Education News Roundup: Aug. 6, 2014

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act as Reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act as Reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:


Logan Herald Journal looks at what happens to Cache schools if Utah reverts to NCLB standards ahead of Friday’s Utah State Board of Education vote on a waiver extension. (LHJ)

South Jordan votes against seeking a split from the Jordan School District. (SLT)

and (DN)

and (KSL)

USA Today looks at immigrant children’s impact on schools this fall. (USAT)

What is Texas’ high school graduation rate anyway? (Texas Tribune)













Several local schools would get ‘failing’ grade under No Child Left Behind


South Jordan drops idea of splitting from school district — for now


Tuacahn High hires new principal


Utah’s Schmutz-Harden Receives Grandolfo Award at STN EXPO


1st deaf NBA player role model for deaf basketball camp


Student of the Week: Josie Nelson


Educator of the Week: Kirk Wright






High school football will never be completely safe


Time to rethink investment in prep sports


Reinstituting state-sponsored school prayer is a bad idea


Fight over Common Core masks real challenges facing Utah’s schools


Jordan District has talked to cities all along


Making Math Education Even Worse

American students are already struggling against the competition. The Common Core won’t help them succeed.


A return to separate and unequal in education?


Teaching students when to use electronic memory, and when to go organic


Making the Hours Count: Retiring Half-Day and Full-Day Labels


Are Great Teachers Born or Made?

A thoughtful new book argues that teaching is a craft anyone can learn. But there’s a big difference between competence and excellence.






Schools ‘holding breath’ as immigrant children arrive


S&P: Income Inequality and ‘Education Gap’ Hurting Economic Growth


Texas Posts Top High School Graduation Rates, Again


Education department compiles high school guide


U.S. Reviews of Standards, Tests Enter New Phase


Group to Launch Free Online Reviews of Common-Core Materials








Several local schools would get ‘failing’ grade under No Child Left Behind


The fate of school accountability and funding will be decided Friday in a meeting of the Utah State Board of Education. The board is voting whether to continue to sign a waiver of the federal “No Child Left Behind” standards. For the last several years, the state has signed a waiver that exempted the state from the federal standards, opting instead for state developed standards.

If the waiver is not signed and the state goes back under NCLB, a majority of the schools in Utah will be labeled “failing” since they have not reached the federal standard of 100 percent proficiency. These failing school, most of which are Title I schools, will then lose federal funding.

Locally, nearly all public schools will be affected by having NCLB back in place. (LHJ)





South Jordan drops idea of splitting from school district — for now


The South Jordan City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to not place the question of splitting from Jordan School District on the November ballot, letting the issue go for at least a year.

The interlocal agreement the city signed with the district instead allows for annual review and termination if necessary. The contract is also anticipated to be signed by the other four cities in the district — West Jordan, Herriman, Bluffdale and Riverton. (SLT) (DN) (KSL)





Tuacahn High hires new principal


IVINS CITY – The stars have seemingly aligned for Rosanna Weeks, who is spending the next few weeks before the start of the school year to settle into her new role as Tuacahn High School for the Performing Arts principal.

Weeks said she was at a point of transition in both her personal as well as her professional life, having served in high school administration for nearly 25 years in Northern Utah. However, she jumped at the chance to take the reins at Tuacahn High School, a charter school with a performing arts focus. (SGS)





Utah’s Schmutz-Harden Receives Grandolfo Award at STN EXPO


Launi Schmutz-Harden, the transportation administrator at Washington County School District in St. George, Utah, was the recipient of the 2014 Peter Grandolfo Memorial Award of Excellence last Tuesday at the STN EXPO in Reno, Nev.

The eighth-annual award recognized Schmutz-Harden for her dedication to the safe transportation of all students nationwide but especially for those with disabilities. A former NAPT board member, Schmutz-Harden is also a member of the national board of advisors for the Transporting Students with Disabilities and Preschoolers (TSD) National Conference and a regular presenter at state and national conferences, including the STN EXPO, TSD and the NAPT Summit. (School Transportation News)




1st deaf NBA player role model for deaf basketball camp


TAYLORSVILLE — Shoes squeaked on the basketball court Monday afternoon as a group of boys practiced dribbling and layups.

But there were no whistles or coaches yelling from the sidelines.

Instead, they used American Sign Language to communicate with the boys during the clinic for youths who are hard of hearing or deaf.

Lance Allred, the first legally deaf NBA player, was among the coaches hoping to teach the boys about more than just basketball. (KSL)




Student of the Week: Josie Nelson


Senior Josie Nelson, 17, lives in Santaquin and attends Payson High School. Nelson serves as senior class president at Payson High School and is believed to be one of those rare students who sees what needs to be done and does it without waiting to be asked. She is known to also befriend other students, mentor them and teach them how things are done on student council and at Payson High School. (PDH)





Educator of the Week: Kirk Wright


Educator Kirk Wright was selected as the Daily Herald’s Educator of the Week and teaches at Mt. Nebo Junior High as a science teacher, while directing the chess club and school Science Fair as well. Wright attended San Juan High and graduated college from Brigham Young University. Wright is married to his wife Jolynn and has three daughters, one son and one granddaughter. (PDH)










High school football will never be completely safe Deseret News commentary by columnist Jay Evensen


Last month, California lawmakers passed a bill limiting full-contact football practices for middle- and high-school players to two 90-minute workouts per week.

Not long after, the Utah High School Activities Association implemented a new rule requiring all athletes to have yearly physical exams, rather than only one during their high school careers. Coaches are to take special care to avoid heat-related stress among players, and they must be first aid- and CPR-certified.





Time to rethink investment in prep sports Deseret News commentary by columnist Doug Robinson


The very day he was cut by the high school football team, Jeff (not his real name) began using drugs.

He was devastated by his failure to make the team, which would deprive him not only of his favorite activity and a sport he had played for years, but also the camaraderie of friends/teammates and being in the middle of everything that is high school football — the Friday nights, team meals, weight training, the bull sessions after practice and so forth.

Hours after he got the news from coaches, a friend told him he knew just the thing that would make him feel better. It was the start of a drug addiction that would last years until finally, through his own determination and drug rehab, he turned his life around.

It is partly because of stories like this one that I believe our investment in high school sports, which are getting underway again with the start of football, is all wrong.





Reinstituting state-sponsored school prayer is a bad idea Deseret News op-ed by Richard Davis, a professor of political science at Brigham Young University


Recently, I heard someone claim that America is going downhill because God has been taken out of the schools. This argument has been made since the U.S. Supreme Court banned state-sponsored school prayer over 50 years ago. But is it true?

Surveys of religious belief suggest less change than people may think, despite the prayer decisions. According to Gallup, 40 years ago, 83 percent of Americans believed the Bible was the word of God. Today, that percentage is 75 percent. Forty years ago, 40 percent of Americans said they had attended religious worship services in the past week. Today, the figure is 39 percent. In 1974, 62 percent of Americans believed religion “can answer all or most of today’s problems.” Today, 57 percent believe that. And, despite the fear that America is becoming atheistic, according to Gallup, today over 90 percent of Americans believe in God.

If the objective of not allowing state sponsored prayer in schools was to erode religious faith, it appears to be a failure. But that was not the objective.





Fight over Common Core masks real challenges facing Utah’s schools KSL commentary by Brian Preece, an educator in Utah’s public school system at the high school level for the past 25 years


SALT LAKE CITY — As a teaching veteran of 25 years, I have found the fight about the Common Core both amusing and troubling.

It’s amusing because of the misplaced zealotry of both its proponents and detractors, and it’s troubling because it masks the most pressing issues concerning public education, particularly here in Utah.

With regards to the pro-Common Core set, they see this new curriculum as transformative and something long needed to get students “college and career ready” and more internationally competitive.

Those against the Common Core come from two sources, the loudest seeing the Common Core as transformative, but in the most awful ways, fearing that it will “brainwash” our students as states lose control of public education to the federal government. Others, including some educators, find the Common Core a bit confusing and are wary of the new standardized testing that comes with it.

The fight definitely has a lot of people revved up one way or the other. But for many of us in the public schools trenches, the war about the Common Core takes necessary attention away from urgent issues, which, if addressed, would really improve education for our public school students.




Jordan District has talked to cities all along Salt Lake Tribune letter from Rick Bojak


How can certain city councils in the Jordan School District complain about the lack of communication from the district hierarchy?

As the most recent past president of Jordan School District, I know the district held monthly meetings for two years with all the mayors and any members of their council.

Beside the board being present in the meetings, the superintendent answered any and all questions of education. The deputy superintendent went over finances. All the assistant area superintendents covered purchases; from land to computers, to future growth and possible new schools. Sometimes these gatherings lasted two to three hours. The city leaders could ask anything they wanted. They were hearing everything the district was doing to help the people in their cities.

So it is difficult to think why, now, leaders of some cities think they need better communication from the Jordan district. And need it in a signed document?




Making Math Education Even Worse

American students are already struggling against the competition. The Common Core won’t help them succeed.

Wall Street Journal op-ed by MARINA RATNER, professor emerita of mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley


I first encountered the Common Core State Standards last fall, when my grandson started sixth grade in a public middle school here in Berkeley, Calif. This was the first year that the Berkeley school district began to implement the standards, and I had heard that a considerable amount of money had been given to states for implementing them. As a mathematician I was intrigued, thinking that there must be something really special about the Common Core. Otherwise, why not adopt the curriculum and the excellent textbooks of highly achieving countries in math instead of putting millions of dollars into creating something new?

Reading about the new math standards—outlining what students should be able to learn and understand by each grade—I found hardly any academic mathematicians who could say the standards were higher than the old California standards, which were among the nation’s best. I learned that at the 2010 annual conference of mathematics societies, Bill McCallum, a leading writer of Common Core math standards, said that the new standards “would not be too high” in comparison with other nations where math education excels. Jason Zimba, another lead writer of the mathematics standards, told the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that the new standards wouldn’t prepare students for colleges to which “most parents aspire” to send their children.

I also read that the Common Core offers “fewer standards” but “deeper” and “more rigorous” understanding of math. That there were “fewer standards” became obvious when I saw that they were vastly inferior to the old California standards in rigor, depth and the scope of topics. Many topics—for instance, calculus and pre-calculus, about half of algebra II and parts of geometry—were taken out and many were moved to higher grades.





A return to separate and unequal in education?

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel op-ed by TYRONE P. DUMAS, an education consultant


It amazes me how the Common Core education standards have become so controversial. Common standards always have made good sense in education because they benefit all of the children, students and young people of the present and future.

To enter college, one must take tests such as the ACT, SAT, GRE or other standardized tests that are given nationally, usually on the same day and/or in the same week during the year.

Now that there are efforts to repeal the Common Core standards all over the United States, including in Wisconsin, we are heading back to the “separate and unequal” doctrine that has ruled in education for various groups based on race, income and/or other demographics.

If all children across the United States no longer are required to learn the same things and have the same base of knowledge, how will they access higher education from these various school communities where educational resources, materials, curriculum and post-secondary opportunities vary from one community to another based on property values, funding and taxes?




Teaching students when to use electronic memory, and when to go organic Hechinger Report commentary by columnist Annie Murphy Paul


A young doctor-in-training examines a new patient. Should she draw information for the diagnosis from her “E-memory” — electronic memory, the kind that’s available on a computer? Or should she dip into her “O-memory” — organic memory, the old-fashioned sort that resides in the brain?

Research shows that apprentice doctors are increasingly relying on E-memory, often in the form of a digital resource called UpToDate. This is an electronic reference tool, accessible on physicians’ laptops or mobile phones; tap in the patient’s symptoms, and up comes a potential diagnosis and a recommended course of treatment. A recent study found that 89 percent of medical residents regard UpToDate as their first choice for answering clinical questions.

Like many of us, doctors are shifting their stores of knowledge from O-memory to E-memory. That’s not to say that they, or we, are doing so consciously. Electronic memory tools are now so convenient and omnipresent that we often aren’t even aware that we’re using them as extensions of our organic memory. But some thinkers — including Robert W. Clowes, a philosopher from the New University of Lisbon in Portugal who proposed the E and O terminology — argue that it’s important to recognize the two types of memory, and the differences between them.




Making the Hours Count: Retiring Half-Day and Full-Day Labels New America Foundation commentary by policy analyst Alexander Holt


The wisdom of the 180 day-school year and six-hour school day in first through twelfth grade has largely gone unquestioned for well over a century, even as family structure, labor, sanitation, healthcare, consumer technology, brain science, and pedagogical research have all changed drastically.

The most recently available data show that the average school day nationally is 6.6 hours for elementary school students, with state averages ranging from 6.3 (Hawaii and Rhode Island) to 7.2 (Texas). The average number of days in a school year is 180, with the lowest state average 171 (Colorado) and the highest 184 (Florida). The national average for total hours in a public school year is 1,195. Two-thirds of states are within 50 hours of that average, suggesting a remarkable level of consistency across the country for the first through 12th grades. Why such consistency? What research do we have that suggests this is the correct amount of time per day, or the correct number of days per year for these grade levels?





Are Great Teachers Born or Made?

A thoughtful new book argues that teaching is a craft anyone can learn. But there’s a big difference between competence and excellence.

Atlantic commentary by NICK ROMEO, author of the book Driven: Six Incredible Musical Journeys


One of the best teachers in Elizabeth Green’s new book, Building a Better Teacher, uses an analogy to convey the intricacy and difficulty of her craft. “Every single time I get on a plane,” she says, “I’m really glad that the plane is not being flown by someone who just always loved planes … But that’s what we do in this country. We take people who are committed to children, and we say … work on it, figure it out.”

This is just one of many comparisons that teachers make in Green’s book. They also liken their profession to surgery, general medicine, nursing, professional athletics, and even chamber music. The metaphors converge on the same point: Not only is teaching technically demanding, its complex component skills can be studied, isolated, practiced, and ultimately improved. Teaching, in short, can be taught.

Such a claim might not seem particularly controversial, but popular culture promotes the idea that good teachers possess a kind of magical, ineffable charisma. An entire genre of films, from Stand and Deliver to Freedom Writers, presents teachers as alchemists, working miracles of transformation not only through dedication but through brilliance and pure charm.










Schools ‘holding breath’ as immigrant children arrive USA Today


As a new school year starts in the coming weeks, the arrival of 50,000 unaccompanied immigrant children since last fall is creating uncertainty among some school districts.

“We haven’t started school yet, so we are all just holding our breaths to see what’s going to come on the first day of school,” said Caroline Woodason, assistant director of school support for Dalton Public Schools in Georgia.

Georgia received more than 1,100 unaccompanied minors this year, as of July 7, according to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Under federal law, all children are entitled to a free public education, regardless of their immigration status.

Public schools in states such as Florida, Texas and Georgia know the unaccompanied minors are already in their states, mainly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

What they don’t know is how many will end up enrolling in their schools.




S&P: Income Inequality and ‘Education Gap’ Hurting Economic Growth International Business Times


In a new examination of rising income disparity, the ratings agency Standard & Poor’s says that current inequality levels are hindering U.S. economic growth, and the firm has cut its forecast accordingly.

“Standard & Poor’s sees extreme income inequality as a drag on long-run economic growth,” the report says. “We’ve reduced our 10-year U.S. growth forecast to a 2.5 percent rate. We expected 2.8 percent five years ago.”

S&P looked at data from several major institutions, citing, for example, Congressional Budget Office figures on after-tax average income. For the top 1 percent of earners, that income rose 15.1 percent from 2009 to 2010; for the bottom 90 percent, income rose by less than 1 percent, “and fell for many other income groups.” One of the primary, negative consequences of high income imbalances is that they lead to “economic swings” and boom-and-bust cycles, a la the Great Recession, according to the report. But another big problem, to which S&P economists devoted much of the report, is the effect of inequality on educational achievement and, by extension, earnings potential.

“Aside from the extreme economic swings, such income imbalances tend to dampen social mobility and produce a less-educated workforce that can’t compete in a changing global economy,” the report says. “This diminishes future income prospects and potential long-term growth, becoming entrenched as political repercussions extend the problems.”

“There’s a lot of arguments about how to rebalance the economy, and one of the ideas is possibly improving education status,” S&P U.S. chief economist Beth Ann Bovino told International Business Times.


A copy of the report (S&P)





Texas Posts Top High School Graduation Rates, Again Texas Tribune


Texas education officials once again announced top high school graduation rates on Tuesday, reporting that 88 percent of public school students in the class of 2013 received a diploma within four years.

It is the third year in a row that the state has posted record-breaking high school graduation rates, which have climbed steadily over the past six years. The state has also made gains nationally — in April, the U.S. Department of Education released a report that showed Texas tied for second place, with only Iowa reporting a higher rate for the class of 2012.

“The class of 2013 continues an ongoing trend of success in the classroom which has translated into more high school diplomas,” Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams said in a news release. “With additional flexibility now provided to school districts, we should expect graduation numbers to remain strong with all students better prepared for life after high school in college, the workplace or military.”

But Texas still faces questions about the method it uses to calculate graduation rates, which critics say allows the state and school districts to mask true graduation numbers.

“This is so far removed from reality it is Orwellian in nature. If you look at the raw data — ninth graders and then those who walk across the stage four years later — the graduation rate is closer to 72, 73 percent,” said Bill Hammond, the president of the Texas Association of Business, which frequently advocates on education policy at the Legislature.





Education department compiles high school guide Associated Press via Baton Rouge (LA) Advocate


Louisiana’s education department has published a guide for high school student planning, to highlight state policies and programs for counselors, teachers and parents.

Education Superintendent John White said the guidebook, released Tuesday, will help make sure students are on track for a college degree or professional career after graduation.

The 28-page booklet includes information about planning for struggling students, the state’s accountability system, counseling programs for students and ways to receive skills training and advanced college credit.





U.S. Reviews of Standards, Tests Enter New Phase Education Week


The U.S. Department of Education is on the verge of releasing the first draft of new guidance on the peer-review process for standards and tests, a document that could exert a powerful influence on how states set academic expectations.

Little known outside the assessment world, the process is wonky and technical. But it is an important tool for the federal agency in reviewing—and shaping—states’ academic standards and testing systems.

The draft of updated guidance, expected this month, arrives as most states are trying out or designing new tests to reflect the Common Core State Standards. The testing industry, which crafts those assessments, and state testing directors, who oversee their administration to millions of students, have been waiting anxiously for any sign that the Education Department will change the criteria used to evaluate their systems.




Group to Launch Free Online Reviews of Common-Core Materials Education Week


A new organization is wading into the (very choppy) waters of judging whether major textbooks and other classroom materials are aligned to the common core.

The long-rumored now has an executive director—Eric Hirsch, formerly the chief external affairs officer at the New Teacher Center—as well as a mission statement and a basic up-and-running website. The nonprofit is billing itself as “a ‘Consumer Reports’ for school materials.” But unlike Consumer Reports, it will offer its services for free.

According to the website, the organization will officially launch this winter, and will begin by reviewing K-8 mathematics materials. From there, it will move on to secondary math and K-12 English/language arts curricula.











USOE Calendar



UEN News



August 7-8:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



August 14:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



September 16:

Executive Appropriations Committee meeting

1 p.m., 210 Senate Building



September 17:

Education Interim Committee meeting

2:30 p.m., 30 House Building


Related posts:

Comments are closed.