Education News Roundup: Sept. 13 – 2016


Artwork by students at Butler Middle School/ Canyons SD

Artwork by students at Butler Middle School/ Canyons SD

Today’s Top Picks:


Report: Half of Utah students who report using alcohol are also vaping. (DNews)  (KSL) (Fox13) (KUTV)


USU hosts inaugural Girls in Aviation Day at Logan-Cache Airport (HJ)


State school board debate series starts in Ivins. (TS)


3,500 Acres of Utah Trust Land at auction to benefit Public Schools. (KCSG)


‘It’s my job to save them’ Hero driver pulls children from burning bus. (Fox13)










Report: Half of Utah students who report using alcohol are also vaping


Utah faces challenge educating teens about vaping


School therapy dog recovering after being hit by car


USU hosts inaugural Girls in Aviation Day at Logan-Cache Airport


No-degree teachers will be discussed at upcoming Town Hall meeting


State school board debate series starts in Ivins


Utah school districts feeling pains of rapid growth


Timpview High cheerleaders rally in defense of uniforms after complaint


Park City Police & Schools Issue Community Alert About Synthetic Drug


3,500 Acrea of Utah Trust Land at auction to benefit Public Schools





The public schools bring us together as Americans


Optimizing measurement and accountability to improve student learning


Parents are a key to educational success


New high schools work hard to build traditions


Teacher shortage decision a bad one





‘It’s my job to save them’ Hero driver pulls children from burning bus


Back-to-School Bus Tour Highlights Importance of Connecting America’s Classrooms to the Future and Supporting STEM Teacher Leadership and Education


Vegas School Reopens after 1/4 cup of Mercury is Cleaned Up


Learning Through Play

Education does not stop when recess begins.


The U.S. Has Started Tracking Religious Discrimination In Schools


One out of five children have mental illness, and schools often don’t help







Report: Half of Utah students who report using alcohol are also vaping


SALT LAKE CITY — If you’re a kid these days, cigarettes have never been more unpopular.

“You can pretty much ask any teenager: It is very, very uncool,” said Davis High School senior Carson Robb, who called the idea of ashtrays and the smell of cigarette smoke “disgusting.”

But when it comes to e-cigarettes — battery-powered devices that deliver nicotine and flavoring through clouds of water vapor and have to be charged “just like iPhones” — they have never seemed more appealing, said Robb, who is creating a club called SAEV, or Students Against Electronic Vaping.

New data from the Utah Department of Health and Utah Department of Human Services are adding to public health officials’ fears that youths are increasingly turning to e-cigarettes.

Results from the state’s biennial Student Health and Risk Prevention survey shows that 56 percent of Utah youths who reported recently drinking alcohol also reported using e-cigarettes or vape products.

Just 26 percent of those same students reported using traditional cigarettes. (DNews) (KSL) (Fox13)




Utah faces challenge educating teens about vaping


Salt Lake City — (KUTV) The Utah Department of Health says teen use of e-cigarettes or vaping is on the rise and poses health concerns to youth. The state has made an effort educating youth on the dangers of alcohol and cigarettes but with the rise of vaping, there is a whole different battle on its hands.

Chris Miller has the story. (KUTV)




School therapy dog recovering after being hit by car


WEST VALLEY CITY — Banjo, the therapy dog at Roots Charter High School, is recovering after being hit by a car Friday. He’s expected to survive, but the school’s principal doesn’t know how the kids will react without him for a while.

Banjo’s on the mend and getting a lot of attention. His vet says he went into shock Friday night when his leg broke, and Saturday, he was a little groggy but likely to make a full recovery.

“Most of his trauma was to his right front leg because he wasn’t able to put any weight on the leg, and he had pretty significant injuries to the bottom part of his leg,” said veterinarian Vicki Campbell at BluePearl Veterinary Hospital in Midvale.

Banjo is a therapy dog. He provides support to kids and teens with anxiety, stress and other psychological issues at the Roots Charter School.

“We have students with high anxiety, and they will come find me and say, ‘Can I spend some time with Banjo?’” said Principal Tyler Bastian. “We have kids with anger management issues, and if they can just sit for a minute, it helps calm them down.”

The school takes in at-risk kids who might otherwise drop out. The students take part in the care of the animals at the one-of-a-kind farm school, which gives them a sense of responsibility and a desire to show up every day. (DNews)




USU hosts inaugural Girls in Aviation Day at Logan-Cache Airport


Nine-year-old Brookley Bair sat inside the cockpit of a biplane parked inside a hangar Saturday morning at the Logan-Cache Airport, her hands at the controls, her face alight with a toothy grin even as a flight cap a size too large for her head fell over her eyes.

Bair was one of over 50 girls in attendance at Utah State University’s Girls in Aviation Day, an event hosted by USU’s newly formed chapter of Women in Aviation International to give young women the opportunity to learn more about career opportunities in the world of flight.

While her friends learned about drone technology, weather patterns and the science behind liftoff on the other side of the hangar, Bair was having a tour of one of the planes used by the students of the university’s aviation program, having her picture taken.

“I can’t get it to stay up,” Bair said, giggling, as she pulled the cap back over her head. (HJ)




No-degree teachers will be discussed at upcoming Town Hall meeting


There is talk right now about the State of Utah allowing non-teachers to teach school in the state’s public education system. State Senator Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, says that is an issue that may come up for discussion at a Town Hall meeting on Thursday, September 22.

He says local legislators will hold their monthly meeting with community members starting at 6:30 p.m. on the 22nd at the new Ridgeline High School in Millville.

On non-teachers being able to teach, Hillyard says it is not quite what it may sound like.

“If you read in the paper that anybody can come and teach, it’s really not that way at all,” Hillyard explains. “I think we’ll have…somebody from the state (school) board explain exactly what has happened.

“I think when people know that they will feel much better about what is happening. It’s not just opening the door to every non-teacher who wants to become a teacher will suddenly be hired.”




State school board debate series starts in Ivins


The candidates vying to represent southwest Utah on the state’s 15-member school board are slated to kick off a debate series at a high school in Ivins Tuesday.

Michelle Boulter of St. George and Wesley Christiansen of Hurricane are scheduled to go head-to-head at 6:30 p.m. at the Tuacahn High School for the Performing Arts in the first of a series of debates across the state being hosted by a Utah Education Debate Coalition.

“State school board positions often get overlooked by higher-profile offices, but these individuals shape the future for Utah students and teachers,” Royce Van Tassell, executive director of the Utah Association of Public Charter Schools, said in a written statement.

Van Tassell’s group joined this year with several other high-profile entities to create the debate coalition and provide public opportunities for voters to see candidates speak on the issues. Other coalition members include the Hinkley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, the Sutherland Institute, the United Way of Salt Lake and KSL/Deseret News. (TS)




Utah school districts feeling pains of rapid growth


Lehi, Utah — (KUTV) Utah’s public school population has grown by 25 percent in the past decade, and two in five Utah public school teachers leave the profession within five years. This is causing a headache for school districts across the state, and the issue is becoming more obvious in high-growth areas.

The Alpine School District has more than 78,000 students in its district. This year, their student projections were off by 600.

“That means we need to hire 15 — 20 additional teachers; some of them just days before school,” said Kimberly Bird, Assistant to the Alpine School District Superintendent. “Of course, this causes some anxiety for parents. And we are sad about that.”

At River Rock Elementary in Lehi, the second-year school found itself in need of two teachers once students projections proved to be off.

“In between June and August, new developments brought 111 unaccounted for new students to River Rock,” Bird said. (KUTV)




Timpview High cheerleaders rally in defense of uniforms after complaint


PROVO, Utah – One complaint puts 44 young women at Timpview High School on the defensive.

“We were told that we were not allowed to wear our uniforms anymore,” said Tess Rozier, a senior cheerleader at Timpview.

Last week, Rozier said, the cheer coach told all the girls someone had complained the uniforms worn on game day in class were distracting a boy, causing him to have impure thoughts. Instead of wearing their uniforms, the girls for their “best dressed” for game day.  It didn’t sit well.

“Everyone on the team was quite upset,” Rozier said.

“Forty-four girls are being controlled.  We’re getting told what to do by this one boy,” said Georgia Bear, a Timpview cheerleader.

“I kind of felt like it’s the school almost supporting a rape culture,” said JoAnna Johnson, a Timpview cheerleader. (Fox13)



Park City Police & Schools Issue Community Alert About Synthetic Drug


Park City, UT — Park City Police Department and Park City School District jointly issue a community-wide alert about the synthetic research drug U-47700. Two fatal overdoses in Utah (Salt Lake County and Iron County) have already been attributed to U-47700. The drug is commonly known as “pink” or “pinky.”

Utah Statewide Information & Analysis Center says, “The synthetic opioid… is growing in popularity with recreational drug users throughout the United States…[and] is readily available for purchase on the internet; primarily from Chinese suppliers.” Because this drug is so new — it is not yet illegal to purchase.

At this point, it is known that the substance is extremely toxic, even in small doses. If you believe you have encountered the drug, contact your local law enforcement agency immediately and do not touch the substance with bare hands. (KPCW)




3,500 Acrea of Utah Trust Land at auction to benefit Public Schools


SALT LAKE CITY – The School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) will sell 11 trust land parcels and one additional parcel on behalf of Utah State University at its biannual public auction 10 a.m. Wednesday, October 19 at the Little America Hotel at 500 South Main Street in Salt Lake City.

More than 3,500 acres will be offered at auction, and include exceptional scenic and hunting properties. The 200-acre Cave Valley parcel in Washington County is located adjacent to Zion National Park, near the Lambs Knoll hiking area. A 380-acre Comb Ridge parcel in San Juan County is located within an area identified for possible national monument status.

All trust land parcels offered at the October auction are held in trust for the public school system and proceeds from the sale will be deposited into the $2 billion Permanent School Fund. Annual interest and dividends from this Permanent Fund are distributed to each individual public school in Utah.

The available parcels vary widely in acreage and use, and include lands suitable for agricultural, grazing, residential, hunting, and other recreational purposes. (KCSG)








The public schools bring us together as Americans Salt Lake Tribune letter from Marc Thomas



It doesn’t take much knowledge to see the massive mistake made by the Donald Trump and Mike Pence campaign in touting Indiana’s school voucher program (Tribune, Sept. 1). On the one hand, Trump and Pence state that they will unify the nation. At the same time, Pence trumpets that he and Trump support the use of school vouchers to promote school choice, never mind that it is the single most effective way of dividing our society.

The common school (as envisioned by Thomas Jefferson) was established to provide all children, emigrating from a variety of foreign countries, with a common ethos (such as all men are created equal). Our schools provide all children a unifying set of values, the ethos of our nation. This is no longer possible when public education is balkanized into vouchers, charters and other forms of parent choice.

Pence and Trump cannot have it both ways, preaching unity while promoting methods that divide us. If we really want unity, we cannot allow the fracturing of public education. Doing so only contradicts the unifying vision of common schools established by our Founding Fathers.




Optimizing measurement and accountability to improve student learning Deseret News commentary from Randy Shumway, CEO of the Cicero Group


At the end of last year, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 was replaced with the Every Student Succeeds Act, which fundamentally redefines success and reallocates accountability. Although NCLB was designed to improve innovation and outcomes in public education, it resulted in the unpopular enforcement of one-size-fits-all exams and school goals. By 2011, nearly half of all schools across the nation were labeled as “failing” because they were not making “adequate yearly progress” as defined by NCLB. Meanwhile, taxpayers were spending three times as much on annual testing— topping out at almost $2 billion per year.

In spite of these flaws in implementation, NCLB deserves credit for helping increase the focus of education policy on measurement and accountability. Fortunately, parents, teachers and public officials were quick to articulate the many problems with NCLB and recommend ways to revise and improve the benchmarks.

ESSA requires that states continue to evaluate student outcomes, but it recalibrates the definitions of success. Whereas NCLB insufficiently addressed the existence of multiple points of assessment and evaluation, ESSA allows freedom to choose from a range of metrics to measure success, such as graduation rates, student and teacher engagement and school safety.




Parents are a key to educational success Deseret News editorial


Polls and surveys have consistently shown that Utahns favor greater investment in public schools. That sentiment is most often discussed in terms of how much money the state distributes to the school system, but there is another kind of investment that doesn’t tend to get talked about as much, though it is of equal or greater importance. That has to do with just how much parents are willing and able to invest personal time and effort in their kids’ education.

A recent national survey demonstrates that parents have strong feelings and firm ideas about what they believe are the various components necessary for a quality education system. A poll by Education Next, a journal based at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, shows that parents generally favor standardized testing and higher teacher pay, while support for computers in the classroom and the Common Core curriculum appear to be eroding. The survey breaks down attitudes among different classes of public school parents, and contains some surprising information. For one thing, people who identify as Democrats tend to favor school voucher programs more than people who identify as Republicans. It contains a detailed array of interesting findings, but aside from that, the poll itself speaks to the value of ascertaining parental attitudes about local schools.




New high schools work hard to build traditions Standard Examiner column by Mark Saal


Most everyone in public education agrees that tradition is as important in public schools as it is in Anatevka, the fictitious Russian town of Broadway musical fame. But traditions take time, so what happens when a school is light on that precious commodity?

“School traditions are what brings the kids together, to have that sense of belonging, to envelop the community and build community support,” said Patty Norman, assistant superintendent of student achievement for the State Office of Education. “They make it feel like education is a team effort.”

And when it comes to traditions, nobody does it better than Davis High School in Kaysville. The Davis Darts have long had a reputation for both academic and athletic excellence. Indeed, across the concave entrance to the school, beneath large block letters declaring the building to be the home of “DAVIS HIGH SCHOOL,” are only slightly smaller letters spelling out the motto “DEFEND THE TRADITION.”




Teacher shortage decision a bad one

Daily Herald letter from Mark Clement


I am disappointed that the state school board decided to address the teacher shortage by reducing the standards for teachers.

This shortage has been predicted since at least 2006 and the real solution is to provide increased support to attract high-quality teachers. In this age of increasing global competition, there is no better investment that we can make as a state than supporting better education for our children.

A reduction in teacher qualifications will result in a reduction in the skills of the workforce and an eventual reduction in the competitiveness of our workforce. Utah is last in the nation in terms of per-pupil spending. Some claim this is because we have a lot of children. But we are 37th in the nation in percentage of family income that is spent on education. As the Utah Foundation rightly notes, “Utahns now enjoy a lower tax burden, but over time, we have paid for the entire tax reduction through lower investment in schools.”









‘It’s my job to save them’ Hero driver pulls children from burning bus


COLLEGE PARK, Md. — A Maryland school bus driver was hailed as a hero after the bus she was driving caught fire Monday.

The driver, identified by a parent as Reneita Smith, safely got each and every student off of the bus and away from danger.

“A big THANK YOU to our school bus driver Reneita Smith who just saved 20 elementary school kids from a bus fire that completely destroyed the bus,” Fazlul Kabir posted on Facebook. “Reneita [not only] took each one of the 20 kids from the bus one by one, but also went into the empty bus again to check if everyone was out, while it was still burning.”

“I am a mom of two kids,” Kabir recalled Smith saying as the bus burned. “It’s my job to save them.”

Video captured by a firefighter’s dashboard camera showed smoke and flames coming from the empty school bus.

The fire was reported at about 4:45 p.m. Monday along the 9600 block of 51st Avenue in College Park.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation. (Fox13)




Back-to-School Bus Tour Highlights Importance of Connecting America’s Classrooms to the Future and Supporting STEM Teacher Leadership and Education


The U.S. Department of Education today announced new resources to support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teacher leadership and to build on work by local districts and states to improve teaching and student learning outcomes through the effective use of technology in the classroom.

“All students deserve a high-quality education, complete with access to digital learning, which prepares them to succeed in our 21st century, knowledge-based economy,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “And supporting teacher leadership is critical to improving education for all of our nation’s students, particularly those students who are often underserved and underrepresented.”

King highlighted the announcements during his “Opportunity Across America” back-to-school bus tour stop in Bristol and will do so in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

When President Obama entered office in 2009, he had a comprehensive vision for improving our education system to advance our children’s opportunities and success. Preparing students for college and 21st century careers by enhancing technology and improving and supporting STEM education in our nation’s schools are among the Administration’s priorities to building a world-class education. (USDofEd)




Vegas School Reopens after 1/4 cup of Mercury is Cleaned Up


LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Las Vegas middle school is back in session nearly a week after a mercury discovery forced more than 1,000 students into a quarantine that lasted overnight.

The Clark County School District said Tuesday that students are back at Walter Johnson Junior High School.

A few dribbles of the neurotoxin were first found on campus Wednesday morning, prompting a hazmat situation that lasted until 5 a.m. Thursday.

It was the largest decontamination effort in the history of the school district and Las Vegas fire department.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the cleanup effort has yielded more than a quarter cup of the element.

Officials say the campus has been fully decontaminated though they’re still investigating how the mercury got to the school. (AP)




Learning Through Play

Education does not stop when recess begins.


Google the definition of play and the first thing that pops up is this: “[To] engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.”

Jack Shonkoff, the director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, finds that language supremely frustrating. “It’s not taking a break from learning when we talk about play,” he told me, rattling off a litany of cognitive, physical, mental, and social-emotional benefits. “Play is one of the most important ways in which children learn.”

But in the mid-2000s, the federal No Child Left Behind education law—which emphasized test scores—prompted some schools to scale back recess (along with art and music) to spend more time on math and reading. Other schools eliminated recess because it was the source of a disproportionate number of discipline issues and a headache for administrators. The rollback wasn’t quite as extreme as some of the headlines seemed to indicate (After all, what better way for opponents of the law to push back than to put out the word that recess was on the chopping block?), but it did leave hundreds, even thousands, of kids without time during the school day to play outside. Some studies suggested that as many as 40 percent of school districts across the country reduced or cut recess. Even today, only a handful  of states actually require recess. And many of the students affected by recess cuts were low-income children, disproportionately black and Latino, who didn’t always have a safe space to play outside at home. (TA)




The U.S. Has Started Tracking Religious Discrimination In Schools


The United States government is taking a big step to curb religious discrimination in schools.

The U.S. Department of Education announced a series of initiatives this summer to address religious discrimination in public schools, including a new website with legal information regarding students’ religious rights.

For the first time ever, the agency’s Office for Civil Rights will require schools to report the number of incidents involving religious-based bullying and harassment using an online data collection platform. The office also updated its online complaint form to clarify to schools the kinds of incidents that will fall into this category.

The department’s move comes at a crucial time, as the country grapples with disconcerting levels of anti-Muslim sentiment.

There have been roughly 100 hate crimes committed against Muslims in the U.S. since the Paris terror attacks in November 2015, according to the group Muslim Advocates. Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative found that there were more acts of anti-Muslim violence and vandalism in 2015 than in any year since Sept. 11.

The Huffington Post has also recorded more than 260 acts of anti-Muslim violence, discrimination and political speech in the United States this year. (HuffPo)




One out of five children have mental illness, and schools often don’t help


SPARTANBURG, S.C. — On a hot summer day last month, Sydney, 15, and Laney, 8, were enjoying their last two weeks of freedom before school started. The sisters tried to do flips over a high bar at a local playground.

“You’ve got to pull your hips into the bar, like you’ve got to kick up like that,” explained their mother, Selena.

“I tried to kick! I did this — you told me not to stick out,” said Laney indignantly.

Both girls have been diagnosed with mental illnesses — Sydney with bipolar disorder and Laney with a similar illness called disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. The family asked that their last name not be used to protect the girls’ privacy.

School has been a real challenge for them. That’s not unusual for the 1 in 5 children with a mental illness. They often suffer anxiety, difficulty focusing and social challenges. Half of them drop out of high school, in part because many schools don’t manage to meet their needs.

Selena has spent the past eight years trying to get the girls the resources to help them succeed. Like a lot of parents of kids with mental health issues, she’s had to be her children’s biggest advocate.

“It’s definitely a journey. It wasn’t easy,” she said, even though she’s a school guidance counselor herself. (PBSNewsHour)








USOE Calendar



UEN News



September 13:

Joint Education Conference

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



September 14:

Retirement and Independent Entities Interim Committee meeting

1 p.m., 30 House Building



September 20:

Education Interim Committee meeting

8 a.m., 30 House Building


Executive Appropriations Committee meeting

2 p.m., 445 State Capitol



September 21:

Education Interim Committee meeting

1:15 p.m., 30 House Building



September 22:

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting

9 a.m., 445 State Capitol



October 6:

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

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



October 7:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



October 13:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City


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