Education News Roundup: Jan. 07, 2014

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Digital Learning tour.

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:

Common Core debated in Logan.  (LHJ)
and  (CVD)
and  (DN)

Will there be GOP clubs in Box Elder and Bear River highs? (OSE)

Common Core may be taken up in statehouses around the country this year.  (Ed Week)

Do schools have enough broadband?  (WSJ)



Common Core debated at Mount Logan Middle School

Box Elder County high school students set political clubs

Utah Department of Workforce Services predicts job growth through 2020

Davis School District to hold accelerated math testing

Former UHSAA director Glen Beere left positive legacy

Clearfield girl remains critical after tumble from pickup truck

Cache County school bus rear-ended; no injuries

Bad air quality inspires fourth-graders to create song


Racist data supports racist dogma

School system has monopoly

Why the U.S. Results on PISA Matter

Consider alternative schooling
Don’t fear innovation. Nobody ever got shot or pregnant from online or home schooling.

The Proven Way to Fight Income Inequality: Education Progressives talk a lot about how to encourage economic mobility, but they are leaving big gaps in their education platforms.

5 Key Education Stories to Watch in 2014

A Return to the Evidence

School Choice Signals: Research Review and Survey Experiments


State Lawmakers Face Tough Choices on Common Core Common core likely flash point

Slow Broadband Internet Speeds Vex Nation’s Schools Online Teaching, Testing Spurs Calls for Faster Connections, Revamp of Program

Connecticut considering offers of private money to implement new education standards

Can a breast cancer bracelet be ‘lewd’?

How To Successfully Link GED Tests And Jobs

Six enter guilty pleas in APS test-cheating case


Common Core debated at Mount Logan Middle School

Discourse remained relatively civil Monday evening as both sides debated the merits and faults of the Utah Common Core Standards. The debate took place at Mount Logan Middle School and was heavily attended by educators, teachers and legislators.
Tami Pyfer, chairwoman of the Utah State Board of Education, and David Thomas, the vice-chairman of the state board, argued in defense of the Common Core while Wendy Hart, a member of the Alpine School District Board of Education, and Alyson Williams, a concerned parent, were on the con side.
Williams and Hart focused most of their energy on pointing out the lack of transparency and public input during the adoption process of the Utah Common Core.
“My primary concern is that it remains within the control of Utah to allow public comment that is open to Sunshine laws, and people can be involved in the development standards,” Williams said.
Pyfer and Thomas maintained that the state board followed the same process in adopting the Utah Common Core as they do with adopting any other standards.
“We followed the typical process as we’ve done in the past,” Pyfer said. “The accusation that we didn’t follow the process is not accurate.”  (LHJ)  (CVD) (DN)

Box Elder County high school students set political clubs

BRIGHAM CITY — Republicans here are setting up programs in the county’s two high schools to introduce youngsters to party ideals.
And Democrats say it just suggests a possible weakness in the Republican hold on the state.
Tonya Donaldson and Oakley Nelson of the Box Elder County Republican executive committee are, respectively, forming Teen Age Republicans chapters in Box Elder High in Brigham City, and Bear River High, in Tremonton.
They’re meeting with school officials and students to fill out the forms, designate a faculty advisor and sign up the minimum three students necessary to establish the extracurricular clubs.  (OSE)

Utah Department of Workforce Services predicts job growth through 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah will add thousands of new jobs over the next six years, according to a report released Monday.
Occupational projections from the Utah Department of Workforce Services estimate the state economy will add 307,850 jobs between 2010 and 2020, growing total employment to 1.6 million jobs — a 2.2 percent compound annual rate.
Many of those jobs, however, are expected to be in low-paying industries such as retail sales, customer service and food services.
The projection period follows the Great Recession, an era characterized by declining employment statewide, explained report co-author and DWS research economist Natalie Torosyan.

Entry into more than 70 percent of openings through 2020 will be associated with educational attainment of a high school diploma or less, she explained. Expectedly, many of those openings will be for occupations that pay the lowest wages.
“Four of the 10 fastest-growing occupations typically employ entry-level workers with education equivalent to a high school diploma or less,” Torosyan added. “Despite relatively low education standards, fast-growing occupations will tend to pay wages that are higher than the median for all occupations.”  (DN)

A copy of the report  (Utah DWS)

Davis School District to hold accelerated math testing

FARMINGTON — Charter, private and home-schooled sixth-grade students planning to attend a junior high school in the Davis School District this fall can be tested for possible math acceleration.  (DN)

Former UHSAA director Glen Beere left positive legacy

Former Utah High School Activities Association director Glen Beere died Friday after a battle with ALS, leaving a legacy that those who knew him say still impacts Utah prep sports.
Beere directed the UHSAA from 1987 to 1994 and ushered in an era of new organization for the association, said UHSAA legal counselor Mark Van Wagoner, who worked with Beere during his time as director. The changes Beere made, including forming the predecessor to the board of trustees, allowed the UHSAA to flourish at a time when prep sports were increasing in popularity in the state.  (SLT)

Clearfield girl remains critical after tumble from pickup truck

A 16-year-old girl Clearfield remained in critical condition Tuesday, the day after she fell from the bed of a pickup truck and landed on her head.
Clearfield police said Tuesday that there had been no change in the condition of the girl, who was sitting on the edge of the truck’s bed about 3 p.m. Monday when she lost her balance as the vehicle made a turn near 300 West and 2300 South.
Police said both the driver and a second passenger riding in the truck’s bed also were teenage girls, and like the victim had just gotten out of classes for the day at Clearfield High School.  (SLT)  (PDH)  (KTVX)  (KSTU)

Cache County school bus rear-ended; no injuries

A minor collision between a Cache County School District bus and a car Tuesday morning caused no injuries to either children on the bus nor the drivers of the bus or car.
Cache County Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Peterson said the 7:08 a.m. accident occurred when a Lexus ES 300 sedan rear-ended the bus, which had halted at a stop sign at 200 West and 100 North in Providence.  (SLT)  (CVD)

Bad air quality inspires fourth-graders to create song

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Sharon Moore’s fourth-grade class at Whittier Elementary had one thing one their wish list: clean air.
The students were tired of having to have recess indoors because of the bad air quality in the Salt Lake Valley.
Moore turned the situation into a learning/ creative activity and a new song was born.  (KTVX)


Racist data supports racist dogma
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Mark M. Cantor

The way in which Darrell H. Mensel uses Arthur Jensen’s 1969 research on IQ to assert that there are “measurable differences in cognitive abilities among racial groups” (“Racial differences,” Forum, Tribune, Jan. 4) is nothing less than white supremacist dogma.
Dr. Jensen did observe differences in IQ scores and then erroneously attributed them to heredity and race. That most IQ tests have been shown to be racially biased is apparently an analysis too sophisticated for Mensel.

School system has monopoly
(Logan) Herald Journal letter from Ralph Call

The repression that will end in the forcing of more than $200 million of new debt on the residents of Cache Valley has begun. The public school system is what an advanced stage monopoly, with all of the pathologies of such a system, looks like. Management is overpaid, incompetent and dishonest. Unions have outsized control of the decision process. There is fierce defense of the status quo and the killing of any kind of reform or competition. The idea pool is stagnant, innovation doesn’t exist, costs soar, customers are abused and the product is increasingly inferior. The public school system has been failing on a massive scale since at least 1970. The total cost of one full-time student from K-12, adjusted for inflation, was $56,903 in 1970; it is $164,426 in 2010.
I have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to the public school system and will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars more before I am through paying. For the money I have already paid I could have hired private tutors for my nine kids. Only deregulation can unleash competition.

Why the U.S. Results on PISA Matter
Education Week op-ed by Eric A. Hanushek, Paul and Jean Hanna senior fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University

In 2012, 65 nations and education systems participated in the Program for International Student Assessment. These tests, covering mathematics, science, and reading, provide direct international comparisons of skills. Sadly for our nation, the recently released results are sobering.
According to PISA, the United States placed significantly below the average for member-nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development for mathematics—and significantly worse than the OECD distribution at both ends of the assessment spectrum, with more low performers and fewer high performers.
The U.S. math performance is not statistically different from that of Norway, Portugal, Italy, Spain, the Russian Federation, the Slovak Republic, Lithuania, Sweden, and Hungary—not the most sought-after group of countries for comparison’s sake.
More disturbing, U.S. students’ scores have been stagnant for the past decade. Since 2003, the United States has made virtually no gains, even as a range of countries made substantial ones.

Consider alternative schooling
Don’t fear innovation. Nobody ever got shot or pregnant from online or home schooling.
USA Today op-ed by Glenn Harlan Reynolds, professor of law at the University of Tennessee

Last week, I wrote here about zero-tolerance stupidity, suggesting that as schools grow more and more willing to punish and stigmatize kids for reasons of bureaucratic convenience, it might be parental malpractice to put your kids in public schools. But there’s another problem with public schools that goes beyond these kinds of problems: Even when they work well, public schools introduce all sorts of costs and rigidities into everyday life.
That’s not surprising. Public schools were designed to be rigid. Back in the 19th century, when Massachusetts Board of Education Secretary Horace Mann toured Europe looking for models of public education to import to America, the one he chose came from Prussia. Inflexibility and uniformity were Prussian specialties, and when Mann brought Prussian-style education to America, those characteristics were seen not as a bug but as a feature.
School was practice for working in the factory. Thus, the traditional public school: like a factory, it runs by the bell.

The Proven Way to Fight Income Inequality: Education Progressives talk a lot about how to encourage economic mobility, but they are leaving big gaps in their education platforms.
Atlantic commentary by JOSH KRAUSHAAR, executive editor of National Journal Hotline

For progressives, the buzzy phrase of the moment is income inequality. President Obama plans to make it the focus of his upcoming State of the Union address after sermonizing about the issue in December. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made it the centerpiece of his campaign and the theme of his inauguration ceremony. Freshman Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren gained national celebrity because of her outspoken criticism of moneyed interests.
But as these politicians are invoking the issue for political gain, they’re avoiding one prescription that has proven to be a time-tested path to economic mobility—increasing access to quality education. When progressives discuss education, it frequently leads to the demand part of the equation. De Blasio proposed offering universal pre-K and after-school to city residents, while Obama has made it easier for students to obtain grants and loans to tackle the skyrocketing cost of a college education.
Left unmentioned are the efforts on the supply side—expanding school choice, improving teacher quality, and strengthening curriculum.

5 Key Education Stories to Watch in 2014 U.S. News & World Report op-ed by NINA REES, president and chief executive officer of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

Each New Year brings the tradition of making predictions about what’s to come in politics, fashion and the economy. But action on several education trends this year may actually have the most important long-term ramifications for our country. Below are a few things parents should be watching:

A Return to the Evidence
National Education Policy Center analysis

Teach For America (TFA) receives hundreds of millions of public and private dollars and has garnered acclaim for sending college graduates, who do not typically have an education background, to teach in low-income rural and urban schools for a two-year commitment. The number of TFA corps members has grown by about 2,000% since its inception in 1990. The impact of these transitory teachers is hotly debated. Admirers see the program as a way to grow the supply of “outstanding” graduates, albeit temporarily, as teachers. Critics, however, see the program as a diversion from truly beneficial policies or even as a harmful dalliance into the lives of low-income students who most need a highly trained, highly skilled, and stable teacher workforce.
Despite a series of non-peer-reviewed studies funded by TFA and other organizations that purport to show benefits of TFA teachers, peer-reviewed research on their impact continues to produce a mixed picture. The peer-reviewed research suggests that results are affected by the experience and certification level of the TFA teachers as well as by the group of teachers with whom those TFA teachers are compared. The question’s specifics strongly determine the answer.
The authors recommend a shift in focus for TFA from a program of mixed impact to one that makes measureable changes in the quality of education in America. Recommendations for policymakers and districts are provided.

School Choice Signals: Research Review and Survey Experiments Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice analysis

For the past several decades, a perennial topic on surveys about education has been school choice. Interest in public opinion about choice is more than just “nice to know.” The results are often used to support or oppose choice in general or specific choice initiatives under consideration or adopted by state legislatures and even school boards. Until recently, however, surveys about school choice have been limited in their scope and not particularly sophisticated, reducing their utility. In particular, few have used experimental designs, most are analyzed with simple descriptive statistics, and important topics are understudied. In response, this report uses a survey experiment to examine four research questions:
Is there a significant difference in support for choice based on reasons for school choice?
Is there a significant difference in levels of agreement with reasons for school choice?
Which type of choice enjoys the strongest support?
How does a policy of school choice compare to other reform initiatives in their perceived efficacy for school improvement?


State Lawmakers Face Tough Choices on Common Core Common core likely flash point Education Wekk

State legislators begin their 2014 sessions this month grappling with the best way forward on the Common Core State Standards in a tricky political climate, with a majority of governors and lawmakers up for election in the fall.
For many states, this year will be a key juncture for decisions about the standards—and related exams—before their full weight is felt in classrooms, district offices, and state education departments in the 2014-15 school year.
Many lawmakers will be working to help ensure that state accountability and assessment systems lead to students who are better prepared for study and work after high school, said Jeremy Anderson, the president of the Denver-based Education Commission of the States.
“For many governors, this transition from secondary to postsecondary is all about the future of the workforce in their states,” he said.
But the large slate of elections this year, including gubernatorial contests in 36 states and legislative races in 46, could tamp down many lawmakers’ enthusiasm for bold policy proposals, Mr. Anderson said.
Indeed, on such issues as the common core and teacher evaluations, many might choose a cautious approach, said Iris Maria Chavez, the assistant field director for the Education Trust, a Washington-based advocacy group.

Slow Broadband Internet Speeds Vex Nation’s Schools Online Teaching, Testing Spurs Calls for Faster Connections, Revamp of Program Wall Street Journal

Students in Dory Fravel’s fourth-grade Iowa classroom got knocked offline while taking mandatory state achievement exams.
Vermont teacher Marcia Blanco whiled away the night while the school’s slow-as-syrup Internet connection downloaded software.
And technology directors in Washington state restricted the number of classrooms that could get Web access at any one time to ensure computer screens didn’t freeze up.
As public schools nationwide embrace instruction via iPads, laptops and other technologies, many are realizing they lack the necessary broadband speed to perform even simple functions. This is crimping classroom instruction as more teachers pull lesson plans off the Internet and use bandwidth-hungry programming such as video streaming and Skype.
An estimated 72% of public schools have connections that are too slow to take full advantage of digital learning, according to EducationSuperHighway, a nonprofit that tests school broadband speeds and works to upgrade Internet access.

Connecticut considering offers of private money to implement new education standards New Haven (CT) Register

The state Department of Education is considering offers to support the promotion and implementation of Common Core State Standards, but to date has not received any “philanthropic” money, Commissioner Stefan Pryor said.
Pryor said Monday the department has “received inquiries from some foundations and other philanthropies regarding support for Common Core related efforts in Connecticut.”
The department announced in December it will invest $1 million in a public relations contract to promote CCSS.

Can a breast cancer bracelet be ‘lewd’?
Washington Post

National groups representing school boards, superintendents and principals are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling against a Pennsylvania middle school that tried to ban students from wearing bracelets stamped with the slogan “I (heart) boobies! (KEEP A BREAST)” as part of breast cancer awareness.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit found in August that the ban violated the students’ rights to free speech at the Easton Area Middle School in Pennsylvania.
The national education groups said Monday that they are filing an amicus brief in the case, saying that they hope the Supreme Court will reverse the lower court decision.
At issue is how much control school officials can assert over student speech in public schools.  (Ed Week)

How To Successfully Link GED Tests And Jobs NPR Tell Me More

For hundreds of thousands of adult students, the General Educational Development test is a good way to finish their education. LaGuardia Community College in New York is going a step further, by tailoring prep courses for jobs in particular fields. Host Michel Martin speaks with Gail Mellow, the president of LaGuardia Community College to learn more.

Six enter guilty pleas in APS test-cheating case Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Six defendants, including the second principal in the case, pleaded guilty Monday in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating scandal.
Former Parks Middle School teacher Starlette Mitchell was the first former educator to enter a plea to a reduced charge. She accepted responsibility for her role in the case during a hearing before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter.
Five more defendants entered guilty pleas. Following Mitchell to the defense table were former Venetian Hills Elementary principal Clarietta Davis, former Parks teacher Kimberly Oden, former Dobbs Elementary teacher Derrick Broadwater, former Kennedy Middle secretary Carol Dennis and former Dunbar Elementary teacher Gloria Ivey.
Baxter required the other APS defendants, including former Superintendent Beverly Hall, to remain in his courtroom while their co-defendants entered their guilty pleas.
“You need to stay and listen,” Baxter told one lawyer who asked whether he and his client needed to stay in the courtroom.


USOE Calendar

UEN News

January 9:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

January 22:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

January 27:
Opening Day of the Utah Legislature
State Capitol

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