Education News Roundup: Feb. 17, 2017

"Taxes" by Tax Credits/CC/flickr

“Taxes” by Tax Credits/CC/flickr

Today’s Top Picks:

Gov. Herbert says it’s unlikely there will be a tax overhaul this year.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98G (KUER)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/98O (UPR)
or the full news conference
http://gousoe.uen.org/98H (Facebook)

But legislative leaders aren’t so sure there won’t be.
http://gousoe.uen.org/989 (UP)

Replacement school grading bill advances.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98g (DN)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/98P (SLT)

State Board/Charter Board authority bill also advances.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98d (SLT)

Secretary DeVos points to Florida as a school choice model for the nation.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98i (Ed Week)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Exclusive: Legislative leaders planning to tackle tax reform this year

Letter grades for schools? ‘Assessment/Accountability 2.0’ bill advances

State School Board would lose ability to reject new charters under bill OK’d by committee

Bill authorizing state auditor to freeze funds rushes through Legislature
Last-minute amendment comes as investigation into League of Cities trust is underway

State earned income tax credit again proposed for working poor
New formula » After earlier failed attempts, supporters say tweaked version is affordable for state.

Senate committee supports lesser penalties for school truancy

Gov. Herbert Says More Ed Funding Needed, But Tax Overhaul Unlikely

Monson: we badly need an education department

Ogden School District experiences Day Without Immigrants

Questions and answers about schools and traffic pollution
Why nearness is a problem, what schools can do and how parents have led the way

George Washington High works to improve numbers, serve students

Basketball Helps Save Ben Lomond’s Ben Mendoza From the Streets

Student ‘Share the Air’ artwork makes it to CVTD paratransit bus

Classmates commemorate 2 after fatal crash near West High
Investigation » Police are asking witnesses to the incident to come forward.

Mumps outbreak reported in Salt Lake County
Health » Tests pending on four other possible infections; parents are encouraged to check vaccinations.

Orem girl accidentally pricks finger on used syringe found on playground

Woman uses puppets to help kids build healthy teeth

Inside our schools

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Time to end Utah’s school grading system

Thumbs up, thumbs down

Legislature may exact a toll for Facebook failure, but the poor get stung again

Too close to home?

We need to focus on funding social services in schools

A father’s plea: Vaccinate your children

Some more clarity on taxes for voters’ sake

NEA President Sends Letter To Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

Anti-Common Core bill lets kids out of tests, including spelling tests

NATION

Betsy DeVos Sees Choice-Friendly Florida as a K-12 Model for the Nation

DeVos to tour schools with teachers union head

Undocumented Teachers Shielded by DACA in Legal and Emotional Limbo

Liberal Group Criticizes High Court Nominee on Special Education Rulings

Feds to investigate special ed in 12 Texas school districts

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UTAH NEWS
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Exclusive: Legislative leaders planning to tackle tax reform this year

Utah GOP legislative leaders have decided to go for a “big lift” on tax reform this session, now with only three weeks left.
UtahPolicy has been told that Republicans in the House and Senate will consider:
Placing the state sales tax – around 4.75 percent – back on unprepared food.
And then lower that tax rate to make the sales tax take overall neutral for next year.
Lower the adjusted personal income tax phase-out from about $155,000 in annual income to around $100,000.
And then lower the flat-rate income tax from 5 percent to 4.5 percent. Again, to make the adjusted revenue neutral for next year.
Queried on the proposed changes – taken to closed House and Senate GOP caucuses Thursday afternoon – House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, admitted it would be a difficult “lift” to get tax reform this session.
http://gousoe.uen.org/989 (UP)

 

Letter grades for schools? ‘Assessment/Accountability 2.0’ bill advances

SALT LAKE CITY – In 15 years as a school superintendent in Utah, Terry Shoemaker operated under so many different accountability systems he’s “lost count.”
“We’re very anxious to see a single state accountability system adopted,” said Shoemaker, addressing the Senate Education Committee Thursday afternoon as it debated SB220. “It’s time for that.”
The committee gave unanimous support to what the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ann Millner, R-Ogden, dubbed “Assessment and Accountability 2.0.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/98g (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/98P (SLT)

 

State School Board would lose ability to reject new charters under bill OK’d by committee

New charter schools would no longer need the approval of the Utah Board of Education to open their doors under a bill that gained committee approval Thursday.
Under SB223, the State Charter School Board would continue to review and authorize new charter applications.
But once an application is authorized, the state school board would have the option to either consent to the charter board’s decision, or return the decision to the charter board for further consideration.
“It’s not just a flat-out denial necessarily,” said bill sponsor Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish fork, “they can remand it back if they don’t consent.”
Henderson, who previously served on the governing board of a Utah charter school, said the bill is intended to clarify the division of authority between the Utah Board of Education – the state’s primary governing body over public education – and the State Charter School Board – an advisory body and charter authorizer appointed by the governor.
Rather than weigh in on the qualities of individual charter applications, as the board does now, SB223 directs the Utah Board of Education to evaluate the State Charter School Board’s approach to granting and denying new charters.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98d (SLT)

 

Bill authorizing state auditor to freeze funds rushes through Legislature
Last-minute amendment comes as investigation into League of Cities trust is underway

SALT LAKE CITY – In a flurry of undebated legislative action Thursday, a bill that would authorize the state auditor to take temporary custody of public funds in certain circumstances sailed through both the House and Senate chambers.
The unusual action was surrounded in secrecy and appears to be targeting a mysterious fund tied to Utah League of Cities and Towns. The bill with the new amendment was passed by both houses, signed by leadership and forwarded to the governor’s desk within hours of its presentation.
Most bills take weeks to receive such approval.
While the original version of the bill, SB137, only made technical changes to provisions regarding fiscal reporting requirements to the state auditor, an amendment made on the House floor Thursday added in a new significant measure- and one that would take effect immediately after the bill is signed by the governor.
The amendment – approved unanimously and quickly by both bodies without debate – would allow the state auditor, with the permission of a court, to freeze funds if he determines it necessary in order to protect those funds from being improperly used.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98h (DN)

 

State earned income tax credit again proposed for working poor
New formula » After earlier failed attempts, supporters say tweaked version is affordable for state.

Lawmakers say they finally may have devised how to create a state earned income tax credit (EITC) for the working poor that the state can afford.
The House Revenue and Taxation heard testimony Thursday – and no public opposition was voiced. But the committee held HB294 temporarily to wait for a formal estimates how much it will cost.
The EITC is designed to encourage people to leave public assistance programs to work. Without it, some people who work at low wages figure they would actually do better financially not to have a job and stay on assistance.
The federal government provides such credits, as do 26 states. They can help people receive tax “refunds” even when they earn so little that they may not owe any income taxes.
A state EITC has been proposed in Utah several times in recent years, but has been rejected either for costing the state too much or not providing significant relief to the poor – essentially for being too big or too small.
Michael Weinstein, fiscal policy director for Voices for Utah Children, who helped present the bill for sponsoring Rep. John Westwood, R-Cedar City, said HB294 now appears to hit a proper balance.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98e (SLT)

 

Senate committee supports lesser penalties for school truancy

Failing to send a child to school could earn a parent an infraction, down from a Class B misdemeanor, under a bill OK’d Thursday by a committee.
SB115 would lower the criminal penalty for truancy, a relatively rare but occasionally used tool to motivate school attendance, with subsequent offenses in a single school year rising to a Cass C misdemeanor.
Bill sponsor Sen. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi, said there is a need to remove the criminal element from compulsory education issues.
“Let’s keep it out of the criminal court proceedings,” he said.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98f (SLT)

 

Gov. Herbert Says More Ed Funding Needed, But Tax Overhaul Unlikely

Gov. Gary Herbert says sweeping tax reform is likely off the table this session, but he’s hopeful lawmakers will still find ways to boost education spending.
Since the beginning of the year, Gov. Herbert has urged state lawmakers to consider cutting some tax credits and exemptions that could instead go toward his number one budget priority: education.
But halfway through the session, lawmakers appear poised to pass more exemptions, not fewer – including a break for manufacturers that sailed through the Senate this week.
During his monthly news conference at KUED on Thursday, Herbert said he may consider vetoing those measures.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98G (KUER)

http://gousoe.uen.org/98O (UPR)

The full news conference
http://gousoe.uen.org/98H (Facebook)

Monson: we badly need an education department

A Republican proposal to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education has been getting some support among Utah politicians, including Utah Governor Gary Herbert.
Herbert said Wednesday that local officials, educators and parents are better positioned to address their educational needs than the federal government.
Jay Monson, retired chairman of the education department at Utah State University, says that would be a wrong decision.
“I’ve been disappointed that so far they’ve talked about lots of budgetary items but they don’t seem to be backing up their pledge to make education a top priority,” says Monson. “We badly need an education department to make sure that teachers are qualified, that students get a good education in our state, and to be a supervisory group.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/98y (CVD)

 

Ogden School District experiences Day Without Immigrants

OGDEN – Parents kept their children home from school in the Ogden School District as part of the nationwide Day Without Immigrants protest Thursday, Feb. 16.
Sarah Roberts, the district executive director for elementary education and student access, said parents contacted the schools their children attend ahead of time to let administrators know they were taking part in the protest.
“We have had a handful of parents at at least two schools explicitly state this isn’t against the school, this is because they want their children and their community to know they believe immigrants are important, and they’re doing this to protest current immigration policy,” she said, referencing Gramercy and James Madison elementary schools.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98s (OSE)

Questions and answers about schools and traffic pollution
Why nearness is a problem, what schools can do and how parents have led the way

How close is too close, and how much traffic is too much traffic?
Traffic pollutants travel, but they’re higher on and close to roads. In general, studies suggest that the biggest daytime exposures are within 500 feet of the road, though some studies have found elevated levels farther out, such as roughly 900 to 1,000 feet. California’s school-siting law, which aims to keep new schools away from freeways and other major routes, uses 500 feet as the area of concern.

To try to account for some of these complexities, the Center for Public Integrity and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting focused on roads with average traffic of at least 30,000 vehicles a day, as well as roads with at least 500 trucks and 10,000 total vehicles a day.
What are the health implications of putting a school near a busy road?
“The closer anybody is to a major road – school, home, business, whatever – the more they’re going to be exposed to air pollution from vehicles that are traveling on that road,” said Dr. Jerome Paulson, professor emeritus in pediatrics and environmental and occupational health at the George Washington University.

In Utah, meanwhile, the state Department of Transportation is paying for higher-quality air filters at five schools within about 1,600 feet of a highway under construction. That’s part of a deal struck after parents, environmentalists and doctors mobilized during the planning stages nearly a decade ago, modeled after a settlement over a highway-widening project in Las Vegas. Funding allotted for the Utah school upgrades and 30 years of future maintenance: $1.1 million, the equivalent of about $7,300 per school per year.

An effective HVAC system with high-grade air filters will substantially reduce the traffic particles getting to the classrooms, as schools in freeway-heavy Southern California have found. It’s also a good idea to put outdoor-activity areas, such as playgrounds and athletic fields, farther from the road while earmarking the closest spots for uses such as parking and storage, the EPA says. Other measures, such as placing the air intake away from the fumes of the road and the school loading dock, can also help.
That’s happening in Utah. After parents, environmentalists and doctors joined forces to object, the state Department of Transportation agreed to pay for air monitoring and higher-quality air filters at five schools near the incoming Mountain View Corridor highway project.
“We’ve come a long way just to understand there is a problem out there,” said Linda Hansen, a member of the Utah State Board of Education and a former PTA leader in the affected school district. “We’re hoping once we get the data . from this project, we’ll be able to use it in other projects and get districts to see they really need to put some mitigation into those schools they have near roadways, because it’s hard on kids.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/98N

 

George Washington High works to improve numbers, serve students

OGDEN – It was about 4 p.m. on a school night and the gym at George Washington High School smelled like pizza.
It smells like that pretty often now that Principal Benji Carrier has created a program rewarding students who stay after school to finish their homework with dinner.
George Washington is an alternative high school in the Ogden School District. Carrier said he’s well aware of its reputation for being a “bad kid” school, something he vehemently denies and is working hard to change.
“We’re not satisfied with where we are,” he said. “The numbers, putting our graduation rate below 30 percent is not something we’re OK with. That number is faces to us. Those are individual kids and families we know and we’ve had a hand in raising. They’re our kids.”
The school’s graduation rate has stayed below 40 percent since 2011, and 2015 was the first year enough students took the ACT for it to show up on the state’s annual report cards. George Washington’s SAGE scores are also low compared to the district and state according to Utah State Board of Education data.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98r (OSE)

 

Basketball Helps Save Ben Lomond’s Ben Mendoza From the Streets

OGDEN – Ben Mendoza’s life was filled with drugs, alcohol, guns and gangs.
He was 10 years old.
If that isn’t shocking enough, take a look at Mendoza now and the person he’s transformed himself into.
Mendoza is a senior on the Ben Lomond High boys basketball team with opportunities to play at the next level. He’s brilliant in the classroom and an advocate of not letting circumstances decide outcomes.
Mendoza “got out,” and he believes if he could get out, anybody can.
“These kids . their motto is ‘The streets raised me.’ I don’t believe that,” he said. “You control your own self. You make your own decisions. You’ll have all the advice you want. But until you take that first step and you want to make those decisions for yourself, you’re going to continue to be a loser, and that’s just a hard fact.
“You can be whatever you want if you want to. You’re not stuck in one position, ever.”
Ryan Wilcox, a 2001 graduate of Ogden High and current counselor at Syracuse High, met Mendoza during the 2007-08 school year when Mendoza was in the third grade at James Madison Elementary.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98q (OSE)

 

Student ‘Share the Air’ artwork makes it to CVTD paratransit bus

Sky View High junior Rebecca White said she wants to help make the winter air in Cache Valley a little easier to breathe.
Standing in front of a CVTD paratransit bus printed with a Prismacolor drawing of a woman blowing into a pinwheel inscribed with the words “Share the air,” alongside a hot air balloon, butterflies, floating leaves and white swirls. White said the valley is known for having horrible air quality.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98x (LHJ)

http://gousoe.uen.org/98z (CVD)

Classmates commemorate 2 after fatal crash near West High
Investigation » Police are asking witnesses to the incident to come forward.

MJ Powell stood with his schoolmates under cover of darkness Thursday night, red cups in their hands.
But this was no high school party in a Salt Lake City neighborhood. There was no music. No shouts of joy.
Only “tribute” and “respects” from teens who, just hours earlier, ate lunch a mile away from where two of their friends would die.
About 50 teens attended a vigil Thursday evening for two West High students who had been killed in a crash that morning in a head-on collision near downtown. Two others ­- another student and a pregnant woman ­- were seriously injured in the crash.
The crash happened at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday near 700 North 300 West, said Salt Lake City police Detective Cody Lougy.
A witness saw two northbound cars that appeared to be either racing or in a chase and were traveling in excess of 70 mph on 300 West, Lougy said.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98k (SLT)

http://gousoe.uen.org/98o (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/98u (OSE)

http://gousoe.uen.org/98C (KUTV)

http://gousoe.uen.org/98D (KTVX)

http://gousoe.uen.org/98E (KSL)

http://gousoe.uen.org/98F (KSTU)

 

Mumps outbreak reported in Salt Lake County
Health » Tests pending on four other possible infections; parents are encouraged to check vaccinations.

Two children who attend the same school in Salt Lake County are recovering from mumps, which they both contracted despite being fully vaccinated.
County Health Department officials announced Thursday they were investigating those cases while awaiting test results for four other probable mumps cases, all of them linked to close contact with the two whose infections are confirmed.
Mumps is a contagious virus spread through coughing, sneezing, talking or sharing items. It is, however, preventable with a vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But that vaccine is not 100 percent effective, said Gary Edwards, health officer with the Salt Lake Count Health Department.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98l (SLT)

http://gousoe.uen.org/98B (KUTV)

Orem girl accidentally pricks finger on used syringe found on playground

A 6-year-old girl accidentally pricked herself Wednesday on a used syringe she found on the playground of Sharon Elementary School in Orem.
According to a Facebook post from the Orem Police Department, one of Sharon Elementary School’s students was trying to put the cap back on a used syringe she found on the playground. But as she was doing it, she accidentally pricked herself.
According to Kimberly Bird with Alpine School District, the girl’s parents took her to be treated immediately after the incident.
“The young lady is doing fine,” Bird said. “However, they are having her come back in six months to have her blood checked.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/98v (PDH)

http://gousoe.uen.org/98Q (KTVX)

 

Woman uses puppets to help kids build healthy teeth

PROVO, Utah – While Utah County’s youngest elementary students are learning the alphabet and how to read, Sharon Wiest is helping them learn how to take good care of their teeth, too.
Wiest has been organizing assemblies and using marionettes to teach important dental lessons, including brushing twice a day, flossing once a day and visiting the dentist, at schools from Alpine to Cedar Valley each February for the past 25 years.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98t (OSE)

 

Inside our schools

Parowan High
Canyon View Middle
South Elementary
Canyon View High
Fiddlers Elementary
Enoch Elementary
Cedar Middle
Escalante Valley Elementary
Three Peaks Elementary
Arrowhead Elementary
Millcreek High
http://gousoe.uen.org/98A (SGS)

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Time to end Utah’s school grading system
Salt Lake Tribune editorial

“Next contestant, Mrs. Sybil Fawlty from Torquay. Specialist subject – the bleeding obvious.”
– Basil Fawlty, “Fawlty Towers”
Yes, it is time to retire the overly simplistic and counterproductive system of assigning a single letter grade to the performance of each Utah public school. A House committee the other day approved a bill that would do exactly that and direct the State Board of Education to create a more useful set of evaluations.
On its way out, though, give the school grading system a nod for having demonstrated the firm correlation of the ratings earned by schools and the socioeconomic standing of the neighborhoods they serve.
Not that nearly all educators, and most thinking people, wouldn’t have predicted that.
As was pointed out by Rep. Marie Poulson, the Cottonwood Heights Democrat sponsoring House Bill 241, the attempt to boil an entire school’s performance down to a single letter grade actually accomplished little more than putting a red check mark next to the names of schools in neighborhoods with high percentages of what the schools call “economically disadvantaged” students, ethnic minorities and students who are trying to learn English at the same time they are trying to learn everything else.
Add to that the fact that the Legislature kept changing the criteria for assigning grades, making it harder and harder for any school to earn, or keep, a high grade, and the general result was smugness in the well-performing schools and frustration, leading to resignation, in the lower-rated ones.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98a

Thumbs up, thumbs down
(Provo) Daily Herald editorial

I’m looking forward to the upcoming groundbreaking of a high school in Eagle Mountain. The school will be open in 2019, but for the kids at the packed Westlake High School in Saratoga Springs, it couldn’t come soon enough. This is the first step in building new schools to help deal with the county’s massive growth.
Credit goes to the Springville girls basketball team and its team manager, who has Down syndrome. Taylee Smith scored the first points of the game to great support from her school.
Springville and Maple Mountain girls basketball teams deserve to be recognized for their cooperation in giving Red Devil team manager Taylee Smith a special memory on Tuesday.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98w

 

Legislature may exact a toll for Facebook failure, but the poor get stung again
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist ROBERT GEHRKE

Revenge – The Big Payback, as James Brown called it – is a bit of a sport at Utah’s Capitol, as Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams is discovering.
McAdams, you will remember, was the most outspoken opponent to a plan to give away $240 million in tax dollars to Facebook, one of the richest companies on the planet, to create up to 120 jobs at a data center on some West Jordan farmland.
His opposition to the giveaway, as well as that of the Salt Lake County Council and the State School Board, ultimately led to Facebook choosing to build in New Mexico, and left behind some bitter feelings among a handful of legislators who were swooning over the project.
Now they are looking to get back at McAdams, but really hurting Utah’s poor and homeless population in the process.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98b

 

Too close to home?
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Paul Rolly

The day after Rep. Craig Hall’s HB132, which would require that new school buses be fitted with seat belts, went down to defeat in the Utah House, a Granite School District bus carrying his second-grade daughter was involved in an accident.
“The timing was interesting,” said Hall, R-West Valley City.
It was a minor accident. No injuries. But perhaps there was a message in the mishap.
Nearly 30 grade-schoolers were on the bus, which clipped a car as it was leaving the parking lot of Fox Hills Elementary in Taylorsville.
The House defeated the measure in a 40-30 vote. Every Democrat present voted for it, along with 18 of the 58 Republicans present, including Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Lee Perry, R-Perry, who has seen his share of accidents when folks were not buckled up.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98c

 

We need to focus on funding social services in schools
Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Cynthia Kimball Phillips, executive director of the Weilenmann School of Discovery and an educational policy adviser to the Alliance for a Better Utah

The talk about funding education during a legislative session usually circles around Utah’s low per-pupil spending, the state’s high proportion of school-aged kids, the high proportion of taxes dedicated to education and the reluctance of lawmakers and their constituents to support tax increases. These concerns are balanced by a genuine support for improving Utah’s education system, consideration of a modest property tax increase and measures for greater accountability.
In the midst of this discussion, most of us assume that “education money” goes to teachers’ salaries and benefits, occupancy and other costs for maintaining and furnishing buildings, curricular materials, hardware and software for digital teaching and learning and other educational infrastructures. We wonder why the substantial amount of money provided for education doesn’t ever seem to be enough. We cite statistics demonstrating that money alone doesn’t improve test scores and that Utah does a pretty good job of educating its students in any case. We identify and worry about low teacher salaries as a significant reason that teachers leave their positions in large numbers after their fifth year or so of teaching.
What we don’t talk about is the fundamental reality that schools are the state’s largest distributor of essential social services as mandated by state and federal laws. We don’t openly acknowledge that “education funding” is simply not enough to finance these multifarious social services, and that this deficit affects everything from student achievement to teacher retention.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98n

A father’s plea: Vaccinate your children
Deseret News op-ed by Bjorn Jones, who is employed by University of Utah Healthcare

If we are to truly be dedicated to these principles, we must each choose to have our children vaccinated. Immunizations provide for the common defense and the general welfare of the people at the most fundamental level.
There it was, a call no parent wants to receive, “your one-month-old daughter may have been exposed to a deadly contagious disease,” but it’s even worse when you know that such a disease can be prevented through vaccines. My daughter is too young to get vaccinated for the measles, which can only be done once she’s a year old. She’s on quarantine at our home for nearly a month, but that is unimportant compared to her sweet little life.
The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution testify to the fact that all are created equal and all are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Vaccines help secure the right to life of babies, children and adults. They protect against preventable, life-threatening and debilitating diseases. If we are to truly be dedicated to these principles, we must each choose to have our children vaccinated. Immunizations provide for the common defense and the general welfare of the people at the most fundamental level.
I understand that some are concerned with vaccines causing negative side effects, particularly autism. The fact is that there is no reliable scientific proof that vaccines cause autism, but there is an exceedingly great amount of evidence demonstrating that vaccines prevent deadly and disabling illnesses.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98p

Some more clarity on taxes for voters’ sake
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Nicholas M. Bielaczyc

On Feb. 8, The Tribune reported a story about a recent Libertas Institute poll (http://www.sltrib.com/home/4914283-155/bill could weaken our schools now).
The Libertas Institute argues that more information is needed for the voter to be able to make an informed decision. I couldn’t agree more.
The Institute compared results from 2 polls.
One showed 50 percent support from voters if asked the question; Do you support an .875 percent increase for income tax that raised $750 million for schools? When asked the new poll question: If you knew the increase for an average Utah family of 4 (2 adults, 2 K-12 students) would be $900/yr., support drops to 31%. That is a lot of money.
I suggest that we disclose even more.
For average family of 4? That would be $2.40/day or $1.20/child/day.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98m

 

NEA President Sends Letter To Education Secretary Betsy DeVos
(Las Cruces, NM) KRWG commentary by Lily Eskelsen García

Dear Secretary DeVos:
I am writing in response to your voice mail. I’m an elementary teacher from Utah. I’ve taught in middle-class suburbs. I’ve taught homeless children and hard-to-place foster kids in a residential home. I know how important it is for my students to have education leaders who understand their lives and the support they need. As president of the 3-million-member National Education Association, I look for partners to stand with us as we protect the rights of all our students.
NEA will continue to fight for students, educators, and public schools. I will make sure the voices of educators are heard and that policymakers understand that investing in public schools is an investment in the next generation of teachers, scientists, welders, and even politicians.
It’s important for educators, parents, and communities to know where you stand on some of the most critical work of the federal Department of Education. I must ask you to give us the substantive answers that I did not hear you give to the senators at your hearing on issues critical to our students:
http://gousoe.uen.org/98M

 

Anti-Common Core bill lets kids out of tests, including spelling tests
Detroit Free Press commentary by columnist Nancy Kaffer

Right now, a Lansing committee on improving Michigan competitiveness is considering a bill that would repeal educational standards the state adopted in 2010, replacing them with guidelines the State of Massachusetts abandoned about seven years ago in favor of the standards Michigan is using now — all in an effort to give districts more control, but make parents the ultimate authority in Michigan’s schools.
The Common Core standards — that’s a set of educational goals kids should reach over the course of a school year — surprised nearly everyone by becoming a point of bitter partisan conflict among moderate Republicans and most Democrats, and Tea Party Republicans about five years back, in large part because former President Barack Obama endorsed the standards, and incentivized states to adopt them with federal grant dollars.
Educators have noted, repeatedly, that standards describe what you teach, not how you teach it — districts make decisions about curriculum, and teachers design classroom instruction. The core standards were an attempt to apply some kind of consistency to the country’s patchwork of educational standards, and to ensure that American kids are job- or college-ready, and competitive not just nationally but globally. They’re the kind of uniform standards employed by all of the developed nations who are cleaning our clocks in math and science.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98j

 

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Betsy DeVos Sees Choice-Friendly Florida as a K-12 Model for the Nation
Education Week

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos may have helped to create the charter sector in her home state of Michigan. But in a recent interview she singled out another state-Florida-as offering a great blueprint for the country.
“I would point to Florida as being one that has had a variety of options for the longest period of time,” DeVos told Frank Beckmann, a conservative radio talk show host on WJR, based in Michigan. She said the state, which has charters, also offers both a tax credit scholarship, something DeVos and company may push in Washington, potentially through legislation previously introduced by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican, and vouchers for students in special education.
Michigan hasn’t been able to offer the same kind of voucher program as Floridabecause its state constitution prohibits public funds from being used for religious purposes. By contrast, Florida’s vouchers for special needs students can be used at schools affiliated with religious institutions. Michigan, which also has charters, recently started experimenting with Education Savings Accounts, which allow parents and students to “put [their] own customized plan together” for education, DeVos said.
“Florida is a good and growing example of what can happen when you have a robust array of choices,” DeVos said Wednesday. She noted that 40 percent of the students in Florida go to schools that are different from the one they may be zoned for. The state has one of the nation’s least-restrictive open enrollment laws.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98i

 

DeVos to tour schools with teachers union head
(Washington, DC) The Hill

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the president of a teachers union that strongly resisted her confirmation have agreed to tour schools together.
“I said I’d like to visit a public school with her, and then I’d like her to visit a choice school with me,” DeVos told Axios Thursday, recounting a recent phone call with Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
Weingarten said the talk was a “short, frank, blunt conversation on my part,” adding the pair’s future school visits must be authentic rather than “a photo op.”
The AFT fiercely opposed DeVos before the Republican mega-donor’s confirmation to lead the Education Department last week.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98J

 

Undocumented Teachers Shielded by DACA in Legal and Emotional Limbo
Education Week

Jose Gonzalez’s parents brought him to the United States from Mexico just before his second birthday.
In the 23 years since, he graduated high school with honors, earned an Ivy League degree, and received recognition from the Obama White House for his work teaching students in immigrant-filled Los Angeles charter schools.
Now, Gonzalez faces a potentially cruel twist of fate: he could go from being lauded by the White House to being a target for deportation as part of President Donald Trump’s widespread immigration crackdown.
Before joining Teach For America in 2014, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Trump’s alma mater.
“Honestly, it kind of makes having been honored by the White House a bit of joke. It feels like a slap in the face,” said Gonzalez, a 6th grade math teacher at Community Charter Middle School in Los Angeles.
Gonzalez is among the more than 700,0000 undocumented immigrants awaiting word on the fate of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, an Obama-administration policy that grants temporary deportation reprieves and work permits to people brought to the United States illegally as children.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98I

 

Liberal Group Criticizes High Court Nominee on Special Education Rulings
Education Week

A liberal group on Thursday issued a report declaring U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil M. Gorsuch Gorsuch “not qualified” and “a dangerous choice” for the court, based in part on his judicial record in several special education cases.
The report came as Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, announced that the confirmation hearing for Gorsuch is set to begin March 20 and is expected to run three to four days.
The confirmation hearing would begin 48 days after President Trump’s Jan. 31 nomination of Gorsuch, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in Denver, to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death a year ago of Justice Antonin Scalia.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98K

 

Feds to investigate special ed in 12 Texas school districts
Dallas Morning News

A dozen Texas school districts are being targeted for review in a federal investigation into whether students with disabilities are getting the help they need, officials said Thursday.
U.S. Department of Education officials will visit Austin, Houston, Everman, North East, United, Ector County, Harlandale, Laredo, Del Valle, Fort Bend, Aldine and Leander school districts starting this month, according to the Texas Education Agency.
“The purpose of these visits is to collect district-level and school-level data on referral, child find and evaluation,” the Education Department said in a Jan. 19 letter, which did not identify specific districts. The visits are scheduled to happen the week of Feb. 27.
The Education Department did not respond to requests for comment Thursday about how it selected the 12 districts, which range in size, location and student demographics. It’s also unclear if any additional districts face a similar review.
http://gousoe.uen.org/98L

 

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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 17:

House Education Committee meeting
8 a.m., 30 House Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/hedu0217.ag.htm

House Business and Labor Committee meeting
8 a.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/hbus0217.ag.htm

House Health and Human Services Committee meeting
8 a.m., 210 Senate Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/hhhs0217.ag.htm

Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee meeting
8 a.m., 415 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/snae0217.ag.htm

House Judiciary Committee meeting
4:10 p.m., 20 House Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/HJUD0217.ag.htm

House Transportation Committee meeting
4:10 p.m., 450 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/HTRA0217.ag.htm

Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee meeting
4:10 p.m., 415 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/SGOP0217.ag.htm

Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee meeting
4:10 p.m. 250 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/SREV0217.ag.htm

February 21:

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

House Education Committee meeting
4:10 p.m., 30 House Building
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?Year=2017&Com=HSTEDU

February 23:

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

March 9:

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

March 13:

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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