Education News Roundup: Nov. 2, 2015

Backpack Front by Max California/CC/flickr https://flic.kr/p/boErgA

Backpack Front by Max California/CC/flickr

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:

 

Salt Lake District suffers cyber-attack.

http://go.uen.org/530 (KSTU)

 

Provo District looks at west side properties.

http://go.uen.org/52J (PDH)

 

Utah college application days are coming up next week.

http://go.uen.org/52B (SLT)

 

Ed groups are starting to get impatient over ESEA reauthorization.

http://go.uen.org/53f (Ed Week)

 

Back when ENR was a kid — which admittedly was during the Pleistocene Epoch — people used to answer the question “Who’s minding the kids?” by saying “television.” It seems the new answer is “their digital device.”

http://go.uen.org/536 (NYT)

 

During that same Pleistocene Epoch, ENR and his fellow classmates carried their books either on their hips (boys) or in an arm close to the chest (girls). But NPR has a history of the backpack, which apparently no student ever leaves behind when going to school.

http://go.uen.org/533 (NPR)

 

 

 

 

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TODAY’S HEADLINES

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UTAH

 

Salt Lake City School District systems down after hack, no student info compromised

 

Provo school board to discuss Provo High, Westside property studies

 

Application days in Utah schools hope to make it easier to apply to, pay for college

Events help seniors and parents learn about scholarships and financial aid, fill out paperwork.

 

USU hosts Native Aggie Day to attract Native American students

 

Despite national decline, Utah student performance ‘holding steady’

 

County attorney investigating bond campaign for Park City schools

District bond » Focus is on possible violation of election laws.

 

Designing His Life

Orem autistic teen defying educators’ limitations through creative designs

 

Is high school football too dangerous?

 

College aid: Obama to extend Pell grants to some high school students

Despite low cost to Utah pupils, assistance could benefit many, official says

 

Police identify girl hit and killed while trick-or-treating in Taylorsville

 

Grant Elementary students evacuated twice due to air irritant

 

McGillis School students help clean up their neighbors’ yards

 

Olive Garden hosts spirit night to benefit Logan High

 

Marching bands win top honors at 2015 Mt. Timpanogos competition

 

Midvale principal spends cold, rainy night on elementary school roof

 

Only 5 states received an A in teaching financial literacy

 

Through the Lens: Paper Tigers

 


 

 

OPINION & COMMENTARY

 

Utah should make all-day kindergarten the norm

 

School bond proposal needs more work

Bond would benefit from another year of study

 

Guadalupe dream gets White House recognition

 

Is your child a bully or a victim?

 

Utah can lead nation in ending the poverty cycle

 

Utah must nurture curiosity and creativity to have a world-class school system

 

Money is nice, but teachers need more

 

Schools should cut back on standardized tests

 

Streamline standardized tests

Compromising on this issue is itself a test of the ability to do right by students.

 

Test results don’t cure inequity: Opposing view

We need to understand what really works to close opportunity gaps.

 

The Test­Optional Surge

 

We don’t test students as much as people think we do. And the stakes aren’t really that high.

 

‘Hamilton’ is saving NYC’s education system

 


 

 

NATION

 

Big Education Groups to Congress: Finish ESEA Reauthorization

 

Audit: Too much testing in schools

 

So what if teachers hate No Child Left Behind?

 

Schools Enlist Parents to Bridge Cultural Barriers

 

F.B.I. Tool to Identify Extremists Is Criticized

 

Spring Valley High students stage walkout in support of fired deputy

 

S.C. Student Arrest: Arne Duncan Says ‘Schools Must Be Safe Havens’

 

Jeb Bush gave this black community a charter school. Then he moved on.

 

Success Academy Founder Calls ‘Got to Go’ List an Anomaly

 

Texas Case Mulls if Home-school Kids Have to Learn Something

 

Many Children Under 5 Are Left to Their Mobile Devices, Survey Finds

 

Muslim students report bullying at twice the rate of non-Muslim peers, survey shows

 

Wyoming proposes new model for online education

 

Teens’ sex talks with parents tied to less risky behavior

 

Urban school districts are among least integrated

Meanwhile, many once overwhelmingly white suburban districts are increasingly diverse.

 

Group Objects to New York District’s Transgender Policy

 

Broad transgender policy vote fails

 

From ‘Book Strap’ To ‘Burrito’: A History Of The School Backpack

 

 

 

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UTAH NEWS

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Salt Lake City School District systems down after hack, no student info compromised

 

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah – The Salt Lake City School District phone system is working again after officials said a cyber hack took down  phone and online systems Monday.

The district said, ” Our district network was the target of a cyber attack where thousands of external systems coordinated to access our system at the same time. This attack is still affecting both systems.”

School officials said parents and students data has not been compromised.

http://go.uen.org/530 (KSTU)

 


 

 

Provo school board to discuss Provo High, Westside property studies

 

The Provo City School District Board of Education will hold a study meeting at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday to discuss issues surrounding the potential sale of Provo High School.

The meeting will be held at the district office board room at 280 W. 940 North in Provo.

The board will have an executive closed-door session from 7:30-8:15 a.m., with the public invited to the regular study session that will begin at approximately 8:15 a.m.

The board unanimously voted at its Oct. 13 meeting to surplus the land and building at the University Avenue location. The surplus came following a proposal from an undisclosed organization offering to purchase the Provo High School property — approximately 25 acres.

Since late September the board has had various impact studies and appraisals done on the property. Some of those findings will be discussed at Tuesday’s meeting.

http://go.uen.org/52J (PDH)

 


 

 

Application days in Utah schools hope to make it easier to apply to, pay for college

Events help seniors and parents learn about scholarships and financial aid, fill out paperwork.

 

If you think you can’t afford college, Utah’s education leaders would like you to reconsider that notion.

They are designating one day just for college applications in about 80 Utah high schools, allowing graduating seniors uninterrupted time to learn about scholarships and financial aid — and fill out the necessary paperwork.

The application days will span two weeks, starting Nov. 9. And parents also are invited, noted Carbon High counselor Melissa Swenson, who estimates that education gets cut off after high school for up to 30 percent of her graduates.

The main obstacle, she said, is “not knowing what’s out there,” she said. “There’s a lot of financial aid available. Students and parents are just unaware of it, a lot of times.”

Across the state, the trend is similar.

Nine out of 10 Utah middle schoolers said they plan to go to college, found a 2013 report by the Utah System of Higher Education, but just two-thirds of high schoolers enroll in college or technical classes after graduating.

http://go.uen.org/52B (SLT)

 

 


 

 

 

USU hosts Native Aggie Day to attract Native American students

 

On Friday, Native American students from across the state visited Utah State University for Native Aggie Day to not only learn about the university but about college in general. The day worked as a pre-college orientation for the 130 teenagers.

“They’re learning about how to get into college and how to get financial aid. They’re learning how to get scholarships and what scholarships are available to USU students and to Native Americans,” said Angela Enno, the multi-cultural program coordinator and adviser to the USU Native American Student Council. “They are having lunch with our Native American students.”

In addition to the workshops, students took tours of campus, including the museum of anthropology, campus recreation and the agricultural department.

The students came from all over the state, including Paiutes from Cedar City and Navajos from San Juan County.

http://go.uen.org/52L (LHJ)

 


 

 

Despite national decline, Utah student performance ‘holding steady’

 

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah was one of only four states that improved its eighth-grade math proficiency rates on this year’s National Assessment of Educational Progress.

In fact, Utah’s place among other states improved in all areas of NAEP, a test administered every two years to fourth- and eighth-graders nationwide to enable state-by-state comparisons of reading and math proficiency. But Utah’s modest gains this year aren’t the primary reason for the state’s higher rankings.

National average scores on the exam declined by one point in fourth-grade math, three points in eighth-grade math and two points in eighth-grade reading, with no change in fourth-grade reading, according to 2015 NAEP results released Wednesday. It’s the first time eighth-grade math scores have dropped since the assessment began in 1992.

In contrast, Utah scores improved by two points in eighth-grade math and three points in fourth-grade reading, with no change in fourth-grade math and a one-point decrease for eighth-grade reading.

http://go.uen.org/52Z (KSL)

 


 

 

County attorney investigating bond campaign for Park City schools

District bond » Focus is on possible violation of election laws.

 

Debate over a Utah school district bond has become so heated that both supporters and opponents may have broken election laws.

On Wednesday, Summit County Attorney Robert Hilder announced that his office was investigating allegations of inappropriate and illegal conduct related to a $56 million bond proposal for the Park City School District.

The school district staff is accused of using public funds to advocate for the bond’s passage, Hilder said, while community members opposed to the bond have allegedly campaigned on school district property.

“We would hate to see a legitimate ballot question marred by errant conduct,” Hilder said in a prepared statement.

Todd Hauber, the school district’s business administrator, said informational materials describing the bond were created and distributed to community members.

That material included a video that was shown to students during class time.

Hauber said state law is contradictory, in that school districts are required to inform the public about the scope and scale of a bond proposal but are prohibited against advocating for its passage.

“One says do and the other says don’t,” he said, “so the board did the best it could in navigating between those two statutes.”

http://go.uen.org/52j (SLT)

 


 

 

Designing His Life

Orem autistic teen defying educators’ limitations through creative designs

 

Michael Nielson is so good at designing and creating costumes, he was a popular attraction at Salt Lake City’s sold out Comic Con in 2014.

“He was Garrett from the video game, ‘Thief’ and had built the glowing green eye. People kept stopping him to take pictures with him,” said his father, Bruce Nielson. “When he was in line to see his favorite group, Studio C, Stacey (Harkey) raved about his costume.”

Michael is a 15-year-old sophomore at Mountain View High School in Orem, the second oldest of four children in Bruce and Julene Nielson’s family. He’s a costume designer, born engineer, animal whisperer and budding author. He also has Asperger’s Syndrome.

http://go.uen.org/52K (PDH)

 

 


 

 

Is high school football too dangerous?

 

More than 1 million young athletes play high school football and this year alone there have been 11 football related deaths.

Doctor Travis Maak with the University of Utah is here to shed some light on the issue and to answer the question — is high school football too dangerous?

http://go.uen.org/52P (KTVX)

 


 

 

College aid: Obama to extend Pell grants to some high school students

Despite low cost to Utah pupils, assistance could benefit many, official says

 

WASHINGTON — Thousands of low-income students will be eligible for federal Pell Grant money to take college courses while still in high school.

The opportunity is part of an experimental program announced Friday by the Obama administration. The Education Department said the administration will invest up to $20 million in the 2016-17 school year — helping up to 10,000 students.

High school students who take college courses through “dual enrollment” programs will be eligible. Those programs allow high school kids to take classes at a local college, often earning college credit.

http://go.uen.org/52C (DN)

 

 


 

 

Police identify girl hit and killed while trick-or-treating in Taylorsville

 

TAYLORSVILLE — Police have identified a 14-year-old girl who was hit and killed by a van while trick-or-treating Saturday night.

The girl is Victoria Hillman, according to West Valley police spokeswoman Roxeanne Vainuku. Unified Police Department turned the investigation over to West Valley due to a conflict.

Hillman and two others were crossing 2700 West in a marked crosswalk at 5930 South when a Honda Odyssey struck her at about 7:10 p.m., Vainuku said. Hillman died at the scene.

There are no indications that the driver was distracted or impaired or exceeding the speed limit, she said.

Hundreds of friends and community members gathered at Bennion Junior High School on Sunday night to remember Hillman and light candles in her honor.

http://go.uen.org/52S (DN)

 

http://go.uen.org/52T (SLT)

 

http://go.uen.org/52Y (KUTV)

 

http://go.uen.org/52X (KTVX)

 

http://go.uen.org/52U (KSL)

 

http://go.uen.org/52W (KSTU)

 


 

 

Grant Elementary students evacuated twice due to air irritant

 

MURRAY, Utah – Grant Elementary was evacuated twice Thursday morning.

Police say during a Halloween parade, MACE or a similar product was discharged in one school hallway. Several kindergarten classrooms were affected by the irritant. The school was immediately evacuated.

http://go.uen.org/52R (KTVX)

 

http://go.uen.org/532 (KSTU)

 


 

 

McGillis School students help clean up their neighbors’ yards

 

Armed with rakes and gardening gloves, the 398 students of The McGillis School, a K-8 independent private school in Salt Lake City, fanned out through the area surrounding the school to help neighbors rake their leaves. This is the eleventh year the school has conducted its Fall Leaf Haul. Working in “family groups” consisting of a student from each of the school’s grades, students cleaned up yards for those who needed an extra hand. “Our school is one founded on the values of community and doing good deeds,” explained Rachel Gardner, The McGillis School’s service learning coordinator. “Our students love this day as we are working together to help others outside our school community.”

http://go.uen.org/52G (DN)

 

 


 

 

Olive Garden hosts spirit night to benefit Logan High

 

Students and family of Logan High can get good food and help their school Tuesday, Nov. 3 during Olive Garden’s Spirit Night. Guests are encouraged to wear school colors and come and eat between 4 and 10 p.m. at Olive Garden, 1220 N. Main St., Logan. Olive Garden will make a small donation to the school.

http://go.uen.org/52M (LHJ)

 

 


 

Marching bands win top honors at 2015 Mt. Timpanogos competition

 

Cooler temperatures and enthusiastic crowds greeted the 43 marching bands participating in the Mt. Timpanogos Marching Band Competition at Pleasant Grove High School in Pleasant Grove, on Saturday, Oct. 24.

http://go.uen.org/52I (DN)

 

 


 

 

Midvale principal spends cold, rainy night on elementary school roof

 

MIDVALE, Utah — The principal of an elementary school in Midvale set up an unusual campsite Thursday night to reward students who exceeded their goals in a fundraiser.

The principal of Midvalley Elementary School, Jeff Nalwalker, said the cold and rain almost made him reconsider, but he wanted to follow through on a promise he made to his students, who had reached a fundraising goal they had set.

http://go.uen.org/531 (KSTU)

 


 

 

Only 5 states received an A in teaching financial literacy

 

Very few states require adequate financial literacy coursework for high school graduation, according to a new report by the Champlain College Center for Financial Literacy. Just five states get an A, with Utah leading the pack with an A+, while 12 states have no financial literacy requirement at all.

http://go.uen.org/52F (DN)

 


 

 

Through the Lens: Paper Tigers

 

Monday, we continue our series on documentary film with Paper Tigers. For a full year, director James Redford and his crew followed six troubled students at a Washington state alternative high school that adopted a radical new guidance program. Rather than focus on judgment and discipline, the school aims to help kids through deeper understanding and more effective treatment. The results: a dramatic reduction in fights and a five-fold graduation rate increase. Redford joins us to talk about it.

http://go.uen.org/534 (KUER Radio West)

 

 

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY

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Utah should make all-day kindergarten the norm

Salt Lake Tribune editorial

 

Utah is not the only place where elected officials, educators and parents have been struggling to plan, evaluate and pay for early-childhood education programs that begin the formal learning process before kindergarten.

Widespread confidence that children, especially those in at-risk family situations, need those programs to keep up with their wealthier peers — across town and around the world — is sometimes undermined by studies that suggest whatever benefits are gained from pre-K programs tend to fade within a few years.

But, even while we’re trying to work all that out, there is a much easier, less controversial and cheaper step that Utah schools should take. And that’s to make all-day kindergarten the norm across the state.

An interim committee of the Utah Legislature took a big step in that direction the other day when it advanced two bills on the subject.

http://go.uen.org/52m

 


 

 

School bond proposal needs more work

Bond would benefit from another year of study

Park Record editorial

 

A bond for public education facilities in Park City should be an easy score. This one is not. The Park City School District’s $56 million capital improvements plan has been controversial, not because of the amount the district plans to spend, but the manner in which the plan was pitched and a lack of consensus over many of the details.

And whether or not it passes will depend largely on who shows up in Tuesday’s off-year election. With little or nothing else on the ballot in many Snyderville Basin neighborhoods, complacent school district constituents may be swamped by their more agitated anti-bond counterparts in the city limits.

http://go.uen.org/52o

 

 


 

Guadalupe dream gets White House recognition

Deseret News commentary by columnist John Florez

 

It’s amazing what dreams, over an enchilada lunch, can produce. Little did I realize that, 50 years later, Father Jerald Merrill’s dream about a school for poor Mexican families would become a reality, let alone get national recognition. But then I should have known, since we were eating at La Morena Café, just another dream of Father Merrill’s.

After lunch, Father Merrill took me over to see where he would launch his dream. It was an old, dusty, musty, vacant church, with creaky floors and no lights located on 700 West off North Temple in Salt Lake City. With a crinkle in his eye and his impish smile, he asked, “What do you think?” Well, it’s just another mountain to climb and we have climbed others to help our community. It was the first building for the Guadalupe School, now a charter school, whose mission is to “teach economically disadvantaged children and non-English speaking adults the vision and skills needed to live productive, rewarding lives.”

http://go.uen.org/52n

 


 

Is your child a bully or a victim?

Deseret News commentary by columnist Erin Stewart

 

It’s not easy for parents to know if their child is being bullied, and even harder yet to admit that their sweet youngster might actually be a bully.

There are always going to be some parents who see all the signs and even have people tell them that their child is bullying other children but choose to ignore it. “He’s just being a kid,” they often say. “That other kid needs to learn to take a joke.”

But bullying is not a joke. It has led to life-or-death decisions for many children as technology has taken bullying to new levels. Kids can no longer escape to their homes for refuge. Instead, the bullying follows them on cellphones and social media accounts so that some children are victims of bullying 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

http://go.uen.org/52H

 


 

 

Utah can lead nation in ending the poverty cycle

Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Natalie Gochnour, associate dean in the David Eccles School of Business and director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah, and Jon S. Pierpont, executive director of the Utah Department of Workforce Services and chair of the Intergenerational Welfare Reform Commission

 

Utah continues to garner attention from national leaders in Washington D.C. The U.S. Senate Committee on Finance asked for testimony last week from Utah’s Department of Workforce Services about Utah’s efforts to help families overcome poverty.

We live in a prosperous state, yet some Utah families struggle to reap the full benefits of the rising tide of economic opportunity. Our nationally acclaimed economic expansion is helping families overcome situational poverty — a temporary condition caused perhaps by losing a job or a medical crisis. But a far more entrenched form of economic hardship is intergenerational poverty, and it exhibits patterns from one generation to the next that make it a much more persistent problem. This was the focus of the discussion with senators in Washington last Thursday.

Though families experiencing intergenerational poverty seem less affected by our economic growth, it is precisely because of our economic strength that we can turn greater attention to breaking out of this cycle of poverty.

One out of every four adults receiving public assistance in Utah today also received it when they were children. Nearly one-third of Utah children today are at risk of remaining in poverty as they grow up. If this pattern of poverty and reliance on public assistance isn’t altered, then thousands of our current and future citizens will not realize their full potential. This lost human capital is a human tragedy and not something we can afford if we want to take our economy to the next level and continue to prosper.

The state is extensively studying this issue through intensive research. Four key focus areas have shown to have the greatest impact on child well-being: early childhood development, education, family health, and family economic stability.

http://go.uen.org/52l

 


 

 

Utah must nurture curiosity and creativity to have a world-class school system

Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Lynn Stoddard, who retired after 36 years to teach about “Educating for Human Greatness”

 

The people of Utah seem to be satisfied with a school system that is average or “common” in nearly every way. In a recent study, carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit, the U.S. was ranked 17th in an assessment of education systems of 50 countries. It is well known that Utah ranks last of the states in funding and somewhat better in performance. Are we satisfied to be near the bottom of states in a country that ranks only 17th in the world? Why not aim to be first?

A growing number of people are blaming our mediocre school system on the U.S. Department of Education for imposing a “common core curriculum” and holding each state hostage with funding.

Why does the 10th Amendment leave education as a responsibility of the states? The framers of this amendment must have had a premonition about the creative potential of leaving education in the hands of ordinary people — even of leaving it in the minds of students. What would happen if each student were free, with guidance from parents and teachers, to design his or her own education?

http://go.uen.org/52k

 

 


 

 

Money is nice, but teachers need more

Salt Lake Tribune letter from Julie Hamilton

 

For the past week I have been wrestling with the article, “Turnover and staffing lead to less experienced teachers on SLC’s west side.” I am currently in my second year teaching, and I love my students and profession. Yet regardless of the joy and love, at the end day/week I am exhausted and sometimes discouraged.

So give the new teachers a break!

After graduation we often jump into jobs in lower achieving and more diverse schools because, in simple terms, we want to make a difference.

We dream of becoming the educators Carol Dweck describes as those who help learners to develop a growth mindset and achieve the unachievable. We strive to be positive role models, extend warm smiles, and work tirelessly creating lesson plans.

http://go.uen.org/52D

 

 


 

 

Schools should cut back on standardized tests

Daily Utah Chronicle letter from EVAN TENG

 

Even the Federal government agrees that, contrary to some teachers’ beliefs, there is such a thing as too much testing. In addition to causing unnecessary stress and determining a large portion of a student’s grade, tests can be detrimental to learning. A new federal program called the Testing Action Plan aims to combat excessive standardized testing by putting in place guidelines that define excessive testing and giving schools resources to reduce the amounts of tests they give out.

Testing hurts more than it helps because it encourages teachers to focus on the subjects that are going to be covered in the test rather than subjects that the teachers or school want to cover.

http://go.uen.org/52N

 

 


 

 

Streamline standardized tests

Compromising on this issue is itself a test of the ability to do right by students.

USA Today editorial

 

Standardized tests — the favorite target of conservatives, teachers’ unions, many school officials and parents — faced a new barrage of criticism in recent days.

A respected group of urban school leaders highlighted the burdensome, often redundant, number of tests students take to fulfill federal, state and district requirements. The Obama administration, which until that report had never met a test it didn’t like, immediately did a 180, acknowledging that testing needs to be reduced. Finally, scores announced last week on the nation’s gold-standard math test fell for the first time in 25 years. Reading scores either flat-lined or dropped.

All this could turn out to be good news for education — if it spurs needed changes. But that will happen only if the administration, state officials, teachers’ unions and Republicans and Democrats in Congress can call a truce in their bitter war over testing and agree to some smart  trade-offs. Yes, streamline the testing regime. No, don’t eliminate mandated tests that provide long-needed accountability and don’t drop test progress as part of teacher evaluations.

http://go.uen.org/538

 

 


 

 

Test results don’t cure inequity: Opposing view

We need to understand what really works to close opportunity gaps.

USA Today op-ed by Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association

 

If taking a patient’s temperature cured disease, the world would be much healthier. Medical professionals will tell you that knowing there’s a fever begs the question: Why? A thorough examination follows, ultimately leading to a diagnosis — which in and of itself — is not a cure.

The same goes for the scourge of inequity in our schools. Some would say the only way to ensure opportunity for all is to focus on standardized test results. But if you listen to the professionals, the educators, we will tell you that it is far from a cure. In fact, we’ll tell you the very same thing — the test results should prompt more involved inquiry.

Yet the results are the basis for critical decisions for our students and their schools. Ultimately, those decisions — punishments of students and schools — have only exacerbated the inequity in the system. It’s akin to knowing there’s a fever and then deciding — based solely on that fever’s presence — to perform surgery.

http://go.uen.org/539

 


 

 

The Test­Optional Surge

New York Times op-ed by CECILIA CAPUZZI SIMON, who teaches writing at American University

 

For those who argue that the SAT and ACT should be dropped as criteria for college admission, this has been an affirming year. Forty­seven colleges and universities have announced test­optional policies, bringing the total to more than 850, according to FairTest, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing.

There has also been a shift in the type and selectivity of institutions taking up the banner: 46 percent of top­tier liberal arts colleges, and a good number of large research universities, no longer require the tests. Temple, Montclair State, Brandeis, Wesleyan and George Washington University as well as Bryn Mawr and Ithaca College are just a few that have opened up their admissions processes since 2013.

The appeal is twofold. Dropping the SAT/ACT requirement typically increases applications — an additional 250 on average, according to a 2014 study at the University of Georgia. In theory, schools can then reject more applicants and appear more selective. And, with low scores out of the tabulation, the average test score — reported to U.S. News & World Report for its all­important rankings — rises.

That’s a cynic’s view, say admissions officials, noting that the policy also expands access to those who fare poorly on standardized tests, especially minorities and the socioeconomically disadvantaged. While studies show that the SAT and ACT predict freshman G.P.A. when combined with high school grade­point average, a new study has found that the caliber of student does not suffer when the test scores are eliminated

http://go.uen.org/52i

 

 


 

 

We don’t test students as much as people think we do. And the stakes aren’t really that high.

Washington Post op-ed by Kevin Huffman, a fellow with New America and served as commissioner of education in Tennessee from 2011 to 2015

 

Last Saturday, President Obama made a dramatic Facebook video announcement. In an apparent about-face from his administration’s education policy over the past seven years, Obama declared that schools in this country are over-testing. “I . . . hear from parents who rightly worry about too much testing, and from teachers who feel so much pressure to teach to a test that it takes the joy out of teaching and learning both for them and for the students,” the president said. “I want to fix that.” In the announcement and the subsequently released Testing Action Plan, the administration aimed to set hard limits on the volume of testing and the use of testing data.

The move was swiftly hailed by many on the left. “Finally, Obama Denounces America’s Standardized Testing Obsession,” was the headline at Mother Jones. Salon reacted with open schadenfreude, predicting that Obama’s “stunning reversal . . . could spell doom for ‘reformers.’ ” Such reactions may be exactly what the White House hoped for — breathless, over-the-top hyperbole from the party’s base in support of a major policy shift that does, well, pretty much nothing.

But the dramatic flair of the president’s announcement and the elated response from many critics of education reform obscured some important truths. First, students are tested less than many people believe. Second, in places where students spend too much time taking tests, local schools and districts — not federal or state policies — tend to be the culprits. And third, the notion of standardized tests as “high stakes” is vastly overstated.

http://go.uen.org/52x

 

 


 

 

‘Hamilton’ is saving NYC’s education system

New York Post op-ed by Charles Sahm, director of education policy at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

 

‘Hamilton” is on a roll.

Amazingly, the cast recording from a Broadway musical about the nation’s first treasury secretary is near the top of the rap/hip-hop charts. Billboard gave its soundtrack its first-ever five-star review.

Its creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, won a MacArthur genius award. Miranda’s masterpiece will surely win an armful of Tonys and Grammys — but there is one more award he should be considered for: Teacher of the Year.

Last week, the producers of “Hamilton” announced a partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation through which 20,000 underprivileged New York City high-school students will be given tickets for $10 (one Hamilton).

Students will be required to complete a research project on a historical figure, event or document and then turn their research into an “artistic expression,” such as a song or poem, which

they’ll then share with the cast of “Hamilton” before special student-only matinees.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, a nonprofit devoted to improving history education, is overseeing the project. It’s also creating an online Hamilton curriculum that encompasses the man and the musical.

The news couldn’t come at a better time. The decline of civic education and students’ knowledge of US history is alarming. One recent survey found that only 43 percent of the nation’s 17-year-olds were able to place the Civil War within the correct 50-year time period.

http://go.uen.org/53l

 

 

 

 

 

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NATIONAL NEWS

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Big Education Groups to Congress: Finish ESEA Reauthorization

Education Week

 

Attention members of Congress: You’ve come really far on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Please finish the job so schools don’t have to live under the very outdated and pretty much universally despised No Child Left Behind Act (aka the current version of ESEA) for yet another school year.

That’s the message ten big-name education organizations representing teachers, school administrators, principals and state officials are taking to Facebook, Twitter, Politico, and other media through a weeklong digital ad campaign.

Here’s a quote from the ad: “Please pass a final bill that focuses on opportunity for all students, no matter their ZIP code. Great progress has already been made on this legislation. We can’t let it slip away. Our students cannot wait any longer for a revised law.”

The groups include: the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the American Association of School Administrators, the Association of School Business Officials International, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National School Boards Association, the National Association of State Boards of Education, the National PTA, and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

http://go.uen.org/53f

 


 

 

Audit: Too much testing in schools

Albuquerque (NM) Journal

 

Students are spending too much time taking standardized tests.

That’s a criticism that’s been aimed at the state Public Education Department in recent years.

On Thursday, New Mexico Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera said an audit shows that many school districts are overtesting by duplicating testing efforts – for instance, district-mandated and state-mandated exams often look at the same things.

The first-of-its-kind New Mexico Assessment Inventory, released Thursday, shows that 56 out of 89 school districts, or 63 percent, are duplicating assessments in at least one area.

http://go.uen.org/52t

 


 

 

So what if teachers hate No Child Left Behind?

Washington Post Magazine

 

On a warm September evening along coastal Georgia, Lily Eskelsen García, the face of 3 million teachers, paused to balance another plate of fried chicken and shake another hand. It was early evening and she was standing in a room at the Savannah Arts Academy, surrounded by parents, teachers and students.

For 12 hours, García, president of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, had been visiting schools, taking photos with teachers and chatting up students. Now it was time to give The Speech, the one about how standardized testing has ruined public education.

“No Child Left Untested is an unmitigated disaster that has hurt kids for 13 years,” she said, referring to the Bush-era law that relied on test scores to measure progress at disadvantaged schools and to evaluate teachers. “It’s reduced what teachers are supposed to do to what will fit on a standardized test, and I don’t know one kid in the world who comes that way. Shame on us if we can’t find a better solution.”

http://go.uen.org/52A

 

 


 

 

Schools Enlist Parents to Bridge Cultural Barriers

Education Week

 

Maxine Nguyen used to think getting her four children to school and making sure they finished their homework was enough.

“From my culture, we usually leave it to the teachers to deal with education,” said Nguyen, of Kent, Wash., who came from South Vietnam at age 4 as a refugee and had painful memories of being treated differently by teachers because of her ethnicity.

But her attitude changed once she got to know teachers, administrators, and other parents though a process in which her local school district was redesigning strategies to engage parents. Nguyen said she began to see teachers as fellow human beings who were approachable. The experience made her feel more confident asking questions, allowed her to better understand what was happening in her children’s classrooms, and prompted her to volunteer at the school.

Increasingly, schools are working to bridge the cultural differences to get families engaged more deeply in their children’s education. This means welcoming families, visiting their homes, listening to their experiences, and explaining the educational system so that families can recognize when biases are hurting their children’s learning and work to overcome them.

http://go.uen.org/53e

 


 

 

F.B.I. Tool to Identify Extremists Is Criticized

New York Times

 

The F.B.I. is about to introduce an interactive program it developed for teachers and students, aimed at training them to prevent young people from being drawn into violent extremism. But Muslim, Arab and other religious and civil rights leaders who were invited to preview the program have raised strong objections, saying it focuses almost entirely on Islamic extremism, which they say has not been a factor in the epidemic of school shootings and attacks in the United States.

The program, according to those who saw it at F.B.I. headquarters, called “Don’t Be a Puppet,” leads the viewer through a series of games and tips intended to teach how to identify someone who may be falling prey to radical extremists. With each successful answer, scissors cut a puppet’s string, until the puppet is free.

In the campaign against terrorists such as the Islamic State, law enforcement agencies have been stepping up efforts to identify those susceptible to recruitment. The agencies have enlisted the cooperation and advice of religious and community leaders. But the controversy over the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s new online tool is one more indication that there is no consensus on who should be involved in detecting and reporting suspects, and where to draw the line between prevention and racial or religious profiling.

http://go.uen.org/52y

 


 

 

Spring Valley High students stage walkout in support of fired deputy

(Charleston, SC) The State

 

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC — A group of Spring Valley High School students walked out of class Friday morning, peacefully protesting the firing of school-resource officer Ben Fields.

Fields, a Richland County Sheriff’s Department deputy, was fired Wednesday after video surfaced of him forcibly removing a Spring Valley student from a classroom Monday.

“They said, ‘Bring back Fields.’ Everybody was saying that,” Spring Valley senior Ty’Juan Fulton, 18, said of the former deputy.

Plans for Friday’s demonstration were hatched on social media and by word of mouth, said Fulton, a football player.

Fields also was a coach for the Spring Valley football team.

A racially diverse group of about 100 students gathered in Spring Valley’s atrium about 10 a.m. Friday to express their opinions about Fields’ firing, which followed Sheriff Leon Lott’s condemnation of the deputy’s actions.

http://go.uen.org/52z

 

 


 

 

S.C. Student Arrest: Arne Duncan Says ‘Schools Must Be Safe Havens’

Education Week

 

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stopped to address civil rights and school discipline at a press conference in Memphis, Tenn., today, a few days after internet videos of a violent school arrest in South Carolina drew mass attention to the issues.

“Our schools must be a pathway to opportunity, not a pipeline to prison,” he said.

Duncan is no stranger to discussions about these issues. The Obama administration, including the departments of education and justice, have taken lead roles in challenging schools to “rethink discipline” by limiting suspensions, reworking zero-tolerance policies, and ensuring that students of all races and ethnicities receive equal treatment at school.

“This week we’ve been forced to again confront how far we still have to go in the struggle for true equality,” Duncan said in Memphis.

Because the Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation into the South Carolina incident, Duncan said he couldn’t address specifics of that situation. But he did use the incident as a spring board to discuss broader issues:

http://go.uen.org/535

 


 

 

Jeb Bush gave this black community a charter school. Then he moved on.

Washington Post

 

MIAMI — Six weeks before he was set to open Florida’s first charter school, Jeb Bush had yet to recruit a principal. Then he met Katrina Wilson-Davis, a 32-year-old ­social studies teacher with no management experience but a positive spirit that gave him hope.

“We need someone who carries a knife in her teeth and can swing through the vines,” Wilson-Davis recalls Bush telling her on that summer day in 1996.

Recovering from an ego-bruising election loss, Bush was looking for chances to soften his image as a callous Republican who proclaimed he would do “probably nothing” as governor to help African Americans. As a private citizen likely to run for governor again in 1998, Bush created the Liberty City Charter School as a way to educate black children from Miami’s poorest neighborhoods. The school would give him a way to mend ties with the black community while testing a controversial, conservative education theory that was drawing the ire of teachers unions.

“My friends told me I was being used,” Wilson-Davis remembered. She figured it was worth a try. “I said: ‘So? Everyone’s being used.’ ”

As he runs for president nearly two decades later, Bush points to his time working on the school as evidence of his early commitment to a reform agenda. He has said the experience “still shapes the way I see the deep-seated challenges facing urban communities today.” He points to the school’s opening as “one of the happiest, proudest moments of my life.”

But for Wilson-Davis and others who walked the halls of Liberty City, that happy moment has been obscured by the complicated years that have followed.

http://go.uen.org/52u

 

 


 

 

Success Academy Founder Calls ‘Got to Go’ List an Anomaly

New York Times

 

Eva S. Moskowitz, the founder of the Success Academy charter school network, said on Friday that a list singling out children under the heading “Got to Go” was an anomaly and that the network did not have a practice of pushing out students it saw as difficult.

Ms. Moskowitz said that as soon as the network learned about the list, Success Academy quickly reprimanded the principal who had created it.

The list included the names of 16 students. It was created in December at the direction of Candido Brown, who had just become the principal of Success Academy Fort Greene.

Ms. Moskowitz said the school, which then went through second grade, had severe disciplinary problems. Mr. Brown previously said in an email that he believed he could not turn the school around if the 16 students remained.

http://go.uen.org/537

 

 


 

 

Texas Case Mulls if Home-school Kids Have to Learn Something

Associated Press

 

AUSTIN, Texas — Laura McIntyre began educating her nine children more than a decade ago inside a vacant office at an El Paso motorcycle dealership she ran with her husband and other relatives.

Now the family is embroiled in a legal battle the Texas Supreme Court hears next week that could have broad implications on the nation’s booming home-school ranks. The McIntyres are accused of failing to teach their children educational basics because they were waiting to be transported to heaven with the second coming of Jesus Christ.

At issue: Where do religious liberty and parental rights to educate one’s own children stop and obligations to ensure home-schooled students ever actually learn something begin?

“Parents should be allowed to decide how to educate their children, not whether to educate their children,” said Rachel Coleman, executive director of the Massachusetts-based Coalition for Responsible Home Education.

http://go.uen.org/53d

 


 

 

Many Children Under 5 Are Left to Their Mobile Devices, Survey Finds

New York Times

 

A small survey of parents in Philadelphia found that three­quarters of their children had been given tablets, smartphones or iPods of their own by age 4 and had used the devices without supervision, researchers reported on Monday.

The survey was not nationally representative and relied on self­reported data from parents. But experts say the surprising result adds to growing evidence that the use of electronic devices has become deeply woven into the experience of childhood.

Dr. Michael Rich, the director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital, said he suspected that exposure to mobile devices among children elsewhere “is not all that different” from what was described by the parents in Philadelphia.

“Based on my observations of families with whom I work, I would not be surprised if these levels of device ownership and use were similar in many families,” he said

http://go.uen.org/536

 

 


 

Muslim students report bullying at twice the rate of non-Muslim peers, survey shows

Los Angeles Times

 

Muslim students in California schools report being bullied and discriminated against at significantly higher rates than their peers, according to a study released Friday by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The report is based on a 2014 statewide survey of more than 600 Muslim American students ages 11-18, who described incidents of discomfort in the classroom, cyberbullying, negative reactions to wearing a hijab and to religious-accommodation requests, negativity from teachers and increased scrutiny after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

http://go.uen.org/52w

 

 


 

 

Wyoming proposes new model for online education

(Cheyenne) Wyoming Tribune Eagle

 

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education is taking steps to improve students’ options in K-12 education.

The department’s Distance Education Task Force is recommending new state distance education models that would provide greater support for both traditional students and students enrolled full time in online schools.

If approved by the state Legislature, the new models would allow traditional students in brick-and-mortar schools to take single courses online if the courses are not offered within the student’s school.

The new models also would allow students enrolled full time in online schools to take single courses offered only at brick-and-mortar schools, such as band, welding or art.

http://go.uen.org/53m

 


 

 

Teens’ sex talks with parents tied to less risky behavior

Reuters

 

Talking about sex with parents, especially moms, can influence teen behavior including condom use, according to a new review.

But while talks with parents may be one important factor in helping youth make safer choices, it is clearly not the only factor, because the link between parent communication and teen sexual behavior was relatively small, said lead author Laura Widman of North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

Parents could talk about other topics that impact risky sexual choices, such as substance use, peer pressure, and a lack of communication about safety between dating partners prior to engaging in sex, Widman told Reuters Health by email.

The review included 52 studies with more than 25,000 teens, all including teen reports of communication with one or both parents and measures of safer sex behavior.

Teens who reported having these conversations with their parents also tended to exhibit safer sex behavior and were more likely to use condoms or other contraception. The effect was strongest for girls and for teens who spoke to their mothers, specifically.

http://go.uen.org/53a

 

A copy of the study

http://go.uen.org/53b (JAMA Pediatrics)

 


 

 

Urban school districts are among least integrated

Meanwhile, many once overwhelmingly white suburban districts are increasingly diverse.

Minneapolis (MN) Star Tribune

 

Elementary students in Minneapolis and St. Paul attend schools that are more racially segregated than they have been in a generation.

More than half of elementary schools in the two districts now have 80 percent or more minority students. In Minneapolis, a district that was fully integrated in the 1980s, two schools have student populations that are almost entirely white and 19 schools are more than 80 percent minority, according to a Star Tribune analysis of enrollment data.

Meanwhile, many once overwhelmingly white suburban districts are increasingly diverse, a development that researchers say should produce far better educational outcomes for minority students. In Shakopee, minority enrollment has more than doubled since 2000, and district officials have drawn boundaries to ensure those students are distributed among its six elementary schools.

The resegregation of urban schools, while a national phenomenon, has been cited as one reason students of color in Minneapolis and St. Paul so badly trail their white peers in test scores, graduation rates and other measures of progress. Test scores in the most minority-concentrated schools lag integrated schools in the metro by about 25 percentage points.

http://go.uen.org/52v

 

 


 

 

Group Objects to New York District’s Transgender Policy

Associated Press

 

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A Christian advocacy group wants a western New York school district to stop letting a transgender student use the boys’ locker rooms and restrooms, saying it violates other students’ privacy.

In a letter to Le Roy High School Principal Timothy McArdle, the Alliance Defending Freedom says the district’s transgender policy also threatens student safety, parental authority, religious freedom and the learning environment.

http://go.uen.org/53c

 

 


 

 

Broad transgender policy vote fails

Sioux Falls (SD) Argus Leader

 

A pair of policies that would have required transgender people to define their gender by the anatomy listed on their birth certificate failed in a committee vote Friday.

On a 6-5 vote, the South Dakota High School Activities Association Interim Committee moved not to advance a measure that would have required transgender high school athletes to sign up for activities based on the anatomical sex listed on their birth certificate. And on a 4-7 vote the committee killed a policy that would require broadly that people define their gender by the sex listed on their birth certificate.

Currently, transgender students who want to join a sex-specific team or activity must submit a request to the association as well as documents that affirm their gender identity and ensure they aren’t identifying with a certain gender with a purpose of “gaining an unfair competitive advantage.”

http://go.uen.org/53k

 

 


 

From ‘Book Strap’ To ‘Burrito’: A History Of The School Backpack

NPR

 

My editor, Steve Drummond, isn’t that old of a guy. He’s from Michigan — Wayne Memorial High School, class of ’79.

But when he starts talking about backpacks, he dips into a “back in my day” tone that makes you think of a creaky rocking chair and suspenders: “You know, Lee, when I was in school, no one had a backpack!

“You just carried your books in your arms.” He says it like he’s talking about sending a telegram with Morse code. “No one really thought about it, that’s just what you did.”

And, like all good memories, he tops it off with some commentary about the younger generation.

“Nowadays, backpacks are everywhere. It’s almost impossible for younger people to imagine a world without them.”

Right about then, I started to tune him out. I think he went off about how our phones are practically glued to our hands or something like that.

But it’s true. I’m one of those younger people, and I can’t imagine going to school without my backpack.

http://go.uen.org/533

 

 

 

————————————————————

CALENDAR

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USOE Calendar

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

 

 

UEN News

http://www.uen.org

 

 

November 3:

Utah State Charter School Board site visit

9 a.m., American Preparatory Academy #2, Draper

http://www.utah.gov/pmn/sitemap/notice/297425.html

 

Legislative Management Committee meeting

Noon, 450 State Capitol

http://le.utah.gov/Interim/2015/html/00004927.htm

 

 

November 5:

Utah State Board of Education study session and committee meetings

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

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

 

 

November 6:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

8 a.m., 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=INTEDU

 

 

November 23:

Charter School Funding Task Force

1 p.m.,  445 State Capitol

http://le.utah.gov/Interim/2015/html/0000

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