Education News Roundup: Feb. 21, 2017

Today’s Top Picks:

The revenue picture for Utah’s education budget comes up a wee bit rosier.
http://gousoe.uen.org/995 (SLT)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/996 (UP)
or February projections
http://gousoe.uen.org/997 (Legislature)

There are lots of tax plans lurking out there.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99f (SLT)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/99b (DN)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/99K (KUTV)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/9ad (KSTU)

Ed Week looks at a new report on school spending that features the Alpine School District.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99Y (Ed Week)
or a copy of the report
http://gousoe.uen.org/99Z (Institute of Education Sciences)

Salt Lake School District being urged to take a stand on immigration.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99o (SLT)

So … how did Betsy DeVos’s first week on the job as Secretary of Education go?
http://gousoe.uen.org/99k (NYT)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/99l (New York Daily News)

The Trump administration is working on its own version of transgender bathroom guidelines.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99U (AP)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/99W (Reuters)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/99X (Ed Week)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Legislature will have nearly $100 million more than expected for budget

Food-tax hike part of tax-reform package eyed by Senate Republicans
Huntsman-era tax cut hurt low-income Utahns by slashing funds for services, Niederhauser says.

Democratic lawmakers, educators urge better pay, conditions to address teacher shortage

Lawmakers, educators say state needs more elementary school counselors

Proposed changes to school turnaround programs would be less reliant on grades

Bill advances to study, prevent homelessness among children

Lawmakers endorse compromise on student vaccination bills

How Important Are Immunizations?

Senate committee signs off on repealing Utah’s ‘No Promo Homo’ sex ed law

Senate committee backs bill allowing sunscreen at school

Students, advocates want Salt Lake City schools to push back against deportation raids

School Spending Ticks Up; Charters Still Spend Significantly Less

Ogden School Board talks facility needs, public survey for bond initiative

Lego robots help teach kids about engineering, math

Northridge student a finalist for Military Child of the Year award

Ogden to build new subdivision at old Dee Elementary School site

Granite High School demolition, redevelopment moving forward

Spanish Fork teacher faces new charge of raping second student

Ogden High teacher who died of cancer remembered as caring, inspiring educator

Logan notebook manufacturer, foundation team up to build school in Mali

Utah girls wrestle on junior high team amid gender discrimination lawsuit

Ogden School District moves toward playing 9th-grade athletes at high schools

Box Elder senior realizes cheerleading dream despite neurological disease

Springville girls team fulfills hoops dream for manager with special needs

Ira Glass tells ‘What Say Ye?’ podcast about visiting Payson High School

Clean air poster contest winners announced

Woman uses puppets to help kids build healthy teeth

Utah Elementary Schools to Celebrate Dr.Seuss’ Birthday

Nine- year-old wins Reflections contest with music composition

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Who deserves praise and criticism this week in Northern Utah?

If knowledge is power, then ignorance is STDs

Utah needs earned-income tax credit to break poverty cycle

Raise taxes on top earners for desperately needed school dollars

Our economy can’t handle tax hike, and schools show they don’t need it

Teachers in Utah are in crisis, but it’s business as usual on the Hill

I don’t care if my kids get A’s

More qualified than the secretary of education

Let process unfold

The Japanese education system may solve the problems of US public education

Tax-credit scholarships: America’s chance for a 50-state education win

Even the SAT Has Become Political
The exam should follow dinner etiquette and stay away from controversial topics such as religion, politics and sex.

NATION

Rough First Week Gives Betsy DeVos a Glimpse of the Fight Ahead

DeVos criticized teachers at D.C. school she visited – and they are not having it

Trump Administration Working on Trans Bathroom Guidelines

‘Alternative’ Education: Using Charter Schools to Hide Dropouts and Game the System
School officials nationwide dodge accountability ratings by steering low achievers to alternative programs. In Orlando, Florida, the nation’s tenth-largest district, thousands of students who leave alternative charters run by a for-profit company aren’t counted as dropouts.

Denver Looks For Balanced Approach To School Choice

Arizona parents, teachers denounce divisive school bills
Christine Marsh, the 2016 Arizona Educational Foundation Teacher of the Year, said parents, grandparents and educators are fed up with underfunding, unmet promises and parts of the education-funding proposals.

King County judge rules state’s charter-school law is constitutional

School District Teams with Sandy Hook Mom to Teach Empathy

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UTAH NEWS
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Legislature will have nearly $100 million more than expected for budget

The Legislature will have $88 million more than it had expected for next year’s budget, leaders announced Friday based on new quarterly revenue estimates.
Some types of taxes were down, while other were up. That means some budget areas, such as transportation, will actually receive less than expected. Others, such as education will receive significantly more.
Overall, Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, the Senate chairman of the Executive Appropriations Committee, said the Legislature overall will have $375 million more to spend in fiscal 2018 than it had for 2017.
“These numbers surprised me a lot,” he said.
Rep. Dean Sanpei, R-Provo, the House chairman of Appropriations, said, the increases approaching “$100 million seems like a lot of money. But in a $15 billion budget, it’s less than 1 percent. So we still have quite a bit of work to prioritize” spending requests for many times that amount.
Still, a $100-million-or-so increase “is better than $100 million the other way,” said House Majority Leader Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville.
Stevenson warned that with funding requests still exceeding available revenue, “This doesn’t mean that we’re going to go out and go on a spending spree.”
Education received the best news. Sanpei said growth in income taxes that fund it will bring an extra $22 million in one-year-only funding, and $75 million ongoing.
http://gousoe.uen.org/995 (SLT)

http://gousoe.uen.org/996 (UP)

February projections
http://gousoe.uen.org/997 (Legislature)

 

Food-tax hike part of tax-reform package eyed by Senate Republicans
Huntsman-era tax cut hurt low-income Utahns by slashing funds for services, Niederhauser says.

Republican lawmakers are acting quickly to draft a package of tax-reform bills for the 2017 session, Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, said Friday.
But public agencies, including schools, shouldn’t expect a surge in new revenue, Niederhauser said. The changes, if enacted, would initially be revenue-neutral by coupling lower tax rates with a broader tax base.
“It actually spurs more revenue in the long run,” Niederhauser said. “But it also creates a better foundation upon which to build the tax structure.”
Niederhauser did not disclose specifics, but he said an “action item” for the Senate’s GOP caucus would be a restoration of the sales tax on food, combined with a general decrease in the sales tax rate.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99f (SLT)

http://gousoe.uen.org/99b (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/99K (KUTV)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9ad (KSTU)

 

Democratic lawmakers, educators urge better pay, conditions to address teacher shortage

SALT LAKE CITY – Joshua Brothers didn’t take a traditional track into teaching.
After working in publishing, Brothers sought a career to make a difference in the lives of young people.
“I’m wearing the suit I got married in, and I’ve got a hole in my shoe. I’m working three jobs, and I wish I had more time to dedicate to the kids in my class,” he said at a news conference Friday at the Utah Capitol.
Brothers was among a handful of teachers who joined Democratic lawmakers who are sponsoring legislation intended to help address the state’s teacher shortage and improve working conditions.
“The teaching profession in Utah is in crisis,” said House Minority Whip Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City. “More teachers leave teaching after one year in Utah than any other state.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/99a (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/99O (KSL)

 

Lawmakers, educators say state needs more elementary school counselors

SALT LAKE CITY – If he wasn’t already convinced of the need for more school counselors, Rep. Steve Eliason on Friday shared a recent personal experience that further drove home the point.
“I say this with some apprehension, but there’s a lot of troubled youths out there,” Eliason, R-Sandy, told the Utah Legislature’s House Education Committee. “Last night, my son sat in the hospital repeating over and over, ‘Why would someone do this to me?’ as he was attacked by another student yesterday.
“He should be OK, but what’s going on in some children’s heads from adverse childhood experiences and other things is beyond comprehension,” he said.
Eliason’s remarks came at the conclusion of the committee’s debate on HB223, which would appropriate $1 million in ongoing money to provide matching grants to Utah schools that hire elementary school counselors.
http://gousoe.uen.org/998 (DN)

 

Proposed changes to school turnaround programs would be less reliant on grades

Utah’s nascent school turnaround program would get a makeover under a bill that received committee approval on Tuesday.
Under SB234, the $7 million-a-year program would continue to hire private contractors to work with struggling public schools.
But success would be based on “statistically significant improvement,” rather than increasing by a letter grade under school grading, and turnaround schools would have the ability to use a portion of state funding on teacher retention efforts – if those funds are matched by local dollars.
Bill sponsor Sen. Ann Millner, R-Ogden, said her SB234 is intended to address issues discovered during the first years of the program, which was created in 2015. Among those concerns are heightened levels of staff turnover at turnaround schools and early budgeting decisions that led to a significant reduction in the resources available to schools entering the program.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99p (SLT)

 

Bill advances to study, prevent homelessness among children

Lawmakers advanced a bill Tuesday to look at the causes of homeless for children, and to study how best to address it.
The House Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee unanimously endorsed HB283, and sent it to the full House for consideration.
Its sponsor, Rep. Robert Spendlove, R-Sandy, said it would ask a current state task force studying intergenerational poverty also to address homelessness among children. The bill also would allow using current cash assistance programs for the poor specifically to avoid homelessness for children.
Spendlove said more than 600 children in the state are currently homeless, and perhaps 3,000 a year experience some homelessness. He said such children are twice as likely to have learning disabilities, and three times as likely to have emotional disturbances.
He said half of homeless children are held back at least one grade in school, and 22 percent are held back multiple grades.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99n (SLT)

 

Lawmakers endorse compromise on student vaccination bills

SALT LAKE CITY – A Provo lawmaker says his three-bill package to lessen restrictions on parents who choose not to vaccinate their children couldn’t have been drafted without a massive compromise.
“This is about parent choice,” Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, said Friday, adding that the legislation is meant to balance parents’ freedom to choose whether to vaccinate their children and the concerns of other parents.
“I would be really surprised if there is anybody in this room (who) gets everything they want,” Thurston said. “That’s how difficult this compromise has been.”
The House Health and Human Services Committee voted to advance all three bills – HB308, HB309 and HB310 – to the House floor for further discussion.
The bills deal with situations when parents opt against immunizing their children and the steps that need to be taken to then enroll their children in school.
http://gousoe.uen.org/999 (DN)

 

How Important Are Immunizations?

Getting your immunization shots is very important, but experts say it’s vital your children have them as well. Martee Hawkins from the Canyons School District joined GMU to explain why it’s important.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9a9 (KTVX)

 

Senate committee signs off on repealing Utah’s ‘No Promo Homo’ sex ed law

A prohibition against the advocacy of homosexuality in Utah’s sex education classes may be on the way out after a Senate panel voted unanimously Tuesday to strike the language from state code.
The so-called “No Promo Homo” law is currently being targeted in court by Equality Utah, which filed a lawsuit in October accusing the state of promoting an anti-gay curriculum in public schools.
Clifford Rosky, a University of Utah professor and Equality Utah board member, said the legal ambiguity of what “advocacy” means has created situations where educators are unwilling to intervene when lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students are bullied for fear of violating state law.
“The critical point here is that the bill is fairness for all,” Rosky said of SB196. “It treats all students alike.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/99q (SLT)

http://gousoe.uen.org/99t (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/99G (OSE)

http://gousoe.uen.org/99J (KUTV)

http://gousoe.uen.org/99S (MUR)

http://gousoe.uen.org/99T (AP)

 

Senate committee backs bill allowing sunscreen at school

SALT LAKE CITY – A plan that would allow students in Utah to use sunscreen in school without a note from a parent and a doctor has received full support from a panel of lawmakers.
Members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday voted unanimously in support of the proposal.
Bill sponsor Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City, says state law does not allow sunscreen or other over-the-counter medications regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to be used in school without written permission.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99v (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/99I (PDH)

http://gousoe.uen.org/99R (MUR)

 

Students, advocates want Salt Lake City schools to push back against deportation raids

Students and community organizers are asking the Salt Lake City School District to take a stand against the deportation of undocumented Utahns.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the district school board, the advocacy group Unidade Inmigrante plans to present a resolution urging the district to maintain the privacy of student-citizenship records and to demand warrants for any Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actions carried out on school grounds.
“We just want to make sure we’re keeping our students and our community members safe,” Unidade Inmigrante spokeswoman Amy Dominguez said.
Dominguez said the undocumented community recently has come under attack, with reports of raids by ICE officials and the pro-deportation rhetoric of newly elected President Donald Trump.
The resolution isn’t intended as a criticism of current school district policy or actions, Dominguez said, but instead as a pre-emptive gesture of support and protection for undocumented students and their families.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99o (SLT)

 

School Spending Ticks Up; Charters Still Spend Significantly Less

Schools loosened their belts a little, in spite of lower federal support, according to new federal data from fiscal 2014.
That year, the median school district spent about $10,300 per student, up about 1 percent from fiscal 2012. The uptick was driven by higher spending in suburbs, towns and rural areas; urban districts actually spent a little less.
At the same time, federal support for those districts dropped by more than 4 percent, to $54.2 billion, from fiscal 2013 to fiscal 2014. In 16 states, more than 40 percent of school district budgets come from local property taxes and city or county funds.
The report comes from the Education Department’s Common Core of Data, which collects annual data on school spending and other indicators in more than 18,600 school districts in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The 73,000-student Alpine district in Utah had the lowest spending among the 100 largest districts in the country, at just over $5,600 per student in fiscal 2014. That was little more than a quarter of the per-pupil spending in Boston or New York City public schools, which each topped $21,000.
To be sure, basic cost-of-living is higher in the Northeast than in Utah, and Boston and New York districts dwarf Alpine’s size. However, the Utah district also spent about half as much per student as the Fresno, Calif. district, which had about the same number of students. A few differences between the districts could explain that spending: Alpine had more than 16 percent of teachers in their first or second year, compared to Fresno’s 7 percent, while a quarter of Fresno’s students in 2013-14 were learning English, compared to only 4 percent in Alpine.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99Y (Ed Week)

A copy of the report
http://gousoe.uen.org/99Z (Institute of Education Sciences)

 

Ogden School Board talks facility needs, public survey for bond initiative

OGDEN – Anything more than a $100 million Ogden School District bond initiative in 2017 would require a tax increase, something the Board of Education wants to avoid.
At a meeting Thursday, Feb. 16, Board of Education member Don Belnap said a bond initiative higher than $100 million would have to involve a tax increase, something he wasn’t comfortable with.
“Honestly we’re better-served to go at $98 (million),” Belnap said.
The exact amount of a potential bond initiative has not been decided nor has what it would go toward, but the district has many elementary, junior high and high schools in need of renovation or replacement.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99E (OSE)

 

Lego robots help teach kids about engineering, math

SALT LAKE CITY – Gears whirred as the Lego robot car raced towards the wall, its impact looming imminent in the eyes of Keira Rico.
Just before the moment of impact the car stopped and turned around, and what seemed like an unstoppable force avoided the immovable object. An object sensor mounted on the top of the Lego car sent information to the computer controlling its engine and steering. As the car closed in on the obstructions, the sensor sent the message and the car rotated, as designed.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99u (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/99M (KSL)

 

Northridge student a finalist for Military Child of the Year award

LAYON – Jamal Braxton, a student at Northridge High School, has been named one of 36 finalists in Operation Homefront’s 2017 Military Child of the Year award.
The annual awards recognize seven outstanding young people. Six of them between the ages of 8 to 18 represent a branch of the armed forces – the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Guard – for their scholarship, volunteerism, leadership, extracurricular involvement and other criteria while facing the challenges of military family life. Braxton is a finalist in the Air Force category.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99x (DN)

 

Ogden to build new subdivision at old Dee Elementary School site

OGDEN – The last remnants of the old Dee Elementary School will soon be gone for good.
But Ogden will rebuild in its footprint, hoping to create a new legacy on 22nd Street between Jefferson and Adams avenues.
Ward Ogden, the city’s community development manager, said the Dee School demolition is nearly complete, and when it’s finished, the city will begin preparing the land for a new 21-home subdivision.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99D (OSE)

 

Granite High School demolition, redevelopment moving forward

SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah – Plans to tear down the old Granite High School are moving forward. The city is working with developers to build dozens of homes, a retail center, and maybe even a library.
In a joint-contract to develop the 27 acres of land at and around the boarded-up building, Garbett Homes and Wasatch Group are making their plans official.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99L (KTVX)

 

Spanish Fork teacher faces new charge of raping second student

SPANISH FORK – A teacher charged with raping one of her students now faces an additional charge accusing her of raping another student at her home.
Sarah Lindsay Lewis, 27, of Payson, was charged on Jan. 30 in 4th District Court with rape, a first-degree felony; tampering with a witness, a third-degree felony; and two counts of supplying alcohol to a minor, a class A misdemeanor.
Lewis, a dance and social studies teacher at Landmark High School in Spanish Fork, was accused of having sexual intercourse with a 17-year-old boy on Jan. 4 in her home.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99y (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/99P (KSL)

 

Ogden High teacher who died of cancer remembered as caring, inspiring educator

OGDEN – A beloved Ogden High School teacher who died over the weekend is being remembered by friends, colleagues and students as a caring, inspiring educator.
Clay Christensen, 40, died Saturday, Feb. 18, just seven months after being diagnosed with colon cancer. The health sciences teacher worked at the school for 12 years and taught a variety of classes during his time there, including anatomy, medical terminology, biology and chemistry.
Up until his diagnosis, Christensen served as department chairman of career and technical education, as well as advisor for the student club Health Occupations Students of America. On top of that, his obituary says he helped coach football, served as a student body advisor, took on the role of science department chairman and coached Academic Olympiad students.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99B (OSE)

 

Logan notebook manufacturer, foundation team up to build school in Mali

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah-based Mali Rising Foundation and Denik, a Logan-based notebook manufacturer, are teaming up to build a new school in the village of Sebela, Mali.
“Our team is thrilled to match the donations for this new school in Mali. It’s an honor to hear the stories of the students whose lives will change for the better,” Tyler Tolson, Denik’s founder and CEO, said in a statement. “Our customers have been so supportive. It’s because of their help that we’re able to provide the contribution to this school, as well as the three other schools we’ve previously funded in Laos, Guatemala and Mali.”
The village of Sebela provided half the cost of the school, and Denik will provide the other half by matching funds from individual donors up to $12,000. The company will also provide free notebooks for the first 50 donors who contribute $30 or more.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99z (DN)

 

Utah girls wrestle on junior high team amid gender discrimination lawsuit

A ninth-grade Utah girl who won a court ruling allowing her to wrestle against boys won her first match this week — by forfeit.
Kathleen Janis, 14, was declared victorious by forfeit Tuesday when the other team didn’t have an opponent in her 175-pound weight class, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
“To get here, it’s been tough,” Kathleen said. “But we’re good.”
The girl’s mother sued the Davis County School District for gender discrimination, arguing that the district permits female wrestlers at the high school level, but not in middle schools over concerns about “inappropriate or sexual touching.”
A judge earlier this month ordered the district to allow middle school girls to wrestle while the case is pending, Fox 13 reported.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9a7 (Fox)

 

Ogden School District moves toward playing 9th-grade athletes at high schools

OGDEN – The Ogden School District Board of Education took the first step toward changing a policy that would move all ninth grade athletes to compete at the high school level.
At a meeting Thursday, the board approved the first reading of the policy, which previously allowed for only some ninth-grade students to play at the high school level. The board must approve a second reading of the policy for it go to info effect, which spokesman Jer Bates said is scheduled to happen in March.
The policy change is meant to increase the number of students participating, as well as the skill level of teams throughout the district, District Athletics Director Jethro Helmbrecht said.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99F (OSE)

 

Box Elder senior realizes cheerleading dream despite neurological disease

BRIGHAM CITY – Kiara Trussell spent a good portion of her life believing her dream of being a cheerleader was unattainable.
Now, the 17-year-old Box Elder senior is in the midst of realizing that dream. Can you blame her if she doesn’t exactly put her health first when deciding whether or not to show up for an event?
Trussell has a progressive neurological disease called Friedreich’s ataxia, a disease that has confined her to a wheelchair. Until this school year, Trussell thought the disease would prevent her from being accepted.
With the support of assistant cheer coach Trudy Mair, Trussell tried out this year and made the team.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99C (OSE)

 

Springville girls team fulfills hoops dream for manager with special needs

SPRINGVILLE – When Springville’s girls basketball team clinched the Region 8 championship with a win over rival Maple Mountain last Tuesday night, they did it with a strong complement of players.
And one very special starter.
Team manager Taylee Smith has never let down syndrome get in the way of her dreams, including being named Homecoming queen and starting a varsity game in her senior year at Springville High.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99N (KSL)

 

Ira Glass tells ‘What Say Ye?’ podcast about visiting Payson High School

Ira Glass, of “This American Life” fame, has visited Utah a bunch of times. His visit to Payson High School on Jan. 27, however, was a first.
Payson High is spotlighted on the next episode of “This American Life,” which premieres this weekend on public radio and online. The episode focuses on the topic of grand gestures – a subject that’s been familiar to Payson High’s students for decades now. As part of a larger tradition within the Utah and Idaho region, Payson High students ask each other to school dances in elaborate (and sometimes shocking) ways. Going big has become the standard, and that phenomenon is gradually spreading to high schools in other states.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9ac (PDH)

 

Clean air poster contest winners announced

Some were scary, some funny, but they all support a good cause: raising awareness about air quality in Cache Valley.
The winners of the 2017 Utah High School Clean Air Poster Contest were announced Saturday at the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum Family Art Day at the Merrill-Cazier Library. Now in its third year, the poster contest reached 400 students at six local high schools. Out of those 400, 28 won school-wide recognition and $50 prizes. On Saturday, the final nine winners were announced.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9aa (LHJ)

 

Woman uses puppets to help kids build healthy teeth

PROVO- 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/99w (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9ab (USN&WR)

 

Utah Elementary Schools to Celebrate Dr.Seuss’ Birthday

SALT LAKE CITY – Thursday, March 2, thousands of Utah elementary students will be heard rhyming in unison as they participate in Dr. Seuss Day, part of the National Education Association’s Read Across America initiative.
United Way of Salt Lake is partnering with 17 schools in Salt Lake and Davis counties that are hosting Dr. Seuss fun reading events.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9a6 (KCSG)

 

Nine- year-old wins Reflections contest with music composition

Lizzie Noel’s song, “Counting My Freckles,” is an original composition she entered for the Spring Lane Elementary PTA Reflection competition. She won at her school, council and district level and now is advancing to the state competition. She is 9 years old and in the fourth grade.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9a8 (Cottonwood-Holladay Journal)

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Who deserves praise and criticism this week in Northern Utah?
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner editorial

The Standard-Examiner Editorial Board hashes out the positions we take on the Opinion page. Here’s what members recommended last week for praise and criticism:

THUMBS DOWN: To the 30 percent of Utah schools without anti-bullying policies.
Schools have a responsibility to have on record a clear definition of bullying – including hazing, cyberbullying, intimidation and physical abuse – and a procedure for students, teachers and parents to use to address and correct/prevent the problem.
News stories surface every year of kids who are bullied to the point they harm themselves or others. We need to do all we can to promote zero tolerance of physical and psychological abuse of kids, even and especially when it’s coming from other kids.
If that’s not a good enough argument, then this one should be: It’s the law. A Deseret News story notes school districts and charter schools are required by the state to implement bullying, cyberbullying, hazing and harassment policies.
A 70 percent grade on a test is an F.
So is compliance with this law by only 70 percent of Utah schools.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99H

 

If knowledge is power, then ignorance is STDs
SUUNews editorial

Last week, Utah state legislators rejected a plan for comprehensive sexual education, insisting on maintaining an abstinence-based curriculum. In response, the pornography website xHamster started rerouting its visitors from Utah to their sexual education series called “The Box.” In a popup on the site, a message reads, “Utahns consume the most porn per capita of any state, but have some of the lowest levels of sexual education. We’re here to change that.”
This week, the University Journal Editorial Board tackled sexual education, discussing options for curricula in Utah alongside the effects of abstinence-only education. The general consensus was that sex ed should be comprehensive, as abstinence-only education is largely ineffective and detrimental.
To begin, one member emphasized that abstinence-only education perpetuates silence and shame on the topic of sex, even though many are obsessed with it. Young people still have sex in Utah – they just don’t talk about it.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9ae

 

Utah needs earned-income tax credit to break poverty cycle
Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Matthew Weinstein, state priorities partnership director for Voices for Utah Children, and Derek Monson, director of public policy for Sutherland Institute

For some children in Utah, poverty is their inheritance. By no choice of their own, they have never experienced life outside the world of welfare dependence.
As these children grow older, they face a daunting choice: continue in the lifestyle they know and grew up in, or transition toward an unfamiliar life of self-reliance. Even if these young people have a healthy desire for the latter, it can be a difficult road with many personal, cultural, educational, economic and policy barriers.
Fortunately, we can do something to tear down some of these barriers. Specifically, the Utah Legislature can start by passing HB294 – Utah Intergenerational Poverty Work and Self-Sufficiency Tax Credit.
This proposal would help those seeking a way out of intergenerational poverty by lowering tax barriers and allowing them to keep more of what they earn through employment. At the federal level, this policy is called the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Creating an EITC for Utahns in intergenerational poverty makes sense on several levels.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99c

 

Raise taxes on top earners for desperately needed school dollars
Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Sen. Jim Dabakis

My bill, Senate Bill 141, would raise $321 million a year for our neighborhood schools without raising taxes on 99.5 percent of Utahns.
After 30 years, Utah’s 628,900 K-12 students don’t need any more lectures, tests or audits from the Legislature. Lawmakers have relentlessly pestered our hero teachers, squeezing, poking and prodding in an effort to find inefficiencies. If they haven’t found them by now, they probably don’t exist. Enough investigation. What our children need now is less hot air from the politicians and a lot more cash. It’s time for the Legislature to do its job – adequately fund education.
Before 2006, Utah had a progressive state income tax that topped out at 7 percent. I have introduced a bill that would reinstate the 7 percent rate, but only for people making more than $500,000 a year ($250,000 for singles). SB141 would affect only about half of one percent of Utahns. That’s 18,000 taxpayers, with an average increase of $12,800.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99e

 

Our economy can’t handle tax hike, and schools show they don’t need it
Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Evelyn Everton, Utah state director of Americans for Prosperity

Utahns know the importance of a strong public education system – and today our public schools rank 10 spots higher in the national rankings published by Education Week than they did five years ago. Unfortunately, a new organization would prefer to ignore this progress and raise taxes on all of us.
The group, “Our Schools Now,” recently wrote an op-ed in these pages calling on the state to raise the personal income tax to increase government spending on education. The facts show this is not only unnecessary, but would set our state back.
Hiking the income tax now would put the brakes on our booming economy. Gov. Jon Huntsman cut the state income tax from 7 percent to 5 percent in 2008, and in recent years Utah’s economy has enjoyed some of the strongest growth in the country. Businesses and workers have flocked to the state, which created 49,500 new jobs in 2016. Unemployment is falling and wages are rising.
There’s no reason to believe these tax cuts hurt the quality of public education. In fact, high school graduation rates have risen by 15 percentage points since 2008.
Low taxes have clearly worked for Utah. Why reverse course now? Raising the income tax would only make the state less competitive by driving away workers and entrepreneurs.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99d

 

Teachers in Utah are in crisis, but it’s business as usual on the Hill
Deseret News op-ed by Rep. Joel Briscoe

Teachers in Utah are in crisis – but you wouldn’t know it at the Utah Legislature. More teachers leave their job as teachers after one year in the classroom than in any other state, and over half of teachers are gone after five years. Teachers in charter schools leave more frequently than teachers in traditional public schools, and we don’t know why. Students in Utah colleges are increasingly not interested in the teaching profession – due to the potential low salary and the lack of respect offered to them as future educators.
But for some reason, it is business as usual on the Hill. Lobbyists pushing more software? Check. Proposals to end federal oversight? Check. Bullying? Sure. Sunscreen seems to be a relatively new one. Programs to support teachers, attract talented people to our classrooms and encourage newly trained and licensed professional teachers to stay in the classroom? Not so much.
Case in point: the Peer Assistance Review (PAR) program in the Salt Lake City School District, which is designed to help newly hired schoolteachers. The PAR program is doing its job. While the state average is losing 50 percent of our new teachers in five years, the PAR program has been successful in keeping 90 percent of its new teachers. But the State School Board recommended that the Legislature cease funding for the PAR program. The $400,000 appropriated for PAR runs out this June, and the program will end without legislative action.
So far the Legislature has deferred to the State School Board’s belief that $400,000 is too much to spend for one school district for a successful program that keeps teachers in the classroom.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99g

 

I don’t care if my kids get A’s
Deseret News op-ed by Brooke Romney, a freelance writer

The argument is as old as school itself. “Why do you care so much about my grades?” This is often followed by a long list of who gets paid big bucks for A’s, whose parents don’t care at all if they have a D, and a million reasons why B’s are absolutely fine. With this speech at the end of every semester, I realized that I needed to be a little more clear to my sons about why grades matter.
I started off with, “I don’t care if you get A’s.” They were skeptical and I saw the shock in their faces, disbelief really. It was time to explain:
“It’s not about the A. It is about hard work and effort. When I see a B+ in health and notice a missing assignment and three late assignments, that B+ is unacceptable.
When I see a B+ in honors science and know you have gone in early for help, turned in everything on time, have a few points of extra credit and studied hard for the final test, I will high-five you for that B+ every time.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99s

 

More qualified than the secretary of education
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Scott Spendlove

For any parent who has ever attended a PTA or after-school meeting, job well done. For you have more experience working to improve the function of public education than does the recently confirmed secretary of the U.S. Department of Education.
For any student, any age, in the public school system, acknowledge your accomplishment. You have a greater skill set in dealing with the realities of the classroom environment than the individual charged with implementing federal decisions on your behalf.
For any first-year teacher who works in a public school, take a bow. While your salary does not reflect it, you have infinitely more training, academic knowledge, teaching and administrative experience in dealing with the challenges and rewards of public education than does the individual now charged with carrying out federally funded research based on educational strategies for the nation
http://gousoe.uen.org/99r

 

Let process unfold
Deseret News letter from David Folland

Two weeks ago,10 courageous Logan high school and college students traveled to the Utah State Capitol. They came to request support for a resolution that they had drafted. They found success: Sen. Jim Dabakis agreed to sponsor their resolution, now SJR 9, “Joint Resolution on Climate Change.” It states that climate change is occurring and presents both a risk and an opportunity. This resolution is an invitation for Utah to join the discussion on climate.
Why did these young people want the Legislature to pass their resolution? The story goes back to SJR 12, a resolution the state Legislature passed in 2010. SJR 12 basically said that human-caused climate change is not occurring, and thus the EPA should not regulate greenhouse gases. Since then, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the EPA’s mandate to regulate greenhouse emissions. Why? Because they agree with the solid scientific evidence that human-caused global warming is damaging our common home.
On Friday, Sen. Margaret Dayton, chair of the House Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee, decided the resolution would not be debated in her committee, effectively shutting it down. If you agree with the students, let Sen. Dayton know. With enough public input, perhaps she will let the legislative process unfold.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99A

 

The Japanese education system may solve the problems of US public education
(Washington, DC) The Hill op-ed by MATTHEW EASTERDAY, assistant professor of learning sciences at Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy

The uproar over the new Secretary of Education’s first days in the cabinet and the state of American public education K through 12 ignores the challenge of how we might actually improve teaching. And it can be a relatively simple fix.
Blocked by protesters from visiting a Washington, D.C. school recently, newly confirmed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, an avid support of privatization, met with public school officials eventually.
Yes, DeVos had faced a historically close vote – the first ever cabinet confirmation when a vice president cast the tie-breaking vote.
Opponents of DeVos cited her lack of experience, the poor performance of the Michigan Charter schools and her financial contributions to many of the senators voting for her confirmation.
Secretary DeVos revealed alarming misunderstandings about education policy and resisted calls to maintain funding for public education or to hold private schools and charter schools to the same standards as public schools. She remains a supporter of privatization.
However, as Diane Ravitch argues in her 2013 book “Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools,” there is scant evidence privatization works.
If privatization approaches, such as vouchers, charter schools, merit pay and abolishing tenure haven’t provided the magic bullet to improving education, it is because they don’t directly address how we improve teaching.
What may solve the problems of American public education is what already works in Japan.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99j

 

Tax-credit scholarships: America’s chance for a 50-state education win
(Washington, DC) The Hill op-ed by DARLA ROMFO, president of the Children’s Scholarship Fund

We rightfully talk a great deal about income inequality in this country, as well as the need to improve education, particularly among low-income children. Bridging the income gap starts with providing a solid education. The president and Congress have a unique opportunity to help kids currently struggling in a school that isn’t meeting their needs by supporting a 50-state federal education scholarship tax credit.
Better yet, it wouldn’t take any funds away from traditional public schools. Rather, the scholarships would all be funded with private dollars.
It is time that leaders in Washington put parents and their children at the forefront of every education policy consideration. An education tax credit is a good first-step that can actually do something immediately for the children who need it most, allowing them a chance to enjoy learning, reach their full potential, and thrive in adulthood.
One size does not fit all when it comes to how a child learns, and a growing number of parents are searching for better options. Many move to a different school district or choose a private school option, but too many others can’t afford to move their families for one of their children.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9a5

 

Even the SAT Has Become Political
The exam should follow dinner etiquette and stay away from controversial topics such as religion, politics and sex.
Wall Street Journal op-ed by By Trip Apley, a high school student in Michigan

As more than six million high-school students do every year, I sat down to take the College Board’s SAT exam on Dec. 3, 2016. The test was going well until I reached the essay question, which asks students to assess how an author of an article supports his claims.
The basic concept was easy enough, but I was surprised by the source our essay was supposed to be based on. We were asked to analyze a February 2014 Huffington Post article supporting the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act. The author: New York’s junior senator, Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, who had recently introduced the legislation.
It wouldn’t be appropriate to have an SAT essay question using an article from a conservative blog about reasons to ban late-term abortion. And it is equally inappropriate to force students to focus their attention on a one-sided argument from one of the most liberal members of the U.S. Senate.
http://gousoe.uen.org/994

 

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Rough First Week Gives Betsy DeVos a Glimpse of the Fight Ahead
New York Times

By the end of her first full week as the secretary of education, Betsy DeVos had already sparred with a middle school and a former schools chancellor in Washington, accused some of the school’s teachers of passively awaiting instruction and said she would be pleased if the department she currently runs did not exist in the future. She encountered an immediate display of the type of fierce resistance she will face as she tries to set new policies for the Education Department.
On Sunday, she received a somewhat warmer welcome from the New York City schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, who said in a radio interview that she was ready to work with Ms. DeVos. Even as she urged Ms. DeVos not to cut funding for the city’s public schools, Ms. Fariña said that despite their ideological differences, the two could make sure that children are properly educated. “I work with everyone,” Ms. Fariña said. “I will have conversations with anyone and everyone to ensure that the work we’re doing here is being celebrated and recognized, and we’ll see what time will bring.”
In interviews with two online news organizations, Ms. DeVos began laying the groundwork for her approach. “It would be fine with me to have myself worked out of a job,” she told Axios, adding that she expects there will be more public charter schools, private schools and virtual schools under her leadership. She told Townhall, a conservative outlet, that she doubted the validity of the demonstrations against her and that her critics and protesters wanted to make her life “a living hell.”
“I don’t think most of those are spontaneous, genuine protests,” she said. “I think they’re all being sponsored and very carefully planned.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/99k

http://gousoe.uen.org/99l (New York Daily News)

 

DeVos criticized teachers at D.C. school she visited – and they are not having it
Washington Post

Newly minted Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had a hard time getting inside the District’s Jefferson Middle School Academy last week when protesters briefly blocked her from entering. But at the end of her visit – her first to a public school since taking office – she stood on Jefferson’s front steps and pronounced it “awesome.”
A few days later, she seemed less enamored. The teachers at Jefferson were sincere, genuine and dedicated, she said, they seemed to be in “receive mode.”
“They’re waiting to be told what they have to do, and that’s not going to bring success to an individual child,” DeVos told a columnist for the conservative online publication Townhall. “You have to have teachers who are empowered to facilitate great teaching.”
DeVos, who has no professional experience in public education, is an avowed proponent of voucher schools, charter schools, online schools and other alternatives to traditional public schools. Teachers across the country have been galled by what they see as her lack of faith in – and understanding of – the public schools that educate nearly nine in 10 of the nation’s children.
Jefferson educators found her comments about their work hard to take: On Friday evening, the school responded to DeVos via its Twitter account, taking exception to the education secretary’s characterization of Jefferson teachers.
“We’re about to take her to school,” the first of 11 rapid-fire tweets said.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99h

http://gousoe.uen.org/99i (HuffPo)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9a2 (Ed Week)

 

Trump Administration Working on Trans Bathroom Guidelines
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is working on a new set of directives on the use of school bathrooms by transgender students, the White House said Tuesday.
The announcement alarmed LGBT groups and parents across the country who have urged President Donald Trump to safeguard Obama-era guidelines allowing students to use school restrooms that match their gender identity, not their assigned gender at birth.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer did not provide any details on the new guidelines that are being prepared by the Justice Department, but said Trump has long held that such matters should be left to the states, not the federal government, to decide.
“I think that all you have to do is look at what the president’s view has been for a long time, that this is not something the federal government should be involved in, this is a states’ rights issue,” Spicer said.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99U

http://gousoe.uen.org/99W (Reuters)

http://gousoe.uen.org/99X (Ed Week)

 

‘Alternative’ Education: Using Charter Schools to Hide Dropouts and Game the System
School officials nationwide dodge accountability ratings by steering low achievers to alternative programs. In Orlando, Florida, the nation’s tenth-largest district, thousands of students who leave alternative charters run by a for-profit company aren’t counted as dropouts.
Pro Publica

TUCKED AMONG POSH GATED COMMUNITIES, and meticulously landscaped shopping centers, Olympia High School in Orlando offers more than two dozen Advanced Placement courses, even more afterschool clubs, and an array of sports from bowling to water polo. U.S. News and World Report ranked it among the nation’s top 1,000 high schools last year. Big letters painted in brown on one campus building urge its more than 3,000 students to “Finish Strong.”
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Olympia’s success in recent years, however, has been linked to another, quite different school five miles away. Last school year, 137 students assigned to Olympia’s attendance zone instead attended Sunshine High, a charter alternative school run by a for-profit company. Sunshine stands a few doors down from a tobacco shop and a liquor store in a strip mall. It offers no sports teams and few extra-curricular activities.
Sunshine’s 455 students – more than 85 percent of whom are black or Hispanic – sit for four hours a day in front of computers with little or no live teaching. One former student said he was left to himself to goof off or cheat on tests by looking up answers on the internet. A current student said he was robbed near the strip mall’s parking lot, twice.
Sunshine takes in cast-offs from Olympia and other Orlando high schools in a mutually beneficial arrangement. Olympia keeps its graduation rate above 90 percent – and its rating an “A” under Florida’s all-important grading system for schools – partly by shipping its worst achievers to Sunshine. Sunshine collects enough school district money to cover costs and pay its management firm, Accelerated Learning Solutions (ALS), a more than $1.5 million-a-year “management fee,” 2015 financial records show – more than what the school spends on instruction.
But students lose out, a ProPublica investigation found. Once enrolled at Sunshine, hundreds of them exit quickly with no degree and limited prospects. The departures expose a practice in which officials in the nation’s tenth-largest school district have for years quietly funneled thousands of disadvantaged students – some say against their wishes – into alternative charter schools that allow them to disappear without counting as dropouts.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9a3

http://gousoe.uen.org/9a4 (USAT)

Denver Looks For Balanced Approach To School Choice
NPR All Things Considered

Denver’s innovative approach to school choice gets high marks from parents and pundits. The program also includes rebooting and even closing down under-performing schools, mostly in neighborhoods with some of the most vulnerable students.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99Q

 

Arizona parents, teachers denounce divisive school bills
Christine Marsh, the 2016 Arizona Educational Foundation Teacher of the Year, said parents, grandparents and educators are fed up with underfunding, unmet promises and parts of the education-funding proposals.
(Phoenix) Arizona Republic

Carrie Brown, her son, Peter, and about 150 other parents and education advocates walked through the Arizona Capitol on Monday with postcards in hand.
The postcards, addressed to House Speaker J.D. Mesnard and Senate President Steve Yarbrough, expressed opposition to a batch of controversial education bills. They also included requests for the Republican leaders to allow additional public comment on the education components of the proposed state budget.
Such activism from parents and teachers has become a near-constant at the Capitol during the past two legislative sessions. But their efforts this year – aided in part by left-leaning groups that routinely oppose Republican legislation, such as the Arizona Education Association and Arizona School Boards Association – appear to have gathered numbers and a greater sense of urgency driven by frustration over the direction of public education.
As education has consumed the attention of the public and state lawmakers, parents and educators are working to influence the state budget and other legislation they say will affect their families for years to come.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99m

 

King County judge rules state’s charter-school law is constitutional
Seattle Times

A King County Superior Court judge ruled Friday that the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging Washington’s charter-school law didn’t demonstrate that charter schools are unconstitutional.
Friday’s ruling is part of an ongoing legal battle over the constitutionality of Washington’s charter-school law. The lawsuit was filed by a coalition of parents, educators and civic groups.
Coalition members haven’t decided whether they’ll appeal yet, said Rich Wood, spokesman for the Washington Education Association.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9a0

http://gousoe.uen.org/9a1 (Ed Week)

 

School District Teams with Sandy Hook Mom to Teach Empathy
Associated Press

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — Nelba Marquez-Greene believes the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, which killed her 6-year-old daughter, could have been avoided if more had been done years earlier to address the social isolation and mental health problems of the shooter, Adam Lanza.
To help other vulnerable youths, Marquez-Greene, a family therapist, is working with a Connecticut school system on a program to help students connect with one another.
“I want people to remember that Adam, the person who did this, was also once 6 and in a first-grade classroom, and that if we had reached out earlier then maybe this could have changed,” Marquez-Greene said.
Marquez-Greene’s Ana Grace Project foundation, named for her slain daughter, is working with four elementary schools in New Britain, a city just west of Hartford, to teach empathy, combat bullying and help socially isolated children.
http://gousoe.uen.org/99V

 

————————————————————
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 21:

Senate Education Committee meeting
8 a.m., 210 Senate Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/SEDU0221.ag.htm

House Government Operations Committee meeting
8 a.m., 30 House Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/hgoc0221.ag.htm

House Political Subdivisions Committee meeting
8 a.m., 450 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/hpol0221.ag.htm

Senate Business and Labor Committee meeting
8 a.m., 215 Senate Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/sbus0221.ag.htm

Senate Health and Human Services Committee meeting
8 a.m., 250 Senate Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/shhs0221.ag.htm

Senate Rules Committee meeting
Noon; Senate Rules Committee Room
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/srul0221.ag.htm

Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee meeting
4 p.m., 250 Senate Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/sjlc0221.ag.htm

Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee meeting
4:06 p.m., 415 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/snae0221.ag.htm

House Education Committee meeting
4:10 p.m., 30 House Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/HEDU0221.ag.htm

House Health and Human Services Committee meeting
4:10 p.m., 210 Senate Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/hhhs0221.ag.htm

House Public Utilities, Energy, and Technology Committee meeting
4:10 p.m., 450 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/hput0221.ag.htm

February 22:

House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee meeting
8 a.m., 30 House Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/HLAW0222.ag.htm

Senate Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee meeting
8 a.m., 215 Senate Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/sedw0222.ag.htm

Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee meeting
8 a.m., 415 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/sgop0222.ag.htm

Senate Revenue and Taxation Standing Committee
8 a.m., 250 Senate Building
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/srev0222.ag.htm

Senate Rules Committee meeting
Noon; Senate Rules Committee Room
http://le.utah.gov/~2017/agenda/srul0222.ag.htm

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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