Education News Roundup: Feb. 2, 2017

Today’s Top Picks:

Poll finds Utahns split on an earlier start time for schools.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8WP (SLT)

The Betsy DeVos vote is delayed until Monday. It’s looking like she may be their first cabinet nominee in history to have her vote decided by the Vice President with the Senate evenly split.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8WJ (Politico)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8WL (NYT)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8WM (WSJ)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xk (CSM)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xl (Roll Call)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xd (AP)

Republicans in Congress are lining up school choice bills.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xi (Ed Week)

State superintendents take a look at education equity across the country.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xg (Ed Week)
or a copy of the report
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xh (CCSSO)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Despite fast track on election bill, fight over SB54 may not be over

Lawmakers rushing Bears Ears resolution because they expect Trump to undo monument

Utah Senators say House railroading of public lands bill means they have to deal with a ‘circus’

Bill calls for new state park at Hole in the Rock

Cameras could help catch motorists who ignore school bus stop signs

Bill would allow those 18-20 to get concealed carry permits

Business leaders say lawmakers must fund schools or it will go to public ballot

Area districts could receive millions from Our Schools Now proposal

Poll: Utahns split on later school start times
Health benefits of added sleep spur proposal for starting high school classes at 8:30 a.m., but poll shows many are not convinced.

Talent Ready Utah: Connecting business with education

S-E readers share thoughts on Betsy DeVos as possible secretary of education

AP classes not beneficial to all students, according to UVU research

Fighting like a girl: Layton teen files federal lawsuit to join junior high wrestling team

City of Ogden demolishes vacant Dee Elementary School

Lehi residents protest construction of Utah Military Academy

School district promotes mental health resources

Vanished Scooter has Surprise Ending
Motorized Wheelchair of former conjoined twin disappears from Seminary School

Ogden woman admits stealing funds from preschool program

Ex-Utah teacher who sexually abused three students denied parole

James Madison’s Fifth Grade gets “Real World” in Junior Achievement of Utah’s Biz Town

WSU to host robotics championship Feb. 11

Entrepreneur Challenge gives high schoolers chance to win $30K

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Utah GOP official loses charter school contract after allegedly getting insider information

Like a Sad Country Song

Betsy DeVos has a rural problem
Education nominee is losing Senate support over a reform agenda that won’t help areas Trump won.

Needless and Harmful Delay
Stalling Obama-era education regulations will just mess with schools and students.

‘Everyone Is Welcome Here’
This Week in Hate

NATION

DeVos nomination stands at 50-50
It could come down to Vice President Mike Pence, in what would be a history-making confirmation vote.

Betsy DeVos Tells State Chiefs Group: ‘States Are in the Driver’s Seat’ on ESSA

Betsy DeVos Used Cherry-Picked Graduation Rates for Cyber Charters

Nevada’s ‘Super Voucher’ Failed to Save Poor Students
The Silver State’s school-choice program provided a useful template for what a school landscape could look like under Education Secretary-nominee Betsy DeVos.

Republicans Are Moving Quickly to Introduce School Choice Bills

See How States Plan to Approach Equity

Long-running Texas Evolution Debate Has Big Classroom Impact

California’s teacher pension fund lowers its investment predictions, sending a bigger invoice to state lawmakers

 

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UTAH NEWS
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Despite fast track on election bill, fight over SB54 may not be over

Rarely has the Utah Legislature moved so quickly on solving major issues than the GOP majority is these first two weeks of the 2017 session.
The Senate will take up the Bears Ears National Monument rescission and downsizing the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument resolutions Thursday. You can read about those fast-track items here.
Meanwhile, the Senate moves forward on Sen. Curt Bramble’s “final solution” on the SB54/Count My Vote battle, which has divided the Utah Republican Party and been before the courts for two years.
The rush is on to finalize that issue in the House before Saturday’s meeting of the state GOP’s Central Committee.
Wednesday, House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, told UtahPolicy that, for now, he supports the Bramble bill, SB114.
That bill would set up a special runoff election process should a multi-candidate party primary election not result in a clear, majority-vote winner.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8WG (UP)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8WI (SLT)

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

 

Lawmakers rushing Bears Ears resolution because they expect Trump to undo monument

UtahPolicy.com has learned House Republicans are rushing to pass a resolution asking President Trump to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument by Friday because they think Trump could possibly do that as early as next week.
House Speaker Greg Hughes has made it known he wants HCR11 passed by the full Legislature and sent to Gov. Gary Herbert’s desk by Friday of this week. Hughes’ resolution calls on Trump to reverse the 1.35 million acre national monument established by President Barack Obama in the final days of his presidency. Passing the non-binding resolution so quickly would be a good way to demonstrate to the Trump administration support from Utah’s Capitol Hill.
According to legislative rules, a resolution becomes effective immediately when it receives final approval from the House, Senate, and Governor.
Hughes acknowledged to UtahPolicy.com the plan is to send the resolution to the governor’s desk by Friday. However, he played coy when asked why he was putting such a hurry on the process.
“We may have a great opportunity here,” said Hughes with a grin. “We want to be prepared for whatever opportunity arises on this issue. We are going to do all we can.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/8WF (UP)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8X1 (SGS)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8X5 (KTVX)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8X9 (KSTU)

 

Utah Senators say House railroading of public lands bill means they have to deal with a ‘circus’

Members of the Utah Senate Rules Committee had some harsh words for the way their House colleagues rammed through a pair of resolutions dealing with the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
To replay, House Republicans tried to pull a fast one last week, allowing the House Rules Committee to act as a standing committee to hear both HCR11 and HCR12. House Democrats cried foul, saying the Republicans violated their rules by not sending the bill to a regular standing committee. That’s true, but House Republicans suspended the rules and passed the resolutions to the Senate.
The resolutions ask President Trump to take action on both the newly created Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument. HCR11 asks Trump to rescind Bears Ears, while HCR12 wants Trump to reduce the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante.
Some members of the Senate are none too happy with the way the House handled things.
“I’m befuddled,” said Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross. “I favor the bill, but because of the way the House handled this, it lands on our heads.”
Weiler and other Senators vented about the shenanigans pulled by the House earlier this week during the Senate Rules Committee meeting on Wednesday where they assigned HCR11 to a hearing in the Senate Natural Resources Committee on Thursday afternoon.
Weiler worried the sketchy process the House used to move the legislation forward would cause significant problems during that hearing on Thursday.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8WH (UP)

 

Bill calls for new state park at Hole in the Rock

SALT LAKE CITY – A monument to the last covered wagon expedition in United States history could become a state park under Utah lawmakers’ proposal.
HB63, co-sponsored by Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, would authorize the Bureau of Land Management and the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation to acquire the Hole in the Rock area in Garfield County on the western rim of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and create a new state park.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8WK (DN)

Cameras could help catch motorists who ignore school bus stop signs

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah lawmakers are considering a bill that would use cameras to help crack down on drivers who ignore stop signs on school buses.
They say an alarming number of drivers ignore the stop arm and keep driving, even as kids get off the bus. It’s difficult for bus drivers to write down the license plate number to give to police. But with this new bill, cameras would do the work.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xy (KSL)

 

Bill would allow those 18-20 to get concealed carry permits

SALT LAKE CITY- A Utah lawmaker wants to lower the minimum age to obtain a concealed carry permit to 18, down from 21 years old.
Republican Rep. Karianne Lisonbee of Clearfield, the sponsor of the bill, said this week that she wants to ensure that younger college students can carry if they choose to protect themselves from sexual assaults on campus.
“This is the equalizer for those young women who may get attacked,” Lisonbee said. “They need to have that right.”

Lisonbee’s bill would allow those age 18 to 20 to get a provisional concealed weapons permit if they pass a background check and complete a firearms training course or prove other familiarity with firearms, such as having military experience. The permit would expire when they turn 21 and would not allow them to carry a gun in K-12 schools, something Utah allows for teachers and administrators with concealed permits.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xw (Associated Press via San Francisco Chronicle)

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

 

Business leaders say lawmakers must fund schools or it will go to public ballot

In theory, it could be a big year for school funding at the Utah State Legislature. A group of powerful businessmen said unless lawmakers raise funding for schools, they will gather signatures and force a vote of the people.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8X2 (KUTV, video)

Area districts could receive millions from Our Schools Now proposal

Should the business-led Our Schools Now initiative succeed, area school districts could receive millions of dollars.
Former Utah House Speaker Nolan Karras is a member of the Our Schools Now Executive Committee. Although he would prefer lawmakers make a path to fund education, he is preparing to take the proposal to the people of Utah on the ballot in 2018.
“It’s too early in the session to know whether they’ll coalesce around something,” Karras said. “We’re hopeful, but we’re not counting on it.”
The proposal would increase the state’s income tax rate from 5 percent to 5.875 percent and generate about $750 million in public education funding in the first year alone.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8WY (OSE)

 

Poll: Utahns split on later school start times
Health benefits of added sleep spur proposal for starting high school classes at 8:30 a.m., but poll shows many are not convinced.

Throughout her career as a public school teacher, state Rep. Carol Spackman Moss said the first period of the day was always the hardest.
“I didn’t have problems with behavior,” the Holladay Democrat said. “I had problems because kids were falling asleep.”
Moss is sponsoring a resolution in this year’s Utah Legislature, encouraging the state’s high schools to make classes start later in the day. The measure highlights the health benefits of additional sleep for children, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations identifying 8:30 a.m. or later as the optimal start time for schools.
The practical reality, Moss said, is that too many schools are ringing their morning bells too early. “They’d be surprised how much better even 30 minutes would make,” she said.
But a new Salt Lake Tribune/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll shows Utahns are divided on the idea of later school days.
Among the 605 registered voters who participated in the survey, 41 percent agreed that schools should start later, while 49 percent disagreed, and 10 percent said they did not know.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8WP (SLT)

 

Talent Ready Utah: Connecting business with education

During his State of the State address last week, Gov. Gary Herbert announced a “major collaboration called Talent Ready Utah” to “expand career opportunities statewide by increasing the number of business and education partnerships.”
The push is aimed at connecting business with education to better prepare Utah’s workforce for the nation’s strongest economy.
“Over the next four years – for pathway-like programs alone – Talent Ready Utah will recruit hundreds of businesses across Utah to partner with and invest in local education,” said Gov. Herbert. “And we anticipate that Talent Ready Utah will help fill 40,000 new high-skill, high-paying jobs over the next four years.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xq (UP, video)

 

S-E readers share thoughts on Betsy DeVos as possible secretary of education

After a Senate panel voted in favor of her appointment Tuesday, Betsy DeVos is on track to become the next U.S. Secretary of Education.
But what does this mean for the future of education in Utah?
The Salt Lake Tribune reported about 100 people gathered in downtown Salt Lake City Monday to protest the nomination of DeVos, citing her lack of public education experience.
Some on social media have been critical of a confirmation hearing where DeVos cited the threat of grizzly bears in response to a question about guns in schools. DeVos has also been accused of plagiarizing answers submitted to Senate committee questions this week, CNN reported.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8WZ (OSE)

 

AP classes not beneficial to all students, according to UVU research

It’s something every teacher knows – if the material is going to be on the test, the students are probably going to be more invested in mastering it.
So it wasn’t too surprising to Russell Warne, an assistant professor of psychology at Utah Valley University in Orem, when he found that simply enrolling in an Advanced Placement class wasn’t beneficial to all students.
“It seems to be preparing for the test and taking it is what causes those kids to learn more,” Warne said.
Warne researches advanced academics and has turned his attention to the Advanced Placement, or AP, program. In AP classes, students take a test at the end of the school year for a chance to pass and get college credit.
“I thought being exposed to advanced content, by enrolling in the class, would at least help a little bit,” he said.
For years, the majority of research on the AP program came from the College Board, which sponsors the program. While Warne said that research is high quality due to a larger access to samples, it does present a conflict of interest.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8X0 (PDH)

 

Fighting like a girl: Layton teen files federal lawsuit to join junior high wrestling team

SALT LAKE CITY – A federal judge will decide Thursday whether a ninth-grade girl should be allowed to wrestle on her junior high’s team while her case alleging gender discrimination is heard in court.
At age 15, Kathleen Janis is suing the Davis School District for not allowing her to practice and compete with the wrestling team at Central Davis Junior High because she’s a girl.
Instead, she is told that if she wants to participate in the district she must do so with the Layton High team, while her male classmates can decide for themselves whether they’re ready to train and compete with the older group.
The boys, her attorney argued in court Wednesday, have a choice. Kathleen doesn’t.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8WW (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8X3 (KTVX)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8X6 (KSL)

City of Ogden demolishes vacant Dee Elementary School

OGDEN – A pile of rubble now sits where Ogden’s Dee Elementary School stood for 46 years.
The school has been vacant at 550 22nd St. since the summer of 2016 when the Ogden School District built and opened New Bridge Elementary School.
The school district sold the building to the City of Ogden in February 2016 for $595,714, according to Standard-Examiner archives.
“It’s important to remember our history and to be nostalgic, but it’s also important to understand we have to provide the very best for our kids so unfortunately we have to let go of some things in the past so we can provide new and better opportunities,” Ogden School District spokesman Jer Bates said.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8WX (OSE)

Lehi residents protest construction of Utah Military Academy

LEHI, UTAH — A group of Lehi residents is protesting a new school being built in their neighborhood Tuesday.
According to the group, the Utah Military Academy never got approval from the city for a new campus, and once complete, it’s going to cause a number of safety concerns.
“We support the mission of our veterans and our military, it is not the issue of the school it’s 110 percent the site location,” said resident Mathew Vierig.
The charter school broke ground last week on a five-acre lot on the corner of Center Street and Pioneer Crossing. The plan is to funnel up to 600 students, in cars, through the residential neighborhood, known as Lehi Ranches, on a daily basis.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8X8 (KSTU)

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

School district promotes mental health resources

If you’re a student or a parent and you’re dealing with grief or depression, Grand County School District officials want you to know that someone is always available to help you.
School officials are working closely with mental health counselors to raise awareness about the wide range of resources that are available to local residents, as the community mourns the loss of Grand County Middle School student Lily McClish, who died last week by suicide.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xp (Moab Sun News)

Vanished Scooter has Surprise Ending
Motorized Wheelchair of former conjoined twin disappears from Seminary School

BOUNTIFUL, UT — A junior high school student thought her motorized wheel chair had been stolen.
But while ABC4 interviews the mother, who is desperately searching for the scooter, finds an outcome no one expected.
While the mother is being interviewed someone from the seminary school in Bountiful says they may know where this scooter is, a scooter that means a lot to this family.
Erin Herrin, Mother, “it means independence. It means they can just jump on it and go wherever they want, when they need to, anytime they want to and it means they can get a proper education without being exhausted going from class to class.”
Erin Herrin is mother to 14-year-old Kendra and Malia. You may remember the conjoined twins who were separated at 4-years-old. The twins were even featured on Oprah.
They each have one leg to stand on and recently they each got a motorized wheelchair. The scooters help them get around South Davis Junior High School in Bountiful and get to seminary school located next door.
Kendra’s scooter is parked outside the doors of the seminary school everyday, but on Monday ,it went disappeared.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8X4 (KTVX)

 

Ogden woman admits stealing funds from preschool program

OGDEN – A past president of the Northern Utah Autism Program has admitted to stealing from the organization.
Rebecca Irene Campos, 31, pleaded guilty Jan. 26 to a reduced charge of theft, a third-degree felony, as part of a plea deal. She was originally charged with a second-degree felony. She faces a potential sentence of up to five years in prison when she is sentenced March 23.
Campos told police she initially took $5,000 from the program, then “quit counting the funds she was using after that,” according to charges filed in 2nd District Court.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8WV (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/8X7 (KSL)

 

Ex-Utah teacher who sexually abused three students denied parole

A former Utah teacher convicted of having sexual relationships with three male high school students will remain behind bars, a parole board said Wednesday.
Brianne Altice will remain in prison for at least two more years and must attend sex offender treatment before a rehearing in April 2019, the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole said.
The decision comes after the 37-year-old appeared at her first parole hearing last week.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xt (New York Daily News)

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

http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xv ([London] Daily Star)

 

James Madison’s Fifth Grade gets “Real World” in Junior Achievement of Utah’s Biz Town

ODGEN, Utah – More than 70 James Madison Elementary 5th grade students attended the Junior Achievement of Utah’s Biz Town at Discovery Gateway in Salt Lake City. Biz Town is a fully interactive, simulated town where students participate in running a business in a thriving economy.
This is the third year James Madison has partnered with JA of Utah to bring the program to their students, and Sarah Della Cerra, JM 5th grade teacher, said it is a great way for students to connect classroom lessons in math, personal finance, social studies and economics with the real world and being an adult. “By allowing them to see what it’s like to be an adult and run a company, plus the importance of tracking their own finances, it can be a motivator for these children to strive, make goals to have a career and realize the need to attend college or a technical/certification program,” she said.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xa (KCSG)

 

WSU to host robotics championship Feb. 11

OGDEN – More than 700 students will put their engineering skills to the test during the FIRST Day robotics competitions at Weber State University on Saturday, Feb. 11, from 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the Swenson Gym and Shepherd Union.
During the competition, teams will battle robots they have designed, programmed and built. Winners of the state competitions will secure a spot at the national championships in Washington and Texas.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8WT (DN)

 

Entrepreneur Challenge gives high schoolers chance to win $30K

SALT LAKE CITY – Registration for the 2017 High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge has opened, the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute at the University of Utah announced.
Utah students ages 14-18 can compete for a chance to win $30,000 in cash and scholarships. The competition is sponsored by Zions Bank.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8WU (DN)

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Utah GOP official loses charter school contract after allegedly getting insider information
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist PAUL ROLLY

Some present and former state legislators or their relatives have earned a substantial part of their incomes through charter schools, either by building the facilities, financing them or providing administrative services.
That can lead to apparent conflicts and challenge school boards and legislators to ensure money for charters is spent appropriately.
So a state school board contract previously awarded to Utah County Republican Chairman Craig Frank and his wife, Kim, has been canceled over concerns they may have received inside information.
The contract was for regional charter school training services funded by a $200,000 annual grant the Utah Legislature approved in 2015.
The Franks, through their Utah Charter Network (UCN), beat out the Utah Association of Public Charter Schools (UAPCS) with a bid that was substantially lower – $24.30 an hour vs. more than $200 an hour.
Craig Frank said UCN’s offer included labor, supplies and overhead, but the hours for each seminar were calculated counting preparation and travel time. A four-hour seminar, then, could be charged for 20 hours. He said he submitted his bid based on instructions from the state Division of Purchasing.
But after UCN won the contract in summer 2016, a board investigation turned up communication between the State Charter School Board staff and UCN before the request for proposals went out to bid.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8WO

Like a Sad Country Song
Salt Lake Tribune editorial cartoon by Pat Bagley

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

 

Betsy DeVos has a rural problem
Education nominee is losing Senate support over a reform agenda that won’t help areas Trump won.
USA Today op-ed by Max Marchitello, senior policy analyst at Bellwether Education Partners

In no small part, rural America propelled President Trump to victory last November. Broadly speaking, the more rural the state, the larger his margin of victory. So it is puzzling that he would nominate a U.S. secretary of Education whose policy priorities offer little to people living in rural areas.
Trump’s nominee, Betsy DeVos, is a billionaire philanthropist and advocate who has focused intensely on letting parents use public funds to send their children to the traditional, charter or private school of their choice. That background now is threatening her confirmation. Several senators who intend to oppose her, including Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have specifically cited worries about rural areas.
While many in education policy can (and do) debate the merits of school choice in urban settings, its benefits to rural communities are much less clear. A school reform program predicated on choice cannot work for the vast majority of rural communities because most rural school districts are too small to afford more than one school at a given grade span. In fact, many rural districts are more concerned about keeping the school they have than about adding a new school.
Simply put, most rural districts lack the enrollment and finances to support multiple schools.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xc

 

Needless and Harmful Delay
Stalling Obama-era education regulations will just mess with schools and students.
U.S. News & World Report op-ed by Laura Jimenez, director of standards and accountability in the K-12 education program at the Center for American Progress

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Education officially delayed the Obama administration’s accountability regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act, the main K-12 federal education law. While this decision might seem like a normal pause during the transition to a new administration, it could in fact significantly derail implementation of the law.
Since the regulations were finalized last November, states have been developing next-generation accountability systems to better support the holistic needs of all students. The regulations provide much-needed clarification to the law’s somewhat confusing requirements about how states are to measure and improve school performance, and by when. Without this guidance, states could be hasty in the development of their systems, not sufficiently thoughtful in how to meet the needs of all students, and may provide confusing information about school performance and quality to parents.
In particular, the regulations give states more time to identify schools for support and improvement, and provide guidance on how to measure school performance using multiple measures of learning. Without these regulations, states will be paralyzed by uncertainty and divert time and resources to reworking plans rather than improving schools for kids.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xs

 

‘Everyone Is Welcome Here’
This Week in Hate
New York Times commentary by columnist ANNA NORTH

Farhiyo Hassan was watching TV coverage of President Trump’s ban on immigration from seven majority¬≠Muslim countries last Friday when she heard that four students at her high school had been victims of a hate crime.
The ninth graders, who are black, were walking to a bus stop when they encountered a white teenager who allegedly made a racist remark, attacked two of the students and threatened them with a knife. Police are investigating the incident.
Ms. Hassan, who is Muslim, was heartbroken over the ban, and news of an attack on fellow students at Casco Bay High School in Portland, Me., made her feel even worse. But as a student representative on the local school board, she knew it was her responsibility “to not really break but to try to comfort other people.”
On Monday, she helped organize a march to support the ninth graders. Over half the school’s nearly 400 students joined with teachers, the district superintendent and even the mayor to march from the school to the bus stop.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8WN

 

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NATIONAL NEWS
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DeVos nomination stands at 50-50
It could come down to Vice President Mike Pence, in what would be a history-making confirmation vote.
Politico

Betsy DeVos has no votes to spare heading into a looming confirmation vote next week.
Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski said Wednesday they will vote against the Education Department nominee. That could very well mean a 50-50 standoff on the Senate floor – and Vice President Mike Pence being called in to put DeVos over the top. Republicans have a 52-48 majority, and no Democrats are expected to support the prospective education chief.
Senior leadership aides are confident DeVos will prevail in a likely floor vote Monday. After Collins and Murkowski announced their opposition Wednesday, a wave of undecided GOP senators broke DeVos’ way.
“Due to her commitment to improve our nation’s school system for all students and her focus on increasing parental engagement, I am supporting Betsy DeVos as our nation’s next secretary of education,” Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who was seen as the final potential swing vote, said late Wednesday afternoon. “I believe Betsy DeVos is the right choice for this position.”
If Pence is enlisted to break a tie, it would be the first time a vice president ensured the confirmation of a Cabinet nominee.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8WJ

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

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

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

http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xl (Roll Call)

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

 

Betsy DeVos Tells State Chiefs Group: ‘States Are in the Driver’s Seat’ on ESSA
Education Week

President Donald Trump’s nominee for education secretary understands states’ desire for stability as they head into the Every Students Succeeds Act era, according to the executive director of the Council of the Chief State School Officers.
CCSSO leader Chris Minnich also said that after having a conversation with Betsy DeVos on Tuesday, he had the impression that she understood states’ desire to take the lead in decisions about school choice, but did not spell out how she planned to approach school choice as it relates to states.
“We do want flexibility in the states to customize [school choice]. She clearly said to me that the states need to be in control of a lot of these decisions,” Minnich said in a Wednesday interview. “She was a very intensive listener during this part of the conversation. I feel like I got my point across.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xf

 

Betsy DeVos Used Cherry-Picked Graduation Rates for Cyber Charters
Education Week

In her written response to questions from a key Democratic senator, Education Secretary-nominee Betsy DeVos defended full-time online charter schools using graduation rates significantly higher than those used for state and federal accountability purposes. The figures and language cited by DeVos directly mirror those used in a report from K12 Inc., the country’s largest for-profit operator of cyber charter schools, in which DeVos is a former investor.
According to the Ohio education department, for example, the Ohio Virtual Academy has a four-year graduation rate of 53 percent, good for an “F” on the state’s accountability system.
DeVos put the figure at 92 percent.
The billionaire school-choice advocate did not cite a source. But that figure, and others she used in her letter to Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., are the same as those included in a report of academic progress issued by K12 Inc. in 2016 (See page 158). The K12 report makes clear that the figures listed are not calculated in accordance with federal and state regulations. K12’s figures are instead calculated using only those students who remained enrolled in their schools continuously from 9th through 12th grade, thus excluding dropouts and transfers.

In written questions, Murray, who is the ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, asked whether it is appropriate to advocate for the schools, despite their poor results.
DeVos responded:
“High quality virtual charter schools provide valuable options to families, particularly those who live in rural areas where brick-and-mortar schools might not have the capacity to provide the range of courses or other educational experiences for students. Because of this, we must be careful not to brand an entire category of schools as failing students.”
She then cited a number of schools and what she described as their graduation rates, which differ markedly from the figures used by each school’s state for accountability purposes:
The Idaho Virtual Academy has a 90 percent graduation rate, DeVos said. The school’s most recent publicly reported figure for state accountability purposes is 33 percent.
The Nevada Virtual Academy has a 100 percent graduation rate, DeVos said. The school’s most recent publicly reported figure for state accountability purposes is 67 percent.
The Ohio Virtual Academy has a 92 percent graduation rate, DeVos said. The school’s most recent publicly reported figure for state accountability purposes is 53 percent.
The Oklahoma Virtual Academy has a 91 percent graduation rate, DeVos said. The school’s most recent publicly reported figure for state accountability purposes is 40 percent.
The Utah Virtual Academy has a 96 percent graduation rate, DeVos said. The school’s most recent publicly reported figure for state accountability purposes is 42 percent.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xr

 

Nevada’s ‘Super Voucher’ Failed to Save Poor Students
The Silver State’s school-choice program provided a useful template for what a school landscape could look like under Education Secretary-nominee Betsy DeVos.
Atlantic

In a low-key interview in 2015, the Education Secretary-nominee and billionaire school-choice advocate Betsy DeVos laid out the game plan for the movement going forward.
It was a familiar playbook-charter schools, online schools, and blended learning-to which DeVos added something of her own: DeVos supports all of those things, she said, plus “any combination, or any kind of choice that hasn’t yet been thought of.” While DeVos has since said that she wouldn’t push for a federal voucher mandate, the case of Nevada’s universal voucher could provide a blueprint for states to do it anyway.
When it was passed in 2015, the Nevada law establishing education savings accounts-a new form of voucher that places the money into a savings account-cracked a longstanding code that no other state had been able to touch. While the first wave of vouchers passed by states came with requirements to keep the money in the hands of families most affected by underperforming schools, voucher proponents saw an opportunity in Nevada to go even further.
State Republicans wrote the bill shoulder-to-shoulder with school-choice lobbyists and with the intention of creating the first “universal” voucher available to anyone regardless of income. Far from the labyrinthine requirements of programs in other states, the “Super Voucher,” as it has been dubbed by local public-school advocates, is so expansive that families qualify for up to $5,700 in state dollars simply if their child attended a public school for 100 days prior to applying.
More importantly, the voucher was baked into the existing budget for public education, allowing parents to take money the state would otherwise spend on schools and use it on things like private-school tuition, tutoring, and even homeschooling. It was the closest any state had come to the universal voucher originally envisioned by the economist Milton Friedman, who saw unfettered choice as the only hope to ensure poor families had access to good schools.
But data from Nevada, consistently ranked at the bottom in the nation for student achievement, quickly showed that a vast majority of applicants were not from low-income areas, but the wealthiest neighborhoods in Reno and Las Vegas. In fact, applicants came disproportionately from neighborhoods that already had access to the highest-performing public schools.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xm

 

Republicans Are Moving Quickly to Introduce School Choice Bills
Education Week

It’s unclear whether President Donald Trump’s $20 billion federal voucher plan will get a lot of traction in Congress, or what form it might ultimately take. But don’t mistake that for a lack of overall enthusiasm among GOP lawmakers for expanding school choice during the Trump administration.
Let’s start with a bill that hasn’t yet been introduced but could be on the way. At a National School Choice Week event last week, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said that Trump’s plan was an endorsement of a bill he and Rep. Luke Messer, R-Ind., previously introduced called the Scholarships for Kids Act. Introduced in 2014, that bill would convert $24 billion in federal aid into $2,100 scholarships for 11 million students from low-income backgrounds.
“I hope the president will support that,” Alexander said, noting that his legislation got the endorsement of 45 senators. “With his support, perhaps it can get more [votes].”
That could be difficult, however, given that in last November’s elections, Democrats (who are normally strongly opposed to vouchers at the federal level) picked up two seats in the Senate. The Senate voted down Alexander’s proposal in 2015 by a vote of 52 against and 45 in favor.
Asked if he would bring the legislation up again this year before the Senate education committee, Alexander responded, “Sure.” As of early Thursday, we hadn’t seen Alexander or Messer reintroduce that bill.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xi

 

See How States Plan to Approach Equity
Education Week

How can state chiefs take the lead on improving equity for all students? The Council of Chief State School Officers and the Aspen Institute Education & Society Program released a list of recommendations Thursday-included in a report called “Leading for Equity: Opportunities for State Education Chiefs”-to address that question.
The recommendations-which include tangible ideas like collecting better data on student outcomes, improving access to early childhood education, and seeking to reorganize and diversify state education agencies-come at a time when a lot is changing in K-12 education.
The nation’s public schools now serve more students who are considered “minorities” than white students, and the majority of public school kids are from families living in poverty. At the same time, states and school districts are poised to get far more control over accountability, testing, school turnarounds, and more, thanks in large part to the Every Student Succeeds Act. Some advocates are deeply worried that the federal government may also take a step back when it comes to civil rights enforcement.
The recommendations are the culmination of months of work by state chiefs, district leaders, civil rights advocates, and others. They outline 10 areas state leaders can focus on to champion equity, including more specific steps within each of those buckets. State leaders may not decide to push on all 10 of these areas at once-instead they may decide to pick two or three to focus on initially.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xg

A copy of the report
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xh (CCSSO)

 

Long-running Texas Evolution Debate Has Big Classroom Impact
Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Board of Education on Wednesday voted preliminarily to ease – but not completely eliminate – state high school science curriculum requirements that experts argue cast doubt on the theory of evolution.
How evolution is taught in America’s second-largest state has been a point of contention for years, and the issue isn’t yet settled. The board will vote again Friday before a final decision in April and could further tweak curriculums either time. Here are answers to key questions on Texas’s science curriculum:
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xe

 

California’s teacher pension fund lowers its investment predictions, sending a bigger invoice to state lawmakers
Los Angeles Times

Leaders of California’s pension fund for teachers lowered their official investment expectations on Wednesday, a shift that will raise costs for both state taxpayers and many teachers.
Directors of the California State Teachers Retirement Fund, CalSTRS, took action to cut the investment assumption by half a percentage point by the summer of 2018. The decision follows a similar move by the state’s largest pension fund, CalPERS, to lower its investment projection last December .
Board members, faced with a widening gap between investment returns and expectations, said they took action to lessen the likelihood that existing retirement promises made to teachers won’t be kept.
“I fear that waiting may put us, the fund, in a more precarious situation,” board member Joy Higa said during a public meeting in San Diego.
CalSTRS had previously assumed a 7.5% rate of return on its $196-billion portfolio. That rate will now be cut in two stages – first to 7.25%, then to a more conservative 7% assumption in 2018.
http://gousoe.uen.org/8Xj

 

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

USBE Legislative Tracking Sheet
http://www.schools.utah.gov/law/Legislative-Session.aspx

UEN News
http://www.uen.org

February 2:

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

Senate Education Committee meeting
2 p.m., 210 Senate Building
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?Year=2017&Com=SSTEDU

House Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee meeting
2 p.m., 20 House Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/HEDW0202.ag.htm

House Revenue and Taxation Committee meeting
2 p.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/HREV0202.ag.htm

Senate Business and Labor Committee meeting
2 p.m., 215 Senate Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/SBUS0202.ag.htm

House Education Committee meeting
4 p.m., 30 House Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/HEDU0202.ag.htm

House Business and Labor Committee meeting
4 p.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/HBUS0202.ag.htm

House Health and Human Services Committee meeting
4 p.m., 20 House Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/HHHS0202.ag.htm

Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee meeting
4:16 p.m., 210 Senate Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/SNAE0202.ag.htm

Executive Appropriations Committee meeting
6:10 p.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/Interim/2017/html/00000964.htm

February 3:

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
8 a.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/Interim/2017/html/00000977.htm

Executive Appropriations Committee meeting
12:20 p.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/Interim/2017/html/00000965.htm

Senate Education Committee meeting
4 p.m., 210 Senate Building
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?Year=2017&Com=SSTEDU

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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