Education News Roundup: March 18, 2014

2014_FingertipFacts_Page_01Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:

The parent reviewers aren’t so sure about signing up to be permanent curriculum reviewers.  (SLT)

Utah home schoolers like SB39.  (KSL)

Florida picks the same company Utah picked to develop its standards tests.  (Miami Herald)
and  (Ed Week)

Poll finds most people turn to local newspapers (either in print or on line) for school and education news.  (AP)
or a copy of the report  (APNORC)



Utah parent ‘curriculum cops’ don’t want the job Education » Parents asked to review curriculum complaints at session’s end.

Home-schooling parents relieved over passage of SB39

Lawmakers say they made strides but need to look to the future

Where you live makes a difference in escaping the impacts of poverty

North Davis Junior High students spend the school day with iPads

Ogden charter school focuses on helping students cope and succeed through positive efforts

Bear River student-athlete survives vicious car crash

‘Science is fun’: Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum showcases chemistry at Heritage Elementary

Daughter of police officer enlists school for fundraiser related to fatal shooting

Eagle Scout project prepares emergency kits for schools

JROTC plans golf fundraiser with celebrity support

Later school times linked to improved health, grades and scores


Does love mean never having to eat school lunch?

Choosing to Learn
Increasing compliance to the state reduces accountability to parents.

50 myths and lies about public schools

Should Parents Pay for Their Children’s College Education?

Obama’s Charter School Rhetoric

Illogical hostility toward charter schools

Navigating the Common Core
Complexities threaten implementation

The Common Core Takes Hold
Implementation moves steadily forward

2014 Brown Center Report on American Education: How Well Are American Students Learning?

State Education Trends


Nonprofit AIR wins $220 million contract to replace the FCATs

Efforts To Close The Achievement Gap In Kids Start At Home

Wyoming first state to block new science standards

Poll: People Still Seek Meaty News on Media Buffet

New Jersey teen drops lawsuit against parents over tuition money

McKay High School may remove suspension records regarding tweet

Students Reprimanded Over Racist Twitter Posts

Cooper: LPSB violated policies in hiring firm

China Cracks Down on Medication of Schoolchildren


Utah parent ‘curriculum cops’ don’t want the job Education » Parents asked to review curriculum complaints at session’s end.

Brad Caldwell took a week off work. Alyson Williams had to recruit four baby sitters to care for her children. Amy Farnsworth lived away from her Vernal family for a week.
The 15 volunteer parents who spent a week last year reviewing 10,000 Utah test questions were suddenly — in the last minutes of the 2014 Legislature — handed a far broader job: investigating complaints from parents about curriculum and materials used statewide.
SB257 sponsor Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, said his idea was to ease some Utah parents’ fears about the state’s new academic standards, which are based on Common Core State Standards.
“I believe there’s so much mistrust with Utah’s core and instructional materials that to have that same parent panel review those things would be beneficial in getting to the bottom of it,” Stephenson said.
But at least some of the volunteer parents want Gov. Gary Herbert to veto the bill.
They say they don’t feel they have the time to review complaints on top of test questions, and some feel it’s not their place.
Caldwell, a committee member from Clearfield, said on Monday he jokingly sent the governor’s office a $100,000 invoice for consulting services based on the demands of the bill.  (SLT)

Home-schooling parents relieved over passage of SB39

SALT LAKE CITY — During the 2014 Utah Legislature, lawmakers passed bills and funding that will affect every Utah student — even those who aren’t enrolled in public schools.
SB39, which was passed in the House on March 11, puts the standards for home-schoolers firmly in the hands of their parents. Once Gov. Gary Herbert signs the bill, requirements dealing with state curriculum, school hours, and renewing an annual affidavit will no longer exist for home-schooled students.
While lawmakers who opposed SB39 say it’s a disservice to those students, many home-schooling parents are feeling a sense of relief.  (KSL)

Lawmakers say they made strides but need to look to the future

SALT LAKE CITY — After what House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, called an “intense” 45-day legislative session, Utah lawmakers are already looking forward to what’s next.
Two minority leaders served as panel members Monday for a legislative wrap-up forum at the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics. Two members of GOP leadership were expected as well, but did not attend.
Lawmakers made strides this session, but many topics need to be addressed further, including clean air, higher education and technology in the classroom, according to Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, and Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City.  (DN)

Where you live makes a difference in escaping the impacts of poverty

SALT LAKE CITY – Location, location, location.
It’s not just a factor in real estate. It’s a significant factor in child well-being, a new report on intergenerational poverty concludes.
The report, Intergenerational Poverty: Kids and Communities, examines intergenerational poverty in six ZIP codes in Salt Lake, Davis and Weber counties. More than 1,000 children experiencing intergenerational poverty live in each of the selected ZIP codes.  (DN)

North Davis Junior High students spend the school day with iPads

CLEARFIELD — Students scribbled numbers on a piece of paper and scrambled to work their calculators to find an answer before their North Davis Junior High classmates.
Students submitted their answers through some of the 1,100 iPads now at the school, and the teacher immediately read out names of those who answered correctly. They in turn helped explain the equation to other students.
The iPads are part of the school’s 1:1 iPad initiative, a program that now gives every student in the school daily access to an iPad.  (DN)

Ogden charter school focuses on helping students cope and succeed through positive efforts

OGDEN – Sometimes the difference between feeling desperate and homeless, and feeling secure sleeping on a floor or couch in a small house shared by many families is all in the way you choose to interpret your situation.
At least that is the behavior Karole Pickett, has observed from at-risk students she tracks and counsels. Pickett works with children at Ogden Preparatory Academy where her primary role is defined as a community liaison.
“I am amazed,” Pickett said. “These kids show up every day and there is no way I would go to school if I were in that situation.”
“They don’t see it as anything wrong,” said Ogden Preparatory Academy Principal Amie Campbell. She later explained how staff at the school don’t tell these kids there is anything wrong with their lives either.
“They are not considered homeless, but they are displaced,” Campbell said.
The charter school in downtown Ogden is connected to as many as 50 families who come from situations where around 18 to 20 people live in a house built for one family.  (OSE)

Bear River student-athlete survives vicious car crash

PENROSE — Bear River star senior soccer player Tanner Porter couldn’t have known what was about to happen to him on his way home from the 4-A boys basketball playoffs at the Huntsman Center on Mar. 5, but he told his 14-year-old brother not to ride with him.
Not even two hours later, they were both very likely alive because of it.
Porter, 18, was driving east on Highway 102 about a mile from his home around 9:30 p.m. when suddenly a deer raced out in front of him. Thinking that with a minor steering correction he could avoid the tail end of the deer as it darted across, Porter accidentally steered off the road and into the ditch. After about 200 yards of driving through fencing and traffic signs in the ditch, Porter accelerated back onto the road, jumped two lanes of traffic and rolled the 1997 Ford Explorer he was driving twice.  (OSE)

‘Science is fun’: Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum showcases chemistry at Heritage Elementary

NIBLEY — Students at Heritage Elementary got a chance to do hands-on experiments involving chemical and physical reactions when representatives from Salt Lake City’s Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum came to the school Monday.  (LHJ)

Daughter of police officer enlists school for fundraiser related to fatal shooting

WEST HAVEN – When 12-year-old Morgan Bailey learned of Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Cory Wride’s death in the line of duty, it hit close to home.
Her father is a South Ogden police officer.
Bailey attends Quest Academy, a charter school in West Haven, and got thinking about a way she could raise funds to donate torwards the purchase of shatter proof glass for police car windshields.  (OSE)

Four cars, two wrecks during high school morning commute

ST GEORGE — Two separate accidents occurred in one line of cars as drivers were making their way to Desert Hills High School in St. George this morning.
At approximately 8:15 a.m., a line of vehicles was backed up on River Road near its intersection with Brigham Road. These cars were waiting to turn right toward Desert Hills High School, St. George Police Officer Jeremy Needles said on scene.  (SGN)

Eagle Scout project prepares emergency kits for schools

CEDAR CITY — When Cedar City Police Officer Matt Topham decided a year and a half ago to put together lock-down kits for the 18 schools in Iron County, the job turned out to be a little bigger than he had originally planned. So when Jaden Thomas asked if he could help, Topham put him to work.
At the time, 15-year-old Thomas was looking for a project he could do to earn his Eagle Scout Award, and Topham saw it as win for both of them. He assigned Thomas Enoch Elementary, for which he would have to put together 40 kits, one for each classroom and the gym, cafeteria and principal’s office.
He also had to provide plenty of water.  (SGS)

JROTC plans golf fundraiser with celebrity support

Members of the community teed off over funding cuts to the Washington County JROTC program last year — and a second charity golf tournament scheduled next week will include appearances by a handful of celebrities to help youths enrolled in the local leadership courses.  (SGS)

Later school times linked to improved health, grades and scores

Some U.S. high schools are choosing to delay the start of classes in the morning, and researchers are tracking the effects of this move on students.
A new study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed what sleep experts have been saying for decades. Teens are naturally driven to stay awake later at night and sleep longer into the morning than other age groups, and school start times have been disrupting this pattern — to students’ peril.  (DN)


Does love mean never having to eat school lunch?
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Ann Cannon

The next time I see my mom, we’re going to have a conversation that goes something like this.
ME: Why didn’t you love me when I was a little girl?
MY MOM: Wait. What? Who said I didn’t love you?
ME: Paul Ryan. You know. Congressman from Wisconsin. Mitt Romney’s running mate.

Choosing to Learn
Increasing compliance to the state reduces accountability to parents.
National Review op-ed by Joseph Bast, president and CEO of the Heartland Institute, Lindsey M. Burke, Will Skillman fellow in education policy at the Heritage Foundation, Andrew J. Coulson, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Kara Kerwin, president of the Center for Education Reform, & Herbert J. Walberg, distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution

Americans face a choice between two paths that will guide education in this nation for generations: self-government and central planning. Which we choose will depend in large measure on how well we understand accountability.
To some, accountability means government-imposed standards and testing, like the Common Core State Standards, which advocates believe will ensure that every child receives at least a minimally acceptable education. Although well-intentioned, their faith is misplaced and their prescription is inimical to the most promising development in American education: parental choice.
True accountability comes not from top-down regulations but from parents financially empowered to exit schools that fail to meet their child’s needs. Parental choice, coupled with freedom for educators, creates the incentives and opportunities that spur quality. The compelled conformity fostered by centralized standards and tests stifles the very diversity that gives consumer choice its value.

50 myths and lies about public schools
Washington Post commentary by columnist VALERIE STRAUSS

A valuable new book called “50 Myths & Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools” takes a stark look at some of the worst ideas being promoted by school reformers around the country as ways to improve the public education.
The book — from which I am going to run a series of excerpts — looks at international tests, teachers, school funding, charter schools and a lot more, including sections on:

Should Parents Pay for Their Children’s College Education?
Wall Street Journal commentary by Meir Statman, Glenn Klimek Professor of Finance at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business, and Linda Herman, author of the book “Parents to the End: How Baby Boomers Can Parent for Peace of Mind, Foster Responsibility in Their Adult Children, and Keep Their Hard-Earned Money”

For many families, especially those relatively well-off, the idea of who will pay for college is a given: It is the parents’ responsibility.
But should it be?

Obama’s Charter School Rhetoric
Wall Street Journal commentary by columnist Jason L. Riley

Throughout his presidency Barack Obama has used his bully pulpit to champion charter schools. Just last spring, he called them “incubators of innovation” and praised the fact that “many charter schools choose to locate in communities with few high-quality educational options, making them an important partner in widening the circle of opportunity for students who need it most.” Of late, however, there are reasons to believe that the president still has not fully embraced the charter model.
Charter schools in New York City, home to the nation’s largest public school system, are currently under siege. The new mayor, Bill de Blasio, is vehemently anti-charter and made shrinking their growth a centerpiece of his campaign last year. It’s bad enough that Mr. Obama enthusiastically endorsed Mr. de Blasio despite the candidate’s commitment to reducing educational choices for poor families stuck with Gotham’s lowest-performing schools. What’s worse is that the White House has stood by silently as the mayor carries out his ideological assault on some of the best public schools in the entire state.
So why isn’t the president speaking out?
A clue might be found in the White House budget released this month, which exposes a president’s real priorities and which proposes $248 million for charter schools, compared with the $295 million it requested in the previous year. In other words, the president is asking for less money than before to spend on an education model that he has praised to high heaven from the stump.

Illogical hostility toward charter schools Washington Post commentary by columnist Richard Cohen

In the war between the rich and the poor, I’m enlisting on the side of the underdog — the rich. What a drubbing they’ve been taking! Across the nation, but particularly in cities such as New York and Washington, the rich are incessantly accused of being slyly manipulative and self-serving. For instance, they support charter schools. Apparently, there is nothing worse.
I am mystified. Charter schools are not private schools. They are free public schools open to any student, usually by lottery. Some rich people support them, provide funds for special programs and, in return, get vilified for their efforts. One columnist, citing the pay package of charter-school chief executives, referred to a “gilded crusade,” another to an “all-out campaign by the elite.” You would think we’re talking about the “gilded” and “elite” getting their kids into some fancy school. Instead, they’re helping poor children.

Navigating the Common Core
Complexities threaten implementation
Education Next commentary by Michael Q. McShane, research fellow in education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute

The debate over the Common Core State Standards Initiative has rocketed to the forefront of education policy discussions around the country. More than 3,000 stories were written about the common core in August of 2013 alone, with another 3,000-plus in September. While gallons of ink have been spilled trying to make sense of it all, there remains much confusion about where this reform is headed. Despite some potential benefits from the common core standards, to be successful the policy must navigate a field of mines, any one of which could blow the enterprise sky-high.
There is certainly value to having a common set of clear, cross-state standards, and its developers have two things absolutely right: First, common standards will clarify the brave new world of online and blended learning and the explosion of innovative and useful technology resources for students. It is of enormous help to developers to have a uniform set of standards to guide the design of their applications. When I started in education, I taught in Montgomery, Alabama, a small city in a state with much less access to customized textbooks and resources than larger and wealthier cities and states. With a common set of standards, the innovations of developers in Silicon Valley can be downloaded as easily in Alabama as in California. At least in theory, the greater, nationwide competition among developers should drive down costs and drive up quality. Lesson-sharing web sites like BetterLesson and Share My Lesson can benefit teachers from across the country, helping them separate grain from chaff.
Second, there is also something to be said for having common expectations for all students.

The Common Core Takes Hold
Implementation moves steadily forward
Education Next commentary by Robert Rothman, senior fellow at the Alliance for Excellent Education

One day each month, hundreds of teachers, school leaders, and district officials in Kentucky meet to discuss issues regarding implementation of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. They propose lessons, develop assessments, and pore over materials designed to help prepare other teachers in their home schools and districts to implement the standards.
The Kentucky meetings, which take place in eight regions that comprise about 20 school districts each, are only one effort the state has undertaken to help teachers make the common core standards an integral part of classroom practice. The state department of education also built an online portal called Kentucky’s Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System, which hosts lessons, tests, and curriculum materials. The state has also engaged its higher-education institutions to revamp assessments used for placement in first-year courses to align with the standards, and to redesign teacher-preparation programs.
Kentucky in 2012 took the controversial step of retooling its state test to align with the common core standards. As expected, proficiency levels dropped sharply from the previous year, when the state used an older test based on earlier standards. But the apparent drop in scores did not provoke much of an outcry, because state officials and others had prepared parents and community members for the results. In 2013, performance improved.

2014 Brown Center Report on American Education: How Well Are American Students Learning?
Brookings Institute commentary

Part I: Lessons from the PISA-Shanghai Controversy
Part II: Homework in America
Part III: A Progress Report on the Common Core
This year’s Brown Center Report on American Education represents the third installment of volume three and the 13th issue overall since the publication began in 2000. Three studies are presented. All three revisit a topic that has been investigated in a previous Brown Center Report. The topics warrant attention again because they are back in the public spotlight.

State Education Trends
Cato Institute analysis

Long-term trends in academic performance and spending are valuable tools for evaluating past education policies and informing current ones. But such data have been scarce at the state level, where the most important education policy decisions are made. State spending data exist reaching back to the 1960s, but the figures have been scattered across many different publications. State-level academic performance data are either nonexistent prior to 1990 or, as in the case of the SAT, are unrepresentative of statewide student populations. Using a time-series regression approach described in a separate publication, this paper adjusts state SAT score averages for factors such as participation rate and student demographics, which are known to affect outcomes, then validates the results against recent state-level National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test scores. This produces continuous, state-representative estimated SAT score trends reaching back to 1972. The present paper charts these trends against both inflation-adjusted per pupil spending and the raw, unadjusted SAT results, providing an unprecedented perspective on American education inputs and outcomes over the past 40 years.


Nonprofit AIR wins $220 million contract to replace the FCATs Miami Herald

TALLAHASSEE — After months of uncertainty, the state education department has selected an exam to replace the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests.
The American Institutes for Research won the coveted $220-million, six-year contract to develop and administer the new statewide exams, Education Commissioner Pam Stewart announced Monday.
The Washington-based nonprofit beat out testing giants Pearson and CTB/McGraw-Hill.
The as-yet-unnamed exams will be aligned to the Florida Standards, the new education benchmarks based on the controversial Common Core State Standards.  (Ed Week)

Efforts To Close The Achievement Gap In Kids Start At Home NPR All Things Considered

When Andrea Riquetti taught kindergarten in Providence, R.I., the disparity between more affluent students and those from poor families was painfully clear.
“We would read The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” she says, “and I would ask them, ‘What is this fruit?’ And they would call all the fruits just ‘fruits,’ because they didn’t have the specific name.”
Two-thirds of Providence children entering kindergarten already fall short on state literacy tests. Riquetti says this disadvantage in her students would compound over time because so much of learning depends on basic vocabulary.
“It was very hard for them to comprehend stories or to write stories, to share or to ask questions,” she says.
Riquetti now helps run Providence Talks, the city’s ambitious effort to change this so-called word gap that researchers discovered two decades ago. They found that professional parents tend to chat away to their children, using sophisticated language even before kids are old enough to understand, while low-income parents tend to speak far less and use more directives: “Do this, don’t do that.”

Wyoming first state to block new science standards Casper (WY) Star-Tribune

Wyoming is the first state to block a new set of national science standards, but a week after Gov. Matt Mead signed off on the change, education advocates are still digesting what the action means for the state.
Some say the provision, which came through a last-minute budget footnote, blocks the state from considering any part of the Next Generation Science Standards, a set of K-12 standards developed by national science education groups and representatives from 26 states. Others, including the provision’s author, say it prevents the wholesale adoption of the standards as they are written.
Legal teams from the state board of education, the Wyoming Department of Education and the Legislative Service Office are ferreting out the footnote’s intent, state board Chairman Ron Micheli said.
“Right now, we’re just up in the air,” Micheli said Thursday. “We don’t have consensus on the board or among our attorneys [on the footnote’s meaning].”  (National Center for Science Education)

Poll: People Still Seek Meaty News on Media Buffet Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A new study finds Americans of all ages are charting their own paths across a media landscape that no longer relies on front pages and evening newscasts to dictate what’s worth knowing.
They still pay heed to serious news even as they seek out the lighter stuff, according to the Media Insight Project. The conclusions burst the myth of the media “bubble” – the notion that no one pays attention to anything beyond a limited sphere of interest, like celebrities or college hoops or Facebook posts.
“This idea that somehow we’re all going down narrow paths of interest and that many people are just sort of amusing themselves to death and not interested in the news and the world around them? That is not the case,” said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute, which teamed with the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research on the project.
People today are nibbling from a news buffet spread across 24-hour television, websites, radio, newspapers and magazines, and social networks.
Three-fourths of Americans see or hear news daily, including 6 in 10 adults under age 30, the study found. Nearly everyone – about 9 in 10 people – said they enjoy keeping up with the news. And more than 6 in 10 say that wherever they find the news, they prefer it to come directly from a news organization.
The study found relatively few differences by age, political leanings or wealth when it comes to the topics people care about. Traffic and weather are nearly universal interests. Majorities express interest in natural disasters, local news, politics, the economy, crime and foreign coverage.

People flit across the news landscape, depending on what they’re seeking, the study found.
Wonder why local newscasts seem fixated on crime, traffic, weather and health warnings? That’s why viewers go there.
Cable TV channels draw the most people looking for foreign news, politics, social issues and business stories.
Readers prefer newspapers – online or in print – for local news, stories about schools and education, and arts and culture coverage. Among news sources, newspapers have the widest range of topics that attract a significant number of people.

A copy of the report  (APNORC)

New Jersey teen drops lawsuit against parents over tuition money Reuters

NEW YORK – A New Jersey teenager who drew international attention when she sued her parents for financial support after leaving home in a dispute on Tuesday dropped the case against them, according to court records.
Rachel Canning, 18, filed papers to dismiss the lawsuit in New Jersey family court, saying the decision was voluntary.

McKay High School may remove suspension records regarding tweet Salem (OR) Statesman Journal

At least some, and possibly all, of the 20 students who were suspended from McKay High School for reportedly retweeting an anonymous post about a teacher could have the suspensions expunged from their records.
Jay Remy, spokesman for the Salem-Keizer School District, confirmed Tuesday morning that officials at McKay are sitting down individually with each of the students and their parents to discuss the possibility of getting the suspensions wiped from their records.
“It’s possible that all 20 of them could have it expunged,” he said. “We can’t talk about a specific student’s record. It’s not one big announcement or one fell swoop, but they’ll contact and talk to each of the parents and work through it with each individual kid.
“The eventual outcome is very likely it would be all 20 of them,” he added.
At least 20 students at the school were suspended earlier this month after apparently retweeting or hitting favorite on a tweet from an anonymous “confessions” type of Twitter account.
The tweet in question read: “Ms. [name redacted] always flirts with her students.”

Students Reprimanded Over Racist Twitter Posts Associated Press

HOWELL, Mich. — High school officials in Michigan said they reprimanded students involved in posting racist messages on Twitter after a predominantly white basketball team defeated a team with black and white players.
Messages were posted after Howell beat Grand Blanc 54-49 in a Class A boys’ regional final near Flint at Linden High School on Thursday, The Flint Journal reported. The Twitter posts referred to Howell’s team being white and included Ku Klux Klan and Hitler references.
By Friday, the newspaper reported, the messages had been changed to apologies.

Cooper: LPSB violated policies in hiring firm Lafayette (LA) Advertiser

The Lafayette Parish School Board wants to bring on a private law firm as its legal counsel Wednesday, but Superintendent Pat Cooper wants the board to address several concerns he has about how they handled the matter.
Last fall, the board voted to discontinue using the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office as its legal counsel. Since then, the board has appointed Hammonds, Sills, Adkins and Guice as its interim general counsel.
School board President Hunter Beasley said he plans to present the board with a contract Wednesday to appoint Hammonds and Sills as the interim counsel. A board committee meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the process for hiring permanent legal representation.

China Cracks Down on Medication of Schoolchildren Associated Press

BEIJING — China’s education ministry ordered a nationwide investigation on Tuesday into whether schools are giving students medication without permission after a protest by parents of kindergarteners who were given an antiviral drug.
The announcement came a week after an angry protest by parents whose children were given the drug in the city of Xi’an. Some children suffered stomach pain, dizziness and other symptoms but authorities say it is unclear whether it was linked to the drug.
Police in Xi’an said two kindergartens gave children the medication to improve attendance rates and boost their incomes.


USOE Calendar

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April 3-4:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

April 10:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

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