Education News Roundup: Jan. 28, 2013

Utah State Capitol

Utah State Capitol

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:

Standard-Examiner looks at the 79 — 79 is not a typo — education measures lining up in the Legislature.
http://goo.gl/53sMHe (OSE)
and http://goo.gl/KH3uCW (SGS)

Speaker Lockhart says no new taxes for education until there is better education measurement.
http://goo.gl/0WHqwr (UP)
and http://goo.gl/eWoRSR (DN)

Sen. Dabakis says Republicans can’t vote for better education funding because of their caucus/convention delegates.
http://goo.gl/dMV5cS (UP)

Provo District Business Manager Kerry Smith resigns.
http://goo.gl/LdFN29 (PDH)

The GOP turns to school choice at the federal level.
http://goo.gl/F2PDo6 (WaPo)
and http://goo.gl/7afElV (NYT)
and http://goo.gl/0Wjp5j (Ed Week)

As does the Tea Party.
http://goo.gl/OCoEGv (The Hill)

Just as Utah begins offering the ACT for all high school students (http://le.utah.gov/~2013/bills/sbillenr/SB0175.htm), Illinois considers ending it.
http://goo.gl/vs8IJ5 (Chicago Tribune)

Ohio considers offering high school credit for religious classes taken outside of the school.
http://goo.gl/83Danz (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Vermont considers setting minimum — that’s right, minimum — pupil-teacher ratios for its schools.
http://goo.gl/c4zRbq  (Brattleboro Reformer)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Not everyone is thrilled with education bills before Utah Legislature

Sen. Gene Davis says Education Funding Should be Top Priority for Lawmakers

Dabakis Says He Sees a Need for ‘Count My Vote’

Provo School District business administrator resigns

Parents upset Weber District plans to shut down preschools after 40 years

Computer science classes in high school: why too few kids take them

Computer science classes in Utah K-12 schools

Salt Lake County spelling bee is back on After lack of funds spells doom for S.L. County contest, sponsors prove:

Utah Shakespeare Festival takes show on the road

Utah takes part in School Choice Week

Mount Logan Middle School student dies from rare form of meningitis

Wellsville Elementary School celebrates reading program with visit from zoo birds

Study: High school disadvantages carry over into college

English teachers are helping students in math

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Lockhart Hammers Herbert on Opening Day of 2014 Legislature

Budget surplus should go to educator’s salaries

What Is the Real Intent of Vergara v. California?

NATION

GOP measure would promote ‘school choice’ with federal funding

Rubio and Cruz circle education reform

Reading gap between wealthy and poor students widens, study says

Common Core Education Standards Face Bipartisan Backlash

Education officials consider flunking ACT With new tests coming, college-entrance exam may no longer be administered free to Illinois students

Danger Posed by Student-Data Breaches Prompts Action

Idaho schools chief Tom Luna won’t seek re-election

Bill would allow high school credit to students taking outside religious classes: How they voted

Agency of Education recommends minimum student-teacher ratios

Finland’s education success opens new business niches

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UTAH NEWS
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Not everyone is thrilled with education bills before Utah Legislature

SALT LAKE CITY – There will be no shortage of proposals to deal with education in the Beehive State during the 2014 legislative session.
Education always plays a dominant role in the 45-day session, and this session there should be an abundance of discussion about everything from adjusting state income tax exemptions to drive money towards education, SB 118, sponsored by Sen. Pat Jones, D-Salt Lake City, to a potential tax credit for parents who home school their children, HB 77, sponsored by Rep. David Lifferth, R-Eagle Mountain.
To date there are 37 numbered bills dealing with education ready for public review with another 42 bill files in the drafting process with more likely to follow.
Not everyone is thrilled by the quantity and quality of the offering.
http://goo.gl/53sMHe  (OSE)

http://goo.gl/KH3uCW  (SGS)

Sen. Gene Davis says Education Funding Should be Top Priority for Lawmakers

Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis says his top priority for the 2014 session is making sure Utah’s schools are properly funded to deal with exploding growth.
“We like to sometimes coat it that there are no problems here,” said Davis in a Monday morning interview with Utah Policy. “We do have problems with our infrastructure in public and higher education.”
http://goo.gl/kWuCZt  (UP)

Dabakis Says He Sees a Need for ‘Count My Vote’

Sen. Jim Dabakis says his views on “Count My Vote” are evolving.
While he still does not support the initiative, he sees a need to change to a direct primary system because the extremists who control the caucuses have hurt education.
“I see so many reasonable Republican legislators who realize our education system is in a catastrophic situation,” says Dabakis. “They say I would like to do something for education, my constituents want me to do something about education, but the delegates are ideologues and they don’t want me to do anything about education. the 30-year decline of our educational system is a direct result of the craziness of the Republican delegate base.”
http://goo.gl/dMV5cS  (UP)

Provo School District business administrator resigns

PROVO – Kerry Smith, Provo School District’s business administrator, has resigned his position effective March 5. His last day working at the district offices will be Friday. The mid-school-year resignation comes as a surprise to many.
http://goo.gl/LdFN29  (PDH)

Parents upset Weber District plans to shut down preschools after 40 years

PLAIN CITY — Parents of children attending preschool programs at Plain City and West Weber Elementary schools were notified last week that the Weber School District plans to discontinue the in-school programs, which have been in operation for four decades, at the end of the year.
http://goo.gl/s3jwtP  (OSE)

Computer science classes in high school: why too few kids take them

It may be hard to believe in a computer-saturated culture such as ours that within a few short years, the nation will need about one million more computer programmers.
At current rates, in 2020 there will be only 400,000 computer science students in the U.S. education pipeline. But the nation will need 1.4 million computing jobs, according to projections from the Department of Labor. Where will those one million top-paying jobs go? Overseas? Foreign technology students on special technology visas? Or will the U.S. find a way to grow the number of computer scientists in time to meet the demand?
Experts say that increasing the number of computer science graduates from U.S. colleges depends on getting kids interested at a younger age.
http://goo.gl/CF0CEv  (DN)

Computer science classes in Utah K-12 schools

Computer science classes in Utah K-12 schools
* Utah is one of 17 states that give science or math credit toward high school graduation for computer science classes. In Utah, computer science counts as a third math credit.
* Utah had the lowest percentage (less than 4 percent) of girls taking the AP computer science exam among states in which girls took it. No girls took the AP computer science exam in Mississippi, Wyoming and Montana.
* Computer science doesn’t count as a credit toward Utah’s Regent scholarship, which might dissuade talented students from taking it.
http://goo.gl/ZyhQa7  (DN)

Salt Lake County spelling bee is back on After lack of funds spells doom for S.L. County contest, sponsors prove:

Dictionary-loving, spelling specialists rejoice: Salt Lake County will have a spelling bee after all.
Two companies have agreed to sponsor a countywide spelling bee and pay for a winner to travel to Washington, D.C., to compete in the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Overstock.com and the law firm Hall Prangle and Schoonveld LLC will foot the bill and organize the event.
http://goo.gl/QqmGbV  (SLT)

Utah Shakespeare Festival takes show on the road

CEDAR CITY — The Utah Shakespeare Festival is taking ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ to thousands of elementary and high school students in three western states.
http://goo.gl/ey7JKl  (SGS)

Utah takes part in School Choice Week

SALT LAKE CITY — Parents and students are encouraged to learn about the various educational options in Utah this week as part of a national campaign to raise awareness of school choice.
Gov. Gary Herbert issued a declaration last week naming Jan. 26 through Feb. 1 “School Choice Week in Utah.” The declaration also states that all children in Utah deserve an excellent education that prepares them to be productive members of society.
http://goo.gl/2UhMyD  (DN)

Mount Logan Middle School student dies from rare form of meningitis

A student at Mount Logan Middle School died Saturday from a rare form of non-contagious bacterial meningitis. Sixth-grader Faith Hunter contracted the infectious disease sometime last week.
“She didn’t come to school. She wasn’t feeling well,” said Mike Monson, principal of Mount Logan Middle School. “And it took place over the course of a week.”
According to an obituary submitted to The Herald Journal, Hunter was 12 years old and died at Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City surrounded by her family. She was one of four children of Cliff and Kristiena Hunter.
http://goo.gl/2kN3YQ  (LHJ)

Wellsville Elementary School celebrates reading program with visit from zoo birds

WELLSVILLE — Students at Wellsville Elementary School were treated to a visit from four feathery friends when a representative of the Willow Park Zoo brought some of their birds Monday. The visit was a reward to the students for reaching the halfway point in their reading goal for the year.
http://goo.gl/tkKI5A  (LHJ)

Study: High school disadvantages carry over into college

Starting over in college isn’t an easy thing for high school students.
Inside Higher Education reported on Jan. 27 that high school disadvantages follow students into college, and that the type of high school they attended will affect the way they do in higher education settings, based off a study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
http://goo.gl/xi6uEY  (DN)

English teachers are helping students in math

English teachers seem to be the solution for better math scores.
http://goo.gl/870fgn  (DN)

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Lockhart Hammers Herbert on Opening Day of 2014 Legislature Utah Policy commentary by columnist Bob Bernick

Let the 2016 gubernatorial campaign begin.
At least that appeared the case Monday when Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart – who is retiring this year and may run for governor in two years — took after GOP Gov. Gary Herbert in her opening remarks.
Lockhart, R-Provo, drew at least one gasp from her 74 House colleagues when she said it is not time to rest on Utah’s laurels – Herbert loves to tout how well Utah is doing economically – “but encourage the executive; we need energy not an inaction figure in the governor’s office.”
Ouch!

— Lockhart went out of her way praising Utah public education teachers, saying that they are the most important “boy or girl” in the classroom.
But, again, she said large tax hikes for public education is not the right way to go until there are real, measurable methods to a better classroom education.
— Key to that is better and smarter use of classroom technologies, she said.
A note here: Lockhart’s husband is Stan Lockhart, a lobbyist for Micron/IM Flash and the huge chip-makers’ north Utah County production plant. Stan has been appointed by the governor as a volunteer chairman of a multi-faceted committee that seeks improved teaching of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in Utah classrooms.
Stan has purposely kept a low profile in the Capitol during Lockhart’s three-year speakership. He and other family members sat in the House gallery Monday, and led a number of applauses – which appeared timed — that interrupted Lockhart’s last major address as speaker.
— Utah students K-12 “all need access to technology and the understanding it ensures success in the economy of tomorrow,” she said.
http://goo.gl/0WHqwr

http://goo.gl/eWoRSR  (DN)

Budget surplus should go to educator’s salaries St. George News commentary by columnist Ed Kociela

The circus that is the state Legislature has pitched its tent for its annual 45-day engagement in Salt Lake City.
The gavel has sounded and, once again, state lawmakers are taking on the weighty needs of the people.

Going into this session, Gov. Gary Herbert, and a number of legislators, are proclaiming that education is the top priority.
Utah maintains its embarrassing status as the state that spends least on per-pupil funding
How many times have we heard this before? Still, Utah maintains its embarrassing status as the state that spends least on per-pupil funding.
http://goo.gl/gNTn9N

What Is the Real Intent of Vergara v. California?
Scholastic commentary by columnist John Thompson

The most striking thing about Vergara vs California, which would strike down laws protecting teachers’ due process, is the lack of evidence that those laws, not the legacies of poverty, damage poor children of color.
It claims that “separate and together” those laws violate the civil rights of children. One would think that the court would demand evidence for the existence of that alleged interplay of the laws.
To prove that it is the laws, not management’s response to the laws, that causes harm, Vergara apparently relies on nothing but assertions made by management. If their video of the greatest hits of administrators during Vergara’s depositions is any indication, the trial will showcase their sound bites, not evidence. In other words, it is argued that administrators, not lawmakers, who should say what administrative law should be.
http://goo.gl/aj7odv

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NATIONAL NEWS
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GOP measure would promote ‘school choice’ with federal funding Washington Post

Republicans are positioning “school choice” — sending public dollars to charter schools, vouchers, virtual schools and other alternatives to traditional public schools — as a way to address income inequality in this election year and connect with low-income, minority voters.
Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), a former education secretary, and Tim Scott (S.C.), one of only two African Americans in the Senate, will propose far-reaching “choice” legislation on Tuesday that would take the $24 billion in federal money spent annually to help educate 11 million students in poverty or with disabilities and convert it into block grants to the states, among other changes.
The federal money, which represents about 12 percent of total education funding, could be used for a wide variety of public, online or private schools — including religious schools. On average, each student would receive about $2,100.
In a departure from the accountability era ushered in by the No Child Left Behind law under President George W. Bush, states would not have to report whether public schools are succeeding or failing, or follow federal strategies to improve their weakest schools.
Public schools would still be required to test students annually in grades 3-8 and once in high school, and report on student achievement by school and categories such as race and poverty.
http://goo.gl/F2PDo6

http://goo.gl/7afElV (NYT)

http://goo.gl/0Wjp5j  (Ed Week)

Rubio and Cruz circle education reform
The Hill

Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Ted Cruz (Texas), two possible GOP White House contenders, are making education reform their next big policy focus.
Rubio recently told donors he would focus on education in the next several weeks.
He is planning to deliver a major speech on the issue in the near future that will likely concentrate on reforms to higher education. He recently stressed to allies the importance of making education accessible to people through reforms to career, college and community college education.
“That’s been his focus for a while now,” said a Rubio aide.
Cruz teamed up with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), one of the most outspoken liberals in the House, on Saturday to call for school choice at a rally in Houston.
“School choice is the civil rights issue of the 21st century. Every child in America deserves a fair chance at a quality education,” Cruz told KTRK, Houston’s ABC television affiliate.
http://goo.gl/OCoEGv

Reading gap between wealthy and poor students widens, study says NBC News

The gap in reading proficiency between lower- and higher-income fourth graders has grown by 20 percent in the past decade, says a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Eighty percent of lower-income fourth-graders do not read at their grade level compared to 49 percent of their wealthier counterparts, according to the report, “Early Reading Proficiency in the United States,” which was released on Tuesday and is based on data from the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Overall, although improvements have been made in the last 10 years, 66 percent of all fourth graders are not proficient in reading, a level the researchers called “unacceptably low in an economic environment that requires increasing levels of education and skills for family-sustaining jobs.”
By 2020, the United States is expected to face a shortage of 1.5 million workers with college degrees and a surplus of 6 million unemployed people without a high school diploma, the report says.
http://goo.gl/GNJU3r

http://goo.gl/mxd2N7  (Ed Week)

http://goo.gl/kb5DxO  (Stateline)

A copy of the report
http://goo.gl/p4yiIF  (AECF)

Common Core Education Standards Face Bipartisan Backlash NPR Morning Edition

Supporters of the new Common Core education standards adopted by 45 states say the standards hold American students to much higher expectations, and move curriculum away from a bubble-test culture that encourages test preparation over deeper learning.
But there’s growing backlash to Common Core, and conservatives and liberals increasingly are voicing similar concerns: that the standards take a one-size-fits-all approach, create a de facto national curriculum, put too much emphasis on standardized tests and undermine teacher autonomy.
The mainstream business wing of the Republican Party strongly backs Common Core, arguing that raising standards is vital to creating the next-generation American workforce. But in an echo of the rifts in the GOP nationally, the Tea Party branch has been a critic of the new standards.
http://goo.gl/OWUJHI

Education officials consider flunking ACT With new tests coming, college-entrance exam may no longer be administered free to Illinois students Chicago Tribune

The ACT — a crucial rite of passage for many into the world of higher education — has been given free of charge to Illinois’ 11th graders for more than a decade, part of mandated state exams for public high school juniors.
But in what would be a groundbreaking shift, the state’s top education official says that beginning next school year, the popular ACT should no longer be a state-required test covered by taxpayers.
Instead, the college-entrance exam would become voluntary, with perhaps only low-income students getting to take it for free, said state School Superintendent Christopher Koch.
Koch said he’s concerned about added costs as a new battery of mandated tests comes to Illinois in spring 2015. He’s also worried, he said, about juniors spending added hours on lengthy high school exams.
http://goo.gl/vs8IJ5

Danger Posed by Student-Data Breaches Prompts Action Education Week

Privacy advocates say the increased collection, storage, and sharing of educational data pose real threats to children and families, from identify theft to nuisance advertising, misguided profiling to increased surveillance of everyday activities.
There is even the potential for physical harm to students, alleges one Arizona legislator who authored a recently passed privacy law in response to complaints that low-income children had been subjected to unnecessary dental work by corporate-affiliated “mobile dentists” relying on easy access to school records.
But while some parents, advocates, and academics are raising alarms that sensitive student data are being poorly safeguarded and improperly shared, it remains difficult to document the scope of the harm caused by the misuse of such information.
http://goo.gl/zlRl24

Idaho schools chief Tom Luna won’t seek re-election Spokane (WA) Spokesman-Review

BOISE – Controversial Idaho schools Superintendent Tom Luna will not seek re-election, he announced Monday.
That decision will help take politics out of the process of implementing school reforms recommended by a bipartisan state task force this year, he said.
“I know it’s the right decision for me, for my family, and I know it’s the right decision for the children of Idaho,” Luna said. He added, “I’ve never avoided a fight. I’ve always done what I thought was right.”
Luna, whose sweeping Students Come First school reform laws were repealed by voters last year, maintained that the proposals were the “disruptive force” that enabled Idaho to finally move to a bipartisan approach to school reforms. Those proposals called for a new focus on online learning, a laptop computer for every high school student and rolling back teachers’ collective bargaining rights.
http://goo.gl/rhqcGU

Bill would allow high school credit to students taking outside religious classes: How they voted Cleveland Plain Dealer

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Students would be allowed to leave school for religious classes during the school day and receive high school credit for those classes, under a bill now pending in the Ohio Senate.
The bill, introduced by Democratic Rep. Bill Patmon of Cleveland and Republican Rep. Jeff McClain of Upper Sandusky, cleared the House 78-15 earlier this month.
If enacted, school boards would be empowered to adopt policies to allow off-campus religious education during the school day. No public money could be used and school personnel could not be involved.
Students would not be considered absent, but they would be accountable for missed assignments. They would not be allowed to miss classes that are core curriculum subject courses.
The district would be allowed to award up to two credit hours for a completed class. The hours would have to be counted as elective credits.
http://goo.gl/83Danz

Agency of Education recommends minimum student-teacher ratios Brattleboro (VT) Reformer

MONTPELIER — A first-of-its-kind look at student-staff ratios across grade levels in Vermont offers some insights into education costs, and also raises plenty of questions. Namely: what to do with all the information.
The report from the Agency of Education recommends minimum course sizes across grade levels for four main learning categories: English, math, science and social studies. Up to eighth grade, the smallest class sizes should be 10 students at schools of 150 children or more; at schools with fewer students, classes should consist of no less than five children, the report says. The minimum class size would be 10 for schools with grades 5-8, or any school up to 12th grade.
Vermont has the lowest ratio in the nation, with an average student-to-teacher ratio of 9.4 to 1, according to a 2013 report from the National Education Association. The national average is 16 to 1.
http://goo.gl/c4zRbq

Finland’s education success opens new business niches Agence France-Presse

Helsinki — Finland’s successful education system has become a selling point for companies and institutions specialising in software and courses for educators, even when targeting Asian countries with high-performing students.
Helsinki-based start-up 10monkeys, created in 2012, has turned the efficient image of the Finnish school system into one of its main business assets.
Its smartphone and tablet application makes maths more amusing for primary students thanks to its smiling monkeys, and its user-friendly and colourful design.
“In the Middle East, for example, our clients are interested in us because we’re Finnish,” said Arttu Laasonen, co-founder of the company, which has sold its app to thousands of users in Britain, the United States, Australia and Saudi Arabia.
“We don’t even need to mention it, they know it already.”
Finland built its global reputation in the 2000s, when it dominated the OECD’s Pisa ranking, which compares the performance of students from some 60 countries in standardised tests.
http://goo.gl/70aNsZ

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

UEN News
http://www.uen.org

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

January 28:
Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
8 a.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/Interim/2014/html/00000399.htm

January 29:
Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
8 a.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/Interim/2014/html/00000400.htm

January 30:
Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
8 a.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2014&com=APPPED

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

January 31:
Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
8 a.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2014&com=APPPED

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

Feb. 12-13:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://goo.gl/IaQntl

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