Education News Roundup: March 28, 2017

Today’s Top Picks:

Beehive Science and Technology Academy is all over the news today.

Bloomberg columnist takes a long look at upward mobility in Utah.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9wi (Bloomberg)

NBC’s DC affiliate takes a look President Trump’s early moves on education.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9wd (WRC)

Ed Week takes a look at what the elimination Title II, Part A (that would be the federal program supporting teacher instruction for policy neophytes) might mean for education.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9w9 (Ed Week)

Louisiana public schools apparent response to the possibility of high-speed internet? Meh.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9wh (Baton Rouge Advocate)

Is it too late for iPads to dethrone Chromebooks in the classroom?
http://gousoe.uen.org/9wb (Fast Company)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Utah students study science with virtual reality

Provo City School District adopting new website

Beehive Science and Technology Academy ninth-grader wins statewide design contest

Beehive Academy Robotics wins state, qualifies for international competition

Sandy Elementary teacher named outstanding music educator

Bella Vista Elementary invites guests to celebrate reading

Channing Hall fifth-graders take action to improve community

Groundbreaking for Provost Elementary rebuild postponed due to rain

OPINION & COMMENTARY

A big fan of new Provo High School

Robotics knowledge a useful education

How Utah Keeps the American Dream Alive

Mr. Trump, Don’t boost our budgets while cutting education: Charter school CEOs
We need federal support for all schools, for all kids, not just kids in ‘choice’ schools.

Welcome To The Private Evangelical School Of Betsy DeVos’ Dreams
Teachers sign a statement of faith and kids learn about creationism and the Bible. It’s also the education secretary’s inspiration.

More HS students are graduating, but these key indicators prove those diplomas are worth less than ever

NATION

Trump’s Early Moves on Education Draw Concern, Praise
Supporters of school choice say Trump is doing what’s necessary

What Would Trump’s Proposed Cut to Teacher Funding Mean for Schools?

School Closures: What Do They Mean for Students and Communities?

Justices Consider Whether Pension Rules Apply to Church Schools, Hospitals

Most states don’t require lifesaving heart device in schools

Stunning move: Plan for high-speed internet in all Louisiana schools dies due to ‘lack of interest’

Apple’s Bid To Reclaim The Classroom From Chromebooks May Be Too Late
With price cuts and new features, Apple is making iPads more school-friendly–but only after Chromebooks became go-to educational machines.

State High Court Hears $41.7 Million Hotchkiss School Tick-Bite Case

 

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UTAH NEWS
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Utah students study science with virtual reality

Ever heard of a high school field trip to the African Savanna or the Siberian Tundra? No? Well, one school is taking their students to these types of far-off places without ever leaving the comfort of their classroom. Ninth grade students at Beehive Science and Technology Academy in Sandy are learning with virtual reality.
“They may forget what I said in the classroom, but they will not forget how they feel in the classroom,” said Science Teacher Hulya Kablan.
Each student is equipped with a VR headset. Right now, they’re exploring different biomes. In the past, students have explored a cell, gone inside a human eye, and even traveled into space.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9w5 (KUTV)

 

Provo City School District adopting new website

Provo City School District’s website is getting a makeover.
Starting April 26, the district will switch from its current website to a new design.
“It’s a complete change of our website, a lot more in-depth and a lot more user-friendly,” said Caleb Price, spokesman for the district.
The new website has been in the works for several months.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9w1 (PDH)

 

Beehive Science and Technology Academy ninth-grader wins statewide design contest

SANDY — Cade Langsdon, a ninth-grader at Beehive Science and Technology Academy charter school, has won first place in a graphic design contest sponsored by the Utah State Board of Education. Cade’s two graphics will be used to help promote the board’s summer conference for Utah educators.
The contest was open to Utah middle/junior high and high school students. His graphics will be featured on the summer conference informational webpage, welcome poster and thank-you cards.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9w0 (DN)

 

Beehive Academy Robotics wins state, qualifies for international competition

Winning a state championship in any activity isn’t easy and defending the title can even be harder, but Beehive Academy’s Beehive Robotics team did just that.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9wn (Sandy Journal)

Sandy Elementary teacher named outstanding music educator

Sandy Elementary school children aren’t just playing with scarves, beanbags, pool noodles and parachutes. It’s actually part of their weekly music class.
“I teach the students how to respond through movement,” music teacher Debbie Beninati said. “They learn how to read music, determine meter, and improvise, create and experiment. We have such a blast and they discover learning music is fun.”
Being creative and passionate about teaching music is one of the reasons Beninati was selected as the Utah Music Educators Association (UMEA) Outstanding Elementary Music Teacher.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9wj (Sandy Journal)

 

Bella Vista Elementary invites guests to celebrate reading

Literacy is a community affair at Bella Vista Elementary. Special guests helped the school celebrate Read Across America Day on March 2.
“We had visitors from the (University of Utah) soccer team, NFL players, indoor football player, (Brigham Young University) representative, firemen, policemen, school board members and the local librarian from Whitmore Library,” said Principal Cory Anderson.
The special guests rotated classrooms, spending five minutes in each location. All the volunteers read Dr. Seuss stories to six classes. There was even a special “Green Eggs and Ham” themed lunch, in honor of Seuss’ book.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9wk (Cottonwood-Holladay Journal)

 

Channing Hall fifth-graders take action to improve community

Reaching out to refugees to help them rebuild their lives; preserving clean air to benefit humans and animals; addressing the challenges for the homeless to access healthy food; feeding declining bee population that affects the environment and plant growth — these are some of the issues Channing Hall fifth-graders identified and came together to decide how to improve.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9wl (Draper Journal)

 

Groundbreaking for Provost Elementary rebuild postponed due to rain

The groundbreaking for the rebuild of Provost Elementary School in Provo has been postponed for a month.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9w2 (PDH)

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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A big fan of new Provo High School
(Provo) Daily Herald letter from Peter Wulfenstein

I really like that the city is spending money on a new high school instead of fixing an old one.
The new high school is very nice and to renovate the old one would be like tearing down the old one only to build the same thing but newer. This high school is going to be very tall and it will look and be fancy.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9w3

 

Robotics knowledge a useful education
(Provo) Daily Herald letter from Anderson Bills

My name is Anderson Bills and I am 11 years old. I just finished taking a robotics class at Highland Elementary.
Robotics club is very important. It teaches you problem-solving skills, how to figure out how to turn robots 90 degrees, and it will teach people to be persistent. You can even get a merit badge from learning robotics. It helps you understand how they program robotic arms, too.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9w4

 

How Utah Keeps the American Dream Alive
Bloomberg commentary by columnist Megan McArdle

There’s no getting around it: For a girl raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Salt Lake City is a very weird place.
I went to Utah precisely because it’s weird. More specifically, because economic data suggest that modest Salt Lake City, population 192,672, does something that the rest of us seem to be struggling with: It helps people move upward from poverty. I went to Utah in search of the American Dream.
Columnists don’t talk as much as they used to about the American Dream. They’re more likely to talk about things like income mobility, income inequality, the Gini coefficient — sanitary, clinical terms. These are easier to quantify than a dream, but also less satisfying. We want money, yes, but we hunger even more deeply for something else: for possibility. It matters to Americans that someone born poor can retire rich. That possibility increasingly seems slimmer and slimmer in most of the nation, but in Utah, it’s still achievable.
If you were born to parents who were doing well, you are likely to be doing well yourself. If you were born to parents who were not doing well, then you are likely to repeat their fate. To take just one metric of many: In a society in which a college degree is almost required for entry into the upper middle class, 77 percent of people whose families are in the top quarter of the earnings distribution secure a bachelor’s degree by the time they are 24. For people in the lowest income bracket, that figure is 9 percent.
But things look a lot better in Salt Lake City, which economists Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, Patrick Kline and Emmanuel Saez identified as having the highest rates of absolute upward mobility in the nation. So I went to Utah to discover its secrets and assess whether they could be exported.
Once I got there, I found that it’s hard to even get a complete picture of how Utah combats poverty, because so much of the work is done by the Mormon Church, which does not compile neat stacks of government figures for the perusal of eager reporters.

“Big government” does not appear to have been key to Utah’s income mobility. From 1977 to 2005, when the kids in Chetty et al’s data were growing up, the Rockefeller Institute ranks it near the bottom in state “fiscal capacity.” The state has not invested a lot in fighting poverty, nor on schools; Utah is dead last in per-pupil education spending. This should at least give pause to those who view educational programs as the natural path to economic mobility.
But “laissez faire” isn’t the answer either. Utah is a deep red state, but its conservatism is notably compassionate, thanks in part to the Mormon Church.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9wi

 

Mr. Trump, Don’t boost our budgets while cutting education: Charter school CEOs
We need federal support for all schools, for all kids, not just kids in ‘choice’ schools.
USA Today op-ed by Dacia Toll, co-CEO of Achievement First, Richard Barth, CEO of KIPP Foundation, and Brett Peiser, CEO of Uncommon Schools

In the “Skinny Budget” that the White House released this month, President Trump offered $168 million in new funds for charter schools. As public charter school operators, we appreciate the proposed investment in new schools like ours.
But we cannot support the president’s budget as currently proposed and we are determined to do everything in our power to work with Congress and the administration to protect the programs that are essential to the broader needs of our students, families and communities.
Budgets are statements of priorities, and this one sends a clear message that public education is not a top priority.
Together, we serve more than 220,000 children across 24 states. The children and families in our schools are not simply students and parents who are working hard to attain a great education, they are complete people with a range of human needs.
For our students, a fair shot at the American Dream also needs to extend beyond the classroom to the factors that affect whether all students have what they need to learn and achieve.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9wc

 

Welcome To The Private Evangelical School Of Betsy DeVos’ Dreams
Teachers sign a statement of faith and kids learn about creationism and the Bible. It’s also the education secretary’s inspiration.
Huffington Post commentary by columnist Rebecca Klein

It takes more than just a solid resume and stellar references to get hired at The Potter’s House, a school in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The job application also requires prospective teachers to sign and accept a statement of faith.
“We believe that the world was perfect at creation, but sin intervened, severing all people’s perfect relationship with God and bringing consequences on every object and institution within the creation,” the statement reads, in part.
The Potter’s House is a private school that is “evangelical in nature” and reportedly teaches creationism alongside evolution. It’s also the type of school that Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, apparently believes can level the playing field in educational inequality. The nondenominational Potter’s House makes a special effort to serve students of all races and income levels.
DeVos has been deeply involved with The Potter’s House for years ― as a donor, volunteer and board member. She has mentioned the school by name in speeches and interviews, saying schools like The Potter’s House have given “kids the chance to succeed and thrive” and that the institution inspired her to advocate for education-related causes.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9wo

More HS students are graduating, but these key indicators prove those diplomas are worth less than ever
LA School Report analysis by columnist Kevin Mahnken

Last October, in perhaps the final triumphant moment of his administration, President Obama announced that America’s soaring high school graduation rate had risen, again, to an all-time high of 83 percent. Before he took office, the percentage of students earning diplomas languished for decades in the low to mid-70s; now the news was made still better by some narrowing of the persistent gaps between white and minority students.
Whether the progress could be attributed to Obama’s policies or broader trends (some academics have credited diminished teen pregnancy rates and falling levels of child lead exposure), it was undoubtedly cause for celebration.
Just a few months later, after an election that left much of Obama’s legacy in doubt, disheartening stories have also swirled around his signature educational achievements. In rapid succession, state officials in both Alabama and Tennessee admitted that their much-improved graduation rates were artificially lifted through a combination of administrative oversight and statistical legerdemain. Both cases recall other recent episodes in which major jurisdictions juiced reports and loosened standards in order to make their results more palatable. Dropouts were made to disappear from the records. Students in alternative programs were left out of the count. Others were waved through even after failing exit exams.
Yet there is an even greater cause for concern than inflated statistics: However legitimate the surge in graduation rates — and almost no one contends that they are wholly fictive — the relative value of a high school diploma, as measured by income, college preparedness, jobless rates, and employer confidence, has never been lower.
“I wouldn’t assume that more high school diplomas awarded equals a more career-ready workforce,” says Jason Tyszko, the executive director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Education and Workforce.
Tyszko works with businesses around the country to develop pipelines of human capital through education and job training programs. As The New York Times detailed in a January article, some of these companies struggle to fill even well-paying positions that require no college degree. A glaring absence of technical know-how — due in part to the decline of vocational education programs — hurts both the employer and the job seeker.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9wa

 

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Trump’s Early Moves on Education Draw Concern, Praise
Supporters of school choice say Trump is doing what’s necessary
(Washington, DC) WRC

The nomination of Betsy DeVos, a school choice advocate, as Education secretary, was a signal from President Donald Trump that he was going to shake up public education.
On Monday, Trump moved to roll back Obama-era rules that deal with how states assess school performance and teacher preparation programs. Trump says that local educators, parents and state leaders know what students need best.
And his budget proposal brought even more clarity to his plan.
But as the budget process begins to play out, education experts and teachers are wondering what the changes will mean. Will some children get left behind? Can schools already strapped for money survive even deeper cuts?
Education experts in favor of school choice and a shrinking role for the federal government in education sing the praises of the new administration. Critics, meanwhile, are worried about the future of education.
Here is a closer look at the divide:
http://gousoe.uen.org/9wd

 

What Would Trump’s Proposed Cut to Teacher Funding Mean for Schools?
Education Week

President Donald Trump has proposed getting rid of the Title II program, which has been around for more than a decade and aims to help districts and states pay for teacher and principal development, reduce class-size, craft new evaluation systems, and more.
The program, which is officially called the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grant prorgram, or Title II, Part A, is the third largest in the U.S. Department of Education’s budget that goes to K-12 education. Eliminating it would be a really big deal, state, district, and school officials say. Zeroing out Title II could hamper implementation of the new Every Student Succeeds Act, lead to teacher layoffs, and make it tougher for educators to reach special populations of students, or use technology in their classrooms.
The Trump administration, though, doesn’t see the program as effective. And its predecessor also questioned Title II. Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan expressed concerns early on his tenure that the program wasn’t getting much bang for its buck. But overall, he was in favor of tweaking Title II, not ditching it.
Got questions about what this program does and whether it’s likely to survive? We have answers:
http://gousoe.uen.org/9w9

 

School Closures: What Do They Mean for Students and Communities?
Education Week

Under both the No Child Left Behind Act’s school improvement sanctions and the Obama-era school improvement grants, school closure has been promoted as a key way to move students to a better education. But new research suggests it may leave some students and communities in the lurch.
In the decade from 2003-04 to 2013-14, about 2 percent of public schools nationwide closed, turning out about 200,000 students, according to a new study of school closures by the Urban Institute. While urban schools were disproportionately at risk of being shuttered, rural communities may have a harder time making up for their loss.
Urban Institute senior researchers Megan Gallagher and Amanda Gold tracked both school closures and the development of new schools from 2003-2014, using federal data. In urban and suburban communities, schools with higher percentages of black or poor students were likelier to be closed.
They found that while urban schools made up only 14 percent of all schools during that time, they accounted for 21 percent of all schools closed. But in urban areas, about 24 percent of the time a new school serving the same grades opened within a half mile of the closed schools: Only 13 percent of suburban closures and 17 percent of rural schools were replaced by a school serving the same grades.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9w6

A copy of the study
http://gousoe.uen.org/9w7 (Urban Institute)

 

Justices Consider Whether Pension Rules Apply to Church Schools, Hospitals
Education Week

Hundreds of religious schools and their employees are watching with intense interest a case the U.S. Supreme Court took up on Monday about whether certain church-affiliated institutions—hospitals, soup kitchens, and daycare centers in addition to schools and colleges—are subject to the main federal law that regulates private pension plans.
A wide range of church-affiliated groups, including schools and education associations, has told the high court that it has been settled law for more than 30 years that the pension plans of qualifying church-affiliated organizations are exempt from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, the federal law that governs employers that offer pensions to their workers.
But three recent federal appeals court decisions have held that ERISA’s exemption for church pension plans applies only if a church “established” the pension plan. The rulings have prompted dozens of class-action lawsuits against religious organizations, including schools, that have relied on the church plan exemption for decades. The lawsuits seek billions of dollars in retroactive liability for noncompliance with ERISA’s recordkeeping and other procedural requirements, from which church plans are exempt.
In Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton (Case No. 16-74) and related cases, the Supreme Court is taking up appeals from three religiously affiliated hospitals, but its decision will have implications for schools, colleges, and many other church affiliates.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9w8

 

Most states don’t require lifesaving heart device in schools
Reuters

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are used to restart hearts after cardiac arrest and restore normal heartbeats, but a new study found only about one-third of U.S. states require schools to have the life-saving devices.
Those requirements vary by state, said the study’s lead author. For example, one state may require AEDs to be installed in all schools while another only requires the devices to be in public schools.
Very few states “require both public and private schools to have them,” said Dr. Mark Sherrid, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.
Out of every 100,000 children and adolescents, two to six will have a sudden cardiac arrest each year, Sherrid and colleagues wrote March 27 online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9we

A copy of the study
http://gousoe.uen.org/9wf (Journal of the American College of Cardiology)

 

Stunning move: Plan for high-speed internet in all Louisiana schools dies due to ‘lack of interest’
Baton Rouge (LA) Advocate

In a move that stunned state education leaders, a plan to provide high speed internet access to school districts statewide has died because of a lack of interest from local educators, officials said Monday.
The state Board of Regents offered to make the upgrade happen, at no cost to districts, through the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative.
However, only 11 of the state’s 69 school districts signed up by the March 23 deadline.
Commissioner of Higher Education Joseph Rallo, in a letter, said that level of support “is far below the critical mass needed to proceed with the initiative.”
“Due to the school districts’ apparent lack of interest, BoR (Board of Regents) has determined that the proposal is no longer valid,” Rallo said.
In an interview, Rallo was asked why local educators passed on a seemingly no-strings-attached offer. “I cannot answer the question,” he said.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9wh

 

Apple’s Bid To Reclaim The Classroom From Chromebooks May Be Too Late
With price cuts and new features, Apple is making iPads more school-friendly–but only after Chromebooks became go-to educational machines.
Fast Company

Apple has traditionally had strong bonds with the education market. It’s also offered healthy discounts on computers to all kinds of schools. As with many of the company’s policies, these moves have had a look of goodwill about them, but also neatly aligned with a shrewd marketing objective: hook young people into the Apple mindset when they’re young so that they’ll buy Apple stuff (at full price!) in the future.
Recently, however, the company has been so focused on selling phones and searching for the “next big thing” that it has taken its eye off traditional focus areas. Education might be one of them.
As the New York Times reported earlier this month, Google has begun eating Apple’s (school) lunch with its stripped-down, inexpensive Chromebooks, which have an average selling price of $300. By contrast, the average price of an iPad is about $425.
Unit-wise, Chromebooks dominate K-12 sales. Futuresource Consulting says U.S. primary and secondary schools bought 12.6 million devices last year, including 7.3 million Chromebooks, 2.8 million Windows laptops and tablets, and 2.4 million iPads and Mac laptops.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9wb

 

State High Court Hears $41.7 Million Hotchkiss School Tick-Bite Case
Hartford (CT) Courant

The state Supreme Court has joined an unusual — and unusually costly — $41.7 million negligence case that is likely to determine how, or even if, schools and other organizations operate youth programs.
The case turns on a lawsuit involving a young woman who, at the conclusion of her freshman year at the private Hotchkiss School in Salisbury, was bitten by a tick and developed encephalitis during a school study program in China. As a result, she became seriously disabled and can no longer speak.
Student Cara Munn of New York and her family sued the school for negligence and a federal jury in Bridgeport returned a staggering verdict in 2013, ordering the school to pay her and her family $41.75 million — $31.5 million of which was for noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering.
The verdict, if it stands, has created concern that liability issues could force schools and other groups involved in youth activity to curtail or even stop travel.
The school appealed to the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which referred the case to the state Supreme Court for the resolution of two questions critical to the ultimate outcome.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9wg

 

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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

April 13:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting
2750 University Park Blvd., Layton
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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