Education News Roundup: Feb. 5, 2014

Utah State Capitol

Utah State Capitol

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:

Legislators trying to figure out funding for Speaker Lockhart’s ed tech plan. Some worry that it will mean cuts to the road budget.
http://goo.gl/m1Npz2  (UP)
and http://goo.gl/TnIRDq  (OSE)

Should the Governor have a say in hiring the State Superintendent?
http://goo.gl/v2VsJQ  (UP)

Senate Ed Committee advances Sen. Osmond’s bill allowing districts and charters to substitute up to 8 professional development days for instructional days.
http://goo.gl/jjBXgr  (PDH)
and http://goo.gl/QwGIBT  (UPC)
and http://goo.gl/9eDOoB  (SLCW)
and http://goo.gl/6pbXBQ  (KUER)

States not in testing consortia — including Utah — are awaiting word from U.S. Department of Education on their ESEA waiver applications.
http://goo.gl/eMmW6T  (Education Week)

Utah Sen. Mike Lee will co-sponsor a bill opposing Common Core.
http://goo.gl/vjzcUX  (The State)

Salt Lake School Board hears a report on the school lunch seizure.
http://goo.gl/oWF6k4  (SLT)
and http://goo.gl/LXMWBT  (OSE)
and http://goo.gl/yzI0NU (PDH)
and http://goo.gl/JBWuoz  (KUTV)
and http://goo.gl/jsErwt  (KSL)
and http://goo.gl/JQISA0 (KSTU)

Fox News reports on the cost of Common Core.
http://goo.gl/8MsRld  (Fox)

National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference — an evangelical group — backs Common Core standards as a matter of biblical justice.
http://goo.gl/5G9Zzk  (CBN)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Lawmakers Grapple with Cost of Lockhart’s Education Proposal

Reid: Legislature, Governor Should Have Say in Selection of State Superintendent

Bill advanced for more teacher professional development days

Utah lawmakers support bill to help teachers stop suicide Teen suicide » Intervention works, says ex-educator.

Utah Proposal Dictates Transgender Bathroom Use

Audit highlights successful cost savings in schools

Audit: 3AA football division has increased travel costs

Quaking aspen one step closer to becoming state tree

Lawmakers apologize for transgender comments on Twitter

Some Waiver States Feel Squeeze on Common-Core Tests

U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham, Tim Scott rail against Common Core as “coercion”

Lunch fiasco laid out for Salt Lake City school board Report » Some parents aren’t satisfied with SLC district’s explanation of why the food was taken from students.

Children getting food is Cache County School District’s number one priority in school lunch program

Special-needs Utah boy, 4, left on the curb Davis County » School let out early and mom didn’t know son would be home early, district says.

Audit into West athletic program released to school board

Layton fourth-graders get visit from some wild ‘guests’

Pastors create first Bible class for students in Cedar City

Former South Ogden Teacher In Court On Wednesday

Bomb threat on bathroom stall cancels after-school activities in Juab district

Event produces more than 40K books for schools in Read Today program

Canyons School District seeks teacher award nominations

Student data is being collected at rapid pace, and may not be safe

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Mixed messages

More legislators should visit public schools

Lunch managers should be ashamed

Preschool is where children learn social skills

Obama’s Education Fibs

Charter group takes on private education

Arne Duncan: Feds Won’t Prescribe Even ‘A Single Semicolon’ of Curricula

Why This Transgender Teen’s Big Victory Matters

School Funding Fairness Suffers Amid National Recession

NATION

High cost of Common Core has states rethinking the national education standards

Evangelical Group: Common Core ‘Biblical Justice’

A Call to Ignore Exam Results When Evaluating

Graduation Disparities Loom Large for Students With Special Needs

Walton group funds more charter schools in L.A. than elsewhere

F.C.C. to Change Program That Connects Schools to High-Speed Internet Service

U.S. Court Ruling Raises K-12 Concerns About Internet Access

Schools reprioritize playtime to boost concentration and teach social skills

Scott seeks top Democratic role on Education committee

Diocese defends decision to fire pregnant Central teacher

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UTAH NEWS
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Lawmakers Grapple with Cost of Lockhart’s Education Proposal

It’s always tough for Utah legislators to say no to a request by a beloved leader for $5 million, $10 million or $20 million for a pet program, especially if the beloved leader is retiring.
But $200 million? $300 million?
That’s the position retiring House Speaker Becky Lockhart finds herself in this general session.
Lockhart, R-Provo, has what is known in the government business as a “big gear” idea.
She wants considerable funds to bring high technology to Utah public classrooms. Not just new computers and tablets, but a high-speed, interconnected wireless system statewide, training for teachers and aides to get the most out of what the Internet can bring, and innovative ideas and programs to help students of all ages not only learn with technology, but understand it so they can thrive in this high tech world after K-12 education.
http://goo.gl/m1Npz2  (UP)

http://goo.gl/TnIRDq  (OSE)

Reid: Legislature, Governor Should Have Say in Selection of State Superintendent

Sen. Stuart Reid says giving the governor and legislature a say in whomever the state school board picks to be the State Superintendent will foster greater cooperation among those three groups.
Reid’s proposal, SJR 12, would require the governor to sign off on any candidate for superintendent and the State Senate to confirm the pick.
“Right now we are fighting and confusing our goals. How can the governor discipline the Legislature on education when they know he has no role in education?” asks Reid.
Reid says the governor has no authority to manage public education, which he feels is absurd given the amount of money the state spends on education.
http://goo.gl/v2VsJQ  (UP)

Bill advanced for more teacher professional development days

SALT LAKE CITY – A Senate panel advanced legislation Tuesday morning that would allow local school districts to use up to eight school days for teacher development without the districts being financially penalized for holding fewer school days.
Under current law, a portion of the formula that hands out state money to schools depends on schools meeting the classroom requirement of 180 school days. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, argued before the committee that the teachers can become better at their jobs if they have those extra days for professional development.
“I cannot find, and I have asked, any longitudinal research that shows that 180 days, 990 hours, equates to academic achievement. What we do show in research is when class is held, it is impactful and it is important for a student to be there,” said Osmond. “When a teacher is highly-trained and they have time to prepare for their classes, they have a significant impact on academic results in the classroom.”
Osmond’s bill, S.B. 103, is a scaled-down version of a proposal that he announced in 2013.
http://goo.gl/jjBXgr  (PDH)

http://goo.gl/QwGIBT (UPC)

http://goo.gl/9eDOoB  (SLCW)

http://goo.gl/6pbXBQ  (KUER)

Utah lawmakers support bill to help teachers stop suicide Teen suicide » Intervention works, says ex-educator.

School employees ought to be able to ask a student questions when they suspect he or she is thinking about suicide, Utah lawmakers said Tuesday.
The House Education Committee voted 13-1 to give a favorable recommendation to HB23, sponsored by Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy.
The bill would allow teachers and others to “intervene and ask a student questions regarding the student’s suicidal thoughts, self-harming behavior, or those of harming others,” the bill says.
Teachers still would be required to contact the student’s parents.
http://goo.gl/smtuHd  (SLT)

http://goo.gl/nhOj4t  (DN)

http://goo.gl/B1j7rw  (KSL)

Utah Proposal Dictates Transgender Bathroom Use

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah lawmaker has proposed a bill that would prevent transgender students from using bathroom facilities of their choice, joining a debate playing out in a handful of other states sparked by a California law that broke new ground on transgender rights.
Republican Rep. Michael Kennedy says his plan would pre-emptively block Utah from allowing transgendered students to choose between the girls’ or boys’ restrooms, locker rooms and sports teams, depending on the gender they identify with.
http://goo.gl/ODvszZ  (AP)

Audit highlights successful cost savings in schools

SALT LAKE CITY — School districts can potentially free up funds for education programs by cutting costs in food services, transportation and energy use, according to a report released Tuesday by the Office of the Legislative Auditor General.
The report points out successful cost-saving measures in several Utah school districts, such as GPS bus tracking in Provo and Washington County; energy monitoring in Davis County and Canyons School District; and centralized school lunch preparation in the Granite School District.
“We’re focusing on operational areas in this report,” audit supervisor James Behunin said. “We’re hopeful that school districts will take this report seriously and consider each of the best practices that we’re describing here and consider whether it will work in their district.”
http://goo.gl/Q95vGQ  (DN)

A copy of the audit
http://le.utah.gov/audit/14_02rpt.pdf

Audit: 3AA football division has increased travel costs

SALT LAKE CITY — The creation of a 3AA high school football classification has led to increased costs for Utah schools, including more than $17,500 in projected travel expenses at Payson High School between now and 2015, according to an audit released Tuesday.
The audit, prepared by the Office of the Legislative Auditor General, states that travel costs for all 3AA schools and most 3A schools have increased since a sixth football classification was created in 2012. In total, schools whose football teams compete in the 3AA classification will pay an additional $57,180 in travel expenses between 2013 and 2015, a regional increase of 72 percent compared to 2011-2013.
Audit supervisor David Gibson said the increase applies only to inter-region games, since schools have autonomy to schedule preseason matches.
http://goo.gl/f1QGU1  (DN)

http://goo.gl/KCZ7A0  (SLT)

A copy of the audit
http://le.utah.gov/audit/14_01rpt.pdf

Quaking aspen one step closer to becoming state tree

SALT LAKE CITY — The quaking aspen is one step closer to becoming Utah’s state tree.
On Tuesday, the Senate Natural Resources Committee moved forward legislation that would uproot the Colorado blue spruce from being Utah’s official tree and replace it with the aspen.
Sen. Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe, and a group of elementary school students from his district, made the push for the state tree change. A group of those students testified that the aspen has similarities to Utahns themselves. One student said the aspen’s strong root system was similar to Utahns’ appreciation for their family roots and for genealogy work.
http://goo.gl/rSQd8S  (PDH)

http://goo.gl/lPQ1mg  (KUER)

Lawmakers apologize for transgender comments on Twitter

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah lawmaker is apologizing for a tweet he sent Monday and is now participating in sensitivity training.
The tweet was meant to be a joke according to Rep. Jake Anderegg. Instead, the tweet flared tempers and caused outrage on social media from around the country as being insensitive to the LGBT community. And Anderegg has been apologizing for the past 24 hours.
http://goo.gl/B4nSRe  (KSL)

Some Waiver States Feel Squeeze on Common-Core Tests

As states continue to debate their participation in the two large testing consortia associated with the common-core standards, those with No Child Left Behind Act waivers are getting a reminder from the U.S. Department of Education that dropping out requires an official Plan B.
So far, federal officials are reviewing the testing plans of four waiver states that have announced they are not participating in either the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) tests: Kansas, Georgia, Utah, and Oklahoma.
Alabama and Pennsylvania have also announced they won’t be using the common tests, but their approved waiver applications already included alternative-assessment plans.

Utah is a common-core state, but dropped out of Smarter Balanced in 2012, in part to try to assuage critics who were railing against the state’s adoption of the common standards. Utah then signed a $39 million contract with the Washington-based American Institutes for Research to develop its own test. (AIR is also working with Smarter Balanced.)
Mark Peterson, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Education, said that, even as his state awaits official approval from federal officials, students will take the new, computer-adaptive tests starting this spring in grades 3-12.
http://goo.gl/eMmW6T  (Education Week)

U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham, Tim Scott rail against Common Core as “coercion”

South Carolina’s two U.S. senators are teaming up in opposition to Common Core education standards, announcing plans to introduce a resolution denouncing what they say was President Barack Obama’s coercion of states into adopting Common Core state standards.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, said states were “bribed and coerced” into adopting the standards, developed by associations representing state governors and schools chiefs and voluntarily adopted by most states.
“Blanket education standards should not be a prerequisite for federal funding. In order to have a competitive application for some federal grants and flexibility waivers, states have to adopt Common Core. This is simply not the way the Obama Administration should be handling education policy. Our resolution affirms that education belongs in the hands of our parents, local officials and states.”
“While Common Core started out as a state-led initiative, the federal government unfortunately decided to use carrots and sticks to coerce states into adopting national standards and assessments,” said U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-North Charleston, in the news release. “That is simply the wrong choice for our kids.”
Other senators are co-sponsoring the resolution with Graham and Scott: Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Mike Lee, R-Utah; Ted Cruz, R-Tex.; James Inhofe, R-Okla., Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; Roger Wicker, R-Miss.; and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.
http://goo.gl/vjzcUX (Columbia, SC) The State

Lunch fiasco laid out for Salt Lake City school board Report » Some parents aren’t satisfied with SLC district’s explanation of why the food was taken from students.

Poor communication, a new payment system and, some say, a bullying culture within the Salt Lake City School District are to blame for as many as 40 elementary kids having their lunches thrown away last week, said district leaders Tuesday night.
District board members heard a preliminary report at their regular meeting from the district’s child nutrition director about what led to kids having their lunches yanked — though some parents criticized the report as still leaving questions unanswered.
Between 30 and 40 Uintah Elementary students went through their cafeteria line, picked up lunches and then had them taken and thrown away last week because of past-due balances on their meal accounts. They were then given snacks of milk and fruit instead. The district has since apologized.
It’s an incident that became nationwide news, shocking parents across the country who vented on social media, sometimes making threats and other times offering donations.
http://goo.gl/oWF6k4  (SLT)

http://goo.gl/LXMWBT  (OSE)

http://goo.gl/yzI0NU  (PDH)

http://goo.gl/JBWuoz  (KUTV)

http://goo.gl/jsErwt  (KSL)

http://goo.gl/JQISA0  (KSTU)

Children getting food is Cache County School District’s number one priority in school lunch program

Surveys show one in five Utah children live in households where the family struggles to afford enough food. That’s why there has been so much indignation after the food that was suppose to go to children at Uintah Elementary School in Salt Lake City was thrown away.
The children got only milk and fruit because their parents were behind in their school lunch bills.
Scott Rigby, support service supervisor for the Cache County School District, was a guest on KVNU’s For the People program Monday and said what happened at that school was an unfortunate situation. He said children getting food is the number one priority in his district’s lunch program.
http://goo.gl/LjdJXR  (CVD)

Special-needs Utah boy, 4, left on the curb Davis County » School let out early and mom didn’t know son would be home early, district says.

Davis County School District is reminding all of its bus drivers about their policies after a substitute driver dropped off a special-needs preschooler at his home before his mom returned.
On Jan. 28, classes at Morgan Elementary School ended early for a conference. The bus driver dropped off the 4-year-old at his home, but no one was there to receive him, said district spokesman Chris Williams.
His mother, who did not anticipate her son coming home early, arrived about 30 minutes later to find him outside their house, Williams said. The mother called the district to let them know what happened.
“The bus driver should have kept him on the bus and taken him back to school,” Williams said.
http://goo.gl/U5a8qc  (SLT)

http://goo.gl/wUY3I9  (KSL)

Audit into West athletic program released to school board

An independent audit into the West High School athletic department has been released to the Salt Lake City School District school board.
Board member Michael Clara said he recieved a tip from a parent at the school about the audit. Clara said Superintendent McKell Withers confirmed to him that Squire & Co. had conducted an audit of “West High School participation fees and booster club accounts.”
The audit was distributed to the school board in a closed meeting Tuesday evening. Clara, who voted against closing the session, removed himself from the meeting while the audit was discussed and was unable to provide further details.
The audit was not made available to the public.
http://goo.gl/KHWN24  (SLT)

Layton fourth-graders get visit from some wild ‘guests’

LAYTON – The new Utah Core Education standards have fourth-graders learning about wildlife and their adaptations.
So students throughout the Davis School District have been receiving special visits from the Division of Wildlife Resources this year, along with some special “guests,” depending on who is in a cooperative mood.
The animals from the Weber State University Zoology Department that were up for a field trip recently to Adams Elementary School were a ball python, a turtle, and a salamander.
http://goo.gl/NsGvXl  (OSE)

Pastors create first Bible class for students in Cedar City

CEDAR CITY — Pastors from several Christian denominations in Cedar City created the first Bible class for students to he held during school hours.
http://goo.gl/Kkphti  (KSL)

Former South Ogden Teacher In Court On Wednesday

A former South Ogden teacher and boy scout leader will be in court Wednesday.
Kenneth Prince will be in court Wednesday afternoon for a disposition hearing.
Prince is accused of sexually abusing several teenage boys. He was arrested last September after police say they found child pornography on his home computer.
http://goo.gl/XAKrx3  (KUTV)

Bomb threat on bathroom stall cancels after-school activities in Juab district

NEPHI — Juab School District officials canceled all after-school activities Tuesday when a bomb threat was found scrawled on a bathroom stall.
The message, written in a bathroom at Nebo View Elementary School, 380 E. 200 North, was discovered by a student about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. It stated that a bomb would go off in a local school the next day but didn’t specify where.
A basketball game at Juab High School was canceled as a precaution, as well as city recreation programs hosted in area elementary schools.
http://goo.gl/xppDjj  (DN)

http://goo.gl/8JpCxB (SLT)

http://goo.gl/RIUpWa  (OSE)

http://goo.gl/I3R8nB  (KSL)

http://goo.gl/VGgYgu  (MUR)

Event produces more than 40K books for schools in Read Today program

OREM — Utah readers are getting tons of help, actually 10 tons of help in the form of donated books.
A Utah company, which donates books all over the world, is working to fill a need in its own backyard through KSL’s Read Today initiative.
“This is so wonderful and exciting that we can have these books to give to the kids, and that they can read them,” said Sharon Sheffer, who works at Summit Elementary School.
World Wide Book Drive staged an event at an Orem warehouse to provide more than 40,000 books to schools in the Read Today program.
http://goo.gl/FGIC7v  (KSL)

Canyons School District seeks teacher award nominations

SANDY — The Canyons School District is seeking nominations at each school for 2014 Teacher of the Year awards.
http://goo.gl/ADHrsp  (DN)

Student data is being collected at rapid pace, and may not be safe

The National Security Agency isn’t the only government entity mining personal data from unknowing U.S. citizens over the last decade.
The Department of Education and organizations related to it have created “an omnipresent data archive” that “will track students from preschool to graduation,” and follow them “well after they leave school,” according to Salon.com.
http://goo.gl/6VBHS3  (DN)

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Mixed messages
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Paul Rolly

Salt Lake City School District’s website last week featured an update on the fiasco at Uintah Elementary, where students whose parents were not current on their lunch fees watched in horror as their lunch trays were taken away and the food tossed into garbage cans.
The story, posted Jan. 29, said a cafeteria manager at Uintah and a district employee had been placed on administrative leave and an investigation into the matter was continuing.
Below that was a notice that the school district had shared a link, proclaiming: “Help fight child hunger through the Souper Bowl of Caring. Child poverty and hunger are reaching alarming levels in Utah.”
http://goo.gl/YOO8nR

More legislators should visit public schools Salt Lake Tribune letter from C. Heidi Jensen

As a teacher in the public education system, I have to give kudos to Sens. Jim Dabakis and Todd Weiler for their comments regarding the unfortunate event in which schoolchildren had their lunches taken away (“Cafeteria manager placed on leave after school lunch seizures,” Tribune, Jan. 31).
In addition, they proved their interest in public school issues by taking time out of the legislative session, to actually visit the school! Teachers have always invited policymakers to visit their schools to see what is happening at the grassroots level. It is very rare that an invitation is accepted.
http://goo.gl/1OYcyE

Lunch managers should be ashamed
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner letter from Bettie Jensen

I write regarding the news article of Jan. 31, “Salt Lake district employees put on leave after school lunches taken.” I worked as a unit manager for 14 years for the school district. I heard lunch ladies had thrown out 23 lunches, then made 23 more (what’s wrong with this picture). I’d be ashamed.
http://goo.gl/d5bIVq

Preschool is where children learn social skills Salt Lake Tribune letter from Marilyn Marshall

I fully agree with Emily Cook’s view on students’ learning behavior and social skills starting in preschool (“This Olympic athlete knows preschool matters,” Opinion, Feb 2).
If a child doesn’t learn this in preschool, when will he/she learn it? This message needs to be consistent and, for some, may need to be repeated every year.
As paraprofessionals working playground duty at a Title 1 elementary school, we teach behavior and social skills every day on the playing field.
http://goo.gl/pkblof

Obama’s Education Fibs
Wall Street Journal commentary by columnist JASON L. RILEY

Sadly, people in the U.S. and abroad have become accustomed to the fact that President Obama stretches the truth with some regularity, whether the topic is his health-care law, the terror attacks in Benghazi or “red lines” in Syria. In his interview with Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly on Sunday, the president offered up another whopper.
Asked by Mr. O’Reilly why he opposed school vouchers that “level the playing field” and “give poor people a chance to go to better schools,” the president replied, “Actually, every study that’s been done on school vouchers, Bill, says that it has very limited impact if any.”
Mr. Obama said that the means-tested voucher programs in Milwaukee and Washington, D.C, “didn’t actually make that much of a difference,” and added, “As a general proposition, vouchers have not significantly improved the performance of kids that are in these poorest communities.”
In fact, study after study using gold-standard random-assignment methodology has shown that vouchers not only improve student outcomes but have the biggest impact on low-income minorities.
http://goo.gl/zYTm2d

Charter group takes on private education Hechinger Report commentary by Richard Whitmire, author of the coming, On the Rocketship: How High Performing Charters Schools are Pushing the Envelope

In theory, Michael and Olga Block should be among the nation’s most celebrated educators. In a time of much hand wringing over the U.S. falling behind other countries in education achievement, their Arizona-launched BASIS charter schools offer world-beating math and science classes — and test scores show it’s working. Students in Shanghai, Seoul and Helsinki have nothing over BASIS students.
Isn’t this the good education news everyone wants to hear? Oddly, not so much. Block is the first to admit he’s not being showered with accolades. Perhaps that’s because the Blocks are equal opportunity disruptors, threats to private schools, public schools and public charter schools. Not surprisingly, those being disrupted resent the intrusion.
Their most notable disruption emerged only recently when the Blocks announced they would take their high intensity charter model — a dozen charter schools so far — and morph that into a separate network of private schools while still expanding the charter network. This is a first, and their move may qualify as the most under-reported-on education news of the last year.
It is not out of line to see this as a big middle finger aimed at the bitter education wars that in many cities block their plans to expand BASIS charter schools. Don’t like us as a charter? We’ll end-run you by creating private schools.
As for those elite private schools charging parents $40,000-a-year, BASIS Independent schools will offer what they consider a superior education for half that amount — while challenging those expensive private schools to take the international tests and release the results, just as BASIS does. A very big dare.
http://goo.gl/7nA0nD

Arne Duncan: Feds Won’t Prescribe Even ‘A Single Semicolon’ of Curricula Education Week commentary by columnist Catherine Gewertz

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan gave a ringing endorsement the other day of local control over standards and curriculum, something that could have landed on jittery common-core supporters like a blanket of reassurance.
But the speech made some of the core’s staunchest advocates cringe.
The issue of federal overreach with the standards has gotten so radioactive that Duncan can’t say a word about it without churning hundreds of stomachs in the pro-common-core camp. Even a blessing from the U.S. Secretary of Education—like ‘Hey, guys, you’re doing a great job out there!’—has people running for cover.
Take a look at the speech, which Duncan gave last week at a gathering of ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development). It’s a shout-out to those doing in-the-trenches work of putting the Common Core State Standards into practice. It goes out of its way to praise the local, independent work of writing curriculum for the new standards.
http://goo.gl/l5cTq4

Why This Transgender Teen’s Big Victory Matters Huffington Post commentary by columnist Melissa Jeltsen

Wayne Maines was in a meeting when he got the call. His daughter, a transgender teenager who had been fighting the state of Maine for years over her right to use the girls’ bathroom at school, had finally won.
“I just broke down right then and there,” he said.
In tears, he called his wife, who texted their daughter, Nicole. She was in a school assembly, and immediately ran to the front of the room to announce the victory. “The whole school got up and cheered,” he recounted.
On Thursday, Maine’s Supreme Court made history when it ruled that officials from the public school violated state anti-discrimination law by not allowing Nicole to use the girls’ bathroom. It was the first time that a state court has ruled it unlawful to deny transgender students access to the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.
The case stemmed from an incident that occurred when Nicole was in fifth grade. She is now 16 and attends a different school, which is private.
Born a biological male, Nicole was identifying as a female at the age of 2. By the time she was in fifth grade, she had a female name and used the girls’ bathroom, with her school’s full support.
But that all changed after a male student followed her into the girls’ bathroom on multiple occasions, charging that if she had the right to be in there, so did he.
http://goo.gl/abQWXB

School Funding Fairness Suffers Amid National Recession Education Law Center analysis

NEWARK — The 3rd Edition of Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card details how the Great Recession and its aftermath have affected school funding in the states.
The Great Recession triggered dramatic reductions in state and local revenue from property, sales and income taxes. To prevent layoffs and cuts to education programs, the federal government provided substantial stimulus funds on a temporary basis. When the stimulus ended, however, states faced a crucial test: either restore revenue or allow cuts to education funding and programs. This report shows many of the states failed this test, sacrificing fair school funding after the foreseeable loss of federal stimulus.
The National Report Card (NRC) examines each state’s level of commitment to equal educational opportunity, regardless of a student’s background, family income, or where she or he attends school. Providing fair school funding — at a sufficient level with additional funds to meet needs generated by poverty — is crucial if all students are to be afforded the opportunity to learn and be successful.
The NRC evaluates all 50 states and the District of Columbia on four separate, but interrelated, funding “fairness indicators” — funding level, distribution, state fiscal effort, and coverage.
http://goo.gl/0rPxc7

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NATIONAL NEWS
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High cost of Common Core has states rethinking the national education standards Fox

States are learning the cost of Common Core is uncommonly high.
The federally-backed standards initiative, first proposed by the nation’s governors and an educators’ association, seeks to impose a national standard for achievement among K-12 students. So far, 45 states plus the District of Columbia have signed on, with some implementing curriculum designed for the Common Core Standards Initiative during the current school year and the rest set to take part in the next school year. But several states are reconsidering their participation, and one big reason is the cost.
States will spend up to an estimated $10 billion up front, then as much as $800 million per year for the first seven years that the controversial program is up and running. Much of the cost is on new, Common Core-aligned textbooks and curriculum, but the added expenses also include teacher training, technology upgrades, testing and assessment. The figures are taking states by surprise.
“It’s a fair amount of money given a lot of states signed up without any cost analysis,” Theodor Rebarber, CEO and founder of the nonprofit Accountability Works, which sanctioned the study on the projected costs of Common Core, told FoxNews.com. “Just looking at the cost aspect, it was not focused at the time, so a lot of jurisdictions did not realize what would occur down the road.”
http://goo.gl/8MsRld

Evangelical Group: Common Core ‘Biblical Justice’
Christian Broadcasting Network

The fight over national education standards intensified Wednesday with the endorsement of a national evangelical organization.
The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which represents 40,000 member churches, said it supports Common Core standards as a matter of biblical justice.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the NHCLC, released a statement explaining the organization’s position.
“For years many states have set expectations too low for all our students, but particularly those from low-income schools, where many Hispanic children are educated. Rigorous standards must be available to all children, especially those in poverty,” Rodriguez said.
Other conservative and Christian leaders also support the Core.
http://goo.gl/5G9Zzk

A Call to Ignore Exam Results When Evaluating New York Times

A year after a switch to new standardized tests for public school students caused passing rates to plummet, leaders of both political parties in the New York Legislature on Tuesday called on the state to back away from plans to use those exams to grade teachers.
In synchronized statements, Democratic leaders of the State Assembly joined Republicans in the State Senate to propose that the tests, which are aligned with the new curriculum standards known as the Common Core, be excluded, for now, from the state’s new teacher evaluation system, which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law in 2012.
The proposal will involve altering the law, which requires that the state test results be used for at least 20 percent of a teacher’s evaluation. Other factors, like principals’ observations and locally designed tests, make up the bulk of the grade. Teachers who earn the lowest mark — “ineffective” — two years in a row are at risk of losing their jobs.
The change would require backtracking on one of the governor’s earliest legislative victories. But it also could give him an antidote to mounting complaints over the Common Core in a re-election year.
http://goo.gl/X2fmQU

http://goo.gl/Kk1Fhv (NY Post)

Graduation Disparities Loom Large for Students With Special Needs Education Week

The wide graduation-rate gaps in many states between students with disabilities and those in regular education raise the stakes for next year’s first-ever federal evaluation of how well states are serving their special education students.
The most recent U.S. Department of Education data, for 2011-12, shows a four-year graduation-rate gap that ranges from a high of 43 percentage points in Mississippi to a low of 3 percentage points in Montana.
By 2015, the Education Department aims to take a closer look at graduation-rate disparities when it evaluates states on their special education performance. And that eventually could affect what states can do with their federal aid for special education.
http://goo.gl/buXW9R

Walton group funds more charter schools in L.A. than elsewhere Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles charter schools have been the largest recipients of funding from the foundation associated with the family that started Wal-Mart, according to figures released Wednesday.
Since 1997, the Arkansas-based Walton Family Foundation has distributed $35.9 million in start-up grants to 159 L.A.-area charters. By comparison, Walton has supported the creation of 125 charters in New York City.
Last year alone, the foundation made grants to 23 new L.A. schools, totaling more than $4.69 million, that were set to open in the near future. Both the annual and cumulative totals are higher than for any other region.
http://goo.gl/lY7kfk

F.C.C. to Change Program That Connects Schools to High-Speed Internet Service New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission will complete changes this spring in the federal program to connect schools and libraries to high-speed Internet service, including possibly increasing the tax paid by consumers or phone companies to finance the effort, the agency’s chairman, Tom Wheeler, said Wednesday.
In an address as part of Digital Learning Day, a national program focused on online education, Mr. Wheeler said that any increase in the tax would be preceded by a restructuring of how the current $2.4 billion annual program spends its money.
Only about half of the program, known as E-rate, currently pays for broadband connections; some of it pays for outdated technologies like pagers and dial-up connections.
http://goo.gl/PwtPur

U.S. Court Ruling Raises K-12 Concerns About Internet Access Education Week

Teachers and students count on having relatively broad access to online academic content, but a recent federal court ruling has raised questions about whether the education community could lose some of its ability to tap into the vast library of Internet resources.
The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia this month has been interpreted as giving commercial Internet providers significantly more power to block content or set conditions on its delivery before it reaches customers, including schools.
The ruling struck a blow against the concept of “net neutrality,” the idea that all content flowing through the online realm should be treated the same way by providers, regardless of its source.
http://goo.gl/i4aqyk

A copy of the ruling
http://goo.gl/dN9r3z  (Court of Appeals)

Schools reprioritize playtime to boost concentration and teach social skills NewsHour

Tight budgets and high-stakes tests can lead schools to cut time for the arts, physical education and even recess to make more room for academics. But taking away exercise may be counterproductive. The NewsHour’s April Brown reports on how nonprofit Playworks helps schools reincorporate play into their day.
http://goo.gl/9pDxLX

Scott seeks top Democratic role on Education committee Hampton Roads (VA) Daily Press

Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, D-3rd, says he’d like to become ranking member — the top Democrat — on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, with the upcoming retirements of Rep.s George Miller and Rob Andrews.
“I have enjoyed serving with Ranking Member Miller and Congressman Andrews on the Committee for the last 21 years and I have also valued their friendship,” Scott said.
“We will need a strong and experienced voice leading Democrats on the Committee to continue to fight for our principles in education and labor policy,” he said.
http://goo.gl/JQe7Cj

Diocese defends decision to fire pregnant Central teacher
(Butte) Montana Standard

The Diocese of Helena is defending its decision to fire an unwed Butte Central teacher because she is pregnant.
Shaela Evenson “made a willful decision to violate the terms of her contract,” which requires her to follow Catholic teachings in both her personal and professional life, Superintendent Patrick Haggarty said Tuesday. “It’s a sensitive issue, and it’s unfortunate all around.”
http://goo.gl/4xQalC

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

UEN News
http://www.uen.org

February 5:
Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
8 a.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/Interim/2014/html/00001756.htm

Senate Education Committee meeting
4 p.m., 210 Senate Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2014/agenda/SEDU0205.ag.htm

House Revenue and Taxation Committee meeting
4 p.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/~2014/agenda/HREV0205.ag.htm

House Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee meeting
4 p.m., 25 House Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2014/agenda/HEDW0205.ag.htm

February 6:
House Education Committee meeting
8 a.m., 30 House Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2014/agenda/HEDU0206.ag.htm

February 7:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
7:45 a.m., 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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