Education News Roundup: Nov. 1, 2013

Small group lesson at Foxboro Elementary

Small group lesson at Foxboro Elementary.

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:

Herald Journal checks in on progress in dual immersion in Cache County.  (LHJ)

Will stir frying it make broccoli more appealing?  (DN)

A headline you just don’t expect to see in either the Education News Roundup or, quite frankly, the Provo Daily Herald: “Foreigner rocks the Covey Center.”  (PDH)

Ed Week looks at some of the concerns as the country transitions to online testing.  (Ed Week)

OK, LEAs (that’s ed speak for districts and charter schools), you can apparently relegate home visits, robo-calls, Web sites, group e-mails and text messages to the same bin that you put mimeographed letters home. Oh, and your Facebook and Twitter accounts are aging, too. You gotta have mobile apps to keep parents in the loop now.  (WaPo)

Having hung around young males for the past little while (ENR’s son is a young male as are his cadre of hockey-playing buddies; ENR is not a creepy old guy), ENR knew nothing good would come of all the Axe spray they all seem to use in great — some might say ‘overabundant’ — quantities.  (New York Magazine)



Parents, teachers and students reflect on Bridger Elementary’s dual immersion program two months in

Utah schools find creative ways to promote healthy lunch

Vote On Jordan District $495m Bond Is One Week Away

Provo School District proposes school reconstruction bond

International Study Shows Utah Students Competitive in STEM Subjects

New grading system shows issues with Ogden schools

Student test scores show significant improvement, school officials say

Zombie apocalypse skit teaches life lessons to Layton High students

High School Junior Makes Big Math Discovery

Foreigner rocks the Covey Center

Herriman High School students help build drug detection boxes

UEA: students need to report suspicious behavior

Fourth Grade Class in Sevier County Making a Difference In Changing Utah’s State Tree

State of Utah Offer Free ACT Test Prep to High School Students

School Improvement Network Named 15th Fastest Growing Company in Utah Education Company Honored with Other Utah Industry Giants as Fastest Growing Companies in Utah 100 Award

Davis County teacher arrested for sex with a student

Grantsville High teacher accused of committing sex act in front of child

Substitute teacher found drunk outside of Hyrum school, police say

Whooping cough cases continue to rise in Utah

Guardian angels deliver iPads to students with special needs

Fifth-grader wins costume art contest

A + Teacher of the Week


Red Ribbon Week

Common core

What if Finland’s great teachers taught in U.S. schools?

William McCallum’s Common Core testimony in Wisconsin Who I am and why I decided to work on the Common Core State Standards

NBC News Wants to be the Education Network the Way George W. Bush Wanted to be the Education President

Diane Ravitch


Transition to Online Testing Sparks Concerns

For Teachers, Wired Classrooms Pose New Management Concerns

Spackenkill votes against education program due to privacy concerns

Common Core standards debate heats up over payments by John Birch group Foundation tied to group paid out-of-state speakers at hearings

Texas No Child Left Behind waiver means concessions to feds

School districts using mobile apps to reach on-the-go parents

Critics See Risks in Use of Bonds for School Tech Projects

Research suggests poor quality of teacher training programs in U.S. compared to other countries

Study: New teachers more educated, of higher caliber

Teachers Share Their Top Safety Concerns

Idaho school dismisses idea to arm teachers

St. Helens School Board lifts controversial gun ban it implemented back in March

Fewer home-school families cite religion as their main motivation

Aliso Niguel High School shuts door on ‘twerking’ move Additional rule put in effect ahead of homecoming dance.

Deluge of Axe Body Spray Shuts Down School

Omsk Authorities Say Halloween Parties Lead to Extremism


Parents, teachers and students reflect on Bridger Elementary’s dual immersion program two months in

Learning a new language can be hard and takes time, but if you’re a first-grader in Bridger Elementary’s dual immersion program, it’s also a lot of fun.
Bridger Elementary first-grade students in the school’s first dual immersion program are learning Spanish quickly, and parents and students alike are loving the program and the teachers.
Jed Grunig, principal at Bridger Elementary, said this program will have powerful, positive ramifications in the future, but even now he can see the positive effect it’s having on the students.  (LHJ)

Utah schools find creative ways to promote healthy lunch

SALT LAKE CITY — The sizzle of broccoli and beef stir fry greeted students filing in for lunch at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School.
Cries of “whoa” and “cool” sounded as students spotted chefs frying up the fresh food at a temporary chef’s station
“I think the kids are really digging it,” said Jeff Gratton, head chef for Granite School District.
The pilot program at Woodrow Wilson Elementary is one of many that Granite and other districts are implementing to make nutritious school lunches more appealing to students.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires schools nationwide to offer meals that meet specific nutritional guidelines.  (DN)

Vote On Jordan District $495m Bond Is One Week Away

Erin West, a resident in the Jordan School District will vote “no” on the $495 million dollar bond to build new schools in the Jordan School District.
She and other like-minded district residents have joined forces on Facebook to encourage other voters to vote the bond down. “We are happy to give money to education to support growth for our kids, but not so excessively,” she said.
Mike Haynes is a member of “Friends of the Jordan School District,” a committee to support the bond. He said 18 million dollars to build a new school building that will last for decades, is a fair price.  (KUTV)  (KTVX)  (KSL)  (KUER)

Provo School District proposes school reconstruction bond

PROVO, UT- Provo City School District will be holding community open houses throughout the month of November 2013 to discuss a proposed school reconstruction bond initiative. Any interested community members are invited to attend.
Open houses will be held at the following times and locations:  (KSTU)

International Study Shows Utah Students Competitive in STEM Subjects

The National Center for Education Statistics has released a new study synthesizing test scores from across the globe. The study looked at how eighth graders from the United States and 38 other countries scored in math and science.
Researchers compared U.S. scores on the NAEP test with international scores on the TIMSS test. U.S. states and foreign countries were then rated on a scale of 0 to 1000, with 500 being the international average.
Utah scored above average in both math and science. In science, Utah’s eighth graders were only topped by students in four other countries.  (UPR)

New grading system shows issues with Ogden schools

The report cards are in for the Ogden area high schools, and with a 1.8 GPA, many are wondering why the grades are so low.
Earlier this year, state lawmakers passed a new accountability system for Utah public and charter schools. The Utah Comprehensive Accountability System was enacted this year, and over the past few months, Utah schools have been receiving their grades.
With more than 56 percent of schools receiving either a B or higher, many are satisfied with their grade. Weber County high schools, however, received a C-minus average, making a lot of people scratch their heads in confusion.  (Signpost)

Student test scores show significant improvement, school officials say

Schools in the Grand County School District recently received the detailed results of last year’s state test scores, and overall, administrators say they’re happy with the results.
Although the Utah State Office of Education released letter grades for all Utah public schools several months ago, the actual test scores on which those grades were based were not released until October.
The schools have been working to implement a new testing system for the past two years, after the state was allowed to abandon many facets of the controversial 2001 federal No Child Left Behind program. Instead, Utah schools are now evaluated using the Utah Comprehensive Accountability System (UCAS).
UCAS grades elementary schools and middle schools on math, science, language arts and a direct writing assessment (DWA).  (Moab Times-Independent)

Zombie apocalypse skit teaches life lessons to Layton High students

LAYTON — Who knew? A zombie apocalypse program between high school students can actually offer the important life-skill lessons.
That was how Layton High School Media Specialist Fawn Morgan saw it when she formed an Apocalypse Preparedness Initiative for students, during which they pretended to be zombies infecting as many humans as they could during the three-day game period this week. All that was in an effort to incorporate learning without the kids realizing it.
“The state has mandated that librarians teach research skills, which is now a big part of the common core program,” said Morgan, who knew the kids are interested in zombies, especially given that it is a popular theme in young adult literature. “The students love Halloween, so I thought this was a perfect opportunity to slip in a little school work too.”  (OSE)

High School Junior Makes Big Math Discovery

Lehi High School junior Brock Brown doesn’t consider himself a great student – he said he gets mostly “B’s”.
Some would disagree with his assessment after he recently discovered an alternative to what’s known in math as a binomial expansion. Figuring out a binomial expansion takes a lot of calculations – the problem solving can get very long. “Brock’s idea makes it faster, easier and a lot less painful,” said UVU math Professor Ben Moulton, who discovered Brock’s work through the teen’s mother who was a student in his college class. “He’s gifted,” said Moulton.
Brock figured out the short-cut to the Binomial expansion during one math class period. “By the end of the class period I had figured it out. It took me another five minutes to write it in a simplified equation,” said Brock.  (KUTV)  (KSL)  (KSTU)

Foreigner rocks the Covey Centerhas said he’s open to the change should the Legislature present the option during the next session.  (MUR)

State of Utah Offer Free ACT Test Prep to High School Students

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Shmoop, a digital curriculum and test prep company, is partnering with Utah to provide the state’s 11th graders with test prep help to successfully prepare for the ACT exam in March.
Utah, already known as reporting one of the highest statewide ACT scores in the country last year, says it was natural to select Shmoop  (KCSG)

School Improvement Network Named 15th Fastest Growing Company in Utah Education Company Honored with Other Utah Industry Giants as Fastest Growing Companies in Utah 100 Award

School Improvement Network, the leader in educator effectiveness resources, today announced they were named 15th among the fastest growing companies in Utah as part of the Utah 100 Award by the Mountain West Capital Network. School Improvement Network was named one of the fastest growing companies in Utah based on an increase in the percentage of revenue increase from 2008 through 2012.  (PRWeb)

Davis County teacher arrested for sex with a student

KAYSVILLE, Utah – A Davis County teacher has been arrested for having a sexual relationship with one of her students.
Brianne Altice, 34, teaches at Davis high school.
Police say last October, she started having sexual contact with a male student, who was only 15 or 16 at the time.  (KTVX)  (KSL)  (KSTU)

Legendary rock band Foreigner shook the Covey Center for The Arts Thursday night during a show in downtown Provo. The band launched into their hit “Double Vision” after taking the stage a little after 8:30 p.m.
Provo High School student Addie Austin sang “I Wanna Know What Love Is” on stage with the band after practicing with the rest the school’s Chamber Singers.
“I think we’re all pretty nervous, but to be that close to the band is going to be really awesome,” Austin said before the show.
The group of students rehearsed for two weeks before the performance, but were not given the chance to rehearse with the band beforehand. (PDH)

Herriman High School students help build drug detection boxes

HERRIMAN, Utah — A high school wood shop class is helping train police dogs by building special boxes that will help K-9 officers sniff out drugs.
Most of the boxes are made and shipped from the East Coast, which can be expensive for the Unified Police Department. So officers and city leaders reached out to Herriman High School.
When approached about the idea of creating the boxes, Kathleen Turner’s shop class decided to take on the challenge. (KSTU)

UEA: students need to report suspicious behavior

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Students being more aware of their surroundings is a helpful tool in dealing with school violence, according to the Utah Education Association. Student safety is again a national topic after a 12-year-old boy fatally shot his math teacher, Michael Landsberry, at Sparks Middle School in Nevada on Monday. He also wounded two other students before taking his own life.
Mike Kelley, communications director, Utah Education Association (UEA), said students can help stop violence by being more aware of their surroundings and reporting suspicious behavior. (CVD)

Fourth Grade Class in Sevier County Making a Difference In Changing Utah’s State Tree

A Utah lawmaker is pushing legislation to change the official state tree from the Colorado blue spruce to the aspen, saying that his state should not have the same state tree as Colorado. State Sen. Ralph Okerlund says it doesn’t make sense to have a state tree with the word “Colorado” in it since the two states compete in tourism and other areas. The Monroe Republican told Provo’s Daily Herald that the aspen seems to be “a better representative” for Utah. A bill to change the state tree was drafted at the request of Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who left the state House of Representatives earlier this month to assume his current post. However Okerlund says the movement for the change actually started with a fourth grade class in Sevier County. Gov. Gary Herbert’s staff

Grantsville High teacher accused of committing sex act in front of child

MURRAY — A Grantsville High School choir teacher is under investigation for allegedly committing a sex act in front of a child.
Salvatore Larenzo Degraffenreidt, 30, of Tooele, was charged Oct. 22 in 3rd District Court with lewdness involving a child, a class A misdemeanor.
Charging documents allege that Degraffenreidt was sitting nude in a steam room at the Sports Mall, 5445 S. 900 East. A 12-year-old boy was in the steam room at the time. A Holladay man, 47, also entered the steam room nude.
The man sat next to Degraffenreidt and both committed lewd acts. He was also charged with lewdness involving a child.  (KSL)

Substitute teacher found drunk outside of Hyrum school, police say

HYRUM, Cache County — A substitute teacher in northern Utah has been arrested after school leaders said they spotted her outside of the school nursing a liquor bottle.
Erin Terry, 32, was arrested Tuesday for investigation of intoxication and open container violations, the Herald Journal of Logan reported. No charges have been filed against her.  (DN)  (KTVX)  (KSL)

Whooping cough cases continue to rise in Utah

OGDEN — So far this year, 872 cases of whooping cough have been reported to the Utah Department of Health. This week alone, there have been 24 cases.
The disease, also known as pertussis, is preventable through vaccination but with school is in full session, it’s starting to crop up in some classrooms.
“We have seen cases of whooping cough in a few schools but Weber and Morgan counties have not had any pertussis outbreaks in the school so far this year,” said Amy Carter, communicable disease and epidemiology director and registered nurse at the Weber-Morgan Health Department. “We do know that pertussis is circulating throughout the state. In 2012 and 2013 we have had a large increase of pertussis, partially due to the nature of the infection and how people’s immunity with this bacterial infection works.”
In Davis County, there have been 89 cases of pertussis reported this year. Forty-eight percent were school aged children and adolescents, said Davis County Health Department public relations director, Bob Ballew.  (OSE)

Guardian angels deliver iPads to students with special needs

SANTAQUIN, Utah – Tablets are the tech tool of choice for thousands of Utah kids with special needs. For that reason dozens of teachers jumped at the chance to score free iPads for their classroom with a program called “iPads 4 Angels.”
Months ago, Angie Craig, a teacher at Santaquin Elementary school started the quest to get a series of iPads on her own. Today her wish was granted.
“Thank you so much she said,” she said as she was handed several tablets.
Meanwhile her small class of 15 students cheered.
Today members of United Angels Foundation delivered a set of tablets to Craig’s classroom.  (KTVX)

Fifth-grader wins costume art contest

One lucky fifth-grader at North Park Elementary got to see her Halloween costume design brought to life after winning a special art project contest. Ellie Filimoehala received her own specially made Mad Hatter costume after her design was chosen to be created in real life.
“I thought I was dreaming,” Ellie said. “I was super surprised that I had won.” (LHJ)

A + Teacher of the Week

Jennifer Cologna teaches third grade at Rose Park Elementary School, and she was named FOX 13 News’ A + Teacher of the Week.
Those who know Cologna said the teacher works with students individually to make sure they enjoy school, which helps their grades improve.  (KSTU)


Red Ribbon Week
(St. George) Spectrum editorial

Statistics vary, and it can be very difficult to determine an exact number. But most reasonable people can agree that a wide range of criminal offenses that take place in our nation today have something to do with drugs.

Common core
Deseret News letter from Cassondra Cleek

With all that has been going on in the government recently (Government Shutdown, Affordable Care Act, Immigration Reform etc.) something important has slipped passed most Americans and should not be ignored. Our education system has been dramatically altered.
Our Government is dumbing down our children with the Common Core Education System (“CCES”). The CCES standards have not been examined closely, or the research was faulty. Many child education experts agree. One child psychologist stated that the new standards are too relaxed and will lead to behavior problems. The students will not be sufficiently engaged, will tune out their teachers and eventually tune out learning entirely.

What if Finland’s great teachers taught in U.S. schools?
Washington Post commentary by Pasi Sahlberg, author of the best-selling “Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn About Educational Change in Finland?”

Many governments are under political and economic pressure to turn around their school systems for higher rankings in the international league tables. Education reforms often promise quick fixes within one political term. Canada, South Korea, Singapore and Finland are commonly used models for the nations that hope to improve teaching and learning in their schools. In search of a silver bullet, reformers now turn their eyes on teachers, believing that if only they could attract “the best and the brightest” into the teaching profession, the quality of education would improve.
“Teacher effectiveness” is a commonly used term that refers to how much student performance on standardized tests is determined by the teacher. This concept hence applies only to those teachers who teach subjects on which students are tested. Teacher effectiveness plays a particular role in education policies of nations where alternative pathways exist to the teaching profession.
In the United States, for example, there are more than 1,500 different teacher-preparation programs. The range in quality is wide. In Singapore and Finland only one academically rigorous teacher education program is available for those who desire to become teachers. Likewise, neither Canada nor South Korea has fast-track options into teaching, such as Teach for America or Teach First in Europe. Teacher quality in high-performing countries is a result of careful quality control at entry into teaching rather than measuring teacher effectiveness in service.
In recent years the “no excuses”’ argument has been particularly persistent in the education debate. There are those who argue that poverty is only an excuse not to insist that all schools should reach higher standards. Solution: better teachers. Then there are those who claim that schools and teachers alone cannot overcome the negative impact that poverty causes in many children’s learning in school. Solution: Elevate children out of poverty by other public policies.
For me the latter is right.

William McCallum’s Common Core testimony in Wisconsin Who I am and why I decided to work on the Common Core State Standards William McCallum, university-distinguished professor of mathematics and head of the Department of Mathematics at the University of Arizona, via Fordham Institute

I am a university-distinguished professor of mathematics at the University of Arizona. My doctorate in mathematics is from Harvard University, and I have been a fellow at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute at Berkeley and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. In addition to mathematics research and university teaching, I have been involved in K–12 education for 20 years. For my work in this area, I was honored to receive the National Science Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching Scholars in 2005 and the American Mathematical Society’s Award for Award for Distinguished Public Service in 2012. I have come to be known in the mathematics and mathematics education communities as someone who can be trusted to care both about the rigor of the mathematics curriculum and about how children learn.
When I was asked to work on the standards, I decided to use that trust, knowledge, and experience to the utmost, to help build a world where all people know, use, and enjoy mathematics. I saw a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve our children’s prospects for college and career, to give them the sort of mathematics education they deserve and need in order to prosper. Our children are no less capable than the children of other countries; they can meet high standards and they deserve the opportunity to do so.

NBC News Wants to be the Education Network the Way George W. Bush Wanted to be the Education President Forbes commentary by columnist J. Max Robbins

The NBC News series “Education Nation” sold itself as a a serious national dialog on the state of education in America that would include grass roots voices as well as those making and implementing policy. In reality, “Education Nation” which just wrapped up its fourth annual edition, may be more marketing ploy than a true forum for reform.
Marquee “experts” read like a “Who’s Who” of politicians, policy makers and establishment educators, ranging from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to former Florida governor Jeb Bush to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Yes, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten was among the headliners, but besides the union chief, there were few of the many prominent voices critical of the privatization of education.
Also thrown into “Education Nation” were a bunch of bold face names, including Goldie Hawn and Tony Bennett, who may be active in education philanthropy circles, but hardly experts in sorting out the education crisis. Even more telling, is the inclusion of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfien, whose multi-billion dollar firm is engaged with a number of players in the corporate education/tech arena. Certainly there are divergent views among these bigwigs, but those promoting privatization loomed large in “Education Nation.”
“The takeaway is that NBC News is being used as a stalking horse for the privatization and monetization of education,” says Andrew Tyndall, publisher of the Tyndall Report, that has been analyzing news content for more than 25 years.

Diane Ravitch
Daily Show commentary

“Reign of Error” author Diane Ravitch challenges the notion that education can be broken down into a series of data points.


Transition to Online Testing Sparks Concerns Education Week

When tens of millions of schoolchildren sit down at computers to take new common assessments in spring 2015, many of their peers will be taking similar tests the old-fashioned way, with paper and pencil, raising questions about the comparability of results—as well as educational equity—on an unprecedented scale.
Both state consortia that are designing tests for the Common Core State Standards are building computer-based assessments, but they will offer paper-and-pencil versions as well, as states transition fully to online testing. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium plans to run the two simultaneous “modes” of testing for three years. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, will do so for at least one year.
In order to rely on the results, however, the consortia must show that the paper and computer modes of the tests in English/language arts and mathematics measure the same things.
The prospect of establishing such comparability between two versions of a test isn’t new.

For Teachers, Wired Classrooms Pose New Management Concerns Education Week

In a growing number of K-12 schools, the use of 1-to-1 computing devices—including iPads, laptops, and Chromebooks—is becoming a central part of instruction. For teachers making the digital leap, one of the greatest hurdles can be figuring out how to manage the tech-infused classroom. How do you keep kids, who suddenly have the Internet at their fingertips, on task? How do you ensure the devices are safe and well-maintained? And how do you compete with your most tech-savvy students?
“I think this is the new frontier frankly with classroom management. We’ve never confronted this,” said Kyle Redford, a 5th grade teacher at Marin Country Day School in Corte Madera, Calif.
Redford’s school introduced iPads in the middle grades three years ago. “I think we were a little wide-eyed and naïve initially. We were letting students guide the exploration into technology,” she said.
Since then, she and her colleagues have had detailed discussions about expectations and appropriate use. “Everyone really does need to have these conversations because these tensions are real,” she said.
For many teachers, decisions about how to manage the 1-to-1 classroom stem from conversations they have with more experienced peers and, of course, from trial and error. And as more schools introduce personal devices into the classroom, some common solutions to the attendant management problems are emerging.

Spackenkill votes against education program due to privacy concerns Poughkeepsie (NY) Journal

Parents who attended the Spackenkill Union Free School District school board meeting Tuesday applauded the board’s decision to opt out of the federal Race to the Top program, amid privacy concerns regarding student data.
The board held an emergency meeting at the Orville A. Todd Middle School to decide whether or not to keep federal Race to the Top funding.
“I’m delightfully surprised,” Spackenkill parent Jennifer Kaufman, of the board’s decision. “You have to take a stand at some point.”
The federal government’s $4.35 billion Race to the Top grant program requires states to adopt the national education standards to get grant money. New York was awarded $700 million.
For local districts, accepting shares of the state funding included participation in the data dashboard, the Education Data Portal.

Common Core standards debate heats up over payments by John Birch group Foundation tied to group paid out-of-state speakers at hearings Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The clamor over nationwide K-12 academic standards adopted by Wisconsin and discussed at four recent statewide hearings intensified this week with news that several out-of-state speakers critical of the standards received compensation through an arm of the conservative John Birch Society.
Leaders of the American Opinion Foundation, an independent nonprofit associated with the Wisconsin-based society, say they paid for about $5,500 worth of travel expenses for five Common Core State Standards critics to speak at the hearings in Fond du Lac, Eau Claire and Wausau this month. They said local citizens raised the money.
The latest select Assembly and Senate committees to re-examine the standards were spearheaded by Republicans, but many saw them as agenda-driven from the start because the highest-ranking education lawmakers in the state — Senate Education Chair Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) and Assembly Education Chair Steve Kestell (R-Elkhart Lake) — declined to participate.
One Milwaukee lawmaker resigned from the Assembly’s review panel this week, calling the hearing process “deeply biased.”

Texas No Child Left Behind waiver means concessions to feds Politico

Critics often tie No Child Left Behind waivers to the Common Core and equate them with operating in the pocket of the federal government.
Some say Texas crushed that theory. Others say the state’s recently won waiver reinforced it.

School districts using mobile apps to reach on-the-go parents Washington Post

Washington area school districts are creating mobile apps to make it easier for busy, cellphone-addicted parents to check school lunch menus, e-mail a teacher or check on their daughter’s latest math score.
Arlington and Fairfax county schools were the latest to add their logos to the iTunes app store this fall. The Prince George’s County school system is designing a second version of its app, and Loudoun County schools and Alexandria schools unveiled mobile apps or mobile-friendly Web sites last year.
“This has really become the next generation of parents’ way of communicating,” said Linda Erdos, spokeswoman for Arlington’s public schools. “We want to make sure we are reaching them through all possible channels.”
Schools’ lines of communication have multiplied over the years, from backpack fliers and home visits to robo-calls and Web sites, group e-mails and text messages. Then they added Facebook and Twitter accounts. Now, mobile apps are being designed to streamline some of the chatter and put it at arm’s reach for a generation of parents accustomed to having smartphones at the ready.

Critics See Risks in Use of Bonds for School Tech Projects Education Week

As school districts across the country seek to implement costly, large-scale technology projects, a growing number of them are asking voters for approval to go into debt to pay for that work, through the issuance of long-term bonds.
That strategy is standard practice in many areas of government, when public entities, such as school systems, need money to pay for special capital projects such as new construction or infrastructure upgrades. But districts’ attempts to use long-term bonds to underwrite major purchases of tablets and laptops, which have a limited shelf life, are coming under fire from both taxpayers and financial experts, who worry that school systems will still be paying off those costs long after the technology is obsolete.
“You don’t debt-finance something where the term of the debt is going to extend beyond the life of the asset,” said Bruce D. Baker, a professor of school finance at the Rutgers University Graduate School of Education in New Jersey. “You don’t want to be paying for it once it has outlived its usefulness.”
New attention is being focused on this issue following criticism of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s plan to use money from long-term construction bond issues to fund a 1-to-1 iPad initiative that could ultimately cost nearly $1 billion.

Research suggests poor quality of teacher training programs in U.S. compared to other countries Hechinger Report

The United States has some of the best university-based math teacher training programs in the world. But we also have some of the worst – and those poor performing programs produce 60 percent of the country’s teachers in schools with the highest percentage of students living in poverty, according to research released earlier this month from William Schmidt, co-director of the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University. The United States was the only country in his study to have such a wide range of performance by math teachers in teacher preparation programs.
Improving teacher quality has emerged as a key strategy to increasing America’s global competitiveness, but teacher preparation programs are often criticized for being too easy to get into and too easy to complete. Schmidt’s research argues that the programs also aren’t teaching what they need to be.
Schmidt used data from the 2012 Teacher Education and Development Study-Mathematics, which surveyed, interviewed and tested elementary and middle school math teachers from 900 teacher prep programs in 17 countries on their content and pedagogical knowledge, and conducted his own survey of 2,000 randomly selected American teachers to figure out the courses taken by the top-scoring teachers. He concluded there are nine important courses for math teachers-to-be to take (such as observation, analysis and reflection on mathematical teaching and multivariate calculus, for instance), but only a third of U.S. middle school teachers who participated in the study had enrolled in at least eight of them.

A copy of the study  (MSU)

Study: New teachers more educated, of higher caliber Hechinger Report

Teaching may be attracting a more academically successful group of people compared to previous years, according to a new study released Wednesday.
Two researchers at the University of Washington examined four national data sets to determine how the characteristics of first-year teachers changed between 1993 and 2010. The study found that more new teachers have advanced degrees than ever before. During the 2007-08 school year, 26 percent of new teachers entered the classroom with a master’s degree, compared to 17 percent two decades earlier.
First-year teachers during the 2008-09 school year had an average SAT score that was 8 percentile rank points higher than the average score among new teachers in 2001. And for the first time, new teachers in 2008 had slightly higher average SAT scores than their peers entering other fields.
Research has found that a master’s degree does not necessarily guarantee, or even improve teacher quality. But a teacher’s cognitive skills and literacy skills, as measured by the SAT or other national exams, have been found to positively impact student achievement.

A copy of the study (Education Next)

Teachers Share Their Top Safety Concerns NPR Tell Me More

This December marks the one year anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Since then, more than a dozen other school shootings have occurred – including one just last week. Host Michel Martin checks in with educators from around the country to ask if their jobs have become more dangerous, and hear their top school safety concerns.

Idaho school dismisses idea to arm teachers Associated Press via (Pocatello) Idaho State Journal

SANDPOINT — A northern Idaho school district is no longer considering an idea to make guns available to teachers and other staff members as a security measure.
Lake Pend Oreille School Superintendent Shawn Woodward said Wednesday that district staff members overwhelmingly oppose the idea and the board of trustees is divided on the plan.
Woodward said he is still discussing safety issues with Bonner County officials and members of his staff with input from the school board, parents and residents. Ideas include a potential volunteer program and the commissioning of a school resource officer from the sheriff’s department.

St. Helens School Board lifts controversial gun ban it implemented back in March
(Portland) Oregonian

It’s back to school for gun-toting teachers in St. Helens.
The district school board voted 4-1 Wednesday to lift a ban that had prohibited educators and staff from carrying firearms on school grounds.
Board members back in March had narrowly passed the controversial measure, forbidding employees, contractors and volunteers from packing heat on school property – even if the individual had a concealed handgun license.
Citing the Second Amendment, members opposed to the ban had said that the measure violated their oath of office to uphold the constitution – and vowed to repeal it.

Fewer home-school families cite religion as their main motivation Religion News Service

WASHINGTON — When Jennifer Pedersen-Giles started to home-school her son Westen six years ago, it was because he needed a more hands-on environment than what public schools could offer. Now the eighth-grader studies writing, music, art, geometry, literature and world religions from his home in Arizona.
Religion, in other words, had nothing to do with his mother’s decision.
She’s not alone. According to the federally funded National Center for Education Statistics, the share of parents who cited “religious or moral instruction” as their primary motivation for home-schooling has dropped from 36 percent in 2007 to just 16 percent during the 2011-12 school year.

Aliso Niguel High School shuts door on ‘twerking’ move Additional rule put in effect ahead of homecoming dance.
Orange County (CA) Register

Miley Cyrus did it on television, but administrators at Aliso Niguel High School want students to know there’s no “twerking” allowed on campus.
“Because it’s the newest thing out there, it’s the newest thing they have been talking about, we just wanted to make sure that’s understood,” said Ann Zendner, activities director for the Aliso Viejo school, which sent an email to parents and students last week specifically proclaiming “No twerking” among a list of dancing guidelines. The rule was in effect for Saturday’s homecoming dance.
The buttocks-shaking, hip-swinging dance move has been around awhile, though high school students might not remember the Ying Yang Twins’ 2000 single “Whistle While You Twurk.” In August, Cyrus cemented the move’s place in today’s lexicon when she gave her own interpretation of the dance, bent over in front of fellow pop star Robin Thicke.

Deluge of Axe Body Spray Shuts Down School New York Magazine

On a calm morning in a Brooklyn classroom yesterday, a wistful youth clutched a can of Axe Body Spray, hoisted it in front of him like a battle flag, and began to cover the room in a fetid vapor. The world will smell like a chemical equivalent of a popped collar and horn-dog values, thought this youth, as the chemicals dispersed. The entire room will become a party. Everyone’s adolescent awkwardness will evaporate.
But as the noxious neon cloud of Axe filled the room, the true effects of inhaling the spray took hold. Soon, eight children were hospitalized, two were taken to the doctor. The abundance of Axe caused a school-wide shutdown. Emergency crews descended upon the Brooklyn school to investigate.
But this youth was promised hot women would appear! He was promised bikinis and lusty sighs! He thought that all of the sexy angels would come from heaven and sexy devils would come from the depths of hell, when the siren call of scent beckoned them to Medgar Evers College Preparatory School.
It was not to be.

Omsk Authorities Say Halloween Parties Lead to Extremism Moscow Times

Dressing your child up in a witch or pirate costume and sending them off to a school Halloween party may seem innocuous, but it could actually have “destructive consequences,” according to education department officials in the Omsk region.
A letter to the directors of education institutions and municipal departments advised them against celebrating Halloween in the region’s schools this year so as not to encourage “extremist attitudes” among Omsk’s youth, Interfax reported Wednesday.
Halloween’s latent extremist influence has been demonstrated by studies at the Russian Academy of Education’s institute of pedagogical innovations as well as the institute for family and upbringing, the department said in a statement.  (Washington Times)


USOE Calendar

UEN News

November 1:
Education Task Force meeting
9 a.m., 445 State Capitol

November 6:
Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
9 a.m., 210 Senate Building

November 7-8:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

November 14:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
250 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City

November 19:
Executive Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
1 p.m., 445 State Capitol

November 20:
Education Interim Committee meeting
9 a.m., 30 House Building

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