Education News Roundup: July 1, 2015

"69/365 - School Supplies in Excess" by Alissa Becker/CC/flickr

“69/365 – School Supplies in Excess” by Alissa Becker/CC/flickr

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:


Daily Herald looks at issues for one of the country’s youngest counties. That would be Utah County. (PDH)


There is a SITLA connection in the tar sands story that is getting some press these days. (DN)

and (SLT)

and (OSE)

and (PDH)

and (CVD)

and (KSL)

and (KUER)


Whiteboard Advisors offers a quick graphic on education programs in the House and Senate budgets. (Whiteboard Advisors)


And a group of education groups want vouchers left out of the ESEA rewrite. (Ed Week)

or a copy of the letter (Ed Week)















Country’s youngest county needs tools that breed success


Oil sands mining plan in Utah draws strong reaction


Schools set tax rates


Civics test, rules for e-cigarette sales among new Utah laws


Davis schools undergoing construction


Laurie Jacobs is the new St. Olaf School principal


Virtual public school to hold information session in Provo


United Way collecting donated school supplies


Officials: Inaugural charter school year preparation on pace Du Bois Integrity Academy set to open Aug. 10


Religious schools and universities on edge after gay marriage ruling








Kudos to Jordan High


Dual Immersion Language Programs in Utah


Altice needs to be released and receive therapy


Ensuring Equal Educational Opportunities for English Learner Students


Protect Students from Corporate Data-Mining in the Classroom


Colorado Kills School Choice


Education Policy Lessons From the Confederate Flag Debate


Federal Budget Update








Edu-Organizations to Congress: Keep Vouchers Out of ESEA Rewrite


Arne Duncan: GOP’s proposed education cuts ‘makes no sense’


State Senate advances plan to take over low-performing schools


Schools Can Tap Into Ed-Tech Donations, Success Stories, Planning


Senate advances bill publishing school’s vaccination rates


Officials: Students’ Gender Identity Determines Restroom Use


A Phys Ed Teacher Battles Tight Budgets And Childhood Obesity


Spanish-Language Spelling Bees Catch On Around the U.S.


Belmont: Kindergartner’s haircut distracting, Catholic school says


Frozen In Time, Remembering The Students Who Changed A Teacher’s Life










Country’s youngest county needs tools that breed success


PROVO — Utah County’s youth are well positioned for greatness according to a new United Way of Utah County Needs Assessment.

The assessment was completed during the past year by Civicus Consulting Group under the direction of consultant Michael Call and the United Way of Utah County.

While positioned for greatness, the assessment also says that to keep youth and children on the right course they need safe and healthy neighborhoods, thriving economic opportunities and a highly educated citizenry.

“Utah County must build greater resiliency in each child — greater capacity to cope or to overcome — so that each child will be successful in life,” said Bill Hulterstrom, president and CEO of United Way of Utah County.

“Research shows the importance of addressing problems before they can get bigger. One of the best ways we can do that is by taking a look at what we are doing to prepare our children and youth for the future. (PDH)






Oil sands mining plan in Utah draws strong reaction


SALT LAKE CITY — The debate over an oil sands mining operations’ impact to nearby perennial springs in eastern Utah continues to rage, a more than eight-years-long controversy that once again stoked protests and a hearing on Tuesday.

At one point, the discussion over the proposed expansion of the PR Spring Project on the border of Uintah and Grand counties inspired heated remarks from a University of Utah geologist who conducted a hydrologic study in the area that he said shows water resources are vulnerable.

“Unfortunately, every decision that has been made to date is the (same) as looking out at the sky today and saying it is impossible that water can fall from the sky, and I find that infuriating,” said William Johnson. “The conclusions are based on data that was never intended to find a hydrological resource.”

Johnson was referring to 180 holes that were drilled in the project area by U.S. Oil Sands to determine the existence of groundwater where the company initiated an oil sands extraction project in 2013. The holes were drilled at an exploratory depth of more than twice the level at which the company expects to mine, and no groundwater was found, said John Davis, an attorney representing the company.

U.S. Oil Sands obtained leases to 32,005 acres from the Utah Schools and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) and as the nation’s first commercial bitumen-extraction project, predicts 190 million barrels of oil are recoverable. (DN) (SLT) (OSE) (PDH) (CVD) (KSL) (KUER)






Schools set tax rates


A significant drop in the assessed value of area properties dominated the discussion on June 22 as the San Juan School District set property tax rates at a school board meeting.

In the end, the tax rates that the district controls will stay at the same level as 2014. As a result, the amount of property taxes collected by the school district will drop by $1,120,285 in the next year.

A challenge was created because of an increase in the Minimum School Program tax rate. This rate is set by the State of Utah, with no control by the local school districts.

The board considered lowering the local rates by the amount of the state rate increase, but determined to keep the rates that they control steady. (San Juan Record)






Civics test, rules for e-cigarette sales among new Utah laws


SALT LAKE CITY — More than 50 new laws take effect in Utah on Wednesday, including measures requiring high school students to pass a U.S. citizenship test, restrictions on electronic cigarette sales and the expansion of death benefits for the families of fallen police officers and firefighters. (KSL)





Davis schools undergoing construction


FARMINGTON — The Davis School District has construction projects underway in many of its schools this summer. (DN)






Laurie Jacobs is the new St. Olaf School principal


BOUNTIFUL — Laurie Jacobs has been appointed the principal at Saint Olaf School and will start on July 1.

Jacobs, who began teaching kindergarten at St. Olaf School in 2006 and then taught second grade for five years, aspired to the position by stepping in as the assistant principal when needed. (IC)





Virtual public school to hold information session in Provo


Utah Connections Academy, a tuition-free, full accredited virtual public school, will host an information session on July 9 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Springhill Suites in Provo. (PDH)





United Way collecting donated school supplies


SALT LAKE CITY — United Way of Salt Lake is holding its annual Stuff the Bus drive to gather school supplies for children in need. Members of the community are encouraged to donate supplies to help about 8,500 children. Pencils, pens, spiral notebooks, markers, crayons, pocket folders, glue sticks, highlighters and erasers are all needed.

Supplies will be collected through Aug. 31, then stuffed into backpacks by volunteers at the organization’s annual Day of Caring event. (DN)






Officials: Inaugural charter school year preparation on pace Du Bois Integrity Academy set to open Aug. 10


RIVERDALE — Clayton County is growing in educational alternatives, the latest of which is the state charter school, Du Bois Integrity Academy.

Officials at the STEM-focused K-5 school said there is a preliminary enrollment of 625 students though school leaders initially anticipated serving about 400 pupils from a county-wide attendance zone.

Construction on the schoolhouse in Riverdale is ongoing but expected to be complete in late July, in time for its Aug. 10 open, said spokeswoman Ann Almond.

Officials broke ground on the Riverdale site in February and planned to have a facility constructed by August. American Charter Development based out of Salt Lake City, Utah, is building the structure on land the Du Bois purchased from Lakewin Christian Center next door at 812 King Road. (Jonesboro, GA) Clayton News Daily





Religious schools and universities on edge after gay marriage ruling


Religious schools and universities that have barriers against homosexuality may be under the gun after Friday’s gay marriage ruling, given both oral arguments in April and the fine print of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s decision last week. (DN) (CSM)












Kudos to Jordan High

Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Paul Rolly


Utah’s Jordan High won kudos in the July issue of Oprah Winfrey’s national O Magazine in a feature called “The Gratitude Meter: Five things we can’t stop smiling about this month.”

The Sandy school was praised for a bake sale organized by the Young Democrats’ club that brought awareness to the income disparity between men and women in the U.S. and in Utah.

Dubbed the “Gender Equality Bake Sale,” the Beetdigger boys were charged $1 for their cookies while the Beetdigger girls were asked to pay 77 cents for their treats. That gap reflected the fact that women nationally make, on average, 77 cents to the $1 pocketed by their male counterparts.

In Utah, the divide is even wider.






Dual Immersion Language Programs in Utah Senate Site commentary


Half of the day in Chinese, half of the day in English? In Utah schools?

Dual Immersion Language Programs are part of what’s right about education in Utah. Throughout the state, students from elementary all the way up through high school are attending schools that immerse them in languages unfamiliar. Dual Immersion programs being taught so far include Chinese, English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and soon, we may be able to add in Arabic and Russian.

Last week, Senate President Wayne Niederhauser and Senator Howard Stephenson took to the radio to talk about Utah’s early successes in these programs. Gregg Roberts (the USOE’s World Languages Specialist) and Dawn Frandsen joined us to talk about their experiences with the programs as well.





Altice needs to be released and receive therapy

(Ogden) Standard-Examiner letter from Ruth Manley


I agree 100 percent with the letter writer of “No need for lawsuits in Altice case,” (June 30) regarding the schoolteacher. Those boys weren’t forced to do anything. They wanted to have some fun with the teacher. Why didn’t they say “no” just like girls do when they are in that position?

In my opinion, it was the parents (who) wanted to sue for their benefit plus I think the teacher needs to be out and go through therapy herself . Enough is enough!






Ensuring Equal Educational Opportunities for English Learner Students U.S. Department of Justice commentary by Vanita Gupta, Head of the Civil Rights Division


Forty-one years ago, the Supreme Court recognized in Lau v. Nichols that: “Basic English skills are at the very core of what  public schools teach.  Imposition of a requirement that, before a child can effectively participate in the educational program, he must already have acquired those basic skills is to make a mockery of public education.”  That recognition informed the court’s landmark holding that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), and its implementing regulations and guidance, require schools that receive federal financial assistance to take affirmative steps to ensure that English learner (EL) students can meaningfully participate in their educational programs.  Consistent with Lau’s holding, Congress enacted the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 (EEOA), requiring both local and state educational agencies to take appropriate action to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation by EL students in instructional programs.

In the years since the Supreme Court decided Lau and Congress enacted the EEOA, many school districts and states across the country have made significant strides in providing necessary services and supports to EL students and to Limited English Proficient (LEP) families.





Protect Students from Corporate Data-Mining in the Classroom National Review op-ed by VICTOR NAVA, a staff writer at the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity


Across the political spectrum, people are debating whether it’s a good idea to collect any personal data at all about students. We should at least agree that private companies must not use such data for their own profit. Last month, Senators Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) and Ed Markey (D., Mass.) took a step in this direction, reintroducing legislation that would prohibit companies from data-mining students’ personal information for marketing purposes. The increasing use of technology in the classroom has shown the ability to produce significant gains in student achievement, but the advent of high-tech classrooms and online learning has created some troubling issues for parents and students. In the 21st century, school children have to worry about large corporations stealing their personal data as much as they worry about schoolyard bullies stealing their lunch money.

In the digital age, 95 percent of school districts are sending student records to Google, Microsoft, and hundreds of other companies that manage school services. Only 7 percent of these districts sign contracts that directly prevent companies from selling students’ data. The Protecting Student Privacy Act would prohibit companies from data-mining students personal information for marketing purposes and would require stricter safeguards on student data. The reintroduction of this legislation (first introduced in 2014) comes in response to high-profile cases in which private corporations gained access to students’ data.






Colorado Kills School Choice

Wall Street Journal commentary


Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Michael Bindas on a controversial state supreme court ruling. (video)






Education Policy Lessons From the Confederate Flag Debate Huffington Post commentary by Marcus Bright, a political and social commentator


The controversy surrounding the prominent display of the confederate flag and other relics of the confederacy has accelerated enormously in the wake of the mass murder of nine members of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina by a racially motivated terrorist.

There are several lessons as it pertains to the power of narratives and the agenda setting process that can be gleaned from the emergence of this controversial debate and transferred into the education policy arena among other areas. Among them are these four:





Federal Budget Update

Whiteboard Advisors analysis by David DeSchryver


The House and the Senate appropriation committees are moving ahead with their fiscal year 2016 spending bills. Lawmakers in both chambers are trying to avoid across the board sequestration cuts, so they are picking winners and losers. Overall, the funding for the US Department of Education is losing. The House would take $2.8 billion from the agency and the Senate would take $1.7 billion away.

While the details are still emerging, we created a cheat-sheet (and below) that shows the notable percentage changes from last year’s appropriations. In short, the formula programs and the charter school grants survive cuts. The Senate tries to take a nuanced approach. The House cuts to the chase and just eliminates many programs.












Edu-Organizations to Congress: Keep Vouchers Out of ESEA Rewrite Education Week


Next week, the U.S. Senate is slated to start debating a rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. One of the big points of contention to watch? Expanding school choice.

And that prospect does not make a coalition of more than 50 organizations—ranging from AASA, the School Superintendents Association to the Texas Freedom Network very happy.

Those organizations sent a letter to lawmakers Tuesday reiterating their opposition to vouchers and Title I portability, which would allow federal money for disadvantaged children to follow students to any school they choose.


A copy of the letter (Ed Week)






Arne Duncan: GOP’s proposed education cuts ‘makes no sense’

(Washington, DC) The Hill


Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Tuesday lambasted congressional Republicans for their proposals to cut education funding across grade levels next year.

“At every level, whether it’s early childhood or K-12 or higher education, [there are] very key significant programs they would cut or outright eliminate. That simply makes no sense to me whatsoever,” Duncan said in a video message.

Duncan initially applauded the progress made on rising high school graduation rates and lower dropout rates, but said the GOP could hamper that pattern.

“Unfortunately, we have Republicans in both the House and the Senate in Congress who are talking about cutting education funding by literally billions of dollars from what the president is proposing,” he said.





State Senate advances plan to take over low-performing schools Lancaster (PA) LNP


Pennsylvania’s lowest-performing schools could be turned over to a state-run district under legislation that passed the state Senate on Monday.

Sen. Lloyd Smucker, a Republican from West Lampeter, has championed the bill. If passed into law, the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools could be transferred to a statewide “Achievement School District.”






Schools Can Tap Into Ed-Tech Donations, Success Stories, Planning Education Week


Philadelphia – School leaders and educators need support to successfully integrate education technology into schools, and Monday hundreds of attendees at ISTE 2015 learned about opportunities for assistance from the White House and the Office of Education Technology.

From millions of dollars worth of unclaimed corporate donations of software and services  through the president’s ConnectED Initiative, to the announcement that more Future Ready Schools summits will be announced soon, a panel of federal officials told the audience about an abundance of resources that are available to schools.

Highlights of the opportunities for educators to learn about, and get more, educational technology include:






Senate advances bill publishing school’s vaccination rates Salem (OR) Statesman Journal


In an effort to tackle the high number of students using nonmedical waivers to opt out of vaccinations, Oregon Senators approved a measure Tuesday requiring all schools to publish their immunization rates and to break out the rates by disease.

Data show 5.8 percent of the state’s kindergarten students have opted out of one or more vaccines, and state health officials have expressed worries some schools won’t be able to achieve “herd immunity,” which protects children who aren’t vaccinated by surrounding them with people who are immune.

Legislation introduced earlier this year would have eliminated all nonmedical exemptions to vaccines. But it died in committee after encountering vehement opposition from parents who said it usurped their parental rights.

So Beaverton Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward introduced a new measure making public each school’s vaccination rates, a move that she said is designed to help parents know which schools have low immunization rates and whether their school has achieved herd immunity. The information would have to be posted on the school’s website and in the main office.






Officials: Students’ Gender Identity Determines Restroom Use Associated Press


NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The U.S. Justice Department says in a court filing that transgender students must be allowed to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

The department says in a statement of interest filed Monday that failure to do so amounts to sex discrimination under Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972. The document is in response to a federal lawsuit filed against the Gloucester County School Board by a 16-year-old transgender student who wants to be allowed to use the boys’ restroom.

The lawsuit says Gavin Grimm used the communal restrooms without incident until the board adopted a policy in December requiring transgender students to use a private facility.





A Phys Ed Teacher Battles Tight Budgets And Childhood Obesity NPR Morning Edition


There is a half hour of PE twice a week. But for many that isn’t nearly enough exercise. Arizona has the nation’s 7th highest obesity rate for children between 10 and 17 years of age. Przeor wants to help change that by promoting the link between exercise and learning. The marathoner and triathlete works to “awaken the body and get the body healthy” so her students are ready to learn. “Because sitting in a classroom for eight hours with no activity is not going to produce the results people want.”

Przeor tries to get parents involved, too, with the message that you don’t have to be a certain body shape or fitness level to walk or jog lightly. “It’s about getting them to realize, ‘Hey, I can do this too.’ And building healthy habits together,” she says.






Spanish-Language Spelling Bees Catch On Around the U.S.

Education Week


The nation’s best spellers—en Español—will go head-to-head later this month in Albuquerque, N.M., to battle for the national championship title in the Concurso Nacional de Deletreo en Español, or the National Spanish Spelling Bee.

Following on the heels of the wildly popular, ESPN-broadcast Scripps National Spelling Bee—which had co-champions for the second straight year—the fifth annual National Spanish Spelling Bee this year will feature a mix of young spellers, including some native Spanish speakers and several who are not.

Though the number of participants overall remains small, the number of spellers in the national competition has steadily grown to nearly 30 this year, from 11 in the bee’s inaugural year in 2011.      Nationwide, local and regional Spanish-language spelling bees are happening in at least 10 states.


The website






Belmont: Kindergartner’s haircut distracting, Catholic school says San Jose (CA) Mercury News


BELMONT — Five-year-old Jalyn Broussard was so excited to show his kindergarten classmates his new haircut, a style that would surely set him apart from his second-grade brother’s shaved head.

But his “modern fade,” a popular hairstyle among African-American men, apparently set off an alarm with administrators at the boy’s Catholic school, who called Jalyn’s mom half an hour into the school day to pick him up and take him home. Mariana Broussard said the school’s principal told her Jalyn’s haircut was too distracting and a violation of Immaculate Heart of Mary School’s hairstyle policy, according to a complaint the family filed last week with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

Broussard said Principal Teri Grosey told her the haircut — which the family noticed on white and Asian students — would “unduly influence the student body.”

Broussard was incredulous. The hair on top of Jalyn’s head was less than half an inch longer than his tapered, closely cropped sides. “How is he going to be an undue influence,” she asked, “my little kindergartner?”

After weeks of unproductive talks with Immaculate Heart, the family last week filed the complaint, alleging that the school discriminated against Jalyn, who is African-American, based on his race.

Grosey did not respond to a reporter’s phone calls. The Archdiocese of San Francisco refused to comment because it has not seen the complaint, spokesman Larry Kamer said. But he added, “School policy on hairstyles is very explicit and clear. Parents acknowledge and accept that policy.”






Frozen In Time, Remembering The Students Who Changed A Teacher’s Life NPR


Sitting at his small kitchen table, Jonathan Kozol flips through a copy of Death at an Early Age. He’s staring wistfully at the black-and-white picture of himself on the inside cover, taken the Monday after he was fired. He was 28 years old.

“I was kind of terrified suddenly to be in the spotlight,” he remembers. “It became a news story right away.”

He was fired for reading the poems of Langston Hughes to his fourth-graders — going outside the school’s prescribed curriculum.

But it was his wrenching account of how Christopher Gibson Elementary School treated black children that opened readers’ eyes to the appalling educational policies and practices that were all too common in Boston in 1965.

Thinking back 50 years later, Kozol says he never imagined that the story about his ordeal as a substitute teacher would sell over 2 million copies and win the National Book Award.

His dismissal would not have been a story, says Kozol, had it not been for the parents.

“They were very upset I was fired,” he recalls, “so they kept their children out of school and picketed the school with them.”











USOE Calendar



UEN News



July 2:

Utah State Board of Education Law and Licensing Committee hearing

6:30 p.m., 250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



July 9:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



July 14:

Charter School Funding Task Force

8 a.m., 445 State Capitol


Executive Appropriations Committee meeting

2 p.m., 445 State Capitol



July 15:

Education Interim Committee meeting

8:30 a.m., 30 House Building



August 6-7:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



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