Education News Roundup: June 9, 2015

busEducation News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:


KUTV looks at the problems of a rural school district that is losing population. In this case, it’s Garfield District. (KUTV)


Utah colleges and universities are expecting more students. (UPR)


Congratulations to Indiana Coyle, Utah’s winner of the “Healthy Lunchtime Challenge,” for her Mix It Up Sushi recipe. (White House)

and (PBS)


New poll finds most teachers nationally see poverty as a barrier to learning in their school. (WaPo)

or a copy of the poll (Communities in Schools)


Kansas Board of Education defends the state’s science standards. (Topeka Capital-Journal)


WaPo looks at where students are going to private K-12 schools. Utah and Wyoming tie for last with just 7 percent attending private schools. The other end of the spectrum? Twenty-one percent attend private schools in DC and Hawaii. (WaPo)

or a copy of the report (Education Law Center)















Shrinking numbers pushing Garfield School District to crisis


Higher Numbers In Higher Education Projected For Utah


As School Year Ends, Free Summer Meals Help Fill Nutrition Gap in Utah


First Lady Michelle Obama, PBS, and WGBH Boston Announce Winning Recipes in Nationwide “Healthy Lunchtime Challenge”

Winners to Attend Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House


Teachers versus students in annual games


Students throw pies at teachers for job well done


America First Credit Union donates $11,000 in scholarships to students of Copper Hills High School


School board to discuss BDHS ‘scandal’


JLBES students recognized








Utah’s Political Clout is Growing


That ‘Tired Statistic’ Harms Education


Summer Meals Being Served for Utah Kids


School uniforms prepare youth for conformity


Test-Taking ‘Compliance’ Does Not Ensure Equity


Q&A: An Early Opt-Out Talks About School Without Tests


This Online Game Shows the Hard Choices Teachers Face Every Day








Poll: Majority of Teachers Say Poverty Is a Barrier to Learning in Their Schools


Kansas education board defends science standards as ‘performance expectations’

Opponents describe teaching of evolution, climate change as ‘atheistic’


Public versus private schools: Who goes where, by state


Hillary Clinton Meets With NEA, Talks Testing, Accountability


Mexico to reinstate teacher evaluations in restart of education reform


‘Goth Girl’ author Riddell named Britain’s new Children’s Laureate










Shrinking numbers pushing Garfield School District to crisis


In Southern Utah a lack of jobs is creating a big problem for the school district in Garfield County. Officials say they are getting ready to declare a state of emergency in the school district.

One of the high schools, Escalante, opened with 150 students nearly 20 years ago but not it is down to 50. The whole district has just over 400 students enrolled in junior high and high school and it is dropping every year.

Superintendent Ben Dalton said if it gets much lower, they don’t know how they will be able to keep the schools open. (KUTV)






Higher Numbers In Higher Education Projected For Utah


The Utah System of Higher Education is projecting an increase in the number of students expected to attend Utah universities.

Dave Buhler is the commissioner of the Utah System of Higher Education. He said the forecasted increase comes from looking at multiple factors, which although may not be perfect, is a good estimate.

“We take a look at varies data points, including population by age, high school enrollments, unemployment estimates and use a regression and trend analysis to make an estimate based on those factors,” Buhler said.

The increase is estimated to be 50,000 additional students in the next 10 years. Buhler said that any increase will be good for Utah. (UPR)





As School Year Ends, Free Summer Meals Help Fill Nutrition Gap in Utah


School is out for many children in Utah, and that means some of them are not getting the free meals they got during the school year. To fill that need, summer meals are now being served at over 200 sites across the state, but organizers say the program doesn’t reach as many families as they would like.

It’s lunchtime at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City on the first day of the summer nutrition programs. One family is picking up pizza, carrots, milk, and Scooby Doo grahams. It’s free for the kids, but the mom pays a couple dollars so she can have pizza too. Her name is Emma.

“We’ve been struggling a little bit financially so this is great support to have for them,” Emma says, but almost as soon as she begins to talk about it, her eyes fill with tears as she looks across the table at her son and two young daughters eating lunch. “Sorry,” she says. “We’ve just been struggling to a little while and hope to get back on our feet. This helps us a lot to not have to worry about what they’re going to eat, so it means a lot to us.” (KUER) (UPR)






First Lady Michelle Obama, PBS, and WGBH Boston Announce Winning Recipes in Nationwide “Healthy Lunchtime Challenge”

Winners to Attend Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House


Washington D.C. – First Lady Michelle Obama, PBS flagship station WGBH Boston, the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced the winners of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a nationwide recipe challenge for kids that promotes cooking and healthy eating.  Winners representing all U.S. states, four territories, and the District of Columbia will attend a Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House hosted by Mrs. Obama on July 10.  The 55 aspiring young chefs and a parent or guardian will join the First Lady for a healthy lunch, featuring a selection of the winning recipes, followed by a visit to the White House Kitchen Garden.

“Reading over these winning recipes, two things become very clear,” says First Lady Michelle Obama. “America’s kids are passionate about not just eating healthy food, but about cooking healthy food, too.  And we’re raising some truly inventive and talented chefs. I can’t wait to meet our 2015 winners and try some of their recipes at the Kids’ “State Dinner.’”

This is the fourth year of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids’ “State Dinner” in which 8-12-year-old kids across the nation are invited to create a lunchtime recipe that is healthy, affordable, original, and delicious.  In support of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, entrants were encouraged to reference information at to ensure recipes met the USDA’s recommended nutrition guidance. The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge received almost one thousand entries featuring wholesome, tasty ingredients, such as salmon, chickpeas, cauliflower, and quinoa. Entries had to represent each of the food groups, either in one dish or as parts of a lunch meal, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy. To make the challenge possible for kids and their families across America, support is being provided to WGBH by Newman’s Own® and Newman’s Own Foundation.

The winners and featured recipes include:

UTAH: Indiana Coyle, Age 8, Mix It Up Sushi (White House) (PBS)





Teachers versus students in annual games


LAYTON — Students got a chance to get even with their teachers last week as ninth-graders at Central Davis High went head-to-head against the school’s staff in volleyball, handball, and dodgeball while the student body cheered everyone on.

While teachers are the ones handing out homework assignments and giving lectures, decorum was set aside as their athleticism came out, including assistant principal Stacy Miller’s mean overhand serve in the volleyball games with the ninth-graders grappling to get the ball back over the net. (OSE)






Students throw pies at teachers for job well done


As school is heading into the summer break, a West Jordan elementary had some messy fun.

It was a reward for a job well done for students at Columbia Elementary School. They have been participating on the Road to Success reading contest to see which class could break a record in the number of minutes read. Students read a total of 1,824,000 minutes. So today, they got to throw whipped cream pies at teachers whose classes had the most success. (KUTV)






America First Credit Union donates $11,000 in scholarships to students of Copper Hills High School


RIVERDALE, UT — A true proponent of the credit union philosophy of ‘people helping people,’ America First Credit Union, recently donated $11,000 in scholarships to students of Copper Hills High School from the America First Credit Union Charitable Foundation. The school educates the largest population of students, grades 10 – 12, in the state of Utah. (Credit Union Insight)





School board to discuss BDHS ‘scandal’


BEAVER DAM, Arizona – The Littlefield Unified School District governing board is scheduled Thursday to discuss the course scoring irregularities found last month that resulted in 13 Beaver Dam High School seniors being denied graduation.

LUSD Board President Rena Moerman told the Desert Valley Times in May that parents, community members and any others who may have an interest in the incident will be given an opportunity to comment during the meeting at 5 p.m. in the administrative services site, 3490 E. Rio Virgin Road. (SGS)






JLBES students recognized


Three fifth-grade students of J.L. Bowler Elementary School were selected on June 3 at the school for writing the best essays for the Americanism Essay Contest, sponsored annually by the Mesquite Elks Lodge 2811. (SGS)










Utah’s Political Clout is Growing

Utah Policy commentary by columnist Bob Bernick


We oldsters know about the Summer of Love in San Francisco and the summer of civil rights marches in the South, both in the 1960s.

Well, we are coming up to the Summer of Power for Utah state leaders in several national political groups.

While other Utah state leaders have held these positions in the past, the vortex of power nationally has never been seen before in the Beehive State – giving Utah, which normally is not a national power broker – a chance to shine.

The list:

— GOP Gov. Gary Herbert will become chairman of the National Governor’s Association in the July NGA summer convention.

— Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, is the treasurer of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

Niederhauser was also in charge of writing proposed rules for a group – the Assembly of the States — that supports calling a constitutional convention of the states – which, if successful, would be unprecedented in the history of the country.

He has since been promoted to the Assembly’s executive committee, which runs the organization. The 2015 Utah Legislature passed a resolution officially calling for such a convention, under certain conditions.

— And Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, will become president of the National Council of State Legislatures at summer NCSL meetings.

ALEC is a relatively new group of conservative legislators across the nation.

While criticized by more moderate and liberal groups, ALEC is a blend of business/legislative leaders whose aim is finding fiscally-restraining, real-world solutions to states’ fiscal issues.

Through various working groups, ALEC members investigate and propose model legislation that has been introduced in some state legislatures.

It’s motto: Limited Government, Free Markets, Federalism.

Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, is chair of ALEC’s Federalism Committee where he’s been pushing various states’ rights issues, especially getting the federal government to give its lands to the states.






That ‘Tired Statistic’ Harms Education

Utah Policy op-ed by Kim Burningham, former member of the Utah State Board of Education


To begin, let me make it clear: I was not present when Superintendent Brad Smith presented his speech to the Utah Taxpayers Association Conference on May 28. I do not know the context nor the entirety of the speech. I have spoken to those who were present and found the speech far less offensive than some.

My purpose for writing is to respond to two phrases reported by the press and in numerous commentaries. I think both phrases deserve careful examination.

Comment #1: Tired statistics may well be true

Reports of Smith’s speech say, “He was critical of perennial and generic requests for more school resources and the ‘same old tired statistic’ that Utah ranks last in the nation in per-student education funding.”  (Salt Lake Tribune, May 28, 2015)

I do not disagree with Smith’s description. The statistic is “tired,” but I believe the duration of the facts makes the condition even more appalling. For decades, the statistic has been repeated. Smith and no others, to my knowledge, deny the truth of the statement. It just goes on and on! (Utah PoliticoHub)






Summer Meals Being Served for Utah Kids

Utah Policy commentary by Utahns Against Hunger


This summer there are 38 sponsors at over 200 sites across the state ready to provide nutritious lunches and, in many cases, breakfast and/or supper for children who would otherwise be on their own when school is out. Unfortunately, only 1 in 10 low-income children in Utah who needs summer meals is receiving them, according to a new national report released today.

The report, Hunger Doesn’t Take A Vacation, is an annual analysis of data by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). It measures the success of Summer Nutrition Programs at the national and state levels by comparing the number of children receiving summer meals to the number of low-income children receiving free or reduced-price school lunches during the regular school year – the school lunch data are a good proxy number for the extent of need in each state. By this measure, 10.7 low-income children in Utah ate summer meals for every 100 who ate school lunch during the regular school year. Nationally, the ratio was 16:100, an increase from the previous year.






School uniforms prepare youth for conformity Salt Lake Tribune letter from Sandra Chafin


I absolutely approve of school uniforms, but not for any reason that is being bandied about.

Before school uniforms were required by my granddaughter’s school, school clothes were far more expensive. The variety and label status was very competitive. School uniforms have a leveling effect among social economic groups and are cost effective for parents.

As far as the students’ need for individuality, most work requirements are “uniform.” They might as well get used to conformity.






Test-Taking ‘Compliance’ Does Not Ensure Equity Education Week op-ed by Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, John H. Jackson, president and CEO of the Boston-based Schott Foundation for Public Education, & Pedro Noguera, Peter L. Agnew professor of education at New York University


As Congress considers the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, families and teachers in school districts that serve low-income students and students of color struggle to understand how to address the highly punitive, push-out climate of overtesting brought on by the No Child Left Behind Act, the ESEA’s last reauthorization.

Some parents have elected to opt their children out of the annual tests as a message of protest, signaling that a test score is not enough to ensure excellence and equity in the education of their children. Parents, they insist, have a right to demand an enriched curriculum that includes the arts, civics, and lab sciences, and high-quality schools in their neighborhoods. Since discussion of the overdue reauthorization of the federal law has resumed, however, a number of civil rights organizations have been equally outspoken about encouraging parents and students to comply with the annual testing required by NCLB. We believe this is a mistake. If opting out of high-stakes testing is a parent’s chosen way to express dissatisfaction with an assessment system that has failed his or her child, civil rights and education advocates should support this quest for a real opportunity to learn in a healthy living and learning climate.





Q&A: An Early Opt-Out Talks About School Without Tests Education Week op-ed by Fred L. Hamel, a professor in the school of education at the University of Puget Sound, & Catherine Ross Hamel, a speech-language pathologist in the Tacoma public schools


From the late 1990s to the mid-2000s, we opted out of mandated state testing for our two children. We both worked in public schools at the time and found ourselves living out the advent of the movement for high-stakes accountability. We saw up close the concerning effects of new testing pressures. Teachers began distrusting their own instincts, as the testing apparatus directed their focus elsewhere. Students along a normal spectrum, trying their best, were labeled inadequate. We saw teachers confronted with new data that consumed significant time without adding anything helpful or new to the work of teaching and learning.

In March 2003, we published a Commentary in Education Week clarifying our reasons for opting our children out. It was “not a decision we make lightly,” we said. We emphasized our right and responsibility as parents to “protect our children from activities not in their interests.”

We still feel this way, particularly as standardized tests are even more pervasive, more frequent, and used in unprecedented ways. We still believe that parents have a critical role to play in holding school systems accountable, especially in resisting simplified solutions that fail to serve the learning needs of children. We are not surprised that parents across the country are now voicing concerns similar to those we shared 12 years ago. In many ways, the Achilles’ heel of the high-stakes testing/accountability movement remains conscientious and informed parents—those motivated, as we wrote in 2003, “to preserve the best of what public schools have to offer our kids.”





This Online Game Shows the Hard Choices Teachers Face Every Day Education Week commentary by columnist Ross Brenneman


Everyone’s job is easy until you have to do it.

Teachers and administrators have to make dozens—even hundreds—of hard decisions every day, and some of those decisions can create major consequences, especially when dealing with student discipline. Parents face a lot of tough choices, too.

I’ve been thinking about this while reading pieces like Peter Greene’s “Showing Up,” where he describes how teachers build relationships with students, and the work doing so requires. And in a recent Twitter chat, a participant resurfaced a simulation that explores some of what Greene was writing about.










Poll: Majority of Teachers Say Poverty Is a Barrier to Learning in Their Schools Education Week


Poverty is a barrier to learning in the classroom, according to a national poll of teachers, who also identified student behavior and a lack of parent engagement as problems in their school.

Of the 700 respondents to the online poll, conducted by Communities in Schools and Public Opinion Strategies, 88 percent described poverty as a minor, moderate, or serious problem in their schools. And 92 percent of respondents saw student apathy, disruptive student behavior, and a lack of parental involvement as problematic, according to the poll, which was released today.

The unweighted results of the poll, administered online in May, identified ways that student poverty affects teachers’ work in the classroom. Here’s a graph that demonstrates how teachers help meet their students non-academic needs.


A copy of the poll (Communities in Schools)






Kansas education board defends science standards as ‘performance expectations’

Opponents describe teaching of evolution, climate change as ‘atheistic’

Topeka (KS) Capital-Journal


DENVER — Kansas education officials deny standards they adopted for teaching of science in public schools endorse what critics say is a “a non-theistic religious Worldview.”

The Kansas State Board of Education stated its position Monday in arguments submitted to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

The arguments are in response to an appeal by critics of a document the board adopted in 2013. The opponents contend the document violates the religious rights of students, parents and taxpayers, and is unconstitutional.






Public versus private schools: Who goes where, by state Washington Post


The proportion of children who attend public school ranges widely from state to state, from a low of 79 percent in the District of Columbia and Hawaii to 93 percent in Wyoming and Utah, according to the Education Law Center’s annual school funding report, released Monday.

And in every state, private school students on average come from wealthier families than public school students. In some cases, much wealthier: In the District, private school families’ income is more than three times that of public school families’ income, on average.

None of this is particularly surprising, but private school enrollment rarely comes up in discussions about public school funding. The Education Law Center argues that it’s an important factor because when wealthy families opt out of public education, schools are left with higher concentrations of poor children, and there is less political will to boost funds for public schools.

The graphic below, reproduced from the report, offers a snapshot of private school enrollment and family income for each state. The relatively few Wyoming families who choose private schools, for example, aren’t much wealthier than the average public school family.


A copy of the report (Education Law Center)





Hillary Clinton Meets With NEA, Talks Testing, Accountability Education Week


Last week, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State, and far-and-away front-runner for the Democratic nomination, met with the American Federation of Teachers. And this week, it was the National Education Association’s turn.

So did Clinton’s rhetoric sound any different this time around? With the AFT, she talked about the importance of teachers, and made it clear that they shouldn’t be “scapegoats” for broader problems in K-12.

And in speaking to the NEA, Monday Clinton sounded, perhaps, a shade or two more skeptical of standardized testing than she has in the past. (WaPo)






Mexico to reinstate teacher evaluations in restart of education reform Reuters


MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s government will restart a key component of an education reform aimed at improving standards that it had suspended in the run-up to the weekend’s mid-term election, the country’s education minister said on Monday.

President Enrique Pena Nieto came under heavy fire after the education ministry said on May 29 that its timetable for teacher evaluations, a cornerstone of the government’s overhaul of the troubled education system, had been suspended indefinitely.

But on Monday, the day after a mid-term vote that looked likely to give Pena Nieto’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and its allies a slim congressional majority, Emilio Chuayffet, the education minister, said the teacher evaluations would be reinstated.






‘Goth Girl’ author Riddell named Britain’s new Children’s Laureate Reuters


LONDON – “Goth Girl” author and illustrator Chris Riddell was named Britain’s new Children’s Laureate on Tuesday and said he would like to use to the post to encourage children to draw as well as read.

Riddell, whose books feature finely detailed, humorous illustrations bursting with life, said he wanted to unleash children’s imagination.

“I want to put the joy of creativity, of drawing every day, of having a go and being surprised at what one can achieve with just a pencil and an idea at the heart of my term as Laureate,” he said in a statement.

His “Goth Girl the Ghost of a Mouse” is a parody of a gothic novel and won the 2013 Costa Book Awards in the children’s category.










USOE Calendar



UEN News



June 10:

Public meeting on secondary math standards

6:30 p.m., 3659 W 9800 South, South Jordan



June 16:

Executive Appropriations Committee meeting

2 p.m., 445 State Capitol



June 17:

Education Interim Committee meeting

9 a.m., 30 House Building


Government Operations Interim Committee meeting

9 a.m., 20 House Building


Economic Development and Workforce Services Interim Committee meeting

2:30 p.m., 20 House Building



June 18-19:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



June 24:

Charter School Funding Task Force

8 a.m., 445 State Capitol


Public meeting on secondary math standards

6:30 p.m., 960 S Main St., Brigham City



July 9:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City




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