Education News Roundup: Aug. 24, 2015

childEducation News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:


There’s some follow up on the Trib’s report last week comparing the demographics of Utah public school students with that of their teachers. (OSE)

and (PDH)

and (SGS)

and (Ed Week)


Chiefs for Change has a new CEO. (Politico)


Takeaways from the latest PDK/Gallup poll on public education:

  • 64 percent of parents think there is too much emphasis on standardized testing.
  • 54 percent of public school parents oppose the use of Common Core State Standards in their schools.
  • 64 percent favor charter schools, but only 31 percent like vouchers.
  • 84 percent think students should be required to have certain vaccinations before being allowed to attend public schools.
  • 51 percent give schools in their communities either an A or B grade, but only 21 percent would give the nation’s schools an A or B. (WaPo)

and (Ed Week)

and (AP)

and (Gallup)

or a copy of the poll: (PDK)


California considers making kindergarten mandatory. (LAT)












Utah public school teachers less diverse than student body


Feds looking into claims of discrimination in Salt Lake City schools


Drivers in school zones may get education by citation


After-school hours may be most dangerous for kids


Getting students on a school year routine


Open houses set up for public to meet new superintendent


New Chiefs’ CEO Looks Forward


First Sky View graduating class reunites


Local businesses donate back-to-school items for kids living at The Road Home shelter


Back to School on a Budget


GOP candidates scramble to distinctions and base appeal at education summit







Charter schools may fail, and they need a better warning system


Stop the school-to-prison pipeline


Utah teachers have a non-union choice


Teach for America is breaking through education paradigm


School bully problem stems from society’s adult bully problem


I’ve covered prep sports in Utah for nearly 50 years, here’s what’s changed


Teacher bashing comes from one side


Are High Schools Adequately Preparing Students for College Studies?


Allow teachers to decide whether to fund their union







U.S. schools are too focused on standardized tests, poll says


NCLB Waivers Renewed for Four States; South Dakota’s Put on ‘High Risk’


It’s true: Kindergarten is optional in California


Q&A: Unaccompanied Children from Central America, One Year Later


Governor dismisses rumor of school choice special session


This Map Shows How Many More Students Are Living In Poverty Than 9 Years Ago And in many states, school funding systems are shortchanging poor students.


New Mexico Attorney General Plans School District Probe


NYC to Probe Secular Education at Jewish Schools


Teens Are Shopping More Like Their Parents










Utah public school teachers less diverse than student body


Utah’s public school teachers are less diverse than the students they teach, according to a review of state data. While one in four students is part of a racial or ethnic minority group, fewer than one in 10 teachers fit that description.

State education managers say that’s largely because the state has diversified rapidly in recent years, and it takes time for that to filter into the teaching ranks. An overall shortage of qualified teachers and relatively low salaries also play into the disparity.

The biggest gap is among Hispanics, according to the numbers provided by the state Office of Education. While about 16 percent of public school students are Latino, only 2 percent of the 31,000 certified teachers and principals in the state meet that demographic. (OSE) (PDH) (SGS) (Ed Week)





Feds looking into claims of discrimination in Salt Lake City schools


SALT LAKE CITY – Salt Lake school resource officers are at the center of a federal investigation. The United States Department of Education started its investigation into the Salt Lake City School District this week.

At both high schools in Salt Lake City School District you will find school resource officers or police officers who work in the school. (KTVX)




Drivers in school zones may get education by citation


Police officers will be out in force on the first day of school, reminding drivers to slow down and watch for children.

“It’s more education versus citation, although sometimes the easiest way to educate somebody is a citation,” said Sgt. John Thomas of the Ogden Police Department.

School is already in session in Morgan County, as well as for some private, charter and year-round schools. Davis County schools on a traditional calendar will be heading to classes on Monday, Aug. 24, followed by Weber School District on Aug. 25, Ogden School District on Aug. 26 and Box Elder School District on Aug. 31. (OSE) (KTVX) (KSL)




After-school hours may be most dangerous for kids


The morning rush can make getting to school a dangerous activity for children, but heading back home after school seems to be especially perilous.

Nearly one-third of the past decade’s child pedestrian fatalities happened between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., according to a press release from AAA in Salt Lake City. Teen drivers are also more likely to die between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., with one in four fatal accidents happening during those hours. (OSE)





Getting students on a school year routine


The Canyons School District is rolling out the red carpet for elementary and middle school students returning back to school. (KTVX)




Open houses set up for public to meet new superintendent


The Logan City School District is offering several open houses in all of its schools for communities to come out and meet the new Superintendent Frank Schofield. (LHJ)




New Chiefs’ CEO Looks Forward


The nature of the job of superintendent can lead to high turnover at the state and district level. Reform advocacy group Chiefs for Change has seen as much – a number of its founding state education chiefs have moved on, for one reason or another. That turnover in education leadership is a problem new Chiefs for Change CEO Michael Magee told Morning Education hopes to address in his new role. “We want to work with our members to ensure that they have long, productive tenures … and when positions open up, we’d love to see how we can add value there.” Founded with state education chiefs, the nonprofit Chiefs for Change is now welcoming local superintendents as members. Recent additions include Utah Superintendent Brad Smith, Michigan Education Achievement Authority Chancellor Veronica Conforme and D.C. Superintendent Hanseul Kang. Magee said he wants to convene members more regularly and do everything possible to make their jobs easier. “Stay tuned,” he said. “In the coming months, I think there will be some amazing people joining me.”

Magee comes from the Rhode Island Mayoral Academies, which he co-founded in 2009. He said the job helped him learn what’s possible to accomplish in education reform when you have bipartisan support. “I think there’s an opportunity to do that with Chiefs for Change as we grow the organization over time,” he said. In building the group’s membership, Magee said he’s looking for bipartisan leaders from across the country who support the organization’s education reform vision and goals. Magee said he wants the group to serve as a thoughtful voice on education policy at the state and federal level. And he wants to spread the word about the work that members are doing. At the moment, he’s working to recruit a top-notch staff. “Chiefs for Change has never had a staff before and that’s limited its capacity to work with members,” he said. “Now that we’re staffing the organization, we have an opportunity to do some new things.” (Politico)





First Sky View graduating class reunites


SMITHFIELD — In celebrating Sky View High School’s first graduating class on Saturday night, an enduring image of its 50-year history was on full display, as current students performed the school’s fight song for the Class of 1965. (LHJ)





Local businesses donate back-to-school items for kids living at The Road Home shelter


SALT LAKE CITY — Some families in need got a little bit of a break on Thursday.

Hundreds of back-to-school items were donated to more than 100 children at the Salt Lake City Road Home Shelter for the new school year.  There were more than 2,100 donations from local businesses. Payless ShoeSource, Salt Lake area Staples, Intrepid, Old Navy, DownEast, and Helping Hands moving company helped move the items into the shelter. (KSTU)




Back to School on a Budget


Getting your kids prepared for going back to school can get expensive, but you can get everything you need on a budget.

Nephi Carter, the manager Desert Industries Store in American Fork, shares some of the items at DI locations that are perfect for back to school. (KTVX)




GOP candidates scramble to distinctions and base appeal at education summit


Chris Christie is still swinging; Ohio Gov. John Kasich changed his mind after 20 years; and Jeb Bush wants to privatize everything. Those are some of the highlights from New Hampshire where Republican presidential hopefuls flocked this week to answer questions at an economic summit sponsored by journalist-turned-education reformer Campbell Brown. (DN)










Charter schools may fail, and they need a better warning system Salt Lake Tribune editorial


Charter schools are where the public school system meets startup culture. While regular public schools go on forever, charter schools sometimes do not.

Like startups, the charters challenge the existing paradigms, and they often fill niches the larger system may underserve. They receive public tax money, but they are free from many of the hiring and operating constraints of traditional public schools. The intent is to encourage alternatives, and there is research indicating that their presence can even raise success in the public schools they operate parallel to.

And when they fail, they fail like the free-market creatures they are. Such was the case this week when the Alianza Academy closed three days into the school year, leaving the parents of 270 students scrambling for a school and the Granite School District scrambling to find them one.





Stop the school-to-prison pipeline

Salt Lake Tribune editorial


If having someone with differing views yell at you over the telephone is grounds for calling an armed police officer to sit near you, then The Salt Lake Tribune newsroom deserves a whole squad of SWAT team members encamped in its lobby.

Shucks, by that standard, the Editorial Board alone rates its own guard shack.

So it is possible that Salt Lake City School Board Member Michael Clara had a point over those weeks when he showed up at board meetings attired as the sorry old stereotype of the Mexican bandito. It was a protest, Clara said, of the fact that Board President Heather Bennett used a heated conversation — which Bennett said contained some real, but unspecified, threats — with him as a reason to station the board’s usual police presence at the front of the audience instead of the rear. To intimidate Clara.

Threatening a public official is not OK. Even — especially — when the threat comes from another public official. And Clara never really denied doing so.

Still, Clara’s understandable suspicion is that the school district interpreted an angry Hispanic as a physical threat, though it would be unlikely to react so visibly to some disagreeable words uttered by a miffed Anglo.




Utah teachers have a non-union choice

Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Carolee Baird, regional membership director for the Association of American Educators in Utah


The start of a new school year means new beginnings and a fresh start for our state’s students and teachers. It’s also the perfect time of year for Utah’s educators to make informed decisions about association membership.

The state of the teaching profession is changing in Utah and across the nation. Stakeholders of all political stripes and backgrounds are advocating for common-sense education reforms like never before. Although educators have traditionally looked to teachers’ unions for protection and guidance, teachers everywhere are beginning to reject these hyper-partisan, reform-averse organizations in record numbers.

Local educators have grown increasingly frustrated by the high dues, partisan political spending, and adversarial tactics of the Utah Education Association (UEA). In 2014, 42,000 teachers left UEA’s national organization — the NEA. Here at home, the UEA lost nearly 800 members in 2014 alone. This exodus has not only gained headlines but has left teachers questioning the value of pricey union membership, which can run as high as $700 a year in Utah.




Teach for America is breaking through education paradigm Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Ned Stanley, who taught 8th grade English in the Bronx as a 2005 TFA corps member


Last weekend, Brigham Young University associate professor of Education Eric Ruiz Bybee offered a warmed-over critique of Teach For America (“Teach For America stumbles because its teachers aren’t prepared”) based on inputs (how long teachers study education) rather than outputs (do their students learn?). This is a common, if entirely self-serving, critique from the Ivy Tower.

I look at the question differently.





School bully problem stems from society’s adult bully problem Deseret News op-ed by Darren Johnson, an elementary school principal in American Fork


One of the many duties I have as an elementary school principal is dealing with the misbehaviors of children. When I first started my educational administration career as a vice principal 18 years ago, I had no idea what types of behaviors I would encounter in elementary children. I had been trained as a secondary teacher and was woefully underprepared for the behaviors of 5- to 12-year-olds. Four different elementary schools, two states, one foreign country, thousands of kids and all these years later, I have a pretty good understanding of 5- to 12-year-olds and their misbehaviors.

There is one pervasive issue I have dealt with that has been consistent in all schools, through more than 20 years and across all ages. That issue is bullying. Bullying is difficult to correct, and almost as difficult to define. What one person considers bullying, another person dismisses as simple teasing or “having fun.” For school purposes, we try to see bullying through the eyes of the victim, but what the victim perceives can be problematic for the alleged bully because in some cases, the bully didn’t even realize that her or his behavior was so upsetting to the other person.




I’ve covered prep sports in Utah for nearly 50 years, here’s what’s changed Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Tom Wharton


In the late fall of 1967, I was cut from the Granite High basketball team and was accepted as a sportswriter for the school newspaper.

That winter, I was among the winners of a writing contest where aspiring sports scribes covered a state basketball tournament game at the old Einar Nielsen Fieldhouse on deadline. That earned me my first byline in The Salt Lake Tribune.

I haven’t missed covering a prep sports season since, which means this marks my 50th season on the sidelines and inside the gyms of Utah schools.

The beat has taken me from Monument Valley to Randolph, from Vernal to Delta, and most places in between.

Much has changed over that time. Some things are better, a few worse and at least a couple of modern trends downright disturbing.





Teacher bashing comes from one side

Salt Lake Tribune letter from Candace Jacobson


Like Anna Tibbitts (“Quit Teacher Bashing,” August 21), I, too, am dismayed by the constant verbal assault on our hard-working, underpaid teachers by our legislators and particularly by the state school superintendent. Interestingly, I haven’t heard a single Democrat finding fault with teachers. Maybe that’s something to consider at election time.





Are High Schools Adequately Preparing Students for College Studies?

InsideSources commentary by Michael J. Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute


The United States is blessed to have many excellent schools, including hundreds of fantastic high schools, such as those that recently received recognition from Newsweek. And our high schools as a whole deserve credit for helping to push America’s graduation rate to all-time highs.

However, there is still an enormous gap between the aspiration of America’s students and parents and the quality of education our public school system is providing. Put simply, almost all young people today want to go to college (including technical colleges), but only about a third are graduating with the reading and math skills to be successful once on campus.

Not all of the blame for that chasm can be placed at the door of high schools. Too many students are reaching the ninth grade who are barely literate and numerate. Still, at a time when student achievement is rising at the fourth and eighth grade levels, but not in twelfth grade, it’s fair to ask whether our high schools are doing all they can to help teenagers make real academic progress while under their care.




Allow teachers to decide whether to fund their union Orange County (CA) Register op-ed by REBECCA FRIEDRICHS, who, with  nine other California teachers sued to end compulsory union dues in Friedrichs v. CTA, now before the Supreme Court


School starts this month for millions of students across our nation. While many students will excitedly embrace new skills and friendships, many of their teachers will be burdened by the conflicts associated with forced unionism.

Millions of American teachers, like myself, are forced to fund unions whose politics and politically charged collective bargaining practices are contrary to our own moral and political views.

Although “membership” is not required, we’re obliged to pay fees, which average $650 annually, to cover unions’ coerced “representation.” Meanwhile, we have no vote and no voice in the collective bargaining process.

Regrettably, unions tell the American people that they’re providing America’s teachers with huge benefits and that those of us who would prefer not to fund their “benefits” are “free-riders.” But for many teachers, the unions’ financial benefits aren’t worth the moral costs.












U.S. schools are too focused on standardized tests, poll says Washington Post


Americans overwhelmingly think there is too much emphasis on standardized testing in public schools and that test scores are not the best way to judge schools, teachers or students, according to a national poll.

The results released Sunday come from the 47th annual PDK/Gallup poll of attitudes toward public schools, the longest-running survey of Americans’ views on public education.

The survey showed that the public rejects school accountability built on standardized tests, which has been federal policy through No Child Left Behind, the signature education initiative of President George W. Bush.

Signed into law in 2002, No Child mandated annual tests in reading and math and required schools to raise scores every year or face penalties. Through its own policies and grant programs, the Obama administration has further emphasized testing by requiring states to evaluate teachers based on test scores.

From the PDK/Gallup poll of the public’s attitudes toward the public schools, which appears in a supplement to Kappan magazine and was released Sunday, Aug. 23. (PDK/Gallup)

“You see a solid public rejection of [testing] as a primary policy,” said Linda Darling Hammond, a professor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, after reviewing the poll.

A majority of respondents — 64 percent — said too much emphasis has been placed on testing, and a majority also said the best way to measure the success of a school is not through tests but by whether students are engaged and feel hopeful about the future. (Ed Week) (AP) (Gallup)


A copy of the poll: (PDK)





NCLB Waivers Renewed for Four States; South Dakota’s Put on ‘High Risk’

Education Week


And then there were five. The U.S. Department of Education approved Friday additional renewals of state flexibility from mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act for Florida, Idaho, Ohio, and South Dakota, leaving just a handful of waiver states waiting in the wings.

Unlike last week’s renewals, in which each state locked in generous three-year waiver extensions, this round of states secured only one-year renewals. And South Dakota’s waiver was put on “high-risk” status.

The Education Department said that each of the states is making progress when it comes to college- and career-ready standards and assessments, differentiated systems of recognition, accountability, and teacher and principal evaluation and support systems. But they also all need more time to make additional adjustments to fully meet waiver commitments. (ED)





It’s true: Kindergarten is optional in California Los Angeles Times


Some kids who skip kindergarten have to play catch-up when they enter first grade: to learn how to hold a pencil, count to 100 and begin tackling spelling.

Educators and state lawmakers who want to close this achievement gap say it’s time to do away with optional kindergarten for California children. They are backing legislation to make it mandatory.

“Kindergarten is what first grade used to be,” said Telma Bayona, administrator for child development and preschool at Compton Unified School District.

Once intended as a soft entry into the school system, filled with finger painting and songs, kindergarten has become increasingly focused on academics, with more activity geared toward reading, writing and math concepts. Students without it can be lost once they reach the classroom, educators say.

Sixteen other states and the District of Columbia require kindergarten, according to data from the Education Commission of the States, a research group that tracks education policy.

State lawmakers have launched multiple versions of a kindergarten mandate over the years. Each was blocked by opponents who said it would cost too much and stifle parental choice.




Q&A: Unaccompanied Children from Central America, One Year Later Stateline


In 2014, roughly 69,000 kids from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras flooded the U.S.-Mexico border, traveling alone at great personal peril. Many were teenagers fleeing gang violence — all three countries are among the most dangerous in the Western Hemisphere. Many of the unaccompanied children were under 12. Many were trying to join family members already living in the U.S.

This “surge” of migrant children — their numbers had nearly doubled from the previous year —created a crisis in U.S. detention facilities, and overwhelmed states and municipalities. Some have been granted asylum. Most have not. Advocates, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, recommended the children be treated as refugees. (The federal government calls the children’s plight a “humanitarian crisis,” but does not consider them refugees.) Some communities made it clear the children were not welcome. Others threw open their doors.

A year later, the number of unaccompanied children arriving at U.S. borders has dropped significantly. But the immigration status of many of these children remains in flux. Of the 112,784 children who have arrived in the U.S. since 2012, 67,699 still had cases pending as of June, according to Marc Rosenblum, deputy director of the U.S. immigration program for the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., that studies international migration and government policies.




Governor dismisses rumor of school choice special session Las Vegas (NV) Review-Journal


While the likelihood of Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval calling a special legislative session remains an unknown, state Treasurer Dan Schwartz already knows what he will include on a wish list for lawmakers to consider.

Schwartz hinted during a public workshop Friday that Sandoval recently mentioned the possibility of asking the Nevada Legislature back to Carson City to revisit legislation that created the state’s new education savings accounts.

The program, which offers about $5,000 for students to attend private school or for homeschooling, doesn’t go into effect until Jan. 1. But dozens of parents attending the workshop, many of them emotional, criticized a statute that requires students to attend public or charter school for 100 consecutive days before gaining eligibility for that money.

They asked Schwartz to eliminate the rule so private school families don’t have to enroll their students in a “deficient” public school system.

While Schwartz and his staff reminded parents that lawmakers included the 100-day rule to avoid creating a $200 million hole in the state budget, he also said the governor already had considered calling a special address to address that statutory language.

The governor’s office, however, quickly denied that.




Apple’s Tim Cook Says Student Have Right to ‘Great Public Education’

ABC Good Morning America


Tuskegee Public School in Alabama is among 114 others in 29 states that are starting the school year with Apple iPads, technology that many children haven’t experienced before.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is focusing on an academic revolution that aims to prepare these students for the 21st century.

The tech giant is part of the White House initiative known as ConnectED. The goal of the program is to connect 99 percent of U.S. schools to good technology. (The Hill)




This Map Shows How Many More Students Are Living In Poverty Than 9 Years Ago And in many states, school funding systems are shortchanging poor students.

Huffington Post


Students in America’s schools are much, much poorer than they were nine years ago.

In 2006, 31 percent of America’s students attended schools in “high-poverty” districts, meaning that 20 percent or more of the district’s students lived below the federal poverty line. By 2013, however, this number jumped to over 49 percent, according to an analysis of U.S. Census estimates from the nonprofit EdBuild. This means that nearly half of the nation’s children between the ages of 5 and 17 attend schools in communities where a large chunk of families are struggling to get by.

The map below from EdBuild, a new organization that advocates for more equitable state school funding systems, displays this phenomenon. All over the country, in all types of districts and communities, student poverty rates have grown in the past nine years.




New Mexico Attorney General Plans School District Probe Associated Press


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico’s attorney general is launching an investigation into how the state’s largest school district hired a high-level administrator who faces child sex abuse charges.

Attorney General Hector Balderas announced Monday his office will look into why Albuquerque Public Schools’ safety protocols were breached and Jason Martinez was hired in June before a background check was completed.

Martinez resigned abruptly last week. It later surfaced that he faces six felony counts of sexual assault on a child in Colorado.

Superintendent Luis Valentino was informed multiple times about Martinez refusing to complete his background check but ignored those concerns, according to a lawyer for Karen Rudys, interim assistant superintendent for human resources.





NYC to Probe Secular Education at Jewish Schools Associated Press


NEW YORK — There was no science, no geography and no math past multiplication at the ultra-Orthodox Jewish school Chaim Weber attended. And the only reason he ever heard of the American Revolution was when a seventh-grade teacher introduced it as “story time.”

Naftuli Moster said he never learned the words “cell” or “molecule” at the ultra-Orthodox schools he attended, where secular subjects were considered “unimportant or downright going against Judaism.”

Now young adults, the two yeshiva graduates echo complaints critics have made for years about the rudimentary level of secular education at private schools serving New York’s Hasidic communities. Now, for the first time, the city Department of Education is investigating more than three dozen of the schools to make sure their instruction is up to the most basic standards.

But even the advocates who called for the investigation question whether the city will be able to pierce the close-knit, insular Orthodox community to force meaningful change.




Teens Are Shopping More Like Their Parents Associated Press


GARDEN CITY, N.Y. — Giulia Pugliese is a typical teenager. She likes to look good, and she’s particular about what she wears.

But when The Associated Press followed the 15-year-old from Long Island on a recent back-to-school shopping trip with friends, she left a Nike store empty-handed – even though Nike is one of her favorites. The reason?

“I buy on sale because it’s stupid to buy a pair of shorts for $60,” said Pugliese, who instead looks for the “Swoosh” logo in discount stores like Marshalls.

Teens are shopping like their parents during the back-to-school season, and that’s putting a lot of pressure on retailers to change the way they market to them. Gone are the spending sprees, starting weeks before school bells ring. More teens are thrifty nowadays, a habit picked up from their recession-scarred parents.

Today’s kids recycle more clothes from the previous school year, mixing and matching the old with the new for different looks. They also shop year-round for things they need so they’re spending less money this time of year.










USOE Calendar



UEN News



August 27:

Charter School Funding Task Force meeting

1 p.m., 210 Senate Building



September 2:

Joint Education Conference

8 a.m., Southern Utah University, Cedar City



September 3:

Joint Education Conference

8 a.m., Southern Utah University, Cedar City



September 10:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

Moab Charter School, 358 E 300 South, Moab



September 15:

Executive Appropriations Committee meeting

5 p.m., 445 State Capitol



September 17-18:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City


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