Education News Roundup: March 22, 2016

fingertips16Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:


Ed Week looks at the capacity of state departments of education as ESSA gears up. (Ed Week)


EDCUtah touts training programs in Utah schools. (Utah Pulse)


Amidst the uproar over standardized testing, ACT introduces the new standardized test: the PreACT. (Ed Week)

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Capacity of State Ed. Departments Waning on Brink of ESSA Rollout For some, cuts may hinder ESSA planning


South Salt Lake City Council debates, effectively tables plan for Granite High property


Provo City School District expands gifted program


Woods Cross students help grant 3-year-old cancer patient’s Disney wish


North Logan School Teacher Dies in Car Crash


How You Can Help Children in Haiti Get an Education






‘If We Move to Utah Will We Have Trouble Finding the Right Workers?’


Students and responsibility


Mississippi Schools Are Rethinking Their Barbaric Corporal Punishment Practices. Finally.






ACT Adds New Test to Its Lineup: the PreACT


At ESSA Negotiated Rulemaking, Lots of Conversation But No Major Action


Standards replacing Common Core draw lawmakers’ criticism


In Shakeup, Teach For America to Lay Off Staff


New York State Regents Elect Betty Rosa as Chancellor


Idaho House overwhelmingly OKs school budget, though Barbieri worries taxpayers can’t afford it


High-rent school districts build homes for teachers


Parents, educators rally behind teacher suspended for ‘racist’ social media posts


Pearson, AFT Square Off Over Company’s Profits, Focus








Capacity of State Ed. Departments Waning on Brink of ESSA Rollout For some, cuts may hinder ESSA planning


Some state education agencies may end up being limited in their capacity to take full advantage of opportunities for flexibility provided in the Every Student Succeeds Act because of drastic budget cuts in recent years, educators and experts say.

While K-12 spending will increase in most states for the next fiscal year, many legislatures are reluctant to give education departments more money, instead directing them to funnel the money to school districts.

Revenue Squeeze

In petroleum-producing states like Alaska and Louisiana, for example, where revenue has plummeted dramatically because of the drop in oil prices, lawmakers this year are considering measures that would cut more than half of their education department budgets.

That prospect is taking place at a time when the recently passed ESSA is handing greater power to state officials to determine how to hold teachers and schools accountable, among other things.

Not all state education departments have suffered.

In Utah, where lawmakers approved a budget that would add $95 million to their K-12 budget, the education department managed to snag money to hire auditors and update some of its computer systems.

But most of the money was sent to districts that have dealt with overcrowding in recent years.

“We are not back to the same level we were prerecession by any means,” said Scott Jones, the state’s deputy superintendent for operations. “We don’t see this kind of thing every year in Utah.” (Ed Week)




South Salt Lake City Council debates, effectively tables plan for Granite High property


South Salt Lake • City Council members spent more than 90 minutes debating the future of the old Granite High School property after Mayor Cherie Wood’s veto of a council-approved proposal to develop the property. But they ended Monday’s meeting without voting.

The failure to act came after lengthy discussion among the council, the mayor, developers and representatives from Granite School District.

The council of seven representatives would have needed a supermajority of at least five votes to override the mayor’s veto of a plan by Garbett Homes and Wasatch Property to build 78 homes and a Wal-Mart on the property. (SLT) (KUTV)




Provo City School District expands gifted program


The Provo City School District is adding a new elementary school site to meet a growing need for accelerated learning options. (PDH)



Woods Cross students help grant 3-year-old cancer patient’s Disney wish


WOODS CROSS — Woods Cross High School has supported Make-A-Wish Utah for the last few years, and this year, one of the children they are helping support lives right in their community.

“If a child qualifies for a wish, then we grant their wish,” said Daniel Dudley, corporate and community manager for Make-A-Wish Utah.

What started out as a cold and high fever in Dec. 2014 led to Teagan Schaerrer being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia just two months later, according to her mother, Kristen Schaerrer.

More than a year later, and with another 13 months to go before her projected end date of chemotherapy, 3-year-old Teagan takes a chemotherapy pill daily. Currently, Kristen Schaerrer said her daughter is doing “really good.”

According to Make-A-Wish Utah, “From as far back as she can remember Teagan has loved princesses and roller coasters, so it is no surprise than when she learned she could make a wish, Teagan opted to visit the Florida theme parks. She and her sister are eager to meet all of the characters from their favorite movies and stories, but are particularly excited to see the characters from Frozen. This is Teagan’s all-time favorite movie.”

Last week, the school held events that raised money for Make-A-Wish, including a volleyball tournament and a school dance.

On Friday, the school hosted an assembly, and several Disney princesses showed up. Teagan loved the assembly. (KSL)




North Logan School Teacher Dies in Car Crash


Leah Jan Tingey and her son Nyals Bodine died at the scene of the crash on U.S. Highway 30 in Idaho, according to Idaho State Police. They say Jan’s husband, Jeff Tingey, was also in the car and was transported to Portneuf Medical Center. They were hit by an 18-year-old driver from Idaho Falls.

Jan was an elementary school teacher for the Cache County School District for nearly thirty years. (UPR)




How You Can Help Children in Haiti Get an Education


The “Have a Heart for Haiti” event is an easy way for Utahns to get involved in making sure children from Haiti receive the best education they can get. Chareyl Moyes and Natalie Winquist joined Good Morning Utah to talk about the event. (KTVX)









‘If We Move to Utah Will We Have Trouble Finding the Right Workers?’

Utah Pulse commentary by Economic Development Corporation of Utah


While Utah’s high-performance economy and low unemployment rate are “problems” other states would love to have, when you combine Utah’s relatively small population with its accelerating job growth and low unemployment rates, you get a unique economic development dynamic that is leading some on looking companies to ask, “If we move to Utah, will we have trouble finding the right workers?”

“It’s an honest question,” says EDCUtah Director of Business Development Erin Laney, “and one we hear quite frequently.”

Data from the Utah Department of Workforce Services highlights the situation: In 2015, Utah’s labor force averaged slightly more than 1.46 million people. Employment for the same period totaled slightly more than 1.41 million people. Meanwhile, unemployment totaled 51,362 people (3.5 percent) and the participation rate was 68.4 percent.

What’s more, state government leaders have demonstrated they understand this dynamic and they are aggressively collaborating with education and business leaders to provide the assurances that Utah will meet the needs of business and industry when it comes to labor. Gov. Gary Herbert underscored this mindset when he announced one significant initiative, the Utah Aerospace Pathways program, by saying: “We look forward to unlocking more opportunities with industry leaders to improve education and to ensure lasting economic growth in Utah.”

Launched in 2015, the Utah Aerospace Pathways (UAP) program demonstrates how Utah’s business, industry, education and government leaders are working together to expand the pipeline of skilled workers to support the state’s high-flying aerospace industry. The UAP was instigated with the help of six key aerospace players: Boeing, Harris, Hexcel, Hill Air Force Base, Janicki and Orbital ATK.

The UAP provides Utah high school students with a pathway to graduate with certificates in aerospace manufacturing that lead directly into aerospace manufacturing careers. The UAP program came to fruition through the collaboration of the industry partners, the Utah Manufacturers Association, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), Davis and Granite School Districts, the State Office of Education, Salt Lake Community College, Davis Applied Technology College and the Utah Cluster Acceleration Partnership (UCAP).

Another pathway initiative is revving up the pipeline of workers supporting Utah’s transportation industry. The Utah Diesel Technician Pathways program is similar to the Utah Aerospace Pathways program in that it was created through a unique collaboration with education, government and industry leaders, this time to open opportunities for young men and women within the diesel technician field. Six diesel technician industry partners in Utah are participating in the program. They are Cummins Rocky Mountain, Jackson Group Peterbilt, Kenworth Sales Company, Komatsu Equipment Corporation, Mountain West Truck Center Volvo Mack and Wheeler Cat.

The Canyons and Jordan School Districts, which already offer diesel technician coursework, are working with the industry partners to fully align their curriculums with industry needs. The program begins in high school with the completion of select classes. Upon graduation, the students complete internships with one of the diesel technician industry partners and then at least one year of training at Salt Lake Community College.




Students and responsibility

Deseret News letter from Chase Rasmussen


I believe that it’s fair to have legal consequences for adults who don’t take responsibility for children who are truant below the age of 16. However, a child that is 16 is responsible for their own attendance at school; a parent can’t really control it, unless that 16-year-old has not acquired a driver’s license yet. If the child is responsible for getting to school on their own — mostly sophomores through seniors — the parent shouldn’t be punished for the child’s inability to make it to their school on time.




Mississippi Schools Are Rethinking Their Barbaric Corporal Punishment Practices. Finally.

Slate commentary by columnist Laura Moser


Mississippi has gotten a lot of bad press in the past year for its in-school corporal-punishment practices, which is perhaps one reason its State Board of Education announced last week its plans to propose its first-ever policy regulating the restraint and seclusion of students, according to the Associated Press.

Under pressure from special-education advocates and civil-rights groups, such policies have proliferated in recent years, and Mississippi remains one of the last states with no guidelines governing the use of restraint and seclusion in schools in response to behavior problems (New Jersey, surprisingly, is another).

And in case you’re wondering what exactly “restraint and seclusion” might look like in a school setting, Mississippi has furnished us with some stunning examples, like when teachers handcuffed kids to the metal railings of the school gym for the dress-code infraction of “sagging pants,” or confined an overexcited first-grader to a three-sided pen on his eighth birthday. (“If I had that contraption in my house,” the mother of the boxed eight-year-old was quoted in the Clarion-Ledger as saying, “and my child told his teachers, ‘My mom puts me in a box when I’m bad,’ I would have been arrested and my kids would have gone to foster care.”)

According to the Clarion-Ledger story, in the 2011–12 school year alone, nearly 1,000 students were restrained or secluded in Mississippi schools, though that number is probably much higher, since data is self-reported and spotty, and districts aren’t required to track these incidents.











ACT Adds New Test to Its Lineup: the PreACT Education Week


ACT Inc. announced Tuesday that it has added a new test to its lineup: the PreACT, a multiple-choice test designed to prepare 10th grade students for the company’s college-entrance exam.

The PreACT, which will be available in the fall of 2016, is a paper-based, multiple-choice test in the same four subjects that appear on the ACT: English/language arts, math, reading, and science. It will not include a writing section. On the ACT college-entrance exam, the writing section is optional.

The PreACT uses the same format, types of questions and 1-36 score scale as the ACT. At one hour and 55 minutes or less, the PreACT is an hour shorter than the ACT college-entrance exam without the writing portion. It will cost $12 per student. The Iowa-based testing company is aiming the new product at schools, districts, and states. It’s not linked to scholarship opportunities, as is the College Board’s PSAT. (ACT)




At ESSA Negotiated Rulemaking, Lots of Conversation But No Major Action Education Week


Washington — If you sat through the long, first day of negotiated rulemaking at the U.S. Department  of Education on the Every Student Succeeds Act, you heard a lot of high-level ideas about funding inequities and testing—but probably don’t have a clear idea about exactly what regulations for the new law will look like.

Some background: ESSA keeps in place annual testing requirments, as well as  spending rules that call for districts to use federal dollars as an extra—not a replacement—for their own spending.

But the law gives districts more flexibility, both on tests—for instance, by allowing high schools to use a nationally recognized test in place of the state exam—and on making it easier for districts to prove that federal dollars amount to an extra and don’t replace local funds. (More on things that the regulators will consider on supplement-not-supplant here, and on assessment here.)

Now it’s up to a team of negotiators at the Education Department to figure out how to fill in the blanks on those two areas. A committee including teachers, state chiefs, state board members, civil rights advocates and others will meet periodically over the next several weeks and try to hash out agreement. If they can’t come to an accord, the Education Department will regulate through the normal process. (Which is less cumbersome, but, arguably, less inclusive.)

The committee can reach agreement on either supplement-not-supplant, assessments, or both. But it can’t agree to certain things under each topic, and fail to reach a consensus on other things. For instance, the regulators couldn’t come to an agreement on say, computer-adaptive exams, but stay deadlocked on how tests for English-language learners should work they would




Standards replacing Common Core draw lawmakers’ criticism (Oklahoma City) Oklahoman


Two years ago, the Legislature ordered the state Education Department to develop English and math standards to replace “Common Core.”

Now, some lawmakers don’t like the proposed replacement and say this should be rejected, too.

The Oklahoma Legislature will take up bills next week that would order revisions in the proposal.

State Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, said it’s not a matter of asking the department to go back to the drawing board, but more in the realm of tweaks and editing changes.

“Overall, the people who spent an enormous amount of time on this did a great job,” he said.

“None of us are trying to play standards experts. But there is room for improvement in an otherwise good product.”




In Shakeup, Teach For America to Lay Off Staff Education Week


Teach For America is laying off some of its national staff and regional staff as part of its transition to a less centralized business model, Education Week has learned.

The group informed staff and partners about the cuts on Feb. 29. Some employees will stay until at least mid-April and some until the end of May, depending on when they’re notified.

It isn’t the first year the controversial teacher-training organization has had layoffs. Some 200 or so employees were laid off last year. But the most recent round appears to have targeted some fairly senior executives, and to have blindsided quite a few staffers. (So much so that one of them turned to TFA critic Diane Ravitch to break the news, which says a lot.)

TFA sources say the basic outline of what was reported on Ravitch’s blog is correct. Some 150 jobs will be lost in all, a reduction of 15 percent. (WaPo)




New York State Regents Elect Betty Rosa as Chancellor New York Times


The members of the State Board of Regents on Monday elected Betty A. Rosa, a former New York City principal and superintendent, as the new chancellor, signaling a sharp shift in the state’s education policies after dramatic protests by parents.

Dr. Rosa has criticized the new, more difficult tests that the state introduced under her predecessor, Merryl H. Tisch, as part of its transition to the Common Core standards. She has suggested that the tests were designed so that many students would fail, giving policy makers a chance to point to a crisis in the state’s schools. On Monday, she said that if she had children in the grades taking the exams, she would have them sit out the tests, as the parents of more than 200,000 students did last year.

Board members are elected by the Legislature, and set education policy for the state.

Dr. Rosa’s election is an indication of how much both politicians and the public have turned against the policies promoted by Dr. Tisch, including the evaluation of teachers on the basis of state test scores. In December, the Regents placed a four­year moratorium on including the scores as a factor in teacher evaluations. Dr. Rosa has said she would like to make that change permanent.

Dr. Rosa, who represents the Bronx, was elected by a vote of 15 to 0, with two abstentions. (WSJ) (Albany [NY] Times-Union)




Idaho House overwhelmingly OKs school budget, though Barbieri worries taxpayers can’t afford it


BOISE – A public school budget that makes way for a 7.4 percent funding increase passed the Idaho House overwhelmingly on Monday, though one North Idaho lawmaker voted against all seven pieces of the budget.

“You’re just looking at so much money,” Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, said after the vote. “There’s got to be a way that we can at least … address the waste. The resistance has got to start somewhere.” (Spokane [WA] Spokesman-Review)




High-rent school districts build homes for teachers USA Today


After waving goodbye to his first graders at Malcolm X Academy, public school teacher Anthony Arinwine slings his backpack over his shoulder, gets into his Nissan Altima and becomes an Uber driver.

“It’s something I never thought I’d have to do,” Arinwine said. “I have a college degree and a paycheck. I thought it would be enough.”

Arinwine teaches in San Francisco but lives in slightly more affordable Oakland, where his $1,700 monthly rent eats more than half his monthly paycheck. Four hours of Uber driving after the 8-hour school day helps bridge the gap.

Arinwine is one of many teachers struggling to live on a public service salary in the Bay Area, where housing costs rank highest in the nation. Many teachers share Arinwine’s frustrations. Bay Area schools have experienced high turnover rates amid an ongoing teacher shortage. The supply of new teachers is at a 12-year-low in California, according a recent study by the Learning Policy Institute, an education research group.

As the gap between wages and the high cost of living reaches a crisis point, school districts are taking drastic steps to keep their teachers in town: they are building affordable housing for them.




Parents, educators rally behind teacher suspended for ‘racist’ social media posts Fox


Calls for the resignation of a Minnesota superintendent grew on Monday, after a high school teacher was suspended for social media posts deemed racist by the Black Lives Matter activist group.

Theodore “Theo” Olson, a special education teacher at Como Park High School in St. Paul, Minn., was placed on administrative leave March 9 over two posts he wrote on Facebook about student discipline in the school district.

The posts were deemed offensive by former school board candidate turned Black Lives Matter activist Rashad Turner who reportedly accused Olson of being a racist. Turner said Olson’s posts show he is “the epitome of a bad teacher” and a “white supremacist,” reported.




Pearson, AFT Square Off Over Company’s Profits, Focus Education Week


The American Federation of Teachers is pressuring Pearson PLC, the global education company, to conduct a business strategy review with an eye to becoming more profitable.

A resolution to that effect will be introduced at the company’s annual meeting in April, from an alliance of organizations representing 193,000 shares of the company, which has more than 821 million shares outstanding.

The AFT has spent years fighting Pearson over high-stakes testing and other issues. Now, the 1.6 million-member union says the company should consider changes designed to ensure that the company makes more money, citing drops in its share price over the past year. But the union doesn’t want more high-stakes testing as a path to do so.

The reason? More than two dozen AFT affiliates’ retirement funds hold Pearson shares.











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April 14:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

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Utah State Board of Education study session and committee meetings

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April 15:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

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