Education News Roundup: June 30, 2016

Today’s Top Picks:

Governing magazine looks at what poor road conditions in Utah’s portion of the Navajo nations mean for, among others, school children.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ann (Governing)

KUER looks at a program that uses art to connect students with the environment.
http://gousoe.uen.org/and (KUER)

In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling on playground equipment in Missouri, should we expect more or fewer lawsuits over school vouchers?
http://gousoe.uen.org/ani (Ed Week)

Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence is offering some big money for some CTE teachers and their schools.
http://gousoe.uen.org/anj (Ed Week)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

In Navajo Nation, Bad Roads Can Mean Life or Death
Native Americans who live on the reservation in Utah are used to having to fight for basic government services. But they’d at least like some roads that can reliably transfer patients to the ER and kids to school.

Progressive groups launch ‘Email Orrin’ campaign on tax reform

Using Art To Help Students Connect With The Environment

U. names new dean for the College of Education

Teen’s project explores using dry ice to put out wildfires

Last chance to commemorate time at Logan High in stone

Ogden High hosts pancake feed fundraiser to help fund clubs, athletics

Rep. Stewart launches refugee back to school drive

South Jordan students welcome Jazz draft picks to Utah

OPINION & COMMENTARY

UTPS announces lawsuit on State School Board elections

Funding public education earnestly

City, school district need to do something about vandalism at Browning Park

Be Open to Change in Education
Policymakers won’t improve early childhood education by constraining their ideas to the existing system.

Trump Is Undermining Students’ Civil Rights. Let’s Fight Back
Why you should pay attention to a recent change to ESSA regulations

NATION

Why We Should Expect More Lawsuits Over Private School Vouchers

California Leads Gold Rush of State Pre-K Funding
State’s injection of cash boosts funding for early childhood education to new high.

When the Curriculum Standards Change and the Teaching Lags Behind

New Prize Offers $500,000 to Teachers, Programs, in Skilled Trades

 

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UTAH NEWS
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In Navajo Nation, Bad Roads Can Mean Life or Death
Native Americans who live on the reservation in Utah are used to having to fight for basic government services. But they’d at least like some roads that can reliably transfer patients to the ER and kids to school.

For the first 45 minutes of William Mustache’s afternoon route, his school bus travels comfortably down the highway that runs the length of San Juan County, Utah. It starts at the high school in Blanding, which, with 3,400 residents, is the biggest town in a county nearly the size of New Jersey. Mustache, a Navajo man wearing a black track jacket and a bright yellow ball cap, waits for students to climb aboard before he pulls the bus out behind several others and follows them to the highway. The miles tick by quickly as Mustache’s new Bluebird bus passes the uranium mill just outside town, the cattle grazing among juniper bushes on federal land, and the multicolored bands of distant mesas. The road tips downward at steep grades as it descends into a vast expanse of sage-stubbled desert. Then come the bluffs. Sharp turns around towering stone structures mark a change, not just in geology, but in sovereignty.
As Mustache and the dozen teenagers on his bus make their way down Mexican Water Road, they enter the Navajo Nation Reservation. There’s no sign marking the transition, but it is apparent soon enough. Mustache turns off the highway, and the pavement gives way to a patchwork of gravel and plain dirt, which in this area is a wind-whipped, superfine sand. Driving over it bounces and shakes the bus. “It rattles your brains,” Mustache says. Even at 20 mph, the bus raises a cloud of dust. The bus stops. A single student ducks her head as she gets out and walks down a lonely driveway. The diesel engine growls, the tires kick up a few rocks and a red haze rises. Mustache and his bus head for their next stop, a mile down the road. The trip lasts another hour.
Utah Navajos are divided on many things, but one thing they agree on is that their roads are unbearable. Mostly composed of dirt, they’re treacherous in good weather and frequently impassable after heavy rains or snows. In 2015, San Juan County canceled 10 days of classes in a single semester because of poor road conditions. Heavy ambulances must stop where roads are flooded and wait for passersby with four-wheel drive to ferry paramedics and equipment to their patients. People who need chronic medical attention, like kidney dialysis, often miss their appointments. And it’s hard for people to get to work in far-off towns.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ann (Governing)

 

Progressive groups launch ‘Email Orrin’ campaign on tax reform

Two progressive groups on Thursday launched a campaign urging members of the public to email Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) their concerns about potential tax cuts for the wealthy.
Earlier this month, Hatch released an open letter soliciting comments about tax reform from industry groups and other stakeholders. With their “Email Orrin” campaign, Tax March and Stand Up America are calling on individuals to take Hatch up on his request.
Tax March set up a page on its website where people can email Hatch and send tweets to lawmakers. The group has also placed ads on social media drawing attention to the effort.
“Senator Hatch asked for input from ‘stakeholders.’ Every taxpaying American is a stakeholder, and far too often they are silent ones when it comes to tax policy,” Tax March Executive Director Nicole Gill said in a news release. “There is no appetite in this country for another government-backed giveaway to millionaires and billionaires at the expense of middle class families.”

“The phrase ‘tax reform’ should not be code words for massive taxpayer funded giveaways to the very wealthiest paid for by gutting health care benefits, public schools and our nation’s roads and bridges,” said Jessica Adair, director of partnerships for Stand Up America. “This is an urgent opportunity for Americans to speak directly to Congress and demand that any tax reform bolster middle and working class families – not pad the pockets of millionaires, billionaires and corporations.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/ano ([Washington, DC] The Hill)

 

Using Art To Help Students Connect With The Environment

A handful of middle school aged students opted to pause their summer break for a few days of school, swapping out textbooks and classrooms for sketchbooks and mountain views.
I met up with the group of 10 students at a cabin in Big Cottownwood Canyon which served as their home base for the week. They were making pancakes, they had cooked a lot together during the week.
7th grader Eliza Griffith showed me her sketchbook. It was filled with drawings, each one came with a story. The group had been all over Salt Lake County, visiting Red Butte Gardens, a bird exhibit and plenty of hiking.
Eliza only mentions her sketches as an afterthought. She’s much more excited about the things she’s seen this week.
“When you make a drawing of a place you sit down, think, kind of meditate and take your time to experience the things around you,” says Priscilla Stewart, an art teacher at a charter school in Draper.
http://gousoe.uen.org/and (KUER)

 

U. names new dean for the College of Education

SALT LAKE CITY – The University of Utah announced Elaine Clark, a professor of educational psychology at the U., will be the new dean of the College of Education. Clark takes over for María Fránquiz, who was named deputy chief academic officer for faculty development and innovation.
Clark has been a member of the faculty in the educational psychology department since 1983. She served as the director of the school psychology program for 21 years and department chairwoman for six.
http://gousoe.uen.org/an5 (DN)

 

Teen’s project explores using dry ice to put out wildfires

TOOELE, Utah – Like a lot of young teen boys, Gavin Norman is fascinated by fire.
Not necessarily setting things on fire but understanding the science of fire and then coming up with an environmentally friendly means to extinguish it.
Gavin’s exploration began with lessons learned in his science class at Clarke N. Johnsen Junior High School in Tooele. It was also motivated by his childhood experiences with asthma and growing up in a state prone to wildfires.
http://gousoe.uen.org/an9 (AP)

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

 

Last chance to commemorate time at Logan High in stone

Students past, present and future, parents, faculty and others have one last chance to preserve a memory in stone to celebrate the centennial year of Logan High School. Monday, July 3rd is the last day to reserve an engraved paver stone in Logan High’s Centennial Plaza.
http://gousoe.uen.org/anc (LHJ)

 

Ogden High hosts pancake feed fundraiser to help fund clubs, athletics

OGDEN – Ogden High School is finding a way to support its athletic teams and clubs.
The second annual Fourth of July Booster Club pancake feed fundraiser will take place 7-10 a.m. at the school.
http://gousoe.uen.org/an8 (OSE)

 

Rep. Stewart launches refugee back to school drive

Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) launched a school supply drive to collect supplies to help refugee children living in Utah.
http://gousoe.uen.org/anm (UP)

 

South Jordan students welcome Jazz draft picks to Utah

Utah Jazz draft pick Donovan Mitchell is surrounded by students during a “Welcome to Utah” assembly at South Jordan Elementary School on Thursday, June 29, 2017. Bradley joined fellow draft picks Nigel Williams-Goss and Tony Bradley at the assembly, where they read to more than 700 students, answered questions and stressed the importance of a good education.
http://gousoe.uen.org/an6 (DN)

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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UTPS announces lawsuit on State School Board elections
Utah Policy op-ed by Kim Burningham

Some of you may be aware that my health has suddenly and significantly worsened and that the time I have left is now short. This change has given my time to ponder what I value and has strengthened my desire to speak up for those values.
Yesterday, June 27, 2017, Utahns for Public Schools held a press conference in which they announced a lawsuit seeking to reaffirm the right of the public to non-partisan elections for the State School Board.
Whether the State School Board should be elected on a partisan ballot is a not new issue. In the last century, the partisan issue gained widespread public attention in a public discussion culminating in a 1950 vote. In that election the public overwhelmingly voted for a non-partisan school board with power to appoint the State Superintendent. (Official abstract of the 1950 election, published by the Board of State Canvassers, November 27, 1950)
Since that time, selection of the State School Board has remained non-partisan, although politicians have tried various machinations to alter the system: most recently one central politburo-type board. The latter was declared unconstitutional in 2014 by U.S. District Court.
http://gousoe.uen.org/an4

 

Funding public education earnestly
(Logan) Herald Journal letter from Ron W. Smith

It’s definitely good news that Cache Valley School District will be joining others in Park City and Salt Lake City in offering teachers far better compensation than the state’s elected Republicans have been willing to muster. Such news is always welcome. However, is this a sign that teachers across the state could be joining the ranks of teaching professionals in some other states and countries which pay more than lip service to the importance of education and the influence of highly effective teachers in the lives of children
Maybe, but probably not. The reason some school districts have undertaken to do what the state regularly fails to do – fund education ADEQUATELY – is that people in the districts have had enough of discouraged teachers leaving, enough of failure to attract and retain the very best teachers for full and satisfying careers, enough of poor classroom and career support, enough of children losing out on the high excitement the K-12 learning adventure can be in uncrowded classrooms. Will all districts in Utah be able to do the same? Or will those lucky enough to live in wealthier districts, like Park City’s, be the only beneficiaries? That’s an important question.
http://gousoe.uen.org/anb

 

City, school district need to do something about vandalism at Browning Park
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner letter from Wes Groesbeck

For the last three years, I have been taking our dog and our two children to Browning Park adjacent to Shadow Valley Elementary School to exercise.
During this time, I have seen this beautiful park deteriorate due to vandalism. Newly planted trees have had their limbs and trunks broken off or have been pulled from the ground, a large plastic garbage can was set afire and burned to the ground, and one of the restrooms was trashed. Recently, one of the metal signs asking folks to keep their dogs leashed and to pick up their waste was twisted and pulled from the ground.
When I had the opportunity to talk to personnel who maintain the park, I was told that this park has the highest rate of vandalism in Ogden. If this is true, I wonder why the Ogden School District, Parks Department and the Police Department don’t get together and install security cameras to monitor the park and consider putting the school grounds and the park grounds off limits after 10 p.m.?
http://gousoe.uen.org/an7

 

Be Open to Change in Education
Policymakers won’t improve early childhood education by constraining their ideas to the existing system.
U.S. News & World Report op-ed by Sara Mead, a partner with Bellwether Education Partners

In the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus warns his followers against putting “new wine into old wineskins.” This teaching has a particular meaning to theologians and believers, but it also offers a practical caution that education leaders – of any or no religious persuasion – should heed. Too often those who advance bold ideas for improving education seek to wedge their ideas to fit existing structures and institutions, rather than asking whether those institutions themselves need to change.
For example, a growing coalition of practitioners, professional associations, advocates and foundations are working nationally to improve the quality of preschool by increasing the skills, credentials and compensation of preschool teachers. In the recent past, raising the bar has tended to mean requiring pre-K teachers (at least in publicly funded programs) to hold a bachelor’s degree, or a degree and state teacher certification. But these efforts have often failed to acknowledge the flaws in our existing teacher preparation and certification systems – flaws which may undermine the benefits of new degree or credential requirements for improving preschool quality.
http://gousoe.uen.org/anl

 

Trump Is Undermining Students’ Civil Rights. Let’s Fight Back
Why you should pay attention to a recent change to ESSA regulations
Education Week op-ed by Adam Fernandez, legislative staff attorney in the Washington office of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund

With headlines from Washington dominated by health care and Trump administration controversies, an education resolution already signed by the president has not received the attention it is due. More than three months ago, President Donald Trump signed House Joint Resolution 57, gutting important accountability regulations issued by the Obama administration to protect students’ civil rights under the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the law reauthorized with the passage of ESSA, has been around since 1965. It is a civil rights law, enacted to encourage states to increase educational opportunities for students of color. The law was an important part of the federal government’s attempt to force states to abandon the “separate but equal” school systems that were banned by the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.
When the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was drafted more than 50 years ago, a majority of students in the nation’s public schools were white, and the law was set up to protect students in the minority. Today, however, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, students of color represent more than half of K-12 public school enrollment nationwide.
Implicit in the bipartisan passage of ESSA in 2015 was a compromise between the parties: Republicans would get a loosening of the rigid federal control contained in the law’s previous version, the No Child Left Behind Act, and Democrats would get a commitment to protecting the rights of children of color.
The rollback of Obama-era accountability rules betrayed that compromise and was passed along partisan lines (no Democrat in either the House or the Senate voted in favor of the resolution).
http://gousoe.uen.org/ank

 

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Why We Should Expect More Lawsuits Over Private School Vouchers
Education Week

A Supreme Court ruling this week dealing with the seemingly innocuous question of whether it was OK for the state of Missouri to deny a grant to a church to improve its playground, has raised major questions about religious rights, separation of church and state, and, last but not least, school vouchers.
How, exactly, the Supreme Court’s Monday ruling in the closely watched Trinity Lutheran case could affect school vouchers and their ability to expand into new states was the source of much debate this week.
I called Steven Green, a law professor at Willamette University in Oregon and an expert on church-state and school voucher legal issues, to ask whether some voucher advocates were too optimistic in calling the Trinity Lutheran ruling a win for school choice. Below is our conversation edited for length and clarity.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ani

 

California Leads Gold Rush of State Pre-K Funding
State’s injection of cash boosts funding for early childhood education to new high.
U.S. News & World Report

California’s recent injection of cash into its state-funded pre-kindergarten program accounts for more than one-third of the overall spending increase that occurred for pre-K across the U.S. in the 2015-2016 school year.
State-funded pre-kindergarten reached an all-time high, with about 1.5 million children served nationally, according to the latest data from the National Institute for Early Education Research. To boot, total state funding for pre-kindergarten increased 8 percent, or $564 million, year over year, for a total of $7.4 billion.
The Golden State’s amplified spending is responsible for a hefty portion of that increase: The state boosted its total spending on pre-K by about $200 million in the 2015-2016 school year, a 17 percent increase from the previous year that puts its total spending at more than $1.4 billion.
The state spends $6,409 per child enrolled – significantly higher than the national average of $4,976.
Research shows that early childhood education can significantly improve academic and socioemotional attainment, and the number of years spent in a preschool program is directly correlated to level of performance in K-12 and beyond.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ane

A copy of the report
http://gousoe.uen.org/anf (National Institute for Early Education Research)

 

Shedding Light on the ‘Leadership Gap’ in Early-Childhood Programs
Education Week

A new website launched this week focuses on what the organization behind it calls the “leadership gap” in early-childhood education.
The McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership, at National Louis University in Wheeling, Ill., developed the website, which is known as the Leadership Education for Administrators and Directors (L.E.A.D) Early Childhood Clearinghouse. The clearinghouse details things such as the lack of a requirement of a degree to lead family child-care centers or some community-based programs.
The site includes statistics related to the qualifications of early-childhood program leaders who work with children from birth to age 8, as well as state and national profiles. Each state has a score based on how well it supports high standards for program leaders. Researchers looked at early-childhood center directors, family child-care providers, and elementary school principals and found vastly different levels of education and experience in the field.
http://gousoe.uen.org/anh

 

When the Curriculum Standards Change and the Teaching Lags Behind
Education Week

Over the past decade, nearly all states changed to new English/language arts and math standards designed to better prepare students for college and the workplace, but teachers have continued to cover some topics from the past that aren’t focal points now, new research finds.
The finding isn’t a particularly shocking one or even a new one. After all, teachers often reuse and recycle former lessons; letting go of cherished ones can be difficult to do. And as any teacher can tell you, (go on, ask!) good curriculum materials aligned to the new expectations took a long time to come onstream. Nearly all teachers in a recent survey reported using materials they’d created themselves in addition to commercial or district-provided curricula.
But the persistence of those traditional lessons does indicate that the promise of standards-notably the Common Core State Standards-in deepening subject mastery may be a long way from fulfillment.
“If you keep adding things and don’t drop any, you just touch on topics and you won’t get to mastery,” said Andy Porter, a University of Pennsylvania professor and the director of the Center on Standards, Alignment, Instruction, and Learning, which conducted the new study.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ang

 

New Prize Offers $500,000 to Teachers, Programs, in Skilled Trades
Education Week

A new prize worth more than $500,000 has been created to reward 10 programs-and their teachers-for excellent instruction in the skilled trades, such as plumbing, carpentry, auto repair and electrical work.
The competition was announced recently by Harbor Freight Tools for Schools in California. Online applications became available on June 19 and are due July 24. Winners will be announced in October.
Ten winners, all in U.S. public high schools, will receive a total of $510,000 in the prize’s inaugural round. Some of the money in the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence will go to outstanding programs, and some will go to teachers in those programs.
Here’s how the contest works: Three first-place winners will each get $100,000. Of that money, $70,000 will go to the program and $30,000 to its teachers. Seven second-place winners will each get $30,000, with $20,000 going to the program and $10,000 to its teachers.
http://gousoe.uen.org/anj

 

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CALENDAR
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USBE Calendar
http://www.schools.utah.gov/main/CALENDAR.aspx

UEN News
http://www.uen.org

July 13:

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

July 14:

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

July 25:

Executive Appropriations Committee meeting
2 p.m., 445 State Capitol
https://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2017&com=APPEXE

July 26:

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
8:30 a.m., 445 State Capitol
https://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2017&com=APPPED

August 11:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting
Utah State Capitol Auditorium
http://www.schools.utah.gov/charterschools/State-Board.aspx

August 23:

Education Interim Committee meeting
8:30 a.m., 445 State Capitol
https://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2017&com=INTEDU

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