Education News Roundup: Oct. 27, 2014

SAGE3Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:

Utah releases the first-ever SAGE results based upon the new, more rigorous Utah Core Standards. (SLT)

and (DN)

and (DN)

and (OSE)

and (PDH)

and (KUTV)

and (KTVX)

and (KSL)

and (KSTU)

and (MUR)

or SAGE results (USOE)

Here’s your chance to catch up on local school board races.

Alpine: (PDH)

Ogden and Weber: (OSE)

Morgan: (OSE)

Weber Supt. Stephens discusses assessment. (OSE)

States backing off on use of student biometric tracking data. (Stateline)

Minnesota school looks at full immersion (not just dual immersion) education. (NYT)

BuzzFeed video poses the provocative notion: What if there were a cable network not unlike the Entertainment and Sports Program Network (ESPN) only its focus was the Teaching and Learning Program Network (TLPN)? (BuzzFeed)












Find out how your Utah school did on SAGE tests Education » First round of new test’s results shows most Utah students are not proficient in math, language arts and science.


Anonymous authors sling mud at Alpine School District debate


Ogden, Weber school board candidates juggle Common Core


Core disagreements among Morgan school board candidates


Webb supports Common Core


Ogden School District Names New Interim Superintendent


Granger coach hopes to raise awareness, offer hope with helmet decal


Woodruff Elementary evacuates for large-scale drill


Program to protect kids from pornography piloted in three Taylorsville schools


Over-testing pushback gets attention of White House






Too much testing, not enough assessment


Thousands of Utah children have unrecognized dyslexia


If SAGE truly measures proficiency, then comparisons are irrelevant


High school students face too much stress


School policies concerning


The Land Grab Out West


White House Is Root of Test-Reduction Rhetoric, Sources Say


The American Dream Is Leaving America


Why Do Americans Rate Their Local Public Schools So Favorably?


Should Schools Mandate Computer-Coding Classes?

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently announced that computer science would be required in the city’s high schools.


In India, Revealing the Children Left Behind


Three lessons from the science of how to teach writing


If Teachers Got The Same Respect As Pro Athletes If he doesn’t get tenure, I’m leaving.






States Backtrack on Student Tracking Technology


An American School Immerses Itself in All Things Chinese


Rethinking vocational high school as a path to college


Alabama voters to decide school funding issue


Second victim dies as community grieves

A second victim of Friday’s shootings at Marysville-Pilchuck High School has died. Gia Soriano, 14, died late Sunday at Providence Regional Medical Center. Earlier Sunday, the community gathered at the school gym to grieve together.


In advance of grand jury decision, schools remind parents of emergency procedures


Inglewood schools chief criticized over costs of his security detail


Pipeline to Prison: System fails special ed students


How to Pick a College? Data Crunchers Hope to Help








Find out how your Utah school did on SAGE tests Education » First round of new test’s results shows most Utah students are not proficient in math, language arts and science.


For weeks, state education leaders have been bracing students, parents and teachers for the results of Utah’s first SAGE test, which were released Monday.

And based on the first battery of scores from the computer-adaptive test, Utah students are falling short of grade-level proficiency.

Overall, 41.7 percent of Utah students tested proficient in English language arts, with 38.7 percent proficient in mathematics and 43.7 percent proficient in science.

Parents can see how their children’s schools performed by clicking here.

Nearly four dozen schools had entire grade levels or topics where at least 90 percent of students were proficient on certain subjects. For instance, nearly 96 percent of biology students at Utah County Academy of Science were proficient.

About 50 schools scored below 10 percent proficiency on at least one subject. (SLT) (DN) (DN) (OSE) (PDH) (KUTV) (KTVX) (KSL) (KSTU) (MUR)


SAGE results (USOE)






Anonymous authors sling mud at Alpine School District debate


OREM – Incumbent JoDee Sundberg and Dr. Maynard Olsen genially took on one another’s experience, personal family investment and stance on various issues at Thursday’s debate at Lakeridge Junior High School.

Then the debate questions got ugly. (PDH)





Ogden, Weber school board candidates juggle Common Core


OGDEN — Weber County voters will decide five competitive school board races this November — three in the Ogden School District and two in the Weber School District.

Concerns about Common Core standards have stirred debate about a perceived overreach on the part of the federal government into state and local education issues. But many current and prospective board members view Utah’s use of Common Core as mostly misunderstood. (OSE)




Core disagreements among Morgan school board candidates


MORGAN — There are plenty of pressing issues facing the Morgan County School District these days. Unprecedented growth, for one. Chronic funding problems, for another.

But when it comes to this year’s election of school board members, there’s just one thing everybody’s talking about in the county: the Common Core State Standards.

“The one issue that seems to get the most attention up here is the Common Core issue,” explained Stacy Lafitte, the current Morgan County clerk/auditor, who is also running for re-election this November. “We’ve done a couple of meet the candidate things, and nobody wants to know about me, or how my day is going, or what I had to eat — all they want to talk about is Common Core.”

The Common Core is an educational initiative, sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, that details what public-school students should know in English language arts and mathematics at the end of each grade. The intent was to establish a common set of educational standards across the states that would eventually prepare students to enter college or the workforce. (OSE)





Webb supports Common Core


State Representative Curt Webb, R-District 5, said he is a supporter of the Common Core state standards which he said lay out a description of what students should know and the skills they must acquire at each K-12 grade level to stay on course toward college or the workforce.

On KVNU’s Crosstalk program, Webb said Common Core is not a federal program as many people believe but instead it was created by state governors. (CVD)





Ogden School District Names New Interim Superintendent


The Ogden School District Board of Education has appointed a new interim district superintendent to replace Brad Smith.

Brad Smith is leaving the Ogden School District to become the new state superintendent of public instruction. To replace him, at least temporarily, the Ogden School District Board of Education has selected Assistant Superintendent Sandy Coroles. She’s worked in the Ogden school district for 25 years. She also worked closely with Smith in helping implement new programs aimed at improving education outcomes in the district. (KUER)




Granger coach hopes to raise awareness, offer hope with helmet decal


KEARNS — The 50-cent-piece-sized sticker isn’t anything flashy.

It’s just a strand of red ribbon meeting a strand of blue to form a heart in the middle of the words “Congenital heart defect awareness.”

Those words and the colors of those ribbons are meaningless to most people.

But to families like the Pitchers the sticker is a symbol of support, reminding them that they are not alone. (DN)





Woodruff Elementary evacuates for large-scale drill


Students and faculty at Woodruff Elementary conducted a full-scale evacuation drill Friday afternoon. Nearly 700 students walked 15 minutes from the school to a meeting house of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Parents then had to go through a lengthy check-out process to take their kids home. (LHJ)



Program to protect kids from pornography piloted in three Taylorsville schools


SALT LAKE CITY — Computers, smartphones, tablets and gaming devices allow children and teens to easily access the Internet. But that’s not all they’re gaining access to.

In the past year, one in four children have seen sexual material they didn’t initially seek online, according to the Crime Against Children Research Center. (DN)





Over-testing pushback gets attention of White House


As Common Core curriculum and testing has settled in across participating states, resistance to the high-stakes tests pressuring teachers, administrators and students has intensified. Last week, the Council of Chief State School Officers announced a series of guidelines that it hoped would help ensure that testing was limited and purposeful. (DN)











Thumbs up, thumbs down

(Ogden) Standard-Examiner editorial


Thumbs up: To young readers in the Weber School District. This past year 4,353 elementary students met the Superintendent’s Summer Reading Program of reading at least 10 books or 1,000 pages over a few months. That’s a lot of pages read and wisdom earned.




Too much testing, not enough assessment

(Ogden) Standard-Examiner op-ed by DR. JEFF STEPHENS, Superintendent of the Weber School District


The Standard-Examiner printed a national syndicated column on Wednesday, Oct. 22, by United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, “A test for the tests.” Secretary Duncan indicated that “state education chiefs and district superintendents announced a plan to examine their assessment systems, ensure that assessments are high-quality and cut back testing that doesn’t meet that bar or is redundant.” He then stated that he “welcomes that important step.”

This must have been a somewhat bitter pill for Secretary Duncan to swallow – -acknowledging too much testing from the foremost “test-taking” secretary of education in United States history. He half-heartedly confessed that “policymakers at every level bear responsibility—and that includes me and my department” and are guilty for the extreme prevalence of testing in our nation’s schools.

I have visited with many parents who have expressed grave concerns about the excessive testing in schools.





Thousands of Utah children have unrecognized dyslexia Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Elissa Aten, co-founder of PC READS (Park City Recognizes, Educates & Advocates for Dyslexic Students)


Our Utah public school population includes more than 600,000 students, and National Institutes of Health research shows that 20 percent, or 120,000 of these students, are affected by dyslexia. Recognizing that dyslexia is the most common learning disability in the United States, Gov. Gary Herbert has declared October as Dyslexia Awareness Month in Utah. Yet, rarely do we even encounter the word “dyslexia” in our school systems.

As a mother to one child who is dyslexic, it is very disheartening to know that the majority of our students with dyslexia are left unidentified and are silently struggling. We must begin speaking about and screening for dyslexia in our schools. Only early identification and appropriate intervention will enable these students to succeed to their full potential.





If SAGE truly measures proficiency, then comparisons are irrelevant Commentary by Charter Solutions President Lincoln Fillmore


The education world is sounding defensive now that SAGE test results have been released.  Last year’s “proficiency” scores were much higher than this year’s, but, cautions everyone, (including Interim State Superintendent Joel Coleman) “the results aren’t comparable” to the prior year’s results, because the test was so different and was measuring different things.

“Our new standard is ‘on track for college and careers;’ it is no longer ‘has mastered course content,'” Coleman said in a press release.

That’s all well and good, but 41 percent proficiency sucks.




High school students face too much stress Salt Lake Tribune letter from Malavika Deo


I am writing in reference to the letter by Hunter Crosland from Eden (“Homework is a killer?” Oct. 22).

I am a parent of a high school student and have also seen my older child, now a college sophomore, through high school. I cannot agree more with Crosland’s comment that there needs to be a balance of work and play for students. It is unfortunate and scary to note that kids are constantly at a high stress level due to the fact that they are sleep deprived from homework load, constant testing, no play time. Our body has a inbuilt mechanism of release of cortisol when we are in a fright or flight mode, and unfortunately these kids with their stress level are constantly on a cortisol overload, derailing the body’s natural abilities and mechanisms. I remember enjoying school with feeling pressure, not anxiety, during school tests or final exams. Our teachers prepared us well for the material we had to know, and we had a recess of 20 minutes in high school as well. I do not remember having to skip lunch to finish a missed test due to sickness.

I was horrified recently as my child and all the car pool kids got in my car after school and told me that a senior from their school had committed suicide. When will the board of education wake up?





School policies concerning

(Logan) Herald Journal letter from Jenny and Tim Johnson


As a parent of a student at Logan High School, I have become concerned about various problems and policy decisions at LHS that are affecting our children’s education. With the adoption of the Common Core curriculum in the math department at Logan High, a new method of teaching has been implemented. The students are broken into small groups and with limited teacher instruction are expected to use “self discovery” to learn math. After talking to many parents and students, they are expressing frustration that this system is not working. The end result is that many students are having one strong student teaching the group or going home and learning off of YouTube or having to hire a tutor.




The Land Grab Out West

New York Times op-ed by MARTIN HEINRICH, a United States senator from New Mexico


ALBUQUERQUE — LIKE a rerun of a bad Western, the battle over ownership of America’s public lands has revived many a tired and false caricature of those of us whose livelihoods and families are rooted in the open spaces of the West.

With a script similar to one used last spring by the Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, a small contingent of opportunistic politicians is vowing to dispose of America’s national forests, conservation lands and open space. You may remember Mr. Bundy, whose refusal to pay more than $1 million in overdue grazing fees instigated a dangerous standoff with law enforcement officials. The confrontation made him the face of what some say is a renewed Sagebrush Rebellion to turn over America’s public lands to state control.

Mr. Bundy does not represent the West, however. And the campaign to transfer to the states or even sell off our shared lands should not be mistaken for the mainstream values of Westerners whose way of life depends on the region’s land and water.

Utah was the first state to embark on this course. In 2012, the state’s Republican governor, Gary Herbert, signed a law demanding (though unsuccessfully so far) that the federal government transfer to the state more than 20 million acres owned by United States taxpayers. This included national forests and grasslands and such jewels as Lake Powell and the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area.





White House Is Root of Test-Reduction Rhetoric, Sources Say Education Week commentary by columnist Alyson Klein


President Barack Obama appears to be behind his administration’s recent rhetorical push on the need to reconsider the number of tests students take, sources say. And the president’s new thinking on tests would seem to put U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a pretty awkward position.

For the first six years of his term in office, Duncan has bet big on student scores on state tests, pressing states to use them in pivotal decisions, such as teacher evaluations. That started to crumble with this blog post in August, in which he wrote, among other things, that “testing and test preparation takes up too much time.”

And earlier this month, when the Council of Chief State School Officers and the Council of the Great City Schools said they wanted to take a hard look at the number of tests states and districts require and consider paring it back, Duncan cheered. He also posted this op-ed on the subject.

So what caused the secretary to (sort of) change his testing tune?

Maybe he didn’t. Or at least he wasn’t the first. The administration’s recent test-reduction rhetoric doesn’t seem to have originated with Duncan at all, or even with the Education Department. Instead, it appears to have come from President Barack Obama, who took the unusual step of putting out his own statement patting CCSSO and CGCS on the back for their plan to reconsider testing regimes.

But when did Obama start to question testing, or at least the frequency of assessments?




The American Dream Is Leaving America

New York Times commentary by columnist Nicholas Kristof


THE best escalator to opportunity in America is education. But a new study underscores that the escalator is broken.

We expect each generation to do better, but, currently, more young American men have less education (29 percent) than their parents than have more education (20 percent).

Among young Americans whose parents didn’t graduate from high school, only 5 percent make it through college themselves. In other rich countries, the figure is 23 percent.

The United States is devoting billions of dollars to compete with Russia militarily, but maybe we should try to compete educationally. Russia now has the largest percentage of adults with a university education of any industrialized country — a position once held by the United States, although we’re plunging in that roster.

These figures come from the annual survey of education from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or O.E.C.D., and it should be a shock to Americans.


A copy of the report (OECD)





Why Do Americans Rate Their Local Public Schools So Favorably?

Brookings commentary by Nonresident Senior Fellow Martin R. West



Americans assign far higher grades to the public schools in their local community than to the public schools of the nation as a whole.  In the 2014 Education Next survey, for example, 47 percent of the public gave their local public schools a grade of “A” or “B,” while 18 percent gave them a “D” or “F.”  When asked to rate the nation’s public schools, just 20 percent awarded an “A” or a “B,” and 24 percent handed out a “D” or “F” (see Figure 1).

This is hardly news. The annual Phi Delta Kappa poll first documented this pattern in 1981; it has recurred each year since.  Yet just what to make of this trend remains a point of debate.

For some, the pattern suggests that American public schools are better than is widely perceived.  If most Americans are reasonably satisfied with the public schools in their local community, which they know best, then perhaps their more critical views of public schools nationally are a product of distorted or sensational media coverage.  And, by extension, perhaps the urgency of school reform has been exaggerated.

For others, the pattern simply confirms Americans willingness to delude themselves when responding to surveys.  After all, they ask, how many parents would admit to an interviewer – or even to themselves – that the school their child attends is mediocre?  And, in fact, parents of school-aged children are even more positive than other Americans about their local public schools, with 58 percent assigning them an “A” or “B” grade.  From this perspective, evaluations of the nation’s public schools offer the more accurate gauge of system performance.

Whatever the interpretation, the far higher ratings the public assigned to its local schools is a legitimate puzzle.  The nation’s schools are simply the sum of all the local schools in the country, and opinions in a nationally representative survey are representative of attitudes toward local schools across the country.  How, then, can there be such a sharp divergence?





Should Schools Mandate Computer-Coding Classes?

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently announced that computer science would be required in the city’s high schools.

National Journal commentary by columnist FAWN JOHNSON


It’s happening in Chicago. Last year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that Chicago Public Schools will include an introductory computer-science class in every high school. These classes are supposed to be in place by the end of next year. Over the next three years, the district also is expected to implement a K-8 computer-science pathway for younger students. Earlier this month, Emanuel told techies at the Internet World of Things Forum that Chicago’s high school students will soon be required to take a computer class in order to graduate.

It’s also happening in Los Angeles, where school officials have rolled out a similar three-year program to expand computer science in public high schools. As it turns out, these two cities are working from the same playbook advocated by a nonprofit organization, bankrolled by tech giants like Microsoft and Google. In December, will launch a campaign for people of all walks of life, but particularly young people, to try its “hour of code” tutorials.

There are a lot of good reasons for treating computer science as a core subject in high schools. Computers are everywhere. Not understanding the basics of how they work is like not knowing how to change a tire. (Confession: I don’t know how to change a tire.)




In India, Revealing the Children Left Behind New York Times op-ed by Tina Rosenberg, author of “Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World”


Fixes looks at solutions to social problems and why they work. Right now, all over rural India, this is happening: Two local volunteers with a few days’ training come into the village. They knock on randomly selected doors, asking to see all children ages 6 to 16 who live there. In the front yard of the house, they test the children one by one in reading and math. A crowd gathers: parents, neighbors, sometimes the whole village.

Children jump up and down, shouting, “Test me! Test me!” Each test is a single sheet of paper. The reading sheet … has four sections. The volunteers ask children to read letters, words, a short paragraph and a longer story. The math sheet has single-digit and double-digit number recognition, two-digit subtraction with borrowing, and division on the level of, for example, 673 divided by eight.

The volunteers record the highest level in reading and math the child can manage comfortably. Then they to go another house: 20 chosen at random from various parts of the village.

During October and November, volunteers will test between 600,000 and 700,000 children, including some in every rural district in India.

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize, given to Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian campaigner against child labor, and Malala Yousafzai, who needs no introduction, is the most recent global endorsement of the idea that children belong in school, not at work.

School attendance is rising nearly everywhere. In India, for example, 96 percent of school-age children are enrolled — in part due to a 2009 law making education free and compulsory for children ages 6 to 14. India is winning the battle to get children into school.

But it is losing the war: Only some of these children are getting an education.





Three lessons from the science of how to teach writing Hechinger Report commentary by columnist Jill Barshay


What’s the best way to teach writing? The experts have many answers — and they often contradict each other.

In contrast to the thousands of studies on effective methods for teaching reading and mathematics, there are relatively few rigorous studies on writing instruction. That’s partly because it’s time-consuming and expensive to assess writing quality in a way that can be quantitatively measured. Commonly, researchers come up with an eight-point scale. They write descriptions and sample essays to show what each score involves. Then they train teams of graders to score properly and consistently. But writing quality is ultimately a subjective judgment. What you consider to be well-written, I might not.

Steve Graham, a professor of education at Arizona State University, has made a career out of monitoring research studies on teaching writing, to figure out which methods actually work.  For a forthcoming article*, Graham and two colleagues, Karen Harris  of ASU and Tanya Santangelo of Arcadia University, looked at approximately 250 of the most prominent studies on how to teach writing to students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Graham’s review of the research doesn’t resolve the age-old debate of whether students learn writing best naturally —  just by doing it — or through explicit writing instruction.

But there are effective practices where the research is unequivocal. Distressingly, many teachers aren’t using them. “We have confirmation of things we know that work, but are not applied in the classroom,” said Graham.

Here are three:




If Teachers Got The Same Respect As Pro Athletes If he doesn’t get tenure, I’m leaving.

BuzzFeed video by producer Chantel Houston


If Teachers Got The Same Respect As Pro Athletes

People would cheer wildly for them.

There would be entire television networks dedicated to them.

People would feed them water after teaching.

And little kids would grow up wanting to be them.

So why isn’t it like that?











States Backtrack on Student Tracking Technology Stateline


Do you know where your student is? At school? On the bus? Paying for lunch in the cafeteria?

Principals in thousands of the nation’s schools know the answer because radio frequency chips are embedded in students’ ID cards, or their schools are equipped with biometric scanners that can identify portions of a student’s fingerprint, the iris of an eye or a vein in a palm.

Such technologies have become increasingly common in schools, which use them to take attendance, alert parents where their children get off the school bus or speed up lunch lines.

But those tools, which are supposed to make schools safer and more efficient, have become a flashpoint for controversy. Several states are now banning or restricting the use of the technology in schools, as worries over student privacy have risen amid breaches of government and commercial computer databases.

This year, Florida became the first state to ban the use of biometric identification in its schools. Kansas said biometric data cannot be collected without student or parental consent. New Hampshire, Colorado and North Carolina said the state education departments cannot collect and store biometric data as part of student records.

New Hampshire and Missouri lawmakers said schools can’t require students to use ID cards equipped with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology that can track them. The new laws are similar to one Oregon passed last year and what Rhode Island Iawmakers passed in 2009.

The laws reflect a growing sense of unease among parents and lawmakers about new technology, how it’s being used, what student data is being collected and stored and what security protects the information.




An American School Immerses Itself in All Things Chinese New York Times


MINNEAPOLIS — On weekday mornings, a stream of orange buses and private cars from 75 Minnesota postal codes wrap around Yinghua Academy, the first publicly funded Chinese-immersion charter school in the United States, in the middle-class neighborhood of Northeast Minneapolis. Most pupils, from kindergarten to eighth grade, dash to bright-colored classrooms for the 8:45 a.m. bell, eager to begin “morning meeting,” a freewheeling conversation in colloquial Mandarin.

Meanwhile, two grades form five perfect lines in the gym for calisthenics, Chinese style. Dressed neatly in the school’s blue uniforms, the students enthusiastically count each move — “liu, qi, ba, jiu, shi.”

By 9:15, a calm sense of order pervades the school as formal instruction begins for math, reading, social studies, history and science. Instructors teach in Mandarin, often asking questions that prompt a flurry of raised hands. No one seems to speak out of turn. “We bring together both East and West traditions,” explains the academic director, Luyi Lien, who tries to balance Eastern discipline with Western fun.

Ms. Lien helped start Yinghua, which means “English Chinese,” with just 76 students and four teachers in 2006. This autumn a new addition opened that doubled capacity to handle the growing numbers of students. The school now has 660 students, all awarded tuition-free places by lottery. Yinghua is expected to be at its full capacity of 800 students by 2021.

The student-teacher ratio is 10 to one, and 78 percent of the teachers hold advanced degrees, many of them from American universities; three have Ph.D.’s. All receive training in the United States, including two teachers paid for by Hanban, an affiliate of China’s Ministry of Education.

Yinghua Academy is among a handful of total-immersion schools, though the United States has 175 Chinese-immersion programs within regular schools across the country, 18 begun this academic year alone. While immersion programs have a mix of English and Chinese classes, Yinghua teaches all academic subjects in Chinese through fourth grade before moving to a half-English model for grades five to eight.





Rethinking vocational high school as a path to college Marketplace


For years, vocational high schools have been seen as a lesser form of schooling – tracking some kids off to work while others were encouraged to go on to college and pursue higher income professions. But things are changing. Vocational high schools are focusing much more on preparing students for higher education.

At one of those schools – Minuteman Regional High School in Lexington, Massachusetts – students can learn traditional trades like carpentry, plumbing and welding. They can also learn high tech fields such as video game design, engineering, and biotechnology.

Minuteman students spend half their time in vocational classes – often referred to as “career and technical classes – and half their time in academic courses.




Alabama voters to decide school funding issue Associated Press via Montgomery (AL) Advertiser


Alabama voters will decide Nov. 4 whether to give new protections to public schools against unfunded mandates enacted by the Legislature.

Amendment Four would require that at least two-thirds of the Legislature pass a law that causes city and county boards of education to collectively spend more than $50,000 in local funds if the state is not going to pay for the increased expense. Currently, an unfunded mandate can be approved by a majority vote.

Sally Howell, executive director of the Alabama Association of School Boards, said the two-thirds margin is a protection that Alabama voters gave to cities and counties by approving a constitutional amendment in 1999, and it is time school systems got the same protection.





Second victim dies as community grieves

A second victim of Friday’s shootings at Marysville-Pilchuck High School has died. Gia Soriano, 14, died late Sunday at Providence Regional Medical Center. Earlier Sunday, the community gathered at the school gym to grieve together.

Seattle Times


MARYSVILLE – A second student has died after a freshman’s shooting rampage Friday at Marysville-Pilchuck High School.

Gia Soriano, 14, died Sunday night at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, a hospital official announced at a news conference. She had been hospitalized in critical condition since the shooting.

Dr. Joanne Roberts, chief medical officer for the hospital, read a short statement written by Gia’s family:

“We are devastated by this senseless tragedy. Gia is our beautiful daughter and words cannot express how much we will miss her. We’ve made the decision to donate Gia’s organs so that others may benefit. Our daughter was loving, kind and this gift honors her life.”

The freshman was one of five students shot in the Marysville-Pilchuck cafeteria Friday morning by freshman Jaylen Fryberg, who then fatally turned the handgun on himself. Zoe Galasso was pronounced dead the day of the shooting, which has left the Marysville community reeling. (Reuters)





In advance of grand jury decision, schools remind parents of emergency procedures St. Louis Post-Dispatch


The Ferguson-Florissant and Clayton school districts sent letters to parents this week with reminders of emergency procedures should classes be canceled, delayed or dismissed early.

Schools typically send reminders before winter begins of inclement weather procedures. But the districts want parents to be especially cognizant this year as the public awaits a decision from the St. Louis County grand jury on whether to charge Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

“Should any event occur during school hours which presents a concern for public safety, a decision will be made as soon as possible regarding any necessary changes to the school day schedule, and we will evaluate whether bus transportation will be possible depending on several factors including road closures impacting bus routes,” Ferguson-Florissant’s Acting Superintendent Larry Larrew wrote.

The schools also are reminding parents to alert their school of any updates to phone numbers or emergency contacts who are allowed to pick up their child.





Inglewood schools chief criticized over costs of his security detail Los Angeles Times


Critics say Inglewood’s schools chief values his own security above students’

When Don Brann arrived in Inglewood, his marching orders were clear: Keep the city’s debt-plagued school district from tumbling into financial chaos.

The state-appointed superintendent cut costs and trimmed staff to save the necessary millions, including laying off 23 on-campus security officers, leaving campus police to monitor the campuses when school started this fall.

Now, parents and community leaders are questioning why the cash-strapped Inglewood Unified School District is paying for an armed California Highway Patrol officer to serve as Brann’s personal driver and bodyguard.

Though no known threats have been made against Brann, the veteran school administrator inherited a $200,000 contract for the security detail in July 2013. Last month he approved another $135,000 in school district funds to extend the service through July 2015.

Brann explained to parents and community leaders at a Sept. 30 school board meeting that he feared for his safety in Inglewood.





Pipeline to Prison: System fails special ed students Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger


CALEDONIA – Toney Jennings was illiterate when he was arrested at age 16. In the six months he spent at the Lowndes County Jail in Eastern Mississippi, he says he played basketball, watched TV and “basically just stayed to myself.”

A special education student, Jennings qualified for extra help in school. Those services should have carried over to the justice system, but Jennings said he never even attended class while in jail. Now 20, he is still unable to read or write.

Each year, thousands of Mississippi teens cycle through the justice system, where experts say the quality of education is often low. Incarcerated juveniles have the same educational rights as those outside — five hours of instruction a day that meet their learning needs, including special education. The state does not currently track how many of those juvenile offenders are entitled to those extra education services, but according to a 2010 federal survey, 30 percent of youth in custody of the juvenile justice system have a diagnosed learning disability — six times the amount in the general population.

Following several lawsuits, Mississippi has worked to improve the quality of education for all students in the system, with some successes.

Still, many of the kids who need help the most, like Toney, aren’t getting it, experts say. These students tend already to be academically behind, and encounters with the justice system early on only increase the likelihood they’ll drop out of school or end up incarcerated as adults.




How to Pick a College? Data Crunchers Hope to Help Associated Press


WASHINGTON — For many high school seniors, fall means deciding where to apply for college and maybe visiting a guidance counselor. Data crunchers hope to help.

The popularity of social media sites and advancements in the ability to analyze the vast amounts of data we put online give members of the class of 2015 more tools than ever to help chart their next step, even if finding the right college is an inexact science.

The professional networking site LinkedIn has just come out with its “University Finder,” which identifies which colleges are popular with which companies. pools student data to predict an individual’s college admission prospects. There’s even a dating service-like site for higher education: pairs students with colleges based on such as factors as body piercings and whether applicants go to church.

These sites are joining the game of college rankings, which has some education experts excited and other rolling their eyes.











USOE Calendar



UEN News



October 29:

Education Task Force

1 p.m., 210 Senate Building



November 4:

Election Day

7 a.m. to 8 p.m.



November 7:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



November 13:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



November 18:

Executive Appropriations Committee meeting

1 p.m., 210 Senate Building



November 19:

Education Interim Committee meeting

2:30 p.m., 30 House Building


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