Education News Roundup: Jan. 11, 2017

Today’s Top Picks:

Our Schools Now’s Nolan Karas discusses the school funding tax hike.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Ix (UP)

Sen. Hillyard also discusses it.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8IM (CVD)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8Jf (KSL)

Texans push back against school grades.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8IA (Dallas Morning News)

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in a Colorado special education case.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8IC (CSM)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8IZ (WaPo)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8Ja (LAT)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8J3 (AP)

The transgender bath issues comes up (obliquely) in questions posed by Sen. Lee to Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Js (Ed Week)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

‘Our Schools Now’ say Tax Hike is Needed Because Lawmakers Lack Political Will to Adequately Fund Utah’s Schools

Hillyard unsure of proposal to raise income taxes for schools

Two years after opening, Skyridge High School gaining 16 satellite classrooms

‘Don’t waste his money’: Utah high school assignment on dating draws accusations of gender bias
Education » Guide to “$5 Date” is yanked from curriculum database after complaint goes viral.

Inversion aversion: Research, initiative strike at Utah’s pollution problem

State and the Arts
Utah might be a red state, but the picture for supporting the arts is far from blue.

A North Summit teacher sees progress grow
Agriculture teacher Katie Silcox aims to make a difference

Boundary changes coming to 8 elementary schools

Woman pleads guilty in stealing $67K from Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind

Herriman teacher saves the life of student who collapsed in classroom

Family asking Provo City School District for apology after daughter wearing hijab singled out on bus

State Health leaders unveil plan to cut down on suicides

Hispanic parent association to be created in Monticello

Two Utah school districts receive $350k in EPA funding to reduce diesel emissions from school buses

Salt Lake school supports, instead of complains about, new area homeless shelter

Rich School District classes and meetings canceled

One-man volleyball team plays to inspire North Layton students to beat the odds

Utah to honor top science, tech innovators

Q & A with Nathan Spenser

PCSD registration is open for 2017-2018

Munis End Stronger as New Issues Start to Sell

OPINION & COMMENTARY

The coming challenges of intergenerational poverty

Public school funding isn’t Wyson’s expertise

Legislature Madness
The Sweet Bills That Make Life Bitter.

Cyclops Confident on his 2017 Predictions

Hits & Misses

Obama’s Education Legacy: Overreach and Misrule
Remarkably, he united the Left and the Right, against a federal power grab.

3 Big Problems in How Schools Hire Teachers — and What Research Says About How to Solve Them

Five Cabinet Nominees Who Could Affect Education
The U.S. Department of Education is not the only office with power over student-related policy.

Education Research Needs a Policy Makeover
Education researchers must engage in debates across the political spectrum

NATION

‘Ignore these stupid letter grades’: Texas teachers, parents and pundits sound off on A-F school ratings

How US Supreme Court cases could reshape special education
In a year without many landmark cases, two cases provide the high court an opportunity to significantly reshape how American schools educate students diagnosed with disabilities.

Sen. Alexander Praises Betsy DeVos After Meeting, Expects Quick Confirmation

Jeff Sessions Critical of Federal Guidance’s Power, Highlights Special Ed. Work

Appellate court says some Louisiana charter schools shouldn’t get public funding

Hamilton schools chief defends district’s reading curriculum

 

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UTAH NEWS
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‘Our Schools Now’ say Tax Hike is Needed Because Lawmakers Lack Political Will to Adequately Fund Utah’s Schools

The backers of a proposal to put an income tax hike on the 2018 ballot in order to raise money for Utah’s schools say they’re tired of waiting for lawmakers to act.
“We would welcome legislators to do it. They can do it more surgically and do it in a better way than a ballot initiative,” says former Utah House Speaker Nolan Karras. “We’ve been working for the last four or five years on this, but we just concluded that this is too big of a lift for the political folks, so we need to take it to the citizens.”
Karras was a guest on the “I Have Questions with Bryan Schott” podcast. If the “Our Schools Now” proposal passes, it could put an estimated $750 million annually into Utah’s public school system. That’s still nearly a half-billion dollars less than where Utah schools were a couple of decades ago according to a study by the Utah Foundation.
Karras says their proposal is just addressing the reality of Utah’s education system.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Ix (UP)

 

Hillyard unsure of proposal to raise income taxes for schools

As chairman of the Utah legislature’s Public Education Appropriations Committee, State Senator Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, says he is well aware that Utah schools need more money. But he joins numerous other lawmakers who believe a proposal from a group called Education First is not the way to get it because it would hurt the state’s economy.
Education First is behind a ballot measure that would raise the income tax by 7/8th of one percent from the rate which is now 5% to increase per-pupil spending.
“Anybody concerned about how much this is I think they ought to look at their income tax last year,” Hillyard exclaims, “and see how much they paid in state income tax, take their monthly check and see how much was withheld for state income (tax), and realize that if this initiative passes their income tax withholdings is going to go up 20%, roughly, and the amount of income tax they’re going to pay is going up 20%.
“That’s a big jump, really a big jump. Really you have to be careful when you do this that it doesn’t cause a dis-incentive.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/8IM (CVD)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8Jf (KSL)

 

Two years after opening, Skyridge High School gaining 16 satellite classrooms

Despite just opening this fall, Alpine School District is already preparing for growth at Skyridge High School in Lehi.
The Alpine School District Board of Education approved a resolution Tuesday evening to purchase a 16-classroom satellite facility that will be placed at the high school in the fall of 2018. The purchase will come from the 2018 fiscal year capital funds with an estimate of $2.25 million for the satellite classrooms.
“Because of the additional numbers, it does necessitate with the growth of student enrollment at that school, that we would be providing that 16 classroom satellite,” said Sam Jarman, the district’s superintendent.
There are 387 satellite classrooms, which include portable trailers, throughout the district. The crowded Westlake High School in Saratoga Springs has 36 satellite classrooms at the school.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8IK (PDH)

 

‘Don’t waste his money’: Utah high school assignment on dating draws accusations of gender bias
Education » Guide to “$5 Date” is yanked from curriculum database after complaint goes viral.

For many teenagers, getting a date is hard enough — let alone if your high school grades depend on it.
School administrators in Salt Lake City went into damage control mode Tuesday after a parent’s complaint about her daughter’s assignment gained attention through social media.
Jenn Oxborrow posted a photo of two handouts — one for girls, another for boys — that instructed students at Highland High School to go on a date that costs no more than $5.
The handouts included suggestions for appropriate date behavior, submitted by members of the opposite gender, including guidance that girls should try to eat the food they order and not waste their date’s money, and that boys should refrain from “gross noises.”
And “if you think you’re too fat,” the assignment instructs female students, “keep it to yourself.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/8IF (SLT)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8J2 (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8IS (KTVX)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8IT (KSL)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8IX (KSTU)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8J0 (Good Housekeeping)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8J1 ([London] Daily Mail)

 

Inversion aversion: Research, initiative strike at Utah’s pollution problem

SALT LAKE CITY — Something called the Twin Otter is going to plow through the temperature inversions that develop along the Wasatch Front and in Cache County, gathering data in a study that is the first of its kind in the nation.
The light aircraft from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will use sophisticated equipment to survey chemical conditions present when an inversion of PM2.5, or fine particulate pollution, exists.
While research teams flew in Denver and the Uinta Basin probing atmospheric conditions, those studies involved the formation of ozone.
The study of fine particulate pollution, set to begin later this month, is being shepherded by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality and also taps efforts of partners that include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the University of Utah, Brigham Young University and Utah State University.
Several other universities are involved in the $2 million study as well, which was initially funded by the Utah Legislature that spurred other contributions.

Beyond these initiatives, a number of anti-idling events are taking place under the leadership of Canyons School District. The district, which became the first in the state to launch an anti-idling initiative last year, worked with the Salt Lake County Health Department to determine the extent of idling by observing cars at three schools.
The district found that an overwhelming majority of Canyon School District families are incorporating no-idling into their life. The survey found that of the 538 vehicles observed dropping off and picking up students, just 19 percent of the vehicles idled longer than two minutes.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Jh (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8Ji (KSL)

 

State and the Arts
Utah might be a red state, but the picture for supporting the arts is far from blue.

When you think of a dyed-in-the-wool red state like Utah—where Republicans dominate at most every level of government—you might expect strict conservative principles applied to funding the arts and arts education. But the interaction between the state’s art patrons, artists and public funding is more complicated.
As public information and data specialist for the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, David Wicai has mined a mountain of data to determine where Utah fits in the national picture of state arts organizations in terms of funding. Every state agency provides an annual report to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies including information about per-capita public funding, yet it’s not always easy to define what programs should be considered in those figures, since each state arts agency might have a different mandate and incorporate different kinds of programs.
“There are state-funded programs [in Utah] that are part of the state Office of Education,” Wicai says. “It doesn’t come through the arts budget, but still deals with arts. … Some [states] have no extra programs, some had money going to corrections, some coming out of departments of commerce.”
Based on the best available information, and incorporating Utah’s funding for arts education in addition to the UDAM’s $4.2 million FY2016 budget, Wicai estimates that Utah’s per-capita annual public arts spending is $4.71. That would rank Utah second—behind only New Mexico—among the states in the Western States Arts Federation, which also includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.
And that figure only addresses spending at the state level.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Jo (SLCW)

A North Summit teacher sees progress grow
Agriculture teacher Katie Silcox aims to make a difference

When Katie Silcox was pursuing her degree in agriculture education at Utah State University, she had no ambitions of becoming a high school teacher. She dreamed instead of being a 4H extension agent, deployed into communities by a university to promote youth agriculture programs.
Everything changed, however, during a three-month student teaching stint at Payson High School that her degree required. Six weeks in, the experience began to change her outlook, and by the end, she knew she wanted to spend her career in a classroom.
North Summit High School soon hired her. And after nearly 20 years of teaching agriculture and career and technology education, Silcox remains as passionate about the profession as ever.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Jp (PR)

 

Boundary changes coming to 8 elementary schools

ST. GEORGE – The Washington County School District Board of Education Tuesday evening unanimously approved proposed boundary changes affecting several existing elementary schools and one new elementary school.
In a special public hearing held at the Washington County School District office, boundaries for Little Valley Elementary, Crimson View Elementary, Riverside Elementary, Horizon Elementary, Sandstone Elementary, Panorama Elementary, Washington Elementary and the new Majestic Fields Elementary schools were proposed and later approved in the meeting.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8IO (SGN)

 

Woman pleads guilty in stealing $67K from Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind

OGDEN — A former employee of the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind accused of spending the school’s money for personal use pleaded guilty to one felony Tuesday.
Leslie Sue White, 45, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful use of a financial transaction card, a second-degree felony, after being accused of spending at least $67,000 in charges made to school credit cards.
She was originally charged with one count of communication fraud, a second-degree felony; two counts of unlawful use of a financial transaction card, second-degree felonies; and one count of theft, a third-degree felony.
Deputy Weber County Attorney Christopher Shaw said in court that as part of a plea agreement, White will pay back restitution for all four original charges.
White appeared with her attorney, Vincent Stevens, before Judge Noel Hyde in 2nd District Court on Tuesday. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 28.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8II (OSE)

Herriman teacher saves the life of student who collapsed in classroom

HERRIMAN — Every day for the past three years, things have pretty much been the same in Ryan White’s AP government class at Herriman High School, until a particular Monday last month.
“The biggest thing I remember is Megan standing up and going straight back, hitting her head,” said Ryan White, Megan Brereton’s AP teacher.
Megan doesn’t remember much of what happened Dec. 12.
“My best friend sits right next to me, and I heard her scream my name as I was falling,” she said. “Like, I don’t remember seeing her or anything, but I heard her scream my name before I hit my head, or after, I don’t know.”
Megan was on the floor of her classroom, not breathing.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8IU (KSL)

 

Family asking Provo City School District for apology after daughter wearing hijab singled out on bus

A Provo family wants an apology from Provo City School District after they said their daughter was singled out on a bus for her religious clothing.
Janna Bakeer, a 15-year-old freshman who attends Timpview High School, tried to ride a bus home on Dec. 2 when the bus driver used the bus’s intercom system and said, “Hey you with the blue hair thingie, get off the bus, you don’t belong here,” according Randall Spencer, the family’s lawyer. Bakeer is Muslim and wears a hijab.
“She was mortified,” Spencer said. “She got up and got off the bus and was left in the cold parking lot for an hour and a half until her parents could make arrangements to get her.”
Spencer said Janna’s parents went to the school and spoke to the principal. He said the principal was understanding and that he would resubmit her name to the list for the bus.
On Friday, Janna tried to take the bus again. Spencer said the bus driver said Janna couldn’t get on the bus and put her arm out to block Janna from boarding.
“The bus driver didn’t even know Janna’s name, we don’t think, and could not have checked or known she was not on the list to ride the bus,” Spencer said. “All the bus driver knew is that she didn’t know her before and she is a Muslim wearing a hijab.”
Caleb Price, spokesman for the Provo City School District, said students can only ride their assigned buses and that the girl was assigned to a different one from the one she boarded.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8IJ (PDH)

 

State Health leaders unveil plan to cut down on suicides

SALT LAKE CITY — In Utah, suicide is the leading cause of death among teens, and the Utah Department of Health has unveiled a plan to prevent it.
Utah’s statistics paint a grim picture: The Beehive State is eighth in the nation for overall suicide rates, and seventh in youth rates. On average, two Utahns die from suicide every day, and 12 are treated for suicide attempts.
“We’ve been consistently higher than the national average for many years now,” said Andrea Hood, Suicide Prevention Coordinator, Utah Department of Health.
UDOH has teamed up with Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health and Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition. Their goal is to combat the issue.

Leaders will push for more community and school based programs to help parents communicate with their teens. They’ve seen success with the Safe Utah App introduced last year. Thousands of students have used the app to text in safety concerns and communicate with a crisis counselor.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8IY (KSTU)

 

Hispanic parent association to be created in Monticello

The schools in Monticello are creating a Hispanic Parent Advisory Committee. The group will have an organizational meeting on Tuesday, January 17 at 7 p.m. at the Monticello High School library.
After the initial meeting on January 17, the group will sponsor English language instruction for Spanish speakers.
Approximately ten to 15 percent of the students in the Monticello schools have a Hispanic background.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Jm (San Juan Record)

 

Two Utah school districts receive $350k in EPA funding to reduce diesel emissions from school buses

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah – The EPA Rebates Will Fund Cleaner School Buses in 88 Communities.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today awarded more than $7.7 million to replace or retrofit 401 older diesel school buses. The funds are going to 88 school bus fleets in 27 states, each of which will receive rebates through EPA’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) funding. The new and retrofitted buses will reduce pollutants that are linked to health problems such as asthma and lung damage.
Washington County School District in St. George and Weber School district in West Haven, Utah received $250,000 and $100,000 respectively to replace 15 older school buses, thereby reducing overall diesel emissions.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Jg (KCSG)

 

Salt Lake school supports, instead of complains about, new area homeless shelter

When Salt Lake Mayor Jackie Biskupski surprised, and even angered, many residents by announcing four new homeless resource centers in Salt Lake, Amy Wadsworth didn’t panic – even though one of the centers would be a short walk from the school where she is principal.
“We are not going to put up a big fence,” she said of her school Salt Lake Arts Academy.
Instead, Wadsworth said, the school administrators will support the shelter in the hopes it will succeed in helping the growing number of homeless people living in the city.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8IQ (KUTV)

Rich School District classes and meetings canceled

Rich School District has canceled all classes and school meetings for Wednesday.
An announcement from the district — which has been hit by a snowstorm — says college classes will continue and that “if parents choose to send their kids, the building and programming will be available.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/8IE (SLT)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8IP (KUTV)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8IR (KTVX)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8IV (KSTU)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8IW (KSTU)

 

One-man volleyball team plays to inspire North Layton students to beat the odds

LAYTON -— The entire North Layton Junior High School volleyball team bobbed, dove and passed the volleyball at an all-school assembly Tuesday morning. On the other side of the net, 60-year-old Bob Holmes stood alone, returning most of their volleys and ultimately beating the girls.
Holmes has a reputation for winning. He holds the Ripley’s Believe It or Not World Record for most games played by an athlete in history, but Holmes also uses his skills to show students they can beat the odds when it comes to bullying, drugs, alcohol and suicide.
“It’s absolutely wonderful to know you don’t have to be the next statistic,” he said to the gym full of students Tuesday, Jan. 10. “Decide you won’t give up, I’ll look ahead, I won’t believe the commercials and I’ll stand alone and encourage people instead of bullying them.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/8IH (OSE)

 

Utah to honor top science, tech innovators

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert, along with the Utah Science Technology and Research initiative and the Governor’s Office for Economic Development, have announced the winners of the 2016 Governor’s Medals for Science and Technology.
The medals will be presented to 11 individuals and one company at a 30th anniversary awards dinner on Wednesday, Jan. 18.
Twelve medals will be awarded in the categories of academic/research, higher education, K-12 education, industry, government and one special recognition.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8IG (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8IL (LHJ)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8Jr (PDH)

 

Q & A with Nathan Spenser

By day, Nathan Spenser is a cool substitute science and math high school teacher for the Granite School District. But two to five nights a week, he is in the Salt Lake City music scene as a multifaceted artist. He plays keyboard, guitar, mandolin and harmonica and sings in a band. He just turned 29, and holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Utah.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Jj (SLCW)

 

PCSD registration is open for 2017-2018

Park City School District elementary school registration is open for the 2017-2018 school year. According to the district’s website, pcschools.us, students who are new to the district, or who did not attend a district school this year, must register online. Children must be 5 on or before Sept. 1 to register for kindergarten. Students currently attending the district’s preschool are already enrolled. After completing online registration, parents must bring documentation to their child’s prospective school to complete the process. Registration for grades six through 12 will begin in June.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Jn (PR)

 

Munis End Stronger as New Issues Start to Sell


Primary Market
This week’s market action got underway with the offering of several large deals on Tuesday.

The Alpine School District Board of Education, Utah, competitively sold $150.43 million of Series 2017 GO school building and refunding bonds under the Utah school bond guaranty program. Citi won the bonds with a TIC of 2.61%. The issue was priced to yield from 0.95% with a 5% coupon in 2018 to 3.35% with a 3.25% coupon in 2034. The deal is rated triple-A by Moody’s (MCO) and Fitch.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Jt (Inside Fidelity)

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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The coming challenges of intergenerational poverty
Deseret News op-ed by Paul Mero, president and CEO of Next Generation Freedom Fund

Nearly every instance of successfully breaking the chains of intergenerational poverty includes an outside intervention with the child — a grandparent, a teacher, a coach, a kind neighbor, a church leader, etc.
A lot of time and effort have been and are being spent on addressing intergenerational poverty (IGP) in Utah. A lot of money soon could follow. But before that happens, many systemic barriers, political and programmatic, must disappear.
By definition there are no “situational” cycles of poverty and dependency. A culture of dependency is intergenerational. Former state Sen. Stuart Reid astutely recognized this difference and structured his legislation, the 2012 Intergenerational Poverty Mitigation Act, passed unanimously by both legislative chambers, to avoid policy and funding distractions of the past and look anew for real solutions. These new solutions rest on a childcentric view of intergenerational poverty. The entire IGP movement in Utah rests on the presumption that a child can be enabled through direct, outside intervention to break the family’s cycle of poverty. Relief still exists for IGP adults, but the focus to break the cycle of poverty and dependency now rests on IGP children.
Unfortunately, it will be hard to teach old poverty dogs new tricks.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Iz

 

Public school funding isn’t Wyson’s expertise
(St. George) Spectrum op-ed by Brent Holloway, of St. George

Each Sunday, I enjoy reading the investment column by local financial expert Dan Wyson. His folksy approach and common-sense analogies brings a difficult and complex subject down to a layman’s level.
However, on Sunday, Jan. 8, Mr. Wyson entered the discourse of public school funding and, of course, as a pure amateur on that topic, his opinion (and opinion was all it was) unfortunately only served to mislead and misinform. Yes, I realize it was just off-the-cuff blathering without any real investigation and shouldn’t be taken very seriously. I’m confident Mr. Wyson is simply a Republican and as such, proffered the same talking points I’ve heard repeated over and over again by members of that party.
His main point: While it is true that Utah is the lowest funded public education system in the country, our overall performance is really quite good. In fact, so good at such a low cost, “…if Utah’s education system were a private industry, it would be receiving the praise of the nation…” Oh, brother. I think it’s one of the most ignorant things to ever come from Mr. Wyson. Pure nonsense.
Apparently, he really has no idea what a well-funded school system can do.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8IN

 

Legislature Madness
The Sweet Bills That Make Life Bitter.
Salt Lake City Weekly commentary by columnist Ryan Cunningham


In 2015, Utah’s general legislative session saw an attempt to designate the golden retriever as the state’s official “domestic animal.” The idea sprouted from the most innocuous of places: a fourth-grade class at Daybreak Elementary School in South Jordan. Their state senator, Republican Aaron Osmond, took the bill to the Legislature, hailing it as “a fun project to partner with these kids to teach them about the legislative process” in The Salt Lake Tribune.
Alli Despain, the students’ teacher, hoped that proposing this bill would pique the students’ interest in politics.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Jk

 

Cyclops Confident on his 2017 Predictions
Davis County Clipper commentary by columnist BRYAN GRAY

As we slide into the new year, we all have things we would like to see happen in 2017. How about peace in the Middle East and an end to ISIS? Or no more embarrassing tweets from President Trump? Or the Utah Jazz winning the NBA championship?
Sorry, but we are out of luck on those. But though I am skeptical on much, I am fairly confident that the following will occur:

CONSERVATIVE GROUPS WILL OPPOSE TEACHER RAISES – Organizations like the Sutherland Institute will fight against the education-funding tax increase by arguing that Utah teachers already to a pretty good job when their students are compared to those in other states. In other words, Utah teachers are their own worst enemy. Stop being so darn effective!
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Jq

 

Hits & Misses
Salt Lake City Weekly commentary by columnist Katharine Biele

Sex Ed
The Deseret News did something slightly unexpected. It ran a front-page package on sex education. Yes, “sex” was even in the headline. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Forget the pregnancy rate, think about chlamydia and gonorrhea. More than half of those reported cases hit 15- to 24-year-olds. And if you have to ask why, then you haven’t done your sex ed homework. Republicans and House Speaker Paul Ryan are giddy at the prospect of repealing Obamacare and, along with it, defunding Planned Parenthood, which mostly does breast exams, pap tests and STI screenings. The D-News noted that abstinence-only programs are a zero-sum game at best, and that there are many effective sex-ed programs out there. Of course, the paper talked about parental involvement. And, hey, it even did a feature on father-son conversations.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Jl

 

Obama’s Education Legacy: Overreach and Misrule
Remarkably, he united the Left and the Right, against a federal power grab.
National Review op-ed by NEAL MCCLUSKEY, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom

When President Obama departs office on January 20, he will leave behind a remarkable legacy in K–12 education, but not the one he seemed to want. Instead of dictating terms to schools, the president and his administration received a historic rebuke of federal power.
It is possible that since the start of major federal involvement in the mid 1960s, no one person or law — not even George W. Bush or the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) — has centralized education power as much as Obama has. Yet this centralization eventually led to bipartisan rejection of ever-pushier feds. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), passed in late 2015, reversed the seemingly inexorable sweep of federal education history, returning power to the states and people.
That shift was welcome. Taking power away from parents and children has made education an increasingly lifeless, test-obsessed endeavor. And although tests are hardly the sum of education, reading scores for 17-year-olds on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (the “Nation’s Report Card”) have basically not budged since the early 1970s. Meanwhile, inflation-adjusted spending per pupil has roughly doubled. Alas, the Obama administration seemed determined to continue the trend.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Jd

 

3 Big Problems in How Schools Hire Teachers — and What Research Says About How to Solve Them
The 74 commentary by columnist MATT BARNUM

Every year, 15 percent of teachers quit, either switching schools or leaving the profession entirely, often to retire. That, in turn, means that each year, schools get a new slate of teachers to replace those who leave.
Often, though, the subsequent hiring process represents a missed opportunity for increasing the quality and diversity of the teaching staff. Several recent studies suggest that many principals, schools and districts have considerable room to improve the outcomes of this annual cycle.
In particular, some principals don’t seem to leverage available data to select the most effective teachers; many districts don’t even require applicants to teach sample lessons; districts often fail to actively recruit potential teachers of color; and teachers are frequently hired after the school year has begun, which has been shown to harm student achievement.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8IB

 

Five Cabinet Nominees Who Could Affect Education
The U.S. Department of Education is not the only office with power over student-related policy.
Atlantic commentary by columnist HAYLEY GLATTER

Control of school-related issues is spread across a number governmental agencies, and President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. education secretary, Betsy DeVos, won’t be the only member of his cabinet to have a say in student-facing policy. The Michigan philanthropist and billionaire will face her Senate confirmation hearing next Tuesday, and many of her fellow nominees already have education records of their own. We examined five of the potential cabinet members who could influence America’s schools and what their past actions might mean for students around the country.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Jc

 

Education Research Needs a Policy Makeover
Education researchers must engage in debates across the political spectrum
Education Week op-ed by Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj, assistant professor in the department of education leadership, management, and policy, as well as the director of the Center for College Readiness, at Seton Hall University

The largely unexpected results of the 2016 presidential race sent shock waves through many sectors of society. Pollsters and members of the news media have had to publicly come to terms with their failures to predict the outcome of the election—the win of President-elect Donald Trump—or to accurately capture the views of a large proportion of the American electorate. On the other hand, many academics in institutions of higher education have gone through a private process of reflection about how to make sense of evidence indicating their perspectives are out of sync with a large swath of the public.
While a majority of university-based researchers consider themselves politically progressive—this has been the case historically and in the present day—current political and ideological divides are having an impact on relationships between students and faculty in different and potentially more damaging ways than in the past. Discussions about the consequences of having so few conservative voices on university faculties are not new, but this election brought to light the degree to which academics have been operating in echo chambers.
Because humans have a natural desire to associate with like-minded people, it is no surprise that researchers tend to collaborate with colleagues who share their worldviews and are similarly motivated to study the same empirical questions. But if the job of education researchers (of whom I am one) is to produce the most rigorous, policy-relevant research possible, we are limiting ourselves by staying in our comfort zone.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Je

 

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NATIONAL NEWS
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‘Ignore these stupid letter grades’: Texas teachers, parents and pundits sound off on A-F school ratings
Dallas Morning News

The response to Texas’ plan to grade schools with an A through F hasn’t been lukewarm. Apparently, you either love it or hate it.
Most Texas educators and parents who have taken to social media about Texas’ new system for holding schools accountable have been venting their frustrations. But others stand firmly behind the grades, which go into effect next year. A sneak peek was unveiled last week.
One of the most widely circulated blog posts on the topic was written by a Northwest ISD assistant superintendent who explains “What my kids have learned from going to an ‘F’ school.” It has been shared nearly 20,000 times on Facebook.
In his post, Robert Thornell says he couldn’t have asked for a better experience than what his children have found in the Fort Worth-area school district. Still, their middle school earned a D and his daughter’s elementary school got an F. Not reflected in the grades? The fact that his kids are learning to dance, debate and build robots.
“It is hard for me to believe that those with very limited knowledge of schools could have the audacity to create a system that they can’t even explain and give grades without providing promised support,” he writes.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8IA

 

How US Supreme Court cases could reshape special education
In a year without many landmark cases, two cases provide the high court an opportunity to significantly reshape how American schools educate students diagnosed with disabilities.
Christian Science Monitor

While for most Americans there have been few eye-catching cases at the United States Supreme Court this year, for disabled students, their parents, and the cash-strapped school districts that educate them, this could be a banner year.
The high court will hear arguments Wednesday in what experts say is the most important special education case to come before the justices in almost 25 years. The case, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, will revisit the knotty question of what quality of education school districts must provide their disabled students.
The court heard arguments two months ago in another special education case, Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools, that questions when the parents of disabled students can seek damages from a school district in federal court.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8IC

http://gousoe.uen.org/8IZ (WaPo)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8Ja (LAT)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8J3 (AP)

 

Sen. Alexander Praises Betsy DeVos After Meeting, Expects Quick Confirmation
Education Week

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate education committee, said Betsy DeVos will be an “excellent education secretary” after meeting Tuesday with President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Education.
“I’m looking forward to her hearing because I know she will impress the Senate with her passionate support for improving education for all children. I am fully confident that she will be swiftly confirmed by the full Senate,” Alexander said in a statement.
Originally, the committee’s hearing on DeVos’ nomination was slated to be held Jan. 11. But late Monday, Alexander and the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, announced that the hearing had been postponed to Jan. 17. Murray has been highlighting the need for DeVos to submit required ethics-related information to the Office for Government Ethics, and for that office to submit it to the committee, before any hearing on her nomination.
Sources say those concerns contributed to the hearing’s delay—Republicans didn’t want DeVos’ hearing to center around the fact that she hadn’t received clearance from the ethics office.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Jb

 

Jeff Sessions Critical of Federal Guidance’s Power, Highlights Special Ed. Work
Education Week

Sen. Jeff Sessions expressed skepticism during his confirmation hearing to be U.S. attorney general on Tuesday about executive branch guidance that has not gone through the full notice-and-comment rulemaking process and said he would be “dubious” about asking courts to defer to such guidance.
The Alabama Republican, who is President-elect Donald J. Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Justice, was asked about such guidance by Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, who did not specifically cite the controversy over the Obama administration’s informal guidance on respecting the restroom choices of transgender individuals, but Lee appeared to have had that issue in mind.
“I do think you raise a valid concern,” Sessions told Lee and other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during a marathon first day of his confirmation hearing. “A guidance document cannot amount to an amendment of a law. Bureaucrats do not have—that’s a pejorative term—but department and agency attorneys and members do not have the ability to rewrite the law to make it say what they’d like it to say. And if we get away from that principle, we’ve eroded respect for the law and the whole constitutional structure where Congress makes the laws, not the executive branch.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Js

 

Appellate court says some Louisiana charter schools shouldn’t get public funding
New Orleans Times-Picayune

A Louisiana appeals court struck down funding for some charter schools Monday (Jan. 9) in a short decision that makes a big statement. Certain charters, the majority wrote, “are not public schools in the sense of the Louisiana Constitution.”
Thus they may not use Louisiana’s main pot of public school money: the per-pupil formula called the Minimum Foundation Program or MFP. It governs both local and state taxes.
The First Circuit judgment was close, 3-2, in the case the Louisiana Association of Educators brought against the Louisiana Department of Education and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. A similar suit from the Iberville Parish School Board was combined with the LAE’s case.
State schools Superintendent John White said the defendants would appeal and criticized the plaintiffs. “This lawsuit is only about money. It disregards the rights of parents to choose the schools that are best for their unique children.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/8J5

http://gousoe.uen.org/8J7 (Ed Week)

A copy of the ruling
http://gousoe.uen.org/8J6 (Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal)

 

Hamilton schools chief defends district’s reading curriculum
(Trenton, NJ) Trentonian

HAMILTON >> Students can better develop critical reading skills by focusing on isolated or select portions of a text rather than by examining an entire work of literature from cover to cover, according to top school officials in the Hamilton Township School District.
Interim Superintendent Thomas J. Ficarra and Curriculum and Instruction Director Sylvia Zircher also suggested it could sometimes be appropriate for English language arts students to watch novel-based movies in the classroom.
A vocal critic of the Hamilton Township public school system, however, completely disagrees with the district’s approach to reading instruction.
George Fisher publicly blasted the school leaders last month because they permit language arts teachers to use Hollywood films for instructional purposes and encourage the small reading of textual excerpts rather than the complete reading of full bodies of work.
In his typical style of blunt words mixed with dry humor, Fisher issued his assessment and interpretation of the district’s standards in a way that painted the district in a negative light.
“It felt to me that someone was trying to leave the impression with the audience that reading books were out and watching movies were in, and that’s not what we are about,” Ficarra said in a recent interview with The Trentonian.
The idea that students can develop better critical reading skills by analyzing textual excerpts “is something that is a new best practice,” the schools chief said. “It is a way to get children to focus on critical reading. … We still read whole novels, but we do this (close reading of excerpts) as a part of the new thrust behind the national standards as well as New Jersey standards to get children to read critically.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/8J8

http://gousoe.uen.org/8J9 (Ed Week)

 

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CALENDAR
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USOE Calendar
http://www.schools.utah.gov/main/CALENDAR.aspx

UEN News
http://www.uen.org

January 12:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
9 a.m., 250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.schools.utah.gov/charterschools/State-Board.aspx

Utah State Board of Education study session, USDB and committee meetings
9 a.m., 250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.boarddocs.com/ut/usbe/Board.nsf/Public

January 13:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
8 a.m., 250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.boarddocs.com/ut/usbe/Board.nsf/Public

January 23:
First day of the Utah Legislature
State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/

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