Education News Roundup: January 16, 2014

Today’s Top Picks:

Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay and Video Contest Winners

Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay and Video Contest winners

Utah Political Capital looks at Sen. Jones school funding bill.

Salt Lake County Mayor McAdams is pushing preschools.

Washington County School Board talks SAGE (that’s Utah’s new computer-adaptive test).

Alpine alters locker search policy.

USOE names winners of the 30th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay and Video contest.

Governing magazine looks at potential legislative fights over Common Core.

NEA issues grades to federal lawmakers.

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Flagged Bill: SB 118 – School Funding Through Income Tax Revisions, Sen. Jones

Salt Lake County mayor pushes preschool, community grants S.L. County mayor pushes a proactive plan for preschools, community grants.

GOP Lawmaker Makes Another Push For Preschool in Utah

School board talks new testing format

Locker searches easier under new Alpine District policy Education » Administrators now need only ‘reasonable suspicion,’ not reasonable cause, to search.

First Meeting Set for SITLA Book Cliffs Wildlife Advisory Committee

Spanish Fork teacher wins national science award

Students use Martin Luther King Jr. contest to speak up against bullying

Utah students take on air quality problem

Peer tutors help kindergarten students reach big reading milestone

Stunt show teaches Santaquin students about safety

Fatal accidents reduced among teen drivers, experts cite safety laws

New Orem High Excel Club is largest in nation

All Eyes on Utah As Waterford Institute Leads in Early Childhood Education Innovation Waterford Awarded $11.5 Million Grant from the i3 Investing in Innovation 2013 Competition

Group: Utah Education Policy Gets a D+

Salt Lake district to host meeting on Curriculum and Assessment Lab Program

Granite School District hosting Autism Parent Group meetings

Granite School District to hold career and technical education open house

Ellis Elementary School a finalist in national Scotties Tissues video contest

Hurricane High School Principal Jody Rich Winner of the 2013-14 CenturyLink All-Star Teacher Award Program

Utah students get hands-on experience with dinosaurs

Kane Schools Foundation celebrates 10 years

Bookstore, community partner to donate books to Salt Lake school

Sky View High School set for parent-teacher conferences

More education trends for 2014

Feds encourage schools to replace zero tolerance with more effective discipline policies

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Utah schools need more counselors
More revenue should be priority

Underfunding education

Utah schools underfunded

Davis teachers’ healthcare incentive may be a penalty

Doubts over Common Core

The principled opposition to Common Core

Information Fuels Support for School Reform Facts about local district performance alter public thinking

America’s Math Textbooks Are More Rigorous Than South Korea’s But students in the U.S. still have much lower scores than their South Korean counterparts. Why?

Racial Quotas for School Discipline?

2014 Whiteboard Advisors Legislative Preview

State School Accountability “Report Card” Database

NATION

Will the Common Core Backlash Return in 2014?
States are supposed to implement the new education standards this fall. But the opposition to Common Core – which has enemies of every political persuasion – could undermine the program first.

Teachers’ union grades lawmakers

Successful ‘Hour of Code’ computer tutorials prompts effort to change school policies

How Schools Are Working to Prevent School Shootings Some parents say school shootings show a gun violence ‘epidemic out of control’

Study Finds Benefits for Youth in 4-H Programs, Especially Girls

New York City Wants To Teach Kids How To Not Ruin Their Lives On Facebook

First Lady Uses Film to Make Pitch for Education

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UTAH NEWS
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Flagged Bill: SB 118 – School Funding Through Income Tax Revisions, Sen. Jones

Utah often says that it promotes the family, and one of the way it shows this is through various policy decisions that are specifically designed to encourage the growth of the family. One of the most obvious examples of such a policy is the tax deduction for children. One area, however, where Utah appears to lack in fulfilling its commitment to family and family values is public education – ranking dead least in per-pupil spending across the nation, a situation that has persisted for years.
Senator Pat Jones (Democrat – Salt Lake City) is proposing that Utah change its policy towards the dependent deduction in order to specifically beef up education funding.
http://goo.gl/3vtGNP (UPC)

Salt Lake County mayor pushes preschool, community grants
S.L. County mayor pushes a proactive plan for preschools, community grants.

Salt Lake County government will be an active player in shaping “the future we choose” rather than just responding to a fast-changing world, Mayor Ben McAdams said Tuesday in his “State of the County” speech.
The Democratic mayor outlined several initiatives that will be launched this year, his second in office, to shape a future in which “all our kids can receive a quality education and aren’t kept from recess because the air is too polluted to breathe.
“When they graduate,” he added, his goal is to ensure “a good-paying job is available, right here, in Salt Lake County.”
http://goo.gl/ZpvmxX (SLT)

http://goo.gl/4jImzS (DN)

http://goo.gl/FUyQyl (UP)

http://goo.gl/bZLniy (KTVX)

http://goo.gl/awI7Wh (KUER)

GOP Lawmaker Makes Another Push For Preschool in Utah

Republican State Representative Greg Hughes is sponsoring a bill that would get about 3,000 at risk-kids into preschool. He says Utah will save money by getting kids better-prepared for kindergarten and reading at grade level.
Last year, state lawmakers said “no” to this idea– or at least one that closely resembles Representative Hughes’ proposal.
But Hughes says getting more kids into preschool will shave costs for the state, which shells out an additional $2600 per student for kids who need special education and individual attention.
http://goo.gl/qi6le5 (KUER)

School board talks new testing format

ST. GEORGE — The Washington County School Board reviewed upcoming state-wide changes in standardized testing for spring during its meeting Tuesday evening.
Brad Ferguson, school district director of assessment and research, presented information on the new Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence Summative Assessments, with encouragement for parents and students to become familiar with the computer-based testing system prior to spring, when the tests will be implemented in classrooms throughout the state.
The assessments have been redesigned to measure deeper levels of understanding for students rather than “pancake style” testing, Ferguson said.
“We want parents and students to know the testing experience this spring is going to be very different than what they are used to,” he said.
Because of the changes in the way students will be tested, Ferguson recommended parents check out the 2014 SAGE training tests online at sageportal.org and by clicking on the training test icon.
http://goo.gl/R1JAGm (SGS)

Locker searches easier under new Alpine District policy
Education » Administrators now need only ‘reasonable suspicion,’ not reasonable cause, to search.

Alpine School District students beware: It might soon be a bit easier for administrators to search your lockers.
The Alpine board on Tuesday night voted to approve revising the district’s search and seizure policy. The revised policy now allows locker searches without students’ presence anytime there is “reasonable suspicion” to do so, rather than just in specific situations and rather than for “reasonable cause.”
The revised policy also no longer requires schools to notify parents if a student refuses a search, though parents will have to be alerted if a student’s locker is searched in the student’s presence.
http://goo.gl/JV0tYr (SLT)

First Meeting Set for SITLA Book Cliffs Wildlife Advisory Committee

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) Wildlife Advisory Committee holds its first meeting at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, January 22 at the SITLA Office at 675 East 500 South in Salt Lake City. The public is welcome to attend.
The SITLA Board of Trustees adopted a charter creating this committee to advise the board on wildlife matters within the One-Eye and Bogart canyon areas of SITLA’s Willow Ridge/Book Cliffs agreement with Anadarko.
At its Wednesday meeting, the advisory committee will hear from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources regarding management of deer and elk herds, and Anadarko representatives will discuss project timelines and activities.
http://goo.gl/QGYzR7 (KCSG)

Spanish Fork teacher wins national science award

SPANISH FORK — Julie Hammari, a sixth-grade teacher at East Meadows Elementary, has received the 2013 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching.
Hammari will receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation to be used at her discretion. She also is invited to Washington, D.C., for an awards ceremony and several days of educational and celebratory events, including visits with members of Congress and the Obama administration.
http://goo.gl/EZFjw0 (DN)

http://goo.gl/Cnnwn7 (PAEMST)

Students use Martin Luther King Jr. contest to speak up against bullying

SALT LAKE CITY — In anticipation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, students in Utah wrote essays and created videos prompted by a quote from the civil rights leader: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Eighteen junior high and high school students were recognized Wednesday for winning the 30th annual essay and video contest put on by the Utah State Office of Education.
Winners read their essays and presented their videos after the Rev. France Davis, pastor at Salt Lake Calvary Baptist Church, gave the keynote address.
http://goo.gl/tIrFZT (DN)

Utah students take on air quality problem

HOLLADAY, Utah – Air quality meets education at four Wasatch Front Schools. The Utah Division of Air Quality and Breathe Utah put air monitoring devices at the schools to get multiple levels of air quality in different places. Before this week, there was just one monitoring device in Salt Lake. We take a closer look at what it means to spread out the readings and involve students.
“Ok guys so the division of air quality has given us something called a particulate reader,” said Morningside Middle School science teacher Mrs. Leslie Chatelain. We find out how many particulates were in our air. How clean or dirty our air is.”
And sixth grade students at Morningside Elementary School will get to use the air quality monitoring device to keep track of the levels here in Holladay. They’ll send those results to state lab and then use the data right here in the classroom.
http://goo.gl/A1Cwlm (KTVX)

Peer tutors help kindergarten students reach big reading milestone

TOOELE — Two Tooele kindergarten teachers reached a milestone before Christmas they’ve never seen in their careers. Nearly every student learned their letters and sounds before the break.
And in the life of a 6-year-old, that is b-i-g!
“I’ve seen some schools where they’ve taken the whole year to learn the alphabet,” said teacher Cindy Middleton. “They get so excited! And you can see the light bulb go on, and say, ‘I can read.’ ”
http://goo.gl/Q9vtmM (KSL)

Stunt show teaches Santaquin students about safety

SANTAQUIN – While music played in the background Monday, three trick bicyclists rode around the gym floor at Orchard Hills Elementary.
The three riders were there to show off their unique tricks, but also to share a message with children about safety, health and happiness as part of Rick Wieber’s Bicycle Stunt Shows, a show that travels across the United States educating students on bicycle safety, determination, goal setting, achievement, dangers of drugs and alcohol, peer pressure, bullying and perseverance.
http://goo.gl/sLefNz (PDH)

Fatal accidents reduced among teen drivers, experts cite safety laws

SALT LAKE CITY — The number of car crash deaths among teens have been cut in half thanks to the Utah’s Graduated Driver’s License laws.
They were implemented 12 years ago, but officials are still working on informing parents about the laws.
http://goo.gl/67mHXU (KSTU)

New Orem High Excel Club is largest in nation

A new Orem High club which is the first of its kind in the state has quickly become one of a kind in the nation.
The Exchange Club of Utah Valley is a group of adults who raise money for women and children in crisis and volunteer their time to teach youth about emigration and American values. But they have one problem: The club’s numbers had dwindled to just 20.
“It is time to grow. We need to grow,” said Exchange Club member Scott Swain.
Putting their heads together, the group wondered if there would be interest in forming a youth version of the Exchange Club, called an Excel Club, at Orem High.
http://goo.gl/y517bt (PDH)

All Eyes on Utah As Waterford Institute Leads in Early Childhood Education Innovation
Waterford Awarded $11.5 Million Grant from the i3 Investing in Innovation 2013 Competition

SALT LAKE CITY — Waterford Institute was recently awarded $11.5 million from the Investing in Innovation (i3) 2013 federal grant competition for its early education curriculum and in-home preschool program UPSTART.
The U.S. Department of Education awarded a total of $134 million in 2013 for i3, its flagship grant program, which is designed to find and expand innovative educational practices that improve student achievement. Waterford Institute, a Sandy, Utah-based nonprofit research and education technology center, was one of just 25 grant recipients selected from a pool of 618 applicants and the only elementary and early childhood program in the nation to receive this year’s i3 validation grant award.
http://goo.gl/IhlDYb (PRNewswire)

Group: Utah Education Policy Gets a D+

In an annual state policy report card, Utah wasn’t given much to be proud of. The state received an overall grade of D+.
StudentsFirst, an organization led by former Washington D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, looked at issues such as teaching quality, parental choice, and wise management of schools. While a D+ sounds pretty bad, Utah certainly would benefit if StudentsFirst graded on a curve: Utah was ranked 16th in the nation, with the national average also being a D+.
http://goo.gl/zrQrMn (KCPW)

Salt Lake district to host meeting on Curriculum and Assessment Lab Program

SALT LAKE CITY — The Curriculum and Assessment Lab Program will hold a parent information meeting for any interested elementary students and their parents on Thursday, Jan. 23, 6:30 p.m. at the Salt Lake City School District, 440 E. 100 South.
Interested middle school students and parents are invited to the Clayton Open House, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 6 p.m. at Clayton Middle School, 1470 S. 1900 East.
http://goo.gl/uSpvZm (DN)

Granite School District hosting Autism Parent Group meetings

SOUTH SALT LAKE — The Granite School District Autism Team is inviting parents and caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorders to join the Autism Parent Group.
http://goo.gl/fTau7G (DN)

Granite School District to hold career and technical education open house

SOUTH SALT LAKE — Granite School District is hosting a career and technical education open house for students and parents.
http://goo.gl/kEvc4n (DN)

Ellis Elementary School a finalist in national Scotties Tissues video contest

Students at Ellis Elementary School in Logan need the community’s help to win a video contest that could award them enough money to plant new trees at their school.
The submission by the theater/video club at the school was selected to be one of 12 finalist in the Trees Rock contest by Scotties Tissues. The public can vote on their favorite video once a day until Valentine’s Day.
http://goo.gl/lMC37Z (LHJ)

Hurricane High School Principal Jody Rich Winner of the 2013-14 CenturyLink All-Star Teacher Award Program

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – CenturyLink and the Utah Jazz announced Hurricane High School principal Jody Rich as the January winner of the 2013-14 CenturyLink All-Star Teacher Award program. The program recognizes and rewards five outstanding Utah K-12 educators and underscores CenturyLink and the Utah Jazz’s shared commitment to education and community outreach.
http://goo.gl/1FfQWa (KCSG)

http://goo.gl/ZJMLw3 (NBA)

Utah students get hands-on experience with dinosaurs

Students from Taylorsville Elementary School helped the Natural History Museum of Utah on Tuesday unveil a new Traveling Treasures exhibit titled “A Fossil’s Journey.”
http://goo.gl/cWABph (SLT)

http://goo.gl/R4Z8qG (DN)

Kane Schools Foundation celebrates 10 years

Kane School District, citizens and educators mark the 10 year anniversary of the Kane Schools Foundation. The Foundation was established as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit partner to the Kane School District in January of 2004. In 10 years of operation, it has raised over $375,000 to nurture educational excellence in the seven Kane County public schools.
http://goo.gl/n9MoZB (SUN)

Bookstore, community partner to donate books to Salt Lake school

SALT LAKE CITY — Sometimes children may feel exhausted while dragging a heavy load of books to school, but students at Rose Park Elementary enjoyed lugging boxes of donated books on Tuesday.
Barnes and Noble at The Gateway delivered more than 2,700 books to Rose Park Elementary.
http://goo.gl/0DQdI7 (DN)

Sky View High School set for parent-teacher conferences

Sky View High School will be conducting parent-teacher conferences from 3 to 9 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27, in the individual teachers’ classrooms. A regular school day will still take place.
http://goo.gl/U9Tjrp (LHJ)

More education trends for 2014

Education predictions for the new year continue to roll in, and one of the most intriguing comes from IBM. The company predicts that “cloud-based cognitive technology [will] personalize education for students within five years,” as reported by semanticweb.com.
http://goo.gl/FQhQeY (DN)

Feds encourage schools to replace zero tolerance with more effective discipline policies

A 6-year-old with a camping utensil was suspended for bringing it to school. A 12-year-old was given a ticket for spraying perfume in class. An Indiana school suspended a student for touching a pill, a Virginia student received a two-week suspension for taking her birth-control pill and four Illinois students were suspended because of mints containing caffeine.
Across the country, 3 million students were suspended or expelled in 2010-2011, 95 percent of whom were nonviolent, according to NPR. Seven out of 10 were minority students.
http://goo.gl/0VLB9k (DN)

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Utah schools need more counselors
More revenue should be priority

Salt Lake Tribune editorial

Utah’s inadequate funding for public education shows up starkly in the number of counselors in junior highs and high schools. Eighty-eight schools do not even meet Utah’s rather low standard of one counselor for every 350 secondary-school students.
The national standard is 1 to 250, including elementary schools, but Utah is not the only state where the reality falls far below that ratio.
Utah has the fourth-highest number of students per counselor in the country when grades kindergarten through 12th are included, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics for 2010-2011, the most recent year for which national data is available.
The best ratio — one counselor for every 200 students — was found in Wyoming, while California had one counselor for every 1,016 students. Utah had one counselor for every 726 students, ranking ahead of only California, Arizona and Minnesota.
http://goo.gl/8m72J0

 

Underfunding education

Deseret News letter from Fred Ash

In the Jan. 12 Deseret News, we read that federal lands are blocking a source of income for public education. To protect Utah’s spectacular and unique geography, federal lands were part of the statehood package.
Federal lands are not the cause of the underfunding of Utah’s public education. With Utah’s high number of students per household, Utah’s per pupil expenditure is reasonably lower compared to other states, but our effort to educate our students should be among the highest in the nation.
In the mid-90s we were ranked in the top five states in percent of personal income being spent on public education. Since then our Legislature has made changes such that we are now ranked only about 30th in the nation.
http://goo.gl/WgMtJR

Utah schools underfunded

Deseret News letter from Tom Lewis

I read Lisa Riley Roche’s article, “Education groups endorse Count My Vote” (Jan. 14). The article included an opposition statement from James Humphreys, the public relations director for “Protect Our Neighborhood Elections.” According to Roche, Humphreys said that it’s hard to make the case that Utah schools are underfunded.
Really? We spend less on our children for education than all other states, Washington, D.C., and even Puerto Rico. It seems to me that it is hard to make the case that Utah schools are not underfunded.
http://goo.gl/qq7VtF

Davis teachers’ healthcare incentive may be a penalty

(Ogden) Standard-Examiner letter from Irene Lysenko

It is not lost on most people in this state that we have a pretty amazing school system. Although less money is spent per pupil than in most states, Utah has a tradition of doing more with less and one of the greatest assets we have are our dedicated teachers who are willing to work for less than they would be compensated elsewhere. Unfortunately, a desire to encourage teachers to live a healthier lifestyle in order to alleviate healthcare costs has caused Davis School District to formulate a plan to coerce its teachers into yearly medical exams while trying to mask the program as an “incentive.” Without permission, teachers are forced to give up $60.00 at the beginning of the year, which they can get back by completing a medical exam and having proof of the exam sent to the district. Increased costs to administer the “incentive plan” are probably justifiable since preventative care has been proven to alleviate medical costs down the road (medical costs fall $3.27 on average for every dollar spent on wellness programs, and absentee day costs fall by about $2.73 for every dollar spent, according to one Harvard University study). However, the district is not spending a dime on incentives to teachers but simply penalizing those who don’t comply by not returning the $60.00 that was part of their pay to begin with.
http://goo.gl/IMRLRr

Doubts over Common Core

Washington Post commentary by columnist George F. Will

Viewed from Washington, which often is the last to learn about important developments, opposition to the Common Core State Standards Initiative still seems as small as the biblical cloud that ariseth out of the sea, no larger than a man’s hand. Soon, however, this education policy will fill a significant portion of the political sky.
The Common Core represents the ideas of several national organizations (of governors and school officials) about what and how children should learn. It is the thin end of an enormous wedge. It is designed to advance in primary and secondary education the general progressive agenda of centralization and uniformity.
Understandably, proponents of the Common Core want its nature and purpose to remain as cloudy as possible for as long as possible. Hence they say it is a “state-led,” “voluntary” initiative to merely guide education with “standards” that are neither written nor approved nor mandated by Washington, which would never, ever “prescribe” a national curriculum. Proponents talk warily when describing it because a candid characterization would reveal yet another Obama administration indifference to legality.
http://goo.gl/DyGA9K

The principled opposition to Common Core

Fordham Institute commentary by executive vice president Michael J. Petrilli

Yesterday’s column by George Will condemning Common Core is a very bad sign for the standards’ advocates.
I suspect that many Common Core backers on the political left either don’t know much about George Will or reflexively dismiss him because he’s a conservative. As a general matter, that’s a shame, but in this particular case they should pay close attention.
And fast.
Will is trusted implicitly by many on the right for two important reasons. First, he is deeply learned. He is the son of a philosophy professor, earned a graduate degree from Oxford and a PhD from Princeton. He was a university professor and U.S. Senate aide. He has authored more than a dozen books, and he’s won a Pulitzer Prize.
Second, his conservatism is rooted firmly in time-tested principles. His are not knee-jerk politics; they are not spontaneously oppositional to any utterance by a Democrat—he reveres the late former Johnson administration official and liberal U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
http://goo.gl/3Y2SMk

Information Fuels Support for School Reform
Facts about local district performance alter public thinking

Education Next analysis by Michael B. Henderson, assistant professor of political science at the University of Mississippi, William G. Howell, professor in American Politics at the University of Chicago’s Harris School, and Paul E. Peterson, director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University

The Common Core State Standards initiative (CCSS) seeks to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn” at various grade levels. For some education observers, CCSS will finally clarify for students, parents, and educators what students need to know and be able to do if they are to be prepared for college or a career. For others, CCSS interferes with local control of schools, limits teacher creativity, and diverts classroom time and energy away from instruction to test preparation. But as pundits and practitioners thrust and parry over these issues, they may be overlooking the potential impact of CCSS on public perceptions of school quality and public support for school reforms.
If CCSS is fully implemented as proposed by its most ardent adherents, including the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, it can be expected to alter the information Americans have about student performance at their local schools. Currently, the public has no national metric to guide its assessments of local school performance. At best, one can find out the percentage of students deemed proficient by state standards, which are known to vary widely in their definitions of proficiency. Were a common metric used to assess student performance, as CCSS promises, each school district could be ranked nationally as well as within its state.
http://goo.gl/TAzhVZ

America’s Math Textbooks Are More Rigorous Than South Korea’s
But students in the U.S. still have much lower scores than their South Korean counterparts. Why?

Atlantic commentary by columnist ELEANOR BARKHORN

South Korea has some of the highest math scores in the world. On the 2012 PISA math test, the mean score for a South Korean student was 70 points higher than for an American student. Lots of theories have been floated about why South Korean students do so much better than their American peers: longer school days, higher parental involvement, greater cultural investment in the value of education. One factor that does not seem to be driving the gap, though, is better textbooks. A study published in the February issue of Educational Studies in Mathematics compared American and South Korean high-school math textbooks and found the American ones to be more challenging overall.
Dae S. Hong and Kyong Mi Choi analyzed the South Korean textbooks Mathematics 9A and 10A alongside the American Core-Plus Mathematics Project books, a standards-aligned series used by more than 500 high schools. They discovered that while the South Korean books introduce some topics earlier, the American books had more problems on average per lesson. More important, the problems in the American books were on a higher cognitive level. Hong and Choi write:
“Korean textbooks provide fewer opportunities for students to solve, explain, and reason about mathematics problems using multiple representations than CPMP students and CPMP students have more opportunities to solve problems with higher level cognitive demand. Our findings indicate that CPMP students are involved in more meaningful and desirable material to learn mathematics.”
The authors acknowledge that the superiority of the American textbooks “seems to conflict with American students’ struggling in international comparative studies.” So why are American students behind in math when their textbooks are better? One answer is that the Americans who take the international assessments might not be using the CPMP textbooks. In South Korea, there’s a national curriculum; as a result, according to the authors, “the content in all textbooks is almost identical.” In America, on the other hand, curriculum decisions are left up to the states, and there are wide variations among textbooks.
http://goo.gl/A12Opk

Racial Quotas for School Discipline?

Wall Street Journal commentary

Competitive Enterprise Institute senior attorney Hans Bader on the Justice Department’s new guidelines for schools, and the likely effect on student behavior.
http://goo.gl/veHcfX

2014 Whiteboard Advisors Legislative Preview

Whiteboard Advisors commentary

The 2014 state legislative sessions have begun to convene and this year state legislators are again facing a myriad of high profile and often contentious issues. Our legislative analysts have identified several priority issues expected to be discussed in a number of states this year, including: taxes and spending, the ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act, energy policy, education reform, immigration, privacy and the expansion of gambling.
The legislative debate will be influenced by the looming state elections in November that are expected to be a referendum on the Tea Party policies of the governors and lawmakers first elected in the GOP sweep of 2010 and the policies of President Barack Obama. Some 46 states and the District of Columbia have scheduled legislative sessions for 2014. Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Texas are not scheduled to meet this year.

The implementation of the Common Core standards will be the predominant education issue again in states this year. As many states move closer to full implementation of the standards and new aligned assessments, developing effective accountability systems to measure educators, providing necessary resources to local districts in the face of declining funding and dealing with increasing political pressure from advocates of local control will be the key challenges for state education leaders in the coming session.
http://goo.gl/B5vke9

State School Accountability “Report Card” Database

Education Commission of the States analysis

The ECS State Accountability Database documents the metrics used by states to measure school performance (what gets measured), the information and metrics schools must report to the public on their report cards (what gets reported), and the type of system used to rate the schools.
Highlights:
* All states measure student achievement
* Forty-four states measure graduation rates
* Fourteen states assign A-F letter grades based on school performance
* Three states include growth of the highest-achieving students in calculating school performance
http://goo.gl/0EVaJi

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Will the Common Core Backlash Return in 2014?
States are supposed to implement the new education standards this fall. But the opposition to Common Core – which has enemies of every political persuasion – could undermine the program first.

Governing

The future of Common Core is in doubt. In the reddest states—places like Alabama and Oklahoma—legislators are vowing to dismantle it entirely. In less staunchly conservative states (Indiana, Wisconsin), legislators have “pressed pause.” In New York state, hardly a Republican stronghold, parents and educators are angry over preliminary results.
The Common Core State Standards, a K-12 overhaul that’s been adopted by 45 states over the past few years, has enemies of every political persuasion. But the current outrage is strongest among conservatives, who view Common Core as a top-down mandate from the Obama administration. (In fact, the voluntary standards were developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. But the White House has tacitly endorsed the reforms, mandating that states have “college and career ready standards” in order to receive federal grants. The federal government has also bankrolled the development of tests that align with Common Core.)
Full implementation of the new standards is set for this fall. But the vitriol over Common Core could undermine the program well before then.
http://goo.gl/raS0Hb

Teachers’ union grades lawmakers

Washington Post

The National Education Association, the country’s largest labor union, is handing out grades to members of Congress on Thursday, and it has found that that Senate Republicans have grown friendlier to its agenda while House Republicans have become cooler.
According to the NEA’s Legislative Report Card, 16 Senate Republican senators earned an A, B or C in the first session of the 113th Congress, compared with five in the 2011-2012 and 11 in 2005-2006, when the union, which represents 3 million public school teachers, first began issuing the grades. The GOP currently holds 45 seats in the Senate.
Union officials awarded the grades based in part on how lawmakers voted on issues they deem “important to students and educators,” such as immigration reform, college affordability, state taxation of online sales and non-discrimination in the workplace. The grades also reflect how much work lawmakers are considered to have done to advocate for public education, the kinds of bills they wrote or co-sponsored and how accessible they are to those advocating for public schools, the union said.
http://goo.gl/TbgoY2

http://goo.gl/9hVWTG (Ed Week)

A copy of the reportcard
http://goo.gl/7QGCfR (NEA)

Successful ‘Hour of Code’ computer tutorials prompts effort to change school policies

Washington Post

Hadi Partovi, retired at 38 after working for Microsoft and creating other tech companies, was figuring out what to do with the rest of his life.
After spending his career in computers, he was troubled by one fact: In this digital age, only about one in 10 U.S. schools teach computer science.
“I thought, ‘Why isn’t computer science being taught?’ ” said Partovi, who lives in Seattle and is an investor in a number of companies, including Zappos and Air­bnb.
Partovi and his twin brother, Ali, made a video to inspire students to learn computer science. “What Most Schools Don’t Teach,” starring Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and other tech moguls, went viral on YouTube, and Partovi fielded requests from 10,000 school districts asking how they could incorporate computer coding into their classrooms.
A movement was born.
The Partovi brothers came up with “Hour of Code,” a Web site and campaign that offers free hour-long tutorials in computer coding for students in kindergarten through high school.
http://goo.gl/BV7NfI

How Schools Are Working to Prevent School Shootings
Some parents say school shootings show a gun violence ‘epidemic out of control’

U.S. News & World Report

Tuesday’s school shooting in New Mexico that injured two students marked the 30th such incident since the Sandy Hook massacre just over one year ago, and was at least the 17th shooting this school year.
Another less-publicized shooting happened just last week, in Jackson, Tenn., when a student brought a gun to school and shot a classmate in the leg. Three weeks before that, four teenagers in Fresno, Calif., targeted an athletic trainer at Edison High School, shooting him several times.
Teachers, politicians and community members called Tuesday’s incident in Roswell a tragedy and the newest reminder of a need to improve school safety. But it was also a sign that school shootings are on the rise.
And while some are pushing for unconventional responses, such as arming teachers and staff, experts say schools should instead work to reinforce best practices and improve emergency response procedures, as well as coordination with law enforcement officials.
http://goo.gl/ihjpTE

Study Finds Benefits for Youth in 4-H Programs, Especially Girls

Education Week

Developing a formula for effective out-of-school programs is no easy task. The 4-H organization, though, seems to be doing something right, based on a new study that found youths in 4-H experienced more positive development than their peers who did not. The benefits were especially strong for girls.
The study, conducted by the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University, found that young people’s experiences with 4-H led to gains in their “positive youth development” and that, compared with their peers who participated in other out-of-school activities, they contributed more to their communities. (The study’s definition of positive youth development rates individuals on several characteristics, including their competence, confidence, character, and caring.)
http://goo.gl/UUW1k8

New York City Wants To Teach Kids How To Not Ruin Their Lives On Facebook

Huffington Post

The New York City Department of Education (DOE) wants to make sure teens know how to use social media responsibly.
The DOE recently rolled out a nine-page social media guide for students 13 and older, in an effort to make sure students leave a “smart digital footprint.” The guidelines advise students on how to create a preferred digital image, respond to cyberbullying and adjust their social media privacy settings. They also warn students to be cautious of what they post online and to “pause before you post.”
Jane Pook, the DOE’s executive director for digital communication policy and strategy, told The Huffington Post over the phone that demand for the guidelines came from students.
http://goo.gl/9ynpy4

A copy of the guide
http://goo.gl/eaS2WF (NYCDOE)

First Lady Uses Film to Make Pitch for Education

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — First lady Michelle Obama is turning a film about two inner-city boys left to fend for themselves into a call for the nation to do more to help young people get the support they need to make it to – and through – college.
The first lady held a White House screening of “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete” on Wednesday for educators and others working to help young people make it against long odds. The movie tells the story of two boys in New York left to take care of themselves.
The movie “should begin the conversation that is already happening about what we have to do to invest in kids in this community,” the first lady said. “Because there are millions of Mister and Petes out there who are just struggling to make it.”
http://goo.gl/bjW8lg

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CALENDAR
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USOE Calendar
http://tinyurl.com/5x9oh9

UEN News
http://www.uen.org

January 22:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://goo.gl/IaQntl

January 27:
Opening Day of the Utah Legislature
State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/

February 7:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda.aspx

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