Education News Roundup: Aug. 4, 2015

"Girls on switches" Photo by and from  Weber State University Office of Marketing & Communications

“Girls on switches” Photo by and from Weber State University Office of Marketing & Communications

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:


Washington School District is looking for a tax increase. (SGN)


KTVX looks at Weber State’s PREP program for junior high students. (KTVX)


USU psychology professor Russell Warne discusses the efficacy of AP classes. (The Conversation) or a copy of the study (Journal of Educational Research)


Just how effective is educator professional development? (WaPo)

Statement of support from educators ( A copy of the study (TNTP)














School district seeks property tax increase; 2nd bump in 2 years; public hearing


How to get your junior high student college-level education


The Community Foundation of Utah Awards More Scholarships than Ever


Former Utah school teacher sentenced to jail for touching students’ buttocks Crime » Rory Bowen’s actions toward four girls were a “crime of opportunity,” says prosecutor.


Murray School District to hold registration assistance event


Mickelsen named executive director of SD education group






Pushing students to take Advanced Placement courses does not help anyone


It’s time to reconsider the parent trigger


Good News for New Orleans

Early evidence shows reforms lifting student achievement


“Reform” makes broken New Orleans schools worse: Race, charters, testing and the real story of education after Katrina An all-charter-school system was heralded as the future for urban schools. The future is filled with flaws


Teacher to Chris Christie: Here’s my face. Go ahead and punch it.


Is the Friedrichs Case an ‘Existential Threat’ to the Teachers’ Unions?


Vaccinations have always been controversial in America While creating the polio vaccine, Jonas Salk had to deal with critics who called it a “killer.”






Study: Billions of dollars in annual teacher training is largely a waste


A.C.L.U. Sues Over Handcuffing of Boy, 8, and Girl, 9, in Kentucky School


What Does Jeb Bush See as the Federal Role in K-12? Hint: Not Setting Standards


Sandy Hook Families Settle Lawsuits Against Lanza Estate For $1.5M


State school board members want investigation of education department


Superintendent: State making it ‘nearly impossible’ to teach


23,000 sign petition for Catholic teacher’s reinstatement


Crowded Field of Online News Sites Focuses on Education Issues National and Local Outlets Providing a Wealth of Specialized Content


Some Online Sites May Blur News, Advocacy Line


When education officials talk, no one understands. Here are 4 phrases decoded


Would Chinese-style education work on British kids?








School district seeks property tax increase; 2nd bump in 2 years; public hearing


  1. GEORGE – The Washington County School District is proposing a 3 percent tax increase to help cover the cost of inflation, a move the Utah Taxpayers Association is opposing. A public hearing on the matter is set for Aug. 11.

If enacted, it will result in the second bump in Washington County property taxes for school district purposes in two years, in addition to a voter-approved $185 million construction bond passed in 2013. (SGN)




How to get your junior high student college-level education


Do you have a student who is intellectually curious and craves challenging fun in the summer?

WSU’s PREP might be the perfect solution! The program just wrapped up it’s pilot year. Students involved have committed to come back for three summers in a row.

72 students, from Bountiful to N. Ogden, all who were going into the seventh grade made up the program’s Year 1 Class.

The PREP is offered by WSU’s College of Engineering, Applied Science & Technology in partnership with Davis, Ogden and Weber School Districts and the local community.

PREP holds 3 Academic classes a day. One logic, one problem solving in math, and another called Introduction to Engineering. (KTVX)




The Community Foundation of Utah Awards More Scholarships than Ever


Forty-four students planning to attend college in Utah and Idaho have been selected to receive scholarship awards from one of the 14 scholarship funds managed by the Community Foundation of Utah.

This year, awards to support post-secondary education during the 2015-16 academic year range from $500 to $10,000 per student, totaling more than $75,000.

To be considered for a scholarship through the Community Foundation of Utah, applicants are required to submit an application that determines eligibility. Because of the wide variety of scholarships offered through the Foundation, eligibility requirements can range from academic achievement to community involvement as well as very specific criteria depending on the scholarship. Applications are reviewed and recipients selected through a rigorous process performed by designated committees which are comprised of donors, area experts, and community members (UP)



Former Utah schoolteacher sentenced to jail for touching students’ buttocks Crime » Rory Bowen’s actions toward four girls were a “crime of opportunity,” says prosecutor.


Silver Summit • A former Summit County middle school teacher who admitted to touching the buttocks of several students was sentenced to jail on Monday.

Rory Bowen, 37, of Oakley, pleaded guilty in June to three charges of class A misdemeanor sexual battery, admitting in court papers that he touched the victims “under circumstances [he] knew or should have known would likely cause affront or alarm to the person touched.”

The former math teacher had originally been charged with four counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child — a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison — but the charges were reduced as part of a plea deal.

Despite pleas from Bowen to allow him to serve only probation or a lengthy home confinement sentence, 3rd District Judge Paige Petersen sentenced the defendant on Monday to serve 30 days in jail, followed by two months of home confinement. He also will be on probation for 54 months, the judge ordered, and can not work as a teacher or reapply for his teaching license during that time.

During the Monday sentencing hearing, prosecutor Joy Natale told the judge that the victims’ families — none of whom were present in the courtroom for sentencing — wanted Bowen to serve some time in jail. Natale asked that he serve 180 days in jail, calling Bowen’s actions “a crime of opportunity,” adding that the young girls were vulnerable because they were struggling to understand math. (SLT)




Murray School District to hold registration assistance event


MURRAY — The Murray School District is holding an enrollment night for registration assistance 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12, at Hillcrest Junior High School, 178 E. 5300 South. (DN)





Mickelsen named executive director of SD education group


PIERRE, S.D.— Mark Mickelsen is taking over as executive director of the South Dakota Education Association.

Mickelsen worked for the group in an interim capacity in the last year. He manages a staff of 15 employees with offices in Pierre, Rapid City and Sioux Falls.

Prior to joining SDEA in July 2014, Mickelsen served as executive director of the Utah Education Association. He was that group’s communications director for 12 years before taking over the leadership role in 2008. (Associated Press via [Rapid City, SD] KNBN) (KSL)










Pushing students to take Advanced Placement courses does not help anyone The Conversation commentary by Russell T Warne,  Assistant Professor of Psychology at Utah Valley University


Millions of American high school students take the Advanced Placement (AP) test each year. In 2014, that number was over 2.3 million.

However, these numbers do not tell the complete story. Approximately one-third of the enrolled students end up not taking their course’s AP test. It is, therefore, likely that about one million students who enroll in the AP course never take their course’s AP exam.

Given this scenario, researchers have begun to ask tough questions of the AP program: do students need to take the AP test? Is the program cost-effective? And what is the place of AP in fostering academic excellence?

The AP program is sponsored by the College Board and allows high school students to take a college-level course while still at high school.

Independent federal government statistics show that 36.3% of public high school students in 2009 (the most recent year with available data) earned college credit through the AP program. And College Board data show from the 1990s onwards, the number of students taking the AP examination has more than doubled each decade.

Despite such popularity, little independent research was conducted on the AP program before the early 2000s.

To learn more about these students, my colleagues and I recently conducted a study to learn whether AP students had any academic achievement gains over non-AP students, even when the AP students did not take the exam.

Here is how we did our study:

We obtained data from every high school student in Utah and divided them into four groups: non-AP students, students who enrolled in an AP course but never took the AP test (“AP non-examinees”), students in AP courses who took the AP test but did not pass it (“AP exam non-passers”), and students in AP courses who took and passed the AP test (“AP exam passers”).

We decided that the best measure of academic achievement available to us was students’ ACT score, which is a college admissions test that measures high school achievement.

The results of our study were surprising: we found that there were no differences between the ACT scores of non-AP students and AP non-examinees. However, we did find advantages for AP students who took the exam, both AP exam passers and AP exam non-passers. In fact, the AP exam passers still had the highest ACT scores of the four groups.

Based on these findings, my colleagues and I concluded that the advantage of taking an AP course lies in preparing for the test – with the biggest benefits going to those students who actually pass it.


A copy of the study (Journal of Educational Research)






It’s time to reconsider the parent trigger Los Angeles Times editorial


Five years after California’s parent-trigger law was passed, it has not had the dramatic effect on public schools that its proponents hoped it would. Yet it is already at a crossroads in its young life.

The law, passed in haste in 2010 in an effort to empower parents at lower-performing schools, lets them force dramatic change if half or more of them sign a petition. They might demand the replacement of some or most of the staff or vote to turn their school over to a charter operator. They might even close the school altogether. Under the law, the parent trigger is an option only at schools whose scores on the state Academic Performance Index fell below the proficiency mark of 800 and that failed to meet their federal improvement requirements, called Adequate Yearly Progress, for several years in a row. The law limited the trigger option to 75 schools on a first-come-first-served basis to see how it played out; at the time, officials expected the number to be quickly met and expanded.

But that hasn’t happened. There have been only four schools in which parents filed petitions that succeeded in forcing a change. Parents at five more schools used the petition process as leverage to negotiate changes, a much less disruptive process, without ever filing an actual petition.





Good News for New Orleans

Early evidence shows reforms lifting student achievement Education Next analysis by Douglas N. Harris, professor of economics at Tulane University and founder and director of the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans


What happened to the New Orleans public schools following the tragic levee breeches after Hurricane Katrina is truly unprecedented. Within the span of one year, all public-school employees were fired, the teacher contract expired and was not replaced, and most attendance zones were eliminated. The state took control of almost all public schools and began holding them to relatively strict standards of academic achievement. Over time, the state turned all the schools under its authority over to charter management organizations (CMOs) that, in turn, dramatically reshaped the teacher workforce.

A few states and districts nationally have experimented with one or two of these reforms; many states have increased the number of charter schools, for example. But no city had gone as far on any one of these dimensions or considered trying all of them at once. New Orleans essentially erased its traditional school district and started over. In the process, the city has provided the first direct test of an alternative to the system that has dominated American public education for more than a century.

Dozens of districts around the country are citing the New Orleans experience to justify their own reforms. In addition to being hailed by Democratic president Barack Obama and Louisiana’s Republican governor, Bobby Jindal, parliamentary delegations from at least two countries have visited the city to learn about its schools.

The unprecedented nature of the reforms and level of national and international attention by themselves make the New Orleans experience a worthy topic of analysis and debate. But also consider that the underlying principles are what many reformers have dreamed about for decades—that schools would be freed from most district and union contract rules and allowed to innovate. They would be held accountable not for compliance but for results.

There is clearly a lot of hype. The question is, are the reforms living up to it? Specifically, how did the reforms affect school practices and student learning?




“Reform” makes broken New Orleans schools worse: Race, charters, testing and the real story of education after Katrina An all-charter-school system was heralded as the future for urban schools. The future is filled with flaws commentary by JENNIFER C. BERKSHIRE, a freelance journalist based in Massachusetts


Here is all you need to know about the New Orleans schools before Hurricane Katrina hit, 10 years ago this summer: They were awful. The schools were awful, the school board was awful, the central office was awful—all of them were awful. At a recent conference held to tout the progress made by the schools here since Katrina, Scott Cowan, an early proponent of the all-charter-school model that exists here now, described New Orleans’ pre-storm schools as mired in “unprecedented dysfunction.” In other words, they were awful.

The problem with a story like this isn’t just that it leaves out anything that doesn’t fit but that it can be hard to contain once it gets going. Before long, this “awfulizing narrative,” as it was described to me more than once during the 10 days I recently spent in New Orleans, spread past the school yards and central offices, sweeping up in its wake parents, children, indeed the whole hot mess that is New Orleans. The awful story was at the root of the decision to fire 7,000 teachers after the storm, the majority of whom were black New Orleanians and the backbone of the city’s middle class. It is the reason why so few locals can be found among the ranks of education reform groups here. And it is a rarely acknowledged justification for the long school day favored by charters here—10, even 12 hours when you factor in the cross-city bus trips that a choice landscape necessitates.

“When you start from the point of view that the communities these kids come from are broken, then the goal becomes to keep kids away from them as much as possible,” says Deirdre Johnson Burel, the executive director of the Orleans Public Education Network or OPEN, which seeks to engage community members around school-related policy issues. “It’s a way of containing and insulating kids from their own families.

An advocate of school reform in New Orleans long before the cause was cool, not to mention lucrative, Burel doesn’t fit the pre-/post-Katrina schools narrative at all. A native New Orleanian, Burel is a proud graduate of McMain High School, then a magnet school, now part of the Orleans Parish School Board, still one of the city’s best. She was an early proponent of charter schools here, including the city’s first, NOLA Charter Middle School. “I worked in the district and saw the dysfunction. I saw what a difference it made for children and families when schools had autonomy and a community could create something for its own children.”

But when Burel looks at the version of education reform that has taken root in New Orleans since Katrina, she barely recognizes what she sees. “What we have now isn’t my vision. Reform here has diagnosed children and families as a liability.”





Teacher to Chris Christie: Here’s my face. Go ahead and punch it.

Washington Post op-ed by Russ Walsh, coordinator of college reading at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J.


In case you missed it, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, candidate for the Republican 2016 presidential nomination, declared Sunday on CNN that teachers unions need a “punch in the face.” Faced with low numbers in the polls and with being out-bullied by Donald Trump, Christie has decided to come out swinging — at teachers.

Of course the teachers union has no literal face, and the leaders of both major teachers unions, Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers and Lily Eskelsen García of the National Education Association are women. I don’t think even a Republican candidate for president could get away with punching a woman in the face. Belittling them, yes. Berating them, yes. Taking away the choice of what they do with their bodies, yes. But not striking a woman, especially with a Hillary running on the Democratic side.

So, taking all this into consideration, I would like to step up and offer Christie my face to punch.

I am well qualified for the job. I have been a public school teacher and administrator for 45 years. I have been the president and the chief negotiator of my local teachers union. I have been sharply critical of Christie’s education policies on my blog. I deserve that punch in the face. I have earned it. Not only that, I live just a stone’s throw from the State House in Trenton, so I could meet the governor there at any time, if he ever happens to get back to New Jersey.





Is the Friedrichs Case an ‘Existential Threat’ to the Teachers’ Unions?

Education Next commentary by Michael J. Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and Dara Zeehandelaar, national research director at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute


As you’ve probably heard by now, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Friedrichs vs. California case next year, giving it a chance to strike down union “agency fees” as unconstitutional abridgements of teachers’ First Amendment rights.

In a nutshell, teachers already have the right not to join their local unions, even in non-“right-to-work” states like California and New York. But in such states, even if teachers are not union members (and therefore do not pay union dues), the local union can automatically deduct “agency fees” from their paychecks. The fees, which are often substantial, are supposed to support non-political activities, including the costs of collective bargaining. The unions levy these fees to avoid the free-rider problem; without them, teachers could get all sorts of benefits from the unions without paying for them.

Legally, agency fees from public employee unions cannot be used to financially support “matters of public concern” (a.k.a. political activities) because non-members can’t be coerced to support political speech with which they disagree. The fees can only be used for “representational activities” such as collective bargaining, arbitration of labor disputes, professional development, overhead costs, and the salaries of union administrators. Rebecca Friedrichs, a twenty-seven-year teacher, and the other plaintiffs argue that in the public sector, even representational activities are inherently political. Bargaining with elected officials (including elected school boards) is tantamount to lobbying them, they claim. Many commentators think the court’s five conservative justices will agree.

So if the court strikes down agency fees for public sector unions—effectively making every state a right-to-work state—will that spell the end of the unions and their political influence?





Vaccinations have always been controversial in America While creating the polio vaccine, Jonas Salk had to deal with critics who called it a “killer.”

USA Today op-ed by Charlotte DeCroes Jacobs, professor emerita at the Stanford University School of Medicine


In 1952, Americans suffered the worst polio epidemic in our nation’s history. As in prior outbreaks, the disease spread during the summer, mainly attacking children who had been exposed to contaminated water at public pools or contaminated objects in other communal places. The poliovirus entered the body through the mouth and multiplied in the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms started innocently enough—a sore throat, a runny nose. As the virus moved throughout its victims’ bloodstreams, the pains soon began—electric shocks darting through the neck to legs, muscle spasms. Within a day or two, paralysis set in. If the virus made it to the nervous system in the base of the brain, death came quickly. By the time the outbreak’s end, 58,000 people had been stricken. More than a third were paralyzed, many of whom spent the rest of their lives in a wheelchair or bed.

Most Americans today have no concept of the terror generated by polio throughout the first half of the 20th century. During epidemics, newspapers and magazines displayed adorable children struggling to walk in braces or entombed in iron lungs, but the disease mostly fell off the national radar after it was eliminated from the country in 1979. In the past few years, however, polio has begun creeping back into headlines, for two opposite reasons. On the one hand, thanks to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the world is closer than ever to wiping out the virus completely; widespread vaccination efforts reduced the number of cases to 414 in 2014, mostly in Pakistan and Afghanistan. On the other hand, because of recent anti-vaccination trends, it’s not unreasonable to worry that a resurgence of polio might afflict Americans again.










Study: Billions of dollars in annual teacher training is largely a waste Washington Post


A new study of 10,000 teachers found that professional development — the teacher workshops and training that cost taxpayers billions of dollars each year — is largely a waste.

The study released Tuesday by TNTP, a non-profit organization, found no evidence that any particular approach or amount of professional development consistently helps teachers improve in the classroom.

“We are bombarding teachers with a lot of help, but the truth is, it’s not helping all that much,” said Dan Weisberg, TNTP’s chief executive. “We are not approaching this in a very smart way. We’re basically throwing a lot of things against the wall and not even looking to see whether it works.”

Researchers examined three large school districts as well as a one network of charter schools. They looked at professional development programs at all the schools and teacher performance data over several years and they surveyed 10,000 teachers and interviewed more than 100 administrators. They identified teachers who got better at their jobs and tried to figure out what experiences they had that differed from teachers who were stagnant. To determine if a teacher had improved, researchers analyzed multiple measures — evaluation ratings, classroom observation and student test scores.

And they didn’t find many answers.


Statement of support from educators (


A copy of the study (TNTP)




A.C.L.U. Sues Over Handcuffing of Boy, 8, and Girl, 9, in Kentucky School New York Times


WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union, seeking to spotlight the use of handcuffs to restrain young children who act out in school, filed a federal lawsuit in Covington, Ky., on Monday alleging that a school resource officer there shackled an 8­year­old boy and a 9­year­old girl, both with disabilities, causing the children “pain, fear and emotional trauma.”

The A.C.L.U. released what it called a “disturbing video” showing the boy, who it said weighs about 52 pounds, crying as the resource officer handcuffed his arms at the biceps behind his back. In the video, the officer tells the boy, “You don’t get to swing at me like that.”

The boy has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; the girl has the disorder and other “special needs,” according to the lawsuit. It says both children are protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act, and alleges that the school resource officer, who it says shackled the boy once and the girl twice in 2014, violated both the disabilities act and the children’s constitutional rights. (Ed Week) (WaPo) (CNN)





What Does Jeb Bush See as the Federal Role in K-12? Hint: Not Setting Standards Education Week


The federal role in K-12 education should be to help support and encourage state-level reforms, not to write standards or curriculum, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Monday, during the very first GOP candidates’ forum of the 2016 presidential election campaign.

“States ought to create standards,” said Bush, who, with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, is one of just two supporters of the standards in the race, and is taking a beating for it from his rivals. “They should be state-driven and locally implemented.”

Instead, the feds should help states implement their own education vision, Bush said at the forum held at Saint Anslem’s College in Manchester, New Hampshire.





Sandy Hook Families Settle Lawsuits Against Lanza Estate For $1.5M Hartford (CT) Courant


The families of 16 victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting will receive about $94,000 each to settle two lawsuits against the estate of the shooter’s mother, Nancy Lanza.

Documents filed Monday in Probate Court show that the families have agreed to equally divide a $1.5 million homeowner’s insurance policy that Lanza had on the Newtown home she shared with her son, Adam Lanza. Each family will get $93,750, records show. The lawsuits were filed by the families of 14 of those who died in the massacre and two who survived.

On Dec. 14, 2012 , Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and gunned down 26 people, including 20 first graders, using a Bushmaster AR-15 assault weapon that his mother had purchased legally. He had already killed his mother before going to the school – shooting her several times with a rifle as she slept in her bed at their Yogananda Street home.

The lawsuits made essentially the same claim — that Nancy Lanza purchased the Bushmaster and kept it in her home, where her 20-year-old son had access to it. State police reports said the Bushmaster was kept in a gun safe that was in a room adjacent to Adam Lanza’s bedroom and that he had unlimited access to it.

The lawsuits allege that Nancy Lanza “knew or should have known that [Adam Lanza’s] mental and emotional condition made him a danger to others.”

The claims were made in two separate lawsuits filed against the estate of Nancy Lanza, which is still open in Probate Court. Stamford attorney Samuel Starks is the estate’s administrator. (WSJ)





State school board members want investigation of education department Columbus (OH) Dispatch


Calling state Superintendent Richard A. Ross “a prime suspect” in the faulty evaluations of sponsors of failing charter schools, several members of the State Board of Education asked on Monday for an independent investigation of the Department of Education.

The request comes days after Ross told board members he would bring in three outside educators to advise the department and ensure future sponsor evaluations are conducted properly.

It also follows state Auditor Dave Yost’s decision last week not to send a special-investigations team to examine the omissions of some student-performance data even though it appeared “noncompliant with Ohio law.”

David Hansen, the agency’s director of school choice, resigned last month after admitting he left off poor grades for online and dropout-recovery schools on evaluations of their charter-school sponsors. His wife, Beth Hansen, is Gov. John Kasich’s former chief of staff and current campaign manager for his 2016 presidential run.

“Unfortunately, the proposal to bring in three outsiders to determine how the sponsor evaluation should be completed falls far short of what is required for the public to regain confidence in (the) Ohio Department of Education,” the seven of the 19 board members wrote in a letter to Ross.

“Like it or not, you are a prime suspect in what has occurred. Mr. Hansen may have taken the fall, but you were his boss. Whether by mismanagement, or deliberate instruction to Mr. Hansen, you are culpable as well.”





Superintendent: State making it ‘nearly impossible’ to teach Cincinnati (OH) Enquirer


Greater Cincinnati superintendents joined forces Monday against a common enemy: the state.

Or, more specifically, unfunded state mandates involving education: testing edicts, data-collection requirements and evaluation programs, to name a few.

Accountability is one thing, they said, but Ohio and the federal government have gone too far.

It’s “nearly impossible” for teachers to do their jobs, said Deer Park Community City Schools superintendent Jeff Langdon. “This year, perhaps more than any other year, we as southwest Ohio superintendents are very concerned.”

Monday marked the kickoff of the Greater Cincinnati School Advocacy Network, a coalition of 41 schools districts in Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren counties. The group itself is unfunded, but the superintendents argue it doesn’t cost anything to spark conversation and lobby legislators in Columbus and Washington for more local control.

There was an uneasy pause Monday when the superintendents were asked specifically what mandates or programs they’d like to scrap. Then, they started calling them out: the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System, the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, College Credit Plus.




23,000 sign petition for Catholic teacher’s reinstatement Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer


Margie Winters, accompanied by about 50 supporters and carrying a box of petitions signed by 23,000 people who want her reinstated as a Catholic school educator, could not get in the front door.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Center City offices were on lockdown Monday afternoon. A security guard politely but firmly refused to allow Winters to enter the building.

“Because I’m so threatening,” Winters joked after handing the box to the guard and asking him to deliver it to Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.

Winters was fired June 22 as director of religious education at Waldron Mercy Academy in Merion for being in a same-sex marriage, something she told the school about when she was hired eight years ago.






Crowded Field of Online News Sites Focuses on Education Issues National and Local Outlets Providing a Wealth of Specialized Content Education Week


Joshua P. Starr considers himself a big consumer of news about education. The veteran educator and former superintendent has had a lot more content available to peruse lately.

The past two years or so have seen a boom in online news outlets covering education. New local and national sites are focusing exclusively on the subject; general-interest sites have education beat reporters or otherwise include K-12 issues in their mix.

“I happen to be a pretty avid reader of a lot of those things,” said Mr. Starr, who was in the news himself in February after he and the Montgomery County, Md., school board failed to come to terms on renewing his contract as district chief.

He rattled off a few news sources he checks regularly, including some that fit the definition of new, some that are decidedly old-school, and others that fall somewhere in the middle: Education Post, The Hechinger Report, Politico Morning Education, The Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog, and Education Week.

He also checks a number of other blogs, print publications, and news “aggregators,” which are sites such as Real Clear Education that link to articles from a variety of sources.


Sidebar listing online education news sites (Ed Week)





Some Online Sites May Blur News, Advocacy Line Education Week


While many of the new generation of online sites dedicating resources to education reporting are bona fide news operations, others arguably blur the line between news and advocacy.

One of the newest, The Seventy Four, co-founded by former CNN anchor Campbell Brown, immediately stoked that debate, in part because Ms. Brown is already a bit of a lightning rod for her backing of legal efforts to end teacher tenure in New York state.

When The Seventy Four (named for the country’s 74 million children under the age of 18) was launched in July, Ms. Brown wrote an essay arguing that advocacy and straight-news journalism are not incompatible.

“I have learned that not every story has two sides,” Ms. Brown said in the essay. “We will fiercely challenge those forces within the education establishment who impede innovation in our schools and who protect and defend inequality and institutional failure.”

In an interview, Ms. Brown said she views The Seventy Four as a news site, with a handful of young reporters writing news and features, while opinion has its own section.

“This isn’t a vanity project,” said Ms. Brown, who is the editor-in-chief of The Seventy Four. “I think what people need to do is separate me from the news site.”

LynNell Hancock, a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, said the site must prove itself as an independent, unbiased news organization.

Ms. Brown’s “own well-financed advocacy work so far has been narrowly focused more or less around a single issue—dismantling contract protections for teachers,” Ms. Hancock said. “It’s natural to expect this venture will be used to promote her views. So we’ll all be reading with interest to see if the coverage here will rise above.”





When education officials talk, no one understands. Here are 4 phrases decoded Bangor (ME) Daily News


When it comes to education, there is no lack of public opinion. Since virtually everyone has had some significant experience in the classroom, we have also formed our own opinions on education. These opinions are built from our own unique vantage point and often vary widely.

However, agreement can be found on one front: There is no lack of jargon in education. Chances are, unless you are a teacher, support staff or administrator, you find the jargon unnecessary and confusing.

As we sit on the precipice of significant educational reform, it is important for the public to know what Maine educators are talking about: What is proficiency-based learning? How does standards-based reporting work? What is the controversy surrounding the Common Core? What is RTI, and what do all of those other acronyms stand for? What is involved in the new teacher effectiveness legislation?

Here is a “reader’s digest” version of educational reform efforts that are underway in our schools and in the news.




Would Chinese-style education work on British kids?

BBC Magazine


The Chinese education system – with its long school days and tough discipline – tops global league tables. But how did British pupils cope when five Chinese teachers took over part of their Hampshire school?

For the BBC documentary Are Our Kids Tough Enough? Chinese School, an experiment was carried out at the Bohunt School in Liphook. Fifty children in year nine had to live under a completely different regime – one run by Chinese teachers.

For four weeks, they wore a special uniform and started the school day at 07:00. Once a week there was a pledge to the flag. Lessons were focused on note-taking and repetition. Group exercise was undertaken. The pupils had to clean their own classrooms. There were two meal breaks in a 12-hour day. (London Independent) (London Times)












USOE Calendar



UEN News



August 6:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

3 p.m., 250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



August 7:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

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



August 13:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



August 18:

Executive Appropriations Committee meeting

2 p.m., 445 State Capitol



August 19:

Education Interim Committee meeting

8:30 a.m., 30 House Building



August 27:

Charter School Funding Task Force meeting

1 p.m., 210 Senate Building



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