Education News Roundup 07+08=15

Map of School Trust Lands in Utah

Map of School Trust Lands in Utah

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:


D-News looks at Utah implications for the ESEA reauthorization. (DN)


Or you can check out what’s happening nationally. (Politico)

and (Ed Week)

and (Bloomberg)

and (AP)


School LAND Trust is looking for some more flexibility in distributing funds to Utah schools. (SLT)


Superintendent Smith has joined Chiefs for Change. (OSE)















What’s next for No Child Left Behind and what does it mean for Utah?


School trust fund managers seek legislative changes for flexibility, stability Resolution » Board that administers education fund seeks constitutional change to improve fund’s stability.


Brad Smith joins Chiefs for Change education group


A look at the ’12 religious freedom grenades’ launched by the Supreme Court decision on marriage


Colorado schools outperform Utah’s; study gives 3 reasons


Assistant higher education commissioner appointed


Sr. Genevra Rolf retires as Utah Catholic Schools associate superintendent


CUES hires new regional tech








Colorado’s early-education success is worth emulating


Tea party making waves in Davis education


Tighten vaccination loopholes

States that still allow easy opt-outs should follow Vermont and California.


To my friends on the Left and Right: Please stop polarizing the ESEA debate


The Verdict on Charter Schools?

The charter movement turns 25 next year, but whether it’s fulfilling the mission early advocates had envisioned is far from clear.


How the GOP Candidates Are Flailing on Common Core The Republican hopefuls are all over the place on the controversial education standards.


Hillary Clinton has a Common Core problem The presidential candidate’s support for the teaching standards will alienate Democratic parents and educators


Eating Their Young








Education bill faces GOP revolt


Washington State To Spend More On Early Learning Than It Ever Has


Poverty rates in every U.S. school district, in one map


Appeals Court Upholds Parts of Arizona Ethnic Studies Ban


Nevada Moves to Carve Up Fast-Growing District


Schools Could See Fewer Unaccompanied Minors This Fall










What’s next for No Child Left Behind and what does it mean for Utah?


SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Senate on Tuesday began deliberating over a bill to replace the embattled federal education law known as No Child Left Behind and reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Back in Utah, state and education leaders are watching closely to understand what it means for students in the state, hoping the final decision will strengthen local control and free the state from having to continually seek waivers from unattainable portions of No Child Left Behind.

Reauthorization of the law is seven years overdue, and state leaders have pleaded with Congress to make a needed update. Tuesday’s discussion in the Senate brought a measure of promise for Utah’s education leaders, but an equal measure of uncertainty remains.

“The concern is, are we going to end up with something worse than No Child Left Behind?” said David Crandall, chairman of the Utah State Board of Education. “I don’t think anybody’s happy with the current law, but we also at the same time don’t want to end up with a worse law.” (DN)






School trust fund managers seek legislative changes for flexibility, stability Resolution » Board that administers education fund seeks constitutional change to improve fund’s stability.


Administrators of a $2 billion public school trust fund want state and federal lawmakers to loosen the reins for distributing the cash.

The board of trustees for the School and Institutional Trust Fund, a permanent endowment for Utah’s public education system, unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday seeking changes to the Utah Constitution and the Utah Enabling Act, which granted statehood in 1896.

State and federal laws allow only interest from the trust fund to be given to schools — a restriction that the fund’s managers say prevents them from responding to volatility in the stock and bond markets.

The resolution, previously adopted by the Utah Board of Education, asks for legislation to modernize the fund’s distribution formula and grant authority to the state to determine how payouts are managed.

“This change would give us flexibility to explore lots of different options to make sure the payouts are sustainable and equitable over time,” Utah State Treasurer Richard Ellis said.

Money for the permanent State School Fund is generated from 3.3 million acres of public land managed by the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA).

The fund, Ellis said, is expected to pay out roughly $45 million next year — up from $14 million 10 years ago.

The money is distributed to individual schools on a per-student basis.

But because payouts are limited to interest on the endowment, Ellis said, school budgets can take a hit when interest rates plummet during an economic downturn. (SLT)





Brad Smith joins Chiefs for Change education group


WASHINGTON, D. C. — Chiefs for Change, a network of state and local education leaders, announced today that Brad Smith is one of its three new members.

According to Chiefs for Change, their members have helped students from diverse backgrounds achieve strong academic gains. The press release announcing Smith’s membership states that Ogden High’s graduation rates rose from 63 percent to 69 percent, and that Ogden AP exam participation went up by 71 percent, between 2011 and 2013. Smith was superintendent of Ogden School District from September of 2011 to November of 2014, and then became Superintendent of Public Instruction at the Utah State Office of Education.

“I am so pleased that with Brad joining Chiefs for Change, our neighboring state of Utah will be able to bring further word of important educational progress taking root out west to the national stage,” Dale Erquiaga, Nevada’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction, is quoted in the Chiefs for Change press release. (OSE)






A look at the ’12 religious freedom grenades’ launched by the Supreme Court decision on marriage


PROVO — The lawyer Utah hired to defend its marriage law says the U.S. Supreme Court lobbed a dozen “religious freedom grenades” when it legalized same-sex marriage across the country last month.

Gene Schaerr called the high court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges a “colossal mistake” that threatens individual and institutional religious liberty.

Acting consistently with their teachings on traditional marriage could threaten churches’ tax-exempt status, religious schools’ housing policies, accreditation, government contracts and employment and churches’ ability to have marriages recognized, Schaerr said. (DN)





Colorado schools outperform Utah’s; study gives 3 reasons


SALT LAKE CITY — A new study comparing education performance in Utah with that of Colorado surprised even child advocates.

“It’s a striking finding,” said Bill Jaeger of the Colorado Children’s Campaign.

What he’s referring to is Utah Foundation’s new study that shows Colorado outscores Utah by a long shot on math and reading among all demographics. (KSL)






Assistant higher education commissioner appointed


SALT LAKE CITY — Julie Hartley has been appointed assistant commissioner of outreach and access for the Utah System of Higher Education.

Hartley is the former director of the Utah State University Tooele Campus and of USU’s programs in Wendover, Delta and Nephi.

She will be responsible for developing and executing Utah State Board of Regents strategic goals and programs, as well as financial oversight of outreach programs.

Hartley has a bachelor’s degree from BYU, a master’s degree from USU, and a doctorate from Columbia University. She will be working alongside Utah state colleges and universities, the Utah State Office of Education, district superintendents and personnel, school principals and counselors, and business and community partners — with the goal of increasing the number of Utah students who attend and successfully complete college. (DN)





Sr. Genevra Rolf retires as Utah Catholic Schools associate superintendent


SALT LAKE CITY — Holy Cross Sister Genevra Rolf was honored and roasted during a staff farewell luncheon at the Diocese of Salt Lake City Pastoral Center June 30; she retired as Utah Catholic Schools associate superintendent.

Holy Cross Sister Catherine Kamphaus is now the associate superintendent and Mark Longe, formerly principal of Saint Vincent de Paul School, has taken her place as superintendent. (IC)






CUES hires new regional tech


For the new regional technology coach at Central Utah Educational Services, starting a new job was like coming home.

Brandon Harrison grew up in Richfield, and accepting the position at CUES allows him to return to his roots.

“I want to bring some excitement to the job and have fun,” Harrison said.

As the technology coach, Harrison’s job is to learn how to use technology and software, and then train teachers and staff throughout CUES’ region, which includes the Sevier, Piute, Wayne, South Sanpete, North Sanpete, Juab and Tintic school districts. (Richfield Reaper)









Colorado’s early-education success is worth emulating Salt Lake Tribune editorial


What can Utah learn from that world apart we call Colorado?

Is it that we could legalize marijuana and reap millions in tax revenue as Colorado has? No. That one is still in the experimental stage, and Utah has never been big on drug experimentation.

Is it that we could hand out free intra-uterine devices and implants and watch our teen pregnancy and abortion rates plummet as Colorado’s has? That one also could be a hard sell in abstinence-hopeful Utah.

So how about just one little tweak to put a lot more kids in preschool and full-day kindergarten? The researchers at the Utah Foundation have found that Colorado’s embrace of early education is paying off in higher test scores. Where Utah once topped Colorado in National Assessment of Educational Progress tests, it’s now Colorado above Utah.






Tea party making waves in Davis education Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist PAUL ROLLY


Last fall’s election saw a shakeup in the Davis County School Board, with three tea-party-backed candidates winning seats, giving the sect a majority on the board.

And, as elected tea party officials tend to do, they made a show of their authority and encouraged divisiveness.

Within the first few months of acquiring their new power, they broke a long-standing tradition during their first meeting by kicking Davis schools Superintendent Bryan Bowles off the stage where board members sit and cast him into the audience with the rest of the peons.

That gesture created such a stink among constituents that the board let Bowles retain his traditional perch next to the board members for subsequent meetings. But the warning shot across the bow was noticed.

From what I’ve heard, Bowles is a respected leader in the education community, but maybe his sin was that he doesn’t seem to dislike teachers, which seems to be a requirement for education managers among the tea party elite these days.

Look at the popularity among that crowd of new state Superintendent Brad Smith, who has made several derogatory remarks about public school teachers. Now he’s got a future.






Tighten vaccination loopholes

States that still allow easy opt-outs should follow Vermont and California.

USA Today editorial


No parent in the United States today should have to worry about a child catching measles, a highly contagious disease that was virtually wiped out in this country 15 years ago. But many parents are worried, and with good reason.

Measles is making a comeback, fueled by an intense anti-vaccine movement, shoddy research and lax laws in about 20 states.






To my friends on the Left and Right: Please stop polarizing the ESEA debate Fordham Institute commentary by President Michael J. Petrilli


It’s finally here: Our best chance to update the Elementary and Secondary Education Act since its passage shortly after 9/11.  A whole generation of students has come and gone, yet our nation’s key education law remains the same. There’s absolutely no good reason to delay reauthorization any longer. To the contrary; it’s sorely overdue. And despite the heated rhetoric—from the civil rights groups on the Left to Heritage Action on the Right—the remaining areas of disagreement are small and mostly symbolic. It’s time for all of us to act like grownups and help get a recognizable version of the Alexander-Murray bill across the finish line. (At least into conference with the House!)

Why should conservatives support a bipartisan compromise bill like this? That’s easy: It’s sharply to the right of current law (ESEA circa 2001) and current policy (Arne Duncan’s “waivers”). It hands significant authority back to the states on all the issues that matter: the content of academic standards and related assessments, the design of school accountability systems, and interventions in low-performing schools. It scraps ESEA’s misguided “highly qualified teachers” provision and Duncan’s teacher evaluation mandate. And it holds the line on spending.

How about the Left? Civil rights groups and others should welcome its maintenance of annual testing; its continuing emphasis on the collection and dissemination of student achievement data disaggregated by key subgroups; and its requirement that states and districts take action to deal with chronically failing schools.






The Verdict on Charter Schools?

The charter movement turns 25 next year, but whether it’s fulfilling the mission early advocates had envisioned is far from clear.

Atlantic commentary by BRUCE FULLER, professor of education and public policy at the University of California, Berkeley



A few years ago, Pablo Alba was called to the principal’s office to meet with me, an aging white guy he’d never met before. A lanky sophomore, Alba volunteered little beyond a cautious glance upward as he plunked down before me, but he instantly perked up when I asked him about the typical freshman experience at San Francisco’s City Arts and Technology High School. I was conducting research on local organizing and what makes potent charter schools like City Arts work, and I wanted to hear about the student experience. “You make a lot of friends, it’s small,” Alba said, allowing a slight grin.

Alba, who had struggled at the conventional middle school he had previously attended, would thrive at City Arts over the next three years, thanks largely to the young teachers who tirelessly engaged their classes of restless teens. This small campus—which sits atop a knoll overlooking a sea of weathered, two-story flats—offers a relatively rare opportunity for blue-collar families: a shot at college for their kids.

The charter-school movement now serves roughly 2.3 million students nationwide at more than 6,000 campuses—schools that are primarily funded by taxpayers but free from the bureaucracy and tangled union rules typically found at regular public schools. But the movement, which enjoyed a vibrant growth spurt and turns 25 next year, no longer seems to espouse the same grassroots values that it once did. Charter-school management firms like Green Dot in Los Angeles and the Knowledge Is Power Project (KIPP) out of Houston—many of which were founded by dissident parents or educators—and large private donors now orchestrate key sectors of the movement. Most charter schools fail to push learning curves any higher than conventional schools do, a widely circulated (albeit controversial) Stanford University study suggested earlier this year.

Politically, the movement continues to gain strength.






How the GOP Candidates Are Flailing on Common Core The Republican hopefuls are all over the place on the controversial education standards.

Mother Jones commentary by columnist Allie Gross


When a team convened by the National Governors Association began developing the Common Core curriculum standards in 2009, politicians of both parties rallied behind them, with every governor but Rick Perry and Sarah Palin committing to crafting them. Since then, the initiative—aimed at remedying disparities among state educational standards and testing after George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind program failed to achieve its goals—has gotten caught in the political crossfire. Both Democrats and Republicans criticized Common Core for being hastily rolled out, unfair to teachers and students, and a handout to the testing and curriculum companies, but the Republican reaction has been particularly intense. Some Republican critiques have taken the usual form, equating the standards with a big-government takeover of America’s education system. Others have been more creative: Florida state Rep. Charles Van Zant claimed the standards would turn kids gay.

The rapid shift in opinion on Common Core has put the Republican presidential candidates in a tricky position, and they’ve responded in a variety of ways. Some GOP hopefuls’ support for the standards has not wavered: Call them the True Believers. Others are Contortionists whose flexible opinions about the standards bend and twist like any fine circus performer. The Die-Hards have never supported Common Core. The Debutantes only recently entered—or, in former New York Gov. George Pataki’s case, re-entered—public life as politicians, and may or may not have a track record of clear positions on the standards. The Conflicted rail against Common Core because it smacks of big government but were ardent supporters of the not-exactly-laissez-faire No Child Left Behind. Finally, one candidate is simply Out to Lunch, unaware until recently that there was even such a thing as Common Core. Below is the full taxonomy.






Hillary Clinton has a Common Core problem The presidential candidate’s support for the teaching standards will alienate Democratic parents and educators Aljazeera America op-ed by Nicholas Tampio, an associate professor of political science at Fordham University


Up to now, the Common Core battle has primarily raged within the Republican Party. Business elites favor the education standards and think that they will raise America’s status in the global economy. But the grassroots believe that they represent federal overreach and make schools worse. Republican presidential candidates face the dilemma of appealing to potential donors or voters on the Common Core question.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, for example, recently announced that his state was pulling out of the Common Core. “We have to reject federal control of New Jersey’s education,” he said. “We need to return it to the parents and students who will ultimately have the most at stake.” At the same time, Christie reaffirmed his commitment to PARCC, the Common Core test whose results determine if teachers or administrators lose their jobs. Christie’s balancing act failed to appease parents who do not want their children subject to the standards and aligned curricula and tests.

Because Hillary Clinton has such a large lead among candidates for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, she has not yet had to take a definitive stand on the Common Core.




Eating Their Young analysis by Leslie Kan and Chad Aldeman


In terms of retirement benefits, now is the worst time in at least three decades to become a teacher. After years of expansion, a number of states enacted legislation cutting benefits for workers in response to financial pressures. The cuts fall hardest on new and future teachers, particularly for teachers hired after the recession who do not plan to teach in the same state for 30 or more years.

This brief uses a unique historical data set to analyze how states changed teacher retirement benefits from 1982 to 2012. Specifically, states use various pension variables to boost teacher benefits during good times or cut them during harder times. While benefit increases tend to apply to all workers, benefit decreases typically only affect new workers. As a result, two teachers with the same career length would experience significant differences in benefits simply based upon when they were hired.

Moreover, pension benefits are already inherently unequal for teachers with varying career lengths. Shifting the benefit parameters to create lower benefits for new workers only magnifies these structural inequities. The following report analyzes the changes states have made over time, and how those changes impact the retirement security for our nation’s public school teachers.

To avoid further cuts that harm the teaching profession, states must fully fund the promises they’ve already made, while also balancing the needs of the present and future teaching workforce and providing sustainable benefits for all teachers.











Education bill faces GOP revolt



House Republicans again are trying to wrangle enough votes for a sweeping education bill, hoping to fend off another round of conservative backlash from lawmakers who want to radically rewrite the federal role in education.

The debate over the landmark No Child Left Behind bill hits the House and Senate floor Wednesday — new legislation designed to curb federal influence, adjust how much students are tested and reimagine how those test scores are used, though the respective bills don’t take the same approach to addressing those issues.

But unlike in 2001, when House Speaker John Boehner, President George W. Bush and the late Ted Kennedy forged an alliance to pass a historic education bill, Republicans and Democrats are far from united over the best way for the federal government to oversee school systems. And the House divide threatens to undermine Boehner’s credibility with the right once again.

House leaders are armed with new amendments designed to lure support from the moderate and the conservative wings of the party for a long overdue rewrite of the George W. Bush-era No Child Left Behind law.

But the situation remains precarious, jeopardizing Congress’ first real attempt to rewrite the No Child Left Behind law, which ushered in an era of wide-scale testing and rating schools based on the results. The jockeying in the House is a huge departure from past Congresses, when the chamber easily passed its own partisan update to the law more than once. (Ed Week) (Bloomberg) (AP)






Washington State To Spend More On Early Learning Than It Ever Has Education Week


After much back and forth, Washington state legislators and Gov. Jay Inslee agreed in the final days of June to spend $158 million on early education in the state’s 2015-17 biennial budget cycle, the most it has ever spent.

A bill passed on June 30, the Early Start Act, calls for $98 million in spending on programs ranging from quality rating system improvements to increased early educator training. The bill also calls for free coaching to be provided to child-care providers.






Poverty rates in every U.S. school district, in one map Washington Post


Anyone who cares about the plight of poor children in America should take a look at a new interactive map, below, put together by the new nonprofit EdBuild.

The map shows Census Bureau poverty rates in each of the nation’s nearly 14,000 school districts nationwide. The darker the blue on the map, the greater the concentration of children living in poverty. It seems like the kind of map that should have been easy to find long ago — but it hasn’t been, at least not in the public realm.

Zoom out, and you can see macro-level concentrations of poverty and wealth, like the dark blue swaths of impoverished districts along the Mississippi River in the Deep South and in rural parts of the West. Zoom in, and you see how school district boundaries often serve as stark lines of division between the poor and the affluent.


Interactive map (EdBuild)





Appeals Court Upholds Parts of Arizona Ethnic Studies Ban Associated Press


TUCSON, Ariz. — A federal appeals court on Tuesday kept alive a legal challenge brought by former students who sued Arizona over a ban on ethnic studies in public schools and who will have a new chance to argue the law discriminates against Mexican Americans.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld most of a lower court’s decision. But it sent the case back to a federal court in Tucson, where a judge will decide whether the ban was enacted with discriminatory intent in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Attorneys for the students claimed victory based on the part of the ruling that provides them new opportunity to go before a judge and make their case on a key provision of their argument. A spokesman for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office said the agency was still reviewing the ruling and did not have immediate comment. (Ed Week)


A copy of the ruling (9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals)






Nevada Moves to Carve Up Fast-Growing District Education Week


Nevada’s Clark County school system, the nation’s fifth largest, with more than 318,000 students, could be broken up into smaller districts under a new state law that is raising major questions about how to reorganize a rapidly changing urban system.

The law—signed last month by Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican—authorizes setting up two committees to spearhead the district’s reorganization by the 2018-19 school year.

Supporters say the reorganization would streamline services and improve communications between administrators and parents in a sprawling district of 357 schools that spans 8,000 square miles across 15 municipalities, including the city of Las Vegas, and unincorporated areas.

But among the questions that remain for critics: How will the new district lines be drawn? How will real estate assets and debt held by the Clark County district be divided? Will students be able to attend any magnet school of their choice? Will the reorganization create a set of districts of haves and have-nots? And more immediately, how will the law affect the Clark County district’s plan to issue $4 billion in bonds to build new schools and retrofit others to keep up with growing student enrollment?






Schools Could See Fewer Unaccompanied Minors This Fall Education Week


The number of unaccompanied school-age children from Central America arriving at the United States’ southern border has declined significantly from this time last year, a top federal Department of Health and Human Services administrator told members of Congress.

The decline follows a surge in 2014 during which tens of thousands of children from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico sought to enter the United States along the country’s southern border.

During the 2014 fiscal year, the Department of Homeland Security referred 57,496 children to the agency within the Department of Health and Human Services that cares for children once they are apprehended at the border.

The Department of Homeland Security referred fewer than 18,000 unaccompanied children to Health and Human Services during the first eight months of fiscal year 2015, said Mark Greenberg, the agency’s acting assistant secretary for children and families.









USOE Calendar



UEN News



July 9:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

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


Utah State Board of Education Finance Committee meeting

6 p.m., 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


Government Operations Interim Committee meeting

9:12 a.m., 20 House Building



August 6-7:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City


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