Education News Roundup: Jan. 11, 2016

Superintendent Brad Smith

Superintendent Brad Smith

Today’s Top Picks:

ENR wishes State Superintendent Brad Smith a speedy recovery and Deputy Superintendent Sydnee Dickson best of luck. Dickson will fill in for Smith during a 90-day medical leave.
http://go.uen.org/5Gg (SLT)
and http://go.uen.org/5Gh (DN)
and http://go.uen.org/5GE (OSE)
and http://go.uen.org/5GT (KSL)
and http://go.uen.org/5Gi (USBE)

D-News and KUER follow up on the Utah State Board of Education’s 2017 funding priorities.
http://go.uen.org/5Gn (DN)
and http://go.uen.org/5GY (KUER)
or a copy of the Board’s legislative priorities
http://go.uen.org/5Fl (USOE, Excel format)

The Spectrum takes a look at how things are going at Water Canyon School in Hildale.
http://go.uen.org/5GG (SGS)

The BBC’s Spanish language service takes interest in Utah’s dual immersion program.
http://go.uen.org/5Hk BBC Mundo (in Spanish)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Poor health prompts leave of absence for Utah Superintendent Brad Smith
Utah superintendent » Brad Smith is expected to return to work after 90 days; his condition is called chronic but not life-threatening.

State education funding priorities: Paying for pupil influx, local needs

Technology in education: How SB222 could affect you

Water Canyon principal: School has seen amazing growth

Charter School Makes Pitch To Chamber Group

¿Es el monolingüismo el analfabetismo del siglo XXI?
Is mololingualism the illiteracy in the 21st century?

New panel will explore needs of Utah’s minority and at-risk students
Education » Fifteen-member committee will advise state school board on diversity beyond race, ethnicity.

High school basketball: Minority coaches raise concerns about bias
Racial slurs? » Series of incidents early in season prompts a meeting with Utah High School Activities Association.

Three educators named Utah Principals of the Year

Artistic selfies: Students exhibit creative portraits

Utah student-to-counselor ratio high but improving, report says

Auto-pedestrian crash victim identified as 17-year-old Layton High student

Grandma pleads guilty after meth pipe found in granddaughter’s backpack

Utah teen with no arms or legs inspiring classmates on high school dance team

Utah schoolchildren join in world record attempt

School’s out, service is in: Juan Diego seniors spend week volunteering

Learn more about Hillcrest’s International Baccalaureate program

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Give school districts room to operate, legislators

Retiring Sen. Steve Urquhart will leave a lasting impression on Utah

We need to find more time for play in schools

Top court debating teachers’ right not to pay for collective bargaining

Gallup: Superintendents say parents don’t understand education

Let’s gather STEAM

At the Supreme Court, a Big Threat to Unions

A First Amendment Do-Over
The Justices can correct a 39-year-old error on unions and free speech.

How Defunding Public Sector Unions Will Diminish Our Democracy
The High Stakes of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

Friedrichs v. California Teachers case matters for those forced to join a union

ESSA: How Much Pull Does the Education Department Have Now?

How to Fix the Country’s Failing Schools. And How Not To.

Where Are All the High-School Grads Going?
More Americans are getting their diplomas—but fewer are enrolling in college. Why the mismatch?

Using computers widens the achievement gap in writing, a federal study finds
Low-performing fourth-graders do poorly in writing tests given by computer, but high-performing students do better

Letting students sink doesn’t teach them to swim

NATION

Supreme Court weighs union fees for teachers: Is it a matter of free speech?

The new federal education law returns power to the states. But how will they use it?

Education Spending Per Student by State

Bill would protect student social media privacy

GED no longer top high school equivalency test in Wyoming

What The People Who Read Your College Application Really Think

Will California’s Booming Economy Pay Off in Pupil Spending?

Apple’s iOS 9.3 features education, blue light, CarPlay improvements
Apple’s iOS 9.3 beta adds a bevy of iPad features designed to court educators and admins who have been gravitating to Google’s Chromebooks.

Teacher ‘sick-out’ absences close dozens of Detroit schools

Special Ed Teacher’s Tactics Not Abuse

Westboro Baptist Church protesters met with hundreds of chanting students at Redondo Union High

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UTAH NEWS
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Poor health prompts leave of absence for Utah Superintendent Brad Smith
Utah superintendent » Brad Smith is expected to return to work after 90 days; his condition is called chronic but not life-threatening.

State Superintendent Brad Smith will sit out the upcoming Utah Legislature due to a 90-day medical leave of absence, according to the Utah Board of Education.
Deputy Superintendent Syd Dickson, a former educator and veteran of the state Office of Education, was named acting state superintendent Friday, with Associate Superintendent Rich Nye serving as Dickson’s deputy.
“We wish Brad all the best while he is away,” state school board Chairman David Crandall said in a prepared statement. “He has assembled a great team, and we have every confidence in Syd, Rich and other members of the superintendency.”
http://go.uen.org/5Gg (SLT)

http://go.uen.org/5Gh (DN)

http://go.uen.org/5GE (OSE)

http://go.uen.org/5GT (KSL)

http://go.uen.org/5Gi (USBE)

State education funding priorities: Paying for pupil influx, local needs

SALT LAKE CITY — A growing student population and locally controlled funding for schools remain top-of-mind for state and education leaders with the start of the 2016 legislative session two weeks away.
The Utah State Board of Education settled on a final budget proposal last week, asking lawmakers for more than $395 million in new money for schools. Gov. Gary Herbert last month also requested additional funding for education, totaling almost $281 million.
In many ways, the two proposals differ in focus and strategy. But educators hope momentum for education funding built in 2015 will carry over and meet many of the priorities identified this year.
http://go.uen.org/5Gn (DN)

http://go.uen.org/5GY (KUER)

A copy of the Board’s legislative priorities
http://go.uen.org/5Fl (USOE, Excel format)

Technology in education: How SB222 could affect you

SALT LAKE CITY — In 2014, a $300 million education technology initiative by the late Speaker Becky Lockhart failed. But even though that bill did not pass, the conversation around technology in classrooms has continued.
After the 2014 session, an education task force headed by Sen. Wayne Niederhauser continued to have meetings on the subject. Then in 2015, Sen. Howard Stephenson proposed SB222. The bill called for $75 million for schools to cover the cost of infrastructure to push a digital teaching and learning program. Like the earlier education technology initiative, the high price tag wasn’t approved, but the concept was.
SB222 will be debated in this year’s legislative session. If it passes, the Utah State Office of Education would provide support as schools create their plans for funding.
http://go.uen.org/5GP (KSL)

Water Canyon principal: School has seen amazing growth

After spending even a few minutes with Darin Thomas, it is clear to see this man loves his job, he loves his students, and he loves being the principal at Water Canyon School in Hildale.
Now halfway through its second year as the only K-12 school in Washington County, Thomas says the school has seen amazing growth in a short period of time as more families recognize the quality education their students can receive at Water Canyon.
“I was extremely nervous,” Thomas says, looking back on the two months preparation he had leading up to opening the school in August 2014. The doors opened to 162 students that year, but by the end of the year they had 220. Currently there are 318 students.
“The sky is the limit,” Thomas said. “We take everybody.”
Taking on the job as principal of a school in an area that was without public education for 13 years may not have appealed to a lot of people, but it’s not the first time Thomas has found himself on the road less traveled, only to find that, in the end, it was the best course to take.
http://go.uen.org/5GG (SGS)

Charter School Makes Pitch To Chamber Group

In August, Rim Country will have another education option for parents — the charter school American Leadership Academy.
This has raised hackles among some and excited most others.
ALA had a chance to introduce itself to Rim Country business owners when the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted Brent McArthur, chief executive officer of American Leadership Academy at its luncheon on Jan. 5.
McArthur brought other ALA staff and shared the stage with Chelsey Griess, chief academic officer, and Cristina Schubert, director of ALA-Ironwood K-6, to help him present the history, mission and goals of the charter school.
http://go.uen.org/5Hj (Payson [AZ] Roundup)

¿Es el monolingüismo el analfabetismo del siglo XXI?
Is mololingualism the illiteracy in the 21st century?

Cuando en 2013 Gregg Roberts exponía en la Conferencia de la Sociedad Asiática del Idioma Chino en Boston, no pensó que su charla lo volvería una celebridad de su campo a nivel mundial.
Estaba presentando el programa de inmersión en idioma que lidera en el pequeño y conservador estado de Utah (Estados Unidos) cuando pronunció la frase: “El monolingüismo es el analfabetismo del siglo XXI”.
When Gregg Roberts presented at the 2013 National Chinese Language Conference of the Asia Society in Boston, he did not think his talk would make him a worldwide celebry.
He was talking aobut the dual language immersion program in small, conservative Utah (United States) when he uttered the phrase, “monolingualism is the illiteracy of the 21st century.”
http://go.uen.org/5Hk BBC Mundo

New panel will explore needs of Utah’s minority and at-risk students
Education » Fifteen-member committee will advise state school board on diversity beyond race, ethnicity.

Among Utah’s more than 630,000 public education students are 222,000 who live in low-income households, 71,000 who receive special education services, and 38,000 who are learning English as a second language, according to the latest data from the state Office of Education.
Those changing demographics, according to the state school board, require a consideration of diversity that goes beyond race and ethnicity.
On Thursday, the board voted to create the Advisory Committee for Equity of Educational Service for Students, or ACEESS.
The 15-member council will comprise two representatives each from the American Indian, black, Asian-American, Latino and Pacific Islander communities, as well as five at-large members selected for experience with other at-risk populations, such as refugee children, LGBT youth or individuals with physical disabilities.
http://go.uen.org/5Gm (SLT)

High school basketball: Minority coaches raise concerns about bias
Racial slurs? » Series of incidents early in season prompts a meeting with Utah High School Activities Association.

Some Utah high school basketball coaches, including three of the six black coaches who run boys’ programs in the state, are concerned about the officiating at their teams’ games — specifically how referees are interacting with minority coaches and athletes, and how at least some officials appear to condone racially charged comments directed toward their players.
Layton Christian’s Bobby Porter, Kearns’ Dan Cosby, Summit Academy’s Evric Gray and Murray’s Jason Workman — who is white but has two black assistant coaches and a multicultural roster — met this week with staff from the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) and two members of the joint board of officials.
The coaches say they are reluctant to accuse game officials of racial bias, but enough incidents have occurred during the first month of the season that they felt compelled to raise the issue.
http://go.uen.org/5Gw (SLT)

Three educators named Utah Principals of the Year

SALT LAKE CITY — The principals of Draper’s Corner Canyon High School and Highland’s Mountain Ridge Junior High School, along with the assistant principal of Santa Clara’s Lava Ridge Intermediate School, were named 2016 Utah Secondary Principals of the Year by the Utah Association of Secondary School Principals.
The association will later determine whether Corner Canyon High Principal Mary Bailey or Mountain Ridge Junior High Principal Mark Whitaker will represent Utah in the national Secondary Principal of the Year competition. Lava Ridge Intermediate School Assistant Principal Greg Bozarth will represent Utah in the Assistant Principal of the Year competition.
http://go.uen.org/5Gy (DN)

Artistic selfies: Students exhibit creative portraits

Students at Spring Creek Middle School were able to show off their artistic work during a special show Thursday night.
The different art projects were created by students both in the sixth and seventh grades. Sixth-graders created aboriginal art after working with a professional artist, Nadrah Hassan.
http://go.uen.org/5GF (LHJ)

Utah student-to-counselor ratio high but improving, report says

SALT LAKE CITY — About six years ago, middle school and high school counselors in the Jordan School District were each responsible for more than 600 students.
It’s a job that includes providing academic assistance and college preparation resources, as well as bullying, dropout and suicide prevention efforts — all of it on a one-on-one level with students.
“That’s kind of an overwhelming task,” said Jerry Payne, lead counselor at Riverton High School. “It was very difficult for us to see everybody that we needed to see.”
http://go.uen.org/5GQ (KSL)

A copy of the report
http://go.uen.org/5DD (USOE)

Auto-pedestrian crash victim identified as 17-year-old Layton High student

LAYTON — Police have released the identity of the 17-year-old girl who died in an auto-pedestrian crash Monday morning, Jan. 11.
Bailee Dibernardo, a Layton High School student, was crossing Fort Lane west to east in a crosswalk with a teenage male at 199 North in front of the Layton Fire Department at 7:24 a.m. when they were hit by a northbound pickup truck, Police Lt. Travis Lyman said.
After that impact, Dibernardo also was hit by a northbound Dodge Durango, She was taken to Davis Hospital, where she died. The male student was taken to McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, condition unknown as of late Monday morning.
http://go.uen.org/5GJ (OSE)

http://go.uen.org/5GK (SLT)

http://go.uen.org/5GL (DN)

http://go.uen.org/5GM (KUTV)

http://go.uen.org/5GN (KTVX)

http://go.uen.org/5GO (KSL)

http://go.uen.org/5GV (KSTU)

Grandma pleads guilty after meth pipe found in granddaughter’s backpack

SALT LAKE CITY— A Utah grandmother accused of leaving her meth pipe in her 8-year-old granddaughter’s backpack has pleaded guilty to child endangerment and drug charges.
Police say that 59-year-old Linda Wiese told investigators she was smoking meth shortly before helping the girl with her reading homework in Washington Terrace, Utah, and put the pipe in the bag by accident.
Court records show she pleaded as part of a deal with prosecutors who dropped two other felony charges of child endangerment in exchange for the guilty plea. Her lawyer declined to comment Friday.
She was charged after a teacher discovered the pipe inside a plastic baggy on Oct. 21.
http://go.uen.org/5GD (OSE)

http://go.uen.org/5GR (KSL)

Utah teen with no arms or legs inspiring classmates on high school dance team

KAYSVILLE, Utah — An inspiring young man in Kaysville is putting the world challenge into perspective. Seventeen-year-old Gabe Adams was born without arms and legs and suffers from a rare disease called hanhart syndrome, but that doesn’t stop him from dancing.
After spending most of his life in a wheelchair, he decided to join the dance team at Davis High School. During halftime at a basketball game Friday night, he performed in front of the whole school.
Cheers rang out as Gabe put the word disability to shame.
http://go.uen.org/5GW (KSTU)

Utah schoolchildren join in world record attempt

Carson Huff does the splits while trying not to fall during a ski lesson at Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort on Friday.
The lesson, organized by Ski Utah, was part of a nationwide attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the most people learning to ski and snowboard at one time. Five hundred Utah schoolchildren took Friday’s lesson, all of which were taught at 10 a.m., at several area resorts through Ski Utah’s in-school program.
http://go.uen.org/5GA (DN)

http://go.uen.org/5GI (KUTV)

http://go.uen.org/5GU (KSL)

School’s out, service is in: Juan Diego seniors spend week volunteering

DRAPER — The teens, in neon vests, started slicing potatoes at 6:30 a.m.
Four miles south, about 30 other students showed up to do music therapy with elderly Alzheimer’s patients.
To the north, more teens were working with children with autism at the Spectrum Academy.
All in all, 230 seniors at Juan Diego Catholic High School did not go to school this week. Instead, they crisscrossed the city as volunteers.
http://go.uen.org/5GS (KSL)

Learn more about Hillcrest’s International Baccalaureate program

SANDY — Parents, guardians and students who will enter eighth grade next year can attend one of several upcoming information meetings on Hillcrest High School’s International Baccalaureate program.
http://go.uen.org/5Gz (DN)

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Give school districts room to operate, legislators
Salt Lake Tribune editorial

The Utah Board of Education has joined Gov. Gary Herbert in saying that local districts know best how to spend their money.
That sets up a test for the Legislature, one it has historically flunked. Philosophically, legislators are all in with “government is best when it’s closest to the people.” In practice, they view public schools as a tool of the teacher’s union that they, not Utah’s 41 school districts, must bring into line.
In making its budget recommendations for the Legislature, the state board considered but rejected a couple of proposals that would have constrained the districts. One was an across-the-board $1,500 raise for every teacher in the state, something pushed by the former legislator on the board. He said the districts tend to favor veteran teachers with raises (as union contracts dictate), while this money would help retain newer ones. The intent is to override districts’ pay negotiations with the union. He lost to other board members who thought individual districts could tailor their own retention programs.
http://go.uen.org/5Gl

Retiring Sen. Steve Urquhart will leave a lasting impression on Utah
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist PAUL ROLLY

Utah is losing a veteran state senator known for antics that annoyed his Republican Party’s right-wing base while pushing through funding reforms for higher education and a landmark anti-discrimination bill that protects gays and lesbians.
Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, announced in a letter to the editor in the online St. George News that he will not seek re-election.
He served eight years in the House and will complete his eighth year in the Senate this year.

He also guided through more stringent math requirements in public schools to better prepare students for college.
http://go.uen.org/5Gk

We need to find more time for play in schools
Deseret News commentary by columnist Amy Donaldson

Everyone knows it’s important for children to learn to work.
But it might be equally important that they make time to play.
It’s not just something people like me (who have a life-long commitment to goofing off) believe or feel. It’s something that’s actually been scientifically studied by people who had questions about just how valuable games were to the educational process.
As it turns out, they’re critical.
This issue captured my attention several times in the last month as I listened to parents (myself included) talk about how best to help young people work harder, be more responsible and feel a sense of service or selflessness. Then, earlier this week I read an article about a Texas elementary school that had tripled its recess time.
The impact was interesting.
http://go.uen.org/5Gx

Top court debating teachers’ right not to pay for collective bargaining
Sutherland Institute commentary by education policy analyst Christine Cooke

A person should not be forced to speak in support of, pay for, or join a private group that he or she disagrees with — as Americans, doesn’t that sound obvious?
That concept is being debated in the nation’s highest court, starting today. The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments this morning in the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association et al. case brought by Rebecca Friedrichs and nine other California public school teachers against their union.
http://go.uen.org/5GZ

Gallup: Superintendents say parents don’t understand education
Sutherland Institute commentary by education policy analyst Christine Cooke

Parents have the primary responsibility to educate their children. Of course, a large chunk of parents choose to delegate some of that responsibility to teachers and superintendents by sending their children to schools outside the home. These groups share an objective to give children an excellent education, so it’s important that they be on the same page.
According to a new Gallup poll released Jan. 6, less than a third of the K-12 superintendents surveyed nationwide think that parents in their school district adequately understand the district’s curriculum and academic model. Only 16 percent believe that parents understand how schools are evaluated in the state accountability system. And about 70 percent of superintendents think parents need more information for understanding how school performance is assessed in their state. Results like these could mean a few things. Here are two that should concern us.
http://go.uen.org/5H0

Let’s gather STEAM
Deseret News letter from Joanne Andrus

I’ve had concerns over the cuts in arts education that have come as more and more emphasis has been given to STEM. Let’s gather STEAM as we encourage and even insist that the arts not be slighted in our children’s education.
STEM is very important, but as we integrate art, music and dance into curriculum, education becomes engaging. School has become a grind for many students. Adding arts back into each school day will enhance the experience, and even retention, of students.
http://go.uen.org/5GC

At the Supreme Court, a Big Threat to Unions
New York Times editorial

A case the Supreme Court will hear on Monday morning threatens to undermine a four­decade­old ruling that upheld a key source of funding for public­sector unions, the last major bastion of unionized workers in America.
In the 1977 decision Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the justices ruled that public unions may charge all employees — members and nonmembers alike — for the costs of collective bargaining related to their employment. For nonmembers, these are known as “fair­share fees.” But nonmembers may not be compelled to pay for the union’s political or ideological activities.
The Abood ruling was a sensible compromise between the state’s interest in labor peace and productivity and the individual worker’s interest in his or her freedom of speech and association. Before the decision, strikes and labor unrest in the public sector were far more common, as workers struggled to have their voices heard in the absence of meaningful organized representation.

The latest challenge targets the California public­school teachers’ union, which gets fair­share fees from about 29,000 employees, or a little under 10 percent of the work force. After Justice Alito suggested in 2012 that he would be open to striking down all fair­share fees, the anti­union activists rushed their case through the lower courts.
http://go.uen.org/5Gc

A First Amendment Do-Over
The Justices can correct a 39-year-old error on unions and free speech.
Wall Street Journal editorial

Defending free speech has been a notable strength of the current Supreme Court, and on Monday the Justices hear a case that gives them a rare and splendid opportunity to repair damage to the First Amendment done by the Court itself.
In Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, 10 public school teachers object to a California law that forces them to pay union fees that finance causes they oppose. For 39 years the Court has allowed such coercion thanks to an anomalous 1977 ruling in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. Now is the time to overturn it.
As the brief for the teachers says, California runs the “largest regime of compelled political speech in the Nation.” It does so by coercing teachers to pay roughly 2% of their pay in “affiliate fees” to the union even if they choose not to join the union.
The California Teachers Association then takes that money and spends it on collective bargaining as well as a variety of political causes. It also sends some of it to the National Education Association to spend nationwide. California and the union argue that this coercion is justified because all workers benefit from union collective bargaining.
But as the teachers point out, collective bargaining in government is impossible to separate from matters of ideological speech. For public teachers, collective bargaining involves wages and benefits that inevitably implicate fiscal policy and the tax burden.
http://go.uen.org/5Ge

How Defunding Public Sector Unions Will Diminish Our Democracy
The High Stakes of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association
Century Foundation commentary by senior fellow Richard D. Kahlenberg

On January 11, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. The case pits the right of public employees to band together and form effective unions to pursue the common interests of workers against the free speech rights of dissenting public employees to abstain from funding collective bargaining efforts with which they disagree. A decision by the Court against the teachers association could not only significantly weaken public sector unions, but also endanger the nation’s core democratic values.
In the suit, a public school teacher, Rebecca Friedrichs, argues that a state law requiring her to pay fees to the California Teachers Association (CTA) violates her First Amendment rights not to subsidize speech to which she objects. The CTA counters that in order to promote peaceful and orderly labor relations, and as a matter of basic fairness, the state may require Friedrichs to cover the costs of collective bargaining agreements, from which she benefits, preventing her from being a “free rider.”
Union supporters worry that a decision in Friedrichs’ favor could devastate public sector unions across the nation. These unions, whose numbers were once small compared to the vibrant private sector union movement, now represent nearly a majority of unionized workers. The one bright spot in an otherwise deteriorating American labor movement, public sector unions are now under extraordinary legal and political assault. More broadly, many progressives see the Friedrichs case as an effort to defund the American left, given the financial support public sector unions provide a variety of liberal causes, from civil rights to raising the minimum wage.
This report highlights an additional problem that should concern people across the political spectrum: defunding public sector unions could deal a substantial blow to a critical driver of American democracy.
Public sector unions promote democratic values and practices in a variety of ways. They serve as a check on arbitrary government power and help sustain middle-class wages and benefits; serve as schools of democracy for workers; and, in the case of teacher unions, help support a public school system that promotes democratic values. These larger interests should enter into the calculus the Supreme Court uses to weigh free speech rights against state interests.
http://go.uen.org/5Gp

Friedrichs v. California Teachers case matters for those forced to join a union
Cleveland Plain Dealer op-ed by Patricia Griggs, retired home health care worker

Today, the U.S Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. Rebecca Friedrichs, a California school teacher, is resisting paying mandatory dues to her state’s public employees union.
I am not a teacher. I’m a registered nurse. But like Rebecca Friedrichs, I know what it’s like to be forced to pay unions for representation that you don’t want and that makes a job worse.
I think unions are appropriate in the right circumstances. Before I became a nurse at age 42, I was a secretary active in organizing union representation at my government employer. But, a few years ago, I learned the hard way how forced union representation can hurt workers and the people we work for – in my case, patients whom I love.
http://go.uen.org/5Gq

ESSA: How Much Pull Does the Education Department Have Now?
Education Week commentary by columnist Alyson Klein

As we’ve told you before, the Every Student Succeeds Act seeks to strike a balance between continuing federal protections for historically overlooked groups of students (like English-language learners and children in poverty) and reining in the federal government.
That’s led to all sorts of speculation about just how far the U.S. Department of Education can go in regulating on the law and deciding whether state accountability plans are up to snuff.
So where is the line? Good question! We aren’t lawyers, but we have phone numbers for a couple of them, as well as congressional staff who actually helped write the bill.
We’ve got their interpretations below. (Spoiler: There’s a real lack of agreement.)
http://go.uen.org/5Gr

How to Fix the Country’s Failing Schools. And How Not To.
New York Times op-ed by David L. Kirp, professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley

A QUARTER­CENTURY ago, Newark and nearby Union City epitomized the failure of American urban school systems. Students, mostly poor minority and immigrant children, were performing abysmally. Graduation rates were low. Plagued by corruption and cronyism, both districts had a revolving door of superintendents. New Jersey officials threatened to take over Union City’s schools in 1989 but gave them a one­year reprieve instead. Six years later, state education officials, decrying the gross mismanagement of the Newark schools, seized control there.
In 2009, the political odd couple of Chris Christie, the Republican governor­elect, and Cory Booker, Newark’s charismatic mayor, joined forces, convinced that the Newark system could be reinvented in just five years, in part by closing underperforming schools, encouraging charter schools and weakening teacher tenure. In 2010 they persuaded Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, to invest $100 million in their grand experiment. “We can flip a whole city!” the mayor enthused, “and create a national model.”
No one expected a national model out of Union City. Without the resources given to Newark, the school district there, led by a middle­level bureaucrat named Fred Carrigg, was confronted with two huge challenges: How could English learners, three­quarters of the students, become fluent in English? And how could youngsters, many of whom came from homes where books were rarities, be turned into adept readers?
Today Union City, which opted for homegrown gradualism, is regarded as a poster child for good urban education. Newark, despite huge infusions of money and outside talent, has struggled by comparison. In 2014, Union City’s graduation rate was 81 percent, exceeding the national average; Newark’s was 69 percent.
What explains this difference? The experience of Union City, as well as other districts, like Montgomery County, Md., and Long Beach, Calif., that have beaten the demographic odds, show that there’s no miracle cure for what ails public education. What business gurus label “continuous improvement,” and the rest of us call slow­and­steady, wins the race.
http://go.uen.org/5Gd

Where Are All the High-School Grads Going?
More Americans are getting their diplomas—but fewer are enrolling in college. Why the mismatch?
Atlantic commentary by columnist ALIA WONG

The latest national data shows that more students are getting their high-school diplomas than ever before. Just over 82 percent of the students who were high-school seniors during the 2013-14 year graduated, up from 81 percent the year before. The rate has inched up annually over the last few years, largely because of strides made by disadvantaged students—an accomplishment President Obama is likely to highlight in his State of the Union address Tuesday.
But that doesn’t mean more kids are going to college. Quite the opposite. Recently released numbers out of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center suggests that college-enrollment rates have actually decreased—and for the fourth straight year, all despite massive increases in federal aid for students who can’t afford tuition. The number of students enrolling in colleges and universities this year is 1.7 percent lower than it was last year. (The percentage of high-school graduates who immediately enrolled in college fell from 69 percent in 2008 to 66 percent in 2013.)
This isn’t new information, but it is new data for a new year, so it’s worth asking again: Where are all those high-school graduates going if they’re not ending up in higher education? For economists and education experts, the answer is obvious.
http://go.uen.org/5Hg

Using computers widens the achievement gap in writing, a federal study finds
Low-performing fourth-graders do poorly in writing tests given by computer, but high-performing students do better
Hechinger Report commentary by columnist Jill Barshay

Can elementary-school children show off their best writing on a computer? The research arm of the U.S. Department of Education was curious to learn just that. In 2012 it handed out laptop computers to more than 10,000 fourth-graders and asked them to complete two 30-minute writing assignments.
Initial results from the study were positive: most of the young students were able complete the writing assignments and use the editing tools. Soon after, states began rolling out new Common Core-aligned tests that included online writing components. Last year, more than half of U.S. states gave computer-based writing tests to children as young as third-graders. Some wrote their paragraphs with a pencil and paper; the majority used a computer.
But a new, deeper analysis of the 2012 writing pilot, released to the public in December 2015, found more complicated results. It compared the computer-written essays with a pencil-and-paper test given to fourth graders two years earlier, in 2010. High-performing students did substantially better on the computer than with pencil and paper. But the opposite was true for average and low-performing students. They crafted better sentences using pencil and paper than they did using the computer. Low-income and black and Hispanic students tended to be in this latter category.
http://go.uen.org/5Hc

A copy of the study
http://go.uen.org/5Hd (National Center for Education Statistics)

Letting students sink doesn’t teach them to swim
Washington Post commentary by columnist Jay Mathews

In conferences, debates and panel discussions about schools, I await mention of the unmentionable issue: grading. It never comes.
We discuss tests, teacher assessments, Common Core standards and school ratings, but not student report cards, the greatest source of stress and miscommunication in our education system.
I opened Richard DuFour’s new book, “In Praise of American Educators: And How They Can Become Even Better,” expecting the same report card avoidance. DuFour is a celebrated consultant with long experience at an exceptional high school — Stevenson in Lincolnshire, Ill. — but he has to deal with the usual issues because that’s what he’s paid for.
But in the middle of the book, he surprised me. He launched a brilliant attack on the notion that tough grading will prepare students for the real world. So many of our educators, as well as the rest of us, think F’s build character and save struggling students from lives of sloth and poverty.
DuFour recommends that schools provide students who are not learning with extra time and support. This makes educators, particularly those in secondary schools, uncomfortable.
http://go.uen.org/5H2

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Supreme Court weighs union fees for teachers: Is it a matter of free speech?
Los Angeles Times

The outcome of a major case on labor unions before the Supreme Court on Monday may turn on whether the conservative justices adopt a broad view of the free-speech rights of public employees, a position that liberals had favored before.
The justices will hear a 1st Amendment challenge brought by Rebecca Friedrichs and eight other California teachers who object to the “fair share fee” they must pay to their union.
They contend the laws in California and 22 other states are unconstitutional because they authorize these collective bargaining deals between unions and public employers, including a school district.
The case of Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Assn. has drawn wide attention because of its potential political impact. Public employee unions have strongly supported Democrats and have been targeted by several Republican governors.
But there has been less focus on the 1st Amendment issue at the heart of the case.
http://go.uen.org/5Gs

http://go.uen.org/5Hf (Politico)

http://go.uen.org/5Gt (CSM)

http://go.uen.org/5H4 (Reuters)

http://go.uen.org/5H7 (AP)

The new federal education law returns power to the states. But how will they use it?
Washington Post

With the passage of a federal education law that returns a significant amount of authority to the states, lawmakers and state school officials around the country are readying for an opportunity to reshape local education policies without the onerous requirements of No Child Left Behind.
Signed into law last month, the Every Student Succeeds Act puts strict limits on the extent of federal influence in schoolhouses, giving states more say over how they evaluate teachers and over their own academic standards. States will be looking to build their own systems for measuring whether their schools are effective — and will decide what to do when they’re not. States also will have much greater latitude to decide how teachers are evaluated.
The new law not only gives states the flexibility they sought from the strictures set by No Child Left Behind, but also an opportunity to build their own academic standards and accountability systems from scratch. With that freedom, some states may choose to depart from the course set by the Obama administration.
http://go.uen.org/5H1

Education Spending Per Student by State
Governing magazine

The Census Bureau compiles data on education spending per pupil and elementary/secondary education revenues for each state.
Spending amounts shown reflects current spending, which does not include capital outlays, interest on debts and payments to other governments. Data was last updated in June 2015 for fiscal year 2013.
Please note that the reported totals cannot be reliably compared among states. Figures reported do not account for discrepancies in cost of living, which are typically calculated for specific metropolitan areas. In addition, accounting methods vary among state agencies. (State-by-state differences are listed in Appendix B of the Census Bureau’s report on education finances).
Select a state in the menu below to view reported education revenues and expenditures by state, or refer to the table below to see how state totals compare after adjusting for inflation:
http://go.uen.org/5He

Bill would protect student social media privacy
Casper (WY) Star Tribune

Lawmakers are proposing a bill to protect the privacy of students’ social media accounts and to mandate that Wyoming Department of Education officials draft a statewide data privacy policy.
From Facebook to Instagram, Senate File 14 would prohibit teachers and school officials from requiring students to provide access to personal accounts. The bill includes a $1,000 fine for a first time violation of student data privacy, and a $2,500 fine for subsequent offenses.
Accounts created in school would be precluded from the privacy protections. Officials would still be allowed to access a student’s public account, and the bill would not inhibit law enforcement investigations related to information on students’ online accounts.
http://go.uen.org/5Gv

GED no longer top high school equivalency test in Wyoming
(Cheyenne) Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – The GED certificate is beginning to look like a thing of the past.
Just 49 test-takers in Wyoming in 2015 opted to take the GED (graduate equivalency diploma) test, according to preliminary numbers released Jan. 1.
But another 1,993 took the High School Equivalency Test (HiSET).
Wyoming began offering HiSET in 2014 after the U.S. Department of Education began allowing states to offer alternatives to the GED.
http://go.uen.org/5Gu

What The People Who Read Your College Application Really Think
(Boston) WGBH via NPR

Time to get together the transcripts, the test scores and put the final touches on those personal essays. It’s college application season, again.
To a lot of students, the process seems wrapped in a shroud of mystery. What exactly happens when you send your application out into the unknown only to… wait?
Well, here’s a glimpse behind the curtain at one school:
Inside a tiny conference room at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, the admissions committee is preparing to review 23 applications. They’ll spend about two minutes on each before deciding whether to accept or deny admission, or place the application on hold.
To speed things along, the committee uses a lot of jargon, like “L-B-B” for late blooming boy, and “R-J” for rejection.
If it sounds like they’re cutting corners, know that before the committee meets around the table, each application gets a close look from two of the members.
Then it’s condensed into a single one-page profile.
http://go.uen.org/5GX

Will California’s Booming Economy Pay Off in Pupil Spending?
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Soaring tax revenues have carried per-pupil education spending in California beyond where it stood before the Great Recession.
But advocates and education officials say the record sum proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown is unlikely to reverse the state’s standing as a comparative miser when it comes to investing in public schools.
Brown, a Democrat known for preaching fiscal restraint, released a budget plan last week that would boost state spending per student to $10,591 in the next fiscal year. That’s at least $2,000 more than the state spent in 2007 before the recession triggered several years of cuts.
With California consistently ranking in the bottom 10 in state-by-state rankings of school expenditures and student-teacher ratios, lawmakers and education officials say there may not be enough to get the state even to the national average.
http://go.uen.org/5H8

Apple’s iOS 9.3 features education, blue light, CarPlay improvements
Apple’s iOS 9.3 beta adds a bevy of iPad features designed to court educators and admins who have been gravitating to Google’s Chromebooks.
ZD Net

Apple announced the preview for iOS 9.3 with a emphasis on education features for the iPad, a screen that adjusts its blue light exposure based on the time of day and enhancements to CarPlay.
The company offered details on its iOS 9.3 beta for developers and the preview features are notable for education. Google and Apple are duking it out in educational institutions with the search giant using Chromebooks and Google Apps as its beachhead. Apple is going the iPad route as its biggest education play. A recent report noted that Google is schooling Apple and Microsoft in education.
http://go.uen.org/5Hi

Teacher ‘sick-out’ absences close dozens of Detroit schools
Reuters

Teachers calling in sick to protest dissatisfaction with school infrastructure closed about two-thirds of the Detroit Public Schools on Monday, school district and union officials said.
Sixty-four of the district’s 97 schools were closed on Monday morning, Detroit Public Schools spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski said. Roughly 46,300 students are enrolled in district schools.
The school district is drowning under $3.5 billion of debt and needs to be rescued by the state of Michigan, according to a report released on Wednesday by Citizens Research Council of Michigan, a nonprofit public affairs group. The district has been under state oversight since 2009, but continues to struggle financially due to falling enrollment and hefty pension and debt obligations.
http://go.uen.org/5H5

http://go.uen.org/5H6 (Detroit Free Press)

Special Ed Teacher’s Tactics Not Abuse
Courthouse News Service

CINCINNATI – A teacher who allegedly strapped her students to potty training toilets and gagged one with a bandana did not violate their due process rights, the Sixth Circuit ruled on Thursday.
The decision by three-judge panel upheld at earlier ruling by U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary, who found that the woman’s actions “did not rise to the ‘egregious’ level of unjustified misbehavior” required to bring a suit.
http://go.uen.org/5H9

http://go.uen.org/5Ha (Ed Week)

A copy of the ruling
http://go.uen.org/5Hb (Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals)

Westboro Baptist Church protesters met with hundreds of chanting students at Redondo Union High
(Torrance, CA) Daily Breeze

A handful of anti-gay picketers from the Westboro Baptist Church were overwhelmed Monday morning by a large crowd of counter-protesters waving rainbow flags and signs outside Redondo Union High School.
More than 300 chanting students and community members lined the south side of Diamond Street across from a half-dozen members of the anti-gay Kansas church known for its vitriolic protests across the country.
The church was in Southern California this weekend to picket the Golden Globe Awards, announcing it would also “go to the Redondo Union High School Wasteland to warn the living.”
Shortly after members of the group arrived at 7 a.m. with signs reading, “God hates your idols” and “God hates proud sinners,” counter-protesters shielded them with a large rainbow banner and stood next to them with signs featuring slogans such as “Hooray 4 Gay!” and “Free Hugs.”
Church members hardly interacted with the demonstrators surrounding them chanting “Love is love!”
http://go.uen.org/5H3

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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

January 12:
Administrative Rules Review Committee meeting
10 a.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/Interim/2016/html/00000077.htm

January 13:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
9 a.m., 250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://go.uen.org/1pn

January 14:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
9 a.m., 250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://go.uen.org/1pn

January 25:
Utah Legislature
First day of the 2016 general session
http://le.utah.gov/

January 26:
Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
8 a.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?Year=2016&Com=APPPED

Senate Education Committee meeting
2 p.m., 210 Senate Building
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?Year=2016&Com=SSTEDU

January 27:
House Education Committee meeting
2 p.m., 30 House Building
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?Year=2016&Com=HSTEDU

January 28:
Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
8 a.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?Year=2016&Com=APPPED

Utah State Board of Education legislative meeting
Noon, 210 Senate Building
http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda.aspx

Executive Appropriations Committee meeting
5 p.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?Year=2016&Com=APPEXE

February 4:
Utah State Board of Education study session and committee meetings
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda.aspx

February 5:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda.aspx

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