Education News Roundup: Nov. 6, 2014

Artwork at the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts & Education Complex

Artwork at the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts & Education Complex

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:


The vote counting continues in some local board races. (KSTU)

and (SUN)


Salt Lake Chamber discusses business’ education plans. (UP)


Ed Week looks at what’s ahead federally after the election. (Ed Week)


Adrenaline junkie? Looking for a scary job? Consider being … a kindergarten teacher. (Education World)

or a copy of the survey (CareerBuilder)













37,000 uncounted votes could change some Utah races


School board race – Glazier and Linton tie


Drop-outs Decrease with Discipline Action


Land sale auction earns $362,000 for public schools, colleges


Disaster drill teaches flexibility, cooperation among responders


Teacher Pleads No Contest To Firing Gun


Students honored








STEM helps secure futures


Business Leaders Propose Education Plan; Sign Up to Support Education Plan focuses on reversing Utah’s downward trend in reading, math, high school completion and college degrees to ensure the state’s quality of life.


School-to-prison pipeline in Utah can be minimized


Parent teachers


Teachers’ Unions Day of Reckoning


Ten things to know about the 2014 elections


Common-Core Subtraction: Many Methods, But No Regrouping








GOP Wave to Sap Obama’s Clout on Education


Feds want Jindal’s Common Core lawsuit dismissed


Ohio House committee votes to repeal Common Core


Study Gauges ‘Risk Load’ for High-Poverty Schools


Principal Turnover Takes Costly Toll on Students and Districts, Report Says


Ballot petition aims to protect Confederate heritage


Kindergarten Teacher Ranks Top 10 For Job ‘Americans Fear Most’









37,000 uncounted votes could change some Utah races


SALT LAKE CITY — Election officials are counting tens of thousands of provisional, absentee and mail-in ballots in districts that could swing entire races.

It’s a by-product of new programs launched to increase voter participation in elections that typically draw fewer voters. In Salt Lake and Davis counties, more than 37,000 votes remain uncounted and some races are separated by as few as two votes.

Salt Lake County participated in a pilot project allowing same-day voter registration: people could register and vote a provisional ballot on Election Day. As a result, there are more than 20,000 provisional, mail-in and absentee ballots that have yet to be counted in Salt Lake County.

Election officials began counting provisional ballots on Wednesday, a painstaking effort that could take up to two weeks to complete. Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen told FOX 13 that the 20,000 votes could swing some legislative races.

“Oh yeah, we have some tight races!” she said. “We have House District 30, 31, 44 and a Murray School Board race that are pretty tight right now.”

Murray School board candidates Kami Anderson has a 37 vote lead over Richard Clark. (KSTU)





School board race – Glazier and Linton tie


In the only contested local race, for Kane School Board District Four, incumbent Dr. Loral Linton and challenger Kevin Glazier collected the same amount of votes – 167 apiece – to finish in a tie. There are 11 provisional ballots and 141 absentee ballots from Big Water that have not been counted yet. They will be tallied on November 17 at the canvas, when the winner will be announced. (SUN)





Drop-outs Decrease with Discipline Action


One out of every five high school students in Utah fails to graduate.

This data, collected through research by the Public Policy Clinic at the U’s College of Law, showed drop out rates are increasing. A large portion of these student drop-outs being sent to prison.

Emily Chiang, a professor at the College of Law, addressed a group of students and educators Wednesday about the current nationwide problem known as the “school to prison pipeline.” (Chrony)





Land sale auction earns $362,000 for public schools, colleges


SALT LAKE CITY – The School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration sold four parcels of trust land at its public auction held Oct. 30, earning $362,000 for Utah’s public schools and teaching colleges.

The School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, also known as SITLA, generated $307,000 for public schools with the sale of three parcels: a 38-acre Otter Creek parcel in Piute County; a 40-acre Rock Point parcel in Uintah County; and a Yuba Lake parcel in Juab County. All proceeds from the sale of these school trust lands are deposited into the Permanent School Fund. (SGN)





Disaster drill teaches flexibility, cooperation among responders


DRAPER — Here’s the scenario: A large-scale earthquake and several aftershocks hit the Salt Lake Valley, injuring dozens of people and crippling several hospitals that lie near the Wasatch fault, including Lone Peak Hospital.

Meanwhile, 34 people among more than 2,200 elementary, middle and high school students at Skaggs Catholic Center are wounded, ranging from cuts and bruises to fatal injuries; from physical trauma to emotional distress. The injured are identified and loaded onto a bus headed for Lone Peak Hospital down the street.

Room at the hospital quickly runs out with patients coming in from throughout the community. As part of an emergency plan and with the help of the Utah Army National Guard, hospital staff decide to establish an alternate care site at the Juan Diego Catholic High School’s gymnasium, where additional patients can receive treatment. (DN) (KSL)






Teacher Pleads No Contest To Firing Gun


A teacher who accidentally shot a toilet at a West Jordan school is avoiding time behind bars. Michelle Ferguson-Montgomery pled no contest yesterday to discharging a weapon inside a Westbrook Elementary School bathroom. As part of a plea agreement, she will have to complete a gun safety course and pay a 700-dollar fine. During the incident in September she suffered an injury to her leg. Utah teachers are allowed to carry guns on campus if they are concealed. (MUR) (CVD)





Students honored


The October Student of the Month recipients were recently honored by the St. George Exchange Club.

The club sponsors the Student of the Month Program, which honors one student from each of the area high schools every month.













STEM helps secure futures

(Ogden) Standard-Examiner editorial


We’re big supporters of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), a program dedicated to providing the opportunity for young, talented, smart students to get a big head start on garnering academic expertise en route to a successful career.

On Monday, at the Davis Conference Center in Layton, there was the Northern Utah STEM College and Career Exposition. Eight hundred Top of Utah students, from 16 schools, were there. The students were in attendance because they had the aptitude and interest in pursuing a STEM career. Entrepreneur Alan Hall (a member of the Standard-Examiner Editorial Board) delivered the keynote address to the students. He asked a popular question: “Do you want to have significant wealth? Raise your hand. Am I clear on this — you like money? Do you want to make lots of money?”

Hall told the students one key to success is to follow a career path along STEM lines.






Business Leaders Propose Education Plan; Sign Up to Support Education Plan focuses on reversing Utah’s downward trend in reading, math, high school completion and college degrees to ensure the state’s quality of life.

Utah Policy commentary by Salt Lake Chamber


Business and community leaders unveiled a five-year plan to elevate Utah into the top ten in U.S. educational systems, at an Academic Excellence conference held at the Grand America Hotel, Tuesday, Oct. 28. Business, education and opinion leaders collaborated on the plan that provides a framework to move Utah forward in reading, math, high school completion and post-high school certificates and degrees.

“Across America, the most vibrant economies put education first, and this five year plan is a big step in that direction in Utah,” said Richard Kendell, former commissioner of Higher Education and Education First board member. “Countless research shows that a person’s earning power and the economic strength of communities are directly tied to academic achievement. Consequently, our children’s education is critical for creating a legacy of prosperity for Utah.”

Utah’s education system is in on a downward trend according to some of Utah’s key academic metrics highlighted at the conference. For example, Utah’s standardized test scores have not fallen, but peer states have innovated and left Utah behind. Utah’s fourth grade students ranked 22nd in the national in math and reading, and eighth grade students ranked 27th in math and 13th in reading.

The plan, derived from extensive collaboration with educators and policymakers, includes the following goals to raise Utah to the top ten in five years:





School-to-prison pipeline in Utah can be minimized (St. George) Spectrum op-ed by Vanessa R. Walsh, a juris doctor candidate at the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah


Earlier this year I became involved, via a part-time research assistant job at my law school, with a project examining discipline rates in Utah schools. The research position was something I stumbled upon, and I was surprised at how emotionally invested I became.

The job was to interpret data from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the data was alarming. In the Washington County School District, for example, Native American and black students are disciplined 2.75 times more than what is expected based on school demographics. Students with disabilities account for 14 percent of the student population while accounting for 29 percent of actions. The district ranks in the bottom 10 districts in the state for disproportionality for disciplinary actions.

As a result of seeing this data, I enrolled in the Public Policy Clinic, which was examining a troubling national trend wherein children are funneled out of the school system and into the criminal justice system: the school-to-prison pipeline. I had to get involved.

On October 6, 2014, the clinic released its report, “From Fingerpaint to Fingerprints: The School to Prison Pipeline in Utah.” The report is meant to share the data and start a statewide dialogue about this issue. It is not a solution in and of itself but rather a starting point to explore solutions.




Parent teachers

Deseret News letter from Marianne Morris


Miss Kerby’s letter indicated that the only “quality” education comes through public education and that home and charter schools have “no checks and balances” to “mandate … educat[ing] children to become good citizens.” I suggest that exactly the opposite is true.

Public education under direction of the UEA has become such an entity unto itself that something very key has been forgotten; that it is the parent who carries the responsibility to raise good citizens. It is the parent who can best be used as a check and balance in home-school and charter-school programs. If a parent decides that this education is not a benefit to their child, they can make the necessary changes.





Teachers’ Unions Day of Reckoning

Wall Street Journal commentary by columnist Jason Riley


Political Diary Editor Jason Riley on how union-backed Democrats lost to Republican candidates in favor of voucher programs and school choice.






Ten things to know about the 2014 elections Fordham Institute commentary by Bernard Lee Schwartz Senior Policy Fellow Andy Smarick


There’s a wonderfully apt saying about why debates in the U.S. Senate last so long: “Everything’s been said but not everyone has said it yet.”  In that spirit, I offer my admittedly late thoughts on last night’s results.




Common-Core Subtraction: Many Methods, But No Regrouping Education Week commentary by columnist Liana Heitin


“For some, common core is creating common confusion,” said education correspondent Rehema Ellis on a recent NBC News segment.

The crux of the news piece was that parents are struggling to help their children with math homework under the Common Core State Standards because the teaching is so different—a claim we’ve heard in our reporting here as well. (The Washington Post has picked up on this strand, too.)

Ellis showed a subtraction problem, performed both using the traditional regrouping, or borrow-and-carry, algorithm and using an example from the common core. …

The new method uses “three times as many steps to get to the same answer,” Ellis said.

The explanation is, well, utterly confusing. I had to watch it several times to understand what was being done. (See the video below.)  Essentially, the method requires skip-counting up—first by ones, then by 10s, and then by ones again—from 9 to 34. The idea is that it’s easier to add 1 + 20 + 4 than it is to count down or carry and borrow.

And while it’s not the way most traditional textbooks teach subtraction, it’s also not exactly new. I both used this with some of my elementary students when I was teaching (we called it “jumping to the tens”), and saw other teachers use it, too. And when I asked Diane Briars, the president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, about it, she chuckled. “That’s been around forever,” she said.

Ellis is right to point out that the regrouping method is not part of the common core—the standards do not include this at all.











GOP Wave to Sap Obama’s Clout on Education Education Week


After midterm elections that vastly favored Republicans at virtually every level, President Barack Obama has far fewer allies in Congress and in states to champion his federal policy push on such priorities as teacher evaluation and common academic standards at a crucial stage in their implementation.

At the state level, for example, the GOP tidal wave means there will be more opponents of the Common Core State Standards in legislatures, and among state chiefs and governors, potentially threatening an initiative the Obama administration has backed with both money and regulatory incentives.

At the federal level, the U.S. Senate—which will shift to GOP control in January—isn’t likely to pass a bill to reauthorize the badly outdated Elementary and Secondary Education Act that closely resembles the administration’s vision in areas like accountability and teacher quality.

With both chambers in Republican hands, the 114th Congress also is unlikely to give Secretary of Education Arne Duncan much more money for the kinds of competitive grants that have helped him carry his agenda forward—leaving the U.S. Department of Education running short on political carrots.

“The Obama administration has to rethink its whole approach,” U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House education committee, said in an interview this week. “Now, if he wants to get anything done, he needs to talk with us.”





Feds want Jindal’s Common Core lawsuit dismissed Shreveport (LA) Times


BATON ROUGE – The Obama administration wants a federal judge to throw out Gov. Bobby Jindal’s lawsuit accusing it of illegally coercing states to adopt the Common Core education standards.

A request was filed in Baton Rouge federal court this week, asking for the Republican governor’s lawsuit to be dismissed.

Jindal’s lawsuit accuses the U.S. Department of Education of manipulating $4.3 billion in federal grant money and federal policy waivers to force states to adopt Common Core, in a move toward a “national curriculum” that strips educational authority from states.

The governor said that violates the state sovereignty clause in the Constitution and federal laws that prohibit national control of education content.

Lawyers for the Obama administration said in their court filing that the use of Common Core was voluntarily decided by state leaders and Jindal hasn’t proven any arm-twisting occurred from the federal government.






Ohio House committee votes to repeal Common Core Columbus (OH) Dispatch


A bill to repeal Common Core education standards in Ohio passed a House committee yesterday — but there is doubt about whether it has the momentum to go further.

The bill is opposed by all major public-education associations, universities, some conservative-leaning education policy-research groups, and business groups such as the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Gov. John Kasich supports Common Core, and the leaders of the House and Senate education committees also oppose the bill.

Rep. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, the No. 2 House leader and a prime sponsor of the bill, said it would get a full House vote if leaders are certain they have 50 votes to pass it — a certainty they do not have right now. He said the standards did not get a proper vetting when Ohio adopted them in 2010 and began working toward full implementation this year.

The bill would eliminate math and English/language-arts standards for grades K-12 and replace them for three years with standards from Massachusetts that were in place before that state adopted Common Core. New state standards would be put in place by the 2018-19 school year.





Study Gauges ‘Risk Load’ for High-Poverty Schools Education Week


Poverty is not just a lack of money. It’s a shorthand for a host of other problems—scanty dinners and crumbling housing projects, chronic illnesses, and depressed or angry parents—that can interfere with a child’s ability to learn.

Educators and researchers in several of the nation’s largest districts are trying to look at schools based on a fuller picture of children’s experiences, rather than only seeing poverty as a label.

In a study released today, researchers at the Center for New York City Affairs linked data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the school district, and the municipal housing, homeless services, and children’s services agencies, and matched the data with 748 elementary schools (which, unlike the districtwide enrollment system for secondary school, use geographic attendance areas.)

Researchers found that 18 factors in a student’s school and neighborhood strongly predicted his or her likelihood of chronic absenteeism and the student’s scores on New York’s accountability tests that are aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Taken together, these indicators create a measure of the “risk load” in each of the Big Apple’s elementary schools.

If you think about the community context, you would be able to better understand when students come into the school building, what they are carrying with them,” said Kim Nauer, the education research director of the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School, and an author of the study.


A copy of the report (The New School)






Principal Turnover Takes Costly Toll on Students and Districts, Report Says Education Week


The high rate of principal turnover is costing school districts dearly, particularly teachers and students in high-poverty systems, according to a new report by the School Leaders Network.

The report, “Churn: The High Cost of Principal Turnover,” which was released last month, examines the financial toll of principal turnover and calculates what students and districts lose when effective principals leave schools.

A quarter of the country’s principals quit their schools each year, according to the report, and nearly 50 percent leave in their third year. churn.JPG

And that churn happens after a district typically has spent an estimated $75,000 on each leader to prepare, hire, and place that person on the job, the report found.


A copy of the report (School Leaders Network)






Ballot petition aims to protect Confederate heritage Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger


A Mississippi heritage group has launched a proposed ballot measure which would amend the state’s constitution to recognize Christianity as the official religion of the state and English as the official language of the state.

The 12-part measure would also establish “Confederate Heritage Month,” which would provide a curriculum base for school children to learn about “Mississippi’s Confederate history, heritage, achievements, and prominent people,” the initiative reads.





Kindergarten Teacher Ranks Top 10 For Job ‘Americans Fear Most’

Education World


There are plenty of jobs out there that many may shudder to think about ever having, but kindergarten teacher?

According to a slightly humorous survey, kindergarten teachers lie fourth on the top ten jobs American workers fear most, according to


A copy of the survey (CareerBuilder)












USOE Calendar



UEN News



November 6:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

4 p.m.250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



November 7:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

7:30 a.m.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



November 20:

Native American Legislative Liaison Committee meeting

9 a.m., 20 House Building


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