Education News Roundup: Jan. 18, 2017

Rule R277-409

Today’s Top Picks:

New poll finds most Utahns are still willing to raise their taxes for public school funding, but the percentage is dropping.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8MA (UP)

The Utah State Board of Education will hold a public hearing on the new Utah High School Activities Association rule on Thursday.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8MC (SLT)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8MX (DN)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8Nx (USBE)

Canyons School District looks at required and elective classes in middle school.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8MF (DN)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8N5 (KSL)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8N6 (KSTU)

Indian Country Media Network looks at school bus routes in San Juan District.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Nw ([Verona, NY] Indian Country Media Network)

There’s lots of coverage of Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos’s Senate hearing.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8ML (WaPo)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8Nq (WSJ)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8MM (NYT)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8MJ (USAT)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8MQ (CSM)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8MO (Politico)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8Ne (Ed Week)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8MS (AP)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8Nd (Reuters)

Colorado may increase its pot tax to fund education.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8MT (Denver Post)

Pearson, the world’s biggest education company (Addison-Wesley, Ginn, Penguin Books, Prentice Hall, among others), lost a third of its market value yesterday.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Nb (Reuters)

This so explains what ENR is seeing on TV (news and entertainment) these days: “Natural selection is causing a decline in human ‘education genes’, say scientists”
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Ni (Science Alert)
or a copy of the study
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Nj (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America)

Chinese billionaire announces the Yidan Prize, a nearly $8 million award for global education projects.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Nl (BBC)
or the nomination form
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Nm (YidanPrize.org)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Poll Shows Support for Tax Hike to Boost School Funding is Dropping

Group seeks to raise taxes, cites $1.2 billion education shortfall

Utah school board to hear feedback on new transfer rules for high school athletes
Schools » Two-hour hearing set for Thursday for input on new policy.

Canyons District parents, students, educators make case to add school periods – or not

Navajo Nation Bus Routes Are Dangerous
Children as young as 3 ride impassable roads, GAO looking for solutions

No Bears Ears school land exchange expected as deadline approaches

Teaching 4th Graders In An Age Of “Fake News”

Park City High Gay-Straight Alliance comes out in full color
Event aims to raise awareness of LGBTQ teen suicide rates

125 years since Brigham Young Academy opened in Provo

Panel of valley health experts discuss adverse childhood experiences

Parents Urged to Speak to Teens About Suicide

BYU releases computer game to help kids learn programming concepts

Canyons School District students take steps to clean up the air
Remind parents to Turn the Key, Be Idle Free

Utah Valley Educator of the Week: Angie Paynter

Utah Valley Student of the Week: Aurora Tolman

Herbert proclaims Jan. 22-28 as Utah School Choice Week

“SIGHTFEST 2017”, hosted by Friends for Sight 2017 in Ogden

OPINION & COMMENTARY

School turnaround law shows advice isn’t cheap

Trump Education

Hits & Misses
Schooled

Legislature failing public on education

Who Is Betsy DeVos?

War on Betsy DeVos shows the left hates giving educational hope to poor kids

The Betsy DeVos Hearing Was an Insult to Democracy
Who are the real grizzlies?

Trump’s Pick for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Was Horribly Embarrassing in Every Way
Not only did she fumble her way through basic questions about our education system, but she thinks guns belong in schools because of…grizzlies.

How Education Is Failing Rural America
No, low educational attainment isn’t why Trump won

NATION

Betsy DeVos, Trump’s education pick, lauded as bold reformer, called unfit for job

Education Department Ripe for Culture Shift Under Trump

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper proposes pot sales tax hike to bridge school funding gap
Cut to senior homestead property tax exemption also part of plan

New Kansas bathroom bill prompts concern over local school district control

Faster Internet, Lower Bandwidth Costs for Schools, Study Shows

Nebraska encouraged to repeal ban on religious garb in classrooms

Motivation of students in special education improves if they use gestures with computers

Teen shoots four, self at American school in northern Mexico

Pearson plunges as digital switch forces new profit warning

In northern Aleppo, children return to school used as Islamic State prison

Natural selection is causing a decline in human ‘education genes’, say scientists
Is our species on a downwards spiral?

Chinese billionaire offers biggest education prize
A Chinese technology billionaire is offering the world’s most valuable education prize.

 

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UTAH NEWS
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Poll Shows Support for Tax Hike to Boost School Funding is Dropping

Support for an income tax hike to fund local schools has dropped in recent months, a new UtahPolicy poll shows.
But more than half of all Utahns still favor such a tax hike, as publicity over a citizen initiative petition spreads.
The new survey by Dan Jones & Associates finds that 55 percent of all Utahns say they would vote to raise their own state income tax rate from 5 percent to 5.875 percent, or an increase of 7/8th of 1 percent.
Thirty-nine percent said they “probably” or “definitely” would oppose such a vote, and 6 percent didn’t know.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8MA (UP)

 

Group seeks to raise taxes, cites $1.2 billion education shortfall

ST. GEORGE – Education advocates are calling for a ballot initiative that would raise $750 million for Utah students by raising the state income tax; lawmakers, however, are reluctant to raise taxes and are looking for other ways to increase funding for education.
Our Schools Now is pushing an initiative that would put the matter on the ballot in 2018 and is calling for a .008 increase in Utah personal income tax that would provide each Utah school with approximately $1,000 per student.
If the measure passes, each elementary, middle and high school in the state would receive part of the money raised.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Ns (SGN)

 

Utah school board to hear feedback on new transfer rules for high school athletes
Schools » Two-hour hearing set for Thursday for input on new policy.

Opponents of a new transfer policy for high school student-athletes will have another chance to make their case before the Utah Board of Education.
The board announced Tuesday that a hearing will be held Thursday at 5:30 p.m. to receive feedback on the policy, which allows students to switch schools – and school teams – at will if they compete at the subvarsity levels.
Varsity athletes can switch schools freely if they also switch sports, the policy states, and can compete in the same sport if their transfer is motivated by a family relocation, or if death, divorce or bullying necessitate a move to a new school.
Thursday’s meeting is scheduled to last two hours, with 20 minutes alloted to representatives from the Utah High School Activities Association, which requested the hearing, and the remaining time open for public comment.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8MC (SLT)

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

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

 

Canyons District parents, students, educators make case to add school periods – or not

SANDY – Parents packed a Canyons Board of Education meeting Tuesday night to urge the board to permit daily schedules that encourage arts education and other electives in the face of new state course requirements.
Parents, students and educators addressed the school board for more than two hours, some urging the adoption of a seven- and possibly even eight-period school day, up from six periods, to accommodate mandated requirements while maintaining electives, language and arts programs.
Some argued groups convened by the district to attempt to deal with the new requirements and school-level processes were not representative, while others said the process respected the different needs of school communities.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8MF (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8N5 (KSL)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8N6 (KSTU)

Navajo Nation Bus Routes Are Dangerous
Children as young as 3 ride impassable roads, GAO looking for solutions

One good storm in Oljato-Monument Valley, Utah, can cut this small Navajo Nation community off from the outside world.
Here, in the shadow of one of the most iconic landscapes in the world, residents live on dirt roads that can become impassable any time of year. The roads-turned muddy with rain or snow-cut ever deeper into the earth with the combined effects of weather, traffic and maintenance.
For 21 years, Marilyn Benally has noted changes in the roads themselves, but not the surrounding terrain. For 21 years, Benally has driven the same 75-mile bus route through the high desert of San Juan County, Utah, delivering students to nearby schools and learning the roads by heart.
“I know where all the bumps are,” she said. “I know every place where the road is rough. When it’s dry, the roads turn into washboards or sand traps. When there’s snow or rain, it’s muddy. Roads aren’t passable.”
Benally, whose two sisters also drive buses for San Juan School District, has built a career from navigating this network of dirt roads. She has also helped develop a set of unwritten rules.
If the bus gets stuck in snow, ice, sand, mud or standing water, don’t spin the tires, Benally said. Set the brake, call for help and keep the engine running.
And never, under any circumstances, allow students to get off the bus and push.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Nw ([Verona, NY] Indian Country Media Network)

 

No Bears Ears school land exchange expected as deadline approaches

No agreement will be made between the Obama administration and Utah school trust land officials regarding 109,000 acres within the Bears Ears National Monument, according to trust land officials.
Thursday, Jan. 19, marks the deadline President Barack Obama set for the Secretary of the Interior to come up with an agreement with the Utah School and Institutional Trust Land Administration, or SITLA, to trade state trust lands inside the Bears Ears Monument for BLM land outside of the monument. SITLA Deputy Director Kim Christy, however, has said there isn’t enough information at this point to start an exchange strategy.
“It’s just way too premature for us to even start moving in that direction,” Christy said
http://gousoe.uen.org/8N0 (LHJ)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8N8 (KUER)

 

Teaching 4th Graders In An Age Of “Fake News”

“Fake news” is now a household term. Online articles, often circulated through social media, can distort or completely ignore fact-based reporting. Which is exactly what some students at Lindon Elementary are learning.
Fourth grade teacher Audrey Brian is prepping her class of 26 for a unit on informational writing. And she’s choosing a seemingly straightforward activity to start off with.
Mrs. Brian gives the students a link to pull up on the classroom computers. It’s an article about Christopher Columbus.
The students begin reading, “Christopher Columbus was born in 1951 in Sydney, Australia.”
The catch is that most of the facts are wrong. Really wrong. And a few minutes into the activity Mrs. Brian starts to worry.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8N9 (KUER)

 

Park City High Gay-Straight Alliance comes out in full color
Event aims to raise awareness of LGBTQ teen suicide rates

Kevin Boldin knows from personal experience that being an openly gay student at Park City High School is different than being out elsewhere in Utah.
Boldin, a gay junior, has had to deal with things like people talking behind his back, but he said most of his peers at PCHS are open-minded and supportive of who he is. When he leaves the bubble of Park City, however, he understands how difficult life often is for gay students in other parts of the state.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Nr (PR)

 

125 years since Brigham Young Academy opened in Provo


Provo’s Academy Building has had different names, faced much resistance and undergone extensive reconstruction; yet, as this month marks 125 years since its doors first opened, the building continues to serve as “a center for public education and learning in the city,” Dina Blaes wrote in an article featured in Utah Preservation magazine in 2000.
After six years of construction, the instructors first welcomed 1,000 students to Brigham Young Academy on Jan. 4, 1892, making it one of the largest schools in the Rocky Mountains, according to a brief history provided on the Provo City Library website at provolibrary.com/academy-history.
Despite the institution’s predominantly high school-aged demographic, the name changed to Brigham Young University in 1903. Brigham Young High School also formed at this time and was also at the Academy Building.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8MW (DN)

 

Panel of valley health experts discuss adverse childhood experiences

Utah Rep. Ed Redd, R-Logan, has been a physician in the Cache County Jail for 11 years, working with inmates to get to the root of and treat their problems, ranging from drug abuse to mental illness.
“I get emotional; I cry because I talk to so many inmates,” Redd said at a panel discussion at the Utah Theatre on Tuesday night. “I know them on a first-name basis. I ask the same questions over and over, ‘Why do you do this?'” I kept hearing the same stories and thought, ‘There must be something to this.'”
Redd began studying the negative effects of trauma and neglect on a child’s developing brain, reading several scientific publications, like the California-based “Adverse Childhood Experiences” study.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8N1 (LHJ)

 

Parents Urged to Speak to Teens About Suicide

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for Utah teenagers. Experts are urging parents to speak to their kids about suicide and mental health, just like they would school and other topics. This comes as family and friends mourn the death of a Skyline High School Student.
On Tuesday night hundreds gathered at Skyline High School for a candle light vigil to remember 17 year old Andrew Garcia. He took his own life the day before. His grandfather Wayne Voorhes was on hand to grieve with fellow students, but also talked with them about preventing this in the future.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8N3 (KTVX)

BYU releases computer game to help kids learn programming concepts

It’s no coincidence that Brigham Young University released “The Tessera” on Kid Inventors’ Day. The game, which teaches the logic behind coding, aims to inspire a new generation of coders through a storyline where players, with help from the ghosts of some of history’s best minds, defeat the villainous “S.”
“Some of the skills they develop in solving puzzles that are fun are the same skills that can help them succeed in computational careers,” said Derek Hansen, a professor of information technology at BYU in Provo.
Students launched “The Tessera,” a collaborative, alternative reality game for teens, Tuesday afternoon at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi. Information on progressing in the game will be released in real time over the next few months.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Nt (PDH)

Canyons School District students take steps to clean up the air
Remind parents to Turn the Key, Be Idle Free

SANDY, Utah – The inversion is building and the air is taking a turn for the worse. When the air quality gets bad it can be extremely hard on children. That’s why students in the Canyons School District are trying to take a more active role in cleaning up the air they breathe by trying to remind their parents to turn the key and be idle free.
A little less idling can go a long way in cleaning up Utah’s air. Just ask these fifth graders at Altara Elementary School. 11-year-old Bethany Wood said, “Please turn your key be idle free. We’re breathing here, our lungs are still developing.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/8N4 (KTVX)

 

Utah Valley Educator of the Week: Angie Paynter

Angie Paynter is a fifth-grade teacher at Maple Ridge Elementary in Mapleton. She has been chosen by the Nebo School District as the Daily Herald’s Utah Valley Educator of the Week.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8MY (PDH)

 

Utah Valley Student of the Week: Aurora Tolman

Aurora Tolman is a sixth-grade student at Mapleton Elementary in Mapleton. She has been chosen by the Nebo School District as the Daily Herald’s Utah Valley Student of the Week.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8MZ (PDH)

Herbert proclaims Jan. 22-28 as Utah School Choice Week

SALT LAKE CITY – Gov. Gary Herbert has proclaimed Jan. 22-28 as Utah School Choice Week, joining 14 other governors and more than 500 mayors and county leaders with similar proclamations.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8ME (DN)

 

“SIGHTFEST 2017”, hosted by Friends for Sight 2017 in Ogden

OGDEN, Utah – Ogden School District is excited to announce SIGHTFEST 2017! Friends for Sight is coming on January 20 to provide eye exams and glasses to 125 students who otherwise could not afford them. Join Sandy Coroles, OSD superintended, at 1 p.m. to thank Friends for Sight and celebrate this partnership in the Ogden community.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8N7 (KCSG)

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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School turnaround law shows advice isn’t cheap
Salt Lake Tribune editorial

What can outsiders do to help the weakest public schools improve? That question is still to be answered under a Utah law that requires the lowest-performing 3 percent of schools to bring in private consultants to tell them how to get better.
But one thing is already known at this point: The law has been good for the consultants.
In March 2015, the Utah Legislature passed a bill sponsored by Senate President Wayne Niederhauser that allocated $8 million to hire education consultants to train and mentor administrators. Those schools in the bottom 3 percent (as defined by test scores) would have three years to improve enough to jump one letter grade in the state grading system. Those that didn’t improve faced the possibility of closing or conversion to a charter school. The consultants were paid half up front to foster improvement, with the other half coming after three years if the school indeed climbs a letter grade.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8MB

 

Trump Education
Salt Lake Tribune editorial cartoon by Pat Bagley

http://gousoe.uen.org/8MV

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

Education. Need I say more? Despite being the No. 3 issue on Utahns’ minds, it’s typically one of the last to get traction. A group called Our Schools Now is stumping on the legislative preview circuit for an income tax increase to help fund education. But Senate President Wayne Niederhauser and maybe the Legislature in general seem to think this will open the gateway to hell. Studies such as one from Northwestern University underline the importance of small class sizes, but that takes money, too. Rep. Carol Spackman Moss says she’d like to hear the “dozens” of ideas for funding education. Maybe the gas tax, and, oh, if only they could get their hands on federal lands. But for now, the boy wonders of business from Our Schools Now aim at an initiative on the income tax. Well, you know what the Legislature thinks of initiatives. So, round and round we go.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Nu

 

Legislature failing public on education
(Logan) Herald Journal letter from Victoria Grieve

After the recent heavy snowfall, my children’s school quite literally began to fall down around them. Water leaked from the ceiling into light fixtures. Trash cans lined the main hallway to catch steady streams of water. By the next morning, part of the ceiling outside the principal’s office had collapsed in a pile of rubble.
My children’s school does not have even one full-time science teacher. Instead, there is a part-time teacher who “floats” among the fourth and fifth grade classes. The school’s Science Fair is organized and run by a group of mothers, all of whom work full-time at Utah State University. They are not “work at home moms” with the time and flexibility to volunteer during the work day. But without their unpaid labor, the Science Fair wouldn’t happen. And this, with all the emphasis on STEM and a prepared workforce for the 21st century.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8N2

 

Who Is Betsy DeVos?
Wall Street Journal commentary

Center for Education Reform Founder and CEO Jeanne Allen dispels myths about Donald Trump’s Secretary of Education nominee.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8MG (video)

 

War on Betsy DeVos shows the left hates giving educational hope to poor kids
New York Post commentary by columnist Rich Lowry

The controversy over the nomination of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education has been, if nothing else, clarifying. We now know that working to give poor kids more educational opportunities is considered a disqualifying offense for the left.
For decades, DeVos has devoted herself to creating alternatives to a public-school establishment that fails its most vulnerable students, and she earned the eternal enmity of defenders of the status quo in doing it.
The assault against her by the teachers’ unions and their allies speaks to a certain desperation. They have been steadily losing ground in the debate over educational choice at the state and local level, and now DeVos threatens to occupy the commanding heights of federal policy at the Department of Education.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8MP

 

The Betsy DeVos Hearing Was an Insult to Democracy
Who are the real grizzlies?
Esquire commentary by columnist Charles P. Pierce

WASHINGTON, D.C.-It was not a hearing. It was the mere burlesque of a hearing, rendered meaningless by a preposterously accelerated process that rendered all questioning perfunctory and that left all cheap evasions hanging in the air of the committee room the way cigarette smoke used to canopy the proceedings back in the day. You would not hire a gardener through the process by which Betsy DeVos likely is going to become the Secretary of Education. A public school system wouldn’t hire her to work the cafeteria line at lunch. It was appalling. It was unnerving. It was a grotesque of how an evolved democracy should operate. It was business as usual these days and it likely isn’t going to matter a damn.
As nearly as I can tell, the nominees for the president-elect’s Cabinet fall into several different categories. There are the people you’d pretty much expect from any Republican administration. (James Mattis, Stephen Flynn, Ryan Zinke). There are the people who understand the mission of their departments and have spent their lives undermining it. (Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Rick Perry at Energy, Andrew Puzder at Labor). And there are the people who are fundamentally clueless about the general nature of public service. (Rex Tillerson at State.) On Tuesday night, DeVos demonstrated that she is that rarest of Trump administration fauna: Someone who fits capably into all three categories.
She and her family and the Amway gozillions they control have been a bottomless reservoir for the dark money that is the engine behind a dozen different conservative fetish objects, from right-to-work laws, to gutting campaign finance regulations, to injecting splinter Protestantism into every part of the political commons. So she’s pretty much what you’d expect from any Republican administration. She understands the mission of the Department of Education and truly dislikes it. And, as was graphically demonstrated even in the truncated questioning Tuesday night, she doesn’t know enough about education policy to feed to your guppies.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8MN

 

Trump’s Pick for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Was Horribly Embarrassing in Every Way
Not only did she fumble her way through basic questions about our education system, but she thinks guns belong in schools because of…grizzlies.
GQ commentary by columnist Jack Moore

Another day, another Trump Administration cabinet nominee who seems to have been purposely chosen to make sure that there’s no sector of the government that’s run by someone who isn’t a disaster. Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, had her nomination hearing yesterday, and things got pretty heated. Why? Because there seemed to be a little problem with DeVos’s nomination. Namely that she seemed wholly unfit for the job that she’s up for. Don’t you hate when that happens? Let’s go over some highlights. And by “highlights,” I mean you should get “high” before you read the rest of the post, because it will probably be the only thing that will make this less depressing.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8MR

 

How Education Is Failing Rural America
No, low educational attainment isn’t why Trump won
Education Week op-ed by Catharine Biddle, assistant professor of educational leadership at the University of Maine, & Daniella Hall, postdoctoral fellow at the Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy

In the months between the November election and the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, it has become clear to many that something is happening in this country that the media and pollsters missed. The post-mortem media coverage of this election has been about lots of things: racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and political correctness. But this coverage has also delved into the key issues missed in the preceding months: the critical importance of education and rural America.
Demographic data from exit polls indicated the 2016 electorate was fundamentally different from those of the past two decades. Nationwide, rural voters make up less than 20 percent of the electorate. Yet in this election, unusually high numbers of white, working-class rural voters turned out in the Rust Belt and Midwest, upending Hillary Clinton’s perceived “firewall” of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania in favor of Trump.
Much has been made of the low educational attainment of rural Trump supporters. Many even view it as the source of support for Trump. Education, as a result, has been touted as the solution to perceptions of an uninformed citizenry by many who look to public schooling as the great hope of our democracy. From their perspective, education is an opportunity to invite young people to cherish the values and skills that will make a democracy thrive, including an appreciation of diversity, the ability to listen, the vocabulary to articulate one’s own viewpoint, and the confidence to voice one’s opinion.
However, we argue the exit polls from the election implicate education as part of a problem in our divided country. In short, the results demonstrate evidence of a country uninterested in addressing the fundamental co-optation of schooling in rural America in the service of the global economy, rather than in building local capacity and well-being.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Np

 

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Betsy DeVos, Trump’s education pick, lauded as bold reformer, called unfit for job
Washington Post

Democrats attacked Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s education nominee, calling her unfit for the job during a contentious confirmation hearing Tuesday evening, while Republicans defended her as a bold reformer who would disrupt the status quo in U.S. education.
DeVos told skeptical senators that she looked forward to working with them to improve the nation’s schools. But she sidestepped several issues important to Democrats and their allies, declining to take a position on whether guns belong in schools or to commit to upholding the Obama administration’s aggressive approach to handling sexual assault on college campuses, and she called Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (D-Vt.) ideas about free college “interesting.”
A Michigan billionaire, DeVos has lobbied for decades to expand charter schools and taxpayer-funded vouchers for private and religious schools, but she has no professional experience in public schools, never attended public schools or sent her own children to public schools. She also has not held public office.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8ML

http://gousoe.uen.org/8Nq (WSJ)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8MM (NYT)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8MJ (USAT)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8MQ (CSM)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8MO (Politico)

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

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

http://gousoe.uen.org/8Nd (Reuters)

Education Department Ripe for Culture Shift Under Trump
Education Week

A presidential transition always triggers some makeover at federal agencies. But when President-elect Donald Trump’s team takes power this month, the transformation of the U.S. Department of Education could be particularly striking.
The incoming president and his team have promised to change the culture-or “drain the swamp”-in Washington, with serious implications for the federal bureaucracy. And on the campaign trail, Trump pledged to get rid of the Education Department-or at least cut it “way, way down.”
That would be a tough political lift, even with Republicans in control of both houses of Congress. But the sentiment has triggered plenty of anxiety about the kind of resources and attention the department can expect from the new administration.
Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick for education secretary, is a longtime advocate of school choice, including private school vouchers. But DeVos, a prominent GOP donor, doesn’t have a significant record in other areas that fall under the department’s purview, from oversight of special education funding and English-learners to student loans for college.
It’s too early to say just how much will change at the Education Department when Trump takes office at noon on Jan. 20. But conditions are ripe for a culture shift.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Nv

 

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper proposes pot sales tax hike to bridge school funding gap
Cut to senior homestead property tax exemption also part of plan
Denver Post

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Tuesday asked Colorado lawmakers for a 50 percent increase in sales taxes on recreational marijuana starting July 1 to send an additional $42 million to public schools.
The Democrat wants to increase the recreation sales tax on pot to 12 percent effective July 1, the same day the levy is scheduled to fall to 8 percent. The current tax rate is 10 percent.
The move is part of his plan to fill a $135 million shortfall in school funding caused by a constitutional provision that mandates a cut in residential property taxes – a primary source of money for local classrooms.
In addition, Hickenlooper proposed to cut the senior homestead property tax exemption in half, freeing another $68 million for schools. The shift would allow seniors to claim a tax break on the first $100,000 in their home value, rather than the first $200,000 allowed in current law.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8MT

 

New Kansas bathroom bill prompts concern over local school district control
Topeka (KS) Capital-Journal

A proposal to require students to use the restrooms, locker rooms and overnight accommodations connected with their gender at birth violates the spirit of local school district control, lawmakers with ties to education warn.
Not so, argues Rep. John Whitmer, a Wichita Republican who plans to put forward the legislation.
A bill last year, prompted by federal guidance to districts on transgender students, provoked outrage. It ultimately died without passing either the House or Senate.
A new bill, if introduced as Whitmer describes, will represent a scaled-back version stripped of some controversial provisions. The language of the bill isn’t yet available.
At its core, the bill would still require students to use facilities of their gender at birth. But, Whitmer said, the proposal would allow for accommodations for transgender students, such as uni-sex, single-person restrooms.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8MU

Faster Internet, Lower Bandwidth Costs for Schools, Study Shows
Education Week

More than 10 million students gained access to high-speed internet at school over the past year, and the cost of bandwidth for schools continues to fall, according to a new analysis from the broadband-advocacy group EducationSuperHighway.
All told, 88 percent of public school districts now meet minimum internet-connectivity targets established by the Federal Communications Commission. That’s up from just 30 percent of districts as recently as 2013, according to EducationSuperHighway’s 2016 State of the States report.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Nf

A copy of the report
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Ng (EducationSuperHighway)

 

Nebraska encouraged to repeal ban on religious garb in classrooms
Lincoln (NE) Journal Star

A century-old ban on public school teachers wearing religious garb in the classroom is “blatantly unconstitutional” and should be stricken from Nebraska’s lawbooks, various groups say.
The ban dates to 1919 and was originally backed by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist, anti-Catholic groups.
Similar statutes have been repealed in 34 other states. Only Nebraska and Pennsylvania still have bans on the books, and both states are considering measures to eliminate them.
This state’s law makes any violation a criminal misdemeanor offense, and says teachers who violate the law must be suspended for one year the first time, and disqualified from teaching for life the second time.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Nh

 

Motivation of students in special education improves if they use gestures with computers
Phys.org

The motivation for and involvement in learning among students with special educational needs improve through the use of gestural movements of the body rather than devices such as the mouse or the keyboard when they interact with computer programs of a pedagogical nature. This has been confirmed by the French computer scientist Benoît Bossavit in his PhD thesis read at the Public University of Navarre (NUP/UPNA)
Bossavit has tackled the pedagogical potential of Natural User Interfaces (NUI). These natural user interfaces are remote interactions with computing programs or systems based on gestural movements of the body rather than resorting to devices such as a mouse or keyboard. “Most of the works published explore the application of these interfaces with people whose cognitive and motor development is typical and relegates to a second position the study of their possible impact on children with special educational needs,” pointed out Benoît Bossavit.
That is why his thesis has focussed on the hypothesis that these interfaces could also support learning in children with special educational needs. “With this aim in mind I designed two techniques for interacting with Microsoft Kinect, a videogame controller for the Xbox 360 video console and also for computers,” explained Bossavit. “Firstly, an interface known as Body Menu, which associates icons with the body and allows them to be selected by touching the corresponding parts of the body. Secondly, the so-called Crank Handle, which allows virtual 3-D objects to be manipulated with one hand and which is based on the metaphor of rotating handles to orientate these elements. These two techniques were integrated into educational tools whose pedagogical use was assessed in three studies.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Nn

A copy of the study
http://gousoe.uen.org/8No (Association for Computing Machinery $)

 

Teen shoots four, self at American school in northern Mexico
Reuters

MEXICO CITY | A teenage student suffering from depression opened fire at a private American school in northern Mexico on Wednesday, injuring three students and a teacher then shooting himself in what state officials called an unprecedented attack that was caught on security video.
Aldo Fasci, security spokesman for Nuevo Leon state, said the 15-year-old student pulled out a handgun inside a classroom at the bilingual Colegio Americano del Noreste and began shooting, leaving three of the victims and himself gravely injured.
Security camera footage showed the teenager quickly and calmly firing what appeared to be seven shots at seated students and a female teacher, some at point blank range. At least two victims immediately slumped over after being hit.
The shooter, looking dazed, aimed at his own temple and pulled the trigger twice, but he had apparently ran out of bullets. He walked back to where he had been sitting, reloaded, and shot himself in the chin. He keeled over.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Na

 

Pearson plunges as digital switch forces new profit warning
Reuters

LONDON | Education group Pearson lost almost a third of its market value on Wednesday after it ditched profit and dividend forecasts as it struggles to adapt to a digital age that has already upended the music and newspaper industries.
The world’s biggest education company, which traditionally makes most of its profit from textbooks and testing, said it would sell its stake in the Penguin Random House book venture to raise cash and invest in new technologies.
Pearson needs to rebuild its business in North America, its biggest market, where higher education customers are turning to cheaper digital alternatives or rented books, compounding a fall in college enrolment numbers due to an improving economy.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Nb

 

In northern Aleppo, children return to school used as Islamic State prison
Reuters

AL-RAI, SYRIA | Sifting through ripped up textbooks and writing on broken whiteboards, Syrian children returned this week to a dilapidated small-town school that was used by Islamic State militants as a prison for more than two years.
With no chairs or desks, around 250 children huddled in classrooms on mats to stay off the cold concrete at the Aisha Mother of the Believers school in al-Rai, in the northern Aleppo hinterland near the Turkish border.
The students, aged 5-15, were given notebooks and pens on their first day back on Monday by seven volunteers who teach reading, writing and maths and helped get the school habitable again over the past six weeks.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Nc

 

Natural selection is causing a decline in human ‘education genes’, say scientists
Is our species on a downwards spiral?
Science Alert

The genes that predispose people to attain higher levels of education have been in decline over the past 80 years, and researchers are suggesting that they’re now under negative selection, which could have a big impact on our species in the coming centuries.
A study involving more than 100,000 people in Iceland found that those who carry the genes for longer education time were less likely to have a big family, which means the smartest people in the room were actually contributing less to the Icelandic gene pool.
“As a species, we are defined by the power of our brains. Education is the training and refining of our mental capacities,” said Kari Stefansson, CEO of Icelandic genetics firm deCODE, which ran the study.
“Thus, it is fascinating to find that genetic factors linked to more time spent in education are becoming rarer in the gene pool.”
To be clear, this does not necessarily mean that humans are getting dumber – we’re going to need a whole lot more evidence to get anywhere near a conclusion like that.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Ni

A copy of the study
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Nj (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America)

 

Chinese billionaire offers biggest education prize
A Chinese technology billionaire is offering the world’s most valuable education prize.
BBC

The Yidan Prize will award nearly $8m (£6.64m) every year to two research projects that have the potential to “transform” global education.
Charles Chen Yidan, who co-founded China’s internet company, Tencent, wants to use the prize to scale up innovative education research projects and replicate them across the world.
Universities, governments and think tanks have reacted enthusiastically to the prize, and leading US institutions like Harvard and MIT have already submitted several nominations.
But the winner might not necessarily be a household name in education. Even a local project could win the prize, if it can prove it has been effective.
“As long as an idea is replicable in other regions, we can give them an award,” says Mr Chen.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Nl

Nomination form
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Nm (YidanPrize.org)

 

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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 19:
Utah State Board of Education public hearing
5:30 p.m., 250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://gousoe.uen.org/8MD

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

January 24:
Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
8 a.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2017&com=APPPED

January 26:
Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
8 a.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2017&com=APPPED

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

Executive Appropriations Committee meeting
5 p.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2017&com=APPEXE

January 30:
Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
8 a.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2017&com=APPPED

February 1:
Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
8 a.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2017&com=APPPED

February 3:
Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
8 a.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2017&com=APPPED

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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