Education News Roundup

"I Voted Sticker" by Bill.Roehl/CC/flickr

“I Voted Sticker” by Bill.Roehl/CC/flickr

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:

 

Speaker Hughes does not anticipate a tax cut in the 2016 Legislature.

http://go.uen.org/53r (UP)

 

Gov. Herbert will not form a nominating committee for the Utah State Board of Education.

http://go.uen.org/54m (Utah Governor’s Office)

 

GOP gubernatorial candidate Jonathan Johnson discusses the Common Core in Utah.

http://go.uen.org/54e (WSU Signpost)

 

KSL reviews today’s school bond elections in Davis and Park City districts … and very briefly discusses those in Tooele, Wasatch and Duchesne.

http://go.uen.org/53P (KSL)

 

Herald Journal looks at Utah’s new civics test required for high school graduation.

http://go.uen.org/54c (LHJ)

 

Nationally, many are still trying to find a cause for the drop in NAEP math and reading scores.

http://go.uen.org/541 (Ed Week)

 

Wall Street Journal looks at Common Core financial costs.

http://go.uen.org/53F (WSJ)

 

The Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights makes a determination in the use of high school locker rooms by transgendered students.

http://go.uen.org/53u (Chicago Tribune)

and http://go.uen.org/53v (NYT)

and http://go.uen.org/53x (WaPo)

and http://go.uen.org/53y (CSM)

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

and http://go.uen.org/548 (National Review)

and http://go.uen.org/53X (Reuters)

and http://go.uen.org/53Y (AP)

and http://go.uen.org/53A (CNN)

or a copy of the letter

http://go.uen.org/53Z (DocumentCloud)

 

 

 

 

 

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TODAY’S HEADLINES

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UTAH

 

Will the 2016 Legislature Cut Taxes? Hughes Says ‘No’

 

Overstock.com chairman of the board running for Utah governor

 

$500M in school bonds up for vote Tuesday

 

New civics test required for graduation

 

Surveys: A new Provo High School on west side a better investment

 

Utah Schools Fight Chronic Absenteeism

 

Charges filed in foiled charter school shooting case

 

Cyber attack hits Salt Lake City School District’s website, phones, grading system

 

Britton Shipp making most of ‘miracle’ second chance

 

Sandy teacher gets Google donation to fund project for special needs students

 

Boy with cerebral palsy scores final touchdown of Pleasant Grove game

 

Educators Look to Ramp up Concurrent Enrollment in Oklahoma

 

Why a ‘Teacher of the Year’ quit education after 21 years

 


 

 

OPINION & COMMENTARY

 

There is a better way than ESL programs

 

Do we really need school resource officers?

 

America’s Mediocre Test Scores

Education crisis or poverty crisis?

 

Pell grants should go (only) to needy students who are ready for college

 

A push to enroll in AP calculus spurs a school to widen its program

 

Evaluating Online Charter Schools

 

Walton Foundation’s new education investment strategy: Scary or what?

 

Is the decline in US private schools making public schools worse?

 

Getting Lost While Trying to Follow the Money

Special Education Finance in Charter Schools

 

The Great German School Turnaround

The European country managed to raise test scores while reducing educational inequality. But with the dramatic influx of migrants, will its success last?

 


 

 

NATION

 

Drop in U.S. Math, Reading Scores Prompts Blame Game

Blame Laid on Economy, Demography, Standards

 

Financial Woes Plague Common-Core Rollout

After 45 states adopt educational standards, many have second thoughts

 

Help for homework help: Teaching parents Common Core math

 

Feds: Palatine district discriminated against transgender student by barring her from girls’ locker room

 

Here’s why $7 billion didn’t help America’s worst schools

What two troubled high schools tell us about why the government got so little for so much money.

 

Better pay, more time to plan and one other thing teachers want from you

 

Rift Emerges Among Gun Owners Over Concealing Weapons in Schools

 

The Digital Disparities Facing Lower-Income Teenagers

 

Lessons Sought on Serving Native American Students

Interventions at district level crucial

 

Parents protest ‘McDonald’s diet’ ambassador for speaking in schools

A McDonald’s “brand ambassador” speaking to schools across the country about how he lost 37 pounds by eating every meal at McDonald’s for 90 days has drawn the ire of parents who believe it’s just blatant advertising to students about fast food.

 

Many KC area schools are closing for Tuesday’s Royals parade

Some charter schools and private schools are also closing

 

 

 

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UTAH NEWS

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Will the 2016 Legislature Cut Taxes? Hughes Says ‘No’

 

Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes has not yet seen a proposal to cut taxes in the upcoming 2016 Legislature, nor does he anticipate one.

“We had a $16 million shortfall in the General Fund” last fiscal year; Hughes told UtahPolicy in a wide-range interview recently.

“We may have a surplus in the education fund” in the current year’s budget.

“But we need to very careful” about any tax cuts in 2016 – an election year for GOP Gov. Gary Herbert, all the 75 House members and half of the 29-member state Senate.

And it’s always nice in Republican-controlled Utah to give some small tax cut in an election year. But so far, said Hughes, he hasn’t heard of any such bill or plan coming forward.

Nor is it likely to have any significant tax hike in the Legislature.

http://go.uen.org/53r (UP)

 

 


 

 

Statement on Utah State Board nominating committee

 

SALT LAKE CITY – Gov. Gary R. Herbert announced today that he will not convene a nominating committee for the 2016 Utah State Board of Education elections. Jon Cox, spokesman for Gov. Herbert issued the following statement:

“The governor will not assemble the nominating committee because of last year’s court ruling that the current process is unconstitutional. Several legislative solutions to this problem were proposed during the 2015 general session, but none of them passed both the House and Senate. The governor encourages legislative leaders to continue working together to find a resolution to this important issue.”

Previously, the committee met for the purpose of recruiting, nominating, vetting, and ultimately recommending candidates to the governor for placement on the ballot.

http://go.uen.org/54m (Utah Governor’s Office)

 


 

 

Overstock.com chairman of the board running for Utah governor

 

Next year, Utah Governor Gary Herbert will run for his second full term in office. Herbert will face a challenger for the Republican nomination in next year’s primary election though, as Overstock.com Chairman of the Board Jonathan Johnson thinks that it is time for a change in Utah’s leadership.

“I think that the quality of leader that we hire or elect determines the quality of the government that we get,” Johnson said. “(Utah Governor Gary Herbert) will have served seven and a half years—or nearly two full terms—as governor. While Utah doesn’t have term limits on governors, I think it’s time for new leadership and that’s why I’m running for governor.”

A graduate of BYU, Johnson has worked at Overstock.com since 2002 when he was first hired on as general counsel to the company. Johnson worked his way through the company before finally being named chairman of the board in 2014. He said that his experience with Overstock.com is what makes him a good candidate for the Republican nomination.

“I think I have the leadership skills as part of my background that helped me build a company from a small startup to an over a billion dollar company,” Johnson said.

Johnson said that the main issues he is focusing his campaign around are changing Utah’s education system and making Utah less reliant on the Federal government providing money for the state budget. Johnson pointed to Utah’s 2010 implementation of Common Core in its public education system as something he would like to see changed.

“Under Governor Herbert’s leadership, Utah has adopted the Common Core, which is a nationwide educations standard that brought federal money with it, but it also brought non-Utah sensibilities into our schools,” he said.

While in Logan the previous month, Johnson said he talked with a mother who brought up concerns about the content in her daughter’s grammar homework. While he was unable to recall what the content specifically said, Johnson said that it was not right for children’s homework to contain a political bias.

“The sentences that she described to me were very progressive in their content and to have grammar homework be ideologically charged in one way or another is inappropriate,” Johnson said. “You can teach grammar without teaching political ideology.”

Johnson also wants to see change in education at the local level. He said that if he was elected governor he would give more control to school districts about what kind of standards they taught and what national tests they would use to measure progress.

http://go.uen.org/54e (WSU Signpost)

 


 

 

$500M in school bonds up for vote Tuesday

 

PARK CITY — On Tuesday, voters in a handful of school districts are going to be asked to help out with some big bonds in part to compensate for Utah’s anticipated population growth.

Davis County is proposing a bond that is nearly $300 million.

In Park City, $56 million is needed to cover several projects, including one that would likely move a football field from its current location.

School districts said the money is necessary, but there is also some strong opposition.

http://go.uen.org/53P (KSL)

 

 


 

 

New civics test required for graduation

 

Starting this school year, students will have to pass a civics test in order to graduate from high school.

The new requirement was passed by the Utah Legislature during the 40-day 2015 session to meet a desire to make sure Utahns have an understanding of the country and citizenship, said Curt Jenkins, the director of curriculum in the Cache County School District.

“I think they thought that they were lacking that in the school and wanted them to know about the citizenship test and everything that it entails. I think that’s why it was put into place,” Jenkins said. “Other states have done something similar. I don’t know if they required a test or if it’s something that has been put into their curriculum.”

The test consists of 50 questions from the civics portion of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization test. Schools can either administer a prepared test or create one of its own. Questions include naming a branch of government, how many years U.S. senators are elected for and what happened at the constitutional convention.

Students can take the test starting in eighth grade and have to pass it by the time they graduate in order to receive their diploma. Students can still graduate if they opt out of the civics exam but they will not receive their diploma.

http://go.uen.org/54c (LHJ)

 

 


 

 

Surveys: A new Provo High School on west side a better investment

 

Several major engineering studies and surveys were reviewed Tuesday morning by the Provo City School District Board of Education regarding a 42-acre site that is the potential future home of Provo High School.

Everything from geotech engineering surveys, civil engineering surveys and traffic engineering surveys have been conducted during the past 60 days by engineers with Westland Construction and FFKR Architects.

Many of the surveys drew one primary conclusion: Rebuilding Provo High School and building a school on the west side of town will cost relatively the same, but a new school is a better investment when considering the necessity of temporary structures if the current school was to be rebuilt.

http://go.uen.org/54g (PDH)

 


 

 

Utah Schools Fight Chronic Absenteeism

 

Ron Tolman, Superintendent at Box Elder County is one of four Utah Superintendents to sign a “Call to Action” Pledge. Tolman believes being present in class is a top priority.

“There’s a direct correlation between student attendance and their performance and success in school. Those who are chronically absent, are those that we struggle helping succeed. Those that are here on a regular basis seem to do much better.”

The Call to Action is a nationwide pledge that commits schools to improving attendance. The program is sponsored by seven national organizations and gives schools access to tools and learning opportunities to improve attendance. Over 200 Superintendents from school boards across the United States, including four from Utah have signed the pledge.

http://go.uen.org/54a (UPR)

 


 

 

Charges filed in foiled charter school shooting case

 

MARRIOTT-SLATERVILLE — Criminal charges have been filed in juvenile court against two of the three students suspected of plotting a drive-by shooting at Venture Academy charter school, according to the Weber County Sheriff’s office.

The shooting was foiled by a fellow student on Monday, Oct. 19.

The main suspect, a 15-year-old male, was charged with one count of threats of violence — a misdemeanor — as he is suspected of attempting to obtain ammunition for a gun and planning of doing the shooting. Detectives were never able to interview him because one of his parents invoked their right to an attorney.

The plot also allegedly involved two other 15-year-old males. One was in possession of a knife and razor blades, and was charged with one count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a minor, also a misdemeanor. The other was in possession of a .22 caliber magazine and ammunition, but could not be charged with a crime because those items alone do not constitute possession of a dangerous weapon, by statute, Weber County Sheriff’s officials say.

The gun was not found.

http://go.uen.org/53L (OSE)

 

http://go.uen.org/54h (SLT)

 

http://go.uen.org/54j (DN)

 

http://go.uen.org/54k (KUTV)

 

http://go.uen.org/53N (KTVX)

 

http://go.uen.org/54l (KSL)

 

http://go.uen.org/54i (KSTU)

 

 


 

Cyber attack hits Salt Lake City School District’s website, phones, grading system

 

SALT LAKE CITY — A cyber attack that began Friday afternoon overwhelmed the Salt Lake City School District’s website, phone system, and PowerSchool grading and homework tool off and on through Monday morning, according to district officials.

The so-called “denial of service” cyber attack made against the district is a type of online sabotage that uses a high volume of visits to a website or otherwise submits a barrage of information requests to that website’s servers, said Salt Lake City School District spokesman Jason Olsen. It is intended to overwhelm a network and make it inaccessible to regular users, he said.

http://go.uen.org/53K (DN)

 

http://go.uen.org/54d (PDH)

 

http://go.uen.org/53Q (KSL)

 

http://go.uen.org/53S (KUER)

 

 


 

 

Britton Shipp making most of ‘miracle’ second chance

 

With his father, the coach, spurring him on, and his mother close behind covering her eyes with worry, Britton Shipp gave a quick demonstration Monday of the willpower — some would say stubbornness — that has taken him so far in the past year, walking unassisted down two flights of stairs as he made his way out of class at Snow Canyon High School.

The amount of concentration it required was evident, even as he did his best to hide how much effort was going into each step, but by the last few he was making it look easy. At the bottom, the 17-year-old recognized a friend down the hall and made a point to walk over and say hello.

That’s how a lot of life goes for Shipp these days. Part head down, forging ahead with the determination to relearn how to use his body, and part chin up, comfortable in his own skin and never missing a chance to make someone else smile.

He is not the three-sport athlete he used to be, but he still gets to celebrate his share of victories.

“We partied it up with a bunch of my friends, and we celebrated how far I’ve come,” he said of passing the one-year mark since his injury. “I couldn’t even wiggle my toe.”

A year ago Sunday, Shipp was very close to death, his skull crushed beneath an all-terrain vehicle as it rolled over on a rainslicked dirt road near Pine Valley.

http://go.uen.org/53M (SGS)

 


 

 

Sandy teacher gets Google donation to fund project for special needs students

 

SANDY — Diane Nahalewski spent last summer scouring the Internet, garage sales and hardware stores for something that could make getting through the school day a little easier for her students.

As a resource teacher at Park Lane Elementary, Nahalewski — affectionately called “Mrs. N.” by her students — teaches about 30 special education students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Some days are easier than others, but most of the time, helping students “get the fidgetiness out” while completing their work has been difficult, she said.

After experimenting with PVC pipe, bungee cords, pool noodles and zip ties, Nahalewski was able to retrofit some of the students’ desks into standing desks, letting them either stand while they work or sit on a stool and move their feet with a foot swing that bounces.

Buying new standing desks for students would cost about $300 per student, plus the cost of a stool, but Nahalewski was able to convert existing desks for about $15 each. Even so, the school couldn’t afford to extend the project to every special needs student.

Until Monday.

In a surprise announcement, representatives of Google and national charity DonorsChoose.org came to the school and agreed to fully fund Nahalewski’s project for all of her students.

http://go.uen.org/53s (DN)

 

http://go.uen.org/53O (KTVX)

 

http://go.uen.org/54b (KSL)

 


 

 

Boy with cerebral palsy scores final touchdown of Pleasant Grove game

 

PLEASANT GROVE — With about four minutes left of the fourth quarter, football manager DJ Parker scored the final touchdown for the Pleasant Grove freshman football B-Team Saturday.

Parker has cerebral palsy and is the namesake for the team motto “DJ Strong,” which head football coach Jake Giles said is printed on the back of the team jerseys.

When “tough times” would come during a game, the kids would yell “DJ Strong,” Giles said, something he said means “never stop fighting.”

Saturday’s game was the Utah County Football Conference 9th Grade B-Team championship. During halftime, the team was losing, so a team captain stood and said they needed to play like they were DJ Strong.

In the end, they won, and Giles said he felt like that motivated the players.

The team was up 16 points prior to DJ scoring, and Giles called a timeout. He asked the coaching staff of the opposing team, Lehi, if they could have DJ run a touchdown, and they said it would be great.

http://go.uen.org/53R (KSL)

 

 


 

 

Educators Look to Ramp up Concurrent Enrollment in Oklahoma

 

Education experts think the time is right to get more Oklahoma high school students taking introductory college classes.

Experts say concurrent enrollment makes it more likely students will earn a degree. State and local education officials gathered in Tulsa Tuesday to talk about how to increase Oklahoma’s concurrent enrollment numbers.

Schusterman Foundation Co-chair Stacy Schusterman said Oklahoma has some catching up to do when it comes to offering high school juniors and seniors free college courses.

“For instance, in Utah, one-third of all juniors and seniors are enrolled in free concurrent enrollment courses, whereas in Oklahoma, we’re serving approximately 7 percent,” Schusterman said.

http://go.uen.org/54f ([Tulsa, OK] KWGS)

 


 

 

Why a ‘Teacher of the Year’ quit education after 21 years

 

Ann Marie Corgill took home Alabama’s 2014-15 Teacher of the Year award and was a finalist for the national accolade, but a “wall of bureaucracy” proved too brutal to keep colliding into, according to NPR.

http://go.uen.org/546 (DN)

 

 

 

 

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY

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There is a better way than ESL programs

Salt Lake Tribune letter from Tayler Clough

 

With more than 51,000 students who currently speak English as a second language, it’s time to kill English as a Second Language programs (ESL) and English Immersion programs (EI).

At their foundation, ESL and EI programs are predicated on the belief that a student’s native language is a deficit. Advocates of these programs argue that English at the expense of a student’s native language should be the central linguistic focus for students, claiming that early bilingual efforts resulted in failure (Galindo, 1997.)

ESL and EI claims could not be less true.

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

 


 

 

Do we really need school resource officers?

Salt Lake Tribune letter from Shonda Buckland

 

Many of us are aware of the Spring Valley High School incident that shows a student being slammed to the ground and then thrown across a classroom floor. This type of violence from school resource officers, or SROs, is not just a one-time incident, nor do their actions have to be overt to create an unsafe school environment for our children.

Many comments on this issue have stressed certain points, ranging from blaming the victim for non-compliance to saying the officer was within his right to take such brutal action. Yet we never seem to stop and ask ourselves critical questions: Why do we have SROs in school in the first place? What is the overall impact of SROs in our school systems? Do SROs have any specific training in student behavioral issues? Is it necessary to criminalize minor infractions, such as chewing gum, cell phone usage, verbal disruptions and typical student behaviors, which, in turn, relegates certain students to the school to prison pipeline?

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

 


 

 

America’s Mediocre Test Scores

Education crisis or poverty crisis?

Education Next commentary by Michael J. Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and Brandon L. Wright, managing editor and policy associate at Fordham

 

At a time when the national conversation is focused on lagging upward mobility, it is no surprise that many educators point to poverty as the explanation for mediocre test scores among U.S. students compared to those of students in other countries. If American teachers in struggling U.S. schools taught in Finland, says Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg, they would flourish, in part, because of “support from homes unchallenged by poverty.” Michael Rebell and Jessica Wolff at Columbia University’s Teachers College argue that middling test scores reflect a “poverty crisis” in the United States, not an “education crisis.” Adding union muscle to the argument, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten calls poverty “the elephant in the room” that accounts for poor student performance.

But does the room actually contain the elephant?

To prove that poverty is the major factor driving America’s meager academic achievement, at least two of the following three claims need to be established:

  1. Poverty is related to lower levels of student learning.
  2. America’s poor students perform worse than other countries’ poor students.
  3. The poverty rate in the United States is substantially higher than the rates in countries with which it is compared.

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

 


 

Pell grants should go (only) to needy students who are ready for college

Fordham Institute commentary by Chester E. Finn, Jr., Distinguished Senior Fellow and President Emeritus

 

What if federal aid for college students were focused exclusively on those who are truly ready for college? What if we stopped subsidizing remedial courses on campuses and insisted that students pursuing higher learning be prepared for college-level courses (none too strenuous nowadays in many places)? And what if those courses were also made available to young people even before they matriculated to a four-year program?

That would be a revelation and a revolution. But it might also do more to get young Americans and their schools serious about college readiness than anything we’ve dreamed up previously. It would save money. And it would end a great fraud that causes many college students to drop out—usually with heavy loan debts to either repay or default on—when they realize that they’ve been sorely misled as to their true preparedness for advanced-level academics.

Consider the irony: Today, federal financial support is available for eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds to study high school math and English after they reach a college campus (a vast percentage of them are required to take these remedial classes); yet such aid is unavailable to academically aggressive sixteen- and seventeen-year olds from low-income households, who could accelerate their academic progress by taking bona fide college-level work while still in high school. It’s also true, sadly, that many of these students attend schools that do not make these college-level courses available.

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

 

 


 

 

A push to enroll in AP calculus spurs a school to widen its program

Washington Post commentary by columnist Jay Matthews

 

Last year, when I first told the story of Jordan Fields, she was a 15-year-old sophomore struggling to get her suburban high school in New Jersey to believe she could become an engineer.

Despite an A in algebra and excellent state math test scores, she had to fight to get into the ninth-grade geometry course that would keep her on track to take Advanced Placement calculus during her senior year. When she struggled in Algebra 2 during her sophomore year, the teacher, instead of helping her, told her parents that “she just doesn’t seem to get it” and suggested that she get off the AP track and choose a less-challenging career.

The school’s AP record indicated that it was discouraging motivated students — particularly black ones, such as Jordan. That has long been a no-no in Washington-area schools.

James Hubert Blake High School in Montgomery County, for instance, is similar in size and demographics to Jordan’s school, Columbia High School in Maplewood, N.J., yet Blake produced 660 students in 2013 with passing scores in AP tests compared with only 524 at Columbia. Blacks are the largest ethnic group at both schools.

Most U.S. high schools are like Columbia, not Blake. They don’t seem to believe kids like Jordan can learn, even if they’re given extra help in thinking, writing and time management. Instead, such students are shunted off to easier stuff.

Jordan and her parents decided to do something about that. Their work has made a difference. Jordan is now a senior taking the AP BC Calculus course, the more advanced of the AP calculus offerings.

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

 


 

 

Evaluating Online Charter Schools

Wall Street Journal commentary

 

Center for Education Reform Senior Fellow and President Emeritus Jeanne Allen on a controversial new study of online charter schools.

http://go.uen.org/53t (video)

 


 

 

Walton Foundation’s new education investment strategy: Scary or what?

Washington Post commentary by columnist Valerie Strauss

 

The Walton Foundation is one of the biggest players in the education philanthropy world, having poured some $1.3 billion in K-12 education over the last two decades largely to support charter schools and fuel the “school choice” movement. But foundation honchos aren’t exactly satisfied with the results of their work and now they are using a new investment strategy to make a broader impact. For people who like the foundation’s philosophy, that’s good news. For those who think the foundation works against public education, it’s scary.

A paper recently released (see below) titled “Investing in Change: The Walton Family Foundation Charts a New Course” looks at what the foundation has — and hasn’t — accomplished in its effort to fulfill what foundation K-12 Program Director Marc Sternberg calls its “moral obligation” to provide families with high-quality school choices. It quotes Walton Family Foundation Executive Director Buddy Philpot, who wrote in the foundation’s 2014 annual report released this year:

“We know that empowering parents and students with options works, but now we want to do more. We have learned that while choice is vital, it is not enough.”

Choice isn’t enough? So what is? Apparently dismantling traditional public school systems and creating collections of charter schools across cities.  The report, written by Michelle Wisdom and published by Grantmakers for Education (a national network of hundreds of education philanthropies) says:

“There are a lot of similarities between the Walton Family Foundation’s approach and what has come to be called a ‘Portfolio Strategy’— a concept researched and supported by the Center for Reinventing Public Education (CRPE). Portfolio Strategy identifies the entire city as the unit of change with respect to school reform, and tasks education and civic leaders with developing a citywide system of high-quality, diverse, autonomous public schools. These systems prioritize school autonomy, parental empowerment, and system leader oversight and responsibility for accountability.”

Wisdom’s report points to Walton’s involvement in cities with big charter presences, including New Orleans, where nearly all of the schools are charters, and D.C., where nearly half of students attend charters. These are hailed as successes in school reform. In the section about D.C., the report goes so far as to credit charter schools with contributing to  “dramatic improvements” in the traditional public school system, a statement that doesn’t take into consideration how demographic changes have improved D.C. school results. D.C. schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson contests the notion too.

There’s another part of the report that begs parsing. The report notes that the foundation realizes that it has not engaged communities as it has pushed school choice on them. It says:

“One area where the foundation has received criticism is in the area of community engagement. It has been accused of  having a top-down approach that does not adequately address the needs and desires of parents, local advocacy groups and community groups. This is an issue the foundation is grappling with. ‘The provision of choice, and the publication of data on school performance, has sometimes had little impact, especially in districts where reform lacks adequate local ownership, community and wider civic involvement, and parent engagement,’ Bruno Manno notes. He identifies two levers in engaging local partners and communities more thoroughly: 1) building an active coalition of supporters, and 2) cultivating local advocacy partners. ‘We need a local and civic base of support for the work that’s going on. The work we support requires a stable constituency to be advocates for schools over time. There is a political dimension as well, the community and families need to understand what options are available.’ ”

Let’s review: After 20 years, the foundation realizes that its top-down approach doesn’t adequately address the needs and desires of parents, local advocacy groups and community groups. Now it wants to engage local partners and communities — not, apparently to ask what they actually want in their communities but to build “a local and civic base of support for the work that’s going on.”

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

 

 


 

 

Is the decline in US private schools making public schools worse?

Quartz commentary by Allison Schrager, economist, writer, and pension geek

 

For most of the 20th century the big question, for many parents, was public or private school? These days, the public/private question is less pressing. Few parents in the US send their kids to private schools anymore. The figure below plots the share of students enrolled in a private schools from kindergarten to 12th grade over the last 60 years and projected forward for the next nine years.

In the 1950s, 13% of kids went to private school, largely parochial schools. Now barely 9% do and that number is expected to fall even further. It wasn’t just the ailing economy—the trend toward public education pre-dates the recession. The Census estimates a large share of the decline is that fewer white city-dwellers are sending their children to Catholic schools. The growth of charter schools has offered parents a free alternative. Church scandals may also have disinclined parents to send their kids to Catholic schools, especially when other alternatives exist.

Secular private schools also face lower demand. Affluent parents still fight for the few slots at elite private schools, but many day schools outside the New York area face weaker demand. That may be because the state offers more options.

http://go.uen.org/549

 


 

 

Getting Lost While Trying to Follow the Money

Special Education Finance in Charter Schools

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools analysis

 

Tracking the special education dollars that support services for students with disabilities attending public schools is complicated; attempting to track the funds to autonomous public charter schools is even more so. Public schools—traditional and charter alike—receive their operating revenues from three primary sources: local property taxes, state per-pupil allocations, and federal categorical-aid programs. The aggregate resources available to provide services to students with disabilities in public schools is a function of both 1) funding available to public schools generally, and 2) funding designated to support special education and related services in particular.

Understanding how dollars flow to charter schools requires consideration of multiple and overlapping federal, state, and local district formulas and policies, and understanding how state policymakers have retrofitted these policies and procedures to include autonomous charter schools.

Because there is no set federal mandate prescribing the distribution of special education funds to charter schools—aside from the requirement that federal funds be distributed equitably—an appreciation of federal, state, and local sources of funding is necessary to understand the particular way charter schools receive money earmarked for special education services.

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

 

 


 

 

The Great German School Turnaround

The European country managed to raise test scores while reducing educational inequality. But with the dramatic influx of migrants, will its success last?

Atlantic commentary by CARLY BERWICK, a writer based in New Jersey

 

To make a good national school system, a country needs to help its most disadvantaged students. So says Andreas Schleicher, the man in charge of the most authoritative international test. “It’s the capacity of those systems to invest in those students from disadvantaged backgrounds” says Schleicher, the education director for the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), which administers the triennial Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) among its roughly three dozen member countries. “What those education systems do is attract the best teachers and best principals to [the] most challenging classrooms and schools.” Moreover, he notes, “reducing inequality is not just a social imperative but an economic imperative.”

While U.S. students have scored in the bottom half of nations on the PISA and have made no significant gains over 10 years, Germany—Schleicher’s home country—has managed to increase test scores while decreasing inequality in its school system. In fact, Germany was one of just three countries surveyed by the OECD that reduced inequality while raising math scores between 2003 and 2012, the other two being Mexico and Turkey.

And Germany has, notably, made these strides without closing or threatening to cut funding from its poorest-performing schools—a tactic used by the United States during the same time period. Germany now ranks 20th for math proficiency; the U.S., meanwhile, is 49th, just behind Turkey. (Some critics question the validity of PISA scores as a tool for gauging proficiency, but they offer the only reliable and consistent means of comparing achievement across countries.)

Germany’s reform efforts included the creation of national standards and standards-based tests for students in grades three and eight, which sounds much like the U.S. approach. But unlike the U.S., Germany doesn’t penalize schools for poor performance, nor does it publicize school-level test scores. Experts say its focus instead on providing school-based support, and monitoring and targeting the most disadvantaged students has allowed it to improve performance. It offers striking contrast to the U.S. “accountability” movement, whose focus on high-stakes testing recently prompted a somewhat ironic directive out of the White House that schools reduce the amount of testing taking place in schools. (And according to the recent results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress—another standardized test that itself has come under scrutiny—the emphasis on testing may not be boosting student learning.)

http://go.uen.org/545

 

 

 

 

 

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NATIONAL NEWS

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Drop in U.S. Math, Reading Scores Prompts Blame Game

Blame Laid on Economy, Demography, Standards

Education Week

 

With U.S. students’ math and reading scores showing statistically significant declines on a national test for the first time in more than two decades, advocates on all sides have begun pointing fingers.

The Common Core State Standards, frequent testing, the economy, and demographic changes have all become targets. But researchers say such explanations should be viewed skeptically—both because the test scores don’t explain causation and because the drop will not necessarily lead to a long-term trend.

“Politically, [the drop] is going to be a problem for the common core, but as an educational researcher, it’s unfair to say the common core had anything to do with these scores going down,” said Tom Loveless, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who researches trends in achievement tests. “If [the scores] went up, it would be unfair to say it had anything to do with them going up. You just can’t tell that from NAEP data.”

http://go.uen.org/541

 


 

 

Financial Woes Plague Common-Core Rollout

After 45 states adopt educational standards, many have second thoughts

Wall Street Journal

 

EDMOND, Okla.—Educators in this Oklahoma City suburb jumped into action when state leaders in 2010 adopted the Common Core academic standards that were sweeping states across the country.

The Edmond school district has a big military population that moves frequently, so officials liked the idea of using the same standards as other states. They also saw Oklahoma’s old standards as inferior. They spent about $500,000 preparing teachers and students, collaborating with educators in other states and buying materials and computers for a new Common Core test, finishing a year in advance.

Then state politicians backtracked, for reasons both financial and political. They dropped plans to give the new test, and during an election campaign in which the standards were hotly debated, they repealed Common Core. Edmond employees came in at the end of the summer last year to rewrite their curriculum again.

“The cost for me in time and training was phenomenally huge,” says Tara Fair, Edmond’s associate superintendent. “That’s one of the things that made me really sick when we went back to the old standards.”

Five years into the biggest transformation of U.S. public education in recent history, Common Core is far from common. Though 45 states initially adopted the shared academic standards in English and math, seven have since repealed or amended them. Among the remaining 38, big disparities remain in what and how students are taught, the materials and technology they use, the preparation of teachers and the tests they are given. A dozen more states are considering revising or abandoning Common Core.

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

 


 

 

Help for homework help: Teaching parents Common Core math

Associated Press

 

WESTERLY, R.I.— Any adult who has tried to help a second-grader with homework has noticed math is not what it used to be. Now schools are unlocking the secrets of Common Core math for mystified parents.

They’re holding special classes or giving out materials designed for adults so they can help children with their math homework. After parents learn the strategies, educators say, they’re more willing to get on board with Common Core math amid criticism from some politicians, from fellow parents, on social media and from celebrities like Louis C.K., who complained Common Core math made his daughters cry.

Nearly all states are using Common Core learning standards, which dictate what students should know in math and English.

In Westerly, teachers and administrators gathered recently in a classroom full of adults eager to learn. It was part of a free three-part series called “Parents Can Help With Math,” run by the Westerly Parent Academy.

Matt and Kate Ezyk are perplexed by Common Core math and have seen Kate’s sister struggle to help her daughter with homework. As parents of a kindergartener, they worried they weren’t equipped to help him when he starts bringing assignments home.

“If this doesn’t make sense to us, how are we going to help him?” Matt Ezyk said.

During the 90-minute session, educators demonstrated different ways to solve basic math problems.

http://go.uen.org/544

 


 

Feds: Palatine district discriminated against transgender student by barring her from girls’ locker room

Chicago Tribune

 

Illinois’ largest high school district violated federal law by barring a transgender student from using the girls’ locker room, authorities concluded Monday.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights spent nearly two years investigating Palatine-based Township High School District 211 and found “a preponderance of evidence” that school officials did not comply with Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

The student, who has identified as a girl for a number of years, filed a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights in late 2013 after she was denied unrestricted access to the girls’ locker room. District and federal officials negotiated for months, and a solution appeared imminent as recently as last week, when the district put up privacy curtains in the locker room.

But talks stalled after school officials said the student would be required to use the private area, as opposed to offering her a choice to use it. Although the student said she intends to use the private area or a locker room bathroom stall to change, the stipulation constitutes “blatant discrimination,” said John Knight, director of the LGBT and AIDS Project at ACLU of Illinois, which is representing the student.

“It’s not voluntary, it’s mandatory for her,” Knight said. “It’s one thing to say to all the girls, ‘You can choose if you want some extra privacy,’ but it’s another thing to say, ‘You, and you alone, must use them.’ That sends a pretty strong signal to her that she’s not accepted and the district does not see her as girl.”

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

 

http://go.uen.org/53v (NYT)

 

http://go.uen.org/53x (WaPo)

 

http://go.uen.org/53y (CSM)

 

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

 

http://go.uen.org/548 (National Review)

 

http://go.uen.org/53X (Reuters)

 

http://go.uen.org/53Y (AP)

 

http://go.uen.org/53A (CNN)

 

A copy of the letter

http://go.uen.org/53Z (DocumentCloud)

 

 


 

 

Here’s why $7 billion didn’t help America’s worst schools

What two troubled high schools tell us about why the government got so little for so much money.

Politico

 

In 2009, the Obama administration saw a chance to tackle a problem that had bedeviled educators for decades.

“Our goal is to turn around the 5,000 lowest-performing schools over the next five years, as part of our overall strategy for dramatically reducing the dropout rate, improving high school graduation rates and increasing the number of students who graduate prepared for success in college and the workplace,” said Arne Duncan, the administration’s new secretary of education in August of that year.

The administration pumped $3 billion of economic stimulus money into the School Improvement Grants program. Six years later, the program has failed to produce the dramatic results the administration had hoped to achieve. About two thirds of SIG schools nationwide made modest or no gains — not much different from similarly bad schools that got no money at all. About a third of the schools actually got worse.

Even Duncan acknowledges the progress has been “incremental.”

School turnaround is “hard, but it’s not rocket science,” said Sarah Yatsko, a senior research analyst at the Center on Reinventing Public Education. “We know a lot about what an effective turnaround strategy looks like.”

But then why has the SIG program, created in 2007 under President George W. Bush, produced such uneven results at a total cost of about $7 billion?

A comparison by POLITICO of two troubled high schools — one in Miami and one in Chicago — both of which received millions in SIG funds, both of which followed a similar turnaround strategy, reveals that education officials at the federal, state and local levels paid too little attention to a key variable for success. One school made impressive gains, rebounding in three years from an “F” rating to a “B.” At the other, less than 10 percent of juniors are proficient at reading, math and science — the same level as before the grant.

The difference between the schools was in their readiness to make use of the sudden infusion of money.

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

 

 


 

 

Better pay, more time to plan and one other thing teachers want from you

Los Angeles Times

 

When Arielle Bourguignon started teaching at 24th Street Elementary in Jefferson Park about two years ago, she felt UCLA’s education school had prepared her well.

But if it were up to her, she would change the perception of her profession. “Some people see us as glorified babysitters,” she said.

Jane Fung, a veteran, award-winning kindergarten teacher at Belvedere Elementary in East L.A., would change something else. “I would make sure that elementary and middle school teachers have a period off where they could either prep or collaborate,” she said. “It should be embedded into our profession.”

Changing the teaching profession by making it more prestigious and giving teachers more planning time are just two proposals that are part of a new report from the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington. The report, which was provided to The Times and is being released Tuesday, calls for a comprehensive overhaul of the pipeline for becoming a teacher and staying in the classroom.

The report, written by former Obama administration official and current CAP Executive Vice President Carmel Martin, CAP’s teacher policy director Lisette Partelow and CAP’s vice president of education policy Catherine Brown, points out different ways to make teaching a more desirable profession. It calls for making teacher preparation programs more selective, requiring licensing exams to be more relevant, increasing teacher salaries, paying better teachers more, making tenure more meaningful, and reorganizing the school day so that teachers have more time to plan.

http://go.uen.org/542

 

A copy of the report

http://go.uen.org/543 (Center for American Progress)

 


 

 

Rift Emerges Among Gun Owners Over Concealing Weapons in Schools

New York Times

 

CLIO, Mich. — When Kenneth Herman visits his daughter’s school, the handgun holstered to his right hip is visible to anyone. And that has caused him problems.

School officials have denied Mr. Herman access to school buildings, asked him to wait in the principal’s office and called the Sheriff’s Department on him. So Mr. Herman, a paramedic who grew up in this semirural community 85 miles northwest of Detroit, sued Clio Area Schools for the right to carry his weapon openly on school grounds, and in August he won the case. The district has appealed.

Now his dispute with the school district has become part of a statewide debate over guns in schools that has exposed a rare split among firearm owners. It pits proponents of widespread open carry like Mr. Herman against other gun owners who believe concealed weapons are more appropriate in some settings.

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

 

 


 

 

The Digital Disparities Facing Lower-Income Teenagers

New York Times

 

Teenagers in lower­income households have fewer desktop, laptop and tablet computers to use at home than their higher­income peers, according to a new study. And those disparities may influence more than how teenagers socialize, entertain themselves and apply for college or jobs.

At a time when school districts across the United States are introducing digital learning tools for the classroom and many teachers give online homework assignments, new research suggests that the digital divide among teenagers may be taking a disproportionate toll on their homework as well.

Only one­fourth of teenagers in households with less than $35,000 in annual income said they had their own laptops compared with 62 percent in households with annual incomes of $100,000 or more, according to the report, to be published on Tuesday by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit children’s advocacy and media ratings group based in San Francisco.

One­fifth of teenagers in lower­income households reported that they never used computers for their homework — or used them less than once a month. And one­tenth of lower­income teenagers said they had only dial­up web access, an often slow and erratic Internet connection, at home. None of the higher­income youths said they had only dial­up access, according to the report.

Vicky Rideout, an independent researcher and consultant who wrote the Common Sense Media report, said the disparities in teenagers’ technology access amounted to “digital inequality.”

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

 

A copy of the report

http://go.uen.org/53U (Common Sense Media)

 

 


 

 

Lessons Sought on Serving Native American Students

Interventions at district level crucial

Education Week

 

The Council of Chief State School Officers is looking to a small-scale Montana program for help in reversing the fortunes of hundreds of thousands of American Indian children.

Despite federal attempts to raise the profile of the challenges that Native American students face, they are often an afterthought, said William Mendoza, the executive director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education.

“They’re underrepresented, underserved, and darn-near invisible,” Mendoza said.

While Congress and the Obama administration have pressed the Bureau of Indian Education to overhaul operations at the schools it oversees on or near American Indian reservations, more than 90 percent of the 950,000 American Indian children attend traditional public schools run by local districts.

That makes district- and state-level intervention crucial.

http://go.uen.org/540

 

 


 

 

Parents protest ‘McDonald’s diet’ ambassador for speaking in schools

A McDonald’s “brand ambassador” speaking to schools across the country about how he lost 37 pounds by eating every meal at McDonald’s for 90 days has drawn the ire of parents who believe it’s just blatant advertising to students about fast food.

NBC Today Show

 

John Cisna, a former biology teacher from Iowa, has been speaking about his weight-loss diet of keeping total daily calories to 2,000 or less while eating three meals a day at McDonald’s and going on daily walks. He dropped four waist sizes and lowered his cholesterol by a third.

Spreading his message via a book and a video, he has already spoken to more than 90 colleges and high schools across the country in the past year, with McDonald’s paying for his time and travel expenses. His message is seen as a counter to filmmaker Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me,” a 2004 documentary where Spurlock ate every meal at McDonald’s for 30 days, gaining 24 pounds and seeing his cholesterol skyrocket.

“I’m not endorsing fast foods,” Cisna said on TODAY Tuesday. “I’m endorsing that kids need to start using critical thinking skills when it comes to making the right choices of what they eat.”

http://go.uen.org/547

 


 

 

Many KC area schools are closing for Tuesday’s Royals parade

Some charter schools and private schools are also closing

Kansas City (MO) Star

 

A number of Kansas City area schools including Kansas City, Mo., Kansas City, Kan., the Shawnee Mission, Blue Valley, Independence, Fort Osage, Park Hill, Tonganoxie and Olathe districts, have opted to close on Tuesday to allow students and teachers to attend the Royals’ World Series win parade.

Some charter schools and private schools, including Academie Lafayette, Saint Thomas More, Visitation, Our Lady of the Presentation, St. Peter’s, St. James Liberty, Notre Dame de Sion and Rockhurst high schools, also will be closed on Tuesday.

Districts that are open said teachers are expected to be in school unless it is an absolute emergency because the pool of substitutes has run dry for the day.

Kansas City Public Schools was among the last to cancel school. School officials said they did so because “the parade route will disrupt KCPS bus routes, making it difficult to get children home until well after their normal school closing time.”

Several districts are treating it as a snow day and plan to make up the day later in the year.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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CALENDAR

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USOE Calendar

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

 

 

UEN News

http://www.uen.org

 

 

November 3:

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/00004734.htm

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