Education News Roundup: Nov. 15 – 2016


Statewide E.Y.E. (Entry Years Enhancement) Coordinators meeting at the Utah State Board of Education office.

Statewide E.Y.E. (Entry Years Enhancement) Coordinators meeting at the Utah State Board of Education office.


Today’s Top Picks:


Utahns Overwhelmingly Want Better Funded Schools (UT Po)


Five students stabbed in Mountain View High School locker room (DNews) (SE) (DH) (KUTV) (ABC4UT) (KSL) (Fox13)


Orem Elementary School honors custodian for service in armed forces (DH)


ACT Offers First Accommodations for English-Language Learners (EdWeek)









Utahns Overwhelmingly Want Better Funded Schools


Report: Education among worst-paying college majors in Utah


Utah auditor: Public education needs to wake up to teacher salary problem


Five students stabbed in Mountain View High School locker room


This little piggy got kissed: West Bountiful principal puckers up


Orem Elementary School honors custodian for service in armed forces


American Fork High SkillsUSA club builds playhouse for Festival of Trees


Schools say no tolerance for post-election bullying


Leadership Academy students embrace technology, business


Principals past and present discuss East Elementary legacy


TONIGHT at 5: Meet the middle school teacher up for a GRAMMY


How to tell when your kids’ teasing crosses the line


Alpine School District shortens winter break by 3 days




Real sex education empowers students


SITLA’s Comb Ridge sale leaves Utah schoolchildren with less than they had


Everything else takes a backseat to high school football


Hawkes’ Rangers program helps valley kids navigate fifth grade


Bilingual education vote in California another shift from bitter 1990s conflicts




Virginia’s schools are growing more racially and economically segregated


Union City Schools Find Ways to Help Immigrants Succeed


ACT Offers First Accommodations for English-Language Learners


Mississippi expands early childhood education


Learning in the Aftermath of a Divisive Election


School District Wants Transgender Students’ case Dismissed







Utahns Overwhelmingly Want Better Funded Schools


Utah remains last place among the states in per-pupil spending, and Utahns are not happy about it.

In fact, eight out of 10 say do what is necessary to get us out of last place, a new UtahPolicy poll finds.

UPD’s pollster, Dan Jones & Associates, concludes in his latest survey that 83 percent of Utahns say it is “very” or “somewhat” important that Utah gets out of last place spending per pupil in our public schools – with 55 percent saying it is “very important.”

Only 17 percent say it is not important that we are in last place in student spending.

And 1 percent doesn’t know.

GOP Gov. Gary Herbert has just won a huge victory for another term (he says his last).And Herbert says his No. 1 goal is to make Utah’s public schools – and thus students – in the top 10 nationally. (UT Po)


Report: Education among worst-paying college majors in Utah


SALT LAKE CITY — Education is among the worst-paid majors in Utah when it comes to starting salaries, according to a report from the state auditor released Monday.

Utah students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education reported an average starting salary of $36,577, according to data from the Utah System of Higher Education based on graduates of the class of 2014.

That is about half to two-thirds of what their peers in math, engineering and computer science made. The pay differential may help explain Utah’s teacher shortage.

Sydnee Dickson, state superintendent of public instruction, said the worst teacher shortages in Utah are in STEM fields, including math, physical sciences, computer science and special education. (DNews)


Utah auditor: Public education needs to wake up to teacher salary problem


KUTV) A new report casts a dire warning about public education in Utah.

The report from Utah Auditor John Dougall says Utah’s lack of qualified teachers comes down — at least partly — to money.

A recent college graduate who goes into teaching makes on average $36,577, according to the auditor’s report. But that’s much less than other fields such as computer science ($64,071), engineering ($59,616), and math and statistics ($56,195).

“I could go over there and make $64,000 in computer science or go into education at $36,000, that’s a huge disparity,” Dougall said.

Mallory Record, a teacher at Jordan High School, has taught for ten years and still loves it. But she’s also known the financial woes that come with public education.

“I probably could have made more money going in almost any other career field,” Record said. (KUTV)


Five students stabbed in Mountain View High School locker room


OREM — Five students were stabbed Tuesday morning in an apparent attack by a 16-year-old boy at Mountain View High School.

The stabbings happened just before 8 a.m. in the gymnasium area, according to Orem Police Lt. Craig Martinez. All the victims were boys and were stabbed at least once. Martinez said the conditions of the victims range from “fair” to “critical.”

When asked if all the victims would survive their injuries, Martinez said, “I don’t know.”

However, a spokeswoman with the Alpine School District, as well as a Facebook post from Orem, said none of the injuries were life-threatening.

The Alpine School District posted on its Facebook page that the attacks happened in the boys’ locker room and that the 16-year-old also stabbed himself. (DNews) (SE) (DH) (KUTV) ABC4UT)  (KSL) (Fox13)


This little piggy got kissed: West Bountiful principal puckers up


BOUNTIFUL — West Bountiful Elementary School Principal Regina Oechsle was totally unfazed Monday afternoon, despite the fact that “the big smackeroo” was drawing nearer by the minute.

“I guess I could kiss him on the cheek, but there’s no fun in that,” she said, laughing in her office before the big moment.

But Oechsle wasn’t talking about kissing a person. Because her students exceeded their reading goal, she was going to have to kiss a pig in front of the entire school.

A small, pink 2 1/2-week-old piglet arrived, swaddled in a blanket and screaming like, well, a pig. That’s when Oechsle began asking Trent Vest, the pig’s owner, about logistics. (SE)


Orem Elementary School honors custodian for service in armed forces


He often goes under the radar at Orem Elementary School, but Cris Vera is anything but unappreciated.

“(He) keeps our walks shoveled when it’s snowy. (He) helps with our landscaping, and he also keeps our school clean,” said Andrea Park, principal at Orem Elementary School.

Vera, head custodian at Orem Elementary, is also a veteran who served in the Marine Corps during Operation Desert Storm. On Friday, the students at the school showed their gratefulness for his service to them and to the U.S.A. by recognizing him during their Veterans Day assembly.

The students gifted him with dozens of envelopes stuffed with letters of gratitude and encouragement, of which he received with shock and joy. (DH)


American Fork High SkillsUSA club builds playhouse for Festival of Trees


A handful of American Fork High School teenagers are busy constructing an eco-conscious playhouse to be auctioned off at this year’s Festival of Trees in Sandy.

It might be a bit intriguing to note, though, that the overwhelming majority of the crew making this playhouse are not woodworking or carpentry students. The students — a mixture of juniors and seniors — hail from entirely different disciplines: photography, videography and art. So why make a playhouse?

“We asked our students to step it up, and step out of their comfort zone,” said Wendy Frazier-Snyder, photography teacher and the career and technical education coordinator. “It’s a modgepodge kind of group, but these skills can help them in their careers. They are learning to manage people and all sorts of organization skills.” (DH)



Schools say no tolerance for post-election bullying


In the week since the results came in on Election Day, public schools in southwest Utah have largely been able to avoid the more troubling scenarios being played out in other parts of the country – organized protests, graffiti swastikas, middle school students chanting “Build that wall” – but parents and educators alike are still anxious about the potential for tension.

“Any time there’s somebody who harasses you or causes trouble, it’s best to come to somebody and let us try to help deal with it,” said Tim Lowe, principal at Dixie Middle School.

Lowe said there had only been a couple of election-related incidents at the school, but one involved one student trying to choke another during an argument.

Those two students had an “ongoing” problem with each other, but the incident illustrated the need for educators to stay alert and be proactive about addressing conflicts, he said.

“It’s about learning correct behaviors,” he said. (TS)


Leadership Academy students embrace technology, business


Twenty-five Washington County high school students attended an off-campus field trip today to learn from industry professionals on how social media impacts news and marketing.

The students make up an elite educational and leadership training program known as Leadership Academy. Five students from five local high schools — Desert Hills, Dixie, Hurricane, Pine View and Snow Canyon — are hand-selected each year to attend the program.

This morning’s business and technology trip was one of the several already held this year, including a leadership retreat and history day.

The morning started out at Dixie State University’s Small Business Development Center, where Ron Brown, Spectrum Media Key Accounts and Digital Marketing manager, presented information on why it’s important to understand technology and how it is used in everyday life. (TS)


Principals past and present discuss East Elementary legacy


  1. GEORGE — A brand new building and school name await East Elementary School students early next year, but the people, memories and legacy of the old school continue forward in the new.

As plans to move students to the new Legacy Elementary School in January 2017 move forward, faculty past and present are working to preserve the memory of the storied school while giving it a proper send-off with a faculty reunion and community open house Friday afternoon.

The East Elementary building and lot located at 453 S. 600 East in St. George was sold to Dixie State University to accommodate the growing institution. Its replacement, the two-story Legacy Elementary School, is nearing completion at 280 E. 100 South next to the Dixie Sunbowl. The old building will remain but will be renovated to accommodate college classes.

East Elementary School’s current principal, Teria Mortensen, got together with past principals Dar Smith and Dixie Andrus to reminisce about the school’s more than six decades as an educational institution. (SGN)


TONIGHT at 5: Meet the middle school teacher up for a GRAMMY


(KUTV) This Utah middle school teacher is making choir cool — and he’s up for music’s top award.

“They know what’s expected of them as soon as they come through that door.”

Dan Rascon goes Inside the Story on why he’s in the running for a GRAMMY. Tonight on 2News at 5. (KUTV)


How to tell when your kids’ teasing crosses the line


SALT LAKE CITY — A familiar pattern emerged in the Johnston home.

“He kept touching my phone, and I was like, stop touching my phone. And he kept doing it, so I hit him,” said 15-year-old Shyanna of her 11-year-old brother Tanner.

“I felt like I was a referee, over and over and over,” said mom Rita Johnston.

For months, the behavior was considered “teasing.” But when the family could no longer go to dinner because the kids wouldn’t sit by each other, Rita sought help.

“Dr. (Adam) Schwebach said, ‘isn’t that kind of like bullying?’ and it took me a minute and I said, you’re absolutely right,” said Johnston.

Schwebach, director of the Neuropsychology Center of Utah, increasingly sees this scenario among Utah families.

“The majority of children and where they’re bullied usually takes place in their home,” he said. (KSL)


Alpine School District shortens winter break by 3 days


AMERICAN FORK, Utah — Alpine School District in Utah County has shortened their winter break by three days, but students are calling the move unfair, saying they have come to depend on that time.

One of those students, Karly Parcell, a sophomore at Orem High School, started a petition. Within 48 hours, she accumulated more than 5,000 signatures from students, parents and teachers.

“We care about these things and we’re willing to speak up about things like this,” said Parcell. “It’s good to have that time to mentally prepare for the rest of the year and to have that time with your families as well.”

For the past several years, the school district gave students 10 school days off for winter break. This year, they will only receive seven.

“We do like to give as many days in the winter for a break as possible,” said Alpine School District spokeswoman Kimberly Bird. (Fox13)  (MUR)








Real sex education empowers students

Salt Lake Tribune letter by Alyssa Beal


In Utah we value education very much; we are home to some very prestigious universities and have very successful public schools. However, the public school system is severely lacking in one area: sex education. High school students need to know more about contraception and safe sex.

I’m going to illustrate this point by telling my story. When I was 16, I took health class. We had run out of time in the semester, so Sex Ed was taught just using an open book test. By 17, I still didn’t understand where babies came from, or even male anatomy. I learned all these things by experience as a scared teenager in the dating world. Just after my 18th birthday, I got pregnant. This baby was adopted by a fantastic family and we still remain in contact today.


SITLA’s Comb Ridge sale leaves Utah schoolchildren with less than they had Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Claire Martini


On Oct. 19, Utah liquidated an irreplaceable cultural and anthropological site when it sold Comb Ridge to the highest bidder. The sale of “PS 8581” was not just a routine state land transfer. Americans lost irreplaceable history. Tuvwup Oaov, Mother Earth’s Backbone, is worth far more as public land than the cash it brought into state coffers.

On Comb Ridge, near Bluff, ravens wheel and plummet over sandstone fins stretching for 80 miles. Artifacts lie scattered amidst scrubby juniper and prickly pear cacti. Its spines orient us to the Bears Ears Buttes, the Abajo Mountains, and miles of badlands stretching to Monument Valley.

This place changes you, whether you came for recreation, culture or spiritual retreat. My time here sparked a career in public lands conservation. Now the ground on which I stood has been privatized. The public lands takeover just got personal.


Everything else takes a backseat to high school football Standard Examiner letter by Ben Watkins


In the beginning was the Football, and the Football was with the gods, and the Football was a god. All priorities were governed by the Football; and without it was not any decision made that was made. In the Football was life, and its game was the light of men. And the stadium shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.

High school football playoffs are upon us, and students rush out of schools early to attend semifinal and final games at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Cheerleaders don their uniforms, students wear their school swag, pep assemblies thunder through the halls — and I wonder and marvel. And I assume that the next time the school volleyball or tennis team plays in a big game, school will also let out at 11:30, and everyone will be just as peppy.

But then I sadly remember: football is the god, and other sports, the arts, and academics are simply the footstool.


Hawkes’ Rangers program helps valley kids navigate fifth grade Herald Journal column by Chad Hawkes


As another Veterans Day has come and gone, I’m grateful that we had the opportunity to pay tribute to and honor our veterans and military personnel.

Our 5th grades had the privilege of presenting a program at our school for our veterans. I’m continually impressed and humbled by the wonderful men and women who have served their country (and are currently serving) that volunteer to come be with us. I can’t make it through their introductions, national anthem or branch hymns without getting a lump in my throat.

When our own military children loaded the planes that were departing for Iraq and Afghanistan respectively, the tears flowed as they waved goodbye to their families and American soil.  I’m not sure when I developed such a deep respect for our military personnel. Maybe it was when my folks took us to visit Normandy when I was a kid living in France and I marveled at the rows and rows of crosses and gun emplacements above Omaha Beach.


Bilingual education vote in California another shift from bitter 1990s conflicts Ed Source commentary by Louis Freedberg


The overwhelming approval by California voters of an initiative to end restrictions on bilingual education in its public schools marks another significant shift from the political expressions of racial and ethnic resentments that swirled across the state during the 1990s.

Its passage highlights the changes that have occurred in California over the past two decades – the inexorable shift to a multiracial and multiethnic society – along with a realization that multilingualism is a benefit, not a disadvantage, in a world of global communication.

With a 72.6 percent yes vote, the passage of Proposition 58 last Tuesday could not have been more definitive. The initiative received majority support in each of the state’s 58 counties.

Only two other propositions – out of 17 propositions on the ballot – received a similar unanimous statewide endorsement. The initiative passed easily in every county, ranging from a high of 80 percent in Alameda County to a low of 57 percent in Lassen County.







Virginia’s schools are growing more racially and economically segregated


Virginia’s schools have grown more racially and economically segregated during the past decade, with the number of students attending schools that are considered racially and economically isolated doubling from 2003 to 2014, according to a new report.

The number of Virginia schools isolated by race and poverty has grown from 82 in 2003 to 136 in 2014, according to the Commonwealth Institute, a left-leaning think tank based in Richmond. The number of students in those schools has grown from about 36,000 to more than 74,000, according to the report, published this month.

The report defined an isolated school as one where more than 75 percent of the students are black or Hispanic and more than 75 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals, an indicator of poverty.

The report offers more evidence that the nation’s public schools are resegregating. In May, the Government Accountability Office reported that the number of public schools serving primarily poor black and brown students had doubled nationwide. (WaPo)


Union City Schools Find Ways to Help Immigrants Succeed District makes earnest effort to aid English-language learners even as it deals with chronic urban problems


UNION CITY, N.J.—Jocelyn Encalada, a high school senior, arrived a year ago from Ecuador with limited English and a daunting road ahead.

She misses her mother, who stayed behind, and lives with her father, a factory worker. But after bilingual classes and a job at a bank, Ms. Encalada’s hopes are high as she applies to Columbia University. “I want to be the first in my family to graduate from college,” she says.

Union City schools have become a model for ushering low-income English-language learners into the mainstream. Almost 96% of its students are Hispanic, and many live in Spanish-speaking homes. Officials estimate at least 15% of students are undocumented.

Even so, the district’s 87% graduation rate in 2015 nearly matched New Jersey’s overall. A study from the Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis this year found that on standardized math and reading tests, Union City students performed about a third of a grade level above the national average, although the area had a median family income of $37,000. (WSJ)


ACT Offers First Accommodations for English-Language Learners


ACT Inc., announced Monday that it will provide, for the first time, accommodations for English-learners who take its college-entrance exam.

The options will become available in the fall of 2017. Students will have to apply for them through their school counselor’s office. The accommodations announced Monday include:

More time on the test: up to time-and-a-half Use of an approved word-to-word bilingual glossary (one that has no word definitions) Testing in a non-distracting environment (i.e., in a separate room) Test instructions provided in the student’s native language (including Spanish and a limited number of other languages initially) In the past, the Iowa-based testing company has not offered accommodations based solely on a student’s limited English proficiency. The company said in a statement that the purpose of the new accommodations is to “help ensure that the ACT scores earned by English-learners accurately reflect what they have learned in school.” (EdWeek)


Mississippi expands early childhood education


JACKSON — Just two weeks after Halloween, hundreds of 4-year-olds in high-need areas around the state will receive a new treat: pre-kindergarten.

The Mississippi Board of Education increased the number of early learning collaboratives, or ELCs, from 10 to 14 on Nov. 8. Starting Jan. 1, 2017, Agape Community Development Center of Canton Public Schools, the Greenwood School District, Grenada School District and the Starkville-Oktibbeha School District will receive $247,250 annually the next three years. The funds will bankroll seats in full-time pre-kindergarten classrooms for 460 students.

Mississippi’s 2013 Early Learning Collaborative Act authorized the state to implement statewide prekindergarten on a phased-in basis. Districts, city councils, and other organizations and agencies could apply to become ELCs. In order to offer pre-kindergarten to children, the ELCs must be comprised of school districts, licensed child-care centers, or public, private or parochial schools. The state’s ELCs serve nearly 1,700 students statewide. (HR)


Learning in the Aftermath of a Divisive Election Teachers comforted scared students and reassured others that they wouldn’t be ostracized for supporting the president-elect.


After an election that’s exposed deep racial and cultural divisions, teachers across the country are seeking constructive lessons for their students. Some educators have spent the past few days trying to soothe the anxieties of a student body that has now shifted to mostly nonwhite from white, given the president-elect’s campaign promises to restrict Muslim immigration, build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and resurrect stop-and-frisk. Others are cheering the outcome with their students.

Teachers face a difficult task of fostering respectful dialogue in classrooms where some children come from Trump-loving families and others from families terrified the president-elect will bring them harm. They’ve found themselves navigating an unusually extreme set of reactions to a historically divisive campaign. In some cases, they’ve guided these conversations in defiance of school leaders who would rather deflect them. (TA)


School District Wants Transgender Students’ case Dismissed


PITTSBURGH (AP) — A western Pennsylvania school district wants a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit by three transgender students challenging a rule requiring students to use either unisex restrooms or those corresponding to their biological sex.

The Pine-Richland High School students, two born biologically male who now identify as female and one born biologically female who identifies as male, sued in October. They say the district let students use restrooms based on their gender identities for years until the school board passed a resolution changing the practice in September while it researches adopting a formal policy.

In a Friday filing, the district asked that a federal judge not issue a preliminary injunction that would force the district to let transgender students use restrooms that conform to their gender identity until the lawsuit is resolved.

The district said the Justice Department contradicted the law in May when it sent a guidance letter saying schools could lose federal funding if they don’t expand the Title IX protections to include “gender identity.”

The Title IX federal discrimination law defines sex biologically – not by a person’s stated gender identity – so the lawsuit and the request for a preliminary injunction should be dismissed, the district argued. (AP)







USBE Calendar



UEN News



November 15:

Executive Appropriations Committee meeting

2 p.m., 445 State Capitol



November 16:

Education Interim Committee meeting

1:15 p.m., 30 House Building

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