Education News Roundup: Oct. 22, 2015

TechplanEducation News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:

 

Prosperity 2020 issues a report on Utah’s education effort.

http://go.uen.org/4We (UP)

 

Legislature gets its first look at the proposed statewide school technology masterplan.

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

 

Former legislator David Ure named new head of SITLA’s board.

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

and http://go.uen.org/4Vq (DN)

and http://go.uen.org/4VR (KUER)

 

USHE and USOE cooperate on improving teacher preparation.

http://go.uen.org/4VM (Utah System of Higher Education)

 

Facebook opens a new webpage to attract more minorities to computer science.

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

and http://go.uen.org/4Vu (USAT)

 

Sesame Street introduces a new Muppet character who is autistic.

http://go.uen.org/4W1 (AP)

and http://go.uen.org/4W2 (NewsHour)

and http://go.uen.org/4W3 (CSM)

 

And say what you will about the Common Core, there is absolutely nothing in there about walking in high heels.

http://go.uen.org/4VZ (AP)

 

 

 

 

 

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TODAY’S HEADLINES

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UTAH

 

Business Community Issues Report Card of Utah’s Legislative Efforts to Take the State Into the Top Ten in the Nation in Education

 

Lawmakers give mixed feedback on statewide technology plan

 

New director promises big growth of Utah’s school trust lands

Government » David Ure to replace retiring head of State Institutional Trust Land Agency.

 

USHE and USOE work together to improve Utah’s K-12 teacher/administrator prep programs

 

Up, up and away: Young girls to launch micro-satellite

 

Sandy after-school program celebrates construction of new home

 

Days after taking CPR class, local vice principal saves student’s life

 

Talking about suicide is helping Utah prevent it more often, officials say

 

Cutting, burning: Utah teachers train in mental health first aid

 

Tutors in schools boost confidence and learning

 

More Utah students suggest playground ‘buddy’ benches for their schools

 

State Partnership with Code.org to Bring Computer Science to Utah K-12 Students

 

Orem school raises $360K for personal student computers

 

Teacher keeps job after complaints of social media posts

 

Detectives continue piecing together alleged school shooting plot

 

Several Logan schools in lock down after reported shooting

 


 

 

OPINION & COMMENTARY

 

Weber County charter schools need resource officers

 

Teacher certification is a state-run racket that charter schools avoid

 

White House starting to control curriculum — in Utah

 

Utah’s Wired

 

Mountain Crest should extend lunch period

 

In Utah, evolution is under siege in science standards

 

High-School English Without the Politics

Shakespeare and Woolf, not trigger warnings, hone my students’ critical-thinking skills.

 

How Texas Teaches History

 

How Newark schools partially squandered Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million donation

 

Forget football and prom – what big high schools get wrong

The case for smaller learning communities

 

Where Do Students Go When They Head Out Of State For College?

 


 

 

NATION

 

Facebook Seeks to Diversify by Nurturing Minority Engineers

Website teaches parents how to help kids drawn to technology

 

Idaho Ed Board backs off high stakes testing, for now

 

If Math and Reading NAEP Scores Fall, Who’s to Blame?

 

Judge rules against Bobby Jindal’s Common Core suit

 

Boehner’s last fight with Obama

As his final act, the speaker seeks to extend D.C. voucher program that the administration wants to kill.

 

Can ed-tech inequality be solved by roving buses with Wi-Fi and loads of equipment?

Beyond books: Libraries take to the streets with mobile computer labs, Wi-Fi, coaches

 

State audit finds Missouri education department needs tighter data protections

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s student data collection system is in good shape; state audit concludes.

 

Workers’ Facebook posts criticizing employer become heart of lawsuit

Two Brownsburg school district workers criticized their employer on social media. They were disciplined and now their comments are part of a free speech fight.

 

‘Say Something’ Slogan, Born of Terror, Adopted by Schools

 

Oregon town pays $4,000 for gun seized in school shooting

 

Sesame Workshop’s Muppets Get New Friend with Autism

 

Pearson faces questions over strategy as shares fall further

 

Masked man stabs two dead at Swedish school, killed by police

 

Education Official Resigns Over “High Heels” Comments

 

 

 

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UTAH NEWS

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Business Community Issues Report Card of Utah’s Legislative Efforts to Take the State Into the Top Ten in the Nation in Education

 

A packed Salt Lake Chamber board room heard principals of Prosperity 2020 and Education First present a 2015 Prosperity Through Education Report Card highlighting the positive strides the Utah Legislature made in 2015 to improve education, and what must happen in 2016 to elevate Utah’s education into the top ten in the nation.

In 2014, the two organizations developed a five-year plan and have been advocating that Utah fund specific objectives that will increase third and eighth grade reading and math performance, high school graduation rates and post-secondary degrees and certifications.

According to Alan Hall, CEO of Tempus Global and chair of Prosperity 2020, “Across America, the most vibrant state economies put education first. Decades of research show that a person’s earning power and a society’s wealth are tied to educational achievement. This applies now more than ever, as economic prosperity is driven by those with the knowledge and skills to compete in a global market.”

Unfortunately, Utah is seeing advanced warning signs indicating that Utah’s investment in public education, and the state’s educational achievement are not as strong as they should be. Hall told how Utah was once a leader in education nationally, but has slipped into the middle of the pack when it comes to critical educational outcomes. Utah’s standardized test scores have not fallen, but peer states have innovated and left Utah behind. Utah’s fourth grade students ranked 22nd in the nation in math and reading, and eighth grade students ranked 27th in math and 13th in reading.

http://go.uen.org/4We (UP)

 


 

 

Lawmakers give mixed feedback on statewide technology plan

 

SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers had mixed feedback for a school technology plan prepared by a task force of state and education leaders, but they voiced their continued support for putting devices into the hands of students.

Members of the task force presented the plan to the Education Interim Committee on Wednesday, outlining the proposed process for implementing a one-to-one technology program in schools that qualify for grant money.

The proposal, which was approved by the State School Board earlier this month, asks for $70 million in ongoing money and $30 million in one-time funds. The steep price tag and examples of unsuccessful school technology programs in other states have Utah lawmakers proceeding with cautious optimism.

But education leaders say they’ve taken into account lessons learned from similar initiatives implemented across the country, and if Utah schools adhere to the proposed plan, using technology to assist teaching will lead to better student outcomes.

“It’s not about devices. What we’ve learned (is) digital teaching and learning, in order for it to be successful and have the power that we’ve seen happen with technology, it needs to be integrated into the entire method of teaching,” said David Thomas, chairman of the Utah Digital Learning Task Force and vice chairman of the Utah State Board of Education. “We’re talking about a transformation in the way teachers deliver a product in terms of teaching and helping students learn.”

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

 


 

 

New director promises big growth of Utah’s school trust lands

Government » David Ure to replace retiring head of State Institutional Trust Land Agency.

 

Former state legislator David Ure is turning his attention from dairy cows to milking another billion dollars from state trust lands.

Gov. Gary Herbert announced Wednesday that the State Institutional Trust Land Agency’s board of trustees has appointed Ure, a Kamas rancher and Summit County Council member, to replace outgoing director Kevin Carter when he retires in December.

Ure said filling Carter’s shoes will be a tall order, but has already set lofty goals for the agency and has begun to hash out a strategy to achieve them.

He promised he would apply his farmer’s work ethic to grow the agency’s permanent school fund by another billion dollars, to see a total value of $3 billion under his tenure.

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

 

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

 

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

 

 


 

 

USHE and USOE work together to improve Utah’s K-12 teacher/administrator prep programs

 

The Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) is collaborating with the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) to examine and improve the teacher/administrator preparation programs in the state.

Utah is joining the Network for Transforming Educator Preparation (NTEP), which consists of over two dozen states committed to using policy levers such as licensure, program approval,  data collection, analysis and reporting, and communication and stakeholder engagement to reinvent educator preparation.

http://go.uen.org/4VM (Utah System of Higher Education)

 


 

 

Up, up and away: Young girls to launch micro-satellite

 

A group of local girls are launching a micro-satellite this Saturday that they built and programmed themselves.

The girls, ages 11 to 17, are part of an all-girls space, science and engineering group at the Cache Makerspace, and they built a payload that will launch up to 100 kilometers using a high-altitude balloon.

“We built sensors to go up in the balloon to gather data,” explained 12-year-old Kirsten Reither of Nibley.

The sensors are packaged into two 10-by-10-by-10-centimeter boxes and include an accelerometer, barometer, magnetometer and photo resistor. The payload will also have a GPS so it can be found after it touches down. The balloon will be launched in the southwest part of Cache Valley, though the exact location will be determined later after wind patterns are modeled. It is expected to land somewhere in Randolph.

Cache Makers, a local 4-H club, created the all-girls group to help encourage more girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The micro-satellite project is funded through a grant from the Utah STEM Action Center, and the instruments were supplied by Ardusat, a Utah-based company focused on space education.

http://go.uen.org/4VJ (LHJ)

 


 

 

Sandy after-school program celebrates construction of new home

 

SANDY — After starting in a trailer near the Sandy Cemetery, the Sandy Club will finally have a permanent home of its own.

The Sandy Club held a groundbreaking event to mark the beginning of construction of its new 12,400-square-foot building Wednesday. The event featured current youth members, donors and city officials turning soil to mark the occasion.

The Sandy Club is an after-school program based in Sandy. For the past 21 years, the program has used the basement of what is now the Sandy parks and recreation building, according to Linda Saville, Sandy Club executive director.

The program currently serves between 90 and 120 members daily and expects to increase service to 150, according to Sandy Club officials.

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

 

 


 

 

Days after taking CPR class, local vice principal saves student’s life

 

Cameras were rolling when a Utah 9th grader’s heart stopped during gym class and he collapsed to the ground.

Cameras were also rolling when the teen’s vice principal and a school officer began CPR and saved his life.

It’s a scene that could have ended in tragedy, if not for the quick actions of school administrators who rushed to his aid.

http://go.uen.org/4VN (KUTV)

 

 

 

Talking about suicide is helping Utah prevent it more often, officials say

 

SALT LAKE CITY — Beefed up prevention efforts, intervention and community events are helping to curtail Utah’s high suicide rate, according to state officials.

While the latest numbers aren’t yet available, “the numbers appear to be leveling off,” said Doug Thomas, director of Utah’s Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. He believes the successes are due to increased awareness and said “more people are talking about suicide.”

Suicide is the No. 1 cause of death for teens ages 10 to 17 and the sixth leading cause of death among all Utahns, making it a “major public health concern in Utah,” Thomas said.

Utah is ranked fourth in the nation for suicide-related deaths, significantly above the national average. The numbers have climbed ever since at least 1999, but more steadily since 2009, according to death certificate data gathered from the Utah Office of Vital Records and Statistics.

Lawmakers in 2013 created a position within the division of mental health to oversee efforts to help prevent suicide and better intervene when someone attempts to kill themselves. The Utah Legislature provided funding to some of those programs in 2015.

The Utah State Office of Education, Department of Health and other committees throughout the state have implemented processes to help address people with suicidal thoughts and make necessary resources more available to help people in need.

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

 

A copy of the report

http://go.uen.org/4VG (Utah Legislature)

 

 


 

 

Cutting, burning: Utah teachers train in mental health first aid

 

FARMINGTON — If a teen accidentally cuts herself, you know you should cover the wound with a sterile dressing, apply direct pressure to stop the bleeding, and cover the dressing with a bandage. Chances are, you learned that in a first-aid class.

But what if she cuts herself on purpose? Or what if you believe someone is experiencing a panic attack? What if one of your students seems to be suffering from severe depression? Would you know what to do?

A few teachers can answer yes, because they attended a mental health first-aid class for adults who work with young people, taught Monday, Oct. 19 in the Davis School District offices at 70 E. 100 North, Farmington.

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

 


 

 

Tutors in schools boost confidence and learning

 

They come in the form of parents, grandparents, high school or college students. Kelly Hiramato says those who come to local schools to volunteer as tutors are doing a great servce and helping students learn. He is director of after-school programs at Sunrise Elementary School in the Cache County School District.

On KVNU’s For the People program Tuesday, Hiramato said for many years some of the teachers also volunteer their off-time to serve as tutors.

http://go.uen.org/4VL (CVD)

 


 

 

More Utah students suggest playground ‘buddy’ benches for their schools

 

MURRAY — For students at a pair of Utah elementary schools, being “benched” can be a good thing.

At the suggest of sixth-grader Jaxton Winrow, Grant Elementary School this week installed a “buddy bench” next to the playground.

The idea is to create a place where kids who are feeling lonely and don’t have anyone to play with can sit to signal other students’ attention. Students can then reach out to kids on the bench and invite them to play, Grant Elementary Principal Matt Nelson said.

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

 


 

 

State Partnership with Code.org to Bring Computer Science to Utah K-12 Students

 

Today the Utah STEM Action Center and the Utah State Office of Education announced a partnership with Code.org that will increase participation in computer science courses by women and underrepresented students of color.

Code.org is a non-profit dedicated to expanding computer science education by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and minorities. Their vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to have access to computer science educati

  1. Code.org believes computer science should be part of the core curriculum in education, alongside other courses, such as biology,

physics, chemistry and algebra.

“Our partnership with Code.org and the Utah STEM Action Center is another great example of how Utah is leveraging public-private partnerships to offer better educational opportunities for students,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Brad C. Smith. “This partnership gives students a chance at a better, more prosperous future for themselves and a better, more prosperous future for Utah.”

http://go.uen.org/4Vn (UP)

 


 

 

Orem school raises $360K for personal student computers

 

OREM — An Orem elementary school raised $360,000 in five weeks to provide each of its students with a computer.

The fundraising success was only possible after community members and local business owners donated “so much it hurt,” said Foothill Elementary School Principal Joseph Backman.

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

 

 


 

 

Teacher keeps job after complaints of social media posts

 

MOUNT PLEASANT, UTAH – A fitness model and teacher was afraid that she was going to be fired from her job Wednesday after posting pictures of a bikini competition where she took third place.

The teacher uses an alias on social media sites to post competition and transformation pictures but doesn’t promote the sport to students.

Mindi Jensen is a body building fitness and bikini model. When Jensen isn’t working out she is teaching at North Sanpete Middle School.

“I’m new here, I’m divorced. I’m doing this all for the first time,” said Jensen.

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

 

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

 


 

 

Detectives continue piecing together alleged school shooting plot

 

MARRIOTT-SLATERVILLE, Weber County — Two days after three 15-year-old boys were “suspended indefinitely” from Venture Academy, sheriff’s deputies were back at the charter school Wednesday to try to get more answers regarding the trio’s alleged shooting plot.

On Monday, a student at Venture Academy, 495 N. 1500 West in Marriott-Slaterville, informed school officials about an alleged plot being discussed by other students.

“Another student had overheard some talk about this kid having this plan and that somebody may be in possession of this clip and ammunition,” said Weber County Sheriff’s Lt. Lane Findlay.

The “plan,” according to students, was “to do a drive-by and shoot up the school.”

Three boys, whose names were not immediately released, were pulled out of class and searched. Officials found one or more of them to be in possession of a gun clip, a small box of .22-caliber ammunition, razor blades and a folding knife, Findlay said.

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

 

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

 

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

 

http://go.uen.org/4VS (KNRS)

 

 


 

 

Several Logan schools in lock down after reported shooting

 

At about 9 a.m. Tuesday, a man later identified as Jose Almaguer reportedly shot himself near the Shopko at 1400 North and Main.

Local residents heard the shot and called the police. Subsequently, the nearby Bridger Elementary and Cache High Schools went into lockdown.

http://go.uen.org/4Wb (USU Statesman)

 

 

 

 

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY

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Weber County charter schools need resource officers

(Ogden) Standard-Examiner editorial

 

A 15-year-old student at Venture Academy in Marriott-Slaterville had plans, two friends said. Big plans — a drive-by shooting at his own school.

His friends reportedly helped with the logistics. They obtained bullets, an ammunition clip, a knife and razor blades.

They might’ve gotten away with it, except another student heard about their plans and notified school officials.

That student is a hero. But it shouldn’t take a courageous teenager to keep Venture Academy safe. Or, for that matter, any Weber County charter school.

Charter schools here don’t work with the sheriff’s department to arrange security, Lt. Shane Findley told Standard-Examiner reporter Loretta Park. Venture Academy doesn’t employ a school resource officer. Neither do the other charters.

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

 


 

 

Teacher certification is a state-run racket that charter schools avoid

Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Cynthia Phillips, executive director of Weilenmann School of Discovery, a charter school in Park City

 

Benjamin Wood’s recent article (Oct. 13) on unqualified teachers at charter schools is just another example of the Utah State Office of Education’s success in perpetrating the myth that qualified teachers come out of teacher education programs approved by the USOE.

Such programs charge students thousands of dollars for methodology courses usually taught by mediocre teachers and divert resources away from deeper learning in the chosen subject area. In my opinion, these programs are tantamount to learning how to be a good parent by sitting in courses about parenting — without ever holding a child.

Instead, future teachers should be required to earn strong degrees in their subject areas, to pass subject competency tests as they now do, and then to teach alongside master teachers, as identified by peers, for a two-year period. Teachers with sufficient knowledge and skill, as determined by master teachers, could “graduate” from these apprenticeships at the end of two years into their own classrooms. Teachers would earn a modest salary during these two years, subsidized by the hosting districts or from the state’s resources for teacher development, with the expectation of a commitment of several years from the “new” teacher in return.

Charter schools in Utah can claim to have some of the best teachers in the state because they can replace bad teachers with good ones any time they wish. Unlike other public school teachers who are unionized, teachers in charters must sign yearly compensation agreements and are not guaranteed a position from year to year unless they perform to the standards established by the school.

In other words, charter schools hire and fire people like any other corporation in the real world, but altogether unlike other public schools in Utah where getting a bad teacher fired is nearly impossible, and even when accomplished, takes forever and risks litigation.

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

 


 

 

White House starting to control curriculum — in Utah

Deseret News op-ed by JaKell Sullivan, a member of Return to Parental Rights

 

The federal government has absolutely no constitutional right to control curriculum, but that’s not stopping the White House.

In 2011, the White House launched its online Learning Registry. The registry “helps content and information get between websites” to filter the curriculum that reaches teachers and track what they use, according to Steve Midgley, the deputy director of education technology for the U.S. Department of Education. Midgley helped the Department of Education and the Federal Communications Commission change broadband Internet regulations — part of net neutrality — to get federally sanctioned curriculum into every child’s classroom.

The head of President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top program, Joanne Weiss, recently wrote an essay in which she said, “New curriculum materials funded through Race to the Top and released in 2014 are already in use in 20 percent of classrooms nationwide.”

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

 

 


 

 

Utah’s Wired

Salt Lake City Weekly commentary by columnist Katharine Biele

 

Reports say Google Fiber is coming to Salt Lake City. But that’s only one notch in Utah’s connectivity belt. A recent Utah Foundation report said 96 percent of Utah households have access to broadband services, making the state “one of the top states in the nation for broadband availability.” The report, “21st Century Infrastructure: How Broadband Internet Has Shaped and Is Shaping Utah,” cites public investment in systems like UTOPIA (oops, the Salt Lake City Council spurned that one), iProvo and the Utah Education and Telehealth Network. Private companies such as Comcast and CenturyLink have provided subscribers with megabit connections but their monopolistic traits are a source of frustration among many customers. Still, Utah is at the forefront.

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

 


 

 

Mountain Crest should extend lunch period

(Logan) Herald Journal letter from Savannah Knight

 

Mountain Crest High School is the only high school in Cache Valley to have a 30-minute lunch period. This amount does not allow time for over 600 students to get from their classroom to the lunchroom, wait in line, eat their food, and get to their next class on time. It also does not allow for a full nutritious meal.

Teenagers in high school need to intake 2 cups of vegetables and 1 cup of fruit every day. I have been in the lunchroom and seen that most students have an order of fries and a cookie. This is neither nutritious nor filling. The time of our lives when we need the most nutrients to make it through a seven-hour school day, is the time of our lives when we are eating the worst.

The solution for the problem would be to cut out the normal 30-minute flex period and combine that with lunch. Students would then have the option to either get help from teachers and finish homework, or go home to eat a full balanced meal.

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

 


 

 

 

In Utah, evolution is under siege in science standards

Washington Post op-ed by Miranda Berbeco, a post-doctoral scholar at the University of California Davis

 

This past week my e-mail in-box has been filling up with messages about Utah.

“Have you seen what’s going on there?” people are asking me. “They are trying to write climate denial into the standards!”

If you believe the media (Newsweek, The Salt Lake Tribune, and even my most beloved gossip blog, Jezebel), the state of Utah is considering the adoption of middle school science standards that would teach sixth graders that the Earth’s climate is staying relatively constant, thus denying climate change.

People are alarmed about the possibility. Understandably so, since there was reportedly pushback against the inclusion of climate change in a previous draft of the standards. People want to know what National Center for Science Education is going to do about it.

What’s going on in Utah sounds terrible. And it would be terrible. If it were true.

But guess what? It’s not true.

Someone—preferably a reporter—should have read the standards and carefully obtained expert opinion about them before getting in a lather. Fortunately, that’s what we do here at NCSE, and so let me share with you what the standard actually says:

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

 

http://go.uen.org/4Wg (NCSE)

 


 

 

High-School English Without the Politics

Shakespeare and Woolf, not trigger warnings, hone my students’ critical-thinking skills.

Wall Street Journal op-ed by HELAINE L. SMITH, author of “Teaching Particulars: Literary Conversations in Grades 6-12”

 

We do not talk about the environment, or racism, or feminism, or our president’s failed policies. We talk about literature. We exist, for the 40 minutes each day that I teach English to middle- and high-school students in New York City, in an issue-free zone.

We talk about books, images or word choice, and as we construct arguments about theme or reach conclusions about character, we back everything up with details from the text. What I hope my students are learning is a lesson that is not political but is essential for politics: that one must support assertions with proofs, that one must consider counterarguments, that it’s necessary to listen to what others say and that doing so may allow you to strengthen, or force you to alter, what you think.

In other words, in a modest way, we are disciples, generations removed, of John Milton’s “Areopagitica,” of the belief that truth, or as much of it as we can grasp, is arrived at not through trigger warnings but through discussion and through debate that turns on details.

We are running hard against the current, but my students don’t know that. My aim is to teach them to love great writing and to take pleasure in the habits of mind that close reading demands. These are also the habits essential for an informed citizenry. I’m reassured that I send forth young adults who, whatever political positions they adopt, will question before they conclude, and will respect others’ rights to question and to conclude otherwise.

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

 

 


 

 

How Texas Teaches History

New York Times op-ed by ELLEN BRESLER ROCKMORE, a lecturer in the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric at Dartmouth

 

A TEXAS high school student and his mother recently called attention to a curious line in a geography textbook: a description of the Atlantic slave trade as bringing “millions of workers” to plantations in the American South. McGraw­Hill Education, the publisher of the textbook, has since acknowledged that the term “workers” was a misnomer.

The company’s chief executive also promised to revise the textbook so that its digital version as well as its next edition would more accurately describe the forced migration and enslavement of Africans. In the meantime, the company is also offering to send stickers to cover the passage.

But it will take more than that to fix the way slavery is taught in Texas textbooks. In 2010, the Texas Board of Education approved a social studies curriculum that promotes capitalism and Republican political philosophies. The curriculum guidelines prompted many concerns, including that new textbooks would downplay slavery as the cause of the Civil War.

This fall, five million public school students in Texas began using the textbooks based on the new guidelines. And some of these books distort history not through word choices but through a tool we often think of as

apolitical: grammar.

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

 

 


 

 

How Newark schools partially squandered Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million donation

Washington Post commentary by columnist Ruth Marcus

 

When Dale Russakoff began writing about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million gift to help fix the failing schools in Newark, N.J., she assumed she would end up telling an uplifting story of transformational change.

“It sounded to me at the time like, well, that’s enough money to do anything,” Russakoff recalled of watching Zuckerberg announce the gift before a whooping “Oprah” audience in 2010, joined by a political odd couple in the form of Newark’s charismatic, reform-minded Democratic mayor at the time, Cory Booker, and New Jersey’s Republican governor, Chris Christie.

“I didn’t think it was going to be the miracle that they talked about,” Russakoff said, “but I thought that it was going to be noticeable, positive change in education in a city that had been so neglected by history.”

Plagued by corruption and mismanagement, the schools had been taken over by the state in 1995 — hence the importance of Christie’s involvement. But the system remained a disaster, with fewer than 40 percent of third- through eighth-graders reading or doing math at grade level.

Russakoff, a former Post reporter, devoted the next several years to real-time reporting about what happened to Zuckerberg’s $100 million and another $100 million in matching funds. The effort she relates in her resulting book, “The Prize ,” is a far more complex and humbling endeavor than anticipated, a case study in the difficulty of translating good intentions into concrete results.

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

 

 


 

 

Forget football and prom – what big high schools get wrong

The case for smaller learning communities

Hechinger Report op-ed by STUART GRAUER

 

Many people romanticize big, traditional high schools: Our collective memory of high school includes nostalgia such as proms, football games, exciting social lives, romance and first cars.

But do such memories do apply to most students? Does the average high school student even attend these activities?

The answer is that for many students, the social scene in large high schools is tough and unforgiving, with sharp distinctions made between the small group of social haves and the far larger masses of have-nots. And high school memories seldom include a significant academic component, let alone an intellectual one.

Schools and school districts have grown steadily in size for well over 100 years. But since the 1960s, teachers have consistently expressed their desire for smaller learning communities.

The reasons people thrive in smaller learning communities are powerful and in need of expression. But before stating what is so great about small schools, it is crucial to state what a small school is, and is not … because the millions of students and teachers lose out when small schools aren’t really small.

A small school is not small if it consists of 400 or more students. Researchers not only in education but also in psychology and organizational development find group size to be optimal at close to half that size.

http://go.uen.org/4W8

 

 


 

 

Where Do Students Go When They Head Out Of State For College?

Forbes commentary by columnist Maureen Sullivan

 

High school students from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Minnesota are the most likely to pick a college out of state. Students in West Virginia, Utah and Arkansas are the most likely to stay in state. And the college with the most out-of-staters? The University of Alabama.

That’s according to a new study from ValoreBooks, using information from the government’s Institute of Education Sciences. Yes, the majority of high schoolers choose a college in their home state. That’s in large part because of the higher costs that kick in for crossing state lines to attend a public university.

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

 

A copy of the report

http://go.uen.org/4Wd (ValoreBooks)

 

 

 

 

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NATIONAL NEWS

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Facebook Seeks to Diversify by Nurturing Minority Engineers

Website teaches parents how to help kids drawn to technology

Bloomberg

 

Facebook Inc. is trying a new tactic to increase the diversity of its workforce: helping parents of minority children guide their kids into computer science.

The world’s biggest social network debuted a website called TechPrep that explains how an interest in computer programming can be turned into a career. The resource offers tips in English and Spanish for both parents and children, on how to build up their knowledge of computer-science skills.

The effort follows a finding by Facebook and McKinsey & Co. that 77 percent of parents and guardians say they don’t know how to help children pursue an education or career in computer science. If the parents aren’t college graduates, that number increases to 83 percent, the research showed.

By adding people to engineering ranks who otherwise wouldn’t consider the profession, Facebook will be better able to handle a future shortage of computer scientists, said Maxine Williams, Facebook’s head of diversity. The Menlo Park, California-based company estimates the U.S. will have 1 million unfilled programming jobs by 2020.

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

 

http://go.uen.org/4Vu (USAT)

 

 


 

 

Idaho Ed Board backs off high stakes testing, for now

(Boise) Idaho Statesman

 

High stakes testing is off the table for Idaho’s 10th-graders — at least for now.

What happened: Idaho’s State Board of Education unanimously agreed Wednesday to waive the requirement that the Class of 2018 – this year’s 10th graders – be required to pass the test associated with Common Core State Standards by the time they graduate.

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

 

 


 

 

If Math and Reading NAEP Scores Fall, Who’s to Blame?

Education Week

 

The newest round of math and reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the “nation’s report card,” are due out early next week. We’ll see how 4th and 8th grade students performed nationally, in each state, and in 21 districts.

But apparently there’s already some buzz that the scores have dropped.

Michael Petrilli, the president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, wrote in a blog post today: “Rumors abound that the news is going to be bad, with scores down nationally and in a bunch of states. That will be used as fodder to attack Common Core, teacher evaluations, charter schools, or whatever else you happen not to like that’s prominent in today’s education policy conversation.”

Petrilli, who happens to like the policy efforts he’s listed above, offers an alternative explanation for the possible decrease—the economy. The last time the nation saw declines in NAEP scores was after the 1990 recession, he argues. (However, it’s worth noting that he uses the NAEP “long-term trends data” to show this—but that’s different from the data coming out on Wednesday, which is hard to compare over time.)

“While those of us in education reform are working hard to make sure that demography does not equal destiny, we must also acknowledge the strong link between students’ socioeconomic status and their academic achievement,” Petrilli writes. “[W]hen families are hurting financially, it’s harder for students to focus on learning.”

http://go.uen.org/4W5

 

http://go.uen.org/4W9 (Fordham Institute)

 


 

 

Judge rules against Bobby Jindal’s Common Core suit

Associated Press via New Orleans (LA) Times-Picayune

 

BATON ROUGE — A federal judge has issued a final judgment rejecting Gov. Bobby Jindal’s federal lawsuit against the Common Core education standards, clearing the way for him to take his case to an appeals court.

U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick refused the Republican governor’s claims that the U.S. Department of Education was illegally coercing states to use the standards.

In September, Dick had refused Jindal’s request for a preliminary injunction to block federal officials from penalizing his state if it quits using Common Core. She said Jindal failed to show any such threat exists in legal briefings and a two-day hearing in May.

Jindal attorney Jimmy Faircloth asked the judge to make that a final judgment to speed the appeal process, rather than hold a trial on the governor’s broader lawsuit against the Department of Education. The judge granted Faircloth’s request Tuesday.

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

 

 


 

 

Boehner’s last fight with Obama

As his final act, the speaker seeks to extend D.C. voucher program that the administration wants to kill.

Politico

 

Outgoing House Speaker John Boehner has one swan song that’s guaranteed to be a hit among even his most bitter Republican critics: picking a fight with the president over private school vouchers.

The House is expected to pass a bill extending the life of Washington’s school voucher program Wednesday, setting up an outsized fight with the White House over a small, $45 million program that allows students from low-income families in the nation’s capital to attend private schools on the taxpayer dime.

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

 

http://go.uen.org/4W0 (AP)

 

http://go.uen.org/4W6 (Ed Week)

 

 


 

 

Can ed-tech inequality be solved by roving buses with Wi-Fi and loads of equipment?

Beyond books: Libraries take to the streets with mobile computer labs, Wi-Fi, coaches

Hechinger Report

 

Before retired teacher Estella Pyfrom, 78, would answer questions about her “Brilliant Bus,” a computer-packed rig she drives to take education technology to Florida’s most underserved communities, she made this point: “This is not just a bus. It’s a movement.”

Pyfrom is a long way from her oft-stated dream of a Brilliant Bus in every city. But the movement is real, and it’s rolling. A growing group of leaders from nonprofits, schools and libraries have stared down that infamous “last mile” between the digital haves and have-nots and thought, “Why not drive it?”

A mix of Wifi-enabled buses and mobile computer labs has hit America’s streets. Some of these vehicles act simply as roving Internet hot spots. Others ferry educational software, coding and robotics workshops to city parks, churches and youth groups serving communities in danger of being left behind. But the demand is huge, and technology on wheels isn’t cheap. How far can the movement go?

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

 


 

 

State audit finds Missouri education department needs tighter data protections

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s student data collection system is in good shape; state audit concludes.

Kansas City (MO) Star

 

The student information system for the Missouri department of education this month received a “good,” rating in a state audit that also found the system may not be prepared to respond quickly to a data breach.

Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, “has not established a comprehensive data breach response policy, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Education,” the audit report said. “Without a comprehensive data breach response policy, management may not be sufficiently equipped to respond quickly and effectively in the event of a breach, increasing the risk of potential harm to affected individuals.”

The Missouri Student Information System is used by DESE to collect information from school districts in order to administer state and federal programs for students. It also allows the department to provide the public with feedback on district and charter school performance.

Audit findings released on Tuesday reviewed the system related to data governance, security and privacy controls and found “no significant noncompliance with legal provisions.”

However, the state auditor’s office, did recommend that the education department stop collecting social security numbers as part of the system’s data collection, and securely remove all data that is no longer needed. DESE agreed to remove “optional social security numbers” in the system’s data collection component by June 30, 2016.

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

 

 


 

 

Workers’ Facebook posts criticizing employer become heart of lawsuit

Two Brownsburg school district workers criticized their employer on social media. They were disciplined and now their comments are part of a free speech fight.

Indianapolis (IN) Star

 

Tina Gracey and Brenda Farnsworth weren’t shy about criticizing their employers on social media last spring, but they didn’t expect their opinions to be at the center of a First Amendment fight.

When the Brownsburg Community School Corp. asked for a $96 million property tax hike last spring, the two cafeteria employees were among those who took to social media to voice their concerns. Gracey, in particular, has been vocal about what she said is irresponsible spending in the school district.

Last month, a human resources officer told Gracey and Farnsworth that messages they had posted to a public Facebook group were against the school district’s social media policy, according to a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of the women. They were given a written warning and told they could be fired if they posted similar messages in the future.

The complaint, filed Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, says the school district’s actions squelched the women’s free speech rights.

http://go.uen.org/4W7

 


 

 

‘Say Something’ Slogan, Born of Terror, Adopted by Schools

Associated Press

 

HARTFORD, Conn. — A variation on the adage “If You See Something, Say Something,” first introduced in a jittery New York City after 9/11, is being adopted by schools at a time of heightened vigilance for the next classroom shooter.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Thursday was to visit a school in Danbury to mark this as “Say Something Week,” endorsing a program that Sandy Hook Promise, a violence prevention group in Newtown, is making available to schools around the United States.

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

 

 


 

Oregon town pays $4,000 for gun seized in school shooting

Reuters

 

PORTLAND, ORE. | Officials in Troutdale, Oregon, have paid $3,950 to purchase a rifle and ammunition seized after a fatal 2014 high school shooting rather than return the weapon to the teenage gunman’s older brother, the community’s mayor said on Wednesday.

City officials proposed buying the AR-15 assault-style rifle after a state judge ruled in favor of Lucas Padgett, 25, who sued to reclaim the gun his younger sibling used to kill a Reynolds High School classmate and wound a teacher before committing suicide with the weapon.

The deal was negotiated between lawyers for the town, a middle-class suburb of Portland, and Padgett, a U.S. Army reservist, who accepted the offer, according to Mayor Doug Daoust.

“The police were not ready to release the evidence, and from the input I got from citizens in Troutdale, many people were not comfortable with the gun returning to the community,” Daoust told Reuters.

“You could make an issue out of the fact that we’re spending public money to buy the gun, but the entire seven-person City Council thought it was a low cost to pay to reduce the amount of raw emotion and trauma we’re still facing in this community,” he added.

After the June 10, 2014 shooting, police determined that the weapon used by 15-year-old freshman high school student Jared Padgett had been stolen from his older brother.

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

 

 


 

 

Sesame Workshop’s Muppets Get New Friend with Autism

 

LOS ANGELES — There’s a newcomer on the Sesame Street block, a preschooler with autism named Julia.

The Sesame Workshop said Wednesday that the character is being introduced as part of an initiative to take the stigma out of autism. The initiative also is aimed at helping those who deal with the developmental disorder.

Julia will be included in digital and printed story books featuring Sesame Workshop characters including Elmo and Abby.

http://go.uen.org/4W1

 

http://go.uen.org/4W2 (NewsHour)

 

http://go.uen.org/4W3 (CSM)

 

 


 

 

Pearson faces questions over strategy as shares fall further

Reuters

 

LONDON | Shares in Pearson fell a further 8 percent on Thursday, taking the total wiped off its market value in two days to 2.2 billion pounds ($3.4 billion), as analysts said the education company could need to overhaul its whole strategy.

The British company on Wednesday shocked investors with a warning that profit would come in at the lower end of guidance after sales went into reverse in the third quarter – the key period for an education business.

Having grown rapidly around the turn of the decade, Pearson issued a string of profit warnings in the last two years as it restructured to focus on digital services and emerging markets. Recent results had shown signs of improvement, making Wednesday’s warning all the more damaging.

The shares tumbled on the day by 16 percent, on an earnings downgrade of just over 3 percent. Analysts at Bernstein said investors were starting to question whether management had a grip on the business, and it was time to reassess its strategy.

Pearson is focused on education after agreeing to sell the Financial Times newspaper and its stake in the Economist, and it says the industry has bright long-term prospects as more students go into higher education worldwide and digital learning grows.

However, the move has left Pearson at the mercy of the political and economic weather. In South Africa the group was hit by an unexpected reduction in the purchase of textbooks.

In the United States it has been caught up in the row over the introduction of common teaching standards, known as common core, while an improvement in the economy means more people enter the jobs market rather than go to college.

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

 

 


 

 

Masked man stabs two dead at Swedish school, killed by police

Reuters

 

STOCKHOLM | A masked man killed a teacher and a boy and wounded two others in a Swedish school on Thursday, stabbing them as he walked from classroom to classroom before being fatally wounded by police marksmen, officers said.

Local media showed what it said was a picture of the assailant carrying a sword and dressed in a black trench coat and helmet, posing for pictures with students shortly before the attack.

“We thought it was a joke, a Halloween prank or something, but it wasn’t,” one witness student told TV4.

Local media said the suspect’s social media accounts showed extreme right tendencies.

Police would not give any details of his motive but said possible far-right sympathies were being looked into, as part of a broader investigation that was being assisted by Sweden’s security service.

The Kronan school is in Trollhattan, an industrial town of about 50,000 inhabitants in western Sweden that has a large proportion of immigrants and has been plagued by high unemployment after the demise of car company Saab which was headquartered there.

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

 

http://go.uen.org/4W4 (AP)

 

 


 

 

Education Official Resigns Over “High Heels” Comments

Associated Press

 

BUCHAREST, Romania — A Romanian education ministry official has resigned after saying that schools should teach young women how to walk provocatively – in high heels.

At a press conference Tuesday, Vasile Salaru, said Romanian schools should teach female students how to walk wearing high heels, dance the tango, be a good hostess and walk enticingly in public. He said girls should walk with “chest out, bottom out, let the boys faint!”

Several student organizations protested his comments and called for his resignation.

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

 

 

 

 

————————————————————

CALENDAR

————————————————————

 

USOE Calendar

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

 

 

UEN News

http://www.uen.org

 

 

October 29:

Education Interim Committee meeting

8:30 a.m., 30 House Building

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

 

Charter School Funding Task Force

1 p.m.,  445 State Capitol

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

 

 

November 5:

Utah State Board of Education study session and committee meetings

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

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

 

 

November 6:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

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

 

 

November 12:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

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

 

 

November 17:

Executive Appropriations Committee meeting

2 p.m., 445 State Capitol

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

 

 

November 18:

Education Interim Committee meeting

8:30 a.m., 30 House Building

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

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