Education News Roundup: March 23, 2017

Today’s Top Picks:

Jordan School District looks to boost teacher pay.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9ul (SLT)

Provo High looks to end FFA participation.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9up (PDH)

Nationally, 50 education groups urge rejection of the GOP health bill, scheduled for a vote today.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9uA (Ed Week)
or a copy of the letter
http://gousoe.uen.org/9uB (Ed Week)

Education becomes a topic at the current Fed meeting.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9uu (AP)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/9ux (Reuters)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Jordan School District eyes $10 million boost to teacher pay
Education > School board member says a tax increase will be needed in the future to sustain salary reforms.

Provo High students fighting to save agriculture program

Sterling Scholar statewide competition

725 young scientists compete at annual fair

Design-an-Ad 2017: Vote for the photo you think should win this year’s contest

West Jordan school placed on lockdown after threatening note found

OPINION & COMMENTARY

The 2017 Legislature served Utah well

A matter of percentages

How a prayer room used by Muslim students in North Texas supports religious liberty for all

NATION

Fifty Education Groups Tell Congress: Reject the GOP Health Care Bill

Yellen Says Problems of Childhood Poverty Linger

With Hacking in Headlines, K-12 Cybersecurity Ed. Gets More Attention

State Ed-Tech Leader Sees New Demands for Modular, Organized Content

CMS sexual harassment case, not LGBT advocacy, led to ‘boy in a dress’ uproar

Florida Senate endorses religious expression in public schools

Toronto school board suspending U.S. travel over border issues

Dinner party chat and nail care? Course for Canadian girls comes under fire

Armed Groups Occupy Central African Republic Schools

 

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UTAH NEWS
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Jordan School District eyes $10 million boost to teacher pay
Education > School board member says a tax increase will be needed in the future to sustain salary reforms.

Teachers in Jordan School District are about to see more green for their time at the blackboard.
Representatives of the district’s school board and education association are nearing agreement on a package of salary reforms that would pump roughly $10 million into teacher compensation.
Both groups support the broad contours of the plan and are scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss final details. If those revisions are accepted by the union, school board president Janice Voorhies said, the board may vote as soon as Tuesday’s meeting. “We’re trying to get it in before spring break,” she said.
Jordan School District is Utah’s fourth largest statewide, with 52,394 students and 2,679 teachers and other certified employees.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9ul (SLT)

 

Provo High students fighting to save agriculture program

Janette Whitworth cried when she heard that Provo High School was discontinuing its agriculture classes after this year.
Whitworth, a senior and president of Provo High School’s FFA chapter couldn’t imagine her high school without the program. So the students took action, starting an online petition and spreading #FightforProvoAg on social media.
“We have always been told we have to advocate for ag, and that’s exactly what we are doing,” Whitworth said.
After years of dwindling enrollment, the students were told in early March that there won’t be agriculture classes at the school next year.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9up (PDH)

 

Sterling Scholar statewide competition

Become a Sterling Scholar, and you could win a full ride to any college or university in Utah! The Sterling Scholar program is a statewide competition that rewards high school seniors for academic performance and school and community service throughout their high school career.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9uF (SUN)

 

725 young scientists compete at annual fair

Maxwell Majersik, from Hawthorne Elementary School, presents his project to judge Rajeev Balasubramonian during the Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair at the Rice-Eccles Stadium Tower in Salt Lake City on Wednesday. The regional competition, which continues Thursday, featured 725 young scientists – a record high. The public may view the student projects from 9-10 a.m. Thursday, and the winners will be announced Friday during a ceremony at Olympus High School. The annual competition, organized by the Center for Science and Mathematics Education at the University of Utah, is for students in grades five through 12 attending public, private or parochial school in the Canyons, Granite, Murray, Park City, Salt Lake City and Tooele school districts; the Salt Lake Catholic Diocese; and those who are home-schooled. More than 200 judges will evaluate and score the 574 individual and team projects. In May, the fair’s senior division winners will join more than 1,400 students from some 40 countries to compete for $3 million in internships, grants, science equipment and prizes at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the world’s largest pre-college science fair.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9um (DN)

 

Design-an-Ad 2017: Vote for the photo you think should win this year’s contest

What image would capture what life looks like in your community?
We presented Northern Utah’s budding photographers with this challenge, and man – did they deliver.
As part of our annual Design-an-Ad Photography Contest, fourth- through 12th-grade students submitted photos they took that fit into the theme “My Community.” And now, it’s time for you to help us select the best pictures.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9uo (OSE)

 

West Jordan school placed on lockdown after threatening note found

WEST JORDAN, Utah – West Hills Middle School in West Jordan was placed on lockdown Wednesday as police are investigating a threatening note found at the school.
According to Sgt. Joe Monson of the West Jordan Police Department, the note said someone was going to “shoot up the school” at noon.
Monson reported at 12:45 p.m. that the lockdown has been lifted and there was no credible threat found.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9uG (KSTU)

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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The 2017 Legislature served Utah well
Deseret News op-ed by A. Scott Anderson, CEO and president of Zions Bank

The Utah Legislature in its recent session accomplished a number of very important things for Utah. It also laid a foundation for some critical future action.
Along with Gov. Gary Herbert, our 104 part-time, citizen lawmakers, who come from all walks of life, are to be commended for efficiently and proactively taking care of the state’s pressing needs in a short, well-organized 45-day session.
Senate President Wayne Niederhauser and House Speaker Greg Hughes managed the session well and, with their leadership teams, successfully dealt with Utah’s top priorities.

Key accomplishments included:
– Education down payment. While education needs substantially more funding, the Legislature invested 80 percent of new revenue in the education of our young people, some $240 million in new money with $68 million of that amount devoted to pay for enrollment growth. The value of the weighted pupil unit was increased 4 percent, which could translate to meaningful salary increases, depending on local school district decisions. Higher education was also treated well in the session.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9un

 

A matter of percentages
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Dave Draper

Gov. Gary Herbert and the Republican brethren in the Legislature are fond these days of characterizing the proposed ballot initiative to raise the state income tax by 7/8 percent to fund education as a 17.5 percent increase to the current tax rate. Oddly, for once, they are mathematically correct.
The brethren overwhelmingly disapproved of the proposed increase and based their opposition on a belief that raising the income tax rate will prevent out-of-state companies from opening businesses or relocating operations in Utah.
I’ve got news for them. Lowering the blood alcohol content level for DUI from .08 to .05, a 37.5 percent decrease, will prevent more out-of-state business relocations to Utah than the income tax hike ever could.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9uj

 

How a prayer room used by Muslim students in North Texas supports religious liberty for all
Dallas Morning News op-ed by Joel Schwitzer, regional director of the American Jewish Committee

For the past seven years, Muslim students at Liberty High School have been able to use a vacant classroom for prayer services initiated and led by the students. Without this accommodation, the students were leaving campus each Friday to attend prayers, missing over a quarter of the school day in the process. There had been no complaints about the arrangement until last week.
Following positive media coverage earlier this month in the student-run news website Wingspan and on KERA, the Office of the Attorney General notified Frisco ISD Superintendent Jeremy Lyon of an “initial inquiry that left several questions unresolved.” That initial inquiry apparently did not include any conversation with Liberty Principal Scott Warstler, Frisco Superintendent Jeremy Lyon, or any of the faculty or students at the school.
The growth of Frisco ISD during the past 20 years has transformed the district into the 15th largest in the state of Texas and has also made the student body more diverse. The school and the district should be applauded for providing a welcoming place for all students, regardless of religion or ethnicity.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9uk

 

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Fifty Education Groups Tell Congress: Reject the GOP Health Care Bill
Education Week

Some fifty education groups are urging lawmakers to vote against the American Health Care Act, better known as the GOP alternative to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare to the haters.
The reason? The bill, which is being pushed by both President Donald Trump and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., the speaker of the House, would make changes to the way that Medicaid is funded. It would base state allocations in part on how many people they have from a particular population. Proponents say this will help states be more creative with their Medicaid dollars, but the education groups argue that it will lead to significant cuts, to the tune of $880 billion over time.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9uA

A copy of the letter
http://gousoe.uen.org/9uB (Ed Week)

 

Yellen Says Problems of Childhood Poverty Linger
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A new Federal Reserve survey has found that children who grew up in poverty were twice as likely to struggle with financial challenges later in life, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said Thursday.
The survey showed that more than half of young people age 25 to 39 who reported that as children they worried over things like having enough food were currently facing financial challenges, Yellen said. That was double the number with financial troubles who did not face such concerns as children.
Yellen told a Fed conference on community development that the findings underscored the need to provide children with the resources they need to achieve financial success later in life.

Yellen said the research to be presented at the Fed’s two-day conference made a compelling case for the need to prepare people starting at an early age for success in the labor market.
“This research underscores the value of starting young to develop basic work habits and skills,” she said. “These habits and skills help prepare people for work, help them enter the labor market sooner, meet with more success over time and be in a position to develop the more specialized skills and obtain the academic credentials that are strongly correlated with higher and steadier earnings.”
Yellen said a growing body of research showed that greater success was being achieved by addressing workforce development in early childhood education compared to spending on job training later in life.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9uu

http://gousoe.uen.org/9ux (Reuters)

 

With Hacking in Headlines, K-12 Cybersecurity Ed. Gets More Attention
Education Week

Amid a steady drumbeat of reports on cyber-espionage and election-related hackings, lawmakers are wrestling with questions of how to best protect the country from digital threats and address a severe shortage of skilled cybersecurity workers.
That means new attention for nascent efforts to support cybersecurity education, including in K-12 schools. The National Governors Association, eight different federal agencies, and a national commission established by President Barack Obama are among those supporting a wide assortment of cybersecurity-related education and workforce-development initiatives.
The administration of President Donald Trump has also been working on its own cybersecurity executive order, an early version of which would have mandated a sweeping review of the country’s related education efforts.
The idea is that both the public and private sectors need more people capable of designing, building, operating, and securing the information-technology systems that are now essential to the functioning of everything from small businesses to public utilities to the United States’ national-security infrastructure. That requires a strong grounding in advanced mathematics and computer science, as well as specialized skills in fields as diverse as cryptography, software development, and network engineering.
But there are challenges.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9uz

 

State Ed-Tech Leader Sees New Demands for Modular, Organized Content
Education Week

State and district officials are constantly inundated with offerings for instructional materials in both print and digital form. And the materials pitched by commercial publishers and other providers are naturally made to sound superior to the competition.
How can school buyers separate high-quality resources from the rest? In an effort to help state and local policymakers make good buying decisions, and set clear expectations for what they want, the State Educational Technology Directors Association recently released an online guide, “From Print to Digital: Guide to Quality Instructional Materials.” The association breaks out five key steps for policymakers to follow in choosing materials, and offers a host of resources, and questions to consider, in each category. The five steps are: planning; budgeting and funding; selection; implementation; and effectiveness.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9uC

A copy of the guide
http://gousoe.uen.org/9uD (SETDA)

 

CMS sexual harassment case, not LGBT advocacy, led to ‘boy in a dress’ uproar
Charlotte (NC) Observer

When Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools sent out the first-grade lesson on “Jacob’s New Dress” that sparked a furor among state legislators, it wasn’t part of the district’s ongoing effort to make schools safer and more accepting for LGBT students.
Instead, it was a response to a federal investigation of sexual harassment by students and employees that began in 2013. By choosing a picture book about a boy who likes girl’s clothes to anchor a lesson for 6-year-olds on avoiding unwanted touches, CMS plunged itself into North Carolina’s culture wars over transgender rights.
In the process, the district also brought public attention to a previously undisclosed report by the federal Office of Civil Rights, which found shortcomings in the way CMS has responded to sexual harassment complaints involving students and employees. An investigation that ran from June 2013 to November 2015 covered 96 complaints, which ranged from boys groping girls at school to a high school teacher making suggestive comments to a student during class.
The irony: The Observer obtained 25 pages of documents related to that investigation. Transgender students and sexual orientation issues are never mentioned.
This week’s controversy brought a rare point of agreement from both sides of the LGBT chasm: CMS bungled the situation and eroded public confidence.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9uq

http://gousoe.uen.org/9ur (WaPo)

 

Florida Senate endorses religious expression in public schools
Miami Herald

TALLAHASSEE – Florida’s public schools would have to let students lead religious prayers during the school day and at school-sanctioned events, under a controversial proposal that the state Senate approved Thursday, mostly along party lines.
Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, heralded his bill (SB 436) as a way for lawmakers to “take a stand for liberty,” because it makes explicitly clear the rights to religious expression that students and teachers have in public schools, regardless of their faith.
But Democrats worry the measure goes beyond existing protections of religious freedom and violates the constitutional separation between church and state. They also fear it could lead to students and teachers being ostracized or discriminated against if they’re of non-Christian faiths or non-religious.
“It’s religiously coercive, divisive and unconstitutional,” said Sen. Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9uE

 

Toronto school board suspending U.S. travel over border issues
Canadian Press via Toronto Globe & Mail

Canada’s largest school board says it will stop booking trips to the United States indefinitely in light of the uncertainty surrounding restrictions at the border.
The Toronto District School Board, which serves about 245,000 public school students, says it made the “difficult decision” because it believes students “should not be placed into these situations of potentially being turned away at the border.”
The board says that for now, it will move forward with the 24 U.S. trips that have already been approved, but says the entire group will turn back if any students with appropriate documentation are turned away.
It also says those trips will be cancelled and refunded if the U.S. enacts any rules that would bar certain students from crossing the border.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9us

http://gousoe.uen.org/9ut (AP)

 

Dinner party chat and nail care? Course for Canadian girls comes under fire
Reuters

LONDON – A Canadian school course that teaches girls about dinner party etiquette, polite conversation and nail care has come under fire from critics for being a throwback to the 1950s stereotype of women as ornamental objects.
Launched last month by a school in rural Alberta, the optional “Women Studies” course is aimed at helping 11-to-15-year-old girls to “navigate adolescence with their self-image and self-esteem intact”, school authorities said.
The lesson plan includes a field trip for students to learn how to plan recipes, table settings and music for a dinner party. Students will also learn nail care and application and how to choose the most flattering hairstyles and clothing.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9uy

 

Armed Groups Occupy Central African Republic Schools
Associated Press

DAKAR, Senegal — The armed group took over the school little by little. One day when a fighter came to collect and burn the students’ desks, teacher Thiernd Ouronfei decided he’d had enough.
“I said he must put the kids’ desks down. They hit me in the head with a knife and I was sent to the hospital for at least a week,” he said. Even now, after the school in Central African Republic was liberated, parents are scared to send their children, he told The Associated Press.
Some 20 percent of schools in Central African Republic are not functioning, and students’ and teachers’ lives are threatened as armed groups have looted, occupied and damaged the properties in the conflict-torn country, according to a Human Rights Watch report released Thursday. An education is a rare opportunity for children in the impoverished country to get ahead.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9uv

A copy of the report
http://gousoe.uen.org/9uw (Human Rights Watch)

 

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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 24:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting
9:30 a.m., 250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.schools.utah.gov/charterschools/State-Board.aspx

April 21:

Utah State Board of Education Law and Licensing Committee meeting
8:30 a.m., 250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.boarddocs.com/ut/usbe/Board.nsf/Public

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

April 26:

Utah State Board of Education Standards and Assessment Committee meeting
9:30 a.m., 250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.boarddocs.com/ut/usbe/Board.nsf/Public

May 4:

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

May 5:

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

June 22:

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

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