Education News Roundup: July 27, 2016



Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:


Utah teachers speak against the new APT license in a public hearing. (SLT)

and (DN)

and (KUTV)

and (KSL)


Sen. Hatch co-sponsors a bill giving a boost to CTE programs. (THE Journal)

and (Campus Technology) or a copy of the bill (


Idaho officials tally up lottery money — including Utah contributions — which goes to education there. (Associated Press via Lewiston [ID] Tribune)


ED releases guidance on homeless students under ESSA. (Ed Week)

and (ABC)

or a copy of the guidance: (ED)


ED estimates 200,000 children nationwide are “unschooled.” (USAT)


Gallup encourages the creation of more brand ambassadors for schools and districts. (Ed Week)

or a copy of the report

Part I (Gallup)

Part II (Gallup)












Utah teachers decry ‘demoralizing,’ ‘insulting’ licensing rule at school board hearing Education » Program that would license individuals with no classroom training called “demoralizing.”


Senate Bill Proposes Shot in Arm for CTE


District pays $200,000 to part ways with longtime administrator


Idaho Lottery sends $49.5 million dividend to state


‘Virtual students’ receive diplomas


Latino youths gain leadership experience at camp


USU Extension 4-H state contests showcase talented youth


National FFA Organization names 2016 Star finalists


Former Utah teacher resolves case over watching porn in class Courts » Charges will be dismissed in a year if he stays out of trouble.


How You Can Help Kids in Need Prepare for School






A Revolution in Education – June 23, 2016


Why is new East High track off limits?


What if America Spent Per Student What Clinton, Trump Paid for Private Schools?


The Party of Teachers Unions


Students in My Math Classes Next Year Will Do a Lot of Writing. Here’s Why






ESSA Expands Schools’ Obligations to Homeless Students, New Guidance Says


‘Unschooling’ takes students out of the classroom


U.S. Schools Need More Teachers to Be ‘Ambassadors,’ Report Says


Where Does ‘Education Reform’ Go in a Post-Obama World?


Derby school district at odds over transgender bathroom policy School board upheld policy Monday and formed task force to explore the issue further


Transgender student asks U.S. high court to keep out of bathroom case


10th Circuit OKs School Arrest & Strip Search


Supreme Court upholds verdict in favor of teacher fired for racial joke


Minority students set to become new majority in Oklahoma schools


Charter school companies to take over low-performing schools


Department of Education wants judge to make ECOT turn over attendance data


Andrew Smarick elected president of Maryland State Board of Education


VP Pick’s Wife Is Virginia’s Education Secretary; What’s That, You Ask?


Once all but left for dead, is cursive handwriting making a comeback?


Education Front And Center As Civic Groups Look At Economic Mobility


Decades After Ban, Lead Paint Lingers


S&P Drops Kansas Credit Rating, Citing Ongoing Budget Issues








Utah teachers decry ‘demoralizing,’ ‘insulting’ licensing rule at school board hearing Education » Program that would license individuals with no classroom training called “demoralizing.”


A beyond-capacity crowd gave overwhelmingly critical feedback to the state school board Tuesday evening over a new program to grant teaching licenses to would-be educators. The Academic Pathway to Teaching rule, adopted by the board in June, allows individuals without classroom training to work as teachers if they hold a bachelor’s degree and can demonstrate mastery of a course subject.

The policy, which requires a candidate to be mentored by a veteran educator, is intended to recruit career professionals to the classroom and fill staffing gaps left by low teacher-retention rates and a decline in students studying education.

But many educators and educator groups have spoken out against the policy, saying it will exacerbate Utah’s teacher shortage and harm student learning by devaluing teachers and the programs that train them. (SLT) (DN) (KUTV) (KSL)




Senate Bill Proposes Shot in Arm for CTE


Career and technical education (CTE) could get a boost if bi-partisan legislation moves ahead. Recently, United States Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced a bill that would expand dual and concurrent enrollment in multiple directions. The Workforce Advance Act would allow states to invest dollars in increasing the number of courses offered and encourage school districts to bolster their CTE programs by incorporating college credit opportunities.

The move came at the same time the House Education & the Workforce Committee voted to reauthorize the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which forms the baseline funding for CTE in this country.

The proposed bill would encourage states to consider expanding access to CTE dual and concurrent enrollment and early college high school courses. These types of programs allow students to earn college credit while still in high school. The legislation would enable states to invest leadership dollars in expanding access and supporting teachers and districts to increase the number of courses offered.

The bill would let schools use a portion of the funding they receive through Perkins for tuition and fees for CTE college courses. It would also allow school districts to use funding to support teachers seeking credentials needed to teach those courses in their high schools. Finally, the bill would push the U.S. Department of Education to use national CTE activities to help identify best practices and approaches for providing dual or concurrent enrollment programs and early college high school CTE opportunities.

Utah, as well, has created a “fast, affordable route for students to gain the skills and earn the credentials they need to compete in today’s global economy,” added Hatch. There students have earned more than 180,000 college-level credit hours, he said. “With each class students took, they were one step closer to finding a job or earning a college degree.” (THE Journal) (Campus Technology)


A copy of the bill (




District pays $200,000 to part ways with longtime administrator


The Park City School District is parting ways with longtime associate superintendent Tom VanGorder after they reached a separation agreement that could result in the district paying him up to $200,000 in retirement benefits.

Superintendent Ember Conley said in an interview that the split was amicable and part of a decision to reshuffle financial resources spent on the district’s administration.

“It was an opportunity for us to rebuild and restructure,” she said.

The Park City Board of Education approved the separation agreement in a meeting July 13 by a vote of 3-1. Board member Nancy Garrison voted against the measure, while J.J. Ehlers was absent.

Garrison did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (PR)




Idaho Lottery sends $49.5 million dividend to state


BOISE – The Idaho Lottery is returning more than $49.5 million to the state after seeing a record high in the lottery’s history of end-of-the-year dividends.

Director Jeff Anderson announced Tuesday the state’s lottery saw a 10 percent increase over last year’s dividends. The previous lottery dividend record of $49 million was reached in 2014. Yet a year later, the state’s lottery dividends dropped for the first time in 11 years.

However, Anderson said this year’s extraordinarily large jackpots helped persuade people to buy lottery tickets – particularly with the $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot drawing held earlier this year.

Utah residents, whose state outlaws all forms of gambling, crowded Idaho border gas stations and waited several hours in line just to purchase the $2 tickets.

“So subsequently, we had record sales this year too,” Anderson said.

Lottery ticket sales totaled $236.1 million this past year, with Utah residents making up 20 percent of the Gem State’s sales, Anderson added.

This year’s dividends returned roughly $18.5 million to Idaho public schools and another $18.5 million to the state’s permanent building fund, which helps build and maintain state buildings, including at colleges and universities. The remaining $12.4 million will go to the state’s bond levy equalization fund, which helps support school bond levies. (Associated Press via Lewiston [ID] Tribune)




‘Virtual students’ receive diplomas


DAVIS COUNTY—Nine Davis County students received their high school diplomas last month, celebrating the milestone with students from around the state, many of whom they had never met before.

The students were graduates of Utah Connections Academy, an online public school for students in grades kindergarten through 12th grades.

In all, 67 seniors made up the graduating class that was honored in a ceremony at Thanksgiving Point. (DCC)




Latino youths gain leadership experience at camp


SALT LAKE CITY — Kimberly Membreno grew up in a home she called “really rough.”

Neither of her parents graduated high school, and family problems permeated into her own self-confidence.

After participating in service activities, and with the help of mentors and fellow students in Latinos in Action, the 17-year-old has found the courage to become involved in her community and speak her mind.

“It gave me a lot of confidence,” said Membreno, who will be a senior at Bonneville High School this fall. “I have the courage to do it.”

Her newfound courage helped her earn a scholarship to Weber State University and a free laptop, which will kickstart her career goals of using her musical talents to inspire others.

Membreno is just one of 250 student leaders for Latinos in Action who attended its leadership training boot camp Monday and Tuesday at Camp Tracy in Millcreek Canyon. (DN)




USU Extension 4-H state contests showcase talented youth


More than 300 youth participated in the Utah State University Extension 4-H State Contests held July 11 to 13 at the USU campus.

The event is an annual competition of youthful talent. High school students from around the state compete in events ranging from fashion review and video production to shooting sports and livestock judging. Participants who performed well may receive an invitation to participate in the national competition at the Western National Roundup in Denver, Colorado, next January. (CVD)




National FFA Organization names 2016 Star finalists


The National FFA Organization has selected 16 students from throughout the United States as finalists for its 2016 top achievement awards: American Star Farmer, American Star in Agribusiness, American Star in Agricultural Placement and American Star in Agriscience.

The American Star Awards represent the best of the best among thousands of American FFA Degree recipients. Recognized are FFA members who have developed outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through supervised agricultural experience programs; earned an American FFA Degree, the highest level of achievement the organization bestows upon a member; and met agricultural education, leadership and scholarship requirements.

Each star finalist receives $2,000 from the National FFA Foundation.

The finalists include:

American Star in Agriscience

Kaitlin Hallam of the Spanish Fork FFA Chapter in Utah. ([Dodge City, KS] High Plains Journal)




Former Utah teacher resolves case over watching porn in class Courts » Charges will be dismissed in a year if he stays out of trouble.


A former photography teacher at Cyprus High School has entered a plea in abeyance to resolve charges that he was watching pornography in his classroom.

Douglas M. Lind, 55, was charged in April in 3rd District Court with one count of accessing pornographic or indecent material on school property, a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.

On Friday, Lind pleaded no contest to the charge.

The plea will be held in abeyance for one year, at which time the case will be dismissed so long a Lind stays out of trouble and pays a $200 fee for the services of a public defense attorney, according to court documents. (SLT)




How You Can Help Kids in Need Prepare for School


Homelessness is not just a grownup problem. The Celeste Eggert with The Road Home talks about its program to help kinds in need get supplies for the new school year.

The needs for back-to-school at The Road Home have never been greater with more children having resided in the shelter this year than ever before. The 12th annual Road Home Apple Tree program will collect items for more than 130 children in The Road Home shelter. (KTVX)











A Revolution in Education – June 23, 2016 Utah PoliticoHub commentary by Paul Mero, CEO of Leadership Project for America


It is time for a revolution in education in Utah. Yes, I know. Every few years a bunch of do-gooders comes along determined to fix everything that is wrong with education. When I talk about a revolution in education, I’m not talking about fleeting movements or technical fixes. I’m talking about fundamental changes to how we view education built upon truths we’ve already learned. The kind of revolution in education I’m talking about is like the American Revolution, not the Russian or French revolutions. I’m not talking about destroying all that we’ve built that is good. I’m talking about building upon the good as we reconsider some realities that seemingly have slipped our minds.

First, we have to recognize that public education is for rising generations. It’s not for the adults – the teachers, the administrators, the parents or the policy makers. When we recognize that education is for children and youth who will soon become adults, we will see, at its most fundamental level, we’re educating rising generations to live peaceably and prosperously in a free society.




Why is new East High track off limits?

Salt Lake Tribune letter from John Pace


Can anyone explain why the public, which paid for the nice new running track at East High, can’t use it? We had access to the old track and I was never aware of any problems caused by public use. I could understand if a private school funded with private money didn’t let the public use their outdoor facilities, but East High is a public school.




What if America Spent Per Student What Clinton, Trump Paid for Private Schools?

Education Week commentary by columnist Andrew Ujifusa


Philadelphia – In his speech last week at the Republican National Convention, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. noted that he and his siblings were fortunate to have options for their schooling: “We want all Americans to have those same opportunities.”

Fair enough. But Donald Trump Jr., along with his siblings and Hillary Clinton’s daughter Chelsea, went to private schools that weren’t cheap. And so have several other presidential hopefuls’ children, for that matter.

So we thought about the educational opportunity in monetary terms: How much would it cost to spend the same amount per public school student what it costs to send children to the same private schools attended by the offspring of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and his Democratic counterpart Hillary Clinton? And what if we tried to match the basic outlines of their children’s private school experience when it comes to teachers?

Fortunately, Michael Griffith, an independent school finance consultant, did his own analysis to try to answer those questions.




The Party of Teachers Unions

Wall Street Journal commentary


The Seventy Four CEO Romy Drucker on why the AFT’s Randi Weingarten scored a speaking spot at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia. (video)




Students in My Math Classes Next Year Will Do a Lot of Writing. Here’s Why Education Week op-ed by Amy Shapiro, STEM specialist at a small independent school in upstate NY


I started my teaching career at a large comprehensive high school, teaching math exactly as I had been taught. Each day, I introduced my students to a new type of problem, solved a problem for them, and wrote the procedure in listed steps alongside my solution. Then I assigned them additional problems to solve on their own using the procedure that I provided. My students’ progress was slow with this approach, and I felt like I was struggling to reach them.

After four years of teaching, I switched gears and spent my fifth year teaching physics to 9th graders at a new engineering-themed small school in the Bronx borough of New York City. That year was completely different from my past teaching experience, both in terms of the content I was teaching and the type of instruction I was trying to provide my students. I used an inquiry-based curriculum with project-based assessments in this physics course with mixed success.

I finished the year feeling like the course had gone better than the teacher-centered math courses I had taught during the previous four years, but I wasn’t able to instantaneously change the learning in my classroom as much as I had hoped. Again, I found myself struggling to accurately assess what had gone wrong and how to improve.

My principal contacted me over the summer because she was looking for someone to attend a training on teaching English-language learners. Our district’s department of education required someone from each school to attend a weeklong summer professional-development course, and no one else from my school was available or wanted to go. Initially, I felt like the training wouldn’t be applicable to my practice, but I decided to attend mostly to “take one for the team.” But, in fact, it was this PD experience that opened my eyes as to what had gone wrong the previous year and started to provide me with concrete strategies to improve the teaching and learning in my classroom. I learned, specifically, about the central role of language development in learning, even in math classes.











ESSA Expands Schools’ Obligations to Homeless Students, New Guidance Says Education Week


The number of homeless children attending U.S. schools has grown—roughly doubling between 2006-07 and 2013-14—and schools must work to adequately identify and support these students, the U.S. Department of Education said in revised guidance Wednesday.

The guidance clarifies the requirements of schools under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which was reauthorized when Congress replaced the No Child Left Behind Act with the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, at the end of 2015.

As Education Week has previously reported, the new federal education law includes first-time requirements related to some vulnerable student populations. For example, states will have to break out the student achievement data and graduation rates of these homeless students, children in foster care, and children from military families just as they have done in the past by race and ethnicity.

The McKinney-Vento Act has always required students to help homeless students maintain their “school of origin,” by providing additional transportation for students so that they are not required to constantly switch schools as their families move in and out of attendance boundaries. Under ESSA, the requirement is expanded to include district-run preschools and Head Start programs under the definition of “school of origin,” the guidance says. (ABC)


A copy of the guidance: (ED)




‘Unschooling’ takes students out of the classroom USA Today


By 8 a.m. on any given weekday from September to June, bells have rung, backpacks are hung and millions of children are sitting at their school desks ready to begin the academic rigors of the day. Elisa Marie and Emilio Lopez of Phoenix, however, may very well still be sleeping. When they wake is determined by their internal clocks and learning commences when their curiosity sparks.

At ages 11 and 8, the Lopez children have never attended school, taken a pop quiz or spent hours at the kitchen table hunched over homework. They are unschoolers, members of a growing number of families who opt out of traditional schooling in favor of a new approach to interest-led, individualized learning.

Unschooling, which is legal in all 50 states but may be subject to certain regulations, allows children to indulge their natural curiosity without applying timetables to their learning. Parents trust that the children’s inherent curiosity will lead them to new and exciting topics, and largely reject the concept of forcing a child to conform to a one-size-fits-all curriculum in favor of customizing learning to the individual child.

“Because we see learning everywhere, we don’t dedicate a special time or certain hours to learning,” says Alicia Gonzalez-Lopez, mother to Elisa Marie and Emilio. “My role is to be providing opportunities to learn.”

The U.S. Department of Education estimates that there are nearly 2 million homeschooled children, of which 10 percent are estimated to be unschooled.




U.S. Schools Need More Teachers to Be ‘Ambassadors,’ Report Says Education Week


Two national surveys released last week reported that the overall level of engagement and job satisfaction among educators is fairly low—which could affect new teacher recruitment and retention.

According to a Gallup Business Journal two-part series released last week that analyzed existing Gallup data, U.S. school districts need more “brand ambassadors,” or people who love their children’s schools and go out of their way to promote and advocate for the district.

But only 18 percent of parents are fully engaged in their child’s school—and only 20 percent of teachers who are also parents would advocate for their child’s school (which they may teach at as well—the Gallup story didn’t specify).

The numbers—which are “startling low,” according to Gallup—could be affecting districts’ ability to attract the best teachers.

This is an “enormous” missed opportunity, Gallup researcher Nate Dvorak wrote: “A crucial source for this recruiting effort is current teachers, who have friends, relatives, neighbors, or school classmates who might come to them seeking advice about the district’s climate. Engaged teachers will speak highly of the school system and are much more likely to encourage others to work there.”

Dvorak suggests a few ways that administrators can create more brand ambassadors, including defining a clear identity for the district and conducting a baseline measurement of parent engagement. Dvorak also called on district officials to do more to engage teachers, citing a study of about 4,000 K-12 teachers that found just 43 percent of teachers feel their opinions count at work.


A copy of the report

Part I (Gallup)


Part II (Gallup)




Where Does ‘Education Reform’ Go in a Post-Obama World?

Education Week


Philadelphia — Back in 2008, Democrats for Education Reform had what amounted to its coming out party at the party’s national convention in Denver. But a lot has changed in eight years.

On Monday, an event put on here by Education Reform Now, an affiliated organization, felt like an opportunity for a little soul searching, as some big name speakers pondered a central question: Where exactly, does the education-redesign movement go in a post-Obama administration, post Every Student Succeeds Act world?

“There’s a lot of anxiety about the transition from this president to the next administration,” Shavar Jeffries, the national president of the organization, a non-profit think tank affiliated with DFER said as he kicked off the policy forum.

But Jeffries isn’t worried. His message? Hang tight and play the long game.

“For us this is a social justice project,” Jeffries said. “And social justice is never easy. It’s never short-term.”

Jeffries linked education redesign to other social-change movements, noting that after the success of the Montgomery bus boycott, the civil rights movement experienced a seven-year period of “defeat, after defeat, after defeat.”




Derby school district at odds over transgender bathroom policy School board upheld policy Monday and formed task force to explore the issue further Wichita (KS) Eagle


In the latest battle over bathroom access, Derby school leaders decided Monday to continue allowing students to use bathrooms matching their gender identity while a community task force explores the issue.

“It’s my belief that our community is wise and our students are wise, and they’re mature enough to communicate with each other and present a recommendation to the board,” said board member Carolyn Muehring.

About two months ago, after the Obama administration directed public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms matching their gender identity, Derby officials said they planned to follow the federal directive.

Since then, parents and others have formed Facebook groups and circulated petitions to either support the district’s decision or urge them to reconsider. During Monday’s school board meeting at Derby High School, several people on both sides of the issue addressed board members.




Transgender student asks U.S. high court to keep out of bathroom case Reuters


Lawyers for a transgender high school student in Virginia asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to keep out of a legal dispute about bathroom rights, an issue that has emerged as an increasingly divisive one in the United States.

In court papers, lawyers for the student, Gavin Grimm, urged the Supreme Court to leave in place a lower court’s order in favor of Grimm while the litigation goes on.

The case is the first time the fight over transgender bathroom rights has reached the Supreme Court.

Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued on behalf of Grimm to challenge the Gloucester County School Board’s bathroom policy, which requires transgender students to use alternative restroom facilities.

Grimm, 17, was born a girl but now identifies as male.

A federal district court in June ordered the school board to allow Grimm to use the boys’ restroom for now, and this month the school board asked the Supreme Court for an emergency stay of that order.

Seeking to keep the order in place, ACLU lawyers wrote that no “irreparable harm” will occur if the Supreme Court keeps out of the case and Grimm uses the boys’ bathroom. (AP)




10th Circuit OKs School Arrest & Strip Search Courthouse News Service


DENVER—The 10th Circuit ruled that a school police officer and two school employees have qualified immunity in a series of civil lawsuits which arose from the arrest and strip-searching of an Albuquerque middle-schooler.

The Cleveland Middle School student, F.M., was sent out of class for pretending to burp and making his classmates laugh. When F.M. ducked his head around the classroom door and pretended to burp again, his P.E. teacher requested help with the disruptive student.

Albuquerque police Officer Arthur Acosta responded, and on finding the teacher standing outside the classroom supervising the student, arrested the seventh-grader for “interfering with the educational process,” a petty misdemeanor. Acosta patted the boy down and handcuffed him before taking him to a juvenile detention center for processing.

In a separate incident the next school year, F.M. was among five students seen engaged in what might have been selling and buying marijuana. All five students were brought to a conference room in the school’s front office and asked to remove their shoes and empty their pockets.

When F.M. was found to be carrying $200 in cash, and to be wearing “numerous layers of clothing … including a long-sleeved athletic shirt, a short-sleeved shirt layered over the first shirt, a pair of jeans, two pairs of athletic shorts, and boxer-shorts underwear,” he was asked to remove outer layers of clothing. No marijuana was found in the search, according to the 2-1 July 25 ruling by 10th Circuit Judge Jerome Holmes.

The student’s mother filed several lawsuits against the school and its employees, including Acosta, school principal Susan Labarge, and assistant principal Ann Holmes.

Each of these defendants claimed qualified immunity from civil prosecution, and the 10th Circuit affirmed. (Ed Week)


A copy of the ruling (10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals)




Supreme Court upholds verdict in favor of teacher fired for racial joke Flint (MI) Journal


FLINT, MI – The Michigan Supreme Court has upheld a jury verdict in favor of a teacher who was fired from Linden Charter Academy after he made what his attorney called a racial joke.

However, the court also ruled the case will have to go back in front of a jury to decide how much money he is entitled to in damages.

The court ruled Tuesday, July 26, that a jury decision in favor of Craig Hecht was appropriate, but the jury’s decision to award him future damages must be vacated due to state law.

Justices decided to hear the case after the Court of Appeals upheld in October 2014 a jury’s 2011 decision to award Hecht more than a half-million dollars. The lawsuit was filed against Linden Charter Academy’s parent company, Grand Rapids-based National Heritage Academies.


A copy of the ruling (Michigan Supreme Court)




Minority students set to become new majority in Oklahoma schools (Oklahoma City) Oklahoman


Allegra Logan works with students in her classroom at Star Spencer High School on Thursday, March 3, 2016. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman.Archives At a recent school event, the principal of Lee Elementary told a joke about the new school year’s super hero theme, but it failed to elicit a response from Rogero Romero.

When the principal paused in her speech, Romero turned his head to the left and listened as an interpreter translated the joke into Spanish, which resulted in a wide grin from Romero as he patted the head of his granddaughter, who will begin prekindergarten next week at this south Oklahoma City school.

“There’s a lot of Spanish-speaking people coming over and some of them don’t speak a lot of English,” Romero said. “It’s important to have teachers here who speak Spanish. We need it.”

Lee Elementary is largely made up of Hispanic students and is in the Oklahoma City Public Schools system, which has long been a district with a majority of minority students.

But when classes begin across the state in the coming weeks, Oklahoma is expected to reach minority-majority status, as nonwhite students will outnumber white students in public schools for the first time.




Charter school companies to take over low-performing schools Raleigh (NC) News & Observer


The governor’s office on Tuesday announced a number of recent bill signings by Gov. Pat McCrory, including a statewide district for five low-performing schools that is meant to improve student proficiency.

House Bill 1080 establishes the new district for schools that will be turned over to charter school management companies and overseen by a superintendent chosen by the state Board of Education. The five schools will be selected from a pool of struggling schools.

The law requires that charter operators who want to work in the district must show they know what they’re doing and that they have a plan for “dramatically improving student achievement.” Legislators who supported the plan said North Carolina’s program would have more safeguards than neighboring Tennessee, where a similar district has not improved student performance after three years.




Department of Education wants judge to make ECOT turn over attendance data Columbus (OH) Dispatch


The Ohio Department of Education is asking a Franklin County judge to compel the state’s largest online school to turn over data that, ultimately, is needed to audit how many full-time students were in attendance last year.

The filing is the latest legal salvo between the department and the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, which would be at risk of losing tens of millions of dollars in state funding if its students are falling well short of the minimum 920 hours of “learning opportunities” required by the state.

The department audits charter-school attendance every five years, but ECOT has refused to hand over all data the state says it needs to properly complete the audit.

ECOT sued the Education Department this month, arguing that the department is violating a 2003 signed agreement between the school and the state and a department promise from a meeting earlier this year that it would not use log-in durations to determine student attendance.

ECOT has said it will not provide records without a judge’s order.




Andrew Smarick elected president of Maryland State Board of Education Baltimore Sun


Andrew Smarick, a longtime education policy expert who has worked on the national and state level, was elected president of the Maryland State Board of Education Tuesday.

Smarick, who was appointed as a member of the school board a year ago by Gov. Larry Hogan, works as a partner at Bellwether Education Partners, a national nonprofit. He was formerly an education official at the U.S. Department of Education under President George W. Bush.

Smarick is also a prolific tweeter and has nearly 15,000 followers. (WaPo)




VP Pick’s Wife Is Virginia’s Education Secretary; What’s That, You Ask?

Education Week


The education policy record of Sen. Tim Kaine, who was just picked as the running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, will get plenty of attention this week.

Less, but still a signficant amount, of attention will be paid toward his wife, Anne Holton, who currently serves as Virginia Secretary of Education.

That’s not the same as the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, a position held by Steven R. Staples. The state superintendent oversees the department of education and reports to the state’s board of education. Both the board and superintendent are appointed by the governor.

Virginia’s Secretary of Education, on the other hand, is a role established in 1976 to advise the governor on both pre-K, K-12 and higher education policy. The role is advisory in nature only, and the secretary doesn’t have any authority over the education department. The secretary is appointed by and reports to the governor. (WaPo)




Once all but left for dead, is cursive handwriting making a comeback?

Washington Post


Cursive writing was supposed to be dead by now. Schools would stop teaching it. Kids would stop learning it. Everyone would stop using it. The Common Core standards adopted by most states in recent years no longer required teaching cursive in public schools, and the widespread reaction was succinct: good riddance.

But like Madonna and newspapers, cursive has displayed a gritty staying power, refusing to have its loop de loops and curlicues swept to the dustbin of handwriting history. Just last month, Louisiana passed a law requiring that all traditional public schools and public charter schools begin teaching cursive by third grade and continue through 12th grade. Arkansas legislators passed a law mandating cursive instruction last year. And 10 other states, including Virginia, California, Florida and Texas, have cursive writing requirements in their state education standards.

The cursive comeback is championed by a mix of educators, researchers, parents and politicians who lament the loss of linked-letter writing and cite studies that learning cursive engages the brain more deeply, improves fine motor dexterity and gives children a better idea of how words work in combination.

And some also just like the way it looks.




Education Front And Center As Civic Groups Look At Economic Mobility

(Chicago) WBEZ


Education could be a vehicle to create economic mobility, but in many ways the country and the city of Chicago are failing.

This was the message of former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Duncan, who spent eight years as chief executive officer for the Chicago Public Schools, spoke Monday to a group of researchers and planners who are looking at the issue of economic mobility in Chicago. The Metropolitan Planning Council and the Urban Institute came together to host the meeting titled “How Place Matters for Economic Mobility.”

With research being done by the Urban Institute, the planning council is spending the next year looking at ways to promote economic mobility for low-income families; it plans to then make recommendations. The project is sponsored by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, and JPMorgan Chase.

Duncan said the biggest problem is that politicians give lip service to education funding, but that no one holds them accountable.

He said if parents came together and demanded better, politicians would have no choice but to react.

“Until we think about not just caring about our own child, but caring for the kids down the block or five blocks away or on the South or West sides or on a Native American reservation, until we take collective ownership for that, we are not going to get there,” he said.




Decades After Ban, Lead Paint Lingers



In the wake of the Flint water crisis, states are rushing to test for high levels of lead in drinking water. But many are failing to come to grips with a more insidious problem: lingering lead paint in homes and schools.

Paint, rather than drinking water, remains the main source of lead poisoning of young children in the U.S. But even though there are myriad federal and state laws designed to eradicate lead paint, enforcement is lackluster, hampered by a lack of money and the misperception that the problem has been solved. Many state laws don’t conform to federal recommendations, and federal funding for lead abatement has been slashed from $176 million in 2003 to $110 million in 2014.

Though the federal government banned lead-based paint in 1977, it persists in an estimated 38 million homes, lingering on old window frames and trim, and in dust. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children in at least 4 million U.S. households are being exposed to “high levels” of lead, and an estimated 535,000 children between the ages of 1 and 5 have elevated lead levels in their blood. (The CDC does not consider any level of lead safe for children.)




S&P Drops Kansas Credit Rating, Citing Ongoing Budget Issues Associated Press


TOPEKA, Kan. — A major rating agency on Tuesday downgraded Kansas’ credit rating for the second time in two years because of the state’s budget problems.

S&P Global Ratings dropped its rating for Kansas to AA-, from AA, three months after putting the state on a negative credit watch. S&P also dropped the state’s credit rating in August 2014.

Forty-one states now have a higher rating from S&P, and only three – Illinois, New Jersey and Kentucky – have worse ratings. The ratings agency cited the state’s lack of cash reserves, even after multiple rounds of budget adjustments over the past year.

Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley said in a statement that the governor would work with lawmakers “to address to address higher than anticipated government expenditures, caused in part” by state Supreme Court orders on school funding.

An education funding lawsuit is still before the high court, with the justices considering whether legislators are required by the state constitution to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more than the $4 billion-plus a year in current state aid to public schools. S&P said a ruling could provide “additional budget pressure.”

Another major ratings agency, Moody’s Investors Services, changed its credit outlook for Kansas in May to “negative” while affirming its rating of Aa2. Moody’s also downgraded Kansas’ rating in 2014.











USOE Calendar



UEN News



August 4:

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting

9 a.m., 445 State Capitol



August 11:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City


Utah State Board of Education study session, USDB and committee meetings

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



August 12:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



September 13:

Joint Education Conference

8 a.m., 800 W University Parkway, Orem



September 20:

Executive Appropriations Committee meeting

2 p.m., 445 State Capitol



September 21:

Education Interim Committee meeting

1:15 p.m., 30 House Building


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