Education News Roundup: Nov. 20, 2015

for June 11, 2013

Internet Access Here Sign by Steve Rhode/flickr

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:


Will the Governor call a special session to deal with the Utah State Board of Education election process? (DN)

and (KSL)


Sen. Hillyard also discusses the issue. (CVD)


The race for Sen. Osmond’s seat is attracting candidates, including a couple with education ties. (KUTV)


Today’s viral story is from Salem Jr. High where a teacher’s assignment included designing a terrorism propaganda poster. (KUTV)

and (PDH)

and (CVD)

and (KSL)

and (KSTU)

and (AP)

and (WaPo)

and (Ed Week)

and (Time)

and ([Boise] Idaho Statesman) and (CBS) and (The Blaze) and (Christian Broadcasting Network) and ([London] Daily Mail)


How many schools across the country have access to high-speed internet connectivity? (Ed Week)

and (Hechinger Report) and (Marketplace) or a copy of the report (EducationSuperHighway)


Washington Supreme Court won’t reconsider its ruling on charter schools in that state … except for one footnote. (Seattle Times)

and (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) and (Ed Week)












Gov. Gary Herbert considering special legislative session on election issues


Hillyard expects to see changes to the way State School Board members are selected


Race for open Utah Senate seat quickly becoming crowded


New drug testing policy seeing positive results


Is collective impact the answer for at-risk students?


Tech college’s skewed numbers may signal Utah education goal is unattainable Lawmakers unsure of ability to measure whether 2 of every 3 adults will have degree by 2020.


Online community supports student tech enthusiasts Curriculum applies real-world tech and practical business sense to the wonder of childlike imagination


Utah junior high school asks students to draw ‘terrorism propaganda poster’


Lehi parents ask Alpine School District for boundary considerations


Homelessness among school children


Inside our schools






Is Utah the best managed state?


Autism on Rise


How the teacher shortage in education impacts all of us


Education advocacy: Three lessons from the field






Big Progress, Hurdles on School Internet Connectivity, Analysis Finds


Negotiators Come to Agreement on Revising No Child Left Behind Law


Charter-school ruling stands, except for one footnote Charter-school supporters had asked the court to rethink its decision, hoping to preserve the publicly funded but privately run schools.


Court Rejects Suit Over Sale of Student Information by ACT, College Board


Wisconsin Republicans Defend Transgender Restrictions Bill


For young newcomers, school offers a stepping stone to life in America


Breakfast Eaters May Do Better In School








Gov. Gary Herbert considering special legislative session on election issues


SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert is considering calling a special session of the Utah Legislature within weeks to deal with election issues, including making sure unaffiliated voters can participate in next year’s primary.

“Those discussions are taking place right now,” the governor’s spokesman, Jon Cox, told the Deseret News on Thursday. “Before making a decision, we are waiting for (U.S. District) Judge (David) Nuffer’s final declaratory judgement and injunction order to see if this issue will be resolved by the court.”

Cox said there are other parts of the law being discussed, but a special session could hinge on whether lawmakers are willing to take the action Herbert wants to see on State School Board elections.

“Those conversations are still in the early stages. We do not have agreement yet,” Cox said. Only a governor can call a special session, and also sets the agenda in consultation with legislative leaders.

Herbert wants to ensure there is a primary election for State School Board members, at issue after another court ruling found the nominating committee process was unconstitutional.

“The governor has proposed including a primary election for the 2016 State School Board election,” Cox said, to remedy the current situation where “any candidate who files for office will make it to the November ballot.”

He said if lawmakers “agreed to this approach, the governor would be willing to call a special session. They have indicated to us that they would like to see the current committee retained with a few tweaks.”

But rather than a committee deciding which two candidates make it to the general election, “the governor believes the people should be able to decide for themselves,” Cox said.

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, was not optimistic that a plan the governor would be willing to accept would have enough support to justify a special legislative session. (DN) (KSL)





Hillyard expects to see changes to the way State School Board members are selected


State Senator Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, says he believes a special session of the Utah Legislature will be held within the next week or two because there are some issues that need to be resolved.

The Republican from Logan, who is chairman of the Senate’s Executive Appropriations Committee, says one issue is how state school board members are elected.

A federal judge has declared the current method unconstitutional. Hillyard says that involves a committee selecting three names to recommend to the governor, the governor chooses two and those two names go on the ballot.

“One option is that we tighten up that standard they apply,” says Hillyard. “Another one would be to just have (general) elections and just have anybody file and if you’re on the ballot you vote.

“But there is no mechanism there for a primary. So you could end up in November, when you have the election, you could have, say, 10 people who had filed for a school board seat. Whoever got the most votes, be it 25% or 21%, whoever got the most would end up on the state board.” (CVD)




Race for open Utah Senate seat quickly becoming crowded


The race to fill a soon-to-be-vacant Utah State Senate seat is quickly filling up.

Seven candidates have now announced their intent to run to replace Sen. Aaron Osmond (R-South Jordan) in Senate District 10.

Those candidates include Jay Cobb, Rich Cunningham, Lincoln Fillmore, Susan Pulsipher, Aleta Taylor, Jordan Teuscher, and Mark Woolley.

Cunningham, a member of the Utah House of Representatives, has served in the Legislature since 2013 and announced his candidacy the day after Osmond said he was resigning.

Fillmore is an operational and financial consultant for public charter schools.

Pulsipher is the president of the Jordan School Board and served on the Utah School Boards Association. (KUTV)




New drug testing policy seeing positive results


In its first year of implementation, the Logan High School drug testing policy and procedure is being hailed as a success according to school administrators. This is the first year that students participating in extra-curricular activities will be randomly drug tested every week over the course of the school year to ensure they are not taking any illicit drugs.

The new policy came about after concern that student athletes were not only taking drugs but were being called in by police and resource officers in the school on suspicion of drugs. A progress report of how the policy is being implemented was presented to the Logan City School District Board of Education during its meeting Tuesday evening. (LHJ)




Is collective impact the answer for at-risk students?


SALT LAKE CITY — Ensuring a capable and confident workforce for Utah’s economy first requires helping students see something in themselves they may not know exists.

It requires embracing cultural differences. It requires adopting an expectation of success for every student. It requires the combined efforts of teachers, policymakers and families.

All of it can be a difficult process, but community leaders say ensuring success for all of Utah’s children, regardless of their circumstances, is doable.

“We all know what it takes. This is bigger than any of us as individuals,” said Scott Ulbrich, chairman of United Way of Salt Lake’s board of directors. “We need to embody the principles of collective impact, which is working together, sharing data, being responsible for the data, and acting in different ways to move the needle to help these kids.”

That and other messages were shared at an education summit hosted Thursday by United Way of Salt Lake, the Salt Lake Chamber, Prosperity 2020 and the governor’s office. As part of United Way’s collective impact initiative, educators discussed ways to improve their students’ academic outcomes by looking at what happens outside the classroom. (DN)




Tech college’s skewed numbers may signal Utah education goal is unattainable Lawmakers unsure of ability to measure whether 2 of every 3 adults will have degree by 2020.


In October, Utah’s governor praised the state’s technical college system as a “significant player” toward his goal of a better qualified workforce.

Less than a month later, a legislative review slammed the Utah College of Applied Technology (UCAT) for inflating its graduation rates in order to meet the governor’s “66 by 2020” objective of two in three Utah adults having a post-high school degree at the start of the next decade — leading lawmakers to question whether the state can meet such a goal.

UCAT began “supplementing program completions with smaller achievements” in 2013, the November audit found. The school added individual courses and job trainings to the data, the report found, and also counted students who left school to work.

The apparent exaggeration of UCAT’s success rankled lawmakers at the Capitol this week.

“We can’t count some students and not count others,” said state Sen. Howard Stephenson during a Wednesday legislative panel, “in order to cook the books toward our 66 percent.”

The Education Interim Committee meeting this week struck a different tone from Gov. Gary Herbert’s signed message in UCAT’s annual October report, which said the school had “responded to this challenge enthusiastically by expanding its offering” of certificate programs “and graduating more students than ever before.”

But when high schoolers and already-employed workers in UCAT’s job-training seminars are taken out of the equation, the school’s completion rate has actually dipped slightly from last year — by as much as 3.5 percent, according to an October report from the eight colleges across the state. (SLT)





Online community supports student tech enthusiasts Curriculum applies real-world tech and practical business sense to the wonder of childlike imagination


Tech Trep Academy has launched an online interactive learning community for kids focused on technology and entrepreneurship. It focuses on computer and game programming, Minecraft modding, 3D printing, digital art/animation, sound mixing, media editing, and related fields.

Tech Trep Academy is designed to move kids beyond the traditional classroom setting, inspiring young TECHnology enthusiasts to develop new skills and providing the tools necessary to translate those skills into real world enTREPreneur experiences.

“The Forever Young Foundation has empowered children all over the world who face a variety of disadvantages – including financial challenges – for more than 20 years. Like Tech Trep, our goal is to provide these young people with the right opportunities and resources to realize their amazing potential,” said Steve Young, founder and co-chair of the Forever Young Foundation. “The Tech Trep curriculum is so exciting and worthwhile, we didn’t just stop with the Foundation – my own boys also signed up immediately!”

Tech Trep has already served thousands of students on its various courses through its partnership with Utah public schools, and many young ‘treps’ have gone on to turn those lessons into entrepreneurial opportunities. (eSchool News)



Utah junior high school asks students to draw ‘terrorism propaganda poster’


A group of parents in Salem, Utah are angry when they learned their children were handed an assignment this week that required them to draw a “terrorism propaganda poster.”

“We’re grateful when parents have a concern, that they will call the school and let the principal know immediately,” said Lana Hiskey, a spokeswoman for Salem Junior High School. “There were just over 60 students involved in this assignment and we’ve had four phone calls or communication with parents that had concerns.”

The front page of the project lists “eight reasons why young Muslims join ISIS”. The back page requires students to then draw a “terrorism propaganda poster.”

“She was just very enthusiastic and wanted students to understand that propaganda is not good,” said Hiskey, who admitted it was a first-year teacher and the assignment had not been approved. (KUTV) (PDH) (CVD) (KSL) (KSTU) (AP) (WaPo) (Ed Week) (Time) ([Boise] Idaho Statesman) (CBS) (The Blaze) (Christian Broadcasting Network) ([London] Daily Mail)




Lehi parents ask Alpine School District for boundary considerations


Change can be daunting.

Parents of students who will be attending the new Skyridge High School in north Lehi this fall and Lehi High School have expressed concerns to the Board of Education of the Alpine School District about the impact on the football programs at both schools.

The parents of some of the football players at Lehi High School have appealed to the board to allow their players to remain at the school instead of going to Skyridge. (PDH)





Homelessness among school children


  1. GEORGE, Utah— Mike Carr officially carries the title “Student Support Services Coordinator” for the Washington County School District, but he’s generally known by the much simpler label “homeless student liaison.”

Carr, in his second year at the post, has the task of gathering and distributing resources that will hopefully keep children in school and able to focus on their studies when the stresses of uncertain living conditions outside the school weigh heavily on their minds.

For the resources to help a student, they often have to help a family as a whole. (PDH) (CVD) (SLT)




Inside our schools


Arrowhead Elementary

Millcreek High

Riverside Elementary

Lava Ridge Intermediate

Valley Academy Charter

George Washington Academy

Utah Online High

South Elementary

Canyon View Middle (SGS)










Is Utah the best managed state?

Deseret News op-ed by Peter Corroon, chairman of the Utah Democratic Party


Utah leaders love to claim that Utah is the best managed state. They pull out articles and accolades from business magazines and others. e.g., Forbes Magazine (2012 and 2013) and the Pew Center (2014).

But the question we need to ask ourselves is, “For whom is Utah the best managed state?” As a business owner, I would say Utah is pro-business and focuses a great deal of attention on business. We have low unemployment, low utility costs and low labor costs. In that sense, Utah manages our state well to support business.

However, if you look a bit closer, you see the chink in the armor. While Utah leaders support business, they don’t do a great job supporting Utah families. Additional investigation makes it clear that Utah is not the “best managed state” for its citizens. Let’s look at the numbers:

*  Utah ranks 37th in annual average wages.

* We’re 51st in per-pupil funding.

* We’re one of the 18 states without full Medicaid expansion.

* Utah’s air quality along the Wasatch Front and in some rural areas is the worst in the nation on many days.

* We have 85,000 children in Utah who are uninsured.

* Utah ranks No. 1 in depression, with Utahns filing insurance claims for antidepressants more than residents of any other state (900,000 claims in a population of 2.9 million).

* We’re 48th for affordability and availability of child care, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in Washington.

Sure, you can find a job in Utah because we have low unemployment. But don’t plan on being paid well or having health insurance, and if you’re a woman, you may not be able to find or afford child care. Sure, you can get an education, but plan on fighting for a seat in those K-12 classes with 30-plus students. And let’s not even get started on the cost of postsecondary education. Sure, you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank if you leave on your lights, but don’t let your kids play outside in the winter, because they won’t be able to breathe.

The bottom-line is Utah citizens are often sacrificed to support business interests.



Autism on Rise

Salt Lake City Weekly commentary by columnist Katharine Biele


How great is it that Utah’s considered the go-to place to study autism in kids? Russian educators have come to Utah State University to study an intensive preschool program there since Russian children who may have autism are often just sent to time-out. Meanwhile, the Deseret News says new reports show autism in Utah on the rise to 1 in 54 kids compared with 1 in 68 with autism nationally. No one really knows why, and it’s increasing despite the anti-vaccination movement in the state. The focus, says Cheryl Smith, past president of the Autism Council of Utah, should be on treatment, not numbers. And of course, on the elusive cause.



How the teacher shortage in education impacts all of us

(Phoenix) Arizona Capitol Times op-ed by Lily Matos DeBlieux, superintendent of the Pendergast School District


As a young girl growing up, when people would inadvertently ask me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My answer would most assuredly be, “A teacher.” Teaching was a proud profession, one I and others I knew aspired to be part of. My parents had always stressed the importance of education in our home and for me; the ability to influence lives and inspire others was the perfect combination.

Fast forward to 2015, when students are asked the same question, the answer shifts to anything but teaching. The statistics bear this out with a recent study conducted by Tucson Values Teachers, in partnership with The University of Arizona College of Education and the Southern Arizona Leadership Council. “In surveying over 55,000 teachers statewide, the questions focused on:  how teachers view their profession, the amount of time spent at work, how they relate to neighbors and parents of their students, and other important issues. Some 6,163 teachers answered with the report examining five major areas of concern to teachers – value, respect, trust, time and money – and found that teachers believe the public has a different perception of teaching than what is the reality.”



Education advocacy: Three lessons from the field Brookings Institute analysis by Marc Porter Magee, CEO & founder of 50CAN


“Because education in this country is by-and-large a public enterprise, champions of change and defenders of the status quo must turn to elected and appointed officials to advocate for their desired outcome,” write Russ Whitehurst, David Stuit, Claire Graves and Lauren Shaw in the recent Brookings Institution report Measuring and Understanding Education Advocacy.

The authors aim to answer the question “Do such advocacy efforts succeed in influencing the public policy that governs education?” The result is empirical confirmation for what those of us working in the field of education advocacy see every day: advocacy can shape the future of education in our states. But where do you start if you want to put advocacy to work on the education policies that matter to you and your community? That’s the question my colleagues and I at 50CAN: The 50CAN-State Campaign for Achievement Now have spent the past several years working to answer.

We got our start in 2005 as a small nonprofit in Connecticut (ConnCAN) working to shine a light on the state’s worst-in-the-nation achievement gap and build support for policy reforms that could make a difference for all kids. We hoped that other local advocates could benefit from what we learned on the ground and that we could, in turn, learn more from them. In January 2011, we launched the 50CAN network as a learning community where we are all sharing and growing together.

On November 12, we published the second edition of The 50CAN Guide to Building Advocacy Campaigns. This guide builds upon more than ten years of work in support of more than 100 of our policy campaigns to explain how we help local leaders develop policy goals, how we support them in crafting their advocacy plans, and how we work together to secure lasting changes.  It is designed to help citizen advocates from all walks of life make their voices heard on the issues that are most important to them and their communities.


A copy of the report (











Big Progress, Hurdles on School Internet Connectivity, Analysis Finds Education Week


The number of students without adequate Internet connections in school has been cut in half over the past two years, according to a new analysis by broadband-advocacy group EducationSuperHighway.

During the same period, the rate most districts pay for bandwidth has also declined 50 percent, the group found.

Despite that substantial progress, however, more than 21 million students still go without adequate Internet access in the classroom, according to the new report, titled “State of the States 2015: The Status of K-12 Broadband Connectivity in Public Schools.”

Roughly 9,500 U.S. public schools—many of them rural—also still need access to fiber-optic cables or other modern technologies that will allow them to meet schools’ ever-growing demand for more bandwidth. (Hechinger Report) (Marketplace)


A copy of the report (EducationSuperHighway)




Negotiators Come to Agreement on Revising No Child Left Behind Law New York Times


Overcoming years of partisan bickering over the federal government’s role in public education, congressional negotiators came to an agreement on Thursday to revise the No Child Left Behind law for the first time since it was signed by President George W. Bush 14 years ago.

Although Democrats and Republicans agreed that the law — passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2001 — had become an albatross on schools that led to overly punitive stakes for standardized testing, Congress has for eight years been unable to come to an accord on replacing it.

A conference committee of members from the House and the Senate voted, 39 to 1, to approve the agreement on Thursday. The full bill will be made public within a week, and the House could consider it on the floor as early as the first week of December, with the Senate following. (USAT) (DN)




Charter-school ruling stands, except for one footnote Charter-school supporters had asked the court to rethink its decision, hoping to preserve the publicly funded but privately run schools.

Seattle (WA) Times


The Washington State Supreme Court denied several motions to reconsider its Sept. 4 decision that the state’s charter-school law is unconstitutional, which means the ruling is expected to become final on Dec. 14.

Charter-school supporters had asked the court to rethink its decision, in one of their efforts to preserve the publicly funded but privately run schools in this state.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson was among those asking for reconsideration. As part of that, he wanted the court to remove a footnote that he said unnecessarily raised questions about other educational programs the state funds, such as Running Start.

In that footnote, the justices argued that charter schools violated the state’s constitutional requirement to provide “a general and uniform system of public schools” because charter schools aren’t governed by elected boards.

The court agreed without further explanation to remove that footnote, but otherwise its decision stands. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) (Ed Week)





Court Rejects Suit Over Sale of Student Information by ACT, College Board Education Week


A federal appeals court has tossed out a lawsuit filed against ACT Inc. and the College Board over the sale of admissions test-takers’ personal information to colleges and other education organizations.

The key fact in the case seems to be that the organizations, which publish the ACT and SAT exams, respectively, only sell the “personally identifiable information” of test-takers who authorize such disclosures. The information included can include a test-taker’s name, address, gender, high school, email address, racial or ethnic background, and intended college major.

The purchasers of the lists include higher education institutions, scholarship organizations, and the military.

A group of four past test-takers who evidently checked “yes” for the disclosure of their information sued ACT and the College Board last year in a putative class action, meaning they were seeking court approval to represent all potential plaintiffs in the same category.

The suit claimed the test organizations sold the personal information for a profit of at least 33 cents per test-taker, per buyer. The suit cited various claims, including deceptive business practices, breach of contract, invasion of privacy, and unjust enrichment.


A copy of the ruling (Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals)




Wisconsin Republicans Defend Transgender Restrictions Bill Associated Press


MADISON, Wis. — Republicans pushed Thursday for Wisconsin to become the first state in the nation to prohibit transgender public school students from using a bathroom or locker room assigned to the gender with which they identify.

Opponents, including students who stood and sat on the floor in a packed hearing room, argued the proposal is a violation of federal Civil Rights law. The soonest that the state’s GOP-controlled Legislature could act on the bill is January, and it’s unclear whether the measure has enough support to pass.

The issue has roiled communities in Wisconsin, including in the district of the bill’s lead sponsor, and across the country as more children identify as transgender at younger ages.




For young newcomers, school offers a stepping stone to life in America NewsHour


Around the nation, cities that take in refugees face the challenge of how to educate young people who speak little or no English. The NewsHour’s April Brown visits Houston, now the most diverse city in the U.S., where Las Americas Newcomer School teaches both the ABCs and the basics of life in a new country.




Breakfast Eaters May Do Better In School Huffington Post


After several recent studies poked holes in long-held beliefs about the benefits of breakfast, we had to reset what we know to be true about early morning meals.

The old mantra about skipping breakfast leading to weight gain didn’t hold up under scientific scrutiny, but newer research found that starting the day with protein helps curb evening snacking habits and that not eating breakfast is detrimental to long-term metabolic health.

Fortunately, one long-held positive belief about breakfast has just been confirmed. A new study from Cardiff University finds that eating morning meals correlates with higher academic outcomes. Researchers looked at 5,000 nine- to 11-year-old students from more than 100 primary schools to analyze the correlation between breakfast and school success. The kids who ate breakfast — and more quality breakfasts — scored higher in Key Stage 2 Teacher Assessments, a set of standardized tests in the U.K.

Students who ate breakfast had twice  the odds of achieving an above-average educational performance compared to breakfast-skippers.


A copy of the study (Public Health Nutrition)









USOE Calendar



UEN News



November 23:

Charter School Funding Task Force

1 p.m.,  445 State Capitol



November 24:

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting

7:59 a.m., 445 State Capitol



December 3:

Utah State Board of Education study session and committee meetings

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



December 4:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



December 7:

Executive Appropriations Committee meeting

2 p.m., 445 State Capitol



December 10:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



January 6:

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting

8 a.m., 445 State Capitol



January 25:

Utah Legislature

First day of the 2016 general session

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