Education News Roundup: April 17, 2017

Today’s Top Picks:

"Taxes" by Tax Credits/CC/flickr

“Taxes” by Tax Credits/CC/flickr

Our Schools Now appears open to a sales tax increase to help schools.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9GA (SLT)

A judge today granted a stay in Equality Utah’s suit against the state.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hw (DN)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/9GD (SLT)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hb (DN via KSL)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hf (KSTU)

Headline of the day: “Who is Rich Nye anyway?”
http://gousoe.uen.org/9GX (OSE)

School choice is linked to an important case before the U.S. Supreme Court this week.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hl (Ed Week)

Tomorrow, of course, is income tax deadline day. For every $100 you pay in federal income tax, how much of it goes to education? $2.08, according to a new study.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hr (WSJ) $
or a copy of the report
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hs (CRFB)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Initiative backers consider sales tax to help raise $750M for Utah schools
Our Schools Now » After initial tax-reform plan failed at the Legislature, organizers return to the drawing board in attempt to get $750M they say Utah public education needs badly.

Judge grants stay in Equality Utah’s challenge of school policies

American Preparatory Academy demolishes nearby house to open emergency route through Draper neighborhood
Property dispute » Education board should use eminent domain to fix problems, legislator says.

Allegations of sexual abuse at Franklin Discovery Academy ‘unfounded,’ appointed mentor says

Granite settlement gives new teachers highest starting salary among S.L. districts

Who is Rich Nye anyway? Meet the new Ogden School District superintendent

NAACP Education Director visits SLC to talk new public education policies

Utah Education Board, Parents Talk Books To Boost Math Scores Among Disabled Students

Report: Tax exemptions cost Utah $426 million last year

Report: Utah taxpayers donate more to homelessness than education

State’s economy fueling population growth

Bountiful elementary students to participate in space station experiments

It’s finally party time for ‘The Great American Eclipse’

Edith Bowen parents learn about new sixth grade at informational meeting

Utah County student asks for help funding prestigious, educational summer programs

Fairview Elem. placed on lockdown due to police standoff

Sunset family studies world cultures, plans to host exchange students

Jazz, partners donate more than $262,000 to local nonprofits through outreach programs

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Utahns can handle the truth of taxation

Who deserves praise and criticism this week in Northern Utah?

Another effort is brewing to kill the caucus/convention system

Reyes’ fundraising a reminder of past A.G. exploits

Extend the EITC to more taxpayers

An ancient cemetery is no place for an elementary school

As a high school junior I chose to keep my boy

New middle school mystery novel by Utah author is criminally good

Every Public-School Student in Arizona Will Get a Chance at Choice
The state expands its program offering $5,000 to $14,000 in education savings accounts.

How School Choice Turns Education Into a Commodity
Schools are a public good that extreme market proliferation would eventually destroy.

Does school competition lift all boats like Jeb Bush says?

Why don’t schools encourage us to observe our children’s classes?

NATION

School Choice Implications in Religious Rights Case at High Court

Absences, Fitness, Atmosphere — New Ways to Track Schools

How $100 of Your Taxes Are Spent: 8 Cents on National Parks and $15 on Medicare
Half of all spending goes for Social Security benefits and health programs such as Medicare and Medicaid

Here We Go Again? How a Government Shutdown Could Impact Schools

Affording a House Can Be a Challenge for Teachers in Some Cities, Study Finds

Report names 12 at Choate Rosemary Hall who allegedly abused students

Survey: Habits of Talented Math Students

NCAA Adopts Early Signing Period, 10th Coach for Football

Ready Or Not (For Kindergarten), Some Research Says, Enroll Anyway

Barry Loukaitis, Moses Lake school shooter, breaks silence with apology
His letter to the Grant County Superior Court was filed last week as part of a court-ordered resentencing in the 1996 bloodshed, in which he killed a teacher and two classmates. He says he wishes he had pleaded guilty and won’t fight a proposed new sentence of 189 years.

Parents of abused Midwest Academy students pursue founder

Washington state lawmakers push to let kids use sunscreen in school

 

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UTAH NEWS
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Initiative backers consider sales tax to help raise $750M for Utah schools
Our Schools Now » After initial tax-reform plan failed at the Legislature, organizers return to the drawing board in attempt to get $750M they say Utah public education needs badly.

Since November, a group of business and education leaders has pitched a seven-eighths of 1 percent income tax increase to Utah voters.
The initiative, known as Our Schools Now, is in the early stages of putting the question of a $750 million tax boost for public education spending on the November 2018 ballot.
But, as organizers prepare to submit their final ballot language and begin the laborious task of gathering signatures, the once-narrow guidelines of their tax proposal have begun to widen.
“We’re considering any idea before we submit our final version of the initiative,” Our Schools Now spokesman Austin Cox said on Friday. “Sales tax could be a part of that. Income tax could be a part of that. We’re still looking at it and running numbers.”
Our Schools Now’s call for a higher income tax was effectively dead on arrival during the 2017 legislative session. Lawmakers debated but ultimately abandoned raising school funds through a series of revenue-neutral adjustments to the state’s sales tax.
Their tax reform package, anchored in a proposal to hike the sales tax on food while lowering the overall sales tax rate, was opposed by various community groups that argued it would disproportionately affect low-income households.
Cox said Our Schools Now is not reacting to lawmakers’ opposition to income tax reform. And the initiative has not shifted focus, Cox said, despite the relatively recent inclusion of sales tax adjustments in potential ballot language.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9GA (SLT)

 

Judge grants stay in Equality Utah’s challenge of school policies

SALT LAKE CITY – A federal judge on Monday granted a stay in proceedings through May 15 in Equality Utah’s constitutional challenge of state education policies that it says prohibit positive speech about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
U.S. District Judge Dee Benson granted the stay in response to a motion filed jointly by attorneys for Equality Utah and the Utah State Board of Education.
Equality Utah’s lawsuit against the State School Board and Jordan, Weber and Cache County school districts cites experiences of three unnamed Utah students in elementary, middle and high schools as examples of other LGBT youths’ experiences in Utah public schools, according to the complaint.
Equality Utah, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs in October, claims Utah school policies violate constitutional rights of free speech and equal protection, as well as Title IX protections.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hw (DN)

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

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

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

 

American Preparatory Academy demolishes nearby house to open emergency route through Draper neighborhood
Property dispute » Education board should use eminent domain to fix problems, legislator says.

Work began Friday on a permanent driveway linking Draper’s American Preparatory Academy to a public road, advancing a long-held goal for the landlocked school.
But the development is cold comfort for school administrators, who have their eyes set on reaching a different road, and for residents in Draper’s Inauguration Park neighborhood, who saw a house demolished in the name of charter expansion.
“They’ve just had poor planning to begin with since they started the school,” said neighbor Tim Ward.
American Preparatory Academy currently relies on an easement to allow vehicle traffic to and from its campus. A road – 11950 South – is located on the school’s south side, but is blocked by a narrow strip of private land.
The school attempted to condemn the land strip through eminent domain, but a 3rd District Court judge ruled that American Preparatory Academy’s unelected governing board did not have that authority because it does not qualify as a board of education.
At a recent community meeting, Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, told frustrated residents that he is working with the Utah Board of Education to resolve the issue.
“It’s my hope that we can get the state office of education to pull their head out of it and do this right,” Stephenson said, according to a video shared with The Salt Lake Tribune. “Most of the problems that are being faced here today are a result of some bureaucrats throwing their weight around in an inappropriate way.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/9GK (SLT)

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

 

Allegations of sexual abuse at Franklin Discovery Academy ‘unfounded,’ appointed mentor says

LAYTON – Allegations of sexual abuse at Franklin Discovery Academy were determined to be “unfounded,” according to a mentor appointed to oversee the public charter school after it was placed on probation by the State Charter School Board earlier this year.
“All the allegations with regards to sexual abuse, all the things along those lines, have been found to be untrue. They were allegations that either came from either parents or community members. They had police come in. They had family and children services come in. Everybody did all the investigations and all of those were unfounded,” Kim Frank, executive director of the Utah Charter Network who was appointed to monitor the Vineyard school, said.
The Utah County Sheriff’s Office looked into to the allegations but found no evidence that supported the claims, Sgt. Spencer Cannon said.
“It wasn’t a matter of not being enough evidence to charge, it’s the fact we didn’t find any evidence. We said, no, it’s unsubstantiated,” Cannon said.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9GS (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9HB (PDH)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9H9 (DN via KSL)

 

Granite settlement gives new teachers highest starting salary among S.L. districts

SOUTH SALT LAKE – Granite School District and the Granite Education Association has announced a tentative settlement that features a 3 percent cost of living adjustment and an additional 8.67 percent educator market adjustment for all teachers in the district.
These adjustments will push Granite’s starting teacher salary to the highest in the Salt Lake Valley at $41,000 a year beginning with the 2017-18 school year.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9GT (DN)

 

Who is Rich Nye anyway? Meet the new Ogden School District superintendent

OGDEN – Richard Nye is coming home.
Nye attended Bonneville High School, grew up in Ogden and still lives there now as a 42-year-old with his wife and three kids.
He was selected to be the Ogden School District’s 17th superintendent this spring, a position he’ll take over July 1.
Nye said the biggest challenges facing Utah’s educational system today are funding, a shortage of teachers and supporting the emotional well-being of students.
“The teachers need to understand they matter in the lives of children,” he said. “Children need them, and they need to be treated by the community as professionals and recognized as such.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/9GX (OSE)

 

NAACP Education Director visits SLC to talk new public education policies

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — One of the leaders of the NAACP was in town to talk about the “Every Child Succeeds Act.”
This is the law that replaces “No Child Left Behind” and takes effect in August.
It gives states wide discretion in setting goals and sets a high accountability factor for schools.
Most importantly, it provides resources to help failing schools get back on track.
“Even students that are low income get the best public education and that the federal government will stand behind the states to help make that happen,” said Victor Goode, Interim Education Director at NAACP.
Interim Education Director Victor Goode says any school program is only as good as how it is implemented by schools and districts.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hz (KTVX)

Utah Education Board, Parents Talk Books To Boost Math Scores Among Disabled Students

In February, The Utah State Board of Education launched a four-part book study to assist parents in improving math skills for special needs students.
Becky Unker, an education specialist with the board, led the book study. The discussions focused on developmental psychology and performance expectations for students with disabilities.
“This is the first book study that we have hosted at USBE. Our main goal was we wanted to raise expectations for students with disabilities in our state. We find that we don’t have very high expectations for students with disabilities and more so in mathematics than any other subject. And this comes through in the data we see and the achievement-gap we’re trying to close,” she said.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9HA (UPR)

 

Report: Tax exemptions cost Utah $426 million last year

SALT LAKE CITY – As Utah lawmakers get ready to consider scaling back some of the state’s 90 sales tax exemptions, a report estimates that the state missed out on about $426 million in the last budget year due to tax exemptions that range from aviation fuel to college text books.
Republican Gov. Gary Herbert had urged lawmakers to scrutinize tax policies during the recently completed legislative session in hopes of freeing up some money for education and other spending needs. Although lawmakers considered several changes, they backed away in the session’s final days before any bill made it through the Legislature.
They’re expected to spend some time this summer studying the state’s exemptions and many other aspects of its tax policy.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Gy (AP via DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hi (AP via MUR)

 

Report: Utah taxpayers donate more to homelessness than education

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah taxpayers donated twice as much to fight homelessness than to support education and seem to have a soft spot for body armor for police dogs, according to the most recent report examining donations on tax returns in 2015.
With Tax Day approaching, Utah residents have their annual opportunity to make donations to charitable organizations when they send in their tax returns. But if the past 25 years are any indication, the state may see a decrease in these donations.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9GE (AP via DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9GJ (AP via SLT)

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

http://gousoe.uen.org/9H1 (AP via PDH)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9H3 (AP via LHJ)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9H5 (AP via CVD)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9H6 (AP via SGS)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9H8 (AP via KSL)

 

State’s economy fueling population growth

SALT LAKE CITY – After topping 3 million residents in 2016, the Beehive State’s population is expected to continue its steady climb for years to come, and researchers predict growth will be driven in large part by Utah’s economy – one of the strongest in the nation.
According to data from the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, the state’s population is projected to increase from 3 million last year to 5.5 million in 2065. In the meantime, the next major population milestone Utah is expected to eclipse is the 4 million mark in 2034 – less than 20 years from now.
“Last year, we had the most rapidly growing state in the nation,” explained Pam Perlich, director of demographic research at the institute. While the rate of growth will likely moderate in the coming years, Perlich said a solid rate of population increase is expected for the foreseeable future.
“We are part of a growth region, and Utah is leading the way right now,” she said.
The Utah population reached the 3 million mark just 20 years after reaching 2 million in 1995. Current projections have the state achieving 4 million people during 2034 and 5 million people in 2054, just 20 years later, Perlich said.
She described the pace of growth as a “sustainable, more manageable rate of growth.” Much of the growth comes from new people moving into the state for employment opportunities, she noted.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Gz (DN)

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

 

Bountiful elementary students to participate in space station experiments

BOUNTIFUL – Orion’s Quest, a national nonprofit that engages students in research, has announced that students at Washington Elementary School will participate in experiments conducted on the International Space Station.
Orion’s Quest, based in Plymouth, Michigan, provides all materials and support free of charge. Teachers can choose to engage students in live missions being conducted on the station, or virtual missions that support past station experiments for which scientists continue to collect data.
The students at Washington Elementary will engage in the Fruit Flies in Space virtual mission. Because the fruit fly genome has genetic similarities with the human genome, information gained in studying how changes in gravity alter the flies’ basic signaling pathways can then be translated to complex human organisms. Other virtual missions include studies of the effects of space on microbes, plant growth, spiders, butterflies and worms.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9GN (DN)

 

It’s finally party time for ‘The Great American Eclipse’

SALT LAKE CITY – A retired Salt Lake City schoolteacher has been planning a huge party for more than a quarter-century – and this year it’s finally party time.
Bill Christiansen is trying to reconnect with thousands of former students so he can reinvite them to a rendezvous in Idaho for what’s been dubbed “The Great American Eclipse.”
“It’s going to be terrific,” Christiansen said, stabbing his finger at a recent visitor to his home office. “And you had better be there.”
The upcoming event is actually a chance for tens of millions of Americans to witness one of nature’s most dazzling spectacles. A total eclipse of the sun will cross the entire nation through Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming and a number of Eastern states.
Christiansen calls it “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for those who are willing to drive north from Salt Lake City to see the eclipse in the “zone of totality.”
“It’s going to be so beautiful,” he said. “You’ll remember this your entire life.”
On a recent return visit to East High School where he taught for 25 years, Christiansen picked up a favorite teaching tool: a model of Earth and its moon revolving around the sun.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9GM (KSL via DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hc (KSL)

 

Edith Bowen parents learn about new sixth grade at informational meeting

Adding a sixth grade to Edith Bowen Laboratory School came just in time for Jeannine Herbert and her fifth-grade son, Ethan.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9H4 (LHJ)

Utah County student asks for help funding prestigious, educational summer programs

While most high school students hope to spend their summers sleeping in and hanging out with friends, Utah County Academy of Sciences junior Sinia Maile is dreaming of spending her summer doing what others might consider to be extra school work.
Sinia, who is 16, has been invited to join the Junior State of America Summer School at Stanford University and the National Youth Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C.
But before she can make those dreams a reality, Sinia is working raise the money to be able to go on the trip.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9H2 (PDH)

 

Fairview Elem. placed on lockdown due to police standoff

FAIRVIEW, Utah – An elementary school in Fairview has been placed on lockdown Monday morning as police work to resolve a standoff at a nearby home.
According to Fairview Mayor Jeff Cox, the standoff started around 5 a.m. when a man broke a protective order and barricaded himself in a home near the school. Cox said the man is armed and other homes in the neighborhood have also been evacuated.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hd (KSTU)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9He (Gephardt Daily)

 

Sunset family studies world cultures, plans to host exchange students

SUNSET – Jon Ellsworth stood at the stove, stirring Brazilian “brigadeiro” chocolate while his wife, Angela, helped their four children pick out stickers for their homemade passports.
The family was going on a trip Tuesday, April 11, to the faraway country of Brazil.
And they weren’t going to leave their living room.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9GY (OSE)

 

Jazz, partners donate more than $262,000 to local nonprofits through outreach programs

SALT LAKE CITY – In an effort to assist the local community, the Utah Jazz and six corporate partners teamed up to provide charitable donations of cash or services worth more than $262,000 to a variety of schools and nonprofit organizations along the Wasatch Front this season.
Through the team’s player ticket donation program, Jazz players Alec Burks, Boris Diaw, Danté Exum, Rudy Gobert, Gordon Hayward, Joe Ingles and Trey Lyles, along with president Steve Starks and general manager Dennis Lindsay, purchased $115,920 worth of tickets to home games, enabling fans who might not otherwise have the opportunity or resources to attend a Jazz game.
CenturyLink presented the Utah STEM Action Center with a $10,000 donation during halftime of the April 7 game to support efforts to promote the best educational practices in math and science studies that align with industry needs and support Utah’s long-term economic prosperity.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9GO (DN)

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Utahns can handle the truth of taxation
Salt Lake Tribune editorial

Almost eight years after voters split Jordan School District, we’re still dealing with the fallout. A Salt Lake County-wide system to equalize spending after the breakup is ending, and that is producing new fallout of its own.
While the five school districts in the county hash out a solution, two points have become apparent:
1) The way to ease the pain of shifting funds is to give everyone a raise. By lifting all boats, the shifts are easier to absorb.
2) Utahns have to be more honest with themselves about how government pays for things. Specifically, too many Utah leaders encourage the idea that no government entity needs more money. As a result, school boards are more willing to cut their services – and limit our children – than ask their constituents for more tax money
http://gousoe.uen.org/9GC

 

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 DOWN: To people who don’t get their kids vaccinated.
Utah is far outpacing last year’s reported whooping cough cases. We’re 14 weeks into 2017 and already 108 cases of pertussis have been reported to the Utah Department of Health. That’s up from just 78 cases at the same time last year.
A major contributor to this year’s climbing numbers is from the American International School of Utah, a charter school in Murray. Earlier this month they reported 14 confirmed student cases of whooping cough. Another 30 kids were quarantined as a safety precaution against the highly contagious disease.
Scientists and doctors say the best way to prevent this painful respiratory disease is to get kids vaccinated. There is no widely accepted evidence to show these immunizations are anything but life-saving.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9H0

 

Another effort is brewing to kill the caucus/convention system
UtahPolicy analysis by columnist Bob Bernick

UtahPolicy.com has been told there is a move afoot to add a second ballot initiative to the already-formed Our Schools Now citizen petition aimed at the 2018 ballot.
The second petition – which would be formed by a separate group, but use the OSN volunteer/paid petition collectors network – would reflect the original Count My Vote effort of 2014.
The difference being it would NOT be the official CMV folks, but a new coalition.
The aim would be the same, however: Change state law to have the only way to a primary ballot being a candidate collecting voter signatures.
Why would you need a new coalition? Why not have the same CMV folks organize the new petition?
That’s because the original Count My Vote folks – like former Gov. Mike Leavitt – made a deal with the 2014 Legislature:
Pass SB54 – which has a dual route to the primary ballot, while keeping the traditional caucus/delegate/convention route as an option – and we drop our petition.
To now run the original CMV petition BEFORE the SB54 compromise fell apart would break that deal – and instead of the GOP-controlled Legislature being the turncoat deal-breakers – it would be CMV.

Our Schools Now wants a tax hike to significantly help public education funding in the state.
It started out as a 7/8th of 1 percent rate increase in the state personal income tax, from 5 percent to 5.875 percent.
That would raise around $750 million a year, with most of the money earmarked for local schools.

In any case, of course, some of that new cash would come in raises to Utah teachers – and there has been plenty of evidence showing significant turnover among teachers, especially younger teachers who can’t raise a family on the low pay right now.
The natural base for organizing such a grassroots, petition-gathering force would be teachers.
And the power of that was seen way back in 2007, when GOP legislators after years of bitter battles passed a private school voucher program that would have taken some money away from public schools.
The Utah Education Association – the main teacher union – with the help of others, within three months put together a statewide referendum effort that gathered the required number of signatures, got the repeal before voters and got a significant majority to repeal the voucher law.
But would teachers want to become involved in a second petition effort, one aimed at doing away with the party caucus/convention process in candidate nominations?
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Gw

 

Reyes’ fundraising a reminder of past A.G. exploits
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist PAUL ROLLY

Salt Lake Tribune columnist Robert Gehrke reported over the weekend that ever since Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes was mentioned as a finalist for chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, he has received about $100,000 in campaign contributions from – guess who?
Yep, corporations, some with unsavory pasts, that have been investigated or are regulated by – ta-da – the FTC.
Nothing to see here folks, Reyes campaign adviser Alan Crooks told Gehrke. Just regular contributions from folks who like to attend fundraising events.
We’ve been here before.

When Reyes’ name surfaced as possible FTC boss, he was described in some stories as a rising Republican star. That raised this question: What does it take to be a rising GOP star?

While Reyes has shown a reluctance to investigate Republicans, environmentalists are fair game.
A top investigator in the attorney general’s office who is assigned to enforce laws on areas under the authority of the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration has been described as unreasonably aggressive.
Last year, he arrested 10 nature walkers because they got too close to turf administered by SITLA that has been leased to US Oil Sands for a tar sands mine.
They were hauled off to jail while their children were left behind, having to be picked up by relatives who drove long distances to retrieve them.
Stuff like that, apparently, makes you a rising Republican star.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9HD

Extend the EITC to more taxpayers
Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Bill Crim, president and CEO of United Way of Salt Lake

As tax season comes to a close, United Way of Salt Lake will be thinking of all the hardworking Utahns served through statewide Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites this year. This season, as in years past, around 21,000 low- to moderate-income Utah taxpayers had their taxes prepared free of charge by an IRS certified volunteer.
Volunteers ensured each return was prepared accurately, and that those who qualified were able to access the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit. These tax credits allow workers to keep more of what they earn to pay for things like reliable transportation to work, child care, and groceries. To many people’s surprise, it is the workers in our communities we rely on most who rely on these credits – firefighters, home health aides, nursing assistants, elementary school teachers and police and sheriff patrol officers, to name a few. In 2015, $444 million in EITC refunds were put back into the pockets of working Utahns, to be spent in local communities.
But millions of working Americans are shut out from the powerful effects of these credits: young workers 21 to 24 years old, people not raising children in the home and veterans who fought for our country and are finding stable ground at home. In fact, 7.5 million Americans are taxed into poverty every year largely because they access little to no EITC.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9GB

 

An ancient cemetery is no place for an elementary school
Deseret News op-ed by Kevin T. Jones

The San Juan School District, which covers the southeastern corner of the state, is planning to build a new elementary school in the community of Bluff. The old school is inadequate in a number of ways, including its septic system, and the school board has determined that a new school in a new location is preferable to remodeling or replacing the old school, which sits in the center of town, one block from the post office and adjacent to the Bluff Fort historical site, which hosts re-enactments of pioneer activities and crafts.
Land for a new school was purchased for an astonishing price of up to $50,000 an acre, in an undeveloped spot west of town. This area is known to be the location of dense archaeological occupation, particularly from the Basketmaker period, some 1,250 years or so ago. Ancient sites adjacent to the new school property were excavated by the state of Utah prior to highway construction in the 1970s. In addition to some of the largest and best preserved Basketmaker pithouses ever recorded, 18 burials were discovered and removed. Eighteen of San Juan County’s earliest inhabitants had been buried there, some clearly of high status, with turquoise necklaces and elaborate grave offerings.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9GW

 

As a high school junior I chose to keep my boy
Deseret News op-ed by Stacey Squire

Editor’s note: The Richard Richards Institute for Ethics at Weber State University awards annual ethics scholarships for graduating high school seniors headed to the university. Part of the scholarship selection process involves a brief essay on ethics. The following scholarship-winning essay is published with the author’s permission.
Everybody makes decisions whether they are right or wrong, which is what ethics is about. In my own life, I made a choice I believe to be the right choice.
When I was a junior in high school I found out I was eight weeks pregnant.
I had a decision to make based on three options: abort my child, give him up for adoption or keep him.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9GV

 

New middle school mystery novel by Utah author is criminally good
Deseret News book review by Kent Larson

“UNDER LOCKER AND KEY,” by Allison K. Hymas, Aladdin, $17.99, 256 pages (f) (ages 12 and up)
The only mystery surrounding Utah native and Brigham Young University grad Allison K. Hymas is how her middle school novel “Under Locker and Key” is her debut book, as her writing and style are criminally good.
Jeremy Wilderson, a retrieval specialist extraordinaire, is a sixth-grader with the skills to help those in need. He helps classmates who’ve had a wallet stolen during gym, left a school project on the bus, left a retainer in the National Museum on a field trip, or had a phone or iPod confiscated. His only fee is to spread his name and be a reference for him, though he wouldn’t turn down chocolate cake.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9GU

 

Every Public-School Student in Arizona Will Get a Chance at Choice
The state expands its program offering $5,000 to $14,000 in education savings accounts.
Wall Street Journal op-ed by Jonathan Butcher, education director at the Goldwater Institute

It’s hard to find Aiden Yellowhair’s school on a map. He and his sister, Erin, are members of the Navajo Nation and attend the private St. Michael Indian School outside Window Rock, Ariz. The Catholic school’s website provides a helpful tip to follow Interstate 40 east from Flagstaff, but warns that “if you pass into New Mexico, you’ve gone too far.”
The remote location makes it easy to overlook St. Michael’s 400 students, but the school is an oasis on the 27,500-square-mile reservation. Only 66% of Arizona’s Native American high schoolers graduate in four years, a full 12 percentage points below the state average and nearly 20 points below the national average. At St. Michael, the principal says, 99% of students graduate and 98% of those attend college.
What allows Aiden and Erin to cover tuition at St. Michael is Arizona’s program for education savings accounts. Parents who take children out of public schools can opt in and receive, in a private account, a portion of the funds that the state would have spent on their education. Most students receive $5,000, but the deposits for children with special needs are roughly $14,000, depending on the diagnosis. That money can be used to pay for private-school tuition, tutoring, extracurricular activities, school uniforms and more.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Gx $

 

How School Choice Turns Education Into a Commodity
Schools are a public good that extreme market proliferation would eventually destroy.
Atlantic op-ed by JASON BLAKELY, assistant professor of political philosophy at Pepperdine University

Buoyed by Donald Trump’s championing of a voucher system-and cheered on by his education secretary Betsy DeVos-Arizona just passed one of the country’s most thoroughgoing policies in favor of so-called “school of choice.” The legislation signed by Governor Doug Ducey allows students who withdraw from the public system to use their share of state funding for private school, homeschooling, or online education.
Making educational funding “portable” is part of a much wider political movement that began in the 1970s-known to scholars as neoliberalism-which views the creation of markets as necessary for the existence of individual liberty. In the neoliberal view, if your public institutions and spaces don’t resemble markets, with a range of consumer options, then you aren’t really free. The goal of neoliberalism is thereby to rollback the state, privatize public services, or (as in the case of vouchers) engineer forms of consumer choice and market discipline in the public sector.

Many Americans now find DeVos’s neoliberal way of thinking commonsensical. After all, people have the daily experience of being able to choose competing consumer products on a market. Likewise, many Americans rightly admire entrepreneurial pluck. Shouldn’t the intelligence and creativity of Silicon Valley’s markets be allowed to cascade down over public education, washing the system clean of its encrusted bureaucracy?
What much fewer people realize is that the argument over “school of choice” is only the latest chapter in a decades-long political struggle between two models of freedom-one based on market choice and the other based on democratic participation. Neoliberals like DeVos often assume that organizing public spaces like a market must lead to beneficial outcomes. But in doing so, advocates of school of choice ignore the political ramifications of the marketization of shared goods like the educational system.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hu

 

Does school competition lift all boats like Jeb Bush says?
PolitiFact New Hampshire analysis by columnist Lola Duffort

As New Hampshire considers the merits of a universal Education Savings Account bill, education reformers nationwide are watching – and weighing in.
Senate Bill 193 would allow parents to use 90 percent of the per-pupil grant the state gives to local public schools and instead put it toward alternative educational expenses, including private school tuition or homeschooling.
ESAs function basically like vouchers, but they give parents more options about how the money can be spent.
Proponents of ESAs tout them as the next evolution in school choice. If SB 193 is passed by the House (it cleared the Senate in March), it would be one of the most expansive school choice laws in the country.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose Foundation for Excellence in Education is backing market-based education reform efforts nationwide, submitted an op-ed in New Hampshire papers this week, urging passage of the bill.
“This legislation (will not) hurt public schools. In fact, a large body of research, including that done in my home state of Florida, indicates quite the opposite. When public schools face increased competition, they get better and kids learn more,” he wrote.
Critics of choice typically say that diverting funds from public schools hurt those schools. So putting aside the question of whether vouchers actually help the kids who use them, we wondered: Does research show that school choice, and specifically vouchers, help public schools get better?
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hv

 

Why don’t schools encourage us to observe our children’s classes?
Washington Post commentary by columnist Jay Matthews

I am in good health and don’t want anyone freaking out, but I have been wondering what to say to my children and grandchildren on my deathbed. Old people ruminate on such stuff occasionally, and it has inspired a new thought about school visits.
When I am about to go I want to tell my kids and grandkids how much I enjoyed watching them in action – talking, writing, building, playing. It helped me understand the essence and individuality of their lives.
But I have relatively few memories of them in school. Our education system does little to encourage parent observations. The few times I was allowed to watch my children in class taught me things and left vivid recollections. I wonder why schools don’t try harder to make that happen.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hk

 

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NATIONAL NEWS
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School Choice Implications in Religious Rights Case at High Court
Education Week

Advocates on both sides of the debate over private school choice are paying close attention to a case before the U.S. Supreme Court involving recycled tires-specifically, whether Missouri violated the Constitution in refusing to give a church a grant to use scrap tire material to improve its preschool playground.
The court’s decision in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer (Case No 15-577), which it was slated to hear this week, could weaken or eliminate one of the last legal barriers to vouchers and tax credits for use at private religious schools: state constitutional provisions that strictly bar government aid to religion.
Missouri is one of some three-dozen states with such “Blaine amendments” in their state constitutions. The provisions are named for James G. Blaine, the 19th-century congressman who led an unsuccessful 1876 effort to amend the U.S. Constitution to prohibit public funding of religious schools at a time when the growing Roman Catholic population was pressing for government funding for parochial schools.
“Certainly, the Supreme Court could rule very broadly” in the Trinity Lutheran case, said Michael E. Bindas, a senior lawyer with the Institute for Justice, an Arlington, Va.-based group that has long been at the forefront of legal advocacy for school choice. “That would remove the state Blaine amendments from the arsenal of school choice opponents.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hl

 

Absences, Fitness, Atmosphere — New Ways to Track Schools
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — How often do students miss school? Are they ready for college? Are they physically fit? Is their school a welcoming place?
States are beginning to outline new ways to evaluate their schools, rather than relying just on traditional measures such as test scores.
The plans are required under a federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, which was signed by former President Barack Obama in 2015 and takes effect in the coming school year.
Under the new law, states are focusing more on academic growth, meaning not just whether students have achieved a certain academic level in reading and math, but whether they have improved over time.
Mike Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, said that’s a big change from the No Child Left Behind Act, the previous version of the education law. “Schools and educators should feel good about that; that will be a fairer way to measure school quality,” he said.
But while most experts praised the flexibility and innovation offered by the new law, some think that in the absence of federal guidelines some states may overlook groups of students who need additional support, such as minorities, students with disabilities and English-language learners. The Republican-controlled Congress moved swiftly this year to rescind key federal accountability guidelines passed by the Obama administration to help states implement the new law.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9H7

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

 

How $100 of Your Taxes Are Spent: 8 Cents on National Parks and $15 on Medicare
Half of all spending goes for Social Security benefits and health programs such as Medicare and Medicaid
Wall Street Journal

With April 18 nearly here, U.S. taxpayers are likely asking themselves: Where exactly are my tax dollars going?
To answer the question, here is a “Taxpayer Receipt” showing how each $100 of taxes was spent, both for 2016 and five years earlier. It was prepared by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), a nonpartisan nonprofit group in Washington that monitors federal spending. The group’s three chairmen are Republican Mitch Daniels, Democrat Leon Panetta and independent Tim Penny.
Looking at the list of expenditures, it is clear why some say the U.S. is a giant insurance company with an army. Half of all spending goes for Social Security benefits and health programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, while another 20% is for defense and military benefits.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hr $ (Note: For every $100 you pay in federal taxes, $2.08 goes to education.)

A copy of the report
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hs (CRFB)

 

Here We Go Again? How a Government Shutdown Could Impact Schools
Education Week

Did you miss games of chicken over keeping the federal government open? Your happy days might be here again.
On April 28, the measure Congress approved late last year to keep the government funded for fiscal 2017-known in Beltway lingo as a “continuing resolution”-will expire. Without it, major parts of the government will cease to operate. President Donald Trump’s administration has sent lawmakers a spending proposal that would cover the rest of fiscal 2017, which ends Sept. 30, including major cuts to Title II grants for teaching programs. But so far, Congress hasn’t been eager to enact Trump’s fiscal 2017 spending plan. (All this is separate from Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget plan, in which Title II state grants would be eliminated entirely. That 2018 Trump spending plan also isn’t particularly popular on Capitol Hill.)
Politically, the shutdown would also be notable because unlike during past shutdown showdowns of President Barack Obama’s tenure, Republicans control the legislative and executive branches of government. By no means are we saying it’s a certainty, or even likely. But what happens if Trump and Congress can’t agree on some sort of 2017 spending plan by April 28?
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hm

Affording a House Can Be a Challenge for Teachers in Some Cities, Study Finds
Education Week

Looking to buy a house? If you’re a teacher, affordability options are slim in some cities, according to a new study.
Trulia, the residential real estate website, compared average elementary, middle, and high school teacher incomes from 2016 with average home-buying prices in more than 90 U.S. cities. And some places are more affordable than others. (The report defined affordability as a property whose monthly payment takes up only 31 percent of a homebuyer’s monthly paycheck.)
Across the country, housing prices in many U.S. cities are rising, while teacher salaries have not. In fact, a 2016 report by the Economic Policy Institute found that the gap between how much teachers make vs. other workers with the same levels of education and experience has grown, with the average weekly teacher salary $30 less in 2015 than it was in 1996. Some educators even work another job to supplement their income.
So what cities fare best in terms of affordable housing for one-income households? Dayton, Ohio, came out on top (83 percent of houses currently for sale were attainable on a teacher’s $61,810 average state salary), followed by Akron, Ohio; Detroit, Mich.; El Paso, Texas; or Bakerfield, Calif. In a city like Chicago, where the median listing price is just above the national average, educators can afford just over half of all houses on the market.
In contrast, the top five least affordable metro areas for housing were all in California. Denver, Austin, Miami, and Seattle were also challenging places for teachers to purchase real estate.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hn

A copy of the report
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Ho (Trulia)

 

Report names 12 at Choate Rosemary Hall who allegedly abused students
Boston Globe

A scathing report Thursday named a dozen former educators of Choate Rosemary Hall who allegedly sexually abused or assaulted students at the elite Connecticut boarding school since the 1960s, including a Spanish teacher who, witnesses said, forced a female student to engage in sex in a swimming pool while on a school trip in Costa Rica.
The report, by an investigator hired by the school, graphically recounts the experiences of 24 survivors of sexual misconduct and cites a consistent pattern: In almost all of the cases, school officials failed to report sexual misconduct to the authorities when the accusations first surfaced and quietly fired teachers or allowed them to resign.
The sexual misconduct ranged from intimate kissing to groping to sexual intercourse. It occurred from 1963 to 2010, according to a letter to members of the school community from Michael J. Carr, head of the Choate board, and Alex Curtis, headmaster. But the greatest number of reports concerned abuse in the 1980s.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9GF

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

http://gousoe.uen.org/9GH (WSJ) $

 

Survey: Habits of Talented Math Students
Education Week

High school juniors and seniors who participated in a prestigious national math competition said they tend to study alone and to learn best when they grasp the underlying concepts behind math formulas.
The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics conducted a survey of nearly 1,700 students who participated in the Moody’s Mega Math Challenge, a contest held online annually in which high school students use mathematical modeling to solve real-world problems. For instance, students have previously been asked to come up with a model predicting how much plastic waste will be in landfills in 10 years.
Participants are generally self-selected or encouraged by their teachers to participate, and tend to be talented, motivated math students, said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, a subsidiary of Moody’s Corporation, which sponsored the survey.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hp

 

NCAA Adopts Early Signing Period, 10th Coach for Football
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — College football recruiting is on the verge of getting a whole new look before the end of this year.
The NCAA’s Division I Council approved a sweeping package Friday that would allow players to sign with schools as early as December, allow high school juniors to take official visits from April through June and impose a two-year waiting period before Bowl Subdivision schools can hire people close to recruits to non-coaching positions.
If the package is approved by the Board of Governors on April 26, the signing period change would take effect Aug. 1. The Collegiate Commissioners Association also would have to approve the dates, a move expected to happen in June.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9GP

http://gousoe.uen.org/9GR (Sports Illustrated)

http://gousoe.uen.org/9GQ (NCAA)

 

Ready Or Not (For Kindergarten), Some Research Says, Enroll Anyway
NPR

When I was 4 years old, my parents faced a decision. My birthday is in late November, so should they send me to kindergarten as the youngest kid in my class? Or, wait another year to enroll me? – A practice referred to as academic redshirting.
Since I was already the oldest sibling, they decided it was time for me to experience something different. So, they sent me to school.
For me, the age gap didn’t really matter until my freshman year at college, when I was only 17 and couldn’t vote in the 2012 presidential election with everybody else. Feeling left out, I started to wish my parents had waited to put me in school. But, Diane Schanzenbach, an education professor at Northwestern University, and Stephanie Larson, director of Rose Hall Montessori School, have made me think twice.
The two recently published an article on the emotional and economic toll that redshirting can have on students, despite all its praise from writers like Malcolm Gladwell.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hg

A copy of the study
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hh (Education Next)

Barry Loukaitis, Moses Lake school shooter, breaks silence with apology
His letter to the Grant County Superior Court was filed last week as part of a court-ordered resentencing in the 1996 bloodshed, in which he killed a teacher and two classmates. He says he wishes he had pleaded guilty and won’t fight a proposed new sentence of 189 years.
Associated Press via Seattle Times

SPOKANE – The prisoner who as a teenager opened fire at his middle school in Washington state more than 20 years ago has spoken out for the first time, apologizing for killing a teacher and two fellow students.
Barry Loukaitis’ handwritten letter to the Grant County Superior Court was filed last week as part of a court-ordered resentencing in the 1996 bloodshed.
“I’ve never apologized for what I’ve done,” Loukaitis wrote. “I didn’t because I feared that trying to apologize after doing something so terrible would only add insult to injury.
“If that feeling was wrong, I’m sorry for not speaking before,” he said.
Loukaitis was 14 when he opened fire in a classroom, and he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that people younger than 16 could not receive life terms without parole.
Washington state is recommending that Loukaitis be resentenced to 189 years in prison. In his letter dated March 27, Loukaitis said he would not fight the move.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Ht

 

Parents of abused Midwest Academy students pursue founder
Des Moines (IA) Register

The families suing the shuttered Midwest Academy school for troubled children near Keokuk want a judge to hold liable the prominent Utah businessman responsible for opening it and other schools like it around the world.
But an attorney for Robert Browning Lichfield, who was instrumental in opening up scores of schools later found to be abusive toward children, has argued Lichfield only acted as a landlord for Midwest Academy.
For 16 months, state and federal authorities have been investigating widespread criminal allegations at the boarding school. The civil lawsuit filed by former students and parents has been delayed because the school’s records were seized by state and federal authorities in raids in January 2016.
One lawyer in the case said in a court affidavit that he was told the records are not expected to be returned for months.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hy

Washington state lawmakers push to let kids use sunscreen in school
Associated Press via Seattle Times

OLYMPIA – Washington state lawmakers are pushing forward with a proposal that allows students to use sunscreen at school without a note from a doctor and parent, a rule that six other states also are considering to help protect children from developing skin cancer.
The law is in place for Washington students from kindergarten to 12th grade because the Food and Drug Administration lists sunscreen as a drug product. School employees also are banned from applying it on a student.
Senate Bill 5404 would exempt sunblock from being classified as a medication so children could use it on campus, at school-sponsored events or during field trips. The House passed the measure last week, and it now heads back to the Senate for agreement on changes that were made.

At least four states have laws requiring schools to allow students to use sunscreen, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). They are California, New York, Utah and Oregon.
http://gousoe.uen.org/9Hx

 

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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 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

May 11:

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

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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