Education News Roundup: March 27, 2014

Artwork from Red Mountain Elementary students

Artwork from Red Mountain Elementary students

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:

Jordan District buys acreage for new schools.
http://go.uen.org/Ap  (SLT)

What should Utah look like by 2050?
http://go.uen.org/Aq  (SLT)
and http://go.uen.org/Ar  (DN)

Autism rates climb nationally.
http://go.uen.org/Bj  (USAT)
and http://go.uen.org/BE  (Politico)
or a copy of the report
http://go.uen.org/Bk  (CDC)

Hechinger Report poses the question: Between school loan payback schedules and teacher pay, is the ed biz sustainable?
http://go.uen.org/Bt  (Hechinger Report)

Closing arguments today in the California teacher job lawsuit.
http://go.uen.org/Bl  (Reuters)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Jordan District split talk continues despite land purchase
Board votes to buy 32 acres in Daybreak, but South Jordan leaders still have concerns.

What should Utah change by 2050?
Your Utah, Your Future » Planning initiative will seek broad participation from Utahns.

Utah Lawmakers Find Additional Funding For Preschools

Should poverty and win rate, as well as enrollment, determine high school sports classification?

2 Utah high school seniors named as NASA contest finalists

Standout students recognized by PCSD Board of Education
PCHS students earn state and national awards for academics and leadership

Student-advocated state tree bill signed into law

Hurricane-area school board candidates prep for primary

New RHS Building Takes Another Step Forward

Park Elementary students show off successful habits

Two win title of Sterling Scholar

Granite Education Foundation announces Excel Award recipients

Learn about the “Physics of Freestyle” at free event on March 27th

Kids learn about history at Sack Lunch Theatre

Area Catholic school bands take on music challenge

Fitch Rates Jordan School District, UT’s Refunding GOs ‘AAA’; Outlook Stable

Utah Selects Think Through Math as Instructional Software for Grades 6-8
The only solution that combines quality instruction with access to live, Utah Core Standards-trained tutors that is eligible for purchase from Utah’s STEM Action Center.

Ex-Cottonwood High coach sentenced to probation in assault

Brighton High teacher back after 5-day “Leave of Absence”

Small riot breaks out when teens fight Salt Lake police

80-year-old school crossing guard hit in Orem crosswalk

Car destroyed by fire at Syracuse High

Cougar sighting puts Canyons School District officials on alert

St. Joseph offers college prep workshop for all northern Utah students

Granite School District to host Latino Family Night

Sylvan Learning launches educational mobile game network for kids

American teachers searching for better pay

OPINION & COMMENTARY

School board

Education won’t improve until it’s as local as your kitchen table

Too easy for parents to put teacher under the bus

Why Herbert should veto preschool bill

Giving Up on 4-Year-Olds

A Common Core for All of Us

Rethinking National Standards

Newly minted teachers in 2012 on average owe $429 a month

Why you work to pay the babysitter

Choice, Not More Spending, Is Key To Better Schools

What if there were no public schools?
It might not be as bad as you think

The Curriculum Wars
For years, progressives and traditionalists have been battling out what our children learn.

Does School Board Leadership Matter?

NATION

Autism rates jump again, affecting 1 in 68 children

Why is this Common Core math problem so hard? Supporters respond to quiz that went viral

Does The Fight For A Cursive Comeback Miss The Point?

Lawmakers: New Texas Curriculum May Be Too Complicated

California case challenges teacher job protection laws

ACLU Settles Suit Over Student’s Online Comments

Girl’s shaved head draws national furor at Grand Junction school

Fired Butte Central teacher gives birth to a son

Trying to Close a Knowledge Gap, Word by Word

Parents, schools struggle with shifting teen attitudes on marijuana

What happens at school when a girl doesn’t act like a girl
How schools dealt with Grayson Bruce and Sunnie Kahle, two young students who didn’t act according to gender norms, has drawn outrage. But such cases are complicated, and many schools are making progress toward being more understanding, experts say.

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UTAH NEWS
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Jordan District split talk continues despite land purchase
Board votes to buy 32 acres in Daybreak, but South Jordan leaders still have concerns.

The Jordan School District board decided Tuesday night to spend $7 million on land for two possible new schools in the Daybreak development — but it might be too little too late for some South Jordan leaders considering splitting from the district.
The board voted Tuesday to buy 32 acres in South Jordan’s Daybreak development at 4800 West 10200 South for possible school construction. The decision comes amid discussion in recent weeks among South Jordan leaders about splitting from the district over concerns about whether it will be able to keep pace with the city’s quick growth.
Richard Osborn, Jordan district board president, said Tuesday the district has been considering buying the land since before talk of a South Jordan split began.
http://go.uen.org/Ap  (SLT)

What should Utah change by 2050?
Your Utah, Your Future » Planning initiative will seek broad participation from Utahns.

By 2050, Utah will be home to 2.5 million more residents — who will need jobs, education, roads and transit and affordable housing. They’ll add to the demand for clean water, clean air and the state’s recreation areas.
To develop strategies to manage and thrive in a more crowded future, eight task forces convened by Envision Utah are getting underway and will be reaching out to Utahns for ideas and feedback as part of the “Your Utah, Your Future” campaign.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced the planning effort in October and wants to develop a vision and strategy to achieve consensus goals by 2015.
Leaders of the teams outlined their challenges at Rice-Eccles Stadium Tuesday.

Education » Almost half of Utah’s state and local taxes are paid by the 28 percent of the population that have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Now, 42 percent of white Utahns hold an associate degree or higher, compared to 31 percent of African Americans and 17 percent of Hispanics. Utah aims to have 66 percent of its working adults hold a college degree or professional certificate by 2020, which will require more resources for education, greater access for diverse populations, and more rigorous K-12 preparation.
http://go.uen.org/Aq  (SLT)

http://go.uen.org/Ar  (DN)

Utah Lawmakers Find Additional Funding For Preschools

Many new slots for poor preschool children will be opening in Utah next fall. Utah lawmakers teamed with Goldman Sachs investment bankers to finance the program.
Educators say if poor kids go to preschool, they are less likely to end up in special education later.
http://go.uen.org/B2  (KUTV)

Should poverty and win rate, as well as enrollment, determine high school sports classification?

The playing field isn’t always level, so Ogden City School District administrators are working on a proposal to even things out.
In a Board of Education work session held March 19, Superintendent Brad Smith presented a document suggesting ways the Utah High School Activities Association could change the formula for classifying high schools.
“I’m trying to lay out the case for including something more than bare enrollment,” he said of the calculations for classifying a school as 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A or 5A for competition. “We should start with enrollment, and factor in poverty and win rates that are relative to the remainder of the state.”
Schools with lower than the state average poverty rate would have their enrollment numbers inflated, and schools with higher than average poverty rates would have their numbers diminished.
http://go.uen.org/Az  (OSE)

2 Utah high school seniors named as NASA contest finalists

HERRIMAN — A radiation shield designed by two Utah high school seniors may be put to the test and sent into space this fall on the first test flight for NASA’s Orion space capsule.
Matthew Hansen and Christian Lambert, both 18, found out Wednesday during a live webcast that their NASA Exploration Design Challenge project is one of five finalists chosen from 46 projects across the country.
The challenge was to design a box measuring 7 inches on each side and weighing 7 pounds or less that would shield against radiation — specifically to protect a dosimeter, an instrument that measures radiation exposure.
The seniors, Hansen from Copper Hills High School and Lambert from Riverton High School started working on the project last summer with Matthew Lund, a physics and astronomy teacher at Herriman High School and a nuclear engineering master’s student at the University of Utah.
http://go.uen.org/AG (DN)

http://go.uen.org/B9  (KSL)

http://go.uen.org/Bd  (KSTU)

Standout students recognized by PCSD Board of Education
PCHS students earn state and national awards for academics and leadership

Last week’s Park City School District Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, March 18, saw a full house. Students, teachers and administrators filled every seat available as the school board recognized the accomplishments of several Park City High School students.
The first to stand, take a photo and receive a certificate from Superintendent Dr. Ember Conley was junior Abelardo “R.B.” Vasquez. He attended the Latinos in Action (LIA) state conference on Tuesday, March 11, where he placed first in the writing competition.
http://go.uen.org/BH  (PR)

Student-advocated state tree bill signed into law

MONROE, Sevier County — Step aside, Colorado blue spruce. Utah has a new state tree.
Gov. Gary Herbert joined students at Monroe Elementary School on Wednesday to sign SB41, which designates the quaking aspen as the state’s arboreal symbol.
The event marked the end of an effort that began last year when fourth-grade students from Monroe Elementary appealed to the governor during a visit to Sevier County that the aspen — not the spruce — represents the state’s forests.
http://go.uen.org/AQ  (DN)

http://go.uen.org/AW  (PDH)

http://go.uen.org/AX  (CVD)

http://go.uen.org/B0  (KUTV)

http://go.uen.org/B7  (KSL)

http://go.uen.org/Bb  (KSTU)

http://go.uen.org/Bh  (MUR)

Hurricane-area school board candidates prep for primary

HURRICANE — Three candidates have their name in the race for the Washington County School District race representing Hurricane Valley in District 5 with an imminent primary race ahead — the only primary election for any of the open school board seats.
http://go.uen.org/AY  (SGS)

New RHS Building Takes Another Step Forward

Old buildings have been torn down and the land has been leveled in preparations for the new Richfield High School. Sevier School District Superintendent Cade Douglas says bids for construction will go out next week on the first phase of the new building. A blueprint of what the new high school will look like can be found on the district’s website. Douglas expects to see progress on the new structure by the end of April.
http://go.uen.org/Bg  (MUR)

Park Elementary students show off successful habits

SPANISH FORK — Behavior, attendance and classroom work are three areas students at Park Elementary School are improving in thanks to The Leader in Me, a program created by FranklinCovey to foster better school performance.
The program, based on the book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen R. Covey, is a whole-school transformation model similar to the operating system of a computer; it helps improve the performance of all the other programs.
http://go.uen.org/AA  (OSE)

Two win title of Sterling Scholar

Two local students brought home top honors and ten received runner-up honors at the annual Sterling Scholars competition on March 18 in Price.
Arianna Reay of Monticello High and Brittney Macdonald of San Juan High are local winners in the competition between students from nine high schools in southeast Utah.
http://go.uen.org/BF  (San Juan Record)

Granite Education Foundation announces Excel Award recipients

WEST VALLEY CITY — Ten Granite School District educators have been selected as recipients of the 2014 Excel Award, which recognizes educators who incite intellectual curiosity in students, engage them thoroughly in the enterprise of learning, and exhibit a lifelong impact.
The honorees are Ruth Adolphson, Cyprus High School; Robin Farnsworth, Neil Armstrong Academy; Le Vuong, Bennion Junior High School; Mark Grant, Evergreen Junior High School; Keri Graybill, Granite Park Junior High School; Sharon Hall, Christmas Box House; Rachel Jensen, Calvin S. Smith Elementary School; Heidi Parkin, Spring Lane Elementary School; Amber Tuckness, Cottonwood High School; and Sarah Waddoups, Oakwood Elementary School.
http://go.uen.org/Ax  (DN)

Learn about the “Physics of Freestyle” at free event on March 27th

SALT LAKE CITY – University of Utah’s College of Science will hold their first Physics of Freestyle event on March 27.
People who come out will learn about the physics behind skiing and snowboarding, with a look at a few common tricks used during various freestyle events.
It takes place on March 27 from 2:30 to 5:00 p.m. at the Eccles Center at 1750 Kearns Blvd. in Park City.
The event is geared toward K-12 students, but is free and open to the public.
http://go.uen.org/B5  (KTVX)

Kids learn about history at Sack Lunch Theatre

MURRAY — Who knew third-grader Luke Sadler could belt out “The Star-Spangled Banner” on a moment’s notice in front of an audience?
All of the kids from Butterfield Canyon and Newman Elementary schools and their teachers know it now.
http://go.uen.org/Aw  (DN)

Area Catholic school bands take on music challenge

HOLLADAY — Several bands from area Catholic schools participated in a musical challenge Tuesday afternoon in Holladay.
About 90 student musicians converged at St. Vincent De Paul Catholic School to learn a piece of music they did not know with students they did not know. After learning it they performed the song for a live audience.
http://go.uen.org/Be  (KSTU)

Fitch Rates Jordan School District, UT’s Refunding GOs ‘AAA’; Outlook Stable

SAN FRANCISCO–Fitch Ratings has assigned an ‘AAA’ rating to the following Jordan School District, Utah (the district) bonds:
–$106.8 million general obligation (GO) refunding bonds, series 2014.
This ‘AAA’ underlying rating reflects the district’s credit quality without consideration of the ‘AAA’-rated guaranty on the GO bonds provided by the Utah School Bond Default Avoidance Program.
The bonds are expected to sell competitively on April 15, 2014. The proceeds will refund various GO bond maturities for savings. The 2014 refunding bonds mature serially, June 15, 2015-2022, and are not subject to optional redemption prior to maturity.
http://go.uen.org/By  (Business Wire)

Utah Selects Think Through Math as Instructional Software for Grades 6-8
The only solution that combines quality instruction with access to live, Utah Core Standards-trained tutors that is eligible for purchase from Utah’s STEM Action Center.

Pittsburgh, PA – Think Through Math (TTM), the only solution that combines fully adaptive instruction with access to live, Utah Core Standards-trained tutors, is now eligible for purchase for the 2014-2015 school year. The STEM Action Center and the Utah State Office of Education previously announced the availability of $8.5 million dollars for schools to implement math digital learning technologies.
http://go.uen.org/Bz  (PRWeb)

Ex-Cottonwood High coach sentenced to probation in assault

SALT LAKE CITY — A former Cottonwood High School assistant football coach who pleaded guilty to assaulting a man at a party has been sentenced to probation.
Eric Christian Eyre, 32, who pleaded guilty to third-degree felony aggravated assault resulting in serious bodily injury, was sentenced Monday to zero to five years in prison by 3rd District Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills. However, the judge suspended the prison time and ordered Eyre to serve three years’ probation. He was also ordered to pay $11,112 in restitution to the victim in the case.
http://go.uen.org/Ay  (DN)

Brighton High teacher back after 5-day “Leave of Absence”

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Ut – A Brighton High teacher—accused of making racist comments—came back Wednesday after taking a five-day “administrative leave.”
He has a famous name: Knute Rockne. But now this high school history teacher is in the public eye for all the wrong reasons.
“We did receive a report that a teacher had made inappropriate racial comments in the classroom,” said Jennifer Toomer-Cook, spokesperson for Canyons School District.
Students at Brighton say that Rockne told an African-American classmate he would “slap the black off him,” a comment that seemed to offend students of all races.
http://go.uen.org/B3  (KTVX)

Small riot breaks out when teens fight Salt Lake police

What began Tuesday night with a teenage trespassing ended up as a brawl with more than half a dozen Salt Lake City police officers.
The incident began at 6:31 p.m. when police stopped an 18-year-old man who was trespassing at Horizonte High School, at 1234 S. Main St.
According to Detective Cody Lougy, the teen has previously tried to enter the school — which has night classes for both adults and kids — and has been banned from the campus.
As officers stopped the teen he became “combative.” Lougy said a group of kids then began to gather around the scene. Those kids also became combative and at one point someone punched an officer in the head.
http://go.uen.org/AN  (SLT)

80-year-old school crossing guard hit in Orem crosswalk

OREM — An 80-year-old crossing guard was struck by a vehicle Wednesday while helping a student across the street.
The accident happened about 7:20 a.m. in front of Orchard Elementary School, 1035 N. 800 East. The crossing guard, Jerry Smith, had just helped a student cross the street and was still standing in the crosswalk, wearing a reflective vest and holding a stop sign, when he was hit by a van, Orem Police Lt. Craig Martinez said.
http://go.uen.org/AP  (DN)

http://go.uen.org/AV  (PDH)

http://go.uen.org/B1  (KUTV)

http://go.uen.org/B4  (KTVX)

http://go.uen.org/B8  (KSL)

http://go.uen.org/Ba  (KSTU)

Car destroyed by fire at Syracuse High

SYRACUSE — Fire crews responded Wednesday afternoon to a billowing car fire at Syracuse High School.
Firefighters arrived in the main parking lot to find a white Chevrolet Cavalier in flames. Crews quickly doused the fire after navigating around the heavy traffic in the lot, which was filled with the cars of spectators at a high school baseball game and track meet both taking place at the same time.
http://go.uen.org/AT  (OSE)

http://go.uen.org/Bc  (KSTU)

Cougar sighting puts Canyons School District officials on alert

SANDY, Utah – A few cougar sightings had wildlife officers searching and local schools on alert Tuesday.
Canyons School District officials called and sent emails to parents, warning them that they were on safety alert. They told parents that no one would be let inside or out of the schools.
http://go.uen.org/B6  (KTVX)

http://go.uen.org/BB  (KUTV)

http://go.uen.org/BC  (KSL)

http://go.uen.org/Bf  (KNRS)

http://go.uen.org/BA  (SLT)

St. Joseph offers college prep workshop for all northern Utah students

OGDEN — On April 12, students from across northern Utah will descend on the Saint Joseph Catholic High School campus for the 2nd Annual College Prep Workshop.
“We have offered this workshop in the past, but this is the first time we are offering it to the entire community,” said Principal Patrick Lambert.
http://go.uen.org/BG  (IC)

Granite School District to host Latino Family Night

WEST VALLEY CITY — The Granite School District is inviting Latino families to connect with district leaders and gather information about educational opportunities. Hundreds of families from several communities in the Salt Lake Valley will come together Thursday evening for Noche Familiar Latina, Thursday, March 27, 7 p.m. at Granger High School, 3580 S. 3600 West.
http://go.uen.org/AR  (DN)

Sylvan Learning launches educational mobile game network for kids

ST. GEORGE – Is it okay for kids to binge on mobile games? Clark Hatfield, executive director of the Sylvan Learning Center in St. George, thinks so – as long as they are the right ones. But how can parents find games that guarantee their kids’ screen time is actually beneficial? To help take the guesswork out of choosing from the thousands of apps available, Sylvan Learning introduces SylvanPlay, a comprehensive, educational mobile games network for kids in first through fourth grade.
http://go.uen.org/AZ  (SGN)

American teachers searching for better pay

Teachers educate the country, aiding all ages in the search for education. But as far as salaries and pay goes, some say teachers aren’t receiving any help back.
http://go.uen.org/AS  (DN)

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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School board
(St. George) Spectrum editorial

In many election cycles, races for school board get lost amid the stump speeches, flashy brochures and media coverage of other races, such as for the Legislature, county commission or other offices.
But school board probably should be among the races we as voters pay the most attention to as election season gets under way. After all, public education regularly ranks among the most important issues in polls of Utah residents. And it’s difficult to put into words any single topic that impacts our families and communities more than schools.
This year is no different. In fact, in Washington County, a contested race for school board may be among the most significant races on the ballot. In Washington County alone, there are four contested races, and a primary may be needed in District 5 to eliminate one of the three candidates.
http://go.uen.org/AB

Education won’t improve until it’s as local as your kitchen table
Deseret News commentary by columnist Jay Evensen

By 2014, schoolchildren in America were to have reached 100 percent proficiency in math and science, according to the goals of the No Child Left Behind law.
So … how’s that working out for us?
As a nation, we’re so far from that goal of perfection that it’s getting in the way of seeing the progress we’ve made.
http://go.uen.org/AO

Too easy for parents to put teacher under the bus
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner commentary by columnist Meg Sanders

My resume into the education world consists of student, daughter of a teacher, and after school program director. Parent will be a new position for me, set to begin in the fall. Playing the position of student I failed miserably, holding the record of lowest GPA in the family as well as a foray within school suspension. Two things help with the scenario — 1. Brian has a near perfect GPA through college so I can use him as the example, and 2. I burned my report cards (this column is the only proof I was a terrible student in high school).
Each parent-teacher conference, my folks charged in with full knowledge their child was a lazy student with a drawer full of embellishments to share with teacher and parent.
http://go.uen.org/AU

Why Herbert should veto preschool bill
Sutherland Institute commentary by President Paul Mero

Most people know that Barack Obama has been pushing for universal health care since his initial campaign in 2008. But did you know that universal preschool has been on his implementation list for just as long?
The “Preschool for All” concept took center stage in his two most recent State of the Union addresses. President Obama has proposed that $75 billion in mandatory funding be allocated “for a Federal-State partnership that would provide high-quality preschool to all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families, while also creating incentives for States to expand publicly funded preschool services to middle-class families and promoting access to high-quality full-day kindergarten and high-quality early learning programs for children under the age of 4.”[1]
Enter HB 96, Utah School Readiness Initiative – a heavily debated bill passed by the state Legislature but still unsigned by Governor Gary Herbert.
http://go.uen.org/Bi

Giving Up on 4-Year-Olds
New York Times editorial

A new report released by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, examining the disciplinary practices of the country’s 97,000 public schools, shows that excessively punitive policies are being used at every level of the public school system — even against 4-year-olds in preschool. This should shame the nation and force it to re-evaluate the destructive measures that schools are using against their most vulnerable children.
Black students, for example, are suspended at three times the rate of white students. Minority children with disabilities fare worst of all; the race effect is amplified when disability comes into the picture. More than one in four minority boys with a disability — and nearly one in five minority girls — receive an out-of-school suspension. Students with disabilities make up 12 percent of the student population, but 25 percent of those are either arrested or have their disciplinary cases referred to the police.
This is distressing enough when it happens to adolescents. But the new data show that disparate treatment of minority children begins early — in preschool. For example, black children represent 18 percent of preschool enrollment but nearly half of all children who receive more than one out-of-school suspension.
http://go.uen.org/AM

A Common Core for All of Us
New York Times commentary by Jennifer Finney Boylan, a professor at Colby College


This question is also playing out in the debate over the adoption of the Common Core State Standards in education, now fully adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. The original goal of the program (coordinated by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers) seemed uncontroversial: to establish consistent educational goals nationwide. These goals include teaching our children to be good writers and readers, competent in mathematics and quantitative reasoning, and conversant with social studies and science.
It’s hard to argue with that. And yet discontent with the Common Core is spreading, especially among Republicans. A few Republican governors are now so intent on distancing themselves from the Common Core’s presumed progressive bias that they’re changing its name. In Florida, it’s now called the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards, and in Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer renamed it Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards.
“We don’t ever want to educate South Carolina children like they educate California children,” said Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, presumably because doing so would result in children in the Palmetto State riding longboards and listening to the Grateful Dead.
On the other hand, you have the Common Core supporter Bill Gates, who suggests, “It’s ludicrous to think that multiplication in Alabama and multiplication in New York are really different.”
I suspect that this debate is not really about multiplication. What we’re arguing about is what we want from our children’s education, and what, in fact, “getting an education” actually means. For some parents, the primary desire is for our sons and daughters to wind up, more or less, like ourselves. Education, in this model, means handing down shared values of the community to the next generation. Sometimes it can also mean shielding children from aspects of the culture we do not approve of, or fear.
For others, education means enlightening our children’s minds with the uncensored scientific and artistic truth of the world. If that means making our own sons and daughters strangers to us, then so be it.
http://go.uen.org/As

Rethinking National Standards
Wall Street Journal commentary by columnist JASON L. RILEY

Opponents of the Common Core, a federal effort to establish a uniform math and reading curriculum for the nation’s K-12 students, are cheering Indiana’s decision this week to pull out. And there are indications that some of the other 44 states who signed up at the urging of the Obama administration are having second thoughts.
“I believe when we reach the end of this process there are going to be many other states around the county that will take a hard look at the way Indiana has taken a step back, designed our own standards,” said Indiana’s Republican governor, Mike Pence. Like other Common Core skeptics, Mr. Pence argues that states and localities are best suited to determine education standards.
Mr. Pence may well be right on that score, but a more fundamental question is whether a debate over uniform standards should be sucking up so much oxygen. It’s true that countries with national standards, like South Korea and Japan, outperform the U.S. on international tests. But so do countries without national standards, such as Canada. And then there are the numerous countries with national standards that the U.S. outperforms. Are Common Core proponents confusing correlation and causation?
http://go.uen.org/AL

Newly minted teachers in 2012 on average owe $429 a month
Hechinger Report commentary by columnist Jill Barshay

Should future teachers be taking out massive loans to get their master’s of education degrees?
A March 26, 2014 report by the New America Foundation points out that as much as 40 percent of the $1 trillion in student debt outstanding was borrowed not for college, but to pay for grad school. And some 80% of of the debt incurred by students who finished their grad school programs in 2012 wasn’t for people going into medicine, law or business, but for less profitable professions, such as teaching. Indeed, the average graduate of a master’s in education degree finished with more than $50,000 in debt — $8,000 more than the debt of a typical MBA graduate. That’s a 66% increase in the debts of newly minted teachers since 2004. Another way to think about it is that the average newly minted teacher in 2012 has to pay $429 a month in student debt payments. Half owed more.
The report’s authors predict that these teachers and other indebted graduates won’t be able to earn enough money to afford to pay back their loans. That will leave taxpayers holding the bag, effectively subsidizing schools of education.
http://go.uen.org/Bt

Why you work to pay the babysitter
Reuters commentary by columnist LINDA STERN

Working parents of young children face a disappointing calculus. When they look at the paycheck of the lower-earning spouse – still usually the wife’s – they don’t see much bottom line income.
The taxes on that second income are paid at the couple’s top marginal rate. A family in the middling 28 percent marginal tax bracket could see the second earner’s salary cut by 43 percent or more, once state, Social Security and Medicare taxes are included. If she earns $50,000, they are left with $28,500 from which to pay for childcare (deduct an average of $11,666 a year, according to the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies), commuting and all of the other costs of holding a job, from business attire to buying colleagues’ kids’ wrapping paper at fundraising time.
It’s no wonder that a random bad day will trigger the quit response in struggling parents. Someone gets sent home from school sick, a playdate is missed, the family is frenzied and at least one of the parents feels out of control. “I’m bringing home $200 a week for this?” comes the question that often results in the family downsizing to one income.
But that calculus leaves out a lot of factors that some financial advisers are starting to warn their clients about. “What about the financial risk of not working?” write Jerry Miccolis and Marina Goodman of Giralda Adisors, a Madison, New Jersey asset management firm, in the current issue of the Journal of Financial Planning.
“The couples who are most at risk when the wife does not work are the middle-income to mass affluent, working age, have children at home and have high income and expenses but relatively low savings,” they wrote.
http://go.uen.org/Bm

Choice, Not More Spending, Is Key To Better Schools
Investors Business Daily op-ed by W. MICHAEL COX, director of the O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom at the SMU Cox School of Business, AND RICHARD ALM, the center’s writer-in-residence

Education looms as both cause and cure for the decline of the middle class and the widening gap between rich and poor.
In today’s knowledge-based economy, poorly performing public schools leave many U.S. workers ill-equipped for jobs that pay middle-class wages.
So it follows that improving education is the only way to raise up the poor, reduce inequality and restore the American middle class.
We all want better schools — right-wingers, left-wingers, even business and labor are on board. Most proposals for improving education come down to the same thing — spend more of the taxpayers’ money.
But that’s what we’ve been doing for two or more generations, and it hasn’t worked. Andrew J. Coulson, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, calculates that inflation-adjusted spending per pupil more than doubled from $5,500 a year in 1970 to more than $12,500 in 2010.
What did America get for its money? Nothing — at least when measured in terms of educational quality. Since 1970, average test scores among 17-year-olds have been flat in reading and math, and down in science.
Yet the money illusion persists, largely because politicians and advocates have seized on a superficial link between bigger budgets and school quality.
Annual spending per student varies widely among states, ranging from $18,126 in New York down to $6,356 in Utah. The big-spending states also do better on an index combining eighth-grade scores in math, reading and science.
Case closed — or so advocates of education spending would have us believe.
The conclusion, however, relies on data with fatal flaws that skew the relationship between school spending and student performance. The flaws center on the differences among states in living costs, incomes and demographics.
http://go.uen.org/BD

What if there were no public schools?
It might not be as bad as you think
The Week op-ed by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, an entrepreneur and writer based in Paris

Whenever we talk about education reform, we talk about the most boring, narrow stuff. You want education reform? I’ll show you education reform.
Imagine that omnipotent space aliens from the planet Zyrglax land on Earth and take control of the United States. But these aliens are somewhat bizarre, and they change only one thing: they teleport all public school buildings into the sun, and prohibit the government from any action or law providing for public education, even ruling out school vouchers and the like. All school budgets are rebated back to the taxpayer. Failure to comply will result in America being blasted to dust from orbit.
What would happen?
I’m serious — let’s game this out. What would happen?
Well, at first it would be chaos. Millions of kids would be out of school, parents would be helpless, and so on.
But what would happen next?
For the upper class, not much would change — except for a handful of magnet public schools, they’ve basically opted out of the public education system.
What about the middle class?
This is where things get interesting.
http://go.uen.org/Bx

The Curriculum Wars
For years, progressives and traditionalists have been battling out what our children learn.
Defining Ideas analysis by Tom Loveless, member of the Koret K–12 Education Task Force

In the nineteenth century, Herbert Spencer famously posed the question underlying all curricula: what knowledge is worth the most? Conflicting answers to that question have generated political controversy throughout the history of the American school—and especially in the 1990s—primarily because of a philosophical conflict between what have become known as traditionalist and progressive camps. This essay sketches the evolution of that conflict from the 1990s to the current day and evaluates its impact on the content and breadth (time spent on subjects) of the school curriculum. Although the most heated curriculum wars quieted down by the mid-2000s, two forces loom on the horizon that may reignite them: new technologies and the Common Core State Standards. Indeed, skirmishes over the Common Core have already taken place. I conclude by discussing specific areas in which future research can make meaningful contributions.

Does School Board Leadership Matter?
Fordham Institute analysis by Arnold F. Shober and Michael T. Hartney

Are the nation’s 90,000-plus school board members critical players in enhancing student learning? Are they part of the problem? Are they harmless bystanders? Among the takeaways are the following:
*Board members, by and large, possess accurate information about their districts when it comes to finance, teacher pay, collective bargaining, and class size. Whether they were knowledgeable from the outset or surround themselves with savvy staff and administrators, many are making decisions from an informed point of view.
* But such knowledge is not uniformly distributed. Surprisingly, members who were never educators themselves are more accurately informed than their peers who once were (or still are) educators. Likewise, political moderates appear to have more accurate knowledge than their liberal or conservative counterparts.
* A district’s success in “beating the odds” academically is related to board members’ focus on the improvement of academics. Unfortunately, not all board members have this focus; some prefer a broader approach, such as developing the “whole child.”
* Board members elected during on-cycle, at-large elections are more likely to serve in districts that “beat the odds” than those chosen by voters off-cycle or by ward. In some localities, how board members are elected may deter the best and brightest from taking on these key roles.
What does this mean for education governance?
http://go.uen.org/Ao

http://go.uen.org/Bu  (The Atlantic)

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Autism rates jump again, affecting 1 in 68 children
USA Today

Autism rates climbed nearly 30% between 2008 and 2010 and have more than doubled since the turn of the century, according to a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition is now believed to affect one of every 68 8-year-olds – up from one in 88 just two years earlier.
That means virtually every grade in every elementary school has at least one child with autism – a seemingly astonishing rise for a condition that was nearly unheard of a generation ago.
What’s still unknown is the driver of that increase. Many experts believe the rise is largely due to better awareness and diagnosis rather than a true increase in the number of children with the condition.
http://go.uen.org/Bj

http://go.uen.org/BE  (Politico)

A copy of the report
http://go.uen.org/Bk (CDC)

Why is this Common Core math problem so hard? Supporters respond to quiz that went viral
Hechinger Report

It may be the first time a math problem has gone viral on the Internet.
A frustrated father posted a subtraction problem from his second-grade son’s math quiz on Facebook this week with a note to the teacher calling it ridiculous. Conservative pundits, including Glenn Beck, seized on it as evidence that the new standards are nonsensical and “stupid,” adding more fuel to the backlash against the Common Core as it rolls out in schools across the country.
The problem asks how Jack, a fictional student, miscalculated when he used a number line to find the answer to the subtraction problem 427 – 316. Students are then asked to write a letter to Jack explaining what he did right and what he did wrong.
Critics say the problem takes a simple one-step subtraction problem and turns it into a complex endeavor with a series of unnecessary steps, including counting by 10s and 100s. The father, Jeff Severt, who has a bachelor’s in engineering, told Beck the problem was particularly difficult for his son, who has autism and attention disorders and trouble with language arts. He said that after spending two frustrating hours going over the earlier pages of his son’s math quiz, he was stumped by the problem himself.
So why is the problem so difficult? The Hechinger Report asked a couple of the lead writers of the Common Core math standards, Jason Zimba and William McCallum.
Their response? Don’t blame Common Core. Blame a poorly written curriculum.
“That question would not be in a textbook if I wrote it,” Zimba said.
http://go.uen.org/Bs

Does The Fight For A Cursive Comeback Miss The Point?
NPR All Things Considered

When was the last time you wrote in cursive? Was it a thank-you note for that birthday sweater? Perhaps a check to the baby sitter? The fact is, you may know how to loop and swirl with the best of them, but do your kids or your neighbor’s kids know as well?
Across the country, many school districts dropped cursive from their curricula years ago. The new Common Core State Standards now being implemented in most states never mention the word “cursive.” Given longhand’s waning popularity, lawmakers in several states, including Tennessee, are now trying to legislate a cursive comeback.
The arguments in favor of cursive usually revolve around heritage or tradition. Some parents want their children to be able to read a letter from Grandma as well as our nation’s founding documents. Some cursive supporters also invoke science, arguing that learning cursive helps young brains grow more than learning basic printing does.
Professor Amy Bastian, a motor neuroscientist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, has dedicated her career to studying how the brain talks to the body. “The more variety of things you do in the fine motor domain, the more variety of hand movements you make, will improve your dexterity,” Bastian says.
That may sound like a ringing endorsement for cursive handwriting, but when asked if cursive writing is better for a child’s development than printing, Bastian makes it clear: She doesn’t know. Cursive is good, she insists, but it’s not certain that it’s better or more important for a child’s development than printing.
http://go.uen.org/Au

Lawmakers: New Texas Curriculum May Be Too Complicated
Associated Press via (Dallas) KTVT

AUSTIN — Some Texas lawmakers complained Wednesday that sweeping new high school curriculum and standardized testing rules were too complicated for even those who approved them to understand — much less students, parentsor academic counselors.
“When we create these kinds of, I don’t want to call them monsters but this is massive and very difficult to understand … are we building a mousetrap for our children where failure is guaranteed?” asked Rep. Alma Allen, a Houston Democrat who is vice chairwoman of the House Public EducationCommittee.
As committee members heard hours of testimony from state experts on what the new law will look like when it’s fully implemented this fall, Allen finally wondered aloud if the measure may be “beautiful on paper, not implementable.”
For months, questions about whether Texas was over-testing students and whether the state should require high school students to pass algebra II dominated the educational debate. That led to a new law that the Board of Education is now implementing to cut the number of high school standardized tests from 15 to five while scrapping the algebra II mandate for most students.
http://go.uen.org/Bq

California case challenges teacher job protection laws
Reuters

Closing arguments were set to begin Thursday in a closely watched California legal case that could change the way public school teachers are hired and fired in the most populous U.S. state.
The two-month trial focused on the question of whether five laws meant to protect teachers’ jobs are unfair to poor and minority children because, for a variety of reasons, they lead to instability at schools in troubled neighborhoods and protect the jobs of older teachers even if they are ineffective.
http://go.uen.org/Bl

ACLU Settles Suit Over Student’s Online Comments
Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A school district and a girl represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota have settled a lawsuit that claimed school officials violated the student’s constitutional rights by viewing her Facebook and email accounts without permission.
The Minnewaska School District has agreed to pay $70,000 to settle the 2012 case involving former Minnewaska Area Middle School sixth-grader, Riley Stratton, now 15 years old.
According to the lawsuit, Stratton was given detention after posting disparaging comments about a teacher’s aide on her Facebook page, even though she was at home and not using school computers. The ACLU also said administrators viewed her online conversations with a boy because of a complaint the two were using computers to talk about sex.
http://go.uen.org/Bn

Girl’s shaved head draws national furor at Grand Junction school
Denver Post

GRAND JUNCTION — The phone on the front desk at Caprock Academy rang incessantly Tuesday as a flustered receptionist admitted she had given up trying to answer it. The charter school’s website was jammed. So was its Facebook page.
The K-12 school was in the midst of a bald crisis precipitated by a dress code gone wrong.
Caprock third-grader Kamryn Renfro had shaved her head over the weekend to show support for good friend 11-year-old Delaney Clements, who is not a student at Caprock. Clements has been fighting the childhood cancer neuroblastoma since she was 7 and is bald from chemotherapy. Caprock administrators told Renfro’s parents their daughter couldn’t return to classes Monday because her bald head violated the school’s dress code.
On Tuesday, school administrators relented and allowed Renfro back but not before her upset mother had posted a message about her daughter’s suspension on Facebook. Clements’ mother also posted Facebook comments about the incident. A social-media firestorm erupted. While thousands of “likes” and messages popped up supporting the girls, Caprock Academy became the scourge de jour of the digital world.
http://go.uen.org/Bw

Fired Butte Central teacher gives birth to a son
(Butte) Montana Standard

Shaela Evenson delivered Brody Tobin Evenson on March 7 at St. James Healthcare in Butte. Brody weighed 6 pounds, 15 ounces and was 21 inches long.
This is the first child for Evenson and her partner, Marilyn Tobin, both of Butte.
Evenson taught sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade literature and physical education at the Catholic school for the past nine years. She was dismissed Jan. 10 after the Helena Diocese received an anonymous letter about her pregnancy.
Both Superintendent Pat Haggarty and Evenson’s Ohio-based lawyer, Brian Butler, say Evenson was not fired for being a lesbian.
“They told her she was fired for being pregnant and unmarried,” Butler said. “Nobody was hiding anything. (Shaela) never denied the fact that she’s in a relationship with Marilyn.”
http://go.uen.org/Bp

Trying to Close a Knowledge Gap, Word by Word
New York Times

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Amid a political push for government-funded preschool for 4-year-olds, a growing number of experts fear that such programs actually start too late for the children most at risk. That is why Deisy Ixcuna-González, the 16-month-old daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, is wearing a tiny recorder that captures every word she hears and utters inside her family’s cramped apartment one day a week.
Recent research shows that brain development is buoyed by continuous interaction with parents and caregivers from birth, and that even before age 2, the children of the wealthy know more words than do those of the poor. So the recorder acts as a tool for instructing Deisy’s parents on how to turn even a visit to the kitchen into a language lesson. It is part of an ambitious campaign, known as Providence Talks, that is aimed at the city’s poorest residents and intended to reduce the knowledge gap long before school starts. It is among a number of such efforts being undertaken throughout the country.
http://go.uen.org/At

Parents, schools struggle with shifting teen attitudes on marijuana
Colorado Public Radio

Legalization of marijuana has amplified parents’ concerns about how to talk to their teenagers about the drug and has increased school officials’ concerns about how easy it is for students to get ahold of. They’re particularly worried about teenagers who have become addicted to marijuana and how to get them the help they need. The Colorado Public Radio series on marijuana and teens includes a story about a groundbreaking school-based drug treatment program that is showing promising results.
The first in our series, looks at how the legalization of marijuana has affected one group who can’t buy it: teenagers. We check in with health educators and school officials about how there is less stigma around marijuana now and more ways for teens to consume it. The story goes over the latest scientific data linking heavy teen marijuana use to IQ and neurocognitive deficits. And we check in with parents about their own conflicted feelings on the subject and how some are struggling to find the right thing to say to keep their kids from experimenting.
http://go.uen.org/Av

What happens at school when a girl doesn’t act like a girl
How schools dealt with Grayson Bruce and Sunnie Kahle, two young students who didn’t act according to gender norms, has drawn outrage. But such cases are complicated, and many schools are making progress toward being more understanding, experts say.
Christian Science Monitor

Several schools have sparked public outrage recently for how they’ve handled children who seemed to veer from gender expectations – including a short-haired Virginia girl who seemed too boyish to people at her Christian school and a boy in North Carolina who brought a “My Little Pony” bag to school.
Gender nonconforming students, who don’t follow stereotyped notions about their sex, and transgender students, who identify with the sex opposite the one assigned at birth, often face harassment, bullying, and misunderstanding at school. But the good news, advocates say, is that schools are getting better at including them and accommodating their needs.
“These recent cases are out of the norm. Trans kids are doing better, are being more accepted,” says Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington. Schools that discriminate against such students, she says, “should just be ashamed of themselves. Kids aren’t cookie cutter kids.”
http://go.uen.org/Br

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

UEN News
http://www.uen.org

April 10:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://goo.gl/IaQntl

April 3-4:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda.aspxpr

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