Education News Roundup: March 13, 2017

2017 Higher Ed Base Budget

Today’s Top Picks:

President Niederhauser predicts that without intervening legislative action, Utah higher ed will be entirely funded out of the education fund in less than five years. As a quick history lesson, the education fund, until 1996, solely funded public ed. In 1996 a constitutional revision was passed by voters allowing some of the education fund to go to higher ed.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9o3 (UP)

D-News profiles 2017 Utah Teacher of the Year Valerie Gates.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9od (DN)

The Trump administration issues new state ESSA applications.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oH (Ed Week)

California considers exempting teachers from state income tax.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oB (USN&WR)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Lawmakers ready to tackle difficult issue of tax reform this year

2017 Legislature: Here’s what happened — and what didn’t

Hillyard addresses public education funding and gas tax changes following 2017 Legislative Session

Utah Bill Would Offer Some Teachers in High Poverty Schools $5,000 Bonuses

The ‘Saint of West High’: Utah Teacher of the Year invests all for students, families

Valley schools excited about new trust land funding

Navajo Mountain H.S. competes in national robotics competition, wins ‘Most Inspirational’

East High School to open washroom, laundry facilities for homeless students

How to get kids to use salad bars in public schools

Defense moves to keep hearing for teen accused in ‘pink’ deaths secret

Utah teen in custody after allegedly using cell phone to spy on girl in elementary school bathroom

New face on board of education

Logan and Box Elder High School seniors win Sterling Scholar Awards

Kids have their say about favorite books

Utah students compete in annual Braille Challenge

Students in Farmington learn about our legal system during ‘3 Little Pigs’ mock trial

More than 1,000 kids party for Make-A-Wish Foundation at Spanish Fork high school

Bots battle it out in Steampunk-themed competition

Fundraiser aims to bring out kids’ best

Students get hands-on tour of Disney On Ice production

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Teacher-bonus bill will be a test-based test

The good and the bad of the 2017 Utah Legislature

The winners and losers of the 2017 Utah Legislative session

Gov. Herbert should sign these bills

Who deserves praise and criticism this week in Northern Utah?

With legislators falling short, the people must step up to fund schools

Mr. Nick Baker Teaches Today—Listen

NATION

Trump Education Dept. Releases New ESSA Guidelines

Key Democrats Press Betsy DeVos on Direction of ESSA Implementation

Trump Sharpens Budget Knife for Education Department, Sources Say

The Office for Civil Rights’s Volatile Power
The influence of the office has waxed and waned with each administration. How will it fare under Betsy DeVos?

California mulls eliminating income tax for teachers
The state is hoping the first-of-its-kind proposal generates interest in the profession at a time when educators are harder to come by.

Nevada, facing a shortage, struggles to keep teachers

How Boston achieved its record high school graduation rate
Even more encouraging, experts say: The number of African-American and Latino students graduating jumped by double digits over the past decade – 13.6 and 16.5 percentage points respectively.

Kindergartners Enter More Ready in Math and Literacy, Researchers Say
Kindergarten students in 2010 started school with more math and literacy skills than kindergartners did just 12 years earlier. What changed in that time?

Fearing deportation, Bay Area immigrants rush to make U.S.-born kids dual Mexican citizens

Teaching Trump: Should Teachers Offer Up Their Own Politics?

Hawaii Teacher: ‘I Won’t Teacher’ Undocumented Immigrants

Resignation And Investigations Swirl Around Contentious Dietrich, Idaho Assault Case

 

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UTAH NEWS
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Lawmakers ready to tackle difficult issue of tax reform this year

Sen. President Wayne Niederhauser sees the 2017 Legislative session as a missed opportunity to address tax reform.
Niederhauser, R-Sandy, is a bit of a canary in a coal mine when it comes to paying for Utah’s needs in the future, especially since the population along the Wasatch Front is expected to double by 2040, which is just 23 years away. He has repeatedly said the state would not be able to pay for things they need to if there’s not some sort of change in tax policy.
“We will rue the day we didn’t invest in the assets of this state to meet our needs,” says Niederhauser. “We should have had this discussion last year, but politically it’s very difficult.”
This session, lawmakers started discussing a massive tax reform package that included reinstating the state portion of the sales tax on food, lowering the income tax rate while phasing out some tax credits and exemptions. Legislators dropped the income tax portion, then discovered restoring the food sales tax wouldn’t have the impact they thought it would.
Even though there was no tax reform this year, lawmakers will study the issue over the interim and come back in the 2018 session to try and find a solution.

Niederhauser sees a day of reckoning coming for lawmakers in the not too distant future. For example, if no changes are made, he says Utah’s higher education system will be funded entirely out of the education fund in 3-5 years, which will really hamstring policy makers.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9o3 (UP)

 

2017 Legislature: Here’s what happened — and what didn’t

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Legislature closed out its 2017 session at midnight Thursday having passed more than 500 bills, including alcohol reforms and a last-minute change to the state’s bigamy ban.
Here’s what lawmakers accomplished — and what they didn’t — during the 45-day session:
Tax overhauls
GOP legislative leadership pushed hard for a tax reform package that would have restored the full sales tax on food, reduced how much Utahns could earn before losing their income tax deductions, and cut both the sales and income tax rates.
But after new data surfaced showing that raising the 1.75 percent state sales tax on food would have little impact on the volatility of the key revenue source, leaders dropped the proposal.
A statewide transient room tax was imposed for the first time, adding about 32 cents to a $100 room bill. The $5 million or so expected to be raised would be used to pay for an outdoor recreation grant program.
In addition, the complicated formula used to calculate the gas tax was adjusted to compensate for steep drops in wholesale fuel prices. The change is expected to increase the cost of gas about 0.6 cents per gallon beginning in 2019 and 1.2 cents a gallon in 2020.
Education
The general consensus among the state’s education leaders was that public and higher education were treated well during this session.
Lawmakers approved a 4 percent increase to the value of the weighted pupil unit, the basic building block of education funding. They also appropriated $68 million for enrollment growth — $64 million in ongoing funding and $4 million in one-time money.
Other highlights for public education include $2.6 million for educator license fees, formerly paid by teachers; $5 million for teacher supply money; and $3 million for kindergarten enrichment programs.
For higher education, lawmakers authorized a 2 percent raise for faculty and staff of the state’s colleges and universities. State funds will also cover an 8 percent increase in health insurance costs — the same compensation bump provided for other state employees.
In addition, the Legislature approved $62 million for operations to help address a nearly 2 percent expected increase in enrollment growth and $31 million for building projects.
Sex education
Lawmakers supported a proposal to get rid of a state law that bans the “advocacy of homosexuality” in schools, a move driven by a court challenge from gay rights groups.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oa (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9oj (OSE)

 

Hillyard addresses public education funding and gas tax changes following 2017 Legislative Session

After 12 years as the so-called “budget man” for the Utah State Legislature, chairing the Executive Appropriations Committee, Republican Senator Lyle Hillyard of Logan changed positions this year and focused during the 2017 General Session on co-chairing the Public Education Appropriations Committee.
Hillyard said it took a great deal of time, energy, care and consideration from many dedicated individuals to bring the education budget together. He said he was pleased with the way the groups worked in harmony, all of them passionate about children and public education.
“We ended up giving $240 million to public education, which is about 59 percent of the budget, the new money put in,” Hillyard said. “I think not only the money, I think the way we allocated it—I think the feeling in the committee is that we were listening to people, we were encouraging their response and we were having a having good dialogue back and forth.”
Hillyard said educators received a four percent increase in the Weighted Pupil Unit, or per-student funding, which is money allocated directly to school districts on a per-student basis. Also helpful to teachers was the fact that the Legislature removed the statutory requirement that teachers pay fees to become licensed.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oq (CVD)

 

Utah Bill Would Offer Some Teachers in High Poverty Schools $5,000 Bonuses

In a bid to keep high-performing teachers at high poverty schools, Utah lawmakers have sent a bill to the governor that would give high flyers at economically challenged schools $5,000 annual bonuses.
Around the country, school administrators often struggle to attract teachers, particularly veteran educators, to schools that enroll large numbers of poor students. Often, higher salaries and better working conditions draw these educators to wealthier schools. That means poor schools usually have much higher teacher turnover rates and are much more likely to be staffed by novice educators.
“It’s a huge disparity,” state Representative Mike Winder, a Republican from suburban Salt Lake County and the sponsor of the bill, told The Salt Lake City Tribune. “And we, as a state, have a statutory duty to step in.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oQ (Ed Week)

 

The ‘Saint of West High’: Utah Teacher of the Year invests all for students, families

SALT LAKE CITY — Valerie Gates is an English teacher at West High School, but that doesn’t begin to cover it.
She’s also an advocate, taxi driver, social worker, protector, fundraiser, facilitator, mentor and confidant for the refugees and immigrants who make up her classes.
She drives kids to dental appointments, gathers furniture for their families, visits their homes, provides a place to eat and hang out, helps them navigate government bureaucracy and sits up with them in the hospital.
Gates doesn’t just know the names of her students, she knows their family members’ names, their history, their needs.
“Valerie is often referred to as the ‘Saint of West High,’” says Principal Paul Sagers.
She climbs on her bike at 5:45 every morning and pedals to West High School in the dark. She prepares her lesson plans until 7:10, and then she opens the door of her room to students, who arrive a half-hour early for school to discuss family problems, health issues, class work or just to eat breakfast and use her school supplies. Many of them are on an errand from their parents — unable to speak or read English, they ask her to decipher letters relating to immigration, food stamps, housing, finances, welfare and so on.
Gates, 58, teaches several classes during the day and oversees a program to help potential first-generation college kids, as well as a peer-mentoring program after school, and then she pedals home at 4:30. Twenty minutes later, after a quick bowl of cereal, she’s out the door again, this time to teach at Horizonte High, a night school for adults who are trying to earn diplomas. Her day ends at 9:30.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9od (DN)

Valley schools excited about new trust land funding

School administrators are cheering the outcome of a November ballot amendment that will increase school trust revenue distributed to schools by 30 percent for the 2017-2018 school year, providing more money that schools can control locally.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9op (LHJ)

 

Navajo Mountain H.S. competes in national robotics competition, wins ‘Most Inspirational’

The competition draws dozens of teams from all over the Western U.S. and British Columbia – the University of Utah’s School of Engineering’s regional robotics competition.
But this year’s event featured a team that beat the odds just to be there — a team that some have likened to the Jamaican bobsled team at the Olympics.
Students from Navajo Mountain High School, believed to be the most remote school in the continental U.S., fielded a team comprised of nearly half of their student body — just 32. Many of them don’t have electricity or even running water in their homes, but in this endeavor found themselves creating what could be the technology of the future.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9os (KUTV)

 

East High School to open washroom, laundry facilities for homeless students

SALT LAKE CITY — Downstairs below the gym at East High School, two old small locker rooms are now being transformed.
Each now has fresh paint, a washing machine and clothes dryer, lockers with donated clothing and a shower with red and white tile, the school’s colors.
The importance of the lockers: they are for homeless students.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9of (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9ol (OSE)

 

How to get kids to use salad bars in public schools

Thanks to a national initiative, salad bars are showing up in public schools across the country. Now a Brigham Young University researcher is trying to nail down how to get kids to eat from them.
BYU health sciences professor Lori Spruance studies the impact of salad bars in public schools and has found one helpful tip: teens are more likely to use salad bars if they’re exposed to good, old-fashioned marketing. Students at schools with higher salad bar marketing are nearly three times as likely to use them.
“Children and adolescents in the United States do not consume the nationally recommended levels of fruits and vegetables,” Spruance said. “Evidence suggests that salad bars in schools can make a big difference. Our goal is to get kids to use them.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oR (EurekAlert)

A copy of the study
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oS (Health Education & Behavior $)

 

Defense moves to keep hearing for teen accused in ‘pink’ deaths secret

PARK CITY — Defense attorneys are attempting to exclude the public from hearings for a teenage boy accused of distributing “pink” to two 13-year-olds who police say died from overdoses of the synthetic drug.
Prosecutor Patricia Cassell confirmed that the motion to close the boy’s upcoming March 31 hearing was filed by defense attorneys, and that a possible resolution in the case is expected to be addressed at that time.
Prosecutors aren’t taking a position on the motion, Cassell said. In previous hearings, Cassell said prosecutors aren’t seeking to move the case into the adult system.
The now 16-year-old boy’s attorney, Tara Isaacson, would not say Friday whether the motion was filed by the defense or what is anticipated for the March 31 hearing. A court spokesman also would not provide details about the motion or the upcoming hearing.
The teenager is charged in 3rd District Juvenile Court with distribution of a controlled or counterfeit substance, a second-degree felony, and reckless endangerment, a class C misdemeanor.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9og (DN)

 

Utah teen in custody after allegedly using cell phone to spy on girl in elementary school bathroom

SUNSET, Utah – Authorities are investigating after a teenage boy allegedly sneaked into a girl’s bathroom at an elementary school and put a cell phone under a stall a child was using.
Sunset Police say video captured at Doxey Elementary School shows the teen, believed to be 15, going into the girl’s bathroom at the school Thursday afternoon outside of regular school hours.
The 10-year-old girl’s mother said they aren’t sure if the teen used the phone to capture video or images of her daughter, as that is something a crime lab is still investigating. Fox 13 News is not identifying the mother in order to protect the identity of the alleged victim.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oy (KSTU)

 

New face on board of education

GLENWOOD — The newest member of the Sevier School District Board of Education brings with him nearly four decades of experience.
John Foster spent his 38-year career educating children in Duchesne County, where he served as a high school counselor, German teacher and assistant principal.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oV (Richfield Reaper)

 

Logan and Box Elder High School seniors win Sterling Scholar Awards

Logan High School made a strong showing at the 2017 Deseret News/KSL Sterling Scholar Awards Thursday night, with two students winning their respective categories of competition in the Wasatch Front Region and a third student being selected as a runner-up. A student from nearby Box Elder High School was also a competition winner.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9or (CVD)

 

Kids have their say about favorite books

Parents, teachers, librarians and booksellers have a worthy goal in common: They are eager to put quality books in the hands of young readers. This is the reason prestigious awards like the Newbery and Caldecott medals exist — to recognize and promote outstanding titles for children.
But wait! Do kids always like the books adults select for them?
Sometimes. Still, there are plenty of award-winning children’s books that appeal more to the adults who select them than they do to young readers.
Cindy Mitchell, a middle-school librarian and book blogger (www.kissthebook.com), says this: “Personally, I don’t think the committees ever ask themselves if students will love the books when they make their choices. Maybe popularity isn’t a perfect measure, but even a book that will stand up to the test of time and be loved by parents who pass that love on to their children and grandchildren would be preferable.”
That’s why The Salt Lake Tribune recently invited Wasatch Front teachers and librarians from a range of schools (public, charter and private) to ask kids to share which books they’re actually reading. Here are their responses.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oc (SLT)

 

Utah students compete in annual Braille Challenge

SALT LAKE CITY — More than 40 students ages 5 to 18 put their skills to the test Friday during an annual competition.
This year marked the 17th annual Braille Challenge, which is a national competition for those with impaired vision.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9ov (KSTU)

 

Students in Farmington learn about our legal system during ‘3 Little Pigs’ mock trial

FARMINGTON, Utah — Students in Farmington recently got some hands-on experience with the criminal justice system in a fun setting.
Fox 13 News’ Max Roth takes us to Farmington for the mock trial, where the big bad wolf and curly the pig got their day in court.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9ow (KSTU)

 

More than 1,000 kids party for Make-A-Wish Foundation at Spanish Fork high school

SPANISH FORK, Utah – Spanish Fork hosted a party with more than 1,000 teens, mostly from South Utah County, but also from Layton and Cedar City, for Make-A-Wish on Friday.
With police permission, students were out until 2 a.m. for a cause called “Homeless for a night.”
The cause is an effort to raise funds for 6-year-old Stacey, according to Deon Youd, teacher and student council advisor at Spanish Fork high school, who wanted nothing more than a chance to see Prince Charming.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9ox (KSTU)

Bots battle it out in Steampunk-themed competition

J’Nai Lawrence, left, and Sam Korman, of East High School in Denver get their robot ready for the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Robotics Competition at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Friday. The event features 48 high school teams from as far away as California and Alberta, Canada, and is themed after the Steampunk stylings of authors like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. During the competition, co-sponsored by the University of Utah’s College of Engineering, the student-built robots must lob “fuel cells” (in the form of balls) into a mock steam boiler to build enough fuel to operate a simulated steam-powered airship. Meanwhile, robots also must transport giant gears to the airship to engage the ship’s propellers. Teams score points for each action. Finally, teams then must hoist the robots to their hovering airship to complete the round. The Steampunk aesthetic combines science fiction or science fantasy with the design of industrial steam-powered machinery from the 1800s. This year’s regional FIRST contest is the culmination of six weeks in which student teams design and order the parts for the robots, then build, program and test the bots. Teams that win the Utah regional competition and possibly select award winners will move on to the FIRST national championship held April 19-22 in Houston and April 26-29, in St. Louis. The public is invited to attend Saturday’s rounds, which run from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. There is no entrance fee.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oe (DN)

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

 

Fundraiser aims to bring out kids’ best

Kids and families take off at the sixth annual Race to Reduce Bullying at Wheeler Historic Farm on Saturday. The event aims to help Playworks Utah facilitate physical activities and feelings of safety to curtail bullying at Utah schools. The national nonprofit group provides more than 33,000 Utah children with safe, meaningful play throughout the school day at 58 Utah elementary schools throughout the state.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oh (DN)

 

Students get hands-on tour of Disney On Ice production

Alessa Pursell, a student at the Utah Schools of the Deaf and Blind, touches Mickey’s face and nose during a behind-the-scenes tour of Disney On Ice’s “Worlds of Enchantment” at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Friday. The show, which runs through Sunday, features characters from “Cars,” “Toy Story 3,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Frozen.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oi (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9oT (SLT)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9oU (KTVX)

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Teacher-bonus bill will be a test-based test
Salt Lake Tribune editorial

While most Utah teachers will slog on with basically the same money as always after this year’s legislative session, a few of them will have the chance to hit a jackpot.
Legislators passed House Bill 212, which will pay an extra $5,000 to teachers who show both an ability to raise test scores and a willingness to work in the most challenging neighborhood schools.
The parameters are narrowly defined to include only English, math and science teachers in the middle-school grades at certain schools with larger numbers of high-risk students. Only about 100 teachers will qualify for the money. With roughly 20,000 schoolteachers in Utah, this is more experiment than solution.
It is experimental for a couple of reasons. First, it’s merit pay. Much has been said of Utah’s inability to keep teachers; almost half are gone in the first five years. Low salaries get a lot of the blame, as they should, but less gets said about the fact that both average and great teachers are paid the same after five years.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9o5

 

The good and the bad of the 2017 Utah Legislature
Salt Lake Tribune editorial

Another session of the Utah Legislature has come to a close. As with any such human endeavor, there were accomplishments, errors and omissions. And there remain opportunities for improvements, corrections and, in a few cases, some vetoes from the governor.
Here are a few of the issues that occupied their time:

Tax reform • Dreams of rewriting the complex Utah tax code, a heavy lift under any circumstances, proved unattainable in such a busy period. There are just too many competing values and goals, including economic development, fairness and, most important, making up our deficient funding of public education. The good news was that plans to raise the state sales tax on groceries, among the most regressive tax levies there is, was abandoned. Leaders promise more work before the next session — work that must consider the Our Schools Now drive for an income-tax hike to pay for schools.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9o7

 

The winners and losers of the 2017 Utah Legislative session
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner editorial

A record number of bill files were opened by the Utah legislature this sessions, which wrapped up at midnight, March 9.
As with anything in politics, the results of this session created political winners and losers. In Northern Utah, we took at look at four groups who will be significantly affected by the passage — or defeat — of certain bills this session.
Nearly all the laws passed by the legislature await Gov. Gary Herbert’s signature, so while they seem likely to come to fruition, there’s still a chance for veto. Spokespeople with Herbert’s office have declined to indicate if there are any bills he plans to veto.
STUDENTS AND EDUCATORS
Though a measure to raise the state’s income tax rate from 5 percent to 5.875 percent didn’t pass, Weber School District Superintendent Jeff Stephens commended lawmakers for their educational funding decisions, calling this the “most positive and most supportive” legislative session he has experienced in the last six years.
A bill striking language in the state’s sex education law banning “advocacy of homosexuality” also passed this session. Pending Herbert’s signature, districts say they’re ready to adjust curriculum.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9ok

 

Gov. Herbert should sign these bills
(Provo) Daily Herald editorial

Over the course of 45 days, the Utah State Legislature considered hundreds of bills. Of those that made it past both the House and the Senate, these are some that we feel should be signed by Gov. Gary Herbert —

Education funding: It’s great that lawmakers found additional funding, but is it enough? Also, is this the best lawmakers could do after saying education was a priority at the beginning of this session?
http://gousoe.uen.org/9on

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

The Standard-Examiner Editorial Board meets weekly to hash out issues large and small. Here’s what it recommended last week for praise and criticism:
THUMBS UP: To Latinos in Action for again hosting its Youth Leadership Conference at Weber State University.
About 33 schools — 1,300 junior high and high school students — participated in the event, aimed at celebrating various Latino cultures and giving students access to role models who share their roots, including astronaut Jose Hernandez.
Vitriol over political issues often bleeds into a kid’s self-image, or at least exacerbates that feeling of being “otherized.” This event created a positive place for students to celebrate their heritage and focus on goal-setting, and our community is better for it.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9om

 

With legislators falling short, the people must step up to fund schools
Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Mark Bouchard, senior managing director of the Salt Lake City office of CB Richard Ellis

The conclusion of this year’s legislative session marks another missed opportunity to significantly support public education. Making the necessary level of investment in Utah children and grandchildren is only going to happen at the ballot box. The proposed 2018 ballot initiative is our best chance to bring meaningful investment to Utah classrooms.
This legislative session did provide funding for new students entering Utah classrooms. In addition, they provided a four percent cost of living adjustment. Considering that school districts require a 2.5 percent increase in order to maintain basic operations, that leaves approximately $68 in new funding for each Utah student. No matter how you look at it, $68 is not enough money to keep effective teachers from quitting or reduce overflowing classrooms.
Utah’s economy is strong. Why aren’t we able to find new money while we are doing well to make the investment that polls say 89 percent of Utah voters want? Tax cuts over the past 20 years have taken $1.2 billion from our schools. Small education funding increases will not dig us out of this hole.
We’ve been told that those tax cuts drive business expansion. But while we have brought back the 54,000 jobs that disappeared during the economic recession, the average wage of those jobs is $10,000 less than they were before the recession.
Though new education funding sources couldn’t be found, the Legislature did find $1 billion to expedite road projects by a few years. We were told that investing in roads will trickle down to education one day. A better approach would have been an investment in education to drive economic growth.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9o4

 

Legislature’s expansion of educational options is just the beginning
Deseret News op-ed by Christine Cooke, education policy analyst for Sutherland Institute

Another legislative session has come to a close after making some significant changes to Utah education.
Public schools received the bulk of new state money, as usual. Beyond that, the Utah Legislature changed the school grading system, placed regulations on the Utah High School Activities Association, and created a string of education bills aimed at tackling intergenerational poverty — including salary bonuses for teachers with a record of excellence who work in high-poverty schools.
Some see this week as an ending, but we ought to view it as a beginning. The big question is, where should we go from here?
At Sutherland Institute, we hope upcoming education policy expands education choice, increases local control and recognizes the individuality of each student.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9o8

Mr. Nick Baker Teaches Today—Listen
New York Review of Books review by William Finnegan

Substitute: Going to School with a Thousand Kids
by Nicholson Baker
Blue Rider, 719 pp., $30.00
A seventh-grader I know slipped a copy of Substitute from my bag and buried her nose in it through an entire restaurant dinner with her parents. When I retrieved the book, I asked what she thought. “The writer does a good job of communicating how despicable he thinks these children are,” she said darkly.
This is patently 180 degrees wrong. But kids say the darnedest things, as Nicholson Baker reminds us many times in Substitute, his tightly focused account of twenty-eight days of substitute teaching in Maine public schools in the spring semester of 2014:
“Smells like marshmallows in here.”
“If you say Yankees in this class, it’s a swear.”
“We have to go with him [to the restroom] because he makes bad choices in there.”
I don’t know how Baker managed to record so much speech—the book is more than seven hundred pages, most of it dialogue—while trying to control his classes and get some teaching done. A Moleskine notebook is mentioned, and yet Substitute reads like a lightly curated, benign surveillance tape, somehow capturing all the downtime, chaos, non sequiturs, and lost-in-the-infosphere weirdness of a modern American schoolroom.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9o2

 

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Trump Education Dept. Releases New ESSA Guidelines
Education Week

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Monday released a new application for states to use in developing their accountability plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act.
And, as you might expect, it is shorter and includes fewer requirements than an earlier application released by the Obama administration in November. The biggest difference seems to be on the requirements for outreach to various groups of educators and advocates. More below.
DeVos said the template will allow states and districts to implement the law with “maximum flexibility” as Congress intended.
“We know each school district is unique,” DeVos said in a speech in Washington Monday to the Council of the Great City Schools, which represents urban superintendents. “It’s fairly obvious that the challenges and opportunities of Albuquerque and Wichita don’t look the same. But neither do Miami and Palm Beach. No two schools are identical, just like no two students are alike. We shouldn’t assume the same answer will work for everyone, every time. Too often the Department of Education has gone outside its established authority and created roadblocks, wittingly or unwittingly for parents and educators alike. This isn’t right, nor is it acceptable. Under this administration, we will break this habit.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oH

 

Key Democrats Press Betsy DeVos on Direction of ESSA Implementation
Education Week

Two Democrats who played a key role in crafting the Every Student Succeeds Act—Sen. Patty Murray D-Wash., and Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va.—sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Friday asking what her plans are for giving states guidance on implementing the law, now that Congress has scrapped a key set of regulations written by the Obama administration.
Among a lot of other things, those regulations, which dealt with the accountability portion of the law, included a “template” or application form for states to use in developing their plans. A number of states have already gotten started using the old template, posting the form on their websites for feedback. But now that Congress has scrapped the regs, that form doesn’t apply.
DeVos said earlier this year that she planned to stick to the Obama administration’s timetable for implementing the law. That means states can begin turning in their applications on April 3. And she said she’d develop a new template—essentially, a long federal form—for those applications, releasing it on March 13. (That’s Monday). Her new form, she said, would ask states only for information that was “absolutely necessary” for implementing the law.
DeVos said under the new federal template states could also opt to use a template developed with the help of the Council of Chief State School Officers, instead of the department’s.
Scott and Murray clearly aren’t wild about the notion of multiple application forms. And they have other questions, too.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oC

 

Trump Sharpens Budget Knife for Education Department, Sources Say
Education Week

The Trump administration is contemplating dramatic cuts to K-12 spending, including a possible $6 billion reduction to existing programs in the U.S. Department of Education, according to multiple education policy sources who have gleaned details about budget documents still being finalized. The department currently has a budget of about $70 billion.
The possible cuts would be included in the Trump administration’s initial spending plan for fiscal year 2018, which begins Oct. 1 and generally impacts the 2018-19 school year. Such cuts in a budget proposal expected this week could mean a staffing reduction at the department in the range of 25 to 30 percent, sources said, although it’s not clear how the cuts would be applied. The department currently has about 4,000 employees.
Sources said specifics on the budget in general remain in flux, and it’s still unclear how much detail will be included in the initial proposal. The Education Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oJ

 

The Office for Civil Rights’s Volatile Power
The influence of the office has waxed and waned with each administration. How will it fare under Betsy DeVos?
The Atlantic

Here is a question nobody asked Betsy DeVos at her confirmation hearing to become the eleventh secretary of education: Is the U.S. Department of Education a civil-rights agency?
The last secretary, John King, thinks so. Over 600 education scholars who protested the nomination of DeVos think so, too. In a letter to the Senate, they recalled that the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which created the federal role in American schools, is “at its heart a civil-rights law.”
While much of the controversy over the new secretary has focused on school choice and the privatization of public education, the reality is that DeVos will have little power to enact major changes on those fronts because control lies with the state. When it comes to civil rights, however, DeVos and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) still possess immense power and responsibility. During her hearing, DeVos was evasive about how she would wield both, promising only to review OCR’s policies should she be confirmed.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oP

 

California mulls eliminating income tax for teachers
The state is hoping the first-of-its-kind proposal generates interest in the profession at a time when educators are harder to come by.
U.S. News & World Report

California legislators are hoping a proposal to eliminate income tax for teachers will help attract young people into the profession and keep them there at a time when the state is hemorrhaging educators and lacks a pipeline.
Notably, the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act, introduced by two state Senate Democrats, is the first of its kind in California and in the country. While a handful of states give retirees tax breaks on their pensions, and others, including Maryland and New Jersey, have toyed with the idea of eliminating income tax for law enforcement officers, it doesn’t appear that any have seriously considered cutting the income tax for the teaching profession.
“There’s no other state in the country that has singled out teaching in the classroom as a profession that should not be taxed,” says Bill Lucia, president and CEO of EdVoice, a grassroots education advocacy organization in California that’s backing the proposal.
He continued: “We have a problem in California and we can’t deal with a problem that’s this serious by tinkering around the edges and putting Band-Aids on it or hiding it. We are hiding the issue. This bill is finally bringing out to the sunshine of California how serious the problem is.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oB

 

Nevada, facing a shortage, struggles to keep teachers
Las Vegas Review-Journal

Sara Boucher vividly remembers her first year of teaching in the Clark County School District five years ago. She was 22, fresh out of college, and had no idea what she was doing.
“I would stay every night until 7 or 8,” she said of her time at Schorr Elementary. “And then every weekend, I would have to go in. There was just so much to be done.”
There was a lot of crying, Boucher said. Her migraines were so bad that she went to see a neurologist.
“I was a baby still, so it was very, very, very stressful,” she said. “A lot of pizza and soda. Lots of Mountain Dew to keep me up.”
Boucher made it through the first five years. Beyond that, research shows, 40 percent to 50 percent of new teachers will leave the profession.
Now, she’s decided to leave and plans to move to New Mexico, where her boyfriend is working toward his doctorate. Her decision illustrates one of many reasons teachers may leave a school district.
A Las Vegas Review-Journal analysis of teacher turnover data found that 16 percent of teachers who began in the Clark County School District in 2015-16 left within one year or less.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oA

 

How Boston achieved its record high school graduation rate
Even more encouraging, experts say: The number of African-American and Latino students graduating jumped by double digits over the past decade – 13.6 and 16.5 percentage points respectively.
Christian Science Monitor

BOSTON—Dante Omorogbe might sound like any other school kid rattling off his grades: “A – for senior math, A- in Algebra …,” but for the 21-year-old senior, they mean so much more.
Mr. Omorogbe originally was set to graduate in 2014. That was until, after a fight with his dad, he was “tossed” out on the street. Eventually, his grandmother took him in for a while, but with her working during the day, Omorogbe needed to care for his gravely ill grandfather. School eventually became too much, so he dropped it.
For many students across the country, circumstances like Omorogbe’s can derail them from the high-school-to-college track in ways that alter their trajectory for life. In his case, Boston Public School’s Re-engagement Center was able to connect him with EDCO Youth Alternative, a school that provides extra support such as counseling to nontraditional and struggling students. He started in September 2016 and will have his diploma in hand by May.
“I have my counselor who calls me every day. I miss school for two, three days, she’ll call me, say, ‘are you OK?’,” says Omorogbe. “All the vacations, she’ll call me; for my birthday, she’ll bake me a cake.”
Ten years ago, Boston high school students like Omorogbe were far less likely to get their diploma. In 2006, the city’s graduation rate was languishing at 59 percent. Last year, the number of Boston students who graduated in four years hit a record high of 72.4 percent. Statewide, the graduation rate inched up to a record 87.5 percent from 87.3 percent last year, according to state figures released Tuesday. The numbers of young people graduating has shot up thanks to a host of “equity” focused reforms, such as re-engagement programs, the turnaround of chronically struggling districts, and strong regulation of traditional public and charter schools, wrought under a landmark Massachusetts Education Act.
“You’re seeing the accumulated progress and gradual incremental progress … with particular attention toward equity and closing the achievement gaps,” says Paul Reville, a professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and former secretary of Education for Massachusetts. “And dealing with one of the most significant problems that we have in education these days, which is people dropping out without a high school education and having no place to go in our economy.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oN

 

Kindergartners Enter More Ready in Math and Literacy, Researchers Say
Kindergarten students in 2010 started school with more math and literacy skills than kindergartners did just 12 years earlier. What changed in that time?
Education Week

Daphna Bassok at the University of Virginia and Scott Latham of Stanford University looked at teacher assessments of the skills of their kindergarten students in 1998 and in 2010. A score of 1 meant the child was showing no knowledge of a given skill, while 5 meant the child had not only mastered it, but could demonstrate the skill consistently. The assessments were made in the first few months of the kindergarten year.
Among the questions teachers were asked:
* Could children easily name upper- and lower-case letters?
* Could they read simple books independently?
* Could they predict what will happen next in a story?
* Do children understand relative quantities?
* Could they solve problems including numbers?
* Do they demonstrate an understanding of graphs?
The researchers found that though the magnitude of improvement varied, teachers in 2010 across the board reported that their students started school showing stronger academic skills than did teachers in 1998.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oI

 

Fearing deportation, Bay Area immigrants rush to make U.S.-born kids dual Mexican citizens
San Jose (CA) Mercury News

SAN JOSE — Fearing deportation under the Trump administration, Mexican immigrants across the state are rushing to register their American-born children as dual citizens — an emergency plan in case they’re deported and compelled to uproot their families to Mexico.
Officials with the Mexican consulate said they’re seeing a surge in applications like never before, forcing them to work longer hours and to consider hiring additional staff as they scramble to keep up with the demand.
The consulate in San Jose processed 86 registrations for dual citizenship in February — about double the number of registrations from the previous month — and had processed 30 registrations this month as of Friday. Appointments are booked to capacity, and the consulate plans to open its offices for an unusual Saturday shift, on March 18, to process those particular registrations.
Meanwhile in San Francisco, the consulate processed 94 registrations in February — up 42 percent from the previous month — and 28 registrations so far this month, as of Thursday. With some applications for dual citizenship taking up to a month to complete, numbers are likely to increase even more in April, and officials are preparing to hire another staff member to meet the demand, said Jesús Gutiérrez, consul of documentation at the Mexican consulate in San Francisco.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oO

 

Teaching Trump: Should Teachers Offer Up Their Own Politics?
Associated Press

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — A New York City teacher was warned over a homework question critical of President Donald Trump. An Alabama district fielded complaints for a teacher’s “Obama, you’re fired!” caption under a Trump display. And video caught a Texas art teacher shooting a squirt gun at an image of the president, and yelling, “Die!”
In the age of Trump, when current events are increasingly dominating classroom discussions, there’s a debate among educators whether it’s appropriate or even ethical for teachers to weigh in with their own political views. Is there a point when such opinionating crosses the line into political proselytizing?
“Why shouldn’t a teacher be able to vocalize their opinion?” Niagara Falls High School student Santino Cafarella, 18, asked after his government class this past week. “We’re in high school at this point. We should be able to discover our own viewpoints.”
It’s become a flashpoint at a time when many teachers say students are more energized than ever by current events, with issues such as immigration, racial justice and transgender rights discussed not only in social studies but in other classes, the hallways and at lunch, too. And students often ask teachers what they think.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oK

http://gousoe.uen.org/9oM (CSM)

 

Hawaii Teacher: ‘I Won’t Teacher’ Undocumented Immigrants
Associated Press

HONOLULU — A teacher for Hawaii’s largest high school has been harshly criticized for sending an email to staff at his school saying he was refusing to teach immigrant students in the U.S. illegally.
Campbell High School teacher John Sullivan on Wednesday used his work email to reply to a group of messages about parents keeping students out of school due to fears of being deported.
“This is another attack on the President over deportation,” Sullivan’s email said. “Their parents need to apply for immigration like everyone else. If they are here in the U.S. illegally, I won’t teach them.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/9oL

 

Resignation And Investigations Swirl Around Contentious Dietrich, Idaho Assault Case
(Boise, ID) KBSX

The Superintendent of Schools in Dietrich, Ben Hardcastle, announced his resignation yesterday. His announced departure is just the latest fallout from the court case involving two Dietrich High School football players.
Hardcastle’s resignation comes in the wake of a scandal centering on John Howard. The white football player was accused of assaulting a mentally disabled black teammate and forcibly penetrating him with a coat hanger.
Hardcastle, who became superintendent in 2015, told the Times News in a statement he’d be leaving his position at the end of the contract year. His resignation letter makes no mention of the recent scandal.
Meanwhile, the Idaho Judicial Council says it plans to investigate the judge in the contentious case. Judge Randy Stoker said the incident didn’t constitute a sex crime, and Howard took a plea deal with a lesser charge of felony injury to a child. Stoker sentenced Howard to 300 hours of community service and three years’ probation.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9ou

 

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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

March 13:

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

March 24:

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

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