Education News Roundup: March 28, 2016

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Sorenson Legacy Awards for Excellence in Arts Education/Education News Roundup

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:


Education First continues to speak out. (KTVX)


Logan High considers a schedule change. (LHJ)


Teachers of the Year talk about teaching. (Politico)












How Can Education be Improved in Utah?


School district investigating changing schedule at Logan High


WCSD prepares to find interim school board member


Funding bump makes online preschool program available for 1 of 5 Utah children


Play at high school in Murray features themes like autism, loss and acceptance


Local businesses chip in $20,000 for students


Utah teens compete for chance to visit CERN


Education association honors Davis elementary school librarian


Logan High students learn about DNA extraction


American Ninja Warrior To Speak at Utah High Schools


2016 Sterling Scholars in Southern Utah prepare for judges






Education First has more faith in Utah legislators than history warrants


Making paints from berries and building with bundles of sticks New preschool program grabs national attention


Great Question.


Is Language Immersion Right for My Child?


Education Research Needs Data

Concerns about student privacy must be balanced with the benefits of more research.


Don’t Grade Schools on Grit


For New Teachers, Classrooms Aren’t Just Blank Slates. They’re Blank, Expensive Slates


Why Are Educators Learning How to Interrogate Their Students?


Latinos and Literacy: Hispanic Students’ Progress in Reading






What Teachers of the Year Grapple with at Home


Is Algebra an Unnecessary Stumbling Block in US Schools?


Schools Nationwide Still Grapple With Lead in Water


Education’s Mr. Fix-it

A Philadelphia charter school CEO draws national attention by trying to turn around failing schools in a way that draws both praise and criticism.


Data Lacking About How LGBT Students Are Treated at School, Researchers Say


School threats: A cost beyond dollars


On C.T.E. and Athletes, Science Remains in Its Infancy


Software Flags ‘Suicidal’ Students, Presenting Privacy Dilemma


Daugaard approves state-subsidized scholarships


A Supreme Court Pioneer, Now Making Her Mark on Video Games


‘Diddy’ the schoolmaster? Sean Combs to open charter school in Harlem Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, the rapper, producer, and entrepreneur, joins a long list of celebrities who have tapped their fortunes to fund new models for education.








How Can Education be Improved in Utah?


Governor Gary Herbert says education is his number one budget priority and the state legislature gave him more than he asked for. The final budget set aside about $440 Million in new money to be sued on things like technology and managing growth. A 3% increase in per pupil spending was also approved, but everyone on Capitol Hill agrees there is still work that needs to be done to improve education in Utah.

Rich Kendell and Justin Jones both work with Education First Utah and they sat down with Inside Utah Politics to break down the current state of education in Utah, and how they plan to improve it.

“Education First” is a political action group whose purpose is to improve the quality of education in Utah. Executive Director at “Education First” Justin Jones said the legislative session this year was overall pretty fair to education. Both Jones and Co-Chair of “Education First” Rich Kendell believe the best part of the 2016 legislative session is having a plan. (KTVX)




School district investigating changing schedule at Logan High


Logan City School District educators and parents are contemplating how future structural changes to Logan High School’s seven-period semester schedule could maximize the capability of both students and teachers.

“How do you put both teachers and students in the best position possible to do their best work possible?” Superintendent Frank Schofield said. “That’s the challenge, because whether or not a schedule is successful does not depend on the schedule itself, it depends on what people do with the schedule.” (LHJ)




WCSD prepares to find interim school board member


The deadline to apply for an interim position on the Washington County School District’s board is almost here.

Applications for the District 1 seat will be taken at the district office until 4 p.m. on March 31 before the board conducts interviews during an open session on April 1 — the board will make a decision that evening. (SGS)




Funding bump makes online preschool program available for 1 of 5 Utah children


The state budget approved by Utah lawmakers earlier this month includes an extra $2 million for UPSTART, an online preschool program children complete at home.

That funding opens the program up to 7,800 students, or 20 percent of the state’s 4-year-old population, Utah-based Waterford Institute announced on Monday. Families interested in enrolling can register at

“We’re pleased that UPSTART is helping an increasing number of four-year-olds prepare for school and a successful academic career,” Waterford vice president Claudia Miner wrote in a prepared statement.

UPSTART — an acronym for Utah Preparing Students Today for a Rewarding Tomorrow — was created by Waterford in 2008 after a successful bid for $2.5 million in public funding approved by the state Legislature. (SLT) (Business Wire)




Play at high school in Murray features themes like autism, loss and acceptance


MURRAY, Utah – A play previously only performed at the professional level premiered at Cottonwood High School this past week, and the show examines themes including autism, loss and acceptance.

“Mockingbird” was written by award-winning playwright Julie Jensen. The play follows Caitlin, an 11-year-old girl who has autism and struggles to understand the world around her. (KSTU)




Local businesses chip in $20,000 for students


Several Iron County businesses recently joined forces to offer more than 40 scholarships, totaling approximately $21,300, to the county’s high school students who chose to advance their learning past high school and enter college.

The scholarship fair held March 21 is run as part of the Educational Talent Search, partnered with Southern Utah University, according to Lisa Livingston, ETS/SUU adviser for Valley, Kanab and Fredonia high schools. (SGS)




Utah teens compete for chance to visit CERN


SPRINGVILLE — A team of Utah teenagers is involved in a worldwide competition that could take them to the world’s largest particle physics laboratory in Switzerland.

The CERN particle accelerator near Geneva is full of exotic scientific equipment and people who love to explore the mysteries of the universe. Each year, CERN invites high school teams from around the world to design experiments, then selects the best of the best to come to Switzerland to conduct their experiment in the most advanced lab available.

A team of Springville High School students has their eye on the prize, and recruited Utah Valley University professor Steve Wasserbaech to help them come up with a winning design. (KSL)




Education association honors Davis elementary school librarian


FARMINGTON — Lawni Hamblin, a media specialist at Davis School District’s Bluff Ridge Elementary, has a gift for igniting even the most reluctant reader’s interest, faculty members say.

That gift is the reason Hamblin was awarded the 2016 Paraprofessional Librarian of the Year from the Utah Education Library Media Association. (DN)




Logan High students learn about DNA extraction


LOGAN — A group of Logan High School students received a hands-on experience in DNA extraction through a partnership with Utah State University designed to interest students in STEM subjects and careers.

Following a general procedure, students from Shanda Wenger’s biology classes extracted DNA from a leaf. The goal of the assignment was to teach students how to think like scientists, USU biology professor Paul Wolf said.

“It’s enabling them to experience certain aspects of how science is done,” Wolf said.

Wolf had the students extract DNA from an unknown tissue, enabling the students play the part of forensic scientists to figure out what the tissue was. The DNA was taken to a USU lab to be tested. (PDH)




American Ninja Warrior To Speak at Utah High Schools


Millard High School students will be the first of many Utah students who will meet an American Ninja Warrior this week. (UPR)




2016 Sterling Scholars in Southern Utah prepare for judges


Dixie State University is preparing for the annual Sterling Scholar competition on Thursday, April 7, 2016. More than 180 students from 17 high schools and five school districts will meet on Dixie State’s campus to complete the final round of judging. (SGS)

and (SGS)

and (SGS)










Education First has more faith in Utah legislators than history warrants Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Ron W. Smith, retired Utah State University professor who lives in Providence


Well-intentioned folks at Education First in Utah say not to worry. They have reason to believe the Legislature is ready to develop an annually reliable, dedicated stream of revenue for the funding of K-12 in Utah, even though there wasn’t time enough for doing so during the 2016 legislative session. Hopes are high at Education First.

My hopes were high, too, seven or eight years ago — before I had heard and seen enough to make me decide to become an activist on behalf of public education. My late wife Kathryn had for many years been a public school teacher, and Marcia, my wife of 14 years, was in those trenches for 35 years before retirement, as was her late husband. Through them, their colleagues and friends, I had a front-row seat to the good, the bad, the too-abundant ugly.

The fact is, as long as fiscal conservatives are in charge in the state’s Legislature, willingness to go big and bold for our children’s sake will never be the case. They will always look to what is happening elsewhere in pursuit of excuses not to act, and they will find them. They will seek ways of avoiding the core fact that the secret to good schools is good teachers given the opportunity to do their best work with the best support.

And they will, to their satisfaction, find the ways by scapegoating teachers, their union (UEA), the security of tenure and public schools in general by making tests and test prep the thieves of excitement in the classroom, by personalizing and blending learning or implementing collaborative teaching without consideration for consequences to either teachers’ joy in teaching or their morale, by instituting reward schedules that divide faculties.




Making paints from berries and building with bundles of sticks New preschool program grabs national attention Deseret News commentary by columnist Eric Schulzke


A new preschool program that puts kids outdoors in all weather is gaining national attention.




Great Question.

KNRS commentary by Rod Arquette


Is algebra needed?  A new book is out that argues Algebra is a stumbling block for a lot of students and drives some to drop out. The author also argues that Algebra is also not needed because most of us don’t use it in everyday life.




Is Language Immersion Right for My Child?

Education Week commentary by Heather Singmaster, assistant director of education at Asia Society


My son is in kindergarten and spends half of his day learning in English and half in Chinese at one of the oldest Chinese immersion programs in the country. I didn’t think twice about entering the lottery for admission—in fact, it’s a large part of the reason I left New York City and moved across the country to Portland, Oregon, where 10 percent of public school students are enrolled in immersion programs.

Parents regularly ask me if immersion is right for their child. I almost unequivocally say yes—years of research show that immersion language programs give children a leg up academically—this applies regardless of the socio-economic or ethnic background of a child. Students at “below average levels of academic ability” have been shown to succeed in immersion programs and will learn the second language better. Not to mention that speaking a second language is a distinct advantage when seeking a job and can result in higher pay. Of course, every child is different and there are circumstances where immersion may not the best option.

Here are some of the common questions parents have about immersion and the answers I give:

I won’t be able to help them with their homework!

This is a very practical concern of parents and one that comes up repeatedly. Teachers are aware that parents are not able to provide the assistance at home that they would if their child were learning in the home language. Therefore, many immersion schools offer afterschool homework help. Local afterschool programs may also offer this kind of assistance. My son’s school set up a closed Facebook group for the parents in our class. There are often homework questions posed and answered there. Students can also find a peer to be their homework buddy.

Granite School District (located in Utah, where there are more immersion students than any other state in the country), has this helpful guide for parents of immersion students.




Education Research Needs Data

Concerns about student privacy must be balanced with the benefits of more research.

U.S. News & World Report commentary by Michael Hansen, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at The Brookings Institution


Earlier this week, the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing on data privacy protections for students. At issue is whether and how Congress will update the decades-old Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, commonly known as FERPA, for use in the modern age where big data is king. It’s a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records, and which governs the state and local education agencies that collect and maintain data on their students.

I feel compelled to write on this topic to bring attention to the gravity of these debates. Education research relies heavily on student data, thus any changes to the law could have very serious implications for both the research industry and those who rely on it to make education policy decisions. At the same time, I must also acknowledge that I am not an unbiased commentator on this issue, as just about every research study I have conducted has utilized student data made available to me as a researcher from state or district databases. With that caveat aside, though, let’s discuss the issues.

To begin, what are the underlying public concerns driving the demand for greater privacy? According to the testimony of Rachael Stickland, co-founder and co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, presented during the committee hearing, these concerns include: providing access liberally to various organizations with no interest in helping to improve the education system, collecting too much unnecessary data, and the vulnerability of any sensitive data to security breaches.




Don’t Grade Schools on Grit

New York Times op-ed by ANGELA DUCKWORTH, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania


Philadelphia — THE Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once observed, “Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.”

Evidence has now accumulated in support of King’s proposition: Attributes like self­control predict children’s success in school and beyond. Over the past few years, I’ve seen a groundswell of popular interest in character development.

As a social scientist researching the importance of character, I was heartened. It seemed that the narrow focus on standardized achievement test scores from the years I taught in public schools was giving way to a broader, more enlightened perspective.

These days, however, I worry I’ve contributed, inadvertently, to an idea I vigorously oppose: high­stakes character assessment. New federal legislation can be interpreted as encouraging states and schools to incorporate measures of character into their accountability systems. This year, nine California school districts will begin doing this.




For New Teachers, Classrooms Aren’t Just Blank Slates. They’re Blank, Expensive Slates Education Week commentary by columnist Ross Brenneman


For new teachers, an empty classroom holds a world of possibility. As they are quick to learn, those bare walls can demand major investments in time and money. But part of the problem, experts say, might be that new teachers get little guidance in how to outfit their classrooms. But experienced educators say new teachers don’t need to be left to fend for themselves.

It’s no secret that teachers spend a great deal of personal money on classroom supplies—industry studies suggest educators spend an average of $400-500 each year on such materials.

“You learn where the thrift stores are,” said Stacey Torres, a kindergarten teacher at Willard Elementary School in Pasadena, Calif.

When teachers first get assigned a classroom, they may see it as a blank slate. That’s not always a good thing, if teachers start buying before they understand their students.




Why Are Educators Learning How to Interrogate Their Students?

New Yorker commentary by DOUGLAS STARR, co-director of the graduate program in science journalism at Boston University


About a year and a half ago, Jessica Schneider was handed a flyer by one of her colleagues in the child-advocacy community. It advertised a training session, offered under the auspices of the Illinois Principals Association (I.P.A.), in how to interrogate students. Specifically, teachers and school administrators would be taught an abbreviated version of the Reid Technique, which is used across the country by police officers, private-security personnel, insurance-fraud investigators, and other people for whom getting at the truth is part of the job. Schneider, who is a staff attorney at the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, was alarmed. She knew that some psychologists and jurists have characterized the technique as coercive and liable to produce false confessions—especially when used with juveniles, who are highly suggestible. When she expressed her concerns to Brian Schwartz, the I.P.A.’s general counsel, he said that the association had been offering Reid training for many years and found it both popular and benign. To prove it, he invited Schneider to attend a session in January of 2015.

The training was led by Joseph Buckley, the president of John E. Reid and Associates, which is based in Chicago. Like the adult version of the Reid Technique, the school version involves three basic parts: an investigative component, in which you gather evidence; a behavioral analysis, in which you interview a suspect to determine whether he or she is lying; and a nine-step interrogation, a nonviolent but psychologically rigorous process that is designed, according to Reid’s workbook, “to obtain an admission of guilt.” Most of the I.P.A. session, Schneider told me, focussed on behavioral analysis. Buckley described to trainees how patterns of body language—including slumping, failing to look directly at the interviewer, offering “evasive” responses, and showing generally “guarded” behaviors—could supposedly reveal whether a suspect was lying. (Some of the cues were downright mythological—like, for instance, the idea that individuals look left when recalling the truth and right when trying to fabricate.) Several times during the session, Buckley showed videos of interrogations involving serious crimes, such as murder, theft, and rape. None of the videos portrayed young people being questioned for typical school misbehavior, nor did any of the Reid teaching materials refer to “students” or “kids.” They were always “suspects” or “subjects.”

Laura Nirider, a professor of law at Northwestern University and the project director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, attended the same session as Schneider. She told me that about sixty people were there. “Everybody was on the edge of their seat: ‘So this is how we can learn to get the drop on little Billy for writing graffiti on the underside of the lunchroom table,’” she said. One vice-principal told Nirider that the first thing he does when he interrogates students is take away their cell phones, “so they can’t call their mothers.”

The training included tricks to provoke a response that might indicate guilt.




Latinos and Literacy: Hispanic Students’ Progress in Reading Child Trends analysis


This report highlights growth in U.S. Latino students’ reading scores over the last decade, using scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading assessment to compare progress across states and major cities, and for some major urban school districts.













What Teachers of the Year Grapple with at Home Politico


The nominees for National Teacher of the Year award are spread out across the country, hailing from Connecticut, Los Angeles, Oklahoma and Washington state. But they’ve all felt first-hand the effects of a profession losing ground to better paying jobs and failing to attract the right pipeline of candidates who stick with the job. Nathan Gibbs-Bowling, who teaches social studies Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Wash., said he has seen an “exodus” of mid-career teachers who are fed up. “There’s a lot of demoralized educators right now,” he told Morning Education. “A demoralized educator just isn’t as effective. … And I don’t see any efforts to change that coming out of policy.” Teacher pay and working conditions are problems, he said, but a bigger problem is that teachers don’t feel valued or empowered.

Daniel Jocz, who teaches social studies at Downtown Magnets High School in Los Angeles, said he surveyed his colleagues recently and found that overwhelmingly, big class sizes were a problem. Budget cuts have hit teachers hard and they live in housing markets they can’t afford, Jocz said. Jahana Hayes, who teaches history at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, Conn., said her state has long struggled with the resources and now schools and districts face even tighter budgets. While there should be an effort on recruiting teachers, there needs to be more emphasis on retaining them, Jocz said. “I’ve seen so many people leave the profession,” he said. “We can keep recruiting, but if we’re not focused on actually keeping people in front of kids where they’re able to have the biggest impact, it’s all going to be a waste.”

Shawn Sheehan, who teaches special education and Algebra I at Norman High School in Oklahoma, was the lead petitioner this year on a ballot initiative aimed at pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a fund for the state’s K-12 schools by raising the state sales tax. That would include a $5,000 raise for Oklahoma teachers amid a severe teacher shortage in the state, with teachers leaving for Texas and elsewhere because they can make more money, among other reasons. Voters will decide on the tax hike in November.

The Council of Chief State School Officers will announce the National Teacher of the Year next month.




Is Algebra an Unnecessary Stumbling Block in US Schools?

Associated Press


NEW YORK — Who needs algebra?

That question muttered by many a frustrated student over the years has become a vigorous debate among American educators, sparked by a provocative new book that argues required algebra has become an unnecessary stumbling block that forces millions to drop out of high school or college.

“One out of 5 young Americans does not graduate from high school. This is one of the worst records in the developed world. Why? The chief academic reason is they failed ninth-grade algebra,” said political scientist Andrew Hacker, author of “The Math Myth and Other STEM Delusions.”

Hacker, a professor emeritus at Queens College, argues that, at most, only 5 percent of jobs make use of algebra and other advanced math courses. He favors a curriculum that focuses more on statistics and basic numbers sense and less on (y – 3)2 = 4y – 12.

“Will algebra help you understand the federal budget?” he asked.

Many U.S. educators, including the architects of the Common Core standards, disagree, saying math just needs to be taught more effectively. It’s fine for students to have quantitative skills, they say, but algebra is important, too.




Schools Nationwide Still Grapple With Lead in Water New York Times


JERSEY CITY — Anxious parents may wonder how a major school system like Newark’s could overlook lead in the drinking water of 30 schools and 17,000 students. The answer: It was easy. They had to look only a few miles away, at the century­old classrooms of the schools here, across the Hackensack River.

The Jersey City Public Schools district discovered lead contamination in eight schools’ drinking fountains in 2006, and in more schools in 2008, 2010 and 2012. But not until 2013 did officials finally chart a comprehensive attack on lead, which by then had struck all but six schools.

This winter’s crisis in Flint, Mich., has cast new attention on lead in water supplies. But problems with lead in school water supplies have dragged on for years — aggravated by ancient buildings and plumbing, prolonged by official neglect and tight budgets, and enabled by a gaping loophole in federal rules that largely exempts schools from responsibility for the purity of their water.

Children are at greatest risk from lead exposure, and school is where they spend much of their early lives. But cash­starved school administrators may see a choice between spending money on teachers or on plumbing as no choice at all.




Education’s Mr. Fix-it

A Philadelphia charter school CEO draws national attention by trying to turn around failing schools in a way that draws both praise and criticism.

Christian Science Monitor


PHILADELPHIA — Several students sit around a conference table at Simon Gratz High School in North Philadelphia on a surly winter’s day, the kind that makes even the school’s drafty classrooms seem welcoming. They are there to give their assessment of the school – and they’re not afraid to be blunt.

“I like this school, but I kind of don’t,” says Chynah Perry, age 15, a thin girl with straight posture and stylish black-rimmed glasses. “It’s strict. Real strict.”

Quaseem Foxwell, a linebacker on the football team, says several of his friends left the school because of the tough rules. Yet he defends the strictures. He says he improved his own behavior after a heart-to-heart with his teachers and administrators. “When I came here and got into a fight, they told me I could get kicked out, or I could talk to the teachers and some of the deans,” he says. “The strict rules are all for a reason.”

All this might be a normal, harmless conversation except for the person sitting a few chairs away listening in, whom the students seem oblivious to: Scott Gordon, chief executive officer of Mastery Charter Schools, the private nonprofit that runs Simon Gratz.

While he may be relatively invisible to the students, Mr. Gordon is hardly unknown outside the school: He has been one of the most revered and reviled figures in the bitter fights over public education in Philadelphia for the past decade, and now he’s starting to wield influence in the school-reform movement nationwide.




Data Lacking About How LGBT Students Are Treated at School, Researchers Say Education Week


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students are the targets of bullying, harassment, and disproportionately high discipline rates at school, research suggests. But without consistently collected, reliable, large-scale sources of data, it’s difficult to track the extent of those problems or the effectiveness of proposed solutions, a group of researchers said in a briefing paper released Sunday night.

Expanding existing federal surveys on youth safety and well-being to include more questions about gender identity and sexual orientation could provide a clearer picture, write researchers Mariella Arredondo, Chrystal Gray, Stephen Russell, Russell Skiba, and Shannon Snapp on behalf of the Equity Project at Indiana University. And it’s possible greater data could help shine a spotlight on the needs of LGBT students, in the same way it has fueled concerns about disparate discipline rates for students of color, they write.

“The availability of data broken down by race and disability has contributed to an important shift in the last decade—from questions about whether disparities exist, to a focus on the development and testing of effective interventions for reducing those known disparities,” the paper says. (WaPo)


A copy of the study (Indiana Univesity)




School threats: A cost beyond dollars

Hamilton (OH) Journal-News


The costs of a growing number of school threats are many and only some are measurable.

Beyond the dollars is an incalculable emotional toll, taxing the peace of mind of parents and school officials.

Once havens of safety, schools increasingly in recent years find themselves in the cross-hairs as more frequent targets of threats of violence, shootings or bombing.

School parent Kathy Cook recalls how a decade ago her visits to her son’s Lakota grade school required no video surveillance, no buzzing in through security door and simply signing in a visitor’s book without producing identification.

“They (school building staffers) would tell me the only reason I had to sign in was in case there was a fire evacuation drill,” says Cook, a long-time school volunteer in the Butler County school system. “Now it’s because of (security) lock downs.”

“Lockdown drills are now part of our everyday language,” says Cook, who still has a child in Lakota Schools.

“Back then, when I sent my boy to school I was more concerned about his general well-being and whether he was making friends. Now today, it’s the (potentially deadly) impact of the world on the school,” she says. “It’s definitely a different world.”




On C.T.E. and Athletes, Science Remains in Its Infancy New York Times


BEDFORD, Mass. — In a small room banked by refrigerators of preserved brains, a pathologist held a specimen up to the light in frank admiration. Then it was time to cut — once in half and then a thick slice from the back, the tissue dense and gray­pink, teeming with folds and swirls.

It was the brain of a professional running back.

“There,” said Dr. Ann McKee, the chief of neuropathology at the V.A. Boston Healthcare System and a professor of neurology and pathology at Boston University’s medical school, pointing to a key area that had an abnormal separation. “That’s one thing we look for right away.”

Over the past several years, Dr. McKee’s lab, housed in a pair of two­story brick buildings in suburban Boston, has repeatedly made headlines by revealing that deceased athletes, including at least 90 former N.F.L. players, were found to have had a degenerative brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., that is believed to cause debilitating memory and mood problems. This month, after years of denying or playing down a connection, a top N.F.L. official acknowledged at a hearing in Washington that playing football and having C.T.E. were “certainly” linked.

His statement effectively ended a very public dispute over whether head blows sustained while playing football are associated with the disorder. But it will not resolve a quieter debate among scientists about how much risk each football player has of developing it, or answer questions about why some players seem far more vulnerable to it than others.




Software Flags ‘Suicidal’ Students, Presenting Privacy Dilemma NPR


Ken Yeh is the director of technology at Ontario Christian Schools, a private K-12 school near Los Angeles with about 100 children per grade. Three years ago, the school began buying Google Chromebook laptops for every student in middle and high school.

The students would be allowed to take them home. Yeh says parents “were concerned” about what they might be used for, especially outside of school.

Google software, like that of other companies, comes with virus protection and the ability to filter search results and block certain Web sites, but Ontario Christian Schools turned to a third party to provide an additional layer of security: a startup called GoGuardian.

GoGuardian helped Yeh and school leaders create a list of off-limits websites: porn, hacking-related sites and “timewasters” like online games, TV and movie streaming. The software also has another feature: It tracks students’ browsing and searches whenever they are using the computer, at home or at school. And that’s how Yeh was alerted that a student appeared to be in severe emotional distress.

“When I came to work,” he recalls, he received an indicator that a student had searched for suicide and several related terms. “I then went in to view the student’s browsing history around this time period.”

The more he saw, the more Yeh was convinced that this wasn’t an idle or isolated query.




Daugaard approves state-subsidized scholarships Sioux Falls (SD) Argus Leader


After a historic year at the Statehouse for South Dakota’s public school teachers, Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed a bill Friday that supporters say expands the push for education funding by allowing the state to subsidize scholarships for private and parochial school students.

Supporters lauded Daugaard’s decision and said the legislation will improve all schools, while opponents said they were disappointed by the governor’s action as it could siphon funds from the state’s public schools.

The legislation, Senate Bill 159, will allow insurance companies to contribute up to $2 million total to a nonprofit organization created by the state. The organization would disburse the funds to families with incomes up to 150 percent of the amount used to qualify for free and reduced price school lunch.




A Supreme Court Pioneer, Now Making Her Mark on Video Games New York Times


Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who turned 86 on Saturday, has many achievements to her name, including serving as a state senator in Arizona and becoming the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court, where she served for almost a quarter­century.

Now she can add an accomplishment for the digital era: video game impresario.

Justice O’Connor is behind an animated civics education game called Win the White House, whose latest edition was recently released. The game has been played by more than 250,000 students just this month and is barnstorming its way through middle schools across the United States.

In the game — timed to this election cycle — students take on the role of imaginary presidential candidates who must learn how to compete civilly against opponents with divergent views on issues like immigration and gun control.

That Justice O’Connor would become an interactive game enthusiast may seem unexpected. Until a few years ago, she had never watched a video game — let alone played one.




‘Diddy’ the schoolmaster? Sean Combs to open charter school in Harlem Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, the rapper, producer, and entrepreneur, joins a long list of celebrities who have tapped their fortunes to fund new models for education.

Christian Science Monitor


Rapper, producer, and entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs will join a long list of celebrities who have invested their money in primary education.

Mr. Combs announced Monday that a new charter school that he has founded, Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School, will open in the fall. It will be managed by Capital Preparatory Schools, an organization founded in 2012.

The founder of the organization, Steve Perry, is the principal of Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford, Conn., which has operated since 2005, targeting “historically disadvantaged students,” according to its website. The organization reports that every one of its graduates gets accepted to college.

Combs says creating the school is “a dream come true.”












USOE Calendar



UEN News



April 4:

USBE Superintendent Selection Committee meeting

1 p.m., 250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



April 14:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City


Utah State Board of Education study session and committee meetings

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



April 15:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

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