Education News Roundup: March 7, 2016

SNA WakeUp Logo/Education News Roundup

SNA WakeUp Logo/Education News Roundup

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:


D-News looks at what’s coming up for education in the final week of the legislative session. (DN)


And here’s what happened, funding-wise, late last week. (SLT)

and (LHJ)


Sen. Millner’s public preschool bill clears House committee. (SLT)


Weber District considers a tax increase. (OSE)


ED continues to move forward on ESSA regulations. (Ed Week)

and (ED)












From testing to new buildings, big education decisions coming this week


House approves compromise bill increasing funding, transparency for Utah charter schools Budget » Proposal advances while other education funding requests fail to pass.


Utah public preschool bill headed toward final votes after clearing House committee


Utah senators give early support for school tech grant program


Bill could require vaccine education for parents


Weber School Board may raise taxes


Ogden district to present UHSAA with financial-based reclassification proposal


Clearfield High’s HOPE Squad aims to prevent teen suicide


Franklin County teen’s death draws attention to cyberbullying


Homeless for a Night: Students raise thousands for food pantry and thrift store


Local teachers collaborate for screen printing business


Family Literacy Night at Viewmont High expected to draw thousands


Don your ‘scrappy cap:’ Cache District promotes literacy, family reading with ‘Whangdoodles’


Pacific Islander Family Night set for March 10






All aboard: HB301 would ensure safe bus routes


Knowledge and vaccines


Parents and penalties for truancy


Start taking care of all Utahns


Donald Trump’s Education Plan: Several Experts Fearful, Curious … and Baffled


Why Is Education Leadership So White?


Two geniuses, two Americas: Why I want my students to read Ta-Nehisi Coates but believe Lin-Manuel Miranda


Calculus Is So Last Century

Training in statistics, linear algebra and algorithmic thinking is more relevant for today’s educated workforce.


Homework is wrecking our kids: The research is clear, let’s ban elementary homework Homework does have an impact on young students — but it’s not a good one


Solving the Mystery of the Schools






Ed. Department Names ESSA Negotiators, Key Areas of Discussion


New SAT Launches

The redesigned test arrives, amid relative calm among test takers. But not all students seem fully aware of the much publicized changes.


Hillary Clinton: Teachers Are Often ‘Scapegoats’ for Low-Performing Schools


Educators Update Anti-bullying Messages to Protect Muslims


Middletown Schools’ “Swatting” Crisis is Domestic Terrorism Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney announces actions to combat “swatting” in the nation’s schools … starting with the crisis in Middletown.


States Seek to Stymie Hiring Suspect Sex-predator Teachers


Auditor: Minnesota teacher licensing system ‘broken’


Facebook’s Zuckerberg to Bet Big on Personalized Learning


Union High student charged in case involving nude photo of teacher


Do local schools need terrorism insurance?


Catholic schools that fail to serve fast-growing Hispanic population put futures at risk


Not Everyone Says Headgear Is Right Fit for Girls’ Lacrosse


Grin and Rate It: Research Uses Emojis for School Lunches








From testing to new buildings, big education decisions coming this week


SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Legislature has its eye on providing $440 million in new money for public and higher education, according to an executive appropriations proposal advanced last week.

That’s about $18 million beyond the amount Gov. Gary Herbert requested in his budget proposal late last year.

But final appropriations and many other education issues still await approval by the full Legislature as lawmakers prepare to adjourn Thursday. School funding equity, student testing, early childhood education and a new method for electing state education leaders are just a few of the items on lawmakers’ lengthy to-do list.

“As everybody knows, education is my top budget priority. We’ve tried to give the resources as we’re able to education to make sure that we give them the tools … to educate a growing population,” Herbert said. “I’m just so pleased that we’re addressing the challenge and raising the bar.” (DN)




House approves compromise bill increasing funding, transparency for Utah charter schools Budget » Proposal advances while other education funding requests fail to pass.


Charter school budgets will see a boost of roughly $20 million under a bill that passed the House in a 60-11 vote on Friday.

The bill, one of two identical proposals making its way through the Legislature, would broaden the state funding given to charters as a substitute for the local property taxes school districts collect.

But charters would also lose roughly $6 million in per-student funding by switching to the same enrollment calculation as their district counterparts this year.

And the bill would require that the property taxes collected for charter schools be listed separately on tax notices, rather than diverted from district coffers, something advocates of traditional schools have requested for several years.

“This has been a product of much compromise, negotiation and really in the end is a great solution,” said Heber City Republican Rep. Kraig Powell, sponsor of HB193.

But in a year when preliminary budget numbers call for a per-student spending increase of 3 percent, or roughly $73 million, some lawmakers say it’s the wrong time to boost charter schools, which enroll one out of every 10 Utah public education students.

The latest budget awards $15 million to a classroom technology program, down from $100 million requested by the state school board, while directing an additional $5 million to private companies that contract with the state for early learning software.

And several bills supported by the education community were left off the latest budget, such as a $10 million expansion of full-day kindergarten and $30 million for teacher training grants. (SLT) (LHJ)




Utah public preschool bill headed toward final votes after clearing House committee


An $11 million expansion of public preschool is on track for passage as the Utah Legislature begins its final week of deliberations.

The bill was prioritized for funding under the most recent budget agreements last week. And on Monday it received the approval of the House Education Committee ahead of debate by the full House.

“SB101 will open up the door of opportunity a little wider,” said Tess Davis, policy analyst for Voices for Utah Children.

The bill, sponsored by Ogden Republican Sen. Ann Millner, would provide grants for the expansion of preschool programs (home-based and those provided by public and private schools) for at-risk students.

It was approved by the Senate in a 19-4 vote last month, but will require an additional vote by both chambers due to technical changes made in committee. (SLT)




Utah senators give early support for school tech grant program


SALT LAKE CITY — A classroom technology grant proposal is one step closer to making it across the finish line at the Utah Legislature.

Members of the Senate Education Committee unanimously supported HB277, applauding the level of flexibility it gives schools in addressing local technology needs. Schools that qualify for state assistance could use money from the bill for technology infrastructure, technical support, devices, software, professional development for teachers and other projects.

“This really is tailored. It really is locally driven. The (schools) decide where they are and what they need,” said bill sponsor Rep. John Knotwell, R-Herriman.

The bill is the product of a task force commissioned last year to evaluate technology needs in classrooms throughout the state and develop a comprehensive implementation plan. That plan is intended to ensure that student achievement is the focus of any technology implementation, according to Dave Thomas, first vice chairman of the Utah State Board of Education. (KSL)




Bill could require vaccine education for parents


Utah parents wanting to opt out of vaccinating their children could be getting their own lesson in healthcare if a proposed bill is passed.

House Bill 221, sponsored by Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, would require parents planning on exempting their child from getting immunizations to complete an interactive 20-minute online education module. (SGS)




Weber School Board may raise taxes


WASHINGTON TERRACE — Weber School Board members are considering tax hikes.

Weber School District has the second lowest tax rate of 15 districts along the Wasatch Front. That low rate keeps the district from qualifying for additional funding from the state, Robert Petersen told board members during a meeting held March 2, in the district offices. Petersen, the district’s business manager, discussed the possibility of raising taxes to capture those funds.

Through the state’s capital outlay guarantee, school districts considered “property-poor” can qualify for extra funding for capital projects and needs to put them on even footing with other districts.

“Property poor means the assessed value per student. Even though we have a lot of assets, we also have a lot of kids. When you divide the value by the number of kids, we’re poorer than most districts,” said Petersen, contrasting Weber with Park City School District, where property values bring in a lot of tax money to spend on fewer students.

The district cut capital projects during the economic downturn of 2009-10, rather than cutting people, and hasn’t recovered Petersen said. He lists $6,200,000 in readily identifiable unmet needs, ranging from bus and textbook purchases to land acquisitions and capital improvements. (OSE)




Ogden district to present UHSAA with financial-based reclassification proposal


OGDEN — Ogden School District is working on a proposal asking the Utah High School Activities Association to allow schools with high poverty rates to appeal for a lower classification.

Ogden officials say classifying schools for competition based on enrollment numbers doesn’t create a level playing field for those where the majority of students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

“Those schools tend to have lower participation rates, and finances are always a big issue when it comes to competition,” said Ken Crawford, athletic director for the district. “Some of the most competitive football programs have the most money, and can afford to go to camps and pay coaches more.”

UHSAA has scheduled a hearing on realignment format and procedures, at 6 p.m. March 23 at its Midvale offices. During an Ogden School Board meeting, held March 3, Crawford discussed strategies for approaching UHSAA. (OSE)




Clearfield High’s HOPE Squad aims to prevent teen suicide


Positive messages were spread throughout the halls of Clearfield High School during the recent HOPE Week.

“HOPE” is a fitting acronym for Hold On, Persuade, Empower. HOPE squads are groups of students who are nominated by their peers for being friendly and outgoing, and their main goal is to prevent suicides — a problem among teens in Utah and elsewhere.

To help reach this goal, and show there is always someone to talk to, the HOPE students at Clearfield High used the week of Feb. 22 through 26 for promoting their organization and the idea of making a difference each day. (OSE)





Franklin County teen’s death draws attention to cyberbullying


The suicide of a Franklin County teenager who may have been a victim of cyberbullying is increasing discussion and awareness to the dangers of online harassment and its effects on students.

Dayton, Idaho, resident and West Side High School senior Cassandra “Cecci” Porter, 17, was found at her home deceased by her father, Craig, on Feb. 22 following his return from Logan. Although Cecci was active in multiple activities at school, including volleyball, basketball, drill team, track and choir, Craig said his daughter was being maliciously taunted via social media by an individual under a fake name.

“They just said terrible, graphic things about her and told her to kill herself,” Craig told the Idaho State Journal.

In the weeks before Cecci’s death, Cecci left her Facebook account, began seeing a counselor and limited her phone time, seemingly beginning to recover after a previous attempt to kill herself. Despite these measures, Cecci ended up taking her own life.

“Cecci had a big spirit and a big heart,” Craig said. “People that do this cyberbullying need to know that this does hurt people. People die from this, and I hope that no other family ever has to go through this.”

Craig said the support from the community since Cecci’s death has been well received. A GoFundMe account set up to help cover Cecci’s funeral expenses raised nearly $7,500 as of Friday, and a candlelight vigil to honor Cecci was planned at West Side High School before being rescheduled for a time after investigation into Cecci’s death is completed. (LHJ)




Homeless for a Night: Students raise thousands for food pantry and thrift store


Spanish Fork High School raised more than $10,000 in presales for its annual “Homeless for a Night” bash on Friday.

The goal for the bash was to raise more than $14,000, but that won’t be known until after all of the money and final expenses are calculated, which could take a few days.

For six years, students have donated all proceeds to Tabitha’s Way Food Pantry and Thrift Store, a nonprofit for families in south Utah County. (PDH)




Local teachers collaborate for screen printing business


Last Wednesday, after finishing up their day jobs as middle school teachers, Aaron Roth and Andy Dutton were hanging out in the garage behind Roth’s Provo home. With the winter season having given way to spring-like warmth, they threw open the garage door to let the afternoon sun illuminate their workshop, which is dominated by their 10-foot wide screen printing machine.

Roth and Dutton are the duo behind CoLab printing, and they met up to fulfill their latest online orders. The two bounce back and forth around the machine, applying their custom designs in several ink colors to t-shirts and sweatshirts while Roth checks the order list written in his pocket notebook.

CoLab is a hobby that’s morphed into a business. Roth and Dutton met and became enamored with screen printing while attending Brigham Young University, and after graduating they decided to try and fund their love for the art form by taking on client work and selling their designs. They easily raised $1,200 through a Kickstarter campaign, purchased a second-hand screen printing machine and got to work. (PDH)




Family Literacy Night at Viewmont High expected to draw thousands


On Monday, March 7, Viewmont High School will host Family Literacy Night where the Davis School District will sponsor its annual author evening featuring well-known Utah authors.

This year’s keynote speaker is Jessica Day George, author of “Tuesdays at the Castle” series and “Silver in the Blood,” among others, according to Viewmont High School’s website. She will speak at 6:30 p.m., followed by author workshops at 7:15 p.m. and book signings at 8:30. Other featured authors include Richard Paul Evans, Chad Morris, J. Scott Savage and Jennifer A. Nielsen. (OSE)




Don your ‘scrappy cap:’ Cache District promotes literacy, family reading with ‘Whangdoodles’


SMITHFIELD — Wearing in a “scrappy cap” made from a newspaper, second grader Carter Etherington posed for pictures with a man dressed up as Professor Savant, a character from the novel “The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles,” earlier this week at Birch Creek Elementary. (LHJ)




Pacific Islander Family Night set for March 10


WEST VALLEY CITY — The Granite School District is sponsoring a Pacific Islander Family Night on Thursday, March 10, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Granger High School, 3580 S. 3600 West. (DN)










All aboard: HB301 would ensure safe bus routes (St. George) Spectrum op-ed by Rep. Jon Stanard


This year in the Utah state legislature, I am sponsoring HB301, which would provide a grant program for school bus routes that don’t meet the usual criteria for state level funding, but prove to be a safety risk to students who would otherwise have to walk to school.

Current law only provides for state funding if the distance between the school and the residence is greater than 1.5 miles for elementary students or two miles for middle and high school students. There is no ability in current law to look at the safety concerns of routes that would be shorter than this distance.

In northern Utah, schools have issues with students having to cross Bangerter highway. In other parts of the state students have to walk in older neighborhoods with no sidewalks where the students are forced to share the road with cars.




Knowledge and vaccines

Deseret News op-ed by William E. Cosgrove, president of the Utah chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics


This week the Utah Legislature is debating a bill from Rep. Carol Spackman-Moss (HB221) that seeks to provide education to the parents of Utah’s unimmunized children. There are more than 87,000 of Utah kids who are not protected by vaccines and that remain vulnerable to dangerous diseases. The parents of these kids will need to know how to protect them when outbreaks occur. While HB221 does not require vaccines and seeks only to provide the needed protective information to parents, the swirling discussions have identified some fear and confusion about how vaccines actually accomplish protecting our children.




Parents and penalties for truancy

Deseret News letter from Fred Ash


Regardless of home circumstances, it is the parents’ responsibility to see that their children attend school. This law has been in affect for many years, long before the Legislature started grading schools based on test performance. I am sure this penalty in the current law was made law only after it was found that anything less than a legal consequence wouldn’t assure that some parents would accept their legal responsibility of making sure their children attend school. I don’t think the current law is unfair.

SB45 would eliminate Class B misdemeanor penalties for parents of an excessively truant school-age child, which parents refuse to accept their legal responsibility of doing what is necessary to get their child to attend school unless there is a legitimate excuse for absences. What would be unfair is if those truant children at such a young age were allowed to stop attending school without legitimate reasons, because their parents refuse to accept their responsibility of making sure their children receive schooling at least until they are 16 years old.




Start taking care of all Utahns

Salt Lake Tribune letter from Allan Buskirk


As a life-long Republican, I am very disappointed with the lack of accomplishments by this Legislature.

My co-workers are getting sick from the polluted air (as am I), K-12 class sizes are still the same and this Legislature seems to want to give away our money. In the short time left, I urge you to keep these funds to help decrease air pollution (like Tier 3 gasoline, updated building codes), increase public school funding or to drain the swamp that was selected for the new prison site.





Donald Trump’s Education Plan: Several Experts Fearful, Curious … and Baffled Education Week commentary by columnist Andrew Ujifusa


Donald Trump’s thoughts about education policy are mostly a black box. We know he doesn’t like the Common Core State Standards. And he thinks American students produce lousy test scores. But the real estate developer hasn’t weighed in with a comprehensive plan for public schools, or talked in much detail about education, since becoming a contender for the Republican presidential nomination.

So when education policy mavens and advocates contemplate a Donald Trump administration and its impact on K-12, what do they see? In many cases, they’re confused or uncertain about what a Trump-led U.S. Department of Education would do, or not do, if it even survives. But in some cases they have clear concerns, or other thoughts about how he might significantly alter what’s been happening with federal education policy.

(The Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment about his education policy platform.)

Below, you can read some of their answers to questions that touch on the federal government’s broader role in public schools.




Why Is Education Leadership So White?

Education Week op-ed by Michael Magee,          chief executive officer of Chiefs for Change


At this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, the lack of diversity in Hollywood took center stage. And that lack of diversity is striking: For the second year in a row, all 20 Oscar nominees for acting were white. There was a public outcry, but it’s not the first time in recent history Hollywood stars and movie fans have expressed outrage about the inherent white bias for Oscar nominees. The backlash included the resurgence of the 2015 #OscarsSoWhite Twitter campaign, as well as a new plan by the Academy to diversify its membership. Chris Rock hosted the awards and gave a monologue that got to the crux of the matter: a request, in front of millions of people, for black actors to receive the same opportunities as their white peers.

But as troubling as Hollywood’s problem is, there is another, much more consequential profession with an even more striking lack of diversity: that of education leaders—in particular, state education commissioners and school district superintendents.

In districts across the nation, half of all students are students of color. But only around 6 percent of school superintendents are nonwhite, and roughly 25 percent are women. These figures play out at the state level as well, where 88 percent of state education commissioners and state superintendents of education are white and 58 percent are male, according to a survey conducted by Chiefs for Change, the nonprofit organization that I direct.





Two geniuses, two Americas: Why I want my students to read Ta-Nehisi Coates but believe Lin-Manuel Miranda Fordham Institute commentary by senior fellow Robert Pondiscio


I have no idea if Lin-Manuel Miranda has read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me; nor am I aware if Coates has seen Miranda’s Hamilton on Broadway. But it would be fascinating to listen to the two of them discuss each other’s work and their views on what it means to be young, brown, and American today.

All of us who work in classrooms with children of color would be richer if we could eavesdrop on such an exchange.

The parallels are striking. Both are young men of color who have created two of the most praised and dissected cultural works of the moment. Both were recent and richly deserving Macarthur Foundation “Genius Grant” recipients. Each turns his creative lens on our nation. But their respective visions of America, signaled through their work, could scarcely be more different.

We can be a bit promiscuous in our use of the word “genius” but if it applies to anyone, it’s Lin-Manuel Miranda. Anyone who can read, as he did, Ron Chernow’s seven-hundred-page doorstop biography of Alexander Hamilton and think “Hip hop musical!” has a mind like few others.

But where Miranda’s genius burns bright, Coates’ burns hot. He is, by a considerable margin, our most influential contemporary thinker on race. He has made that ongoing conversation both more potent and pointed, arguing for reparations to compensate African Americans for the effects of slavery and Jim Crow. Miranda’s vision is capacious and generous; Coates’s is focused and prosecutorial.




Calculus Is So Last Century

Training in statistics, linear algebra and algorithmic thinking is more relevant for today’s educated workforce.

Wall Street Journal op-ed by TIANHUI MICHAEL LI, founder and CEO of the Data Incubator, and  ALLISON BISHOP, professor of computer science at Columbia University


Can you remember the last time you did calculus? Unless you are a researcher or engineer, chances are good it was in a high-school or college class you’d rather forget. For most Americans, solving a calculus problem is not a skill they need to perform well at work.

This is not to say that America’s workforce doesn’t need advanced mathematics—quite the opposite. An extensive 2011 McKinsey Global Institute study found that by 2018 the U.S will face a 1.5 million worker shortfall in analysts and managers who have the mathematical training necessary to deal with analysis of “large data sets,” the bread and butter of the big-data revolution.

The question is not whether advanced mathematics is needed but rather what kind of advanced mathematics. Calculus is the handmaiden of physics; it was invented by Newton to explain planetary and projectile motion. While its place at the core of math education may have made sense for Cold War adversaries engaged in a missile and space race, Minute-Man and Apollo no longer occupy the same prominent role in national security and continued prosperity that they once did.

The future of 21st-century America lies in fields like biotechnology and information technology, and these fields require very different math—the kinds designed to handle the vast amounts of data we generate each day.




Homework is wrecking our kids: The research is clear, let’s ban elementary homework Homework does have an impact on young students — but it’s not a good one commentary by HEATHER SHUMAKER, author of It’s OK to Go Up the Slide


“There is no evidence that any amount of homework improves the academic performance of elementary students.”

This statement, by homework research guru Harris Cooper, of Duke University, is startling to hear, no matter which side of the homework debate you’re on. Can it be true that the hours of lost playtime, power struggles and tears are all for naught? That millions of families go through a nightly ritual that doesn’t help? Homework is such an accepted practice, it’s hard for most adults to even question its value.

When you look at the facts, however, here’s what you find: Homework has benefits, but its benefits are age dependent.

For elementary-aged children, research suggests that studying in class gets superior learning results, while extra schoolwork at home is just . . . extra work. Even in middle school, the relationship between homework and academic success is minimal at best. By the time kids reach high school, homework provides academic benefit, but only in moderation. More than two hours per night is the limit. After that amount, the benefits taper off. “The research is very clear,” agrees Etta Kralovec, education professor at the University of Arizona. “There’s no benefit at the elementary school level.”




Solving the Mystery of the Schools

New York Review of Books book review by Diane Ravitch, author of “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education,” which will be published in June


The Prize: Who’s in Charge of America’s Schools?

by Dale Russakoff

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 246 pp., $27.00


Mission High: One School, How Experts Tried to Fail It, and the Students and Teachers Who Made It Triumph by Kristina Rizga Nation Books, 295 pp., $26.99


Cory Booker, then mayor of Newark, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with eleventh-grade math students at the KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy, a charter school, September 2010 In recent years, American public education has been swamped by bad ideas and policies. Our national leaders, most of whom were educated at elite universities and should know better, have turned our most important domestic duty into a quest for higher scores on standardized tests. While it is true that students must do well on standardized tests to enter universities, few of the better universities judge students’ knowledge and ability solely by such flimsy measures. Thus it is puzzling why public officials have made test scores the purpose of education.

The heavy reliance on standardized tests in schools began with the passage of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind legislation in 2001. The law mandated that every child in every school would take standardized tests in reading and math from grades three through eight and would achieve “proficiency” by the year 2014. No excuses. Even children who could not read English and children with significant cognitive handicaps would be expected to reach “proficiency.” Every state was left to define “proficiency” as it wished.

The punishments for not achieving higher test scores every year were increasingly onerous. A school that fell behind in the first year would be required to hire tutors. In the second year, it would have to offer its students the choice to move to a different school. By the end of five years, if it was not on track to achieve 100 percent proficiency, the school might be handed over to a private manager, turned into a charter school, taken over by the state, or closed. In fact, there was no evidence that any of these sanctions would lead to better schools or higher test scores, but no matter.

With these sanctions in mind, schools made intense efforts to prepare children to take the all-important tests. In some places, like Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and El Paso, Texas, teachers, principals, and superintendents cheated, changing the scores to save their jobs or their schools. Schools across the nation spent more time and money on preparing materials to help students pass tests and reduced the time for the arts, science, history, physical education, and even recess. Some states, such as New York and Illinois, manipulated the passing scores on the tests by lowering the definition of proficiency needed in order to demonstrate progress.












Ed. Department Names ESSA Negotiators, Key Areas of Discussion Education Week


Get ready, get set: Negotiate rules for the Every Student Succeeds Act!

Later this month, a group of negotiators (names below) will gather at the U.S. Department of Education to hash out regulations for certain parts of the newest version of the Elementary and Secondary Act. ESSA requires the department to go through the “negotiated rulemaking” process on three sections of the law—standards, assessments, and supplement-not-supplant, which deals with how states and districts spend their own funds in relation to federal money. The department is starting with assessment and supplement-not-supplant. (ED)




New SAT Launches

The redesigned test arrives, amid relative calm among test takers. But not all students seem fully aware of the much publicized changes.

Inside Higher Ed


The College Board gave the new SAT for the first time Saturday — crucial not only for the students taking it but for the College Board. With more colleges than ever before going test optional and the ACT gaining market share, the changes in the test were designed to address longstanding criticisms.

The ultimate success of the changes won’t be evident for a while, and will depend in part on scores and how different groups of students perform and how colleges view the results. But if the first test of the new test was to have it given without major glitches, the College Board may just have pulled that off.

Inside Higher Ed had reporters at two testing sites to talk to students as they left. Most students were tired and relieved to have the test over, and some feared that they had not done well on some sections. Those are of course the kinds of reactions one would find any time the SAT is given. Some students seemed unaware that the writing test is now optional, that the guessing penalty has been eliminated and that there are now free test-prep videos available. One student had “no clue” that scoring had changed. Of students who had taken the old SAT and this one, they were divided on whether the new test was better or easier.

Social media, where students vent about just about anything related to the SAT, was relatively quiet.

And surveys by the College Board and Kaplan confirmed that students were adjusting well to the changes in the test.




Hillary Clinton: Teachers Are Often ‘Scapegoats’ for Low-Performing Schools Education Week


Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said teachers are often scapegoated to explain low-student achievement when policymakers refuse to properly fund K-12 education—and she doesn’t appear to see unions as the driving force behind keeping less-than-stellar teachers at low-performing schools.

And she’d like to create an “education SWAT team” at the U.S. Department of Education to help intervene inThumbnail image for Thumbnail image for electionslug_2016_126x126.jpg struggling schools, including Detroit’s, as well as steer federal money to repairing and modernizing schools, and find a new role for the feds in improving the teacher pipeline, she said at Sunday’s Democratic debate in Flint, Michigan, in response to a question about fixing urban education from a parent who is part of a group suing the academically and financially struggling Detroit public schools for better conditions.

For his part, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Clinton’s rival for the Democratic nomination, said he’d make K-12 education a top funding priority by taxing Wall Street investors to provide more money for public schools. He also reiterated his calls for dramatically cutting down the cost of college, and added that he’d like to invest in childcare.

Right now, Sanders said, “you have childcare workers making McDonald’s wages.”




Educators Update Anti-bullying Messages to Protect Muslims Associated Press


MERIDEN, Conn. — In response to a surge in reports of anti-Muslim bullying – students being called terrorists, having their head scarves ripped off and facing bias even from teachers – schools are expanding on efforts deployed in the past to help protect gays, racial minorities and other marginalized groups.

Civil rights organizations and other advocates have been working more closely with schools since the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, stirred a new backlash that led the U.S. Justice Department and U.S. Education Department to urge vigilance on the bullying of Muslims.

While stressing that students have rights under the law, and that offenses should be reported, speakers at schools and mosques have also discussed how to create an inclusive culture, how Muslims are scapegoated for attacks and how non-Muslims can be allies to their peers.

“Muslim kids get bulled, gay kids get bullied because other kids are uncomfortable with them, and they show it,” said Bill Howe, a multicultural education specialist who spoke at an anti-bullying forum in December for children at Meriden’s Baitul Aman mosque. “That causes Muslim students to retreat, to be more isolated. They need to develop critical social skills so they can build relationships.”




Middletown Schools’ “Swatting” Crisis is Domestic Terrorism Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney announces actions to combat “swatting” in the nation’s schools … starting with the crisis in Middletown.

Hudson Valley News Network


Newburgh, NY – Following reports of more than 13 swatting incidents at the Middletown Enlarged City School District, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) announced federal steps to combat “swatting” in schools. Rep. Maloney’s Stop Swatting in Our Schools (SSOS) Act would designate “swatting” as a form of domestic terrorism and create an FBI task force to combat swatting that would coordinate directly with Joint Terrorism Task Forces.

“Students, parents and families in Middletown are being terrorized by swatters targeting our kids, so we should call these criminals what they are – domestic terrorists. I want to put the full force of the FBI behind the investigation and identification of these perpetrators and by creating a specialized swatting task force, and officially designating these crimes as acts of domestic terrorism, we can take a huge step forward to stop swatting in our schools,” said Rep. Maloney.

“I want to thank Congressman Maloney for standing up with our community to fight this action of domestic terrorism that has been plaguing our local school district,” said Town of Wallkill Supervisor Dan Depew.

Since June 2015, Middletown Enlarged City School District has reported at least 13 incidents of “swatting”. In many instances the perpetrators use services designed to mask their phone number, making it difficult to identify the culprit. Earlier this month, Rep. Maloney joined Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to call on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to issue a waiver to the Middletown Enlarged City School District to identify the calling party number used for “swatting”. Earlier this week, the FCC announced they are seeking a public comment period for the petition for the waiver.

Instances of “swatting” have become more widespread over the past several years with the FBI estimating approximately 400 such attacks occurring every year in the U.S.




States Seek to Stymie Hiring Suspect Sex-predator Teachers Associated Press


HARTFORD, Conn. — It’s called “passing the trash”: A school suspects a teacher of sexual misconduct and forces the teacher out to protect the students. But that teacher can still get a new job in a new school, sometimes with a glowing recommendation.

Only Pennsylvania, Missouri and Oregon ban the maneuver, but a federal mandate passed in December now requires states to address its potential risks. Connecticut is considering such legislation.

One woman abused by such a teacher says it’s about time the problem is getting attention.




Auditor: Minnesota teacher licensing system ‘broken’

Minnesota Public Radio


Teacher licensing in Minnesota is “confusing,” “broken” and in need of an overhaul, the Office of Legislative Auditor said Friday.

The system’s problems are partly to blame for the state’s teacher shortage, and the fact that the work is split between the Minnesota Board of Teaching and Minnesota Department of Education makes it difficult to hold anyone accountable for decisions, according to the auditor’s report.

The Education Department also doesn’t do enough to explain why it denies license applications and the teaching board’s appeal process “is not consistent with the law,” the report said.

Erin Doan, the teaching board’s executive director, said the board agrees with the new report’s findings.


A copy of the audit (MN Legislature)





Facebook’s Zuckerberg to Bet Big on Personalized Learning Education Week


Developing new software for K-12 schools. Investing in hot ed-tech startups. Donating tens of millions of dollars to schools experimenting with fresh approaches to customizing the classroom experience.

All are part of a new, multi-pronged effort by Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, pediatrician Priscilla Chan, to use their massive fortune to reshape public education with technology.

“We think that personalized learning makes sense,” Zuckerberg told Education Week in an exclusive telephone interview last week. “We want to see as many good versions of this idea as possible get tested in the world.”

In December, the couple announced they will eventually give 99 percent of their Facebook shares—worth an estimated $45 billion—to a variety of causes, headlined by the development of software “that understands how you learn best and where you need to focus.”

The move set off seismic rumbles in both education and philanthropy.




Union High student charged in case involving nude photo of teacher Spartanburg (SC) Herald-Journal


A student who distributed a nude photo of a Union County High School teacher that he found on her phone has been charged and may face expulsion.

The unnamed 16-year-old is charged with a computer crime and aggravated voyeurism, the Union Public Safety Department announced Friday.

The state’s Computer Crimes Act forbids anyone from accessing personal information in a cellphone without authorization.

Leigh Anne Arthur, 33, a teacher at Union County High School and the Career and Technology Center, resigned after a student took her phone, found a nude photo of her on it, took a picture of it using another phone and circulated it among students.

School district officials have said Arthur should have not left her classroom unattended.

“The dismissal of the teacher is based on her failure to properly supervise her students. Had she properly supervised her students, this would never have happened,” said David Eubanks, interim superintendent for the Union County School District.




Do local schools need terrorism insurance?

Cincinnati Enquirer


It was a fleeting mention, a 20-second soundbite during a meeting that lasted an hour and a half.

Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education member Eve Bolton called it a “sign of the time” in February as she read a report about the school district’s insurance coverage for terrorism. It’s not in response to any particular situation, Bolton said later, just an overall reaction to the world and the way it is.

“It would probably be irresponsible,” she said, “not to cover this situation.”

Statewide, terrorism insurance for schools is common but not mandatory. There doesn’t seem to be an official count of who has it and who doesn’t, but Mason City Schools does, for example. So does Lakota Local Schools and every elementary or high school owned by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Each plan would have its own specifics, but in general, terrorism insurance covers what’s called a “certified act of terrorism,” as determined by the Secretary of the Treasury.

The policies cover property damage, not injuries to people.




Catholic schools that fail to serve fast-growing Hispanic population put futures at risk


The slow pace of change in Catholic schools as they adjust to an increasingly Hispanic Church poses significant barriers to Hispanic families when considering enrolling their children in parochial schools, according to a new Boston College study that reveals complex challenges for school leaders and clergy trying to serve the fastest-growing population of U.S. Catholics.

Despite efforts to increase Hispanic enrollment for the past two decades, the number of Hispanic children attending Catholic schools has remained stagnant at approximately 300,000 – just 2.4 percent of the nation’s 12.4 million school-age Hispanic children, of which approximately 8 million are Catholic.

Cost has often been cited as the most obvious reason, but the first-of-its-kind study “Catholic Schools in an Increasingly Hispanic Church” points to additional factors that stifle school vitality and the Church’s engagement with a young generation that by its sheer size is expected to emerge as America’s most influential group of Catholics.


A copy of the study (Boston College)




Not Everyone Says Headgear Is Right Fit for Girls’ Lacrosse New York Times


One of the country’s most popular, fastest­growing girls’ sports is nearing a move that might seem obvious to outsiders but has instead engendered rigorous debate: offering players protective headgear.

While boys’ lacrosse players have been required to wear hard­shell helmets for years, in the girls’ game, which is played by vastly different rules that generally forbid contact, only goalies are obligated to wear helmets.

But with girls’ lacrosse players wielding reinforced sticks and firing 60­mile­per­hour shots with a hard, unyielding ball, serious head injuries do occur. In a climate of heightened awareness about head trauma in athletics and with a substantial rate of concussions in girls’ lacrosse documented by recent studies, the push for some kind of headgear in the sport has gained traction.

There has, however, always been one intractable obstacle: There has never been a standardized, certified headgear designed for girls’ lacrosse and endorsed by the sport’s governing body, U.S. Lacrosse.

That will soon change with new, regulated headgear set to appear in stores in several months. If sales take off, the headgear, which is approved by U.S. Lacrosse, could alter the landscape of girls’ and women’s lacrosse forever.





Grin and Rate It: Research Uses Emojis for School Lunches Associated Press


WICHITA, Kan. — The smiling, blissful and confused-looking emojis dotting the electronic landscape may hold the key to ferreting out grade-school children’s true feelings about foods, Kansas researchers say, and could help schools across the nation cut down on lunchroom food waste.

Most school lunch programs in the U.S. already do taste tests, but their efforts pale in comparison to the scope of the research project at the Sensory and Consumer Research Center at Kansas State University Olathe, which is developing a scientific methodology to measure children’s face-emoji responses to food. So far, kids in Kansas and Ghana have been the guinea pigs.

The goal is to create an “emoji ballot” that’s “applicable internationally across cultures, across countries,” said Marianne Swaney-Stueve, who manages the center. “And there really is no language barrier.” The researchers also hope it will help schools pick foods that children will eat and help manufacturers make products that schools will want to buy.










USOE Calendar



UEN News



March 7:

Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee meeting

7:30 a.m., 250 Senate Building


House Education Committee meeting

10 a.m., 30 House Building


House Business and Labor Committee meeting

10 a.m., 445 State Capitol


Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee meeting

4:10 p.m., 250 Senate Building




March 8:

Senate Education Committee meeting

7:45 a.m., 210 Senate Building


House Education Committee meeting

10 a.m., 30 House Building


Executive Appropriations Committee meeting

4:10 p.m., 210 Senate Building



March 9:

Executive Appropriations Committee meeting

4:10 p.m., 210 Senate Building



March 10:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City


Utah State Board of Education legislative meeting

Noon, 210 Senate Building



March 17:

Utah State Board of Education study session and committee meetings

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



March 18:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City


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