Education News Roundup: March 13, 2015

Arts and Education statue at the Utah State Capitol.

Arts and Education statue at the Utah State Capitol.

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:

 

D-News looks at the financial picture for Utah’s schools following the legislative session.

http://go.uen.org/3bw (DN)

and http://go.uen.org/3bP (KSL)

and http://go.uen.org/3c6 (DCC)

and http://go.uen.org/3c4 (KSTU)

 

No agreement reached on how to adjust the Utah State Board of Education elections.

http://go.uen.org/3bv (SLT)

 

The school turnaround bill passes.

http://go.uen.org/3bu (SLT)

and http://go.uen.org/3by (OSE)

 

As does the civics test bill.

http://go.uen.org/3bs (SLT)

and http://go.uen.org/3c5 (LHJ)

 

 

 

 

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TODAY’S HEADLINES

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UTAH

 

Legislative session wraps up with $510 million in new money for schools

 

Clock runs out on school board election compromise

 

Lawmakers approve $8M program to turn around failing schools

 

Students soon may need to pass civics test to graduate

 

Dog, gone: Official state golden retriever bill defeated on last day of session

 

Robotics Competition Inspires Future Engineers

 

Authors: Lifelong exercise of imagination key to writing

 

Former Overstock CEO speaking in Logan Monday and wants to be Utah’s next governor

 

Former Canyon View High coach faces felony witness tampering count

 

Hillcrest High School student injured when hit by car

 

Smoky scare: Green Acres Elementary School evacuated

 

Alleged victim sues school district over ex-teacher accused of sex abuse

 

Utah County man gets 5 years in prison for scamming band program

 

Award-winning pianist performs for appreciative students in Salt Lake City

 

People on the Move

 

Inside Our Schools

 

 


 

 

 

OPINION & COMMENTARY

 

Safe schools

 

Breakfast makes champions

 

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

 

Teachers remain the best education tools

 

Parents in poor communities do care about their children’s schooling. Here’s how to get them involved

 

 


 

 

NATION

 

Delaware teacher unions: no confidence in education leaders

 

Kirkland elementary student poses ‘biohazard’ risk, union says A Kirkland special-education student, who needs extensive help during the day with personal care, returned to class despite protests by aides who say her contagious C. diff infection creates an unsafe workplace.

 

Is the future of education teacher-robots bumping into walls?

‘I like driving it around and feeling like I am in the school,’ an online teacher said

 

Native American History Is Often Overlooked In Schools.

One State Is Trying To Change That

 

German High Court Overturns Headscarf Ban for Teachers

 

The (Million-Dollar) Value Of Great Teaching

 

 

 

 

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UTAH NEWS

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Legislative session wraps up with $510 million in new money for schools

 

SALT LAKE CITY — Taxes, technology, testing and teacher salaries were among a long list of bills debated by the Legislature that will change how schools are funded, how students are taught and how parents get involved.

It’s a year of increase for education, with about $510 million in new money going to public schools. That includes $48.6 million for enrollment growth and a 4 percent increase to the state’s funding formula for public education, the weighted pupil unit.

That also includes a $75 million tax increase lawmakers approved for education. Utah’s property tax, which makes up 40 percent of school funding, hasn’t increased since 1981. Since then, the state has lost an estimated $90 million to inflation.

But SB97, which the governor has said he will sign, would adjust the property tax rate to bring in additional revenue. For most families, the adjustment would cost an extra $46 per year. But the increase would be the equivalent of adding another 3 percent to the WPU, giving flexible money to schools that need it most, said bill sponsor Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan.

http://go.uen.org/3bw (DN)

 

http://go.uen.org/3bP (KSL)

 

http://go.uen.org/3c6 (DCC)

 

http://go.uen.org/3c4 (KSTU)

 

 


 

 

Clock runs out on school board election compromise

 

Lawmakers failed to strike a deal on a new state school board election system Thursday, with House members rejecting a compromise bill that heavily favored the Senate’s wishes.

The compromise would have created partisan state school board elections in 2016 while asking voters to approve a constitutional amendment that same year to have future board members appointed by the governor.

If the constitutional amendment failed, lawmakers would be required to revisit the issue in 2017 and create a new system.

The Utah House had already rejected both partisan elections and appointed board members, and instead put its support behind a nonpartisan bill that would require candidates to gather signatures to qualify for the ballot.

But the Senate refused to debate that bill, instead gutting it and replacing the language with its own partisan plan.

Late Thursday night, several House members expressed frustration with the Senate’s actions and the body voted to stand its ground on nonpartisan elections.

http://go.uen.org/3bv (SLT)

 

 


 

 

Lawmakers approve $8M program to turn around failing schools

 

A bill approved by lawmakers on Thursday will assign rewards and consequences to Utah schools based on the state’s controversial school grading system.

Schools who improve their grades will get funding and salary bonuses, while struggling schools will have the option of getting mentoring from school turnaround experts.

And after years of consistent failure, the State School Board would have the option of converting a traditional school into a charter school, revoking a school’s charter, or making other changes.

At the center of the bill is a leadership academy, developed and organized by the school board, that would provide training to the administrators of failing schools.

http://go.uen.org/3bu (SLT)

 

http://go.uen.org/3by (OSE)

 

 


 

 

Students soon may need to pass civics test to graduate

 

Lawmakers gave final passage Thursday to a bill requiring that before high school students can graduate, they must pass the same civics test that is given to immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship.

The Senate passed SB60 15-8, approving earlier House amendments. It now goes to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature.

It will require students to answer 50 of the 100 questions that immigrants must study, and answer at least 70 percent correctly to graduate. Immigrants are only asked 10 of the 100 questions, and need only a 60 percent score to pass. The test can be taken in class or online and can be taken multiple times until a student achieves a passing score.

http://go.uen.org/3bs (SLT)

 

http://go.uen.org/3c5 (LHJ)

 

 


 

 

 

Dog, gone: Official state golden retriever bill defeated on last day of session

 

To the dismay of a class of Utah fourth-graders and dog lovers throughout the state, the golden retriever will not join the list of Utah’s favorite things as the official state domestic animal.

“Representatives I want you to picture, if you would, a Dutch oven, a spring quaking aspen, a sprig of sego lily, and a seagull,” said the bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem. “Now what’s missing from that picture is obviously, we need a dog there. And not just any dog mind you, but the most popular dog, the golden retriever.”

But the majority of House members disagreed, defeating the bill with a vote of 27-43 on its last step toward becoming law.

The bill was suggested to sponsor Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, by a fourth-grade class from Daybreak Elementary that was being taught about the process of government. After seeing the success of another fourth-grade class in changing the state tree last year, they wanted to try it.

http://go.uen.org/3bt (SLT)

 

http://go.uen.org/3bx (DN)

 

 


 

 

 

Robotics Competition Inspires Future Engineers

 

While March Madness is occupying the minds of most sports fans, there’s another competition going on this weekend, and it involves robots.

For the sixth year the U’s College of Engineering will sponsor the Utah Regional FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition. Mark Minor, associate professor in mechanical engineering, said the event is held for high school students around the West, with 53 teams competing to make it into the world championships in April. This year’s theme is “Recycle Rush,” so the robots are made of completely reusable or recyclable material and must stack totes on platforms and dispose of litter in a mock landfill.

http://go.uen.org/3c1 (Chrony)

 

 


 

 

Authors: Lifelong exercise of imagination key to writing

 

KAYSVILLE — It was a trifecta of creative encouragement coming from three authors who converged at Morgan Elementary in Kaysville to celebrate the school’s success exceeding its reading goal of 200,000 minutes.

Coming in at 216,180 reading minutes meant students got to hear from Brandon Mull of the Fablehaven series, Tyler Whitesides of the Janitors series, and Chad Morris of the Cragbridge Hall series. Each author brought a different message to the school last week about broadening one’s imagination. Mull talked about where his ideas come from and how to generate your own creative ideas, Whitesides focused on turning ordinary into extraordinary and Morris discussed how reading improves imagination.

The three authors all hail from Utah — Morris from Fruit Heights, Mull from Highland and Whitesides from Logan.

http://go.uen.org/3bG (OSE)

 

 


 

 

 

Former Overstock CEO speaking in Logan Monday and wants to be Utah’s next governor

 

The former CEO and current president of the board for Overstock.com has been traveling throughout the state of Utah speaking to a variety of groups: student groups, chamber of commerce banquets, robotics competitions and more. Jonathan Johnson will be in Logan Monday to speak at Strata, a Libertarian think tank located at 255 South Main behind Beehive Grill.

“Someone from Strata heard a similar speech that I gave to the Cache Chamber of Commerce earlier this year and they invited me,” Johnson says. “I love to speak to students and I love to get around Utah so I jumped at the opportunity.”

He has been influential in Utah politics with political action committees and lobbying for various bills in the Utah legislature.

“I’ve spent a lot of the last few weeks at the legislature working on three different bills, each of which passed. Two passed yesterday on the last day of the session.”

One was the American Civics Education Initiative, which would require Utah high school students to pass the same civics and history test that immigrants must pass in order to become naturalized U.S. citizens. Another asks the Utah State Office of Eduction to study how much Utah teachers are spending out of their own pockets in unreimbursed funds for school supplies.

“It’s rumored that number is somewhere between $300-$400 per teacher. If that is the case we shouldn’t be balancing our state budget on the backs of our teachers.”

http://go.uen.org/3c3 (CVD)

 

 


 

 

Former Canyon View High coach faces felony witness tampering count

 

An April preliminary hearing has been set for a former Canyon View High School girls basketball coach charged with third-degree felony witness tampering in connection with a June 2014 Cedar City police burglary investigation.

In a statement obtained Friday, police declined to provide specific details of the case against Richard Kim Blackner, which has been turned over to the St. George prosecutor’s office due to a conflict of interest cited by Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett.

The brief, two-paragraph statement confirmed only that an CCPD investigation had “determined that Blackner contacted a witness in a burglary case in an attempt to get the witness to retract statements made against the suspect.”

Cedar City police Sgt. Jimmy Roden declined to answer questions about the case beyond the contents of the statement.

http://go.uen.org/3bA (SLT)

 

http://go.uen.org/3bJ (SGS)

 

 


 

 

 

Hillcrest High School student injured when hit by car

 

A 17-year-old Hillcrest High School student was in critical condition after being struck by an SUV in a crosswalk.

Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal said the boy was part of a group of students crossing east to west at the intersection of 900 E. and Hillcrest High Drive (7500 South) when he was hit at 7:42 a.m. by the Mitsubishi Montero.

Hoyal said the boy reportedly had been riding a skateboard, but witnesses said he was holding the skateboard and was on foot when he entered the crosswalk.

Neither the 35-year-old female driver or any of the other students were injured.

http://go.uen.org/3bB (SLT)

 

http://go.uen.org/3bD (DN)

 

http://go.uen.org/3bM (KUTV)

 

http://go.uen.org/3bN (KTVX)

 

http://go.uen.org/3bO (KSL)

 

http://go.uen.org/3bR (KSTU)

 

http://go.uen.org/3bU (MUR)

 

 


 

 

 

Smoky scare: Green Acres Elementary School evacuated

 

NORTH OGDEN —The faculty at Green Acres Elementary School, 640 E. 1900 North, evacuated students after spotting smoke on Thursday.

North View Fire Chief Dave Wade said teachers spotted a haze in the kindergarten area. Fire crews responded to a call at the school at about 10:30 a.m.

Fire crews investigated and found an overheated motor on the school’s roof.

Wade said the school did a good job responding to the incident and keeping the children safe.

http://go.uen.org/3bF (OSE)

 

 


 

 

 

Alleged victim sues school district over ex-teacher accused of sex abuse

 

FARMINGTON — One of the alleged victims of a former Davis High School teacher accused of having sex with students filed a lawsuit against the school district.

The suit claims Davis County School District was negligent when it hired Brianne Altice.

The former student also claims the school didn’t properly supervise Altice, even after she was reprimanded for inappropriate contact, the suit says.

http://go.uen.org/3bQ (KSL)

 

 


 

 

Utah County man gets 5 years in prison for scamming band program

 

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A Utah travel agent has been sentenced to five years in federal prison for taking money for a southwestern Missouri high school band trip to Hawaii that never happened.

Calliope “Ope” Saaga, 40, of Saratoga Springs, also was ordered to pay more than $780,000 in restitution related to his theft involving the Willard High School band and similar schemes that victimized two Arkansas school districts.

Saaga pleaded guilty last October in the Missouri case to one count of wire fraud.

http://go.uen.org/3bE (DN)

 

 


 

 

 

Award-winning pianist performs for appreciative students in Salt Lake City

 

SALT LAKE CITY – Award-winning pianist Andrey Gugnin performed for more than 600 appreciative elementary and middle school students at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center Thursday morning.

The 28-year-old prodigy won the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition last year, and Thursday he performed in downtown Salt Lake City.

http://go.uen.org/3bS (KSTU)

 

 


 

 

 

People on the Move

 

Salt Lake City—Kirton McConkie is pleased to announce four new attorneys. Michael W. Durham is a Shareholder in the firm’s Tax and Estate Planning section. He was previously with Caplin & Drysdale. Robbie G. Yates is a Shareholder in the firm’s Corporate section. He was previously with Stoel Rives, LLP. Darren B. Neilson is an Associate in the firm’s Litigation section. He was previously with Ezra Brutzkus Gubner LLP. Lisa Arbogast is Of Counsel in the firm’s Real Estate section. She was previously the attorney for special education for the Utah State office of education.

http://go.uen.org/3c2 (Utah Business)

 


 

 

Inside Our Schools

 

Arrowhead Elementary

http://go.uen.org/3bL (SGS)

 

 

 

 

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY

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Safe schools

(St. George) Spectrum editorial

 

In the past two weeks, a student at Hurricane High School was threatened with a gun and nearly kidnapped while another student was driven to the Washington County School District office by a parent with a blood alcohol content that was allegedly three times the legal limit.

In both instances, school district employees did the right thing and made certain that the children in their charge were safe and removed from harm’s way.

Thankfully, it is not every day that we are provided with such stark examples of the degree to which representatives of our area school districts care for our children’s welfare and well being.

But the fact is that the vast majority of the teachers, administrators, janitors, lunch room workers and everyone else employed by Southern Utah’s school districts are looking out for our kids as if they were their own, every single day.

http://go.uen.org/3bK

 

 


 

 

Breakfast makes champions

(Ogden) Standard-Examiner editorial

 

Most child education advocates will tell you that the key to a good day of learning is a good breakfast.

A recent national study done by the non-profit “No Kid Hungry” shows that 75 percent of educators nationwide say students who eat breakfast are more alert in class, exhibit less disciplinary problems and have better attendance.

That’s why Ogden School District’s “grab and go” program is so important. Elementary students who qualify for free and reduced lunch can arrive 25 minutes before school, get a breakfast and eat it in their classroom.

The district has been offering the program for three years and says it has been an overwhelming success.

http://go.uen.org/3bH

 

 


 

 

 

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

(Provo) Daily Herald editorial

 

THUMBS UP: The Provo City School District is moving forward aggressively with its plans for school reconstruction. By the relatively quick action, the district was able to sell the first half of its bonds at a more favorable rate than is anticipated in the future. We hope to see real signs of change in the coming months.

THUMBS UP: In the last few months we’ve seen an “army of people” turn out to numerous events and fundraisers in honor of Sarah Hicken, a 18-year-old Pleasant Grove senior with cancer. Various groups at the school sport her hashtag on their T-shirts and shoes. Students from nearby schools have made posters and tweeted photos to show their support. This is how communities pull together.

http://go.uen.org/3bI

 

 


 

 

Teachers remain the best education tools Salt Lake Tribune letter from Danna Walsh

 

I read with bemusement Robert Gehrke’s excellent article about the Legislature’s proposals for getting more technology into the schools and the software companies’ use of the Legislature to promote their business interests.

I know too well what happens to technology software and hardware in schools. It becomes technologically obsolete. Eventually it sits on shelves in dark closets and later still is sent to district warehouses while said district scrambles to find funding for the new latest thing in technology. Or, even if it doesn’t become obsolete, the district (sometimes because of legislative mandates) determines that a given program no longer suits its needs and stops paying the expensive annual fee for its continued use.

http://go.uen.org/3bC

 

 


 

 

 

Parents in poor communities do care about their children’s schooling. Here’s how to get them involved Hechinger Report commentary by ALAN RICHARD, a Washington, D.C.-based writer and communications consultant

 

GREENWOOD, Miss. — Let no educator, parent or advocate ever say parents don’t care about how their children do in school. Most really do, and given the right chance, will do all they can to help.

Here in the heart of the nation’s poorest region, in a historic but partially destitute town, parents are gathering regularly to chart a course for better schools, a better community and better lives for their families.

It’s happening through a growing program from the national nonprofit group Parents for Public Schools, based in Jackson, but with active chapters in big cities and small towns across the country.

The organization’s newly revamped Parent Engagement Program, or PEP, and it’s now happening now exists in several Mississippi towns and elsewhere: Kalamazoo, Michigan; Cincinnati; Seattle; and Pitt County, North Carolina.

http://go.uen.org/3bY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NATIONAL NEWS

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Delaware teacher unions: no confidence in education leaders (Wilmington, DE) News Journal

 

Teacher unions in Delaware’s two largest school districts have voted “no confidence” in the Department of Education, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and the State Board of Education.

The Red Clay Education Association and Christina Education Association argue state leaders have “continued to label and slander Delaware’s traditional public schools” based on standardized test scores, dropped mandates on teachers without their input, and spent millions of dollars on internal department positions and external consultant firms they say should have gone to classrooms.

Mike Matthews, president of the Red Clay Education Association, said at a press conference Thursday night that the unions’ resolutions, which passed both representative assemblies unanimously, were spurred by the state’s Priority Schools push to turn around six Wilmington schools in those two districts.

http://go.uen.org/3bz

 

 


 

 

 

Kirkland elementary student poses ‘biohazard’ risk, union says A Kirkland special-eduction student, who needs extensive help during the day with personal care, returned to class despite protests by aides who say her contagious C. diff infection creates an unsafe workplace.

Seattle Times

 

A special-education student diagnosed with a C. difficile gut infection has returned to Robert Frost Elementary School in Kirkland over the protests of support staff who say the girl poses a “biohazard” risk and creates an unsafe work environment for those who fear they’ll catch the highly contagious bacterial disease.

Union officials representing paraeducators and bus drivers had demanded last month that the child be kept out of school until officials with the Lake Washington School District proved the classroom environment and cleaning protocols were safe.

District officials and the girl’s parents said the student had recovered sufficiently to return and doctors said the infection likely posed little danger.

Paraeducators, or classroom aides, however, said they were at high risk for infection because they must change the child’s diapers multiple times a day and the Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, bacteria are spread by contact with fecal material.

The case highlights the challenges that come with making sure children with disabilities are accommodated in a public-school setting, union officials said.

http://go.uen.org/3bV

 

 


 

 

 

Is the future of education teacher-robots bumping into walls?

‘I like driving it around and feeling like I am in the school,’ an online teacher said Hechinger Report

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Thomas Hatch noticed something unusual in a reflection on his laptop screen as he worked on a lesson one day in his pod at high school.

The teenager turned around. He was face-to-face with a teacher of an online course. Well, sort of. The teacher’s face was encased in a small video screen. His body was a four-foot-tall plastic tower on wheels. He maneuvered the telepresence robot around the classroom and spoke to students using controls on his computer from a remote location.

“It was, um, different – definitely different,” Hatch said of his first encounter with the robot last year, when he was a junior at the Nexus Academy of Columbus.

The public high school in central Ohio blends online and in-person instruction in an open, office-style building located in a small industrial park. The school has some in-the-flesh teachers, but many teachers never set foot in the building, because they teach only online courses – some from locations quite far away. Most of the time, the remote teachers interact with their students through a computer screen or phone call. The new telepresence robot provides another means of communication with students and staff in the building.

http://go.uen.org/3bX

 

 


 

 

 

Native American History Is Often Overlooked In Schools.

One State Is Trying To Change That

Huffington Post

 

When teacher Christine Ayers talks to her fourth-grade class about numbers and math, she uses examples involving beadwork from the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. When she talks to her classroom about poetry and character education, she reads traditional native stories, which she says generally “teach a lesson.”

Ayers is not of Native American descent, and neither are 50 percent of her students at Linderman Elementary School, she estimates. However, an unprecedented constitutional amendment in Montana requires classroom teachers to integrate information about Native American culture and history in all instruction. Now, Montana is a leader in educating this population of students, and provides an example for how teachers can use culturally aware instruction to promote tolerance.

http://go.uen.org/3bZ

 

 


 

 

German High Court Overturns Headscarf Ban for Teachers Associated Press

 

BERLIN — Germany’s highest court on Friday struck down a state law banning teachers from wearing headscarves as unconstitutional, saying it violates the right to religious freedom.

The Federal Constitutional Court’s ruling came in the case of two female Muslim teachers from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, but will also apply to the several other German states that have headscarf bans. It came after more than 12 years of legal battles, and the issue already made it to the high court in Karlsruhe in 2003, when judges ruled that headscarves were allowed unless banned by specific laws.

http://go.uen.org/3bW

 

http://go.uen.org/3c0 (Religion News Service)

 

 


 

 

The (Million-Dollar) Value Of Great Teaching NPR

 

What’s the best way to engage and prepare students? For 10 teachers across the world that’s the million-dollar question — literally.

This Sunday, the Varkey Foundation will award $1 million to one remarkable teacher as part of its first Global Teacher Prize. Founded in 2010, the Varkey Foundation is a Dubai-based organization that trains and funds teachers internationally.

Varkey created the prize to bring attention to great teachers and their valuable roles in society, said Vikas Pota, the foundation’s CEO.

http://go.uen.org/3bT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CALENDAR

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USOE Calendar

http://www.schools.utah.gov/main/CALENDAR.aspx

 

 

UEN News

http://www.uen.org

 

 

March 12:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

9 a.m., 250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

http://go.uen.org/1pn

 

 

March 19:

Utah State Board of Education meeting (tentative)

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda.aspx

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