort by more than 1,000 police chiefs, sheriffs and prosecutors to convince Congress to enact the Obama administration’s plan to expand preschool to every 4-year-old in the country.
“Either you have to pay now (for preschool), or you’re going to have to pay a guy like me later,” Baca said. He oversees a jail system with 19,000 inmates.
About 60 percent of those behind bars in Los Angeles are high school dropouts, said Baca, adding that many struggled in school because they did not have the benefit of preschool during their earliest years.

Funding diverted to online schools
Districts lose millions in per-student state money as Web classes increase
(Phoenix) Arizona Republic

Less than 4 percent of Arizona students took an online class in the 2011-12 school year, but it’s enough for some school districts to lose millions of dollars in state funding.
State law splits funding based on the time a student spends between online and brick-and-mortar schools. So, when a student in a traditional school district opts to take an online course from an outside provider, that student’s home district must share a portion of the state funding for that student.
That makes sense intuitively — until it comes to summer classes, when the state effectively pays for online providers to offer free summer school, but not school districts, said Chris Kotterman, director of policy development and government relations with the Arizona Department of Education.
School officials call the practice unfair and say it makes it difficult for them to compete. It also creates a situation where a district may end up educating two students for the same amount of time during the school year but receive less funding for one student simply because he or she took an online class outside of the district.

Education Chief: Maybe Start School Later in Day Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A later start to the school day could help teenagers get the most from their classroom time and local districts should consider delaying the first bell, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday.
School districts would still be free to set their own start times, Duncan insisted in a broadcast interview, but he pointed to research that backs up his comments that rested students are ready students. Duncan said he would not be telling local school leaders when their first bells should ring and said it was up to local leaders to make the decisions on their own.
“There’s lots of research and common sense that lots of teens struggle to get up … to get on the bus,” said Duncan, the former chief of Chicago Public Schools.

Michigan ranks 11th in education reform group’s list of ‘parent power’ states MLive

LANSING — Michigan placed just outside the top 10 on a national education reform group’s annual rankings of “parent power” for making educational choices.
The Center for Education Reform announced its 2013 “Parent Power Index” on Tuesday and Michigan narrowly trailed Utah for 10th place on the list. The rankings are based on the center’s assessment of each state’s laws on charter schools, school choice, teacher quality, transparency and online learning.
The group describes itself as a “leading advocate for structural and sustainable changes” in education policy and has drawn financial support from the Broad Foundation, the Gates Foundation and SABIS Educational Systems, a charter school operator, among other groups.

A copy of the report  (CER)

Mass. Court Hears Pledge of Allegiance Challenge Associated Press

BOSTON — A family asked Massachusetts’ highest court Wednesday to ban the daily practice of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools, arguing that the words “under God” in the pledge discriminate against atheists.
In arguments before the Supreme Judicial Court, a lawyer for an atheist Acton couple who sued on behalf of their three children argued that the reference to God suggests that “good patriots are God believers” and nonbelievers are less patriotic or unpatriotic.
David Niose, an attorney representing the family and the American Humanist Association, rejected the argument that because the pledge is voluntary, it does not discriminate against atheists.

Mexican Senate Passes Major Education Reform Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s Senate overwhelmingly passed a sweeping reform of the notoriously dysfunctional public school system early Wednesday, handing President Enrique Pena Nieto an important victory in his push to remake some of his country’s worst-run institutions.
The Senate voted 102-22 in favor of a standardized system of test-based hiring and promotion that would give the government the tools to break teachers unions’ near-total control of school staffing.
That control includes the corrupt sale and inheritance of teaching jobs, and it has been widely blamed for much of the poor performance of Mexican schools, which have higher relative costs and worse results than any other in the 34-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.  (Reuters)


USOE Calendar

UEN News

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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