Education News Roundup: May 10, 2016


STEM Action Center Logo/Education News Roundup

STEM Action Center Logo/Education News Roundup

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:


Will the Governor put the elimination of high school SAGE testing on the special session agenda? (DN)

and (KSL)

What will be the legislature’s reaction if he does? (Twitter)

Utah State Board of Education Member Terryl Warner also talks about the standards. (CVD)


Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye addresses a conference at San Juan School District. (Navajo-Hopi Observer)


There’s more follow-up on the South Ogden Junior High history teacher. (OSE)

and (SLT)

and (AP)


2016 STEM Innovation Awards recipients announced (UP) and while we’re on the STEM Action Center, ENR neglected to put in the word “Foundation” in yesterday’s announcement of a new STEM Action Center (Foundation) Director. Tamara Goetz is still the director there.


Sure, a survey of policy insiders says Linda Darling-Hammond is the odds-on favorite to be Hillary Clinton’s Secretary of Education nominee and Ben Carson is most likely to be Donald Trump’s pick, but ENR is still mulling the possibility of Ted Nugent (a survey lesser-favored Trump pick) as Secretary of Education. (Ed Week)

or a copy of the survey (Whiteboard Advisors)
















Gov. Herbert may put eliminating SAGE testing on special session agenda


Changes proposed in state education standards


Begaye: teaching Navajo language is key to reinforcing foundations of Hózhó and Ké


Weber School District details stance on teacher’s N-word use


2016 STEM Innovation Awards Recipients Announced


4 Utah students named 2016 Presidential Scholars


Lone Peak orchestra director gets musical sendoff from alumni


Elizabeth Smart & radKIDS On Tuesday’s Access Utah


Long-Time Teacher Banned for Saying Two Words Chances are you use both of them.


Herriman students get peek at Mercury’s transit across the sun


Teen driver whose fellow student died in Payson crash said to be ‘improving’


Jazz Bear works with UDOT to promote walking to school


Zacks Investment Research Lowers International Paper Co to Hold







  1. Ogden teacher should be commended for broadening vision of his students


Don’t censor history


Work for living


Guess Who’s Taking Remedial Classes


What Is Education For?


The Opt-Out Reckoning

An ever-growing call to opt out of standardized tests is prompting serious questions in education.


Education Is Not a Guessing Game

The Every Student Succeeds Act offers policymakers new opportunities to use education data to benefit all students.


Data show segregation by income (not race) is what’s getting worse in schools The intersection of poverty and race is producing larger and more alarming achievement gaps


Putting Grit in Its Place


Dedication to Students, Faith in the Teaching Profession







Survey: Linda Darling-Hammond, Ben Carson Most Likely Ed. Secretary Picks


Legal battle over Nevada’s school choice law closer to resolution


Popularity of Ed Tech Not Necessarily Linked to Products’ Impact


Black, Latino, Native American Boys Face Barriers From Birth, Report Argues


Texas lieutenant governor calls for Fort Worth school superintendent’s resignation Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says Scribner ‘has placed his own political agenda’ ahead of students’ safety


Debate Over Transgender Bathroom Access Spreads Nationwide


Seattle seventh grader wins national math bee


Report: Bullying is a Serious Public Health Problem


Teens with ADHD have special treatment needs


Twin Falls Schools ‘Shaken’ after Gun-Related Crimes


State education commissioner finalists named


Traveling Prom Dress Sisterhood Honors Friend Lost to Cancer


Octavia Spencer, Aaron Paul and More Stars Sound off on the Importance of Education









Gov. Herbert may put eliminating SAGE testing on special session agenda


SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert may ask lawmakers to go along with his newly announced opposition to mandatory high school SAGE testing at this month’s special session of the Utah Legislature.

If the State Board of Education agrees later this week to a request from the governor to endorse his position on the testing, he’ll consider adding the issue to the May 18 special session agenda, his spokesman, Jon Cox, said Monday.

It’s the governor who controls a special session, and Herbert announced last month he was bringing lawmakers back to restore nearly $4.8 million in education funds he had vetoed and consider a resolution opposing a new national monument in Utah.

He has until late afternoon on May 16 to add items to that agenda. (DN) (KSL)




Changes proposed in state education standards


Last week, Governor Herbert released a letter saying he’d like the state school board to begin a process of withdrawal or to, at least, strongly reconsider the Math & Language Arts standards set forth in Common Core. The program is described as a set of standards defining the knowledge and skills that students from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade need to master each year to be prepared for the next grade, and ultimately college or employment.

State School Board Region 1 representative Terryl Warner agrees that it has been a very polarizing issue in Utah. On KVNU’s For the People program on Monday, Warner said the dissatisfaction appears to be especially with the Math curriculum. She said the approach now is different from how many older ones learned the basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division tables. (CVD)




Begaye: teaching Navajo language is key to reinforcing foundations of Hózhó and Ké


MONUMENT VALLEY – Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said the theme of “Shił Hózhó” for the 22nd Annual Heritage Language Conference was a great exemplification of how the Navajo people are rooted in the foundations of Hózhó and Ké.

Begaye was the keynote speaker at the conference, whichtook place in April at Monument Valley High School in Monument Valley, Utah.

“The Navajo language contains so many teachings of Hózhó and Ké,” he said. “As a Nation, this is who we are. Our language provides a way for us to move back into these teachings of Hózhó and Ké, because in many ways we have moved away from them.”

This year’s Heritage Language Conference focused on fine arts and offered workshops that incorporated the Navajo language into the district’s curriculum to enhance culturally relevant teaching ideologies to subjects like music, photography and reading.

Celeste Dayish, administrative secretary with the San Juan School District and conference organizer, said it’s important for educators to attend the conference to get a better idea of how they can teach their students. (Navajo-Hopi Observer)




Weber School District details stance on teacher’s N-word use


SOUTH OGDEN — The Weber School District’s investigation into an eighth-grade history teacher’s showing of the movie “Glory” and use of a racial slur in class has concluded, but controversy surrounding his actions has yet to subside.

In late April, parent Holly Frye filed a complaint with the school district about the R-rated movie and teacher Douglas Barker’s use of a racial epithet, saying her 14-year-old son D.J. no longer felt safe after the term was used extensively during a history class. Both Frye and her son are black. Demographics of the Weber School District show a makeup of about 93 percent white and about 1 percent African American populations.

Weber Superintendent Jeff Stephens said Monday that Barker had been placed on paid administrative leave while an investigation was under way, but has returned to his teaching duties.

“We’re pleased that students are learning about that episode in our nation’s history,” Stephens said of the Academy Award-winning film depicting the all-black 54th Regiment that served in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

But Stephens wanted to make two things clear: Barker showed a PG-version of “Glory” that had been edited for educational use, and the teacher’s actual use of the epithet in class was both age-inappropriate and unnecessary in conveying the point of the lesson. (OSE) (SLT) (AP)




2016 STEM Innovation Awards Recipients Announced


The STEM Action Center will hold their second STEM Innovation Awards ceremony in partnership with the Utah Technology Council at their annual Utah Innovation Awards luncheon on Wednesday, May 11.

The STEM Innovation Awards are an opportunity to recognize five Utah residents that are excelling in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Nominations were open to the general public from February to April of this year. The STEM Action Center team and the STEM Action Center Board, through a rigorous process, chose this year’s honorees in the following categories:

  • Student: Emily Naylor, senior at Mountain Heights Academy
  • Teacher: Katie Rogers, 4th grade STEM teacher at Thunder Ridge Elementary
  • Principal: Matthew Lowe, Title I school site coordinator at Hurricane Elementary School
  • Mentor: Steven Shumway, professional development provider for K-12 STEM Education at Brigham Young University
  • Counselor: Zekeriya Temircan, academic dean at Beehive Science and Technology Academy

Dr. Tamara Goetz, executive director of the Utah STEM Action Center, along with Richard Nelson, president and CEO of Utah Technology Council will present the awards. (UP)




4 Utah students named 2016 Presidential Scholars


SALT LAKE CITY — U.S. Secretary of Education John King has announced four Utah high school seniors are among 160 selected for the 52nd class of U.S. Presidential Scholars, recognizing accomplishments in academics, the arts, and career and technical education fields.

The four students are:

  • Makayla Hendricks, Bountiful High School, career and technical education
  • Jennifer Ban, Logan High School, academics
  • Aubree Oliverson, Mountain Heights Academy, arts
  • Anthony Cheng, Hillcrest High School, academics (DN)




Lone Peak orchestra director gets musical sendoff from alumni


After 26 years of teaching, Lone Peak High School’s dancing orchestra director led her final performance there Monday night, surrounded by alumni who came to play in her honor.

“It was the happiest surprise I have ever had,” said a shocked Kathy Bird.

Bird teaches concert orchestra, symphonic orchestra and chamber orchestra at the high school on B days and beginning orchestra, intermediate orchestra, advanced orchestra and humanities at Mountain Ridge Junior High School on A days.

“She loves what she does and it’s obvious,” said Rhonda Bromley, the principal of Lone Peak High School.

The alumni surprised her for the song “Ashokan Farewell,” which had an invitation in the program for alumni to participate in. Dozens of alumni met prior to the performance to tune their instruments and rehearse for the longtime teacher. (PDH)




Elizabeth Smart & radKIDS On Tuesday’s Access Utah


The abduction of Elizabeth Smart was one of the most followed child abduction cases of our time.

She endured a 9-month ordeal after being abducted from her home in the middle of the night in June, 2002, at age fourteen. She has become an advocate for change related to child abduction, recovery programs and national legislation and is founder of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation.

She writes “too many families experience the nightmare of having a child go missing. I know what it is like to be that child. I know what it is like to think that one false move may lead to not only your own death but the death of family members as well. Nobody can ever blame a child for their actions when they are being threatened, bullied, forced, or coerced into doing something unthinkable. That is why the “Elizabeth Smart Foundation” was created, because what if we could prevent future crimes against children? Wouldn’t it be worth it to do everything to bring home that one child? What if you were that one child? Or what if it was you who helped prevent/bring home that one child?”

Elizabeth Smart has chronicled her experiences in the New York Times best-selling book, “My Story.” She is the keynote speaker at The United Way of Cache Valley’s annual dinner and gala on Saturday in Logan and she joins us for the first half of Tuesday’s Access Utah.

In the second half we’ll talk with Steve Daley, Director of radKIDS, one of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation’s partner programs. radKIDS is “a not-for-profit educational organization dedicated to providing realistic choices and options to children and parents concerning their overall safety in the world today. It is [their] mission to provide, through education, realistic choices for children to avoid and/or escape violence or harm in their daily lives.” (UPR)




Long-Time Teacher Banned for Saying Two Words Chances are you use both of them. ​


A Utah teacher is banned from working in the high school she’s taught at for decades, all for saying the “c” word and the “b” word in class — and no, they’re not the ones you’re thinking of. Lehi High School fired longtime employee RevaBeth Russell for using the words “condom” and “boob” in front of teenagers, and now her students are outraged.

Russell taught science at Lehi for 32 years before retiring in 2014, but she’s been back ever since as a beloved substitute. Her fun and outgoing style earned her major points with the teens, but one aside provoked a complaint from a parent. “A student called her sir, and I think that’s what led to the boob comment,” fellow teacher Leah Kinyon told Fox13. “She said, ‘Last time I checked, I’m still a woman.'” (Good Housekeeping)




Herriman students get peek at Mercury’s transit across the sun


HERRIMAN — Students at Herriman High School got a peek of perspective with a look at Mercury during its leisurely transit across Earth’s view of the sun Monday.

“The students are kind of surprised by how small it looks compared to the sun,” said physics and astronomy teacher Matthew Lund. “A couple of students asked how many Murcurys would fit in the sun, and we calculated it at like 23.2 billion.”

The solar system’s smallest planet was visible as a tiny dot making its way across the sun from about 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Lund said. (KSL)




Teen driver whose fellow student died in Payson crash said to be ‘improving’


PAYSON — A 16-year-old boy who was critically injured in a weekend crash that killed a teenage girl was improving Monday.

Steven Johnson has improved to serious condition despite injuries to his head, lungs, ribs, pelvis and liver, said Utah Valley Hospital spokeswoman Janet Frank. (DN) (KSTU)




Jazz Bear works with UDOT to promote walking to school


After winning a six-week competition to increase biking and walking to school, Altara Elementary students in Sandy celebrated Tuesday with the Jazz Bear. He ate breakfast with some winners, walked to school with them, and presented $500 to their school.

The Utah Department of Transportation used the event to promote its “walking school bus” app, which helps students in a neighborhood to travel to school together.

During the 2015-16 school year, the app shows students and parents have walked 110,000 miles, reduced 145,000 car trips, eliminated 36 million grams of carbon dioxide emissions and burned 11 million calories. (SLT)




Zacks Investment Research Lowers International Paper Co to Hold


Zacks Investment Research cut shares of International Paper Co (NYSE:IP) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note released on Wednesday, reports.

According to Zacks, “International Paper reported strong first-quarter 2016 results as operating earnings exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate by $0.11. The company is undergoing restructuring initiatives to transform itself into a core packaging firm. International Paper aims to utilize its cash flow by investing in capital projects, reduce debt burden and improve shareholder return. The company is also taking prudent steps to drive further margin expansion and expects EBITDA to increase by 5% in the near future through diligent execution of operational plans. However, strength in U.S. dollars and soft macroeconomic conditions across the globe has led to volatility in raw material prices, affecting the performance of the company. Failure to realize synergies from acquisitions could also negatively impact the company’s earnings. High pension obligations further remain a significant headwind for the company.”

A number of hedge funds and institutional investors recently added to or reduced their stakes in IP. Utah Retirement Systems raised its position in International Paper by 0.3% in the fourth quarter. Utah Retirement Systems now owns 75,465 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,846,000 after buying an additional 200 shares during the period. (Daily Political)









  1. Ogden teacher should be commended for broadening vision of his students

(Ogden) Standard-Examiner letter from Darnel Haney


As a retired African-American educator, who has taught cultural awareness throughout the state of Utah for a number of years, I was excited to read of Douglas Barker’s desire to make his students aware of black history and culture within our school system (”South Ogden Jr. High teacher speaks on racial slur, movie policy,” May 6 Standard-Examiner). His desire to bring a film such as “Glory” to his classroom and to hold a discussion to explain the usage of the “N-word” in context regarding its use in the film was meant to benefit students’ understanding and knowledge of the film.

In my opinion, Barker should be commended for his consciousness in sharing such a sensitive subject with young students. I commend him for bringing forth a subject that was not part of the general curriculum within our school system for many years. I have traveled the state working with teachers and administrators discussing positive developments in cultural awareness. I am encouraged to see white teachers today are taking responsibility to instruct their students on cultural awareness, which only serves to help unify our nation.




Don’t censor history

Deseret News letter from Paul Maloy


The Weber School District is unconscionably wrong in the censorship of South Ogden Junior High history teacher and Ogden School Board member Douglas Barker’s showing of the movie “Glory.”

To be sure, use of the N-word in our society today is morally and ethically wrong. But, when you want to tell the story of history accurately and objectively then we must not be afraid to face our past weaknesses and wrong choices. If we were to scrub history on the basis of political correctness now, there would not be much left to teach. And why do we teach history at all? Because by understanding our past, we light the path to our future. History is the best showcase to rectify and avoid mistakes going forward. As humankind, we are much too weak to bury, let alone brush off, the vast wealth of lessons from our past.




Work for living

Deseret News letter from Kaydell Leavitt


I believe that after 14 years of schooling Preschool-12th grade that our high school graduates ought to know something about how to work for a living.

Not everybody goes to college. Not everybody should. Not everybody could — even if it were free tuition.

I got good grades in school, and I took a lot of advanced science and math, but when I graduated, I got a job at the Salt Lake Airport washing cars. The problem was not the economy, the problem was my education. My education wasn’t very practical.

I agree with the Jonathan Johnson’s campaign’s idea that education should be more practical and not just academic. Jonathan Johnson’s running mate Robyn Bagley is successful at having a balance of academic skill and vocational skills taught.




Guess Who’s Taking Remedial Classes

New York Times editorial


Affluent communities often assume that their well­appointed schools are excellent and that educational malpractice affects only the children of the poor. Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who stepped down in December, was widely criticized when he debunked this myth three years ago and went on to suggest that well­to­do parents who rebelled against the rigorous Common Core learning standards were part of the problem.

The idea that schools in privileged communities are failing to prepare significant numbers of students is borne out in a striking new study showing that nearly half of the students who begin their college careers taking remedial courses come from middle­ and upper­income families. Not only do remedial courses add more than $1 billion each year to students’ bills for tuition, but students who start out in these classes take longer to graduate and are far more likely to drop out.

The study, by Education Reform Now, a nonprofit think tank, analyzes cost and course data collected by the Education Department for students who entered college in 2011. More than a half­million poorly prepared students — or about one in four — were required to take remedial courses in math, English or writing. Forty­five percent of them came from middle­, uppermiddle­ and high­income families.

Fifty­seven percent of the students needing remedial classes attended public community colleges. The rest went to other schools, including private four­year nonprofit colleges and universities.


A copy of the report (Education Reform Now)




What Is Education For?

Boston Review commentary by Danielle Allen, Deborah Meier, Debra Satz, Jeffrey Aaron Snyder, Rob Reich, Carlos Fraenkel, Michel DeGraff, Lelac Almagor, Lucas Stanczyk, and Clint Smith


Opening the debate, Danielle Allen: Public education should make citizens, not workers, and that means focusing on the humanities rather than STEM.




The Opt-Out Reckoning

An ever-growing call to opt out of standardized tests is prompting serious questions in education.

U.S. News & World Report op-ed by Jonathan Schweig, associate social scientist at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation


In public school districts across the country, spring is commonly referred to as testing season. But for the past several years, parents across the country have passively resisted participating in standardized testing by opting out. And the movement is gaining momentum. Last year, over half a million school-aged children did not participate in standardized testing. In New York state alone, nearly 1 out of every 5 students opted out.

Standardized testing, a longstanding feature of American education reform, is meant to serve at least three purposes: monitor student performance; improve teaching and learning; and evaluate the quality of teaching and schools. Policymakers have relied on standardized tests as a mechanism for assessing student progress and identifying racial and economic achievement gaps since the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act was passed in 1965, which was followed by the No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law in 2002 and the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act.




Education Is Not a Guessing Game

The Every Student Succeeds Act offers policymakers new opportunities to use education data to benefit all students.

U.S. News & World Report op-ed by Bev Perdue, senior education advisor to Whiteboard Advisors, and Rob McKenna, a partner with law firm Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe


The education community seems to agree that the federal Every Student Succeeds Act corrects many flaws of the No Child Left Behind Act, while preserving what worked and presenting huge opportunities to refocus the lens on student success. As our peers in states nationwide wait for ESSA’s provisions to become concrete regulations and turn their attention to implementing the law, we have some advice for them when it comes to collecting and using data: Don’t just simply follow the rules on this one.

Though we are state leaders from different political parties, we both strongly believe that education is every state’s most critical economic driver and our nation’s great equalizer. Moving forward, we know that the most successful state education policies will apply the education data we already have to serve the real needs of children and their families, and of our states’ employers and economies.

Over the last decade, every state has developed a robust longitudinal data system containing rich information that can lead to specific actions, such as giving a student extra help after school or guidance on pre-college coursework, or directing school leaders or policymakers to increase funding for effective programs. Data systems begin with early childhood, connect through K-12, and follow students’ trajectories into postsecondary education and the workforce. Like never before, we can paint a clear picture of student outcomes and their impact on communities, states and the nation.




Data show segregation by income (not race) is what’s getting worse in schools The intersection of poverty and race is producing larger and more alarming achievement gaps Hechinger Report commentary by columnist JILL BARSHAY


There’s a new narrative that U.S. schools are “resegregating” along racial lines. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights used the word “resegregation” in the headline of a recent press release and scheduled a briefing on the subject for May 20. And the word “resegregation” gets bandied about frequently at education conferences and in the press.

But academic researchers, speaking at a May conference for education journalists in Boston, said they don’t see evidence of a worsening racial separation across the country, as if whites and minorities who once learned in the same classrooms were now heading to different schoolhouses. What they do see is an increasing number of minority students in public schools, and an increasing number of schools that are dominated by minority students, but both trends are keeping pace with the increase in the minority population overall.

It’s the U.S. population that’s changing, not a redistribution of races in our schools, as the word resegregation implies. White students now make up less than half the public school population, and there are fewer of them to spread around.

It’s worth remembering that even at the peak of integration, in the late 1980s, schools were still quite segregated. White students tended to go to schools that were majority white, minorities to schools that were largely minority. For a school that was already, say, 70 percent minority, an influx of immigrants could easily tip the population into the 90 percent camp. This could happen without policy makers pulling the plug on integration, or families picking up and moving into separate, more racially homogenous school districts.

“We have segregation, and increases in concentrations of low-income minorities,” said Sean Reardon, a sociologist at Stanford University. “But it doesn’t mean that school systems have begun to allocate students more unevenly.”




Putting Grit in Its Place

New York Times commentary by columnist David Brooks


We all know why it exists, but the grade­point average is one of the more destructive elements in American education.

Success is about being passionately good at one or two things, but students who want to get close to that 4.0 have to be prudentially balanced about every subject. In life we want independent thinking and risk­taking, but the G.P.A. system encourages students to be deferential and risk averse, giving their teachers what they want.

Creative people are good at asking new questions, but the G.P.A. rewards those who can answer other people’s questions. The modern economy rewards those who can think in ways computers can’t, but the G.P.A. rewards people who can grind away at mental tasks they find boring. People are happiest when motivated intrinsically, but the G.P.A. is the mother of all extrinsic motivations.

The G.P.A. ethos takes spirited children and pushes them to be hard working but complaisant. The G.P.A. mentality means tremendous emphasis has now been placed on grit, the ability to trudge through long stretches of difficulty. Influenced by this culture, schools across America are busy teaching their students to be gritty and to have “character” — by which they mean skills like self­discipline and resilience that contribute to career success.

Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania is the researcher most associated with the study and popularization of grit. And yet what I like about her new book, “Grit,” is the way she is pulling us away from the narrow, joyless intonations of that word, and pointing us beyond the way many schools are now teaching it.




Dedication to Students, Faith in the Teaching Profession Huffington Post commentary by Chris Minnich, Executive Director, Council of Chief State School Officers


“One can only assume that, in your search for National Teacher of the Year, you are seeking ‘more’ – someone who represents the defining essence of inspiration.”

This statement from Waterbury, Connecticut Superintendent of Schools Kathleen Ouellette perfectly captures what is so evident in 2016 National Teacher of the Year, Jahana Hayes. Hayes, a high school history teacher from Waterbury, is an inspiration – through her own life story, her dedication to her students and her faith in the teaching profession.

Hayes describes her upbringing as having been “surrounded by abject poverty, drugs and violence,” – where “education was not seen as a pathway to success.” Yet with the encouragement and support of her own teachers, Hayes became the first person in her family to graduate from college. She experienced firsthand the transformational impact teachers can have on the lives of their students.

She chose to make teaching her profession so she could fill that same role in the lives of her students – helping guide them on their own pathway to success – not only academically, but as engaged members of society. In Hayes’ words, “graduating students who demonstrate respect, responsibility, honesty, and integrity is as critically important as mastering content and demonstrating proficiency.”

But what I find so inspirational is how Hayes connects herself within the teaching profession as a whole.












Survey: Linda Darling-Hammond, Ben Carson Most Likely Ed. Secretary Picks Education Week


Education researcher Linda Darling-Hammond and former Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson are the most likely picks to be U.S. Secretary of Education for White House candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, respectively, according to an “Education Insiders” survey by Whiteboard Advisors released Monday. And who’s second on the list for Clinton? American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, say these insiders.

The survey of roughly 50 to 75 current and former White House and U.S. Department of Education leaders, current and former congressional staff members, state education officials, and think tank leaders also found that a slight majority of them believe that over the next two years, more states will stop participating in two consortia (PARCC and Smarter Balanced) that were originally funded by Washington and create tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards. electionslug_2016_126x126.jpg

And these “insiders” are generally pessimistic about the extent to which both the media and presidential politics will focus on education, although there’s some belief that higher education could be an exception.

“I’m not sure if K-12 will get much attention because the recent reauthorization of ESEA [Elementary and Secondary Education Act) probably means that the next president won’t have an opportunity to influence K-12 education (at least not legislatively) unless he or she gets a second term,” according to one respondent, none of whom were quoted by name.


A copy of the survey (Whiteboard Advisors)




Legal battle over Nevada’s school choice law closer to resolution Las Vegas Review-Journal


CARSON CITY — The legal battle over Nevada’s school choice law allowing parents to tap into taxpayer money to pay for private school tuition is inching closer to climax before the state’s highest court in a case being watched around the country, though resolution could be weeks or months away.

The state attorney general’s office, representing Treasurer Dan Schwartz, filed its final reply brief last month, asserting the law passed by the 2015 Legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval is legally sound.

Solicitor General Lawrence VanDyke, in the April 29 brief, said opponents’ arguments that the law illegally diverts money from a fund specifically for public education “would straitjacket the Legislature” and upend more than a century of law that authorizes general fund spending to encourage education outside the public school system.

The next step is for the seven justices to schedule oral arguments. Though the court could render an opinion based solely on written briefs, that is unlikely given the high stakes, national interest and voluminous documents filed in the case.




Popularity of Ed Tech Not Necessarily Linked to Products’ Impact Education Week


Digital learning tools that fit well within existing classrooms and don’t disrupt the educational status quo tend to be the most widely adopted, despite their limited impact on student learning, an analysis of ed-tech products designed for higher education concludes.

Experts say that pattern is also reflected in K-12, raising tough questions about whether many ed-tech vendors’ emphasis on quickly bringing their products to scale is actually hampering the larger goal of improving schools.

“There is a lot of research showing that more comprehensive technology interventions tend to have more positive results in both sectors,” said Barbara Means, the director of the Center for Technology in Learning at SRI International, the nonprofit research center that conducted the new analysis. “To create an education technology tool that can have an impact, but also be adopted in many classrooms, requires thinking about supports for teachers, resources for instruction, and rethinking the way time is used within schools.”




Black, Latino, Native American Boys Face Barriers From Birth, Report Argues Education Week


Black, Latino, and Native American males face a complex web of circumstances that can explain why they are overrepresented among students with low grades, low test scores, and disciplinary problems, according to a new report from the Urban Institute.

The paper, titled “Aiming Higher Together,” makes the case that boys and young men of color face a systemic predicament, beginning at birth, that places them at “risk for underperformance in school and life,” writes the report’s author, Ronald Ferguson, the director of Harvard’s Achievement Gap Initiative and a national expert on improving learning opportunities for disadvantaged children.

“It’s like being ensnared in a web and you just can’t quite get out of it,” Ferguson said in an interview with Education Week. “It’s not that you can’t escape. A young person with lots of family support, resources, and determination can avoid a lot of that … but this is very structural and systemic.”

While acknowledging that there have always been males of color who excel academically, Ferguson makes the case that black, Latino, and Native American students face political, sociological, psychological, and economic barriers to success that cut across socioeconomic status.


A copy of the report (Urban Institute)




Texas lieutenant governor calls for Fort Worth school superintendent’s resignation Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says Scribner ‘has placed his own political agenda’ ahead of students’ safety Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram


In a dramatic move seeking to reverse a decision by the Fort Worth independent school district’s new superintendent, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has called for the resignation of Kent Paredes Scribner after just six months on the job.

Patrick blasted a proposal from Scribner, who was hired in October, that allows transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice and is “consistent with their gender identity.”

Patrick late Monday announced plans to attend today’s Fort Worth ISD board meeting to personally express his outrage.

Scribner’s guideline also requires school officials to offer transgender students access to single-stall restrooms or the opportunity to use a restroom when no other students are present. Scribner has indicated the directive is intended “to foster a productive educational process for all.”

Rather, the directive has led to an explosive political debate that already stretched well beyond Fort Worth as conservative politicians and special interest groups mobilize opposition to the policy.




Debate Over Transgender Bathroom Access Spreads Nationwide Associated Press


There was a showdown in Houston last fall. This spring, North Carolina became the battleground. By now, confrontations have flared across the country over whether to protect or curtail the right of transgender people to use public restrooms in accordance with their gender identity.

The upshot, in virtually every case, has been emotional debate over privacy, personal safety and prejudice.

Many of those who favor limiting transgender rights contend that expanding anti-bias protections to bathrooms and locker rooms raises the risk of sexual predators exploiting the laws to molest women and girls on those premises.

Transgender-rights advocates consider this argument malicious and false. They say that 18 states and scores of cities have experienced no significant public safety problems linked to their existing laws allowing transgender people to use bathrooms based on the gender they consider themselves to be.




Seattle seventh grader wins national math bee Associated Press


SEATTLE— A Seattle seventh grader has won the national math bee.

Edward Wan of Lakeside Middle School won the 2016 Raytheon MATHCOUNTS National Competition Monday, beating 224 other middle school students nationwide. More than 100,000 students participated in local and state competitions leading up to the event in Washington, D.C.

Competition officials said in a news release the 13-year-old won the final round by answering the question, “What is the remainder when 999,999,999 is divided by 32?”

Wan gave the correct answer of 31 In just under seven seconds.

As national champion, Wan receives a $20,000 college scholarship and a trip to U.S. Space Camp.

Sixth grader Luke Robitaille, of Euless, Texas, was the runner-up.

In team competition, the Texas state team netted first place; California took second and Washington state captured third place.




Report: Bullying is a Serious Public Health Problem Associated Press


WASHINGTON  — Bullying is a “serious public health problem,” and should no longer be dismissed as merely a matter of kids being kids, a leading panel of experts warned Tuesday.

“Its prevalence perpetuates its normalization. But bullying is not a normal part of childhood,” the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said.

Bullying behavior is seen as early as preschool and peaks during the middle school years, the researchers said. And the problem has morphed from the traditional bully-in-the-schoolyard scenario to newer forms of electronic aggression, such as cyberbullying on social media sites.

Bullying has “lasting negative consequences and cannot simply be ignored,” said Frederic Rivara, chairman of the committee that wrote the report and a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at the University of Washington.

“This is a pivotal time for bullying prevention, and while there is not a quick fix or one-size-fits-all solution, the evidence clearly supports preventive and interventional policy and practice,” Rivara added. (USAT)


A copy of the report (National Academies Press)




Teens with ADHD have special treatment needs Reuters


Drugs and psychotherapy can help teens with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) manage symptoms and improve in school, a new research review suggests, but adolescents still have treatment needs that are quite distinct from younger children.

Both stimulants and alternative medications can help reduce symptoms such as restlessness, forgetfulness and lack of motivation, the study found.

Psychotherapy that addresses issues like behavior, organization and social skills may not always ease symptoms but can result in better school performance, the study also found.

The trick is to figure out whether symptoms are severe enough to warrant medication, said lead study author Dr. Eugenia Chan, a researcher at Harvard Medical School and director of the ADHD program at Boston Children’s Hospital.

A challenge unique to teens is that when they do need drugs, doctors don’t always prescribe a high enough dose and these patients sometimes fail to take what’s prescribed, Chan cautioned.


A copy of the study (Journal of the American Medical Association $)




Twin Falls Schools ‘Shaken’ after Gun-Related Crimes Twin Falls (ID) Times-News


TWIN FALLS • Students and staff at two Twin Falls schools are on edge and security is tight after two gun-related crimes last week.

On Saturday, Vason Widaman — a ninth-grader at Canyon Ridge High School — was killed in a drive-by shooting. No one has been arrested. The death came less than 24 hours after a middle-schooler at Robert Stuart discharged a handgun in a classroom at Robert Stuart Middle School. Police called it an “accidental discharge” and arrested three students. No one was injured.

The Twin Falls School District sent an automated message from Superintendent Wiley Dobbs to parents Sunday night saying the two incidents likely weren’t related. But school officials boosted security measures, nevertheless.




State education commissioner finalists named Fairbanks (AK) News-Miner


FAIRBANKS — Four finalists have been chosen in the search to fill the position of commissioner for the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.

The State Board of Education, which will make the final decision, announced the finalists Friday. They include interim Commissioner Susan McCauley, Copper River School District Superintendent Michael Johnson, Kodiak Island Borough School District Superintendent Stewart McDonald and Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District Superintendent Robert Boyle.

The board is seeking a replacement for Mike Hanley, who resigned as commissioner in February at the request of Gov. Bill Walker and members of the board. At the time, board member Sue Hull said the decision was based in part on the board’s desire to take the department in a new direction.




Traveling Prom Dress Sisterhood Honors Friend Lost to Cancer Associated Press


ARLINGTON, Mass. — “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” now has a real-life version: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Prom Dress.

The last time many of Catherine Malatesta’s friends saw her, she was wearing a huge smile and the deep blue, shimmery dress at her junior prom. Four days later, battling a rare cancer, she went into the hospital and never left.

Now, four of Catherine’s friends are honoring her by wearing that dress to their own proms, a gracious gesture her mother named after “Traveling Pants.” And, like the pair of jeans in the books and movies that magically fits four teenage girls of different shapes and sizes, Catherine’s dress works for all of them, with only temporary hemming for two of the girls.




Octavia Spencer, Aaron Paul and More Stars Sound off on the Importance of Education People


Octavia Spencer, Aaron Paul and more celebs showed up to support a great cause on Saturday at City Year’s 6th Annual Spring Break event in Los Angeles.

“I am an advocate of education,” Spencer, 45, told PEOPLE at the event. “It is the panacea for all that ails us in our society. I think if we give kids a break in education, we would have fewer crimes being committed. If we keep them on track, they know that they have options. It’s important for me because, you know, my life would’ve been different had I not had the education that I had.”

Stars such as Allison Janney, Derek and Julianne Hough, Aubrey Plaza, Nina Dobrev, Angela Bassett, Michael B. Jordan and more showed up to the event, which supports City Year’s non-profit efforts to help students in high-need urban schools.









USOE Calendar



UEN News



May 12:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

9 a.m., 250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City


Utah State Board of Education Administrative Rules Hearing

2:30 p.m., 250 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City


Utah State Board of Education USDB and committee meetings

4:30 p.m., 250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



May 13:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

8 a.m., 250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



May 17:

Education Interim Committee meeting

1:15 p.m., 30 House Building


Executive Appropriations Committee meeting

2 p.m., 445 State Capitol


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