Education News Roundup: March 16, 2015

42Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:

D-News does one final (ENR hopes final, anyway) roundup on education and the Legislature.

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

Trib does the same, but focuses on finance.

http://go.uen.org/3c8 (SLT)

And if you want the commentary version of the wrap, here’s one from UP’s Bob Bernick.

http://go.uen.org/3c9 (UP)

Would Google Fiber bridge the digital divide in Salt Lake City?

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

Trib looks at vaccination rates in Utah schools.

http://go.uen.org/3d5 (SLT)

and http://go.uen.org/3d9 (SLT)

Or Reuters offers a national perspective.

http://go.uen.org/3cW (Reuters)

or a copy of the study

http://go.uen.org/3cX (JAMA Pediatrics)

High school graduation gap is closing the right way (i.e., minority graduation rates are up).

http://go.uen.org/3cS (WaPo)

or a copy of the report

http://go.uen.org/3cZ (ED)

President Obama says he’s prepared to fight the GOP in Congress over education.

http://go.uen.org/2j6 (AP)

and http://go.uen.org/3d2 (USAT)

and http://go.uen.org/3d3 (Washington Times)

 

 

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TODAY’S HEADLINES

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UTAH

 

Will the 2015 Legislature lead to better outcomes for students?

 

Utah’s public schools got more funding during the 2015 Legislature, but still are not back up to pre-recession levels

Funding » The bump may be less than the guv wanted but it would be biggest in years.

 

Clock runs out on school board election compromise, solution could be left to judge

 

Intergenerational poverty education initiative on hold until 2016

 

Utah Legislature Expands UPSTART Funding in 2015 Education Budget

An additional 1,000 Utah preschoolers can now enroll in the free, in-home program

 

Would Google Fiber bridge the digital divide in Salt Lake City?

Internet » Affordability big issue for many SLC residents.

 

Low vaccination rates put some Utah schools at risk

Health » Salt Lake County border with Utah County is the line separating divergent immunization trends.

 

Utah doesn’t use vaccination data to target outreach or inform parents

Education » Parents aren’t informed, schools aren’t targeted for innoculation campaigns.

 

Lotteries manage enrollment overflow in charter schools

 

Robots and their child overlords invade Utah for a day

Competition » West Valley’s Maverik Center rocked with mechanical excitement.

 

Utah company uses small satellites for science education

 

Latinos in Action: Guiding students through graduation

 

FFA inspires future farmers and more

 

Canyons board fast-tracks additional security to schools’ front entrances

 

Field of Dreams: Community breaks ground for soccer complex

 

The history and direction of KOHS, Orem High School’s longstanding radio station

 

Students walking to school reducing calories and emissions

 

Cache County School district seeking public input on new high school name, mascot and colors

 

Utah contestant on ‘The Voice’ happy to represent her school, city

 

Alleged sex abuse victim files lawsuit against Davis School District

 

Canyon View guidance counselor charged with witness tampering

 

Hillcrest student struck by SUV near school in critical condition

 

Fire crews respond to small fire at Northridge High School

 

‘The Cokeville Miracle’ a story of faith and answered prayers

 

Superintendent addresses Women in Business luncheon attendees

 

Logan High students design educational posters for Clean Air Poster Contest

 

Students attempt to break pi paper chain world record, run out of time

 

 

 


 

 

Legislative wrap — anti-discrimination, religious liberty bills overshadow other successes, disappointments

 

Utah Legislature: Historic and all too familiar

The highs and lows of the session.

 

Wrapping Up the 2015 Session

 

Lawsuit over teacher-student sex? Guess who ends up paying

 

We need a learner-centered approach in Utah education

 

School superintendent’s comments are disgusting

 

What Utah superintendent should have said

 

How about a legislator civics test?

 

Education means birth control, too

 

No homework policy improves school experience

 

Let’s Ensure That Every Girl Can Learn

An international initiative can help the 62 million girls world-wide who are not in school.

 

Teaching the Next Generation Science Standards With ‘Mysteries’

 

A father’s pressing question: How many AP courses are enough?

 

The Real Bullies at School

Teachers are vilified for being too hard on students, so why aren’t coaches held to the same standard?

 

Why Charter Schools Work – Or Don’t

One key question: How carefully are the schools authorized?

 

Charter School Laws Across the States 2015 Rankings & Scorecard

 

 


 

 

NATION

 

High school graduation rates for minority students improve faster than rest of U.S.

 

Obama Says He’s Prepared to Fight GOP over Education

 

Bush Tells New Hampshire He Won’t Change Views to Win Votes

 

How compatible are Common Core and technology?

 

Virginia pushed into debate of teacher privacy vs. transparency for parents

 

How Prison Stints Replaced Study Hall

America’s problem with criminalizing kids.

 

Casey: Not-pot leaf gets 6th-grader in big trouble

An 11-year-old boy at Bedford Middle School was suspended for 364 days after being caught with a substance that tested negative for marijuana.

 

NYC’s Plan for Prayer Break in Pre-K Classes Raises Concerns

 

‘Heather Has Two Mommies’ Revised, Updated

 

Disneyland measles outbreak linked to low vaccination rates

 

Feds promote artificial turf as safe despite health concerns

 

Maine Teacher Wins $1 Million Global Teacher Prize in Dubai

 

 

 

 

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UTAH NEWS

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Will the 2015 Legislature lead to better outcomes for students?

 

SALT LAKE CITY — The 2015 Utah Legislature brought good news for Natalie Pollard, who has long hoped for better school resources and teacher training to help her dyslexic son improve his reading ability.

It brought assurance for Lorena Riffo-Jenson, an immigrant from Chile who wants her daughters to develop the same appreciation she has for being an informed and involved member of the community.

The final budget proposes $515 million in new money for public and higher education. It includes programs that parents such as Pollard and Riffo-Jenson hope will help their children, and it also provides $63 million to prepare schools and teachers for a projected influx of 8,000 new students this year.

Part of the budget increase is thanks to a $75 million hike in property taxes, which will cost most families an extra $46 a year, but will bring Utah’s poorest schools up to at least the same level of funding guaranteed to charter schools, which is $1,746 per student.

A key focus for lawmakers and educators is a 4 percent increase — more than $104 million — to the state’s basic funding formula, the weighted pupil unit, or WPU. Those funds are distributed across the board, and schools are allowed to use them how they see fit.

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

 

 


 

 

Utah’s public schools got more funding during the 2015 Legislature, but still are not back up to pre-recession levels

Funding » The bump may be less than the guv wanted but it would be biggest in years.

 

For public school supporters, the end of this year’s legislative session started with a roar.

Educators kicked off the final week of debate by gathering in a massive rally at the Utah Capitol that was easily the largest – and loudest – demonstration of the session.

Hours later, lawmakers passed a budget that included sizable increases to education funding, but fell short of what school managers were hoping to see in a year of large budget surpluses.

“To have that [rally] be essentially dismissed was very disappointing,” Utah Education Association President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh said.

But this year’s budget is far from bad news for schools, according to State Superintendent Brad Smith. He said he regretted the ungrateful tone of the education rally, which came after budget negotiations were finalized.

http://go.uen.org/3c8 (SLT)

 

 


 

 

 

Clock runs out on school board election compromise, solution could be left to judge

 

Lawmakers were unable to strike a deal on school board elections by the time the 2015 Legislature adjourned, potentially throwing the issue back into the courts.

With state senators digging in for partisan elections and House members equally dedicated to nonpartisan elections, none of the eight bills drafted to resolve the conflict passed.

So the state is left with an election system that was ruled unconstitutional in September by U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups.

“Looks like we’ll let the judge decide,” Mapleton Republican Rep. Francis Gibson said Thursday night, after his compromise bill failed.

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

 

 


 

 

 

Intergenerational poverty education initiative on hold until 2016

 

SALT LAKE CITY — After three years of studying ways to disrupt cycles of intergenerational poverty in Utah, the data clearly points to a need for additional services to improve educational outcomes for children.

But creating and funding a mechanism to support such an initiative during the just-concluded general session of the Utah Legislature proved to be highly complex and costly.

SB262 would have allowed some 13,000 Utah households that meet the statutory definition of intergenerational poverty to apply for income tax reimbursements for approved educational expenses in Utah’s public education and higher education systems. Qualifying households would have received services up to $1,500 per year.

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

 

 


 

 

 

Utah Legislature Expands UPSTART Funding in 2015 Education Budget

An additional 1,000 Utah preschoolers can now enroll in the free, in-home program

 

SALT LAKE CITY–Due to the growing success of Waterford Institute’s UPSTART program, the Utah Legislature approved Tuesday an additional $1 million to fund the free, in-home preschool program with the passage of its 2015 Education Budget. The increase will make room for an additional 1,000 Utah preschoolers.

“The time to enroll in pre-K programs is now”

With the expansion, more than 6,000 children, or approximately 15 percent of Utah preschoolers, will be using UPSTART during the 2015-2016 program year.

http://go.uen.org/3d7 (BusinessWire)

 

 


 

 

Would Google Fiber bridge the digital divide in Salt Lake City?

Internet » Affordability big issue for many SLC residents.

 

Salt Lake City is one step closer to enticing Google Fiber to build a high-speed computer network here that would deliver 1 gigabit per second speeds to households and, perhaps, small businesses.

Mayor Ralph Becker has welcomed Google Fiber because, he believes, such a network would accelerate business development — particularly home-based businesses — while attracting investment and creating new opportunities.

But would a Google Fiber network bridge the digital divide that plagues under-served neighborhoods and low-income Salt Lakers and their children?

It won’t if Kansas City — where Google is now building out a fiber network — is any indicator.

The connectivity divide is a reality throughout the country. Low-income urban or rural Americans without access to high-speed Internet simply don’t have the opportunities enjoyed by those who have broadband choices.

Recently, with little fanfare, two items passed across the Salt Lake City Council’s dais that touch on the growing phenomenon.

One is a franchise agreement the council passed in its continuing effort to lure Google Fiber to the capital city. The second is a citywide Consolidated Housing Plan that sets out strategies to create “neighborhoods of opportunity.”

Both contemplate “bridging the digital divide” for residents and businesses that don’t have high-speed Internet. In many low-income households, there is no Internet at all.

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

 

 


 

 

Low vaccination rates put some Utah schools at risk

Health » Salt Lake County border with Utah County is the line separating divergent immunization trends.

 

For Utah, it started with two unvaccinated Utah County boys.

On a trip to Disneyland over the holidays, the two teens contracted measles and brought it home. They went to the movies, the grocery store and church before they headed to the Timpanogos Regional Hospital emergency room.

As a result, one child who came in contact with them got infected and 117 other Utahns spent 21 days in voluntary quarantine. The outbreak cost the state and county health department $115,000 to contain.

It could have been far worse. They could have gone to school.

An analysis of immunization data for the 2014-15 academic year shows that Utah County parents are less likely to immunize their 5-year-olds than those who live in Salt Lake County.

Throughout Utah County, two out of five public elementary schools failed to have enough kindergarteners vaccinated to meet “herd immunity” benchmarks for measles, the level the government says is needed to stop the disease from spreading rapidly. The rate is even worse for charter and private schools in the county; three out of four fail the herd immunity test.

And just one elementary school in Utah County — Ivy Hall Academy — boasted a 100-percent vaccination rate for incoming kindergarteners at the start of the school year.

The anti-vaccination movement in Utah, as in other places, is driven by families that distrust the medical profession and believe vaccines are dangerous, even though the science says otherwise. State law allows parents to exempt their children from required vaccinations, putting education managers in a tough spot as they try to protect kids from contagious, and sometimes deadly, diseases.

http://go.uen.org/3d5 (SLT)

 

 


 

 

 

Utah doesn’t use vaccination data to target outreach or inform parents

Education » Parents aren’t informed, schools aren’t targeted for innoculation campaigns.

 

It’s not easy to find out the student immunization rate at individual Utah schools.

Each elementary school sends vaccination statistics to the Utah Department of Health, which then compiles the information on kindergarteners to look at trends at the health district and state level.

But it appears little else is done with the information.

County health departments don’t use it to target vaccination campaigns at schools that are falling behind. And unless they file a public records request, parents have no access to the information on the schools their children attend.

http://go.uen.org/3d9 (SLT)

 

 


 

 

Lotteries manage enrollment overflow in charter schools

 

  1. GEORGE – Charter schools account for 8 percent of total public school enrollment, having increased by 13.2 percent between 2011 and 2012 alone, according to recent data from the Utah State Office of Education.

As more and more parents choose this option for their children, schools often exceed enrollment capacity, the data indicated.

Lotteries simplify and randomize the process of who gets the coveted final seats.

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

 

 


 

 

Robots and their child overlords invade Utah for a day

Competition » West Valley’s Maverik Center rocked with mechanical excitement.

 

West Valley City • It’s not about winning — it’s about learning. And, OK, the teamwork and fun, too.

The Maverik Center was crazy with excitement Saturday as 53 high school teams from 11 states and Canada went robot-to-robot in the sixth annual Utah Regional FIRST Robotics competition.

The high school teams built their robots specifically for this year’s event that required sorting and stacking bins for recyclables. Teams scored points during 2 1/2 minute rounds by moving the bins to a specific location and stacking them. The more bins in the zone, the higher the score.

Crowds in the stands cheered for their teams as they frantically worked robots to move and stack bins without toppling them.

During a break, the audience sang along to “Sweet Caroline.”

Among the teams competing in the quarter finals Saturday was the Ravens Robots club from Sandy’s Waterford School.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 


 

 

 

Utah company uses small satellites for science education

 

SANDY — You might think of satellites as school bus-sized communications or weather devices, but many satellites going into orbit are about the size of a softball.

One Utah start-up company is using small satellites to bring space into classrooms.

The Sandy-based company ArduSat sells kits containing circuit boards and sensors that students can program to measure temperature, light, magnetic fields and many other things.

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

 

 


 

 

Latinos in Action: Guiding students through graduation

 

OGDEN — Throngs of middle school, junior high and high school students spent a day celebrating their culture and looking to their future at Weber State University at the Latinos in Action Conference. This is the third year WSU has hosted the event for students from Salt Lake City to Utah’s northern border. About 1,400 students participated in workshops, poetry, story telling and dancing.

“This is a day to celebrate them,” said Frank Magana, director of operations for Latinos in Action. It is a program for youth to learn how to incorporate their culture into the community while giving back and preparing for college. LIA is not an after-school program, though. It is an elective class that students take during the school day where they earn credit through doing service and preparing for college, Magana said. LIA does three different annual conferences throughout the state, so all who participate with the program can be involved with a conference close to their home.

Students were asked to contribute writings such as poetry or short stories or dances. Committees picked top entries and those were performed on Thursday during the course of the day, between workshops and classes. Students were also asked to dress up for the event to go along with the theme, “Professional Me.”

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

 

 


 

 

FFA inspires future farmers and more

 

RICHFIELD — Samantha Arehart didn’t grow up on a farm.

The oldest daughter in a military family, Arehart moved across state and international borders before settling near Logan seven years ago. She learned to ride and began competing in rodeo, but it wasn’t until she took an agricultural biology class that she became interested in FFA.

Wanting to overcome shyness, Arehart explained to her parents that she wanted to sign up for up for FFA, which they knew little about, to meet more of her classmates and to compete in public speaking events.

Now an outgoing state officer in the organization and a college freshman, Arehart spoke before more than 1,500 Utah high school students Friday, sharing her animated personal narrative of individuality and confidence.

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

 

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

 

 


 

 

 

Canyons board fast-tracks additional security to schools’ front entrances

 

SANDY — The Canyons Board of Education has fast-tracked the timeline to install an additional set of security doors in all elementary schools to provide additional security at the schools’ front entrances.

The district had planned to install them by 2017, but the board voted to advance the completion date to December 2016.

Security vestibules have been installed at 12 elementary schools to date, district facilities director Rick Conger reported. Two more elementary schools, Butler and Alta View, will have security vestibules when those buildings are rebuilt with the $250 million in voter-approved bonds in 2016 and 2017.

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

 

 


 

 

 

Field of Dreams: Community breaks ground for soccer complex

 

OGDEN – The dream of a high end soccer complex in Ogden is one step closer to reality as dignitaries from the Ogden community gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony the Ogden Community Soccer Complex Thursday on the property of the Ogden School District offices.

The groundbreaking is the start of one of three construction phases of three large soccer fields. The first field could be completed in 90 days.

Soccer athletes from Ogden High School and surrounding areas also put on hard hats and turned dirt, while Ogden High School’s drum line played loudly in the background.

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

 

 


 

 

The history and direction of KOHS, Orem High School’s longstanding radio station

 

At Orem High School, above the doorway in one classroom, there’s a sign with three words: “DON’T BOTCH IT.”

The classroom houses 91.7 KOHS, a student-run radio station that’s been operating for more than 40 years. It’s part of the high school’s two radio classes where students learn various audio and broadcasting skills. The results are broadcast throughout Utah Valley 24/7, with student DJs at the helm throughout the day.

The back of the class houses two separate radio booths. At 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, a student named Alex mans one booth, quietly and a bit nervously. “15 seconds,” he says with an anxious laugh as Chvrches’ “Get Away” finishes playing. He grabs one of the mics, positioning it against the side of his mouth.

“You’re listening to KOHS Orem. Up next we have ‘Take a Walk’ by Passion Pit.”

Removing his headphones, Alex exits the booth as 20 classmates applaud.

“Did you hear how smooth his voice is?,” instructor Matt Brown asks the class. “It’s like chocolate.”

It’s part of the in-class competitions that Brown leads during each class period — another student waits in the opposite booth and the process repeats. Brown has been the instructor/station director for two years, inheriting it from a line of previous OHS teachers. All of them have brought their own innovations, gradually building KOHS into a formidable station with considerable pull locally. Theirs is a long tradition.

http://go.uen.org/3cD (PDH)

 

 


 

 

Students walking to school reducing calories and emissions

 

OGDEN — Walking safely to and from school is a SNAP and a calorie burner.

The Utah Department of Transportation’s (UDOT) Student Neighborhood Access Program (SNAP) recently launched “Spring Walk ‘N’ Win” to increase use of its Walking School Bus app. The app helps kids safely walk to and from school.

The safety-focused app encourages parents to ditch carpools and assist the children in creating and coordinating walking groups, according to a UDOT press release issued Friday.

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

 

http://go.uen.org/3d6 (KSL)

 

 


 

 

 

Cache County School district seeking public input on new high school name, mascot and colors

 

Construction on the new high school in Millville is slightly ahead of schedule. You can thank a mild winter for that. Its new principle has also been named–Bob Henke, current principle at Mountain Crest High School. What the school doesn’t have, yet, is a name and a mascot. But that is about to change.

The Cache County School District mailed post cards to every resident within the school’s boundary area which asked people to go online and give their suggestion for a new name, mascot and colors.

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

 

 


 

 

 

Utah contestant on ‘The Voice’ happy to represent her school, city

 

SYRACUSE — If you’re watching the singing competition “The Voice” on KSL this season, there’s no doubt 18-year-old Noelle Bybee caught your attention; especially because she’s from Utah.

“I’m doing what I love and just singing, making friends and being able to meet celebrities — it’s been crazy and it’s such a blast,” Bybee said during her visit to KSL studios Friday evening.

One of the mentors she met is singer, songwriter and producer, Pharrell Williams, the coach who picked her for his team on “The Voice.”

“He was so down-to-earth. He was really cool and chill,” Bybee said.

But when she’s back home in Syracuse, using Pharrell’s name doesn’t work with Mom and Dad.

“Once I’m home, they make me do my chores and stuff, which is good. My parents keep me very humbled and grounded,” Bybee said with a laugh. “It’s weird when people come up to me and they’re like, ‘You’re famous,’ and I’m like, ‘No.’”

That attitude is also why she’s a student body officer at Syracuse High School, enjoying her senior year.

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

 

 


 

 

 

Alleged sex abuse victim files lawsuit against Davis School District

 

FARMINGTON — One of the three students who allegedly had sexual relations with a former Davis High School teacher claims the district should have done a better job screening prospective employers and providing better training.

The student, his parents and his attorneys have filed a civil lawsuit against the Davis School District. They are seeking at least $674,000 in damages.

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

 

 


 

 

 

Canyon View guidance counselor charged with witness tampering

 

CEDAR CITY – Canyon View High School head girls basketball coach and comprehensive guidance counselor Richard Kim Blackner turned himself in to the Iron County Jail in Cedar City Monday at 3:31 p.m. to be booked on charges of third-degree felony witness tampering.

The 44-year-old Cedar City man was booked and then released the same day per a summons from Judge Keith C. Barnes in the Iron County 5th District Court. The summons directed Blackner to turn himself in before appearing Tuesday to answer the witness tampering charge.

http://go.uen.org/3cJ (SGN)

 

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

 

 


 

 

 

Hillcrest student struck by SUV near school in critical condition

 

A Hillcrest High School student is in critical condition after an SUV hit him while he was walking to school Friday morning.

The accident happened near 7600 S. 900 E., just about a block away from Hillcrest, and the 17-year-old boy remained in critical condition. North bound 900 East at 7600 South is closed as Unified Police investigate the crash.

The male teenager was crossing the street with a group of friends when he the crash happened. No one else was injured, police say.

Police are still trying to figure out if the teen was in the street illegally.

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

 

 


 

 

 

Fire crews respond to small fire at Northridge High School

 

LAYTON, Utah – Layton City Fire Department responded to a small fire at Northridge High School located at 2430 N Hill Field Road Friday afternoon.

It happened around 2:45 p.m.

When fire crews arrived the principal and custodian told crews they sounded the fire alarm due to smoke coming from the home economics classroom.

A custodial staff member indicated when she entered the classroom she could see smoke and flames extending from a stove top.

She reported that plastic items on the top of the heating coil were burning. She quickly used a fire extinguisher on the fire then evacuated. The custodian took quick action to turn off the electrical power to the classroom.

Fire crews used smoke exhaust fans to clear the area and contained the smoldering fire to the stove top.

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

 

 


 

 

‘The Cokeville Miracle’ a story of faith and answered prayers

 

OREM — The children taken hostage by a couple in a small classroom in Cokeville, Wyoming, nearly 30 years ago still jump at loud noises and worry at the smell of smoke.

Katie Walker was 7 and in the first grade that day — the day she says her deceased grandmother (whom she’d never met) came to help her get out of the burning classroom after a bomb exploded.

“I live with daily triggers,” said Walker after the LDS Film Festival screening of filmmaker T.C. Christensen’s “The Cokeville Miracle” on March 7. “A lot of it our brains didn’t process then because we were so young. It’s taken years to sort through it.

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

 

 


 

 

 

Superintendent addresses Women in Business luncheon attendees

 

CEDAR CITY — Iron County School District Superintendent Shannon Delaney will speak at the next Women in Business luncheon to be held Wednesday at noon at the Stone Haven Special Events Center located at 647 South Cross Hollow Road in Cedar City.

http://go.uen.org/3cI (SGN)

 

 


 

 

Logan High students design educational posters for Clean Air Poster Contest

 

Logan City and Utah State University have teamed up with Logan High School for the first ever Clean Air Poster Contest.

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

 

 


 

 

Students attempt to break pi paper chain world record, run out of time

 

Clair Decker, left, and Adelle Remke help attempt to break the pi paper chain world record, with more than 80,000 paper links numbered in the order of pi, the day before Pi Day, at Hillside Middle School in Salt Lake City on Friday, March 13, 2015. They had enough links to break the record but could not get them organized in the order of pi in time, so they did not break the record. They plan to try again next year.

http://go.uen.org/3cu  (DN)

 

 

 

 

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY

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Legislative wrap — anti-discrimination, religious liberty bills overshadow other successes, disappointments

Deseret News editorial

 

The 2015 Utah Legislature will be remembered as historic because of the landmark compromise extending anti-discrimination protections for people based on sexual orientation and identity while also protecting religious liberty. That accomplishment, already being studied in other states as possible model legislation, overshadowed other successes and disappointments during the 45-day session.

It’s also difficult to remember a session in which lawmakers faced a strong economy — surpluses in ongoing and one-time funds totaled $739 million — and yet were so willing to raise taxes. Lawmakers passed a $75 million property tax hike to help fund education. That equals about $46 more per year for the average Utah family. They also reached a last-minute deal on a plan to raise gas taxes, turning them into a type of sales tax.

The education tax increase demonstrates the state’s willingness to deal with its perpetual problem involving overcrowded classrooms. Public schools will receive about $510 million in new funds. We would prefer a greater emphasis on free-market solutions to the state’s education challenges, but there can be no denying that extra funds, especially as they will be used to equalize spending among schools statewide, were needed.

Lawmakers also wisely decided not to end the assessment tests known as SAGE, which promise over time to help educators better understand how to improve education.

One disappointment, however, was that lawmakers did not decide how to change the way state school board members are chosen. Last year, a judge struck down the current method as unconstitutional. Utahns now are left wondering how the process will proceed in future elections.

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

 

 


 

 

Utah Legislature: Historic and all too familiar

The highs and lows of the session.

Salt Lake Tribune editorial

 

In a session that was both historic and all too familiar, here’s how Utahns fared when the dust had settled on the 2015 Utah Legislature:

Education funding » Herbert, mindful of the fact that state spending on public education hasn’t caught up to pre-recession levels, was proud to propose a budget that boosted the state’s per-pupil spending allowance by 6.25 percent, and to do it without a tax hike. But, because lawmakers weren’t willing to give up some general fund earmarks that are now committed to other uses, they could only fund a 4 percent hike. And they needed a $75 million boost in the state’s equalizing property tax levy to fund even that. It’s a start.

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

 

 


 

 

Wrapping Up the 2015 Session

Utah Policy commentary by columnist Bob Bernick

 

So, what did we learn from the 2015 Legislature?

— Public schools get $515 million more – more than what Herbert asked for in new public education funding, but in a very different way of getting there.

Herbert wanted a 6.25 percent increase in the Weighted Pupil Unit – the state’s basic per-student funding formula.

He didn’t get it. Republican legislators gave him 4 percent.

But Republicans also passed a Sen. Aaron Osmond bill that raises property taxes by $75 million statewide to “equalize” the 41 school districts’ capital outlay funds.

That’s about $50 a year on a $250,000 house, more on a business.

But it stops a likely lawsuit (kids in different parts of the state aren’t treated equally in their school facilities), and solves a real problem of the poorer property tax districts being unable to fund new buildings.

When Osmond’s $75 million is added to the 4 percent WPU increase, legislative Republicans say Herbert got more than the $503 million he asked for public education at the session’s start – although the governor may look at this differently.

One final note: It was of interest to see just how powerful a top member of GOP leadership can be.

Senate President Niederhauser, R-Sandy, doesn’t ask for much. And he’s a pretty quiet kind of guy (he is an accountant, after all).

But Thursday afternoon Niederhauser came into an open House GOP caucus – I don’t remember ever seeing a Senate president in the other body’s Republican caucus – to make a personal pitch for the only bill he’s sponsoring this year, SB235.

It puts $7 million into a new public education program aimed at turning around failing elementary schools.

You may remember that the GOP Senate played hardball with late-Speaker Becky Lockhart’s big-money idea in the 2014 Legislature to put tablets or laptops into the hands of K-12 students.

Lockhart’s plan started at more than $300 million. GOP senators finally told Lockhart she could have $12 million or $15 million for a pilot program, but she declined and let her bill die.

House Speaker Hughes, R-Draper, Thursday spoke in caucus in favor of SB235, said it was a good program and hoped House Republicans would support it.

In the end they did, and it passed 43-29.

Lockhart was a lame duck when she lost her public education reform battle; Niederhauser will still be president come the 2016 Legislature – and he may be looking at the House “no” vote tally on SB235.

http://go.uen.org/3c9

 

 


 

 

 

Lawsuit over teacher-student sex? Guess who ends up paying

(Ogden) Standard-Examiner commentary by columnist Mark Saal

 

It’s sad when you can’t decide which is worse — the alleged perpetrator, or the alleged victim.

It’s been almost a year and a half since Brianne Altice, a Davis High School teacher at the time, was arrested and accused of having sexual relations with one of her teenage male students. Over the ensuing months, the story has taken all sorts of dramatic twists and turns. Two more victims surfaced. One of the victims allegedly threatened to kill a fellow victim if he didn’t recant his accusations. And today, Altice faces a total of 14 felony charges, including five counts of first-degree felony rape.

You should know that through it all, your humble columnist has had absolutely no desire to touch this so-called “teacher with benefits” saga, even with the proverbial 10-foot pole. In fact, other than having to write one news story about it (when editors could find no real journalists hanging around the newsroom at the time formal rape charges were filed), I’d managed to avoid giving this story a second thought.

And then, one of the victims had to go and sue the Davis School District.

In the immortal words of Popeye the Sailor Man: “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more.”

I’ve spent the last couple of days struggling to understand the reasoning behind going after the school district in a $674,000 lawsuit. Honest, I’ve tried to put myself in the place of these victims’ families. How would I feel if a 34-year-old English teacher were accused of having sex with my 17-year-old son?

Survey says: Anger at the teacher. Anger, coupled with deep, deep disappointment, at my son. Beyond that? I suppose it’s only natural to wonder why someone — and I would include myself on that short list — didn’t see this one coming.

But a lawsuit?

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

 

 


 

 

We need a learner-centered approach in Utah education

(Ogden) Standard-Examiner op-ed by JIM STRICKLAND, who teaches at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington

 

Robert Frost’s great little poem, “Stopping by Woods On a Snowy Evening,” likely inspired the writers of, “Promises to Keep”, the Utah vision and mission for public education. Frost’s poem ends with these words, “I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”

“Promises to Keep” is a document that is intended to “provide focus to the work of the State Board of Education, the Utah State Office of Education, and all school districts, local boards of education, and charter schools within the general control and supervision of the Board.” .

A diverse group of educators and parents has studied the document and come to two conclusions: 1) It is a strong vision and mission statement, and 2) It is a foundation upon which a quality education system could be built. It is, however, only a beginning. There are “miles to go” before this document could serve as a comprehensive guide.

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

 

 


 

 

 

School superintendent’s comments are disgusting

Salt Lake Tribune letter from Brett Boberg

 

As a teacher of 14 years at Bingham High School, I am used to feeling undervalued and under-appreciated. I knew I would never be rich by going into education. And I knew Utah’s reputation for large class sizes and limited resources.

However, I never felt lower than after I read state Superintendent Brad Smith’s comment comparing the recent education rally to a toddler throwing a temper tantrum. “It reminded me of when my kid was 3 years old and they started crying on Christmas morning because he didn’t get one more thing.”

For the record, I will never apologize for fighting for the educational rights and opportunities for children.

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

 

 


 

 

 

What Utah superintendent should have said

Salt Lake Tribune letter from Connie Anderson

 

As a Granite School Board member and retired teacher, I was honored to attend the rally at the Capitol last Monday with concerned citizens and fellow educators, including my daughter. It was stirring to be associated with such people dedicated to inspiring and lifting our community and its children.

You can imagine my disappointment, then, when I read State Superintendent Brad Smith’s rant in the Tribune (“A mixed bag for schools,” March 13) comparing those who attended to a 3-year-old’s tantrum. Educators do not deserve the contempt expressed in his attempt at a cutesy comment for the paper.

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

 

 


 

 

 

How about a legislator civics test?

Salt Lake Tribune letter from Kelly White

 

The Utah Legislature enacted SB60 (American Civics Education Initiative), requiring high school students to pass a civics test before they can graduate.

I had a civics lesson myself this week. I watched a bill I was interested in from the beginning, through committees, and the votes in the Senate and the House of the Utah Legislature.

In the Senate chamber there was misinformation put forth about the subject matter of the bill. On the House floor the bill had a different interpretation from the Senate and more misinformation was put forth.

Here’s what I learned: Two wrongs, one in the Senate and one in the House, do not make a right.

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

 

 


 

 

 

Education means birth control, too

Salt Lake Tribune letter from Michael Peay

 

Education is the process of providing information, not limiting it. Utah actually has a law that limits what educators can teach. I’m talking about teaching birth control in high school health classes.

Why teach birth control?

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

 

 


 

 

 

No homework policy improves school experience

(Provo) Daily Herald letter from Preston Schollenberger

 

I just want to inform you about a problem that has been around for years, homework. Kids all over the nation have always stressed out about homework assignments. They are so stressed out, in fact, that they can’t learn very easily any more.

My teacher has done something extraordinary with us. She doesn’t give us any more homework. Because I have no more homework I have actually improved in my academic scores. I have been able to participate in more recreational activities. Because of these activity experiences I can relate more to school and learn better.

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

 

 


 

 

Let’s Ensure That Every Girl Can Learn

An international initiative can help the 62 million girls world-wide who are not in school.

Wall Street Journal op-ed by MICHELLE OBAMA, First Lady of the United States

 

This week I will travel to Tokyo to join Akie Abe, the wife of Japan’s prime minister, as the United States and Japan announce a new partnership to educate girls across the globe. As part of this effort, the U.S. government has launched an international initiative, called “Let Girls Learn,” to help girls in developing countries go to school and stay in school.

These new investments—along with previous investments by countries like the United Kingdom—reflect a growing global consensus that when 62 million girls world-wide are not in school, that is not only a tragic waste of human potential. It is also a serious public-health challenge, a drag on national economies and global prosperity, and a threat to the security of countries around the world, including our own.

The research is unequivocal: Girls who attend secondary school marry and have children later, and they have lower maternal and infant-mortality rates and lower rates of HIV/AIDS. Every additional year of education can increase a girl’s earning power by 10% to 20%; and sending more girls to school can boost an entire country’s economy. National-security experts have even noted that educating women can be a powerful tool to fight extremism, violence and instability.

The question today is no longer whether to invest in global girls’ education, but how, particularly when it comes to adolescent girls.

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

 

 


 

 

 

Teaching the Next Generation Science Standards With ‘Mysteries’

Education Week commentary by columnist Liana Heitin

 

Chicago – In a packed session this morning, a professor who helped lead the development of the Next Generation Science Standards, described the new standards as “a shift from learning about something to figuring out something.”

Brian J. Reiser, a professor of learning sciences at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., who was introduced as “the godfather of NGSS,” offered this example: “NGSS does not ask you to explain photosynthesis, NGSS asks you to explain how a tree gets all its stuff.”

Traditionally, science classes have been taught a few different ways, he explained:

* Through application: The teacher presents the idea, then students do the lab experiment to see it in action.

* Through the “trust me” method: The teacher does the lab, then teaches the idea so kids understand what they just saw. “Why do we need to learn osmosis? Because you really need it in high school,” Reiser mocked.

* Through the “Mr. Wizard” method: The teacher does something awesome and says, “Isn’t this cool? How does this work?”

The NGSS storyline is different. Students are given a big question that they can relate to—a “mystery” of sorts. Through their investigation of that question, they hit on other phenomena along the way that they also need to investigate and explain.

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

 

 


 

 

 

A father’s pressing question: How many AP courses are enough?

Washington Post commentary by columnist Jay Mathews

 

Last year, I wrote a piece entitled “Why we wrongly freak out over AP.” Three to five Advanced Placement courses in high school would satisfy most selective colleges, I said: “Taking six, seven, eight or 20 AP courses will almost never make you more attractive to those colleges that reject more students than they accept.”

One Fairfax County father, though, told me his sophomore daughter wanted to go to the University of Virginia, but to do that, someone in authority at her high school said that she had to take about nine or 10 APs.

According to the father, the adviser said “selective colleges want to see applicants take the most challenging courses at their high school, which means AP.” That is true, but it does not mean you have to take that many, unless you groove on stress.

Many parents and students, and some educators, share the father’s concern.

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

 

 


 

 

 

The Real Bullies at School

Teachers are vilified for being too hard on students, so why aren’t coaches held to the same standard?

Atlantic commentary by LINDA FLANAGAN, a freelance writer and high school cross-country coach

 

Playing basketball had been a singular source of joy for her. She had taken it up in first grade, honed her talent in year-round competitive leagues, and earned a spot on the varsity team as a high-school freshman. Now a sophomore at a private California high school, the girl—whom I’ll call Erin—began to dread practice. She felt stupid and insecure. According to Erin, the head coach regularly scolded the team for lacking commitment, punished them with sprint drills for losses and mistakes, and yanked them out of games if they missed a lay-up or turned the ball over. “She liked to yell a lot,” Erin said, though she found the coach’s failure to instruct almost as demoralizing. “She’d not explain a drill, I’d mess up, and then we’d have to run for my mistake … If I asked for directions, she’d say, ‘You should have been paying attention!'”

It got so bad that Erin sometimes had panic attacks during practice. “She kept yelling at me, ‘Your shot is terrible! You need to get it off faster!’” Erin recalled. “She’s like a ticking time bomb, and you don’t know when she’s gonna go off … I started to hate the sport.”

Erin’s mother said she was so alarmed by her daughter’s declining spirits that she brought her concerns to the school’s athletic director. When the director reasoned that it’s common for parents to be upset when their kids don’t get playing time, she went to the head of school. To her surprise, the school head had never heard any misgivings about the coach. “I’ve seen parents try to get a preschool teacher fired for serving the wrong apple juice,” Erin’s mother told me. “But if their child has the worst soccer coach on the planet, they say nothing. Why is this true in the athletic arena, and nowhere else?”

http://go.uen.org/3d1

 

 


 

 

 

Why Charter Schools Work – Or Don’t

One key question: How carefully are the schools authorized?

U.S. News & World Report op-ed by David Osborne, director of the project on Reinventing America’s Schools at the Progressive Policy Institute

 

Nothing frosts me more than Diane Ravitch and her friends’ charge that charter schools amount to “corporate reform.” This is such nonsense. The charter movement was launched in the 1990s by public activists and state legislators – most of them Democrats – while business conservatives were busy pushing standards or vouchers.

The critics also love to repeat that charters perform no better than other public schools. This statement may have been true in 2009, if one accepts the critics’ favorite study, from Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes or CREDO. But a closer look at those results reveals a deeper truth. Where charter authorizers do their jobs, charters vastly outperform traditional public schools, with far less money. Where authorizers fall down on the job, letting failing charters live on just like traditional schools, the average charter performs no better, and sometimes worse.

The original charter idea was to open the public school monopoly to competition from new schools, operated on contract by other organizations: nonprofits, teacher cooperatives, universities, even for-profit businesses. The charter was usually a five-year performance contract, laying out the results expected from the school. Charter authorizers – typically school districts or state boards of education – would reject charter applications from groups that did not appear equipped to succeed, and they would close schools if students did not learn as promised.

This approach is largely a reality in New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Indiana, Louisiana, Tennessee and Washington, D.C. But any good idea can be implemented poorly.

http://go.uen.org/3d4

 

 


 

 

Charter School Laws Across the States 2015 Rankings & Scorecard

Center for Education Reform analysis

 

In this 16th edition of Charter School Laws Across the States: Rankings and Scorecard it is abundantly clear that little to no progress has been made over the past year.

Charter school growth does continue at a steady, nearly linear pace nationally, especially in states with charter laws graded “A” or “B,” but an even more accelerated pace would allow charter schools to play a more central role in addressing the demands and needs of our nation’s students.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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NATIONAL NEWS

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High school graduation rates for minority students improve faster than rest of U.S.

Washington Post

 

The high school graduation rate for African Americans, Latinos, American Indians, students with disabilities and poor students increased between 2010 and 2013, narrowing the gap in rates between those groups and their white counterparts, according to new data released Monday by the U.S. Department of Education.

The graduation rate also increased for English language learners, though they still graduate from high school at the lowest rate of all student subgroups.

“The hard work of America’s educators, families, communities and students is paying off. This is a vital step toward readiness for success in college and careers for every student in this country,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement. “While these gains are promising, we know that we have a long way to go in improving educational opportunities for every student — no matter their zip code — for the sake of our young people and our nation’s economic strength.”

The government reported last month that the overall graduation rate for the high school Class of 2013 was 81 percent, an all-time high since most states began calculating graduation rates in a uniform way in 2010.

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

 

A copy of the report

http://go.uen.org/3cZ (ED)

 

 


 

 

 

Obama Says He’s Prepared to Fight GOP over Education

Associated Press

 

WASHINGTON — Pointing to increased high school graduation rates, President Barack Obama said Monday he’s prepared to fight with Republicans for school funding and his education priorities rather than risk going backward.

The president said he hopes that Republican lawmakers focus on educating every child and not shifting money away from needy districts. He’s also calling for a focus on low-performing schools, annual assessments and investments in special education and English-language learners.

Obama said if the Republican budget doesn’t reflect those priorities, they will have “a major debate.”

“We are making too much progress now in terms of graduation rates, improved reading scores, improved math scores, increasing standards, increasing access to the resources the kids need, for us to be going backwards now. And this is something worth fighting for,” Obama said at a White House meeting with urban school leaders.

http://go.uen.org/2j6

 

http://go.uen.org/3d2 (USAT)

 

http://go.uen.org/3d3 (Washington Times)

 

 


 

 

 

Bush Tells New Hampshire He Won’t Change Views to Win Votes

Associated Press

 

HUDSON, N.H. — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told skeptical voters Friday that he would not soften his views on immigration or education to win their backing.

On his opening foray into New Hampshire for his likely campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Bush challenged voters here to spend time learning about the issues and avoid shrill partisan sniping. He said “facts don’t matter” to some of his critics and told his first political audience in the state in 15 years that true leaders do not shrink from their beliefs for political expediency.

Asked by a voter about his support for Common Core standards, educational benchmarks that states voluntarily adopted, Bush was direct: “Yep, I’m all in.”

“Yes, it’s controversial,” he continued. “But I’ve learned, though, that because something is controversial … you don’t abandon your core beliefs. You go persuade people, as I’m trying to do right now.”

http://go.uen.org/2I0

 

 


 

 

 

How compatible are Common Core and technology?

Hechinger Report

 

NEW YORK — Technology is in every room at P.S. 101 in Brooklyn — it’s even in the hallways. Scan the QR code with your phone outside of the fourth-grade classroom of co-teachers Vanessa Desiano and Jamie Coccia and a video will pop up of a student giving a history presentation on early explorers. Step inside, and fourth-grade students are working together to discover the themes of chapter 13 in their latest book, The Birchbark House, and typing what they find on iPads.

Carissa, a fourth-grader sporting a jean jacket with a fur collar, types rapidly with two fingers into a shared Google Doc. She and her tablemates each have a role to play. “I’m the summarizer,” she said, her eyes not leaving the iPad. “I’m typing a summary into the Google Doc and then my group can write too and ask questions.”

Minutes later, Coccia turns on the Smart Board, a kind of computerized projector, at the front of the room. Answers from all of the groups are displayed. One group has chosen a picture from the movie “Frozen,” with “let it go” in all caps across the top — they explain to the class that it represents the theme of moving on after experiencing a problem.

The lesson is focused on a fourth-grade Common Core standard of locating and understanding themes, but the students are simultaneously working on separate Common Core speaking and listening standards that require them to carry out assigned roles in discussions and ask questions specific to a text.

“People have this fear that if you put technology into a classroom, kids will just be staring at computers,” said Principal Gregg Korrol. “But this class is using technology to engage each other directly in learning.”

In many American classrooms, the effort to teach the new Common Core standards has become intertwined with a growing movement to add more technology into daily lessons. New online standardized tests matched to the Common Core that will roll out in roughly 30 states this spring have only added to the urgency many school leaders feel to purchase more computers, tablets and software to prepare their students for the digital age. At the same time, the Common Core has spawned a growing marketplace of technology products that promise to get students ready for the new, tougher standards, including online libraries of reading materials linked to the standards, software programs to help struggling students catch up and Common Core educational games.

But are Common Core and technology really compatible? Often, educators and experts say, technology can help students become more engaged in the lesson, but sometimes it just gets in the way — especially when learning is best accomplished through kinesthetic experiences, which require being physically engaged in problem solving. The key to making the standards and tech work together, they say, is using technology to encourage critical thinking and classroom engagement — not replace them.

http://go.uen.org/3d0

 

 


 

 

Virginia pushed into debate of teacher privacy vs. transparency for parents

Washington Post

 

A Loudoun County parent has sued state officials to force the release of evaluation data for thousands of teachers across Virginia, making it the latest in a series of states to grapple with whether such information should be made public.

Brian Davison has pressed for the data’s release because he thinks parents have a right to know how their children’s teachers are performing, information about public employees that exists but has so far been hidden. He also wants to expose what he says is Virginia’s broken promise to begin using the data to evaluate how effective the state’s teachers are.

“I do think the teacher data should be out there,” Davison said. “If you know that you have a teacher that’s not effective . . . is it fair to ask a parent to put their student in that teacher’s classroom?”

Davison’s crusade for the teacher data offers a window into a national debate about what parents and taxpayers have a right to know about teachers and how to balance transparency with privacy. A Richmond judge ruled in his favor in January, but that ruling has been challenged by state officials and the Virginia Education Association, which represents teachers across the state. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Monday.

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

 

 


 

 

 

How Prison Stints Replaced Study Hall

America’s problem with criminalizing kids.

Politico Magazine

 

Police officers in Meridian, Mississippi, were spending so much time hauling handcuffed students from school to the local juvenile jail that they began describing themselves as “just a taxi service.”

It wasn’t because schools in this east Mississippi town were overrun by budding criminals or juvenile superpredators—not by a long shot. Most of the children were arrested and jailed simply for violating school rules, often for trivial offenses.

One 15-year-old girl, for example, was suspended and sent to the Lauderdale County Juvenile Detention Center for a dress code violation. Her jacket was the wrong shade of blue. A boy served a suspension in the juvenile lock-up for passing gas in the classroom. Another landed behind bars because he walked to the alternative school instead of taking the bus.

For many kids, a stint in “juvie” was just the beginning of a never-ending nightmare. Arrests could lead to probation. Subsequent suspensions were then considered probation violations, leading back to jail. And suspensions were a distinct possibility in a district where the NAACP found a suspension rate that was more than 10 times the national average.

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit to stop the “taxi service” in Meridian’s public schools, where 86 percent of the students are black. The DOJ suit, still unresolved, said children were being incarcerated so “arbitrarily and severely as to shock the conscience.”

We should all be shocked.

The reality, though, is that Meridian’s taxi service is just one example of what amounts to a civil rights crisis in America: a “school-to-prison pipeline” that sucks vulnerable children out of the classroom at an alarming rate and funnels them into the harsh world of police, courts and prison cells.

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

 

 


 

 

 

Casey: Not-pot leaf gets 6th-grader in big trouble

An 11-year-old boy at Bedford Middle School was suspended for 364 days after being caught with a substance that tested negative for marijuana.

Roanoke (VA) Times

 

At first blush it sounds like an open-and-shut school disciplinary matter in a zero-tolerance age:

Some schoolchildren claim another student bragged about having marijuana. They inform school administrators. An assistant principal finds a leaf and a lighter in the boy’s knapsack. The student is suspended for a year. A sheriff’s deputy files marijuana possession charges in juvenile court.

All of the above and more happened last September to the 11-year-old son of Bedford County residents Bruce and Linda Bays. He was a sixth-grader in the gifted-and-talented program at Bedford Middle School.

There was only one problem: Months after the fact, the couple learned the substance wasn’t marijuana. A prosecutor dropped the juvenile court charge because the leaf had field-tested negative three times.

Their son remains out of school — he’s due to return Monday on strict probation. But in the meantime, the events of the past six months have wreaked havoc on the formerly happy-go-lucky boy’s psyche. His parents say he’s withdrawn socially, and is now under the care of a pediatric psychiatrist for panic attacks and depression.

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

 

 


 

 

NYC’s Plan for Prayer Break in Pre-K Classes Raises Concerns

Associated Press

 

NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious plan to expand public pre-kindergarten for all 4 year-olds depends in part on the participation of Jewish, Christian and Muslim schools, under a proposal that would permit religious instruction and prayers during midday breaks.

But civil liberties groups are already objecting to the plan, which would take effect next fall, saying allowing a prayer break in a publicly funded classroom may violate the constitutional separation of church and state.

“It’s kind of like waving a red flag in front of a bull,” said Barry Lynn, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State. “This seems to be asking for a lawsuit.”

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

 

 


 

 

‘Heather Has Two Mommies’ Revised, Updated

Associated Press

 

NEW YORK — A playful picture book about a little girl named Heather and her two happy mommies was a cultural and legal flashpoint 25 years ago, angering conservatives over the morality of same-sex parenting and landing libraries at the center of community battles over placement in the children’s stacks.

Today, Heather – of “Heather Has Two Mommies” – has a lot more company in books for young kids about different kinds of families, but hers was out of print and seemed visually dated. That’s why creator Leslea Newman decided on a new version, updating the look of her watershed story with fresh illustrations from a new artist and tweaking the text to streamline.

There’s one big change, but you have to squint to notice: Heather’s Mama Kate and Mama Jane wear little matching rings on their marriage fingers.

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

 

 


 

 

 

Disneyland measles outbreak linked to low vaccination rates

Reuters

 

The rapid spread of a measles outbreak from Disneyland in California to communities around the country suggests that vaccination rates in some places may be as low as 50 percent, a study suggests.

“Disneyland is an international attraction and sometimes people are coming from places where measles vaccination rates are low or they don’t get the recommended two doses, and that, combined with the fact that there are a lot of pockets of non-vaccination in California and people coming from all over the U.S. created the perfect storm for a big outbreak,” lead author Maimuna Majumder of Boston Children’s Hospital and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told Reuters Health.

This year, the U.S. is experiencing a multi-state measles outbreak believed to have started at Disneyland this past December, as well as three other unrelated outbreaks in Illinois, Nevada, and Washington, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of March 6, 173 people from 17 states and the District of Columbia were reported to have measles, with most linked back to Disneyland.

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

 

A copy of the study

http://go.uen.org/3cX (JAMA Pediatrics)

 

 


 

 

Feds promote artificial turf as safe despite health concerns

USA Today

 

Lead levels high enough to potentially harm children have been found in artificial turf used at thousands of schools, playgrounds and day-care centers across the country, yet two federal agencies continue to promote the surfacing as safe, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

The growing use of turf fields layered with rubber crumbs has raised health concerns centered mostly on whether players face increased risk of injury, skin infection or cancer. The U.S. has more than 11,000 artificial turf fields, which can cost $1 million to replace.

But largely overlooked has been the possible harm to young children from ingesting lead in turf materials, and the federal government’s role in encouraging their use despite doing admittedly limited research on their health safety.

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

 

 


 

 

Maine Teacher Wins $1 Million Global Teacher Prize in Dubai

Associated Press

 

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An English teacher from rural Maine won the $1 million Global Teacher Prize on Sunday after 42 years of work as an innovator and pioneer in teaching literature.

Nancie Atwell plans to donate the full amount to the Center for Teaching and Learning which she founded in 1990 in Edgecomb, Maine as a nonprofit demonstration school created for the purpose of developing and disseminating teaching methods. The school says 97 percent of its graduates have gone on to university.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

————————————————————

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

Noon, 250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

http://www.schools.utah.

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