Education News Roundup: Jan. 17, 2017

Utah State Capitol

Utah State Capitol

Today’s Top Picks:

New poll finds improving education is the top issue for Utahns heading into the legislative session.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Lv (UP)

Speaker Hughes prognosticates possible craziness in the session in light of Our Schools Now funding drive.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Lw (UP)
Utah Policy video
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Lx

Sen. Fillmore will again run a school funding equalization bill.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8LI (SLT)

There’s plenty of coverage of Education Secretary-nominee Betsy DeVos’s Senate hearing.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8LF (AP)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8LG (WaPo)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8Ma (Ed Week)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8Mg (New York Post)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8Mh (Fox)

Having a midnight “Bob the Builder” emergency in your house? There’s a 24-hour online and TV channel for that now.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8M8 (AP)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Utahns Say Improving Education is Top Priority for 2017 Legislature

Hughes: 2017 Session Could be ‘Crazy’

There’s a big gap between Utah’s richest and poorest schools. Lawmaker hopes to close it.
Equalization > Critics of the proposal to shift funds to lowest-funded districts say no Utah district is overfunded.

Bears Ears, politics complicate school trust issues, director says
Impact of 110,000 acres of school lands in new monument not yet known

School board member: program for failing schools is $8 million in the red
Education official says $7 million budget is over by $8 million.

Middle school schedule change limiting arts education at some Utah schools

Washington County sees K-12 enrollment spike

Utah denies open-records request for details on Amazon deal

Logan High granted school attendance waiver due to snow and ongoing renovation project

Box Elder School District chooses makeup days after snow canceled classes

Maybe Teaching Special Ed Doesn’t Have To Be So Hard

Depression: Deadly Growing Threat to Utah’s Youth

Catholic high school seniors give back in weeklong service project

Union High School construction on time, on budget

Milton Bennion Hall to be Demolished to Make Way for Another Business Building

Classical-based charter school receives initial approval to open in Ogden

Provo’s Adult Education graduates 53

Child Care Nutrition Program expands to rural Utah under new director

Breakfast makes champions in Carbon schools

Muslim girl driven out of school bus in US for wearing hijab

Dixie State to transform East Elementary into entrepreneurial resource center

Sky View continues to dominate state We The People civic debate

Ft. Duchesne students win big in statewide contest

Over a dozen American Fork High students raise money to attend presidential inauguration

‘Poetry Out Loud’ in a school near you

Ogden School District to offer free eye exams, glasses

Logan City Police Department seeks school crossing guards

Students celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with service

Governor Herbert Proclaims Jan. 22-28 “Utah School Choice Week”; Joins Leaders Nationwide in Celebrating Opportunity in Education
Utah students, communities to hold more than 160 events as part of nation’s largest-ever celebration of school choice

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Time for Utah school funding to stop coasting on past success

Questions we’d like to ask at DeVos’ confirmation hearing

Make the wealthy pay more to improve Utah education

Under Trump, LGBT Student Rights Could Be in Trouble
But there is a lot communities can do at the local level to safeguard LGBT protections.

A Dispatch From the Outgoing U.S. Education Secretary
America has the right to a great public education

DeVos will deliver on school reform
She’ll make sure education dollars reach the classroom instead of getting wasted on bureaucrats.

Invest early in America’s children
Political opposites aim to bridge the partisan divide on a cause they say is crucial to equal opportunity.

NATION

DeVos to Push for School Choice Amid Opposition from Unions

A Former Education Secretary’s Advice For Betsy DeVos

Is government a ‘force for good,’ or does it ‘really suck’? Education Dept. is at a pivot point.

Does greater school choice lead to less segregation?
Statistics suggest that charter schools and vouchers aren’t a solution to segregated schools. In some cases, they can actually make it worse.

With shortfall looming, legislators are walked through school funding minefield

Teachers Make Up Good Chunk of Online Open Course-Takers at Harvard, MIT

PBS Kids Round-the-clock TV, Online Channel Launches Monday

Nash loses FCPS social media job a week after being in Twitter spotlight

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UTAH NEWS
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Utahns Say Improving Education is Top Priority for 2017 Legislature

By far, most Utahns say the top priority of the 2017 Legislature should be improving education in the state, a new UtahPolicy poll shows.
And while GOP Gov. Gary Herbert and Republican legislative leaders would certainly agree, how one gets there is a whole other issue.
And Herbert and the leadership have already taken a stand against the Our Schools Now proposal to raise the personal income tax rate from 5 percent to 5.875 percent, which would provide $750 million more each year for public schools.
Dan Jones & Associates asked the following question:
“Which of the following issues do you think should be the top priority for the 2017 Utah legislative session?”
The possible answers – provided by Jones – were: Improving education, air quality, lowering taxes, transportation issues, water quality, and don’t know.
Among all Utahns:
50 percent said improving education.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Lv (UP)

 

Hughes: 2017 Session Could be ‘Crazy’

With the 2017 Utah Legislature less than a week away, House Speaker Greg Hughes has a few key issues on his radar, saying the session could be a “crazy” one.
“There are a lot of issues coming at us all at once,” said Hughes. “I can’t tell you of one big one, but there are a lot of skirmishes coming that I can see.”
Hughes was a guest on the “I Have Questions with Bryan Schott” podcast. He says the fight over school funding could be one of those issues that balloon into a larger fight.
“We always tackle that issue, because it’s the largest area of our budget and it’s probably the number one issue with our constituents when we mail out mailers asking what’s the biggest issue, it’s always near the top.”
Hughes noted that there’s increased pressure this year because of the “Our Schools Now” group that wants voters, not lawmakers, to decide whether to hike income taxes to boost funding for schools. Hughes doesn’t think the income tax hike is the best way to increase funding.
“My concern about that is our income tax can be more volatile. If there’s interest in making that collaborative, I think we the people who are willing to do that.”
Hughes says boosting revenue for schools is not as easy as simply raising taxes.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Lw

Utah Policy video
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Lx

 

There’s a big gap between Utah’s richest and poorest schools. Lawmaker hopes to close it.
Equalization > Critics of the proposal to shift funds to lowest-funded districts say no Utah district is overfunded.

Utah has long ranked last in the nation for the amount it spends, on a per-student basis, to support public schools.
But there’s another set of disparities in state school funding, because school districts supplement their budgets with revenues from local property taxes.
An area such as Park City, with a comparably small student population and high property values, can generate more than three times as much tax revenue per student as Jordan School District, despite similar property tax rates.
“If we are really concerned, as I am, that Utah is the lowest funded state in the nation,” said Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, R-South Jordan, “we cannot internally say it is OK for some districts to have 40 percent, and operate on that, of what other districts are having.”
For the second year, Fillmore is sponsoring legislation to create what he calls the “equity pupil unit,” which would set aside one-third of new per-pupil state spending for distribution among Utah’s lowest-funded school districts.
It would mean smaller funding bumps for districts on the high end of Utah’s scale, leveling the playing field over time for schools throughout the state.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8LI (SLT)

 

Bears Ears, politics complicate school trust issues, director says
Impact of 110,000 acres of school lands in new monument not yet known

SALT LAKE CITY – The full impact of the Bears Ears National Monument is not yet known, but the director of Utah’s School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration made one thing clear Friday: He’s averse to using school trust revenues for legal fees.
“One thing I truly believe in is not wasting the children’s money in litigation. We try very hard to mediate it out. We’re trying really hard to mediate this out with the new administration. We don’t quite know who the players are yet, but that will be one of the main things we try to work on,” said David Ure, addressing the Utah State Board of Education Friday.
The 1.35 million-acre national monument in San Juan County includes nearly 110,00 acres of inheld school trust lands, rendering them undevelopable.
While the Department of Interior contacted the trust lands administration for a trade of the inheld lands prior to the designation on Dec. 28, SITLA’s board of trustees felt the proposal was too restrictive and suitable lands for exchanges could not be identified, according to school board documents.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8LO (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8M3 (KSL)

 

School board member: program for failing schools is $8 million in the red
Education official says $7 million budget is over by $8 million.

In 2015, Utah lawmakers set aside $7 million in annual funding to establish a new turnaround program for struggling public schools.
That money is gone, state school board member Joel Wright said Friday, and the program is facing a negative balance as new schools are added to the turnaround list each year.
“We have exceeded that by about $8 million,” said Wright, who is vice-chairman of the board’s Finance Committee. “Nobody knew what they were doing entirely when they made these contracts with these vendors.”
Under the law, sponsored by Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, the worst-performing 3 percent of Utah schools are identified as failing and required to partner with a private consulting firm to improve performance.
The private vendors receive half of their payment up front, with a contract for the remaining payment if their client schools improve by a full letter grade on the state’s school-grading program over a period of three years.
The schools do not receive any funds to implement turnaround strategies, but may be rewarded with additional resources and salary bonuses, “subject to appropriations by the Legislature,” if the school’s grade improves.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Lz (SLT)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8LA (USBE)

 

Middle school schedule change limiting arts education at some Utah schools

DRAPER – Valerie Witzel has been studying French at school for more than seven years, and she isn’t about to give it up.
“I love French, but I love orchestra too,” the eighth-grader said Saturday.
Trouble is, Valerie and many of her peers in dual-immersion language programs throughout the Canyons School District will likely be forced to choose between continuing in their language studies and taking elective courses such as music, dance, theater, art and other skills-based instruction.
The choices are becoming more limited because of a mandate from the Utah State Board of Education that adds two classes to the required curriculum, meaning all students must take those courses in sixth and eighth grades.
Dual-immersion students are hit hardest because language courses are considered elective, but it means they miss even more opportunities to explore creative outlets, as those time slots are filled with the required career readiness and computer literacy courses.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8LM (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8M0 (KUTV)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8M2 (KSL)

 

Washington County sees K-12 enrollment spike

Student enrollment growth is accelerating in Washington County, with a recent jump in numbers prompting plans for more schools, more teachers and more facilities to keep up with demand.
The Washington County School Board approved boundary changes this week at eight elementary schools to accommodate the fall opening of the new Majestic View Elementary School in Washington Fields.
In the same meeting, they also gave district planners the go-ahead to request bids on another new elementary school that could open as soon as 2018. Plans are already in place to build the new Crimson Middle School and Crimson High School in the next two years.
Enrollment jumped 5.4 percent from the beginning of the last school year to the beginning of this one, and another 345 students have moved in since Oct. 1, according to district figures.
Numbers approved by the board on Tuesday showed 29,700 students district-wide, up almost 7 percent from the 28,167 counted in October of 2015. Since the beginning of the 2013 school year, the district has added nearly 3,000 new students.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8LY (SGS)

 

Utah denies open-records request for details on Amazon deal

The Utah State Tax Commission is keeping confidential the details of a new deal for Amazon – which makes an estimated 21 percent of all online sales – to collect sales tax for internet purchases made by Utahns.
The commission this week denied an open-records request for that information filed by the Libertas Institute, a Salt Lake City-based group that says it fights for liberty.
Commission spokesman Charlie Roberts said Tuesday that disclosure is not required under Utah’s Government Records Access and Management Act. “The reason is it is commercial information and would provide undue advantage for competitors” if released he said.

Legislators have proposed bills to force more automatic collection by online retailers – and more are expected this year – but they have failed under pressure by the online industry and groups that say it would be a tax increase, even though that tax is already technically owed.
Herbert has said that collecting more of the owed-but-unpaid online sales tax could help eliminate the need for the proposed Our Schools Now ballot initiative that would increase state income taxes for education by $750 million a year.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Mv (SLT)

 

Logan High granted school attendance waiver due to snow and ongoing renovation project

SALT LAKE CITY – After more than 50 minutes of debate, the Utah State Board of Education on Friday granted just Logan High School a waiver of the state’s attendance rule due to a major snowstorm that forced district officials to call off classes.
Logan School District had sought a waiver on behalf of the entire district but board members decided only the high school, which is undergoing a massive renovation project, should receive a waiver because the construction schedule made it more problematic to schedule makeup days.
Under state rule, school districts are required to conduct school a minimum of 180 days and 990 hours a year.
Local school boards are encouraged to build emergency closure makeup days in their academic calendars in the event of major storm or some other event that requires that administrators to call off school.
In Logan’s case, snow days were not built into this year’s academic calendar.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8LN (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8LU (OSE)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8M1 (KUTV)

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

 

Box Elder School District chooses makeup days after snow canceled classes

BRIGHAM CITY – The Box Elder School District Board of Education approved changes to this year’s calendar to make up for two snow days.
The board unanimously voted for school to be held Feb. 20, which would have normally been a day off for Presidents Day, and March 3, which was a part of the district’s spring break.
Superintendent Ron Tolman presented other options, including adding two extra days to the end of the school year in May or holding school Jan. 16, but the board elected not to choose those days.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8LT (OSE)

 

Maybe Teaching Special Ed Doesn’t Have To Be So Hard

This time last year, Stephanie Johnson was miserable.
She was in her third year teaching special education at a junior high school in Lindon, Utah, about 40 minutes south of Salt Lake City.
On the outside it looked like she was doing great. Her classes ran smoothly, students loved her, parents loved her, but like many special education teachers, inside she felt as though she was drowning.
She said she thought about leaving all the time: “I don’t know how to describe it, it’s just so much work. I just feel like I cannot do it.”
It’s a very different Johnson I find this year at her new school, the Renaissance Academy, a charter school in the nearby city of Lehi.
On a Friday afternoon, her classroom, which she shares with one other special education teacher, is empty of kids.
Monday through Thursday, these two teachers instruct all of the school’s special education students.
On Fridays, though, they have the classroom to themselves, meaning they’ll actually have the time to do the thing so many special education teachers find so difficult – the record keeping.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Mu (NPR Weekend Edition Sunday)

 

Depression: Deadly Growing Threat to Utah’s Youth

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – January is known for being the peak month for folks suffering from depression symptoms and now there’s a new study that shows the number of teens who suffer from depression is growing.
When is comes to teenage depression, Utah has some of the highest numbers in the nation and many are not receiving treatment. Teens are not receiving the help that they need because they’re not speaking out.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Mq (KTVX)

 

Catholic high school seniors give back in weeklong service project

OGDEN – For the second year in a row, the seniors of Saint Joseph Catholic High School got an entire week off from school.
But rather than spending the week of Jan. 9 frivolously, the students volunteered at local nonprofit agencies.
Principal Clay Jones said the idea is to get students out into the community, doing the good works they learn about in the classroom.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8LQ (OSE)

Union High School construction on time, on budget

If you’ve driven along East Lagoon Street in Roosevelt lately, you’ve probably seen walls rising behind the fence line at the site of the new Union High School. The area’s biggest construction project is progressing rapidly and is currently on time and on budget.
Heavy snowfalls over the last month have slowed things down a bit, but Westland Construction’s Project Manager Rick Swinford says that it hasn’t put them behind.
“It has slowed us down some,” Swinford said. “We’re working now to get roofs on and we’re pumping out water for hopefully the last time in some areas. We have tents up, but with the wind, we keep fixing them every day. That does set things back, but we’re on time.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/8LB (Uintah Basin Standard)

 

Milton Bennion Hall to be Demolished to Make Way for Another Business Building

Milton Bennion Hall (MBH) has been home to the College of Education since 1960, and this year they are saying goodbye. The building is being demolished to make room for the expanding David Eccles School of Business.
The building was named after Milton Bennion, a former Dean of the College of Education and former Vice President of the U. Bennion was known for his interest in social and personal ethics, character education and his Socratic teaching style.
Many students and alumni spent a significant amount of time in MBH while obtaining their college educations. From the halls to the bathrooms, MBH holds many memories within its walls.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Mt (Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

Classical-based charter school receives initial approval to open in Ogden

SALT LAKE CITY – A new charter school is one step closer to opening in Ogden.
Pending approval from the Utah State Board of Education in February, Capstone Classical Academy plans to open August 2018 in Weber School District. The school will be located in either Pleasant View or Ogden and serve students in grades six through 12.
The Utah State Charter School Board approved the school’s application at a meeting Thursday.
The school will have a classical curriculum, teaching ethics, philosophy, rhetoric and logic, said Susan Goers, Capstone’s director and founder. Students will not only be expected to learn concepts, but apply them to their lives.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8LR (OSE)

Provo’s Adult Education graduates 53

They didn’t have a motto, theme or valedictorian, but the 53 graduates of Provo’s Adult Education program weren’t any less proud to accept their diplomas Friday.
Special graduation ceremonies were held for the program at Independence High School, where the program has been located for the past seven years.
For more than 50 years, the Provo City School District has provided a way for those who did not complete high school to receive a high school diploma through the Adult Education program.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8LV (PDH)

Child Care Nutrition Program expands to rural Utah under new director

You probably haven’t heard of the Child Care Nutrition Program, but they’ve been quietly bettering the lives of Utah’s children for years now.
The CCNP is a branch of Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities and sponsors the Child and Adult Care Food Program. According to their website, the purpose of the CCNP is to “promote good nutrition and a safe, healthy child care environment for the children of Utah.” They do this by providing education, support and funding to child care programs all around the state.
According to a press release from the CCNP, the organization helped 13,00 children in Utah last year, and that number is expected to increase going forward. The program welcomed a new director this January, and he plans to expand services into rural communities like the Uintah Basin.
Michael Diehl took over direction of the CCNP following the retirement of former director Jeanie Peck. Diehl says the work the program does is important to thousands of children in the state who are enrolled in day care centers or other child care programs.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8LD (Uintah Basin Standard)

Breakfast makes champions in Carbon schools

Carbon School District ranked near the top in the number of students that eat breakfast at school, and district officials want to do even better.
According to a recent report issued by the Utah Breakfast Expansion Team (part of Utahns Against Hunger), Wayne School District was first out of 41 districts in the state, Emery second and Carbon fifth. Rich and Juab School Districts were third and fourth, respectively.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Mr (Price Sun Advocate)

Muslim girl driven out of school bus in US for wearing hijab

UTAH – A Muslim girl was thrown out of a school bus twice in Utah state of US for donning a hijab.
The 15-year-old girl, Janna Bakeer, is a student in Timpview High School in Provo City, Utah.
She was taking the bus to home when the driver while using the bus’s intercom said, “Hey you with the blue hair thingie, get off the bus, you don’t belong here,” according Randall Spencer, the family’s lawyer.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Mw (World Tribune [Islamabad] Pakistan)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8Mx (Rediff India Abroad)

Dixie State to transform East Elementary into entrepreneurial resource center

ST. GEORGE – While East Elementary will soon cease to function under the auspices of the Washington County School District, the facility’s legacy of education will continue with a new name and a new purpose under Dixie State University.
It was announced at the “St. George Area Economic Summit” last week that the old elementary school will be named “Innovation Plaza” and will play a role in Dixie State’s goal to produce a skilled regional work force while also helping to develop a strong regional economy.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8LZ (SGN)

Sky View continues to dominate state We The People civic debate

Sky View High School has continued the 11-year tradition of bringing home the state championship for the civic debate program We The People: Citizen and the Constitution.
“Some call it a dynasty, but I just call it luck and hard work,” said Mike Rigby, AP U.S. government teacher who has coached We The People at Sky View since 2002.
Hosted by the Center for Civic Education, We The People is set up like a congressional committee hearing. Since September, the 21 members of the Sky View squad have been divided into six groups, each assigned to prepare responses to sets of three questions. At the state competition, held at the Utah Capitol building Monday, each group delivered a four-minute presentation to judges who then asked six minutes of open questions.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8LW (LHJ)

 

Ft. Duchesne students win big in statewide contest

Each year hundreds of students from across Utah compete against one another to see who is the most stock savvy during the annual Stock Market Game competition, sponsored by the Utah Division of Securities. This year, Freddie Gonzales, a senior from Uintah River High School in Ft. Duchesne, took home the top prize and a $50 savings bond for winning the contest.
Gonzales competed against more than 1,500 high school students from around the state. The contest was part of his financial literacy class. Gonzales said he wasn’t very excited about the assignment when he first started it, but the excitement took over and he started getting more into it.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8LC (Uintah Basin Standard)

 

Over a dozen American Fork High students raise money to attend presidential inauguration

AMERICAN FORK – Eighteen students, part of the student council at American Fork High School, are packing their bags so they can attend the presidential inauguration.
It is a big undertaking – all paid for by the students themselves – at a cost of about $3,000 per student.
As crews prepare our nation’s Capitol Building for the inaugural ceremony, the high school students are also preparing, anxious with anticipation.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8M4 (KSL)

 

‘Poetry Out Loud’ in a school near you

“I wasn’t really into poetry before [Poetry Out Loud]…. It wasn’t something I was reading or even interested in. But through this classroom requirement it really snuck up on me how much I would connect with these poems and how much poetry would be something I could carry with me for the rest of my life.”
Those are the words of Langston Ward, who won the Poetry Out Loud National Championship in 2013. He, like more than 300,000 students across the country, has experienced the power of the Poetry Out Loud national recitation contest.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Mn (SGS)

Ogden School District to offer free eye exams, glasses

OGDEN — The Ogden School District will be providing free eye exams and glasses to 125 pre-selected students in need.
SIGHTFEST will be offered in partnership with Friends for Sight, a Salt Lake City nonprofit.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8LS (OSE)

 

Logan City Police Department seeks school crossing guards

Currently staffing 18 crosswalks throughout Logan City, the Logan City Police Department has immediate openings for school crossing guards. The positions are temporary/seasonal opportunities, paying $9.25 to $11.50 per hour. Crosswalks are staffed throughout the school year.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8LX (CVD)

 

Students celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with service

Ryan Rose shows a group of kids how to sew a doll as fourth- and fifth-graders gather at Midvale Elementary School to assemble dolls for patients at Primary Children’s Hospital on Monday. The students were taking part in a service project organized by Playworks Utah in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Playworks is a national nonprofit organization leveraging the power of play to transform children’s social and emotional health.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8LL (DN)

Governor Herbert Proclaims Jan. 22-28 “Utah School Choice Week”; Joins Leaders Nationwide in Celebrating Opportunity in Education
Utah students, communities to hold more than 160 events as part of nation’s largest-ever celebration of school choice

SALT LAKE CITY–Governor Gary Herbert has officially proclaimed Jan. 22-28 as Utah School Choice Week, joining 14 other governors and more than 500 mayors and county leaders with similar proclamations.
More than 21,000 independently planned events will commemorate National School Choice Week, the largest-ever celebration of opportunity in education in U.S. history. More than 160 of those events will take place in Utah. Events include rallies, roundtable discussions, coffeehouse meet-ups, festivals, school fairs, and more.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Mm (Business Wire)

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Time for Utah school funding to stop coasting on past success
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist GEORGE PYLE


It is difficult to imagine a silence, stunned or otherwise, falling over the members of the Utah Legislature. But somebody has to tell them that Utah’s system of public education has been coasting on past glories for many years.
For generations, Utah prided itself on its success educating its children for a relatively low cost to the taxpayers. Last in per-pupil expenditures was the wonkish way of putting it. “Stack ’em deep and teach ’em cheap,” was the unofficial motto.
Despite the relatively low amount of money spent, Utah’s results seemed acceptable at the least. But that was because the student population of the state was overwhelmingly the product of white, two-parent, well-educated, extended-family-supported, English-speaking, middle- to upper-class households. Books in the house. Breakfast before school. Mom at home. Three channels. No cell phones.
That’s over. And has been for a long time.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Mp

 

Questions we’d like to ask at DeVos’ confirmation hearing
Deseret News op-ed by Christine Cooke, education policy analyst for Sutherland Institute

The confirmation hearing of President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of education is approaching, so there’s no shortage of attention on Betsy DeVos right now.
We’ve heard from some of DeVos’ major critics – including teachers unions – who focus on the fact that DeVos never personally attended public school, never sent her children to public school, has never been a public school teacher, and – most importantly – advocates for school choice.
Others see her appointment as an opportunity to infuse new ideas into a stagnant system.
Some appreciate DeVos’ emphasis on choice but question whether and how to use federal power to bring about parental choice and local control.
It’s important that all this chatter be channeled into thoughtful questions and honest dialogue. At Sutherland Institute, we’d like to offer three important questions for the person who may be our next secretary of education.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8LP

 

Make the wealthy pay more to improve Utah education
Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Jeff Swift, policy director for LDS Dems

Utah’s education system is in crisis. Our education outcomes for each demographic group lag far behind our peers across the nation. Our student-to-teacher ratio is second worst in the country. Our per-pupil funding is dead last. Our massive teacher shortage is completely understandable. Would you want to be a teacher in Utah under these conditions?
There is a simple reason for this crisis. Our past two Republican governors have decided that cutting taxes for wealthy Utahns is more important than adequately funding education.
It is important to note that no system of taxation is perfectly equal. “Progressive taxation” means that those who have more pay a higher percentage of their income to taxes, while regressive taxation means that those who have less are hit harder by their tax rate. Utah’s single 5 percent rate for all income brackets is regressive: a wealthy family can get by without 5 percent of its income much easier than can a less fortunate family. Now, a single flat rate for all income brackets works well in scenarios where the primary goal is to express religious devotion (e.g. tithing), but taxes (fortunately) do not have that primary goal.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Ly

 

Under Trump, LGBT Student Rights Could Be in Trouble
But there is a lot communities can do at the local level to safeguard LGBT protections.
The Nation commentary by columnist Michelle Chen

For many LGBT youth, bullying is more than the occasional mean taunt in the hallway. The bully can be the principal who refuses to call a trans teen by the right pronoun. Bullying can mean being barred from the bathroom. And now queer kids have an even bigger bully to fear: the one about move into the White House.
Under the Obama administration, there has been steady improvements in LGBT protections in schools, including policy directives supporting bathroom-access accommodations for transgender students and anti-bullying programs focused on LGBT youth.
But all of that progress is now in jeopardy as Donald Trump prepares to take office next week. In a sign of his approach to education, Trump has named education-privatization advocate Betsy DeVos to head the Department of Education. DeVos has alarmed activists with her track record of promoting charter schools and Christian conservative causes.

Everyday violence and oppression reinforce each other in schools. Abuse takes many forms: blocking a trans student from using the gender-appropriate locker room, being called a slur by a bigoted teacher every day in class. In some heavily religious communities, kids are subtly shamed by the imposition of daily school prayer. A parent might be forced to withdraw a child from school because of a campaign of rape threats on social media. Students of color may be even more at risk, as racist school discipline policies may intersect with anti-LGBT harassment and push a youth into the juvenile justice system.
Kevin I, a 17 year-old transgender boy in Utah, was stunned to see his school staff aligning with his tormentors. He told researchers:
“I’ve been shoved into lockers, and sometimes people will just push up on me to check if I have boobs…. [I have reported] I’ve been physically hurt because I’m trans, and I remember one of the administrators said, ‘It’s just because you’re so open about it.’ I’ve reported slurs and they say they’re going to go talk to them, but they never do.”

But the lack of concrete anti-discrimination policies can feed into local hostility to LGBT rights. “Ellen,” a gay teacher at a Utah school, testified about her struggle with a blatantly homophobic school atmosphere, in which anti-LGBT shaming was seen as routine. When the principal dismissed the abuse experienced by a boy, who seemed like he might have identified as gay in a more open environment, Ellen felt, “There was nothing I could do, and it killed me. It not only broke my heart for him, because I saw the bullying and teasing-but I was also terrified for me. I didn’t want to risk exposing myself.”
Ellen was relieved when Utah passed its breakthrough legislation providing protection against anti-LGBT employment discrimination. Most states currently lack LGBT workplace discrimination laws. Nationally, advocates fear that DeVos, a outspoken Christian conservative, will dismantle the Obama administration’s efforts to provide a baseline of school-based LGBT rights protections through civil-rights enforcement and funding leverage. She could easily repeal Obama’s policy guidance on ensuring access for transgender youth to school facilities, for example.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Ms

 

A Dispatch From the Outgoing U.S. Education Secretary
America has the right to a great public education
Education Week op-ed by Secretary of Education John B. King Jr.

Education is a ladder. Rung by rung, it helps people reach places that would otherwise be an impossible climb.
It is not enough for those already prosperous to prosper. All Americans must have the opportunity to meaningfully participate in our nation’s growth, if it is to succeed. That has always been so but is even truer today, at a time when the fastest-growing occupations require education beyond high school.
And that is why now is the time for champions of public education to set aside the policy differences that have divided us over the past two decades and move forward, together, to defend and extend this fundamental American institution.
We don’t have to agree on every strategy or tactic. We won’t. But we can stop wasting energy on false dichotomies and disparaging rhetoric. We can stop questioning our natural allies’ intentions and fight side by side for the belief that every student in America has the right to a great public education.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Mb

 

DeVos will deliver on school reform
She’ll make sure education dollars reach the classroom instead of getting wasted on bureaucrats.
USA Today op-ed by Jeb Bush, 43rd governor of Florida

With Republicans now controlling the governorships and legislatures in 25 states, the prospect for a conservative revolution is stronger than at any time in my lifetime. I am hopeful that Republicans in Washington will seize this opportunity to shift power and money back to the states, heeding the Tenth Amendment and fully harnessing the benefits of federalism. The state laboratories of government should have ample chance to innovate with scores of new ideas and policies to spark economic growth and improve education to lift people out of poverty and lift up the middle class.
With these goals in mind, I am especially heartened by President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of Education. The choice of Betsy DeVos to spearhead education reform is inspired. Betsy will fight hard to remove the biggest barriers to improving student achievement in America and give millions of young people the opportunity to rise.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8M6

 

Invest early in America’s children
Political opposites aim to bridge the partisan divide on a cause they say is crucial to equal opportunity.
USA Today op-ed by George Miller, former Democratic representative from California, and Rick Santorum, former Republican senator from Pennsylvania

The two of us have a lot in common. We’re fathers, former legislators, and share a deep love for our country. But in Congress we rarely agreed on policy solutions to the challenges facing the nation.
America is home to the world’s largest economy and most powerful military. She is blessed with tremendous natural resources and agricultural wealth and can boast great industrial power. But our most valuable national asset is the tens of millions of children who will shape America’s destiny. We both believe that ensuring our kids get a good start in life is essential.
We are convinced that supporting early childhood development is an issue that can unite both political parties. It’s also an area where Congress can begin immediately to work with the Trump administration to support the needs and aspirations of working families: a group our political system has neglected for far too long. The recent election results demonstrate that the Washington political establishment needs to recalibrate its focus. Research is clear that brain development in the earliest years is hugely influential on a child’s long-term success and health. We now know that effective interventions like high quality early learning programs and parent-focused programs can make a real difference in the lives of children and families. Yet many children arrive at kindergarten without the skills they need to succeed in school. And children who arrive at school behind their peers tend to stay behind.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8M7

 

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NATIONAL NEWS
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DeVos to Push for School Choice Amid Opposition from Unions
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Republican donor and school choice advocate Betsy DeVos says a one size-fits-all model of learning doesn’t work and that she would promote charter, magnet, religious and other alternatives to public schools, if confirmed education secretary.
But facing scathing criticism from teachers unions, who say she is seeking to destroy public education, DeVos also promised to be a “strong advocate for great public schools,” which provide instruction to more than 90 percent of the country’s students.
“Why, in 2017, are we still questioning parents’ ability to exercise educational choice for their children?” DeVos said in remarks released by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee ahead of Tuesday’s confirmation hearing. “I am a firm believer that parents should be empowered to choose the learning environment that’s best for their individual children.”
DeVos, 59, also said she will seek to address rising higher education costs and massive student debt, but also advance trade and vocational schools as well as community colleges because “craftsmanship is not a fallback – but a noble pursuit.”
Another priority for DeVos will be weakening “burdensome” federal regulations and giving local communities greater control over education policies.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8LF

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

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

http://gousoe.uen.org/8Mg (New York Post)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8Mh (Fox)

 

A Former Education Secretary’s Advice For Betsy DeVos
NPR

Since he began running for president, Donald Trump has been talking about a smaller federal role in education.
The confirmation hearings begin Tuesday for the person he has nominated to carry out his vision, Betsy DeVos. In her home state of Michigan, DeVos has been a powerful advocate of school choice and a larger private role in education. If confirmed, she’ll take over a huge federal bureaucracy of some 4,400 employees and a $68 billion budget.
To get an idea of what’s ahead, I reached out to a former Republican education secretary, Margaret Spellings. She ran the Education Department under George W. Bush, from 2005 to 2009, and was a leader in the implementation of his signature education achievement, the No Child Left Behind Act.
Today, she is the president of the University of North Carolina system, with 17 campuses and more than 220,000 students. She says she has not advised the incoming Trump administration on any official level, but she has met Betsy DeVos. She also recently penned a joint letter with other former Education secretaries William Bennet and Rod Paige endorsing DeVos.
Here’s an edited version of our conversation.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8M5

Is government a ‘force for good,’ or does it ‘really suck’? Education Dept. is at a pivot point.
Washington Post

The fiercest critics and most ardent supporters of President Obama’s Education Department – which has arguably wielded more influence and sparked more controversy than any of its recent predecessors – generally agree that the agency’s efforts were rooted in the faith that government has a critical role to play in improving people’s lives.
Now the department is poised for a radical shift with the arrival of Donald Trump in Washington; the businessman, now president-elect, has often spoken about government as a bumbling failure and an impediment to success.
Education Secretary John B. King Jr. – who says public schools saved his life after he was orphaned young – is preparing to move out of his seventh-floor office suite at the department’s D.C. headquarters. His designated successor, Betsy DeVos – a billionaire political power broker who has said public schools are a dysfunctional monopoly and who believes in private-school vouchers and the power of the free market – is preparing to move in, her confirmation hearing set for Tuesday.
“Government can be a tremendous force for good,” King said in an interview at his office recently.
“Government really sucks,” DeVos, Trump’s nominee for education secretary, said last year at the South by Southwest educational technology conference in Austin. “And it doesn’t matter which party is in power.”
It is this ideological divide as much as any other that is at the root of what Trump has promised will be a very different approach to the nation’s public schools. He has said he will shrink federal oversight and interference and wants to spend billions of dollars to encourage vouchers – which the Obama administration has vigorously opposed – and charter schools.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Mj

 

Does greater school choice lead to less segregation?
Statistics suggest that charter schools and vouchers aren’t a solution to segregated schools. In some cases, they can actually make it worse.
Christian Science Monitor

By nominating Betsy DeVos as Education secretary, President-elect Donald Trump has waded into a deeply partisan battle over school choice.
Ms. DeVos, a wealthy Republican donor, has spent decades promoting publicly funded, privately run charter schools and vouchers for low-income students to use to attend private and religious schools. Teacher unions and other groups have decried her political activism as a stealth agenda to undermine traditional public schools.
Much of the debate has turned on whether or not school-choice programs yield improved educational outcomes and what happens to students who are left behind in schools struggling to cope after tax dollars have been diverted elsewhere.
What both charter schools and vouchers have in common, say critics, is that they perpetuate the racial segregation of US schools, even as the nation’s school-age population grows ever more diverse. While minority parents are being given more choices about where to enroll their children, these choices rarely extend to schools that are more integrated by race or ethnicity, critics say.
Instead, the choices for families in low-income, minority-dominated school districts are often between low-performing public schools and alternatives such as charters or voucher-dependent private schools with similar student bodies.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Mf

With shortfall looming, legislators are walked through school funding minefield
Casper (WY) Star-Tribune

Facing a massive shortfall in school funding, lawmakers learned Monday about the complex web that supports and pays for public education in Wyoming and the decades of legal wrangling that spun it into existence.
Mike O’Donnell, who represented Wyoming a decade ago in the last of a string of landmark court cases, spent an hour walking through what exactly constitutes that web and what lawmakers can – and can’t – do to trim schools’ budgets.
Lawmakers say it’s the critical question of this Legislative session. Education funding faces a shortfall of $400 million a year in the next budget cycle, and O’Donnell, who works as a special counsel for school funding, warned that schools will be “flat broke” in the near future if the crisis isn’t addressed.
The web is a roughly $1.5 billion budget, around the size of the general fund that covers much of Wyoming’s government. It pays for teachers, buses, activities and more in 48 districts statewide. And because of a downturn in the energy economy, the web is sagging.
“There are painful discussions of how to raise revenues that we just have never had to do in the state of Wyoming,” O’Donnell said.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8LH

 

Teachers Make Up Good Chunk of Online Open Course-Takers at Harvard, MIT
Education Week

Teachers make up about one-third of participants in the massive open online courses offered by MIT and Harvard University, according to a new report by researchers at the two institutions.
The report is based on four years of data from the courses, known as MOOCs, on edX, a nonprofit provider of online classes for lifelong learners worldwide, which was started in 2012 by the two universities.
“Strong collaboration has enabled MIT and Harvard researchers to jointly examine nearly 30 million hours of online learner behavior and the growth of the MOOC space,” study co-author Isaac Chuang said in a statement. Chuang is an MIT senior associate dean of digital learning and a professor of physics, electrical engineering, and computer science.
The findings show that 32 percent of MOOC-takers said they work (or worked) as teachers. Nineteen percent of the teacher participants said they took a MOOC course-mainly in humanities, history, religion, design, and education-to learn more about topics they already teach.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Mc

A copy of the study
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Me (SSRN)

 

PBS Kids Round-the-clock TV, Online Channel Launches Monday
Associated Press

PASADENA, Calif. — PBS is launching a round-the-clock children’s channel that will be available on member stations and digital platforms.
The free PBS Kids channel starting Monday is aimed at youngsters who are 2 to 6 and their families with educational programming including “Nature Cat” and “Bob the Builder,” PBS said. The network called it critical for kids in low-income households that have spotty Internet access or connect only via mobile devices.
But why 24-7 programming for children?
“Believe it or not, there are many children that are up at night,” PBS chief executive Paula Kerger told a TV critics’ meeting Sunday. “Many are in hospitals. And as we started talking about a service that we would build, we actually heard from caregivers who said, ‘You know, we are at a loss sometimes to figure out how we can keep children calm and entertained,’ and so we feel that it’s a great service.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/8M8

 

Nash loses FCPS social media job a week after being in Twitter spotlight
Frederick (MD) News-Post

Frederick County Public Schools has fired Katie Nash, an employee who stirred up attention for how she ran the district’s Twitter feed last week, she said.
Michael Doerrer, a district spokesman, said Nash was no longer employed with the school system, but he couldn’t comment on the circumstances.
Nash started working as the web experience coordinator in November. Among her responsibilities was to run the district’s social media accounts. Her salary was $44,066.
On Jan. 5, a student tweeted to the Twitter account, @FCPSMaryland, asking schools to close “tammarow.”
Nash wrote in response from the school Twitter feed: “But then how would you learn how to spell ‘tomorrow?’ :)”
The response from Nash’s FCPS tweet garnered more than 1,000 retweets and 1,000 likes and she became the subject of a hashtag, #KatiefromFCPS. And later #freekatie also appeared in students’ Twitter feeds after a report from local TV station WHAG-TV that Twitter access had been taken away from her.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8M9

http://gousoe.uen.org/8Mk (New York Daily News)

 

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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 17:
House Rules Committee meeting
2 p.m., 415 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/HRUL0117.ag.htm

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

January 26:
Utah State Board of Education legislative meeting
Noon; 210 Senate Building
http://www.boarddocs.com/ut/usbe/Board.nsf/Public

February 9:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
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
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.boarddocs.com/ut/usbe/Board.nsf/Public

February 10:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.boarddocs.com/ut/usbe/Board.nsf/Public

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