Education News Roundup: Sept. 2, 2015

STEMEducation News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:

 

KSL profiles a Utah County teacher who puts an emphasis on space science.

http://go.uen.org/4yb (KSL)

 

Standard looks at an Ogden teacher who has been commissioned to write a symphonic piece for LSU.

http://go.uen.org/4y6 (OSE)

 

There’s a new report out on how well Common Core subjects are being translated in the classroom.

http://go.uen.org/4yf (WaPo)

and http://go.uen.org/4yk (Ed Week)

or a copy of the report

http://go.uen.org/4yg (Education Trust)

 

The school lunch program will need to be reauthorized within the month.

http://go.uen.org/4y0 (Bloomberg)

and http://go.uen.org/4y1 ([Washington, DC] The Hill)

 

Hechinger looks at the decline in private and parochial school enrollments over the last 10 years.

http://go.uen.org/4yo (Hechinger Report)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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TODAY’S HEADLINES

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UTAH

 

Award-winning educator prepares to launch new starship simulator

 

Local teacher-composer commissioned to create piece for LSU

 

Three Highland sisters can hear again thanks to cochlear implants

 

Jordan School District drafts five-year construction plan

 

Wasatch County to hold open house on school bond

 

University of Utah launches new public policy institute

 

Salt Lake City School District Superintendent to Retire

 

Schools for deaf and blind offering sign language classes

 

Fallen officer’s son gets special surprise from police before school

 

High school students launch campaign to benefit Utah Food Bank

 

New Online Therapy Startup Targets Rural Kids with Autism

 

Two killed in crash between school bus and pickup truck

 

Nebo School District finds success at FCCLA Nationals

 

Educator of the Week: Barbara Miner

 

 


 

 

OPINION & COMMENTARY

 

Invest in education to maximize economic potential

 

Nevada’s Voucher Breakout

Unions and the ACLU fight universal statewide school choice.

 

Starting Over

Many Katrina victims left New Orleans for good. What can we learn from them?

 

The Future of America’s Schools of Education: Repair or Replace?

 

Public sector employees and the rule of law

 

Common Core Controversies

 

5-Year-Old At Underfunded Kindergarten Enjoying Last Few Weeks Before Achievement Gap Kicks In

 


 

 

NATION

 

The idea vs. the on-the-ground reality of Common Core standards

 

Congress Has a Month to Reauthorize Free Lunch for a Record Number of Children

It’s another sign that the U.S. economic expansion hasn’t lifted all boats

 

Challenged by charters, private and parochial school enrollments fall

Old-line independent schools scramble for new ways to fill seats, make money

 

Why teachers are working for free in Pennsylvania school district

A state budget impasse means the Chester Upland School District has run out of money. But the deeper question is what happens to districts when charter schools start siphoning off large amounts of money.

 

Minnesota schools closing achievement gap, except in Minneapolis, St. Paul

 

The Subtle Evolution of Native American Education

Compared to their peers, “American Indian” and  “Alaska Native” students aren’t seeing the same growth in enrollment or attainment.

 

FSA is a valid, but new state test had problematic debut, study finds

Florida’s new standardized test, the FSA, is valid, its data ok for teacher evaluations, school grades

 

Report: State to spend $258M on school vouchers next school year

 

New mother gets prison, former principal jail in APS case

 

Diane Douglas opponents launch recall campaign

 

Teachers colleges struggle to blend technology into teacher training

Digital fluency of young teacher candidates can be an obstacle rather than an asset

 

After Legalization of Marijuana, Colo. Regroups on Drug-Free Message

Campaign seeks tactful approach

 

The Tiger Mom Tax: Asians Are Nearly Twice as Likely to Get a Higher Price from Princeton Review

 

School district investigating mass baptism at football practice

 

With ceramics, debate, choir and band, urban schools revive electives

 

Arizona schools forced to fundraise creatively for athletics

As the costs of high school sports rises and education budgets are squeezed, schools are thinking outside the box.

 

McGraw-Hill Education hires underwriters for IPO -sources

 

 

 

 

 

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UTAH NEWS

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Award-winning educator prepares to launch new starship simulator

 

LEHI — Victor Williamson’s simulations have evolved a lot since he first made paper controls for students in 1983 to help them learn by pretending to fly through space.

“There were no computers back then so I just drew up spaceship controls on posterboard and stuck it on their desks and changed the desks around a little bit to look more like a spaceship,” Williamson said. “Then I sat behind my desk with an overhead projector and would put images out as if they were trying to fly through space.”

Twenty-five years ago this November, back in 1990, Williamson’s first brick and mortar simulator opened at Central Elementary School in Pleasant Grove. Now with the help of his former students, the award-winning educator is launching a new program at Renaissance Academy in Lehi, complete with a much-improved version of his original Voyager starship.

http://go.uen.org/4yb (KSL)

 


 

 

Local teacher-composer commissioned to create piece for LSU

 

OGDEN — After a lost friendship was rekindled, a local music teacher-composer and his orchestra conductor counterpart will once again conjoin over an orchestral sonority.

St. Joseph Catholic high school and elementary school music teacher Alfonso Tenreiro has been a member of the music community in Ogden since 1998, but has been composing for much longer. Last year, Tenreiro was commissioned by Louisiana State University to compose a piece that will be performed by the university’s symphony orchestra Sept. 16, 2015.

http://go.uen.org/4y6 (OSE)

 

 


 

 

Three Highland sisters can hear again thanks to cochlear implants

 

HIGHLAND — For three of four Highland sisters, the world had become a quiet place. Lips moved in silence.

“A couple of months ago, I lost all the hearing in my right ear,” said 17-year-old Larissa Anderson, who documented her journey on YouTube. “It’s just gone. This made it hard to hold a conversation properly. I couldn’t listen in class.”

All three were born with hearing loss from a condition that makes the cochlea prone to damage. Bethany and Katelyn’s was more severe, until recently when Larissa’s hearing worsened, too. Despite their profound hearing loss, the girls have done remarkably well, their parents said, and are all attending mainstream schools. They each wear hearing aids and are good at reading lips, they said.

http://go.uen.org/4yy (DN)

 

 


 

 

Jordan School District drafts five-year construction plan

 

SOUTH JORDAN — The Jordan Board of Education, working in collaboration with district cities, has drafted a five-year building construction plan.

Proposed for construction in 2017-18 are new elementary schools in South Jordan and Heriman, about $14.5 million-$17.5 million each. Possible plans in 2019-20 include middle schools in South Jordan and Bluffdale, $32.5 million-$38.5 million each; and elementary schools in Bluffdale and Herriman, $16.1 million-$19.1 million each.

Herriman could see a high school built in 2020-21, at a cost of about $75 million-$90 million; as well as a middle school in 2021-22, costing about $36 million-$42 million.

http://go.uen.org/4yD (DN)

 


 

 

Wasatch County to hold open house on school bond

 

HEBER CITY — The Wasatch County School Board will hold a public hearing this month seeking input on a bond election to be held in November.

The meeting is 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, in the district offices, 101 E. 200 North. Members of the public are invited to attend and participate.

http://go.uen.org/4y5 (DN)

 


 

 

University of Utah launches new public policy institute

 

The University of Utah will launch a new institute Wednesday designed to help inform public policy solutions for elected officials and business and community leaders.

The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute — named after prominent commercial developer Kem Gardner — will partner with the university’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research and Center for Public Policy and Administration and will work with the Hinckley Institute of Politics.

The institute will prepare population estimates and projections, study economic trends, conduct public opinion surveys and research policy issues, such as education, tax policy and economic development.

http://go.uen.org/4y2 (SLT)

 

 


 

 

Salt Lake City School District Superintendent to Retire

 

Salt Lake City School District Superintendent McKell Withers is leaving his post at the end of this school year, but says he will continue advocating for teachers, students and their families.

When he leaves in June, Superintendent McKell Withers will have had 40 years of experience in public education under his belt. Withers announced his pending retirement to the board on Friday. He says his contract requires that he inform the board before he can seek any other position. That’s why he announced the retirement early on.

http://go.uen.org/4yc (KUER)

 


 

 

Schools for deaf and blind offering sign language classes

 

OGDEN — Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind is offering American Sign Language classes to the public.

Classes are free for school participants and cost $25 for nonparticipants. Classes will be held at Kenneth Burdett School, 742 Harrison Blvd.

http://go.uen.org/4y4 (DN)

 

 


 

 

Fallen officer’s son gets special surprise from police before school

 

DRAPER, Utah – Tuesday marks the 2-year anniversary since a Draper police officer was shot and killed while he was on duty near his home.

Sgt. Derek Johnson was killed near Ballard Corner; he was checking on a couple in a parked car when the man inside, Timothy Walker, shot him. Draper boy gets special surprise years after losing father

Sgt. Johnson’s wife, Shante, and their 8-year-old son, Bensen, had some help getting through the anniversary Tuesday.

Draper officers arrived to the family’s home in style to surprise Bensen and take him to school in a police motorcade.

http://go.uen.org/4yA (KSTU)

 

http://go.uen.org/4yB (KTVX)

 

http://go.uen.org/4yC (Headline News)

 


 

 

High school students launch campaign to benefit Utah Food Bank

 

Danny Naylor and Raleigh Sorbonne are best friends and student body presidents at rival schools.

Naylor is the student body president at Olympus High School and Sorbonne is the study body president at Skyline High School.

The pair wanted to come up with a way to bring their schools together, so they came up with a massive service project to benefit the Utah Food Bank.

They had the idea to use the Time Machine app in order to make it really easy for others to get involved and have a huge impact.

http://go.uen.org/4y9 (KTVX)

 


 

 

New Online Therapy Startup Targets Rural Kids with Autism

 

A new Utah-based program is attempting to bring more support to rural children with autism by providing online therapy courses for families, according to a story by Deseret News.

The program, which is called ReachASD, is a startup launching this week to teach parents how to therapeutically play with their children. The goal is to improve motor skills and social skills for children with autism through play, and also introduce families to therapeutic toys that can teach children specific skills. Ultimately, the program hopes to expand to offer therapy to children with autism by using video chat.

Rural districts often struggle to attract and retain special education teachers and therapists, which means students with disabilities may lack critical services or the few therapists available may have large case loads.

http://go.uen.org/4xY (Ed Week)

 

 


 

 

Two killed in crash between school bus and pickup truck

 

PAYSON — Two people were killed in a head-on collision between a school bus and a pickup truck Tuesday afternoon.

No children were on the bus at the time.

Christopher Jay Cook, 22, of Payson, and Makia Love Boyd, 18, of Lehi, both were in the pickup and were killed in the crash. Boyd would have turned 19 Wednesday.

Two others in the pickup — Colton Zobel, 21, and Alexandria Johnson, 20, both of Payson — were taken to Mountain View Hospital with serious injuries. Bus driver Lorrie Hone, 49, of Santaquin, was also taken to the hospital, Payson Police Lt. Bill Wright said.

http://go.uen.org/4y3 (DN)

 

http://go.uen.org/4y8 (PDH)

 

http://go.uen.org/4ya (KSL)

 

http://go.uen.org/4ye (MUR)

 

 


 

 

Nebo School District finds success at FCCLA Nationals

 

In July, students from four Nebo School District high schools traveled to Washington, D.C., where they participated in the National Leadership Conference for FCCLA (Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America).

There the students competed in STAR event competitions, advocated for their cause at the nation’s capital, networked with other FCCLA members and saw the city’s sites.

http://go.uen.org/4yx (PDH)

 


 

 

Educator of the Week: Barbara Miner

 

Art City Elementary School kindergarten teacher Barbara Miner was chosen as this week’s Educator of the Week.

http://go.uen.org/4y7 (PDH)

 

 

 

 

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY

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Invest in education to maximize economic potential

Deseret News op-ed by Randy Shumway, CEO of the Cicero Group

 

In 2010, only 62.5 percent of high school graduates in the United States attended college. That number was even lower for Western states. For example, Utah sent 53.3 percent of its high school graduates to college and Idaho sent 45.1 percent. Just last year, only 24.8 percent of Americans ages 25-34 had obtained their bachelor’s degrees. As the economy continues to recover and as policy wonks argue about approaches to new challenges, very few disagree with one key imperative: investing in a better-educated and more-skilled workforce.

Investing in America’s future workforce is the most viable long-term strategy for helping us emerge from financial crisis and for laying the long-term foundation for a strong, competitive global economic position. This investment will require real focus on making meaningful improvements to student learning and will require each state in our union to make at least four critical, integrated steps.

http://go.uen.org/4yz

 

 


 

Nevada’s Voucher Breakout

Unions and the ACLU fight universal statewide school choice.

Wall Street Journal editorial

 

The hullabaloo over Common Core is obscuring some major school choice flashpoints in the states. Consider Nevada, where the union for the public school status quo is suing to block revolutionary education savings accounts.

Earlier this summer Nevada Republicans established universal education savings accounts (ESAs), which allow all parents who withdraw their kids from public schools to spend state funds on private school tuition, textbooks, tutoring fees and special services. Jeb Bush last month praised Nevada’s ESAs as a model for “total voucherization,” which is scaring the unions silly.

Starting next year, parents who opt out of public schools can receive between 90% and 100% of the statewide average per-pupil allotment ($5,100 to $5,700) depending on their income. Unused funds can be rolled over for future expenses including college. According to the Friedman Foundation, ESAs will cover between 60% and 80% of the median tuition at private schools, many of which provide additional financial assistance.

Twenty-three states have enacted 48 private-school choice programs, but nearly all include income and eligibility caps. Four states other than Nevada—Arizona, Florida, Tennessee and Mississippi—offer ESAs that are limited to special needs or low-income students.

Unions are desperate to prevent Nevada’s model from spreading.

http://go.uen.org/4xQ

 

 


 

 

Starting Over

Many Katrina victims left New Orleans for good. What can we learn from them?

New Yorker analysis by MALCOLM GLADWELL

 

The first time that David Kirk visited New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was at the end of 2005. His in-laws were from the city. Kirk and his wife visited them at Christmas, just four months after the storm hit, and then went back again on several more occasions throughout 2006. New Orleans was devastated. Thousands had fled. “I’ll admit I’d drive around the Lower Ninth, taking it all in, feeling a little guilty about being the gawking tourist,” Kirk said not long ago. “It made an impression on me. These neighborhoods were gone.”

Kirk is a sociologist at the University of Oxford. He trained at the University of Chicago under Robert Sampson, and, for Sampson and the small army of his former graduate students who now populate sociology departments around the world, neighborhoods are the great obsession: What effect does where you live have on how you turn out? It’s a difficult question to answer because the characteristics of place and the characteristics of the people who happen to live in that place are hard to untangle. As Kirk drove around the Lower Ninth, however, he realized that post-Katrina New Orleans provided one of those rare occasions when fate had neatly separated the two variables. In the course of bringing immeasurable suffering to the people of New Orleans, Katrina created what social scientists call a “natural experiment”: one day, people were in the neighborhoods where they had lived, sometimes for generations. The next day, they were gone—sometimes hundreds of miles away. “They had to move,” Kirk said. What, he wondered, were the implications of that?

“I worked my connections to see who would talk to me,” Kirk went on. “It turned out that one of my colleagues at the University of Maryland had done research on boot camps in Louisiana. Ultimately, I got in touch with someone who is now the head of the prison system, a guy named James LeBlanc.” Kirk’s idea was to look at convicted criminals from New Orleans who had been released from prison after Katrina. As a group, they were fairly homogeneous: largely black, largely poor. For years, their pattern was to return to their old neighborhoods after they were released: to their families, homes, social networks. But for some, by the most random of circumstances, that was now impossible. Their neighborhoods—the Lower Ninth, New Orleans East—had been washed away. How did the movers compare with the stayers?

Ten years in, the results of the experiment have been mixed. Test scores have not risen anywhere near as much as had been hoped, and dozens of problems have had to be solved on the fly. How, in a system like this, do you prevent some schools from cherry-picking students—dumping the difficult cases on someone else? How do you create a single, simple application process? How do you move that many students from one end of the city to the other, every morning? How do you respond to the communities that have lost the local schools they sent their children to for generations?

To critics, what happened to the city’s schools is sometimes portrayed in ideological terms—as “disaster capitalism.” Or it is seen as a class victory: a group of (largely) white, well-educated teachers came down and took over a (largely) black school system. At root, however, is something more fundamental—the flip side of the position taken by those who want to rebuild the Lower Ninth. Those who fought against shrinking the city’s footprint were motivated by the impulse to heal. The motivating force behind the school reforms was to fix. The first saw the storm as a trauma to be overcome. The second saw it as an opportunity to be exploited.

http://go.uen.org/4ys

 

 


 

 

The Future of America’s Schools of Education: Repair or Replace?

Huffington Post commentary by Arthur E. Levine, President, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Founation

 

Nearly a decade ago, as president of Teachers College at Columbia University, I led a national study of the state of education schools in America, which produced reports on the education of school teachers, school leaders, and education researchers. While strong programs were identified in each area, the reports were critical of current practices regarding program quality and admission standards.

I came to the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation believing it is easy to throw bricks; the real challenge is to improve policy and practice. The situation of America’s education schools is not unique. The United States is making a transition from a national, analog, industrial economy to a global, digital, information one. All of our social institutions — government, media, healthcare, education, and the rest — were created for the former. They work less well today than they once did and appear to be broken. They need to be refitted for this new era.

There are two ways to accomplish this — repairing/reforming the existing institutions or replacing them, creating new versions that fit the times. Both are essential today for education schools. It is a mistake to do one and not the other. Here’s why.

http://go.uen.org/4yv

 


 

 

Public sector employees and the rule of law

Fordham Institute commentary by Institute President Michael J. Petrilli

 

Kim Davis, the Rowan (Kentucky) County clerk, is in the spotlight this week for ignoring a federal judge’s order to issue marriage licenses to gay couples seeking to wed. She claims that doing so would violate her Christian faith and her religious liberties. On Tuesday, she added that she was acting “under God’s authority.”

You don’t have to be a Constitutional scholar to know that her legal argument has no merit. As a public official, she took an oath to follow the rule of law. If she believes that doing so would conflict with her religious beliefs, then she should do the honorable thing and resign.

This episode goes far beyond the gay marriage debate, though. It brings to mind another class of public employees: educators. Must they always follow the rule of law—even when it conflicts with their personal beliefs, religious or otherwise? In a system that is overly rule-bound, bureaucratic, and politicized, where is the line between “cage busting” and law breaking? And does it matter that they are government employees instead of elected officials?

Sometimes the answers are clear and straightforward. For instance: Public school science teachers should teach what’s in state science standards, including evolution. If they feel they can’t do that, they should take a job in a private school (or request to teach another subject). Likewise, public school teachers should lead their classes in the Pledge of Allegiance every morning if that’s what their state or district expects. Those that disagree should likewise seek employment elsewhere.

But there are the grey areas. What about bureaucratic mandates demanding practices that are unsound? For example, if a state requires schools to evaluate their gym teachers using reading and math tests, must principals follow orders or else resign? Or is a little rule bending (or rule ignoring) appropriate?

That brings us, inevitably, to the current controversy over opting out of state tests. Here the question isn’t whether parents have a right to excuse their children from taking the state assessment. (They almost certainly do.) The issue is whether educators can face sanctions for encouraging parents to engage in an act of civil disobedience. Is that akin to refusing to give the test (which surely is reason for dismissal)? What if they merely inform parents of their rights?

http://go.uen.org/4yq

 


 

 

Common Core Controversies

Wall Street Journal commentary

 

American Enterprise Institute Resident Scholar Rick Hess on the political debate over national education standards

http://go.uen.org/4xR (video)

 

 


 

 

5-Year-Old At Underfunded Kindergarten Enjoying Last Few Weeks Before Achievement Gap Kicks In

Satire from The Onion

 

SHREVEPORT, LA—Saying the sense of equality and self-worth wouldn’t last much longer, local 5-year-old Jake Williams told reporters Tuesday that he was enjoying the final few weeks before the achievement gap between him and children at better-funded schools really kicked in. “Pretty soon, kids my age who live in wealthier districts will start testing better than me in every subject, so I might as well try to make the most of this parity while I have it,” said Williams, adding that he planned to savor the experience of being on equal footing with other 5-year-olds until the difference in resources being funneled to their respective schools began hindering his ability to learn basic language skills and math. “I really want to appreciate what little time I have left, because once I’ve internalized the idea that I’m not as smart as other kids, it’s only going to get worse. When I’ve dropped out of school nine or ten years from now, I want to at least know that I took full advantage of this time in my life.” At press time, a teacher was passing out tablet computers to a kindergarten class across town.

http://go.uen.org/4yr

 

 

 

 

 

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NATIONAL NEWS

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The idea vs. the on-the-ground reality of Common Core standards

 

The Common Core State Standards that most states have adopted have triggered plenty of political debate. But have they transformed how teachers are teaching — and what students are learning?

Not nearly enough, according to Education Trust, a nonprofit dedicated to closing achievement gaps.

Teachers are often assigning work that asks far less of students than the Common Core standards require, according to the organization. Children are rarely asked to write more than a few sentences at a time, for example, and are seldom asked to grapple with complex ideas and arguments.

Those conclusions are based upon an analysis of more than 1,500 language arts, humanities and social studies assignments that teachers gave middle-school students in two unnamed urban school districts during a two-week period last school year.

It’s a glimpse of what is going on in classrooms, not a nationally representative or scientific sample. But Education Trust staff members say that the patterns they found raise important questions about potential problems with how Common Core is being implemented nationwide.

“Like others who have been involved with the Common Core, we think these new standards have enormous potential to focus teaching and learning on what is most important,” says a new report by Education Trust released Wednesday. “But, as our analysis makes clear, that potential remains unrealized, and there is much work to do.”

http://go.uen.org/4yf

 

http://go.uen.org/4yk (Ed Week)

 

A copy of the report

http://go.uen.org/4yg (Education Trust)

 


 

 

Congress Has a Month to Reauthorize Free Lunch for a Record Number of Children

It’s another sign that the U.S. economic expansion hasn’t lifted all boats

Bloomberg

 

Even as the recession ended more than six years ago, the ranks of American children poor enough to be eligible for free school lunches is on a surge.

U.S. Department of Agriculture school-lunch data going back to 1969 show a steady increase in the percentage of participants relying on government subsidies for their midday meal. The pace of the increases picked up in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash.

According to thresholds set in 1981, children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for free meals, while those from families with incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent qualify for reduced-price meals and can be charged no more than 40 cents per lunch.

An elevated poverty rate, combined with stepped-up efforts to bring children into the program, has increased the number of free lunches, said Crystal FitzSimons, school programs director for the Food Research and Action Center in Washington DC, which advocates for expanded nutrition aid.

While the child poverty rate declined to 19.9 percent in 2013 from 22 percent in 2010, it’s still higher than before the crisis, Census data show. Beginning in 2008, school districts were required to automatically enroll children from families eligible for food stamps in lunch programs. In 2010, Congress passed additional legislation aimed at boosting access to subsidized meals for the poorest kids.

http://go.uen.org/4y0

 

http://go.uen.org/4y1 ([Washington, DC] The Hill)

 

 


 

 

Challenged by charters, private and parochial school enrollments fall

Old-line independent schools scramble for new ways to fill seats, make money

Hechinger Report

 

NEW ORLEANS—A more or less orderly line of four-year-olds, the boys in uniform blue polo shorts and the girls in plaid-checked jumpers, line up in the corridor of St. Rita Catholic School in the neighborhood known as Uptown.

College banners hang from the ceilings, inspirational passages on the walls, and a sign on the door that says these newest, youngest St. Rita scholars will be heading to college in 2029.

Catholic schools like this one have exceptional records of success; almost all of their graduates do, in fact, go on to college. But that hasn’t been enough to keep them from hemorrhaging students.

Confronted with falling birth rates and demographic shifts, rising tuition, the growth of charter schools, and other challenges, parochial schools are seeing their enrollments plummet.

And it’s not just in New Orleans, where the archdiocese has also had to contend with the exodus that followed Hurricane Katrina, and where 20 Catholic schools have closed in the period beginning even before Katrina hit, including three last year.

Catholic schools nationwide have fewer than half as many students as they did 50 years ago, and the decline has resumed in the last 10 years after leveling off briefly in the late 1990s, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Nearly 1,650 schools have closed or been consolidated in the last 10 years, 88 of them last year alone, the National Catholic Education Association says.

http://go.uen.org/4yo

 


 

 

Why teachers are working for free in Pennsylvania school district

A state budget impasse means the Chester Upland School District has run out of money. But the deeper question is what happens to districts when charter schools start siphoning off large amounts of money.

Christian Science Monitor

 

As public school students in Chester, Pa., prepare for school Wednesday, their teachers will be preparing for something much more daunting than the first day of school: the prospect of weeks – perhaps even months – without a paycheck.

And last week they decided that they’re going to work anyway.

“We’re ready for the students to show up Wednesday morning,” says Dariah Jackson, a teacher at Stetser Elementary School in Chester.

“We all have decided to work without pay,” she continues. She starts to say “until” but then corrects herself. “As long as we can,” she says. “There is no ‘until.’ ”

The Chester Upland School District (CUSD) has struggled with economic and academic problems for years, but now a budget impasse in the state capital, combined with the explosive growth of public charter schools in the district, have conspired to put it on the brink of insolvency.

Districts in states such as Florida, Illinois, and New York are dealing with similar issues as charter schools strain local budgets. But Chester is seen as an extreme case.

http://go.uen.org/4xS

 

 


 

 

Minnesota schools closing achievement gap, except in Minneapolis, St. Paul

St. Paul (MN) Pioneer Press

 

Many Minnesota schools are making progress toward closing the state’s persistent achievement gap, but urban schools largely are absent from those successes, according to the latest accountability data.

The state Department of Education said its latest multiple measurement ratings, or MMRs, show nearly two-thirds of Minnesota schools are on track to meet a state goal of cutting the achievement gap between poor and minority students and their classmates in half by 2017. Those results were released Tuesday.

The scores are based on student proficiency on spring math and reading tests, individual student year-to-year growth on those tests and progress schools make in closing the achievement gap, plus graduation rates for high schools.

Despite progress statewide, few St. Paul and Minneapolis schools got top marks. That’s troubling for Brenda Cassellius, the state education commissioner.

“We will not meet our state goals unless we see significant improvement in Minneapolis and St. Paul student performance,” she said

http://go.uen.org/4xX

 


 

 

The Subtle Evolution of Native American Education

Compared to their peers, “American Indian” and  “Alaska Native” students aren’t seeing the same growth in enrollment or attainment.

Atlantic

 

Just as the feds have long predicted, the 50 million-plus students enrolled in the country’s public K-12 schools this fall are more racially diverse than ever. Students of color now outnumber their white peers, largely thanks to striking growth in America’s Latino and Asian youth populations. Times sure have changed: Fewer than one in five Americans ages 85 or older was a minority in 2013, versus half of children under 5.

Taken as a whole, these statistics suggest that it may be time to revisit the word “minorities” when talking about students who aren’t white. Then again, the statistics probably shouldn’t be taken as a whole.

A close analysis of the U.S. Department of Education’s actual and projected demographic data suggests that the trends for students identified as “American Indian” or “Alaska Native” tend to deviate from the overall student body. These discrepancies are often so subtle that they seem negligible; the data is so tenuous that the subject seems moot. But these nuances are important to highlight—if only because America’s indigenous children are so often left out of conversations about closing the “achievement gap.”

http://go.uen.org/4yu

 

 


 

FSA is a valid, but new state test had problematic debut, study finds

Florida’s new standardized test, the FSA, is valid, its data ok for teacher evaluations, school grades

Orlando (FL) Sentinel

 

Florida’s new standardized test is a valid, but its debut this spring was “problematic” and schools should not make “critical decisions” about students based solely on results of its computer-based exams, a study released this morning found.

A “validity study” of the Florida Standards Assessments, or FSA, found the test is reliable and an accurate measure of whether students mastered state academic standards. FSA data can be used fairly in teacher evaluations and to calculate A-to-F grades for public schools, the study concluded.

But the study also found FSA’s 2015 debut to be troubled and said students who took its computer-based exams should face a “hold harmless” policy. That means a scores on those exams should not be used as the sole factor in critical decisions like whether they are promoted or granted a diploma.

The report noted it was difficult to determine how many students were impacted by FSA computer problems. The Florida Department of Education estimated 1 to 5 percent of students had trouble on each test, the study said, while local school district administrators reported more “serious systematic issues impacting a significant number of students.”

Whatever the number, the study said, “the evaluation team can reasonably state that the spring 2015 administration of the FSA did not meet the normal rigor and standardization expected with a high-stakes assessment program like the FSA.”

The FSA is a series of standardized tests in language arts and math, taken by public school students in third grade through high school.

The study by two outside firms – one based in Utah, the other in Washington, D.C., — found the FSA was a test that met industry standards as far as how it was put together and what it measured.

But it also said its debut was marred as “problems were encountered on just about every aspect of the administration, from the initial training and preparation to the delivery of the tests themselves.”

http://go.uen.org/4xU

 

http://go.uen.org/4yw (Tampa Bay [FL] Times)

 

A copy of the study

http://go.uen.org/4xV (Florida Department of Education)

 


 

 

Report: State to spend $258M on school vouchers next school year

(Madison) Wisconsin State Journal

 

The state will spend $258 million in the 2016-17 school year on private school vouchers, a new estimate shows.

At the same time, the amount of state aid sent to public schools will be reduced by $83 million to offset the voucher spending, for a net cost to the state of $175 million, according to an analysis drafted by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau in response to a request from Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, who opposes vouchers.

The amount spent each year on vouchers will have increased by 77 percent next school year over 2011 levels, according to the estimate, as lawmakers have expanded the number of vouchers available to students and where they can be used.

The amount of money spent has risen from $146 million in the 2011-12 school year to $236 million this school year.

The state spent $5.2 billion on public schools in 424 school districts last school year, according to the LFB, when it spent $213 million on vouchers used in 159 private schools.

Over the six school years, $1.2 billion will be spent on vouchers and about $30.6 billion will be sent to public schools during the same time, according to LFB and Department of Public Instruction data.

http://go.uen.org/4ym

 


 

 

New mother gets prison, former principal jail in APS case

Atlanta (GA) Journal Constitution

 

Judge Jerry Baxter sentenced the mother of a 4-month-old to a year in prison and then ordered a 76-year-old former principal to spend the next eight weekends in the Fulton County Jail for their roles in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating case.

Though five months have passed since a jury convicted 11 former educators of racketeering, Baxter is still perturbed that none of them will admit they are guilty.

Former elementary school teacher Shani Robinson, who gave birth to her son just days after she and 10 co-defendants were convicted, was sentenced today to one year in prison to be followed by four years in probation. She also will have to perform 1,000 hours of community service, much of it with the yet-to-be implemented Redemption Program being set up the the Fulton District Attorney’s Office to help children who were hurt by the cheating scandal. She also was fined $1,000.

On Monday, Baxter emailed Robinson’s attorney with an offer that he would sentence her to home confinement instead of prison if she would admit that she was guilty of cheating.

Robinson declined.

Attorney Annette Greene said Robinson was willing to accept the jury’s verdict and her punishment but she continued to insist that she did nothing wrong.

http://go.uen.org/4xW

 

http://go.uen.org/4yl (Ed Week)

 


 

 

Diane Douglas opponents launch recall campaign

(Phoenix) Arizona Republic

 

The Coalition to Recall Diane Douglas on Tuesday morning formally launched a petition drive to recall the Arizona superintendent of public instruction from office.

“Our reasons for recalling her is that she lacks a concern for students, she lacks a plan for education and she lacks honesty, integrity, and transparency,”  coalition chairman Max Goshert said.

The group has 120 days to collect the approximate 366,000 signatures needed to put a recall of Douglas on the ballot.

http://go.uen.org/4xZ

 

 


 

 

Teachers colleges struggle to blend technology into teacher training

Digital fluency of young teacher candidates can be an obstacle rather than an asset

Hechinger Report

 

MUNCIE, Ind. — On a typical day in Corey Gilman’s second-grade class, students view and listen to books on a Smart Board, following the text in their hardcover readers; they collaborate in small groups named for colors; and take turns using an iPod to listen to a reading of books they wrote by hand and then narrated. In between, they take “brain breaks” – 30-second bursts of moving and stretching under Gilman’s direction. All the while, Gilman’s iPad never seems to leave his hand.

Gilman, 26, is a self-proclaimed geek. Growing up, he built his own computers. He’s also a member of the technology cadre at Storer Elementary School in Muncie, making him the go-to person on everything from how to turn on an iPad to creating animation for the Smart Board. He’s had training on both, including more than 40 hours of Apple training. “I know that iPad inside, outside, backwards and forwards,” he boasts. “I can use it however I need to.”

Naturally, student-teachers who join Gilman’s classroom eagerly ask to be taught the tools he uses to hold the attention of his class of active 7- and 8-year-olds. While he can teach the “co-teachers” – as he calls them – to operate a document camera or rig an old boom box with three sets of headphones, teaching them how to use the devices in the same manner he does is a different matter.

“You can read all about it,” Gilman said. “You can see things online. But, until you get up there and do it and make the mistakes … it’s totally different. You really can’t teach it.”

http://go.uen.org/4yp

 


 

 

After Legalization of Marijuana, Colo. Regroups on Drug-Free Message

Campaign seeks tactful approach

Associated Press via Education Week

 

A state that has legalized recreational marijuana is now renewing efforts to get teens to stay away from it.

Marijuana isn’t evil, but teens aren’t ready for it: That’s the theme of a new effort by Colorado to educate youths about the newly legal drug.

Colorado launched a rebranding effort last week that seeks to keep people under 21 away from pot. The “What’s Next” campaign aims to send the message that marijuana can keep youths from achieving their full potential.

The Centennial State is one of many that are grappling with adapting their drug education programs to shifting laws and public attitudes about marijuana.

http://go.uen.org/4yn

 

 


 

 

The Tiger Mom Tax: Asians Are Nearly Twice as Likely to Get a Higher Price from Princeton Review

ProPublica

 

Every year, thousands of high school students get ready for the SAT by using The Princeton Review’s test preparation services.

But few, if any, realize that the prices for The Princeton Review’s online SAT tutoring packages vary substantially depending on where customers live. If they type some ZIP codes into the company’s website, they are offered The Princeton Review’s Premier course for as little as $6,600. For other ZIP codes, the same course costs as much as $8,400.

One unexpected effect of the company’s geographic approach to pricing is that Asians are almost twice as likely to be offered a higher price than non-Asians, an analysis by ProPublica shows.

The gap remains even for Asians in lower income neighborhoods. Consider a ZIP code in Flushing, a neighborhood in Queens, New York. Asians make up 70.5 percent of the population in this ZIP code. According to the U.S. Census, the median household income in the ZIP code, $41,884, is lower than most, yet The Princeton Review customers there are quoted the highest price.

The Princeton Review said in a statement that its pricing is based on the “costs of running our business and the competitive attributes of the given market,” and that the company charges the same price everywhere in New York City. Although the test prep service markets its service as “24-hr Online Tutoring,” the company says the tutoring is done in one-on-one sessions in person or online and that the tutors typically live in the same areas as their students.

“The areas that experience higher prices will also have a disproportionately higher population of members of the financial services industry, people who tend to vote Democratic, journalists and any other group that is more heavily concentrated in areas like New York City,” The Princeton Review’s statement said.

These types of price differences are not illegal, and the consequences are not intentional, but researchers say they are likely to become more common in the age of services like Uber, which set prices by computer algorithms. The Princeton Review says its prices are simply determined by geographic region.

http://go.uen.org/4yt

 


 

 

School district investigating mass baptism at football practice

(Atlanta, GA) WXIA

 

VILLA RICA, Ga. — A Georgia school district is investigating after video of a mass baptism was posted on YouTube.

The video, posted by First Baptist Villa Rica, was shot on school grounds just before football practice. “We had the privilege of baptizing a bunch of football players and a coach on the field of Villa Rica High School! We did this right before practice! Take a look and see how God is STILL in our schools!” the caption with the video reads.

By Tuesday evening, the video had been removed from YouTube.

The Carroll County School system released a statement Tuesday afternoon:

“The Carroll County School System was made aware of a situation that took place at Villa Rica High School prior to football practice on August 17th.  The District is currently looking into the specifics of this situation and will take appropriate steps to ensure all state and federal laws are followed.”

http://go.uen.org/4yj

 


 

 

With ceramics, debate, choir and band, urban schools revive electives

Washington Post

 

Principal Tanya Roane heard something that made her stop in her tracks during the first week of school at the District’s Cardozo Education Campus. It was the sound of singing.

More than a dozen teenagers with their heads buried in sheet music were offering their rendition of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” in a new choir class at the Columbia Heights school.

To Roane, it was the sound of high school.

“You had choir in high school. I had choir in high school. We didn’t have this at Cardozo,” she said. “I think I’m going to cry.”

Low enrollment and an intense focus on remediation have yielded a bare-bones curriculum at many schools in the District. Last year at Cardozo, students had about six elective courses to choose from in addition to the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program (JROTC). The campus now plans to offer 22 electives, introducing courses in ceramics and debate, among others, and bringing back such high school staples as marching band and choir.

http://go.uen.org/4yh

 


 

 

Arizona schools forced to fundraise creatively for athletics

As the costs of high school sports rises and education budgets are squeezed, schools are thinking outside the box.

Cronkite News Service via (Phoenix) Arizona Republic

 

Perry High School’s badminton team is good.

So good that the team finished as the runner-up in Arizona’s Division I state badminton finals last season.

But Perry’s success on the court doesn’t make the team or the Gilbert school immune to the funding challenges faced by high schools across Arizona.

“I would say that if you look at our calendar, someone, either athletics or activities, is doing a fundraiser almost at any given time throughout the year,” Perry High School Athletic Director Jennifer Burks said.

As one of its biggest fundraisers, the badminton team offers parents, students and fans a chance to face off with the team in an exhibition match. Those matches usually end in Perry dismantling its overmatched opponents.

“It’s actually pretty interesting because our badminton team is quite good,” Burks said. “So it’s very rare that you can get a point or two off of them.”

As the costs of high school athletics rise and education funding in Arizona continues to be squeezed, revenue streams like this have become critical to maintaining the viability of high school sports in the state.

http://go.uen.org/4xT

 

 


 

 

McGraw-Hill Education hires underwriters for IPO -sources

Reuters

 

McGraw-Hill Education is pressing ahead with plans to go public and has hired underwriters to assist in an initial public offering valuing the company between $5 billion and $6 billion, including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company’s owner, private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC, has tapped Credit Suisse Group AG and Morgan Stanley to lead the offering.

Representatives of McGraw-Hill Education, Apollo, Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley declined to comment.

McGraw-Hill Education expects to launch the IPO at the end of the year, following the end of back-to-school season, when it generates the bulk of its revenue through textbook sales, Reuters has previously reported.

http://go.uen.org/4yi

 

 

 

 

 

————————————————————

CALENDAR

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USOE Calendar

http://www.schools.utah.gov/main/CALENDAR.aspx

 

 

UEN News

http://www.uen.org

 

 

September 2:

Joint Education Conference

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

http://www.utah.gov/pmn/sitemap/notice/286081.html

http://le.utah.gov/jec/jec.html

 

 

September 3:

Joint Education Conference

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

http://www.utah.gov/pmn/sitemap/notice/286089.html

http://le.utah.gov/jec/jec.html

 

 

September 8:

Legislative Management Audit Subcommittee meeting

1 p.m., 450 State Capitol

http://le.utah.gov/Interim/2015/html/00003901.htm

 

 

September 10:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

Moab Charter School, 358 E 300 South, Moab

http://go.uen.org/1pn

 

 

September 11:

Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee meeting

1 p.m., 3445 S Main Street, Salt Lake City

http://le.utah.gov/Interim/2015/html/00003529.htm

 

 

September 17-18:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda.aspx

 

 

October 20:

Executive Appropriations Committee meeting

2 p.m., 445 State Capitol

http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?Year=2015&Com=APPEXE

 

 

October 21:

Education Interim Committee meeting

8:30 a.m., 30 House Building

http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?Year=2015&Com=INTEDU

 

 

October 29:

Charter School Funding Task Force

1 p.m.,  445 State Capitol

http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2015&com=TSKCSF

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