Education News Roundup: April 10, 2017

Today’s Top Picks:

Navajo Mountain High School

Utah school districts are recruiting teachers nationally.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Dn (DN)

Environmental educators hold their annual conference in Logan.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9DV (LHJ)

A Navajo Mountain High team is heading to a robotics national championship in Houston.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Dt (SLT)

An all-girl team from Weber School District is headed to a robotics championship in Louisville.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9E0 (KSL)

WaPo looks at Florida’s tax credit program.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9E4 (WaPo)

The Times looks at PTA gifts in rich school districts.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Dl (NYT)
or a copy of the report
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Dm (Center for American Progress)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Utah schools recruiting teachers ‘coast to coast’ in face of high turnover, retirements

Environmental educators share citizen science tools at annual conference

Navajo Mountain robotics team headed to championships for first time
Competition > Rookie team from tiny school raises funds to compete in Houston contest.

Local all-girl robotics team heading to national championships

Audit: Privatizing student information system could cost millions

Proposed Salary Bump In Jordan School District Favors Newer Teachers

Cache County schools exclude sexual orientation question on statewide youth risk survey

Utah Lawmakers Pass Measure Calling on Congress to Abolish U.S. Education Department

A party with a purpose: Whittier Elementary celebrates World Autism Awareness Day

Creative young girl with alopecia wins school’s Crazy Hair Day

Juan Diego hopes classroom success translates to the diamond
Prep baseball > The Soaring Eagle’s team GPA is 3.55.

4 Ways to Beat Bullying

Wasatch Academy receives Utah Heritage Award

30 students quarantined after charter school with high vaccination opt-out rate hit by whooping cough
Students quarantined > A reason the infection spread so quickly could be high number of nonvaccinated students, state health officials say.

One school comes together for student suffering from leukemia
Brigham Israelsen suffers from leukemia, classmates wanted to support his fight

Rams Host Fundraiser Today for Teacher Battling Cancer

Teen who stabbed classmates faces 10 years to life in prison

New KUED documentary and ‘Sesame Street’ muppet put autism in the spotlight

United Way of Salt Lake honored for early literacy work

Nebo School District holds Spring Captains Academy

MMHS welders take first at state SkillsUSA competition

Salem Hills High student wins writing contest

SHHS student wins award from information technology center

Nebo names Classified Employees of the Year

Ben Ford receives outstanding administrator award

Learning anatomy takes guts

Merit Academy names its Sterling Scholars

MMHS student chefs compete at state

Key Club builds school pride at indoor track

Giveaway at Bennion Elementary is one for the books

Spanish Fork High students represent Nebo district well at state

Merit Dance Company attends dance festival at U of U

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Two N. Utah school districts just hurt the fight against teen suicide

Mountain View High School football team shows genuine interest in community
Local football team illustrate community service

Sponsoring schools

Late start

How I Learned to Take the SAT Like a Rich Kid

How the travel ban ruling could change public education

NATION

DeVos praises this voucher-like program. Here’s what it means for school reform.

Course Choice: A Different Way to Expand School Choice?
Some states already offer the option

PTA Gift for Someone Else’s Child? A Touchy Subject in California

Gunman kills woman, wounds two students, kills self in California classroom

Malala receives highest U.N. honor to promote girls education

 

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UTAH NEWS
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Utah schools recruiting teachers ‘coast to coast’ in face of high turnover, retirements

SANDY – With a couple hundred teaching positions to fill by late summer, Steve Dimond is racking up frequent flier miles.
As the human resources director of Canyons School District, Dimond and his colleagues are traveling “coast to coast” to job fairs in search of candidates for hundreds of teaching positions that are open due to retirements and worsening rates of teacher retention.
At the same time, Utah’s public school population continues to climb, expected to exceed 654,000 next fall.
Last year, more than a third of the district’s new hires came from out of state.
“You name a place and we’re willing to go there to find great teachers,” Dimond said.
Some Utah school districts have been recruiting new teachers out of state for a decade but there is greater urgency now that fewer students who attend colleges and universities in Utah are graduating with teaching degrees.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Dn (DN)

 

Environmental educators share citizen science tools at annual conference

With the help of a smartphone app, nature educators became citizen scientists as they captured images of insects, plants and animals on Friday as part of the 27th annual Utah Environmental Education Conference in Logan.
In one of 19 workshops, breakout sessions and outdoor learning experiences during the two-day conference, Lisa Thompson, exhibit developer at the Natural History Museum of Utah, taught nonprofit workers and teachers the basics of citizen science, preparing them to carry on those lessons to students, volunteers and amateur scientists. In the era of big data, Thompson said, scientists often rely on regular people to make observations about biodiversity and climate.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9DV (LHJ)

 

Navajo Mountain robotics team headed to championships for first time
Competition > Rookie team from tiny school raises funds to compete in Houston contest.

The Navajo Mountain High School robotics team qualified to compete in the FIRST Robotics Championships in Houston, Texas – an accomplishment the newly formed team never anticipated.
The team is looking to raise about $11,000 to travel and compete in the championship, taking place April 19-22 in Houston. The team secured its spot in the championship after winning the Rookie All Star Award at the Idaho Regional FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition March 31- April 1 in Boise, Idaho.
Team members from the remote, 32-student school are competing in robotics for the first time this year, under the supervision of science teacher Daniel Conrad.
The team created a GoFundMe page with the hope of raising money for travel costs to Houston, as well as the event’s entry fee, airfare, hotels, food and ground transportation.
By noon on Saturday, the team had exceeded the $10,000 fundraising goal set when its web page went live April 3, at www.gofundme.com/naatisaan-robotics-frc-championship.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Dt (SLT)

 

Local all-girl robotics team heading to national championships

WEBER COUNTY – Robotics is all about control.
“You can use like a catapult, you can use this lift and claw idea, like we have,” said Madison Wadsworth, the official robot driver.
Teams of high schoolers around the world work with a variety of products provided by a company called Vex – each team can use the available parts to solve a certain problem in a nearly infinite number of ways.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9E0 (KSL)

 

Audit: Privatizing student information system could cost millions

SALT LAKE CITY – A legislative audit released Monday recommends the Utah State Board of Education determine whether a student information system should be privatized given the price tag for eliminating it could reach $7 million the first year.
The system that cost approximately $1.1 million in the 2016 budget year is available to public education entities without charge to track academic progress, attendance and other data used to determine state and federal funding.
The Legislature’s Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee sought the review because a private vendor raised concerns of unfair competition from the state system known as Aspire, according to the legislative auditor general’s audit.
Although the state’s Free Market Protection and Privatization Board concluded in 2015 that the system “appeared to compete unfairly with private business, (its) recommendation stopped short of recommending privatization,” the audit stated.
Because the State School Board “is not gaining a financial advantage and in fact spends money to maintain Aspire,” the audit said it does not appear to meet the privatization board’s definition of unfair competition.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9E1 (DN via KSL)

 

Proposed Salary Bump In Jordan School District Favors Newer Teachers

New teachers in Salt Lake County’s Jordan School District may be looking at a big jump in salary next year. But that’s not the case for some of their more seasoned colleagues.
The proposed change bumps new teacher salary from $34,000 to $40,000 a year. A significant difference for someone straight out of college.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9E2 (KUER)

Cache County schools exclude sexual orientation question on statewide youth risk survey

In reaction to Cache County and Davis school districts declining to include a sexual orientation question in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the Utah Department of Health dropped the question in its statewide study.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported Wednesday that UDOH wanted to include a question that asks students if they best describe themselves as heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual or unsure, in part to gather data to help identify patterns in suicide rates.
Suicide was 2015’s leading cause of death for people in Utah ages 10 to 24, and it was the second-leading cause of death for the 25 to 44 age group, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate of suicide among Utahns ages 10 to 17 has been rising since 2011, according to UDOH.
Cache County School District Public Information Officer Tim Smith said district officials didn’t know if parents would think it was an appropriate question to ask teenagers, and they didn’t have enough time to figure out what the state intended to do with the data.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Eg (LHJ)

 

Utah Lawmakers Pass Measure Calling on Congress to Abolish U.S. Education Department

The Utah state legislature has passed a joint resolution calling for a return to federalism in general, and, in particular, the end of the federal Education Department.
The measure passed the Utah State House with a vote of 60-14, and the State Senate, 20-1. It was enrolled on March 17.
State Rep. Ken Ivory sponsored HJR 017, titled “Joint Resolution to Restore the Division of Governmental Responsibilities Between the National Government and the States.” The resolution “urges the President of the United States and Congress to recognize state authority and take action to restore power to the states.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Eh (Breitbart)

 

A party with a purpose: Whittier Elementary celebrates World Autism Awareness Day

WEST VALLEY CITY – Inside brightly colored plastic Easter eggs, David Sopena Escalera found something he wasn’t expecting: white and yellow gak.
The Whittier Elementary School student, who was wearing a Dr. Seuss-themed T-shirt that said “Why fit in when you were born to stand out,” enthusiastically dug the sticky gak out of the egg with a large plastic spoon.
“Good job, David,” said paraeducator Michelle Nielson.
The sensory activity, which helps students diagnosed with autism to hone their fine-motor skills, was one of several activities during the school’s observance of World Autism Awareness Day on Friday.
Special education teacher Camille Gregory said the events were built around a Dr. Seuss theme and a lot of fun, such as playing with shaving cream, sticker books and knocking down stacked cups with a beanbag. But the activities were also designed with specific education objectives in mind.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Dv (DN)

 

Creative young girl with alopecia wins school’s Crazy Hair Day

SALEM, UT — This seven-year-old has a sparkling spirit, with accessories to match.
Gianessa Wride was recently diagnosed with alopecia. The auto-immune condition caused all of her hair to fall out.
But that didn’t stop her from making the most of her school’s Crazy Hair Day.
She and her mom, Daniella Wride, decided to bedazzle Gianessa’s head with stick-on jewels. The glittering owls, flowers, and her all-around style won Gianessa the best Crazy Hair of the day.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9E7 (USAT)

 

Juan Diego hopes classroom success translates to the diamond
Prep baseball > The Soaring Eagle’s team GPA is 3.55.

Draper * Juan Diego scatters onto the diamond for a routine midweek baseball practice in early April. The weather is sketchy, as is usually the case for Utah during the springtime, but the darkened skies and chilly temperatures haven’t dampened the players’ attitude.
As the fielding drills commence, the players begin to converse amongst themselves. However, mixed within the camaraderie are subjects not usually associated with high school baseball players.
Like robotics.
You see, the Soaring Eagle baseball program is comprised of talented athletes with high expectations to capture a state championship at season’s end.
But deep down, these guys are a bunch of nerds.
“What I like is they’re competitive academically with each other, and when we go out to the baseball field, the environments are pretty similar,” Juan Diego coach Kellen Carsey said. “It’s a topical conversation out on the field: ‘What did you score on this test? How did you feel about this question?’ It translates to [baseball] as well. Our guys are in the right position a lot of times. They pick up things fast. It’s a benefit to us.”
There are 33 players listed on the roster at Juan Diego. The cumulative team GPA is 3.55. The average score on the ACT college readiness assessment is 27.65.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Du (SLT)

 

4 Ways to Beat Bullying

One of every four students will be bullied this year, the time to take action is now. Everyone has a voice in raising awareness of bullying. Whether you are a student, educator, or parent, here are important points to know and emphasize when you speak in front of a group, lead a class discussion, or talk with peers. Anna from LDS Hospital shares four ways to help put a stop to bullying.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Ei (KTVX)

 

Wasatch Academy receives Utah Heritage Award

MT. PLEASANT, Sanpete County – Wasatch Academy, a private college preparatory boarding high school, has received a Utah Heritage Award for its work restoring Pierce Hall, one of the early buildings on the school’s campus.
Built in the 1890s, Pierce Hall was originally a private home. Later, Wasatch acquired it and for many years used it as a faculty residence. For a time, the building served as the school museum.
The school recently restored the structure for use as a guest house, but this year, because of an overflow of students, it is being used as a dormitory for girls.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9DC (DN)

 

30 students quarantined after charter school with high vaccination opt-out rate hit by whooping cough
Students quarantined > A reason the infection spread so quickly could be high number of nonvaccinated students, state health officials say.

Spring break came early at Murray’s American International School of Utah, but the holiday will be full of sick days for several students and faculty members.
Administrators closed the charter school Friday, ahead of a scheduled recess next week, after an outbreak of pertussis – also known as whooping cough – led to roughly 30 students being quarantined and hundreds of absences.
“Understandably there are some concerned parents,” AISU operations director Kelly Casaday said, “and our absentee rate was pretty high.”
Whooping cough was first reported at the school Monday, Salt Lake County Health Department spokesman Nicholas Rupp said, and by Friday as many as 14 cases were being investigated.
About 30 unvaccinated students have been “excluded,” or told to stay home, for a period of 21 days or longer if the outbreak continues, Rupp said.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Dx (SLT)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9Dy (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9DI (AP via OSE)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9DY (AP via CVD)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9DX (DN via KSL)

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

http://gousoe.uen.org/9Ej (AP via USN&WR)

 

One school comes together for student suffering from leukemia
Brigham Israelsen suffers from leukemia, classmates wanted to support his fight

LOGAN, Utah – a Logan boy is fighting for his life. And his classmates wanted to do something to show they support him.
In Mrs. Pugh’s 4th grade class, at Greenville Elementary School, Brigham Israelsen sits up front. He is in his third year of treatment for leukemia. It was supposed to be his last
Brigham says, “My last LP they found some concerning cells.” Now he needs to be retested to see if he needs two more years of treatment.
Stacey Pugh says, of her class, “we wanted to do something more to give him hope. So we had read this book called ‘Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes’.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/9DZ (KTVX)

 

Rams Host Fundraiser Today for Teacher Battling Cancer

Baseball brings people together. Folks at South Sevier High School are counting on that fact as they gear up for their baseball and softball games today. This time though, its not just what is happening on the field that is bringing people to the bleachers. SSHS is raising money by selling Navajo tacos at the games for math tutor Sabrina Savage, who has been diagnosed with cancer. Savage has been helping students understand the ins and outs of math for the past 11 years at the high school and the Richfield Residential Hall. She is currently receiving treatment for her cancer at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City. SSHS will sell the tacos starting at 4:30 p.m. to help cover some of her medical expenses.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9E3 (MUR)

 

Teen who stabbed classmates faces 10 years to life in prison

PROVO – A 16-year-old who admitted to attacking five classmates at random in a school locker room faces a potential prison sentence of at least 10 years and possibly life, to be served once he is released from a juvenile facility.
In a plea deal made Tuesday, Luke Dollahite pleaded guilty in juvenile court to four out of five charges of attempted aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, and was sentenced to secure care. He has agreed to plead guilty to the fifth count in 4th District Court, where he faces the charge as an adult.
Dollahite’s first hearing in district court is scheduled for April 13.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9DB (DN)

 

New KUED documentary and ‘Sesame Street’ muppet put autism in the spotlight

Just in time for National Autism Awareness month, “Sesame Street” is adding a new autistic Muppet character, debuting Monday, April 10 on PBS and HBO.
In addition, Utah’s PBS station, KUED, will be airing a documentary on autism in Utah titled “On the Spectrum” on Monday, April 17 at 8:30 p.m.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9DD (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9DE (KUED)

 

United Way of Salt Lake honored for early literacy work

SALT LAKE CITY – United Way of Salt Lake has been honored by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading for exemplary work in eliminating barriers faced by children from low-income families on the path to becoming proficient readers.
“We are very proud of United Way of Salt Lake and the numerous organizations and individuals behind the community for joining forces and working tirelessly to uplift children and families,” Ralph Smith, the campaign’s managing director, said in a statement.
“The Pacesetter award is an honor and a privilege,” Bill Crim, president and CEO of United Way of Salt Lake, said in the statement. “But it is critical to remember this is an award for our partnerships, not just United Way. This is a result of after-school providers, districts, state agencies, businesses, teachers, principals and others coming together to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. We cannot say thank you enough to everyone involved.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Dw (DN)

 

Nebo School District holds Spring Captains Academy

During the last week of March, Nebo School District held its Captains Academy Spring Session on leadership and sportsmanship. The Captains Academy is held three times a year for students who hold various leadership positions in their schools.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9DK (Serve Daily)

MMHS welders take first at state SkillsUSA competition

Maple Mountain High School’s Tyler Christmas, Tosh Davis and Ben Warnick took first place in Welding Fabrication and Savannah Marker took second place in Job Interview in the recent SkillsUSA state competition.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9DN (Serve Daily)

 

Salem Hills High student wins writing contest

Salem Hills High School junior Dallas Williams won runner-up for his entry, “The Biker and I,” in the Personal Narrative category of the Utah Valley University High School Writing Competition.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9DP (Serve Daily)

SHHS student wins award from information technology center

Salem Hills High School student McKenzie Taylor at Salem Hills High has won an award for Aspirations in Computing from the National Center for Women in Information Technology. As a part of this award, McKenzie received a $1,000 scholarship from the NCWIT, a Kindle Fire, a license for Adobe Creative Cloud and many other amazing prizes.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9DQ (Serve Daily)

 

Nebo names Classified Employees of the Year

Listed below are the Classified Employees of the Year.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9DS (Daily Serve)

 

Ben Ford receives outstanding administrator award

Payson High School Principal Ben Ford was recently honored as the Outstanding Administrator of the Year Award by the Utah Music Education Association.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9DR (Serve Daily)

 

Learning anatomy takes guts

Utah Connections Academy seventh-grader Taheera Needham-Heimuli dissects a frog with her mother, Keala Needham-Heimuli, at the school’s administration office in Woods Cross on Thursday. Taheera joined other students at the tuition-free online public school for the science lesson, which examined the wonders of the body and compared a frog’s anatomy with that of a human’s.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9DA (DN)

 

Merit Academy names its Sterling Scholars

Merit Academy is pleased to introduce its Sterling Scholars:
http://gousoe.uen.org/9DT (Daily Serve)

 

MMHS student chefs compete at state

“Wow!” “Mesmerizing!” and “Perfect!” were a few of the comments chefs made about the Maple Mountain High School ProStart Culinary Team’s three-course meal its members made at the ProStart State Finals in March. The team worked together to make Egg Yolk Ravioli with Sage-Bacon-Brown Butter sauce as an appetizer, Seared Sea Bass served over Pesto and Purple Fingerling Potatoes as the entree and Deconstructed Cheesecake for dessert.
Maple Mountain has sent many teams to compete, but none have ever advanced to the state finals until this year.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9DM (Serve Daily)

 

Key Club builds school pride at indoor track

Early on the morning of Feb. 25, there was a big “spring cleanup” at the track under Springville High School. The Key Club of SHS spearheaded the effort and was joined by the Springville Kiwanis Club, SHS students and community volunteers.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9DL (Serve Daily)

 

Giveaway at Bennion Elementary is one for the books

Trinity Selah, center, reacts as she, Rama Alzahrani, left, Epeneto Samuel, center right, and Angel Trinidad choose a book of their own during a giveaway at Bennion Elementary School in Salt Lake City on Friday. A total of 3,600 new children’s books – enough to fill a library shelf nearly 150 feet long – were given away by the Molina Foundation as part of its 2017 Share-a-Story Campaign, a national initiative taking place this spring to highlight the importance of storytelling and book reading for children of all linguistic, cultural and economic backgrounds. The books, which cover a range of learning levels from preschool to middle school, give the students a chance to read independently during the upcoming spring break. In addition to the giveaway, the foundation organized various literacy games and reading sessions for the students. The Molina Foundation, based in Long Beach, California, is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the mission of reducing disparities in access to education and health. The foundation organized the event in partnership with the Salt Lake City School District, Salt Lake Education Foundation and Molina Healthcare of Utah.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Dz (DN)

 

Spanish Fork High students represent Nebo district well at state

The Spanish Fork High School SkillsUSA team members competed at the state competition March 24. All eight competitors represented SFHS well in several categories.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9DU (Serve Daily)

 

Merit Dance Company attends dance festival at U of U

The Merit Academy Dance Company attended the Utah Dance Education Organization High School Dance Festival on March 4.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9DO (Serve Daily)

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Two N. Utah school districts just hurt the fight against teen suicide
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner editorial

When 22 Utah adolescents kill themselves in a single year, it’s a tragedy.
When that number doubles three years later, it’s a crisis.
Except in two Northern Utah school districts.
They’d rather not allow kids to share information that could save their lives.
But they’re not just putting their own students at risk – they’re preventing state researchers from collecting information that could save young lives throughout Utah.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9DH

 

Mountain View High School football team shows genuine interest in community
Local football team illustrate community service
(Provo) Daily Herald commentary by Monica Villar

The Mountain View High School football team, under the guidance of their coach, makes sure to remain actively engaged with their community.
Usually when a sports team has a not-so-great season, all they want to focus on is how to get the championships next year. That’s not the case for Coach Tyler Anderson and the Mountain View High School Bruins football team.
Despite their losing 2016 season and other recent damaging publicity the school has had to overcome, this team wants everyone to know that they do more than just play sports and their community is important to them.
Coach Anderson seems to understand well what Coach Vincent Lombardi meant when he said, “People who work together will win, whether it is against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society.” He is encouraging his team to strive to be great off the field as well as on, by serving their community in a number of ways.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9DJ

 

Sponsoring schools
Deseret News letter from Renee Darata

I read George Eldredge’s letter (“Businesses sponsor schools?,” April 3) with interest. For months my business has been reaching out to clients, business associates and social media, letting people know that we are looking for an opportunity to help teachers with classroom supplies.
Its been interesting. We’ve had difficulty getting past gatekeepers at most schools. One acquaintance suggested we contact her child’s charter school. My assistant called and got a brushoff. I called and was told, “We’ll call you if we are interested.” Traditional public schools that we have contacted have shown no interest.
We have finally connected with four public charter schools. We’ve supplied craft supplies, Legos, theory books for band class, snacks and art supplies for special ed, English enrichment materials and math manipulatives. We’re excited to make a difference!
http://gousoe.uen.org/9DF

 

Late start
Deseret News letter from Adam Brooks

My name is Adam Brooks from Troop 1506. It is to my concern that late start is on Friday in the Jordan School district. In my opinion, it should be on Monday. On Friday, students are already far into the week and are used to waking up early. On Monday, students are coming from the weekend. If students had late start then, students would be more active in class. This comes from my own personal experience when occasionally on Fridays I wake up at the time I usually do on accident. I’m in the habit so far in the week.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9DG

 

How I Learned to Take the SAT Like a Rich Kid
New York Times op-ed by Dylan Hernandez, who will attend the University of Michigan in the fall

FLINT, Mich. – The summer before my junior year of high school, I boarded an airplane for the first time. Three hours later I was in pictureperfect New England, where I was soon to be surrounded by a diverse and extremely accomplished group of peers. I had been awarded a generous scholarship to attend the Phillips Exeter summer semester – five weeks of classes and sports, with some optional SAT prep mixed in.
I’m from Flint, Mich., and even though I recently transferred to a private Catholic high school in my city, top tiereducation is new to my family. Neither of my parents went to college, and in Rust Belt regions like the middle of Michigan, education is falling behind the rest of the country. Stanford researchers found, for example, that sixth graders in our town are two to three grade levels behind the national average. They are almost five grade levels behind students in more prosperous counties 30 miles away.
The friends I made at Phillips Exeter were from fancysounding towns and seemed to have it all. Most attended prestigious private or highly ranked public schools. They were impossibly sporty, charming and intelligent, with perfect smiles and impeccably curated Instagram profiles. The program we attended costs around $10,000, so they were clearly affluent, but they also came from diverse backgrounds. They had been on exotic vacations and had volunteered for the needy. They were truly interesting people.
So I didn’t understand why so many of them were enrolled in the optional SAT prep section of our summer program. Why would such impressive high achievers spend their summer nights storming through a massive SAT book? Many of them already took weekend SAT prep courses back home. Did they just think it was fun to time one another on practice sets?
Family and friends from home thought it was weird that I went to “school” during my summers, but the kids at Exeter saw summer academic programs as normal and enjoyable. I was happy to be around so many fellow nerds. Still, they approached studying for the SAT with a nearprofessional intensity that was alien to me.
I realized that they didn’t just want to score exceptionally well on the SAT. They were gunning for a score on the Preliminary SAT exams that would put them in the top percentile of students in the United States and make them National Merit Scholars in the fall.
It was disconcerting
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Do

 

How the travel ban ruling could change public education
(Washington, DC) The Hill op-ed by ROBERT G. NATELSON, senior fellow in constitutional jurisprudence at The Heartland Institute

Liberal politicos celebrating court decisions voiding President Donald Trump’s travel orders seem not to have noticed something: Those decisions pose a direct threat to the state constitutional language they rely on to block school choice programs.
This danger is not merely theoretical: The state constitutional language they rely on will come under Supreme Court scrutiny later this year.
The state constitutional provisions at risk are called “Blaine clauses”-or, less accurately, “Blaine amendments.” They ban state aid to schools and other institutions deemed “sectarian” or “denominational.” Liberal lawyers, judges, and pressure groups have long argued Blaine clauses ban school choice programs that include religious schools.
But if Trump’s travel orders violate the U.S. Constitution, then Blaine clauses probably do as well. Indeed, the case against the Blaine clauses is stronger in some ways than the case against the travel orders.
Blaine clauses are named for the prominent 19th century federal politician James G. Blaine. During Blaine’s political career, many Americans disliked new Catholic immigrants and their religion. Many states forced immigrant children into public schools imbued with Protestant theology. The idea was to wedge them into a nondenominational Protestant mold.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Dp

 

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NATIONAL NEWS
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DeVos praises this voucher-like program. Here’s what it means for school reform.
Washington Post

Florida has channeled billions of taxpayer dollars into scholarships for poor children to attend private schools over the past 15 years, using tax credits to build a laboratory for school choice that the Trump administration holds up as a model for the nation.
The voucherlike program, the largest of its kind in the country, helps pay tuition for nearly 100,000 students from low-income families.
But there is scant evidence that these students fare better academically than their peers in public schools. And there is a perennial debate about whether the state should support private schools that are mostly religious, do not require teachers to hold credentials and are not required to meet minimal performance standards. Florida private schools must administer one of several standardized tests to scholarship recipients, but there are no consequences for consistently poor results.
“After the students leave us, the public loses any sense of accountability or scrutiny of the outcomes,” said Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of Miami-Dade County public schools. He wonders what happens to the 25,000 students from the county who receive the scholarships. “It’s very difficult to gauge whether they’re hitting the mark.”
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a longtime advocate for school choice, does not seem to be bothered by that complaint.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9E4

 

Course Choice: A Different Way to Expand School Choice?
Some states already offer the option
Education Week

Plans to expand school choice from President Donald Trump, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and Congress have largely focused on high-profile measures like vouchers and tax-credit scholarships. But there’s another option for the Trump administration to promote, one that’s supported in multiple sections of the Every Student Succeeds Act and that many states are already using.
Course choice, also known as course access, allows for parents and students to select various pre-approved courses beyond what their districts normally offer. The courses, many of which are taught online, can include everything from university classes and SAT preparation to welder training.
DeVos highlighted course choice in an interview earlier this year with Town Hall, a conservative news website. And one of her early hires at the U.S. Department of Education, Michael Brickman, wrote about the benefits of course choice when he worked at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a Washington think tank that supports educational choice.
States can choose to set aside 3 percent of their Title I money under the “direct student services” provision of ESSA for course choice, among other programs. States could also potentially use Title IV block grants authorized (but not yet funded) for states to provide well-rounded educational programs and school improvement programs under Title I to boost course choice.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Ee

PTA Gift for Someone Else’s Child? A Touchy Subject in California
New York Times

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – Of all the inequalities between rich and poor public schools, one of the more glaring divides is PTA fundraising, which in schools with wellheeled parents can generate hundreds of thousands of dollars a year or more.
Several years ago, the Santa MonicaMalibu school board came up with a solution: Pool most donations from across the district and distribute them equally to all the schools.
This has paid big benefits to the needier schools in this wealthy district, like the Edison Language Academy in Santa Monica, where half the children qualify for free or reducedprice lunch. The campus is decorated with psychedelic paintings of civil rights icons such as Cesar Chavez and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the work of the school’s art teacher, Martha Ramirez Oropeza, whose salary is paid by the pooled contributions. That money has also funded the school’s choral program, teacher aides, a science lab and a telescope.
The funding program is considered a national model, and has many enthusiastic supporters. But for some locals it is a sore point that has helped fuel a long-simmering secession movement in which Malibu – more solidly affluent than Santa Monica – would create its own district, allowing it to keep all of its donations in its own schools.
Craig Foster, a school board member from Malibu who favors separation, said parents voluntarily giving money wanted to see the fruits of their donations.
An ideal PTA system gives a parent “the opportunity to put your money where your heart is,” said Mr. Foster, a former managing director at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse. “It has to be an emotional appeal, and it has to be for the benefit of the donor.”
Indeed, the powerful appeal of helping one’s own child has turned the applepie PTA into a mirror of society’s larger stratification. According to a new report by the Center for American Progress, a liberal advocacy group, schools that serve just one-tenth of 1 percent of American students collect 10 percent of the estimated $425 million that PTAs raise nationwide each year.
And those schools, not surprisingly, are some of the least needy, according to the study, which analyzed PTA tax returns from 2013 and student demographics. The richest PTA in the nation, with $2 million in revenue, was at Highland Park
High School in a suburb of Dallas, where no one qualified for free or discounted lunch. (Nationwide, about half of public school students are eligible.)
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Dl

A copy of the report
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Dm (Center for American Progress)

 

Gunman kills woman, wounds two students, kills self in California classroom
Reuters

SAN BERNARDINO, CALIF. | A man opened fire with a pistol in a classroom at a Southern California elementary school on Monday, fatally shooting a woman presumed to be the teacher and wounding two children before killing himself.
Police said the two students were not believed to have been targeted by the gunman but were wounded because of their proximity to the slain woman.
San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan called the shooting at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, about 65 miles east of Los Angeles, an apparent murder-suicide.
Investigators were working to confirm the identities of the gunman and the dead woman to determine their relationship, if any, and whether the shooting stemmed from a domestic dispute, police Captain Ron Maas said at a news conference.
The wounded students were hospitalized but their medical conditions were not immediately known. Maas said they were not related to either of the dead adults.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Eb

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

http://gousoe.uen.org/9E5 (San Bernardino Sun)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9Ef (LAT)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9E6 (USAT)

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

 

Malala receives highest U.N. honor to promote girls education
Reuters

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai a U.N. Messenger of Peace on Monday to promote girls education, more than four years after a Taliban gunman shot her in the head on her school bus in 2012.
At 19, Yousafzai is the youngest Messenger of Peace, the highest honor given by the United Nations for an initial period of two years. She was also the youngest person to win the Nobel peace prize in 2014 when she was 17.
“You are not only a hero, but you are a very committed and generous person,” Guterres told Yousafzai.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Ea

 

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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
1:30 p.m., 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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