Education News Roundup: Jan. 14, 2016

Utah State Capitol

Utah State Capitol

Today’s Top Picks:

Cache and Logan districts ponder the upcoming legislative session.
http://go.uen.org/5JG (LHJ)

United Way calls for more early childhood education funding.
http://go.uen.org/5JF (DN)

Utah Catholic schools adopt Next Generation Science Standards.
http://go.uen.org/5Ki (IC)

U.S. News & World Report looks at where federal education spending goes. Here are the top three expenses:
1. Pell Grant program.
2. Title I.
3. Special education.
http://go.uen.org/5Kc (USN&WR)

Nationally, the opt-out movement hopes to keep up its momentum this year.
http://go.uen.org/5K7 (Ed Week)

Ohio looks at education governance in that state, including its state board.
http://go.uen.org/5Kb (Columbus Dispatch)

What happens when students’ cell phones eat up all of a school’s wi-fi bandwidth?
http://go.uen.org/5K0 (NYT)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Local school districts gear up for legislative session

United Way echoes call for early childhood education funding

Diocesan schools adopt new science standards

David Damschen sworn in as new state treasurer
State government » New treasurer was former deputy, is overseeing effort to rebid state contract for credit card, online payments.

Why a Utah lottery is not in the cards anytime soon

New elementary school boundary lines approved by Davis School Board

Things that go POP: Science comes alive at chemistry demonstration

Computer program helping WCSD preschoolers

Data show number of children not being vaccinated on the rise

Salt Lake District considers adjusting start time for high schools

Utah County student draws attention to state college-bound scholarship inequities

Ben Lomond High’s new, family-friendly swimming pool is open for business

Juan Diego CHS seniors impact community with week of volunteer service at 30 local agencies

Name, mascot and colors of new high school will be announced at Cache School Board

Utah high school students urged to join entrepreneurial contest

Awards will honor Utah’s top arts leaders

Utah Catholic Schools Open Houses

School blasted for ‘sandwich of shame’ policy aimed to collect lunch debts

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Clara’s Warnings

A prescription for achievement and empowerment
Common-sense education can return America to global pre-eminence

Military Families Need Common Core
The ability to compare schools all over the country is vital to our men and women in uniform.

Half the people working in schools aren’t classroom teachers—so what?

AP at scale: Public school students in Advanced Placement, 1990–2013

NATION

Opt-Out Activists Aim to Build on Momentum in States

How one student asked the state to tackle a looming education question

How Would California Reshape Accountability in the New ESSA Era?

Federal Education Funding: Where Does the Money Go?
Here’s a look at what your tax dollars have gone toward in the education sphere.

Analytics: 4 Lessons Schools Can Learn From the NBA (and Vice Versa)

Schools in Poor Areas Have More Students with Mental Health Needs
Across the country, schools are ill-equipped to provide necessary mental health screening and services to the neediest students. A new law may change that.

State education board’s role should be diminished, board president says

Skandera blames NM education troubles on low expectations

ACLU: Draft NSAA transgender policy exposes schools to lawsuits

Add a Muslim holiday? Remove a Jewish one? Schools debate calendars as diversity increases

The father of a boy killed at Sandy Hook gets death threats; some people who say the shooting was a hoax

Lawmaker: School Shootings Have Made Teachers 1st Responders

Nevada inks contract to get laptops to middle schoolers

Bronx Science Bans Cellphones From Wi­Fi as Students Devour It

Wisconsin Official Stands by Flagging Fan-favorite Taunts

French Alps avalanche hits school group, three dead

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UTAH NEWS
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Local school districts gear up for legislative session

Both the Cache County School District and the Logan City School District are prepping for the upcoming legislative session, which starts Jan. 25.
Dozens of bills relating to education have been filed already, leaving districts to figure out how these bills might affect them.
“As we’ve been talking budgets with legislators, etc., we’ve been saying that all of the bills they’ve been putting up there, they’re all great and there are many that we support with our organizations,” Logan City School District Superintendent Frank Schofield said. “What we’re pushing for is, first of all, fund enrollment growth for new students in the state, money on the (weighted pupil unit) to keep current operations steady and then money on the WPU to address our teacher shortage and do some recruitment and retention issues.”
WPUs are the way student enrollment is counted for how funds are distributed by the state.
Cache County School District Superintendent Steve Norton also supports the idea of funding more WPUs.
“There are so many dollars and so many pressing needs,” Norton said. “Right now, I’m in total support the governor’s recommendation of putting the money into the WPU and letting local districts make the decision of where it’s best to spend that money.”
http://go.uen.org/5JG (LHJ)

United Way echoes call for early childhood education funding

SALT LAKE CITY — Community leaders are joining a chorus of advocates calling on lawmakers to expand funding for preschool and optional extended-day kindergarten in Utah.
That kind of investment, they say, will help level the playing field for many low-income, minority and at-risk students, narrowing a pervasive performance gap that separates them from their majority counterparts.
“When kids are given the opportunity to develop a full working vocabulary, to learn colors and shapes, to have the opportunities that most of us take for granted, they will be on grade level and be far more likely to graduate from high school prepared to go to college,” said Bill Crim, president and CEO of United Way of Salt Lake.
Crim and a group of educators and lawmakers voiced their support for upcoming legislation to expand early learning, as well as teacher resources, during United Way of Salt Lake’s legislative preview Wednesday.
http://go.uen.org/5JF (DN)

Diocesan schools adopt new science standards

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Catholic School students are learning a new way of approaching science that has them loving the subject, teachers say.
The Next Generation Science Standards, which a handful of the 16 schools already have implemented and the others will begin next school year, are “a way to help students become better critical thinkers” by delving deeper into core subjects, said Mark Longe, superintendent of Utah Catholic schools.
The change came about as the diocese conducted a routine review of its science standards, he said. Some schools had already begun incorporating the new curriculum because the teachers and administrators liked its approach, and it is aligned with the testing they do.
http://go.uen.org/5Ki (IC)

David Damschen sworn in as new state treasurer
State government » New treasurer was former deputy, is overseeing effort to rebid state contract for credit card, online payments.

David Damschen took the oath of office Wednesday as Utah state treasurer.
State Supreme Court Justice John Pearce administered the oath of office after Gov. Gary Herbert picked Damschen last month to replace Richard Ellis, who stepped down from the elected office to take an executive post at the Utah Education Savings Plan. Damschen had spent six years as top deputy to Ellis in the treasurer’s office. He previously was senior vice president and director of AmericanWest Bank and vice president of institutional trust and custody at U.S. Bank.
“David epitomizes our fiscal conservative approach to government,” Herbert said in a statement announcing the appointment. “I have full confidence that his vision, knowledge and experience will continue to lead the Utah team to maintain our strong fiscal health and Triple-A Bond rating.”
As treasurer, Damschen will control the disbursement of state money and manage various investment funds, including the Public Treasurer’s Investment Fund and the Permanent School Fund.
http://go.uen.org/5JC (SLT)

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

http://go.uen.org/5JE (UP)

http://go.uen.org/5JW (SGN)

Why a Utah lottery is not in the cards anytime soon

SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns flocking to Idaho or Wyoming might have a better chance to win the $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot than the Beehive State has for running its own lottery.
Even before Utah became a state 120 years ago this month, early leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made it clear gambling wasn’t welcome.
Nothing has changed.
Utah is one of two states that prohibits all forms of gambling, and it is among six states that don’t have a government-sanctioned lottery. And other than a few online petitions and calls for Utah to “grow up,” there have been no serious efforts over the years to change the Utah Constitution to make way for Powerball or Mega Millions.
“I would suggest that any wise legislator or any wise governor would shoot it down immediately,” said Joseph Rust, a longtime Salt Lake attorney who studies gambling issues.
Legalizing any kind of gambling in the state would pave the way for Native American tribes in Utah to open casinos, Rust said.
Federal law in 1988 recognized the right of Indian tribes to build casinos or other gambling establishments on their reservations, as long as the state where they are located has some form of legalized gambling.

Rust sees state-run lotteries as a “deceitful policy” that hurts poor people and fails economically. The state, he said, is better to raise taxes for education or roads so everyone pays a fair share and it doesn’t burden the needy.
“It’s not as popular, but it’s a safer way,” he said.
http://go.uen.org/5Kl (DN)

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

New elementary school boundary lines approved by Davis School Board

FARMINGTON — After months of deliberation and redrawing the lines several times, the Davis School Board has set new boundaries for six elementary schools in growing areas of Farmington and Kaysville.
Board members chose to divide schools along neighborhood lines, focusing on creating community schools, instead of selecting a plan that would divide students based on whether they’re in a Spanish immersion program or traditional English-speaking classes. The decision was made during a meeting held Tuesday, Jan. 12 at the district offices located 70 E. 100 North in Farmington.
The district is building two new elementary schools to accommodate current and predicted enrollment growth. Elementary School 61 at 650 W. Glover Lane in Farmington, and Elementary School 62 at 200 N. Bonneville Drive in Kaysville, are scheduled to open in fall 2016.
The addition of the new buildings made it necessary to redraw boundary lines to split four school populations into six. Students affected by boundary changes attend Eagle Bay, Endeavour, Snow Horse and Heritage elementary schools.
http://go.uen.org/5JR (OSE)

Things that go POP: Science comes alive at chemistry demonstration

SALT LAKE CITY—Some things were changing colors, others changing shape, foaming, bubbling or growing.
Some things were flaming out, others turning black, smelling, imploding or exploding.
As they watched the elements react and interact, students from Valley View Elementary in Bountiful were oohing and ahhing, plugging their ears and cheering.
Some of the biggest oohs came when colors changed and then changed again. The biggest cheers went to the explosions.
University of Utah students studying the sciences put on a show in the Henry Eyring Chemistry Building for more than 350 students in third through sixth grades.
http://go.uen.org/5Kp (DCC)

Computer program helping WCSD preschoolers

A curriculum used within the Washington County School District is giving preschoolers a boost to their literacy skills before starting kindergarten.
The Waterford Institute’s learning software for students has become a permanent fixture for students within the WCSD’s Title I Schools. The educational tools are designed to help students improve their education as they prepare for kindergarten with a strong focus on literacy.
Waterford’s at-home UPSTART program was recently shown to improve literacy at a higher rate among participants than those who do not participate, according to a report from the Evaluation and Training Institute. UPSTART was modeled after the Waterford Early Learning program, which uses the same educational methods and software of UPSTART but in a classroom rather than home setting.
http://go.uen.org/5JU (SGS)

Data show number of children not being vaccinated on the rise

SALT LAKE CITY — New data from the Utah Department of Health shows the number of parents not immunizing their children is on the rise.
Health officials said nearly 2,300 of the 50,000 students in kindergarten or preschool around the state are not immunized.
This school year, 4.6 percent of children did not receive vaccines, up from 4.3 percent the year before, according to the state health department. That number is pushing Utah very close to what the department calls a dangerous threshold.
Health officials say when less than 95 percent of the population is vaccinated, the opportunity for an outbreak increases.
http://go.uen.org/5JP (DN)

A copy of the report
http://go.uen.org/5HL (Utah Department of Health)

Salt Lake District considers adjusting start time for high schools

SALT LAKE CITY — Should high school students in the Salt Lake City School District start classes later than 7:45 a.m.?
The Salt Lake City School District Board of Education is distributing a survey asking parents, district workers and students about time, in particular, whether students are getting enough sleep.
http://go.uen.org/5JQ (DN)

http://go.uen.org/5JZ (KNRS)

Utah County student draws attention to state college-bound scholarship inequities

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah County’s Deputy Attorney Tim Taylor may have the persuasive speaking skills to convince jurors in Provo’s 4th District Court, but it was his daughter, Madison, who helped convince a legislative committee to change how state higher education handles an incentive scholarship program for college-bound students.
Utah County Deputy Attorney Tim Taylor talks about problems with the state’s Regents Scholarship as his daughter, Madison, and Rep. David Lifferth, R-Eagle Mountain, look on during a hearing Jan. 12. Tim Taylor’s efforts helped reverse a decision for Madison Taylor’s scholarship after finding what he said was glitch in the scholarship policy that did not square with state law.
Tuesday morning in an Administrative Rules Review Committee’s meeting, the two Taylors addressed concerns about high school students who were denied the Utah Regents’ Scholarship despite stellar academic qualifications.
http://go.uen.org/5JX (BYU Universe)

Ben Lomond High’s new, family-friendly swimming pool is open for business

OGDEN — Ben Lomond High School’s swimming pool is now open after undergoing a total renovation — complete with new family-friendly features.
“The school wanted to make it more family-friendly even though it is a competitive pool,” said Zac Williams, Ogden School District director of communications.
The Ben Lomond pool, located at 1080 9th St., officially opened for business this week. Construction on the remodel began in Spring 2015 after the renovation of the Ogden High School pool was complete, Williams said.
http://go.uen.org/5JS (OSE)

Juan Diego CHS seniors impact community with week of volunteer service at 30 local agencies

DRAPER — One school, 234 seniors each offering 40 hours of volunteer work: If each hour were paid at minimum wage, that would translate to more than $67,000 donated in one week to 30 different agencies throughout Utah by Juan Diego Catholic High School seniors as part of a metamorphosis of the service program of the school.
Dave Brunetti, JDCHS’ director of Campus Life, led this effort Jan. 4-8 with the goal to fully engage the students in the participation of a meaningful service.
The school requires graduating seniors to have 100 volunteer hours in the community; “some traveled the world in humanitarian missions, others did the bare minimum,” Brunetti said, and “we were concerned that most of our students never came in contact with those most vulnerable members of our society. It’s one thing to prepare students for college and career, quite another to teach them to care.”
http://go.uen.org/5Kk (IC)

Name, mascot and colors of new high school will be announced at Cache School Board

The name, colors and mascot for the new North Logan High School are expected to be approved at today’s meeting of the Cache County School Board.
http://go.uen.org/5JT (CVD)

Utah high school students urged to join entrepreneurial contest

SALT LAKE CITY — Applications are being accepted for the Utah Technology Council’s new statewide High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge. All students ages 14-18 can participate. More than $22,000 in cash and scholarship prizes are available.
The competition, which is free, is the high school equivalent of the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge, one of the largest collegiate competitions in the country.
http://go.uen.org/5Kn (DN)

Entrance information
http://go.uen.org/5Ko (UTC)

Awards will honor Utah’s top arts leaders

SALT LAKE CITY — Nominations are now being accepted to recognize Utahns who have demonstrated “exemplary leadership in the arts.”
The Governor’s Leadership in the Arts Awards are presented annually to honor talented leaders in the arts throughout the state. Four awards will be given in conjunction with the Utah Arts and Museums’ Mountain West Arts Conference in May.
Individuals, schools, organizations or communities may all be nominated.
http://go.uen.org/5Kg (OSE)

Nomination form
http://go.uen.org/5Kh (Utah Division of Arts & Museums)

Utah Catholic Schools Open Houses

In recognition of Catholic Schools Week, various Utah Catholic schools in the Diocese of Salt Lake City will host open houses.
The list follows:
http://go.uen.org/5Ke (IC)

School blasted for ‘sandwich of shame’ policy aimed to collect lunch debts

KOKOMO, Indiana — An Indiana high school is under fire for serving students who owe money on their lunch accounts a so-called “sandwich of shame.”
According to the new lunch policy at Kokomo High School, students who owe more than $25 are served a cheese sandwich — two slices of bread with two pieces of cheese in between — instead of the daily fare offered at the cafeteria, according to Today. While the school informed parents and students of the change last year, it only recently began enforcing the rule.
http://go.uen.org/5JY (KSL)

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Clara’s Warnings
Salt Lake City Weekly commentary by columnist Katharine Biele

OK, it goes without saying that Michael Clara ruffles feathers. To the Salt Lake City School District, he is also a massive legal headache. It’s not that Clara has no good ideas, it’s just that he never lets go, seldom listens to the other side and doesn’t recognize efforts at collaboration. So when Clara was fired from the Utah Transit Authority, there was likely a collective sigh of relief. But not everything is karma. And in this case, the public trusts UTA less than it trusts journalists and politicians. Clara has worked for the agency for 20 years and was fired after warning about problems with some bus stops and shelters. The warnings came as UTA was trying to get Proposition 1 passed. Whether the two are related is unknown, but even though Clara is an at-will employee, you can be sure we’ll be hearing more about this.
http://go.uen.org/5Kj

A prescription for achievement and empowerment
Common-sense education can return America to global pre-eminence
Washington Times op-ed by Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson

In 1894, Frederick Douglass spoke of the blessings of an education. He said: “Education means emancipation. It means light and liberty. It means the uplifting of the soul of man into the glorious light of truth, the light by which men can only be made free.”
Growing up on the dilapidated streets of Detroit, it became immediately apparent that I had many obstacles in my path and education was the light that would free me. My mother always told me that with a good education, I could go anywhere in the world and be anything. Her discipline and love, coupled with guidance from my teachers, provided me with the tools for success that I so desperately needed.
Today, American students face immense challenges and impediments in their path to success. The U.S. Department of Education continues to increase its control over our education system and the leadership of this bureaucratic behemoth is dismal at best. For young people, obtaining a college degree is becoming harder and harder in the midst of skyrocketing costs.
In a 2012 study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States ranked 27th out of 34 countries in mathematics. This is unacceptable for “the Land of Opportunity.” It should be the highest priority of American lawmakers to remove educational obstacles and empower students of all ages and backgrounds.
My education plan is rooted in five key principles that will place the tools of education back into the hands of “We the People” — the students, parents and local educators.
First, I will prioritize school choice.
http://go.uen.org/5Kd

Military Families Need Common Core
The ability to compare schools all over the country is vital to our men and women in uniform.
U.S. News & World Report op-ed by David Sutherland, retired special assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Jim Cowen, director of military affairs for the Collaborative for Student Success

One of the lessons quickly learned by U.S. military service members is that you move. And move often. On average, a service member moves every two to three years. For those with a family, this can mean six to nine different schools at as many bases during a child’s elementary and high school years.
For veterans with families, the situation doesn’t change once they leave the military. One of the first actions a veteran and his or her family takes after receiving discharge papers is to move. And, as the Census Bureau reports, the average family will move at least two more times before the parents retire.
In either case, mobility can be a recipe for failure for our children.
This is why our two organizations support Common Core. Teaching students to these robust K-12 education standards – and assessing their progress – ensures that the children of our current service members and our veterans receive a high-quality education, no matter where they are.
http://go.uen.org/5JJ

Half the people working in schools aren’t classroom teachers—so what?
Brookings Institute commentary by Susanna Loeb, nonresident senior fellow

When we think of elementary and secondary schools, many of us picture students in classrooms taught by lone teachers, overseen by a principal. In reality, many adults work in schools other than teachers and principals. It may be surprising to learn that there are as many non-teaching adults as there are teachers in U.S. public schools. These adults play roles from supporting students with special needs to coaching teachers to community outreach to maintaining facilities.
Some non-teaching adults help students learn and contribute to fulfilling our goals for school success, but others deal with unproductive requirements or are hired because of poor policy choices that distract schools from their focus on students. As the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) devolves decisions to states about what to hold schools accountable for and how, nothing is likely to be as important at the local level as human resource decisions.
To paint a picture of adults in schools: among academic staff, certainly teachers are central, but librarians (or library media specialists), English as a Second Language or bilingual teacher aides, special education instructional aides, and a variety of other instructional aides also work directly with students. Among administrative staff, schools have principals, but they also have vice or assistant principals, secretaries and other clerical support staff, instructional coordinators and supervisors such as curriculum specialists, and a variety of non-instructional aides. Schools also employ health services staff such as school or guidance counselors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, and speech therapists; and they employ basic services staff such as food service personnel, custodial, maintenance and security personnel, and special education and library media non-instructional aides. Many more adults work in the central office of school districts, especially in large school districts.

Policy decisions affect school staffing. There are large differences across states in the number and types of adults in schools. As one example, Vermont, North Dakota, and Wyoming employ almost twice as many teachers per student as Utah and California. The west employs far fewer teachers (one per almost 18 students, compared to the northeast with one per twelve students).
http://go.uen.org/5Kf

AP at scale: Public school students in Advanced Placement, 1990–2013
American Enterprise Institute analysis

Key Points
* The AP program has expanded rapidly since 1990 to become the primary program for providing US public high school students with advanced coursework, with nearly two in five graduates earning AP credit in 2013.
* Critics of AP’s rapid expansion have warned that the program will be watered down, but the national data do not suggest a decline in AP course takers’ achievement during a period of 35 percent growth over nine years.
* AP participation gaps by race are persistent over time; they are not driven by gaps in AP access but rather by gaps in preparation for advanced coursework.
http://go.uen.org/5K8

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Opt-Out Activists Aim to Build on Momentum in States
Education Week

Activists driving the resistance to state exams are attempting to build on their state-level momentum over the past year, while also venturing into a new political landscape that will test whether the energy behind their initial victories will last.
And they say they’re forging ahead with their plans regardless of how much support they get from traditional education advocacy groups, including teachers’ unions.
Several leaders within the so-called testing opt-out movement, which has gained considerable traction in New York and also found a foothold in states like Colorado and Connecticut, say they will continue to push parents to refuse to allow their children to take standardized exams, particularly state tests, for as long as it’s necessary.
They’ll stop, they say, when states adopt accountability policies that prevent tests from being used to rank, sort, and impose what opponents consider unfair consequences on students, teachers, and schools.
http://go.uen.org/5K7

How one student asked the state to tackle a looming education question
Los Angeles Times

The roomful of grownups closed their eyes because a teenager told them to.
“Imagine if you are 16 years old. It’s only Tuesday, and all you have left is $10,” Sky Lowe, a junior at Oakland High School, said to the California State Board of Education on Wednesday. “You sit there and you ponder: … Will it be bus money to get to school, or will it be laundry detergent for clean clothes? You can open your eyes now.” It’s a decision he was forced to make after his mother lost her job.
The student was one of several who addressed the State Board of Education at its January meeting Wednesday. At stake is the entire foundation of the state’s education system: how California’s public schools are evaluated for their performance.
The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the replacement of the No Child Left Behind Act, is requiring the state to rethink how it grades schools. In addition to measures of academic progress, under the new law states must take into account at least one out-of-the-classroom factor, such as suspension rates, attendance or school climate, a sense of how safe students feel in school.
The state board was going in that direction anyway, but now that the federal law requires compliance by the 2017-2018 school year, it has to figure out exactly how to weight the factors, and how to use them to determine which schools need extra help. The new direction reflects a sense across the country that standardized testing has gotten out of hand, and that academic results don’t provide a complete picture of school performance.
Because Lowe didn’t have enough bus money, he missed a lot of school this semester — enough, he told the board, that in the parlance of school accountability, “you would call [it] chronic absence.” He found himself ready to give up on school altogether, let alone college.
One of his teachers, though, sensed he was struggling and helped him in a number of ways, including giving him a bag of quarters for laundry. “I decided to get my grades up and back on track,” he said. “That is what it looks like to make school engagement a priority.”
http://go.uen.org/5Ka

How Would California Reshape Accountability in the New ESSA Era?
Education Week

The No Child Left Behind Act may be a thing of the past, but its replacement, the Every Student Succeeds Act, won’t be fully in place until the 2017-18 school year.
So where does that leave states without waivers from NCLB when it comes to some of the most hated vestiges of the old law—”adequate yearly progress” and the requirement that districts set aside money for choice and tutoring if their schools fail to meet targets?
California may soon find out. The Golden State is asking the U.S. Department of Education for a reprieve from both AYP (the yardstick at the heart of NCLB) and the requirement that 20 percent of federal Title I money must be set-aside for school choice and tutoring.
http://go.uen.org/5JI

Federal Education Funding: Where Does the Money Go?
Here’s a look at what your tax dollars have gone toward in the education sphere.
U.S. News & World Report

Government spending on education has surged over the last decade and a half, with money being funneled to federal programs for low-income students, students with disabilities and a slate of competitions that the Obama administration launched through the economic stimulus package.
Since 2002, federal funding for education has increased by 36 percent, from $50 billion to $68 billion, according to an analysis by the Committee for Education Funding, a District of Columbia-based advocacy organization. It peaked in 2009 at $97 million, thanks to an injection of dollars from the economic stimulus, most of which went to staving off teacher layoffs.
By far, the biggest amount of federal education dollars goes toward funding the Pell Grant program, a tuition assistance initiative for low-income students. In fiscal 2016, the government is spending $22 billion to fund Pell Grants, twice what was spent in 2002, when the program garnered a little more than $11 billion.
The explosion in the tuition assistance program was a result of more people qualifying for the grant, in part because of the Great Recession and in part because the Obama administration lowered the income threshold to qualify.
The next-largest slice of overall education spending is going toward a grant program for school districts with large numbers of low-income students, known as Title I. Funding for the program also saw a big increase since 2002, going from $10.4 billion to $14.9 billion this year, an increase of 43 percent.
Special education was another big winner, with funding now at $11.9 billion – an increase of nearly 60 percent since 2002.
http://go.uen.org/5Kc

Analytics: 4 Lessons Schools Can Learn From the NBA (and Vice Versa)
Education Week

Our overlords at Google and other companies tracking users’ web behavior undoubtedly already know that I spend a lot of time reading online about two topics: education and pro basketball.
Typically, those interests are pretty divergent. But for Education Week’s new special report on fresh directions in personalized learning, I had the chance to talk extensively with Benjamin Alamar, a former National Basketball Association executive who is now the director of sports analytics for ESPN.
In nearly every sector of society, there’s been a push to collect ever-more data, then analyze that information in ever-more complex ways in search of insights that can help guide (hopefully) smarter decisions. The analytics movement has already transformed the NBA. An analogous revolution in K-12 schools is progressing in fits and starts.
While every industry is of course different, there are parallels across fields. Alamar and I talked about lessons that schools might learn from the NBA—and vice versa.
http://go.uen.org/5JM

Schools in Poor Areas Have More Students with Mental Health Needs
Across the country, schools are ill-equipped to provide necessary mental health screening and services to the neediest students. A new law may change that.
National Journal

Nearly forty percent of youth who needed mental health care between 2011-12 didn’t receive the necessary treatment, according to the Children’s Defense Fund’s 2014 State of America’s Children report. For families living in poverty, that number reached 45 percent, and for black and Latino children, it was 55 and 46 percent, respectively.
But schools may soon have more resources to change that.
In addition to shaking up standardized testing rules, the Every Student Succeeds Act, the nation’s new federal education law—the successor to No Child Left Behind—includes funding for schools to invest in the mental and behavioral health of their students.
The new law authorizes grants to the tune of $1.6 billion. School districts that serve the highest concentration of students living in poverty will be eligible for the most funding, at least 20 percent of which must be spent on mental and behavioral health services per district. No Child Left Behind had a narrower focus on mental health needs—namely through the Elementary and Second­ary School Counseling Program—which was a competitive grant awarded to select school districts.
http://go.uen.org/5JN

State education board’s role should be diminished, board president says
Columbus (OH) Dispatch

The president of the Ohio Board of Education Thursday urged a smaller role for both the board and state superintendent.
“The current governance structure is simply not working,” board President Tom Gunlock told a committee studying possible updates to education sections of the Ohio Constitution.
Speaking to a committee of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission, Gunlock said part of the problem is too many groups trying to create education policy – the governor, legislature and its various committees, and state board.
The board, made up of 11 elected members and eight appointed by the governor, including himself, has become increasingly political in recent years.
http://go.uen.org/5Kb

Skandera blames NM education troubles on low expectations
Albuquerque (NM) Journal

New Mexico is 25th in the nation for education spending but can’t seem to budge from the bottom on performance – a gap Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera attributes to low expectations.
Skandera addressed the issue Wednesday at an Economic Forum of Albuquerque breakfast after her presentation on budget priorities for the coming legislative session.
“It is one thing to say we are going to put money in and another to say we are going to measure and hold ourselves accountable,” Skandera said in response to an audience member’s question on funding levels.
“The culture around expectations is a big, big deal. If you don’t believe it is possible, it is pretty hard to get there.”
Educators must guard against the view that race, poverty and family circumstances dictate a child’s future, Skandera said, adding that these factors are important but can be overcome.
http://go.uen.org/5JL

ACLU: Draft NSAA transgender policy exposes schools to lawsuits
Lincoln (NE) Journal Star

The Nebraska School Activities Association board’s proposed policy on transgender students’ participation in sports exposes schools to lawsuits and loss of federal money, the ACLU of Nebraska said Tuesday.
The ACLU sent a letter to the NSAA about the board’s draft policy, which is one of three proposals making their way through different legislative processes of the organization that oversees school activities.
On Thursday, the NSAA board of directors will consider a proposal that would create a gender eligibility committee to rule on participation requests by transgender students. The proposed policy would require at least a year of hormone therapy by male-to-female transgender students and it would require transgender students to use private locker rooms and bathrooms, or those based on their biological gender.
ACLU officials say the proposal, which the board will vote on Thursday, creates barriers and requires students to jump through too many hoops.
http://go.uen.org/5JH

Add a Muslim holiday? Remove a Jewish one? Schools debate calendars as diversity increases
Washington Post

It came as a victory to many in the Muslim community when a Maryland school district decided to shift its calendar so that students would be sure to have a day off on Eid al-Adha, one of the faith’s two major holidays.
Hindu leaders in Montgomery County soon came forward to ask about Diwali. Then the board got a request about Lunar New Year.
The challenge of how to create an inclusive school calendar — balancing fairness, logistics and legal constraints — has increasingly become an issue for school districts nationwide as they grow more diverse and as religious minorities become more vocal.
The Howard County Board of Education is scheduled to consider a proposal Thursday that would keep schools open on the Jewish holy days of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah for the first time in more than three decades.
The change, one of two options, was suggested as a way to treat religious and cultural groups more equally, school officials say — by closing schools only on state-mandated holidays — but the backlash was swift. Hundreds of people packed a public hearing last month, and hundreds more have emailed the board nearly every day since — most supporting an option to keep the calendar as it has been, while more research is done.
http://go.uen.org/5JK

The father of a boy killed at Sandy Hook gets death threats; some people who say the shooting was a hoax
Washington Post

In December, parents of a 6-year-old boy who was killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 wrote a letter to the Sun-Sentinel accusing a professor at Florida Atlantic University of harassing them for proof that the murders really happened. The professor, James Tracy, was fired by the university earlier this month.
Since then, the boy’s father, Lenny Pozner, has gotten several death threats.
Tracy’s alleged harassment was hardly the first, Pozner said. There’s a whole network of people who believe the media reported a mass shooting that never happened, he said, that the tragedy was an elaborate hoax designed to increase support for gun control. Pozner said he gets ugly comments often on social media, such as, “Eventually you’ll be tried for your crimes of treason against the people,” “… I won’t be satisfied until the caksets are opened…” and “How much money did you get for faking all of this?”
A few days after Tracy’s firing was announced, Pozner got several death threats. A woman (judging by the voice) left messages on his phone that sounded like, “You’re gonna die you [expletives and slurs deleted] …And what are you going to do about it? You can do absolutely nothing. … this is coming to you real soon [expletive deleted]. You going to die,” and “You [expletive deleted] look behind you, justice is coming to you real soon.”
http://go.uen.org/5JO

Lawmaker: School Shootings Have Made Teachers 1st Responders
Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. — School shootings have turned teachers into first responders, and they deserve the same death benefits given to police officers and firefighters, a state lawmaker said Wednesday.
“I remember learning how to play dodgeball at recess; I don’t remember my teachers telling me to lock the door when they left the room and to not open it until the gunshots ceased,” Democratic Rep. Katherine Rogers told the House Finance Committee.
According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 909 school-associated violent deaths in the U.S. between the 1992-93 and 2011-12 school years. That total includes students, staff members and other victims.
http://go.uen.org/5K5

Nevada inks contract to get laptops to middle schoolers
(Carson City) Nevada Appeal

Nevada’s hammered out a contract with an Oregon computer manufacturer to get laptops in the hands of thousands of middle schoolers.
The state announced a deal this week with Beaverton-based CTL to help implement the new Nevada Ready 21 program authorized by the Legislature.
Schools can apply for competitive grants that will be awarded in March. Teachers and principals will get training this spring on how to use the computers as teaching tools, and students will receive a CTL Chromebook with a Google operating system next school year.
http://go.uen.org/5JV

Bronx Science Bans Cellphones From Wi­Fi as Students Devour It
New York Times

When the New York City Education Department lifted a long­held ban on cellphones in school buildings last year, it acquiesced to the omnipresent reality of technology in daily life.
But the change also unleashed tens of thousands of smartphones in the hands of teenagers, eager to gobble away at the nearest Wi­Fi connection like so many hungry termites, eating up their schools’ bandwidth with YouTube streams, Snapchat exchanges and the like. That can leave little capacity for teachers to use the Internet for actual instruction.
Now, at least one school is striking back. At the Bronx High School of Science, the administration has told students not to use the network from their cellphones and has started booting interlopers off, one by one, and blocking their devices from the network.
http://go.uen.org/5K0

Wisconsin Official Stands by Flagging Fan-favorite Taunts
Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — The Wisconsin high school athletics association blew its whistle on fans’ unsportsmanlike taunts and negative chants – including “air ball” and “season’s over” – and directed administrators in an email last month to call fouls on such jeers.
Weeks later, the association’s executive director has apologized to athletic directors for the distractions from widespread ridicule that followed the note, which he said Wednesday was intended as a reminder of a longstanding sportsmanship policy, not a crackdown on enthusiasm.
“The intention of the message was misconstrued and morphed into something far beyond what it was and what it was intended for,” said Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletics Association’s David Anderson, who added that he stands by the guidelines.
http://go.uen.org/5K6

French Alps avalanche hits school group, three dead
Reuters

LYON – An avalanche killed at least three people and seriously injured others when it swept into skiers, including a group of schoolchildren, on a closed slope in the French Alps on Wednesday, the interior ministry said.
The dead were two teenagers, aged 14 and 16, and a Ukrainian adult skier who was not with the school group, according to police and an official from the Les Deux Alpes resort, which is about 50 km (31 miles) from the Italian border.
A teacher had led the group onto the black-rated slope that had been closed due to the risk of avalanches, regional state government official Jean-Paul Bonnetain said.
Three teenagers suffered cardiac arrest while the teacher was also seriously injured, Bonnetain told journalists.
http://go.uen.org/5K2

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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 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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