Education News Roundup: July 27, 2017

Today’s Top Picks:

empty desks in a computer lab

Cliftons Computer Lab/rex libris/CC/flickr

Legislature discusses the use of technology in the classroom.
http://gousoe.uen.org/axK (SLT)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/axL (DN)

The frequency of changing school grading measurements also came up on the Hill.
http://gousoe.uen.org/axM (DN)

After the outcry over federal ESSA feedback, ED is changing its methods.
http://gousoe.uen.org/axY (Ed Week)

President Trump donates his quarterly salary to ED.
http://gousoe.uen.org/axZ (Ed Week)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/axV (AP)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/ay3 (Fox)
and http://gousoe.uen.org/axX (WaPo) video
or http://gousoe.uen.org/axW (ED)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Lawmaker: Utah’s veteran educators may need to ‘die off’ before technology fills classrooms
Legislators study rates of computer-aided teaching; senator gets flak for his remark.

Labels, changing measurements impede failing schools’ turnaround, educators say

10-year-old girl boosts summer reading by saving Bookmobile

‘Torrential’ thunderstorms flood East High School, SLC’s Sprague Branch, Wasatch Front intersections
Hardest-hit areas include Sugar House and near ballpark; some spots saw inches of rain in a few hours.

Vegas football players involved in multiple incidents at SUU camp

New counselor at Kanab High School

OPINION & COMMENTARY

In Northern Utah, some families need help with school supplies

Betsy DeVos Needs to Hear Your Views, So Share Them
More than protesting, public commenting has the potential to influence decisions

Trump Administration Advances School Vouchers Despite Scant Evidence
Studies show that school vouchers lead to lower math and reading scores. So why has the Trump administration embraced them?

Education Inequality Starts Early
Disparities in learning begin even earlier than you think.

NATION

Trump Ed. Dept. Changes Process for ESSA Feedback

Four K-12 Issues to Watch in Health-Care Overhaul

Congressional Panel Asks: What K-12 Skills Are Needed for STEM Workforce?

Computer Science Teachers Needed. But Who Will Pay to Train Them?

Trump Administration Tapping Tech CEOs for STEM Policy Approach

After Proposing $9 Billion Cut, Trump Making Salary Donation to Ed. Dept.

School Districts Look to Philippines to Fill Teacher Vacancies

 

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UTAH NEWS
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Lawmaker: Utah’s veteran educators may need to ‘die off’ before technology fills classrooms
Legislators study rates of computer-aided teaching; senator gets flak for his remark.

Public school teachers are too slow to embrace classroom technology purchased by the state, according to some Utah lawmakers.
They voiced that concern Wednesday as members of the state Legislature’s Public Education Appropriations Committee met to discuss software “fidelity,” or the rate of students achieving a minimum number of hours using software programs.
Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, said too many teachers are unwilling to abandon their traditional lesson plans in favor of computer-enhanced teaching. He then evoked a biblical reference, wondering aloud what it might take for Utah to see widespread implementation of school technology.
“Are we going to have to wait like Moses did,” Stephenson said, “wandering 40 years in the wilderness for the old ones to die off before we can really embrace this with fidelity?”
The comment generated criticism on social media, including by Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, former president of the Utah Education Association.
“This comment is beneath you!” Gallagher-Fishbaugh wrote on Twitter to Stephenson. “Shamefully disrespectful and ignorant.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/axK (SLT)

http://gousoe.uen.org/axL (DN)

 

Labels, changing measurements impede failing schools’ turnaround, educators say

SALT LAKE CITY – Labels and school grading systems tantamount to moving targets hamper the turnaround of failing schools in Utah, educators told members of the Legislature’s Public Education Appropriation Subcommittee on Wednesday.
Schools already struggling to fill teaching positions have a particularly difficult time hiring staff at the state’s worst-performing 3 percent of schools, as measured by state grading metrics.
The state’s public school grading law has been changed every year since it was first passed by the Utah Legislature in 2011.
The result has been confusion and a churn of personnel at schools identified as low performing, said Granite School District Assistant Superintendent Linda Mariotti.
http://gousoe.uen.org/axM (DN)

 

10-year-old girl boosts summer reading by saving Bookmobile

WELLINGTON – When October Hamilton writes what she did last summer, she can truthfully say she kept kids in her community reading by saving the Bookmobile.
“We have no library. The Bookmobile is our only book source,” she said.
When the Carbon County Commission voted to cut funding to the Bookmobile, the avid reader jumped into action.
She canvassed her town of Wellington and neighboring areas to gather 1,000 signatures from supporters for saving the Bookmobile. Then she presented the petitions at the county commission meeting.
http://gousoe.uen.org/axU (KSL)

 

‘Torrential’ thunderstorms flood East High School, SLC’s Sprague Branch, Wasatch Front intersections
Hardest-hit areas include Sugar House and near ballpark; some spots saw inches of rain in a few hours.

Heavy rain overwhelmed storm drains along the Wasatch Front early Wednesday, flooding homes, damaging schools – including East High School – and closing down numerous low-lying intersections and reducing much of the morning commute into a crawl.

The Salt Lake City School District reported flooding at four schools, including between $2 million and $3 million of damage at East High School.
The school’s entire basement level was flooded, district spokeswoman Yandary Zavala Chatwin said, and standing water remained on the basketball court and in several ground-level classrooms Wednesday afternoon.
“There’s so much water,” she said. “They’re still trying to get the water out before they can assess the final damage.”
Emerson Elementary, Salt Lake Center for Science Education and Highland High School also experienced interior flooding. At Highland High School, the damage also included a downed cottonwood tree that fell onto a batting cage.
Zavala Chatwin said the clean-up is not expected to affect the start of a new school year next month.
“We anticipate being able to get it done by the 21st of August,” she said.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ay5 (SLT)

http://gousoe.uen.org/axT (KUTV)

 

Vegas football players involved in multiple incidents at SUU camp

Multiple Las Vegas high school students attending football camp at Southern Utah University have kept police busy this summer between smoke bombs and a drug deal “gone sour.”
The SUU Police Department has dealt with a number of incidents involving football camp attendees from four Las Vegas high schools in June and July.
Four juveniles were cited for possession of marijuana after SUU and Cedar City Police allegedly caught them smoking marijuana at the SUU tennis court at approximately 11 p.m. June 25. The male students were released to their coach.
http://gousoe.uen.org/axS (SGS)

 

New counselor at Kanab High School

We are excited to introduce Chad Castagno as the new counselor at Kanab High School. Castagno is a long-time Cowboy, and will be a great counselor and advocate for our students.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ay6 (Southern Utah News)

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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In Northern Utah, some families need help with school supplies
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner editorial

School starts in less than a month. For some parents, that’s reason to celebrate.
But for others, it’s reason to dread.
Not every family is affluent. For that matter, not every family is middle class.
And those families need help providing their children with school supplies.
Poverty hits young Northern Utah families hard. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011-2015 American Community Survey, 20.5 percent of Weber County’s 70,000 children live in households receiving Supplemental Security Income, cash public assistance income, or food stamp assistance.
In married-couple households, that number dips to 12.2 percent. But the average for a single-mother family leaps to 52.5 percent.
The poverty threshold for a family of four is $24,250. For a family of three, it’s $20,090. So for thousands of local families, that means new backpacks and binders probably aren’t in the budget this year – unless we help.
You can contribute in two ways.
http://gousoe.uen.org/axR

 

Betsy DeVos Needs to Hear Your Views, So Share Them
More than protesting, public commenting has the potential to influence decisions
Education Week op-ed by Nora Gordon, associate professor of public policy at Georgetown University’s McCourt School, & Eloise Pasachoff, professor of law at the Georgetown University Law Center

In an executive order in February, President Donald Trump called on federal agencies to review their regulations and identify which to cut. Betsy DeVos advanced this work at the U.S. Department of Education last month when she issued a notice in the Federal Register asking the public to identify “unduly costly or unnecessarily burdensome” regulations and guidance documents by submitting comments to the Education Department by Aug. 21.
The Office of Management and Budget reported last week that agencies are progressing with this agenda across the federal government, withdrawing and reconsidering hundreds of regulatory actions since the new administration took office. This is a critical moment to get a diverse set of views before the Education Department. It’s time for those of you who have been protesting to put down your signs long enough to get your opinions counted on the record.
Recent actions by the Trump administration’s Department of Education have prompted strong opinions. In February, the department rolled back the Obama administration’s civil rights protections for transgender students; angry, scared, and tearful parents of transgender children demanded a meeting with DeVos to share their concerns. In June, the department announced that it was freezing the implementation of the Obama-era borrower-defense-to-repayment rule, which would shield borrowers from having to repay debt accrued at institutions of higher education that lured them with substantially false information; a lawsuit over the delay quickly ensued. Meanwhile, the department has been under fire for its feedback on state ESSA plans after Congress gutted the Obama-era ESSA accountability rules. And the department’s indications that it intends to change course on the Obama administration’s framework for addressing sexual assault on campuses sparked protests outside DeVos’ office earlier this month. All those hot-button issues have prompted vigorous debate-and they all relate to federal regulations or guidance.
It’s now up to the public to be sure the Education Department’s legal record captures the full complexity of those issues. Protest is an important form of civic engagement, but the regulatory process provides a path for public participation that is formally recognized by the legal system, with greater potential to influence nuanced decisions. Engaging with that process is an important part of what democracy looks like.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ay1

 

Trump Administration Advances School Vouchers Despite Scant Evidence
Studies show that school vouchers lead to lower math and reading scores. So why has the Trump administration embraced them?
Scientific American commentary by Peg Tyre, author of The Good School: How Smart Parents Get Their Kids the Education They Deserve

In a 1955 essay, free market visionary Milton Friedman proposed a revolutionary model of education. Rather than seeing public schools as a rich local resource and driver of social mobility, he suggested they were a reflection of government overreach. Because a stable and democratic society depends on an educated electorate, he reasoned, the government should pay for children to go to school. But that did not mean the government should run schools. Instead, Friedman said, it ought to require a minimum level of education. And to finance that education, it should give parents “vouchers redeemable for a specified maximum sum per child per year if spent on ‘approved’ educational services.” Breaking the government monopoly on education, he argued, would allow “consumers” (parents) to support the best “product”-that is, to enroll their kids in the most effective and highest-performing institutions. Mediocre public schools, subjected to market forces, would improve or perish.
The idea captured the imagination of elected officials and policy makers all over the world. Now President Donald Trump’s secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, is preparing to give the scheme its first national rollout in the U.S. She has made voucher programs the centerpiece of her efforts to enhance educational outcomes for students, saying they offer parents freedom to select institutions outside their designated school zone. “The secretary believes that when we put the focus on students, and not buildings or artificially constructed boundaries, we will be on the right path to ensuring every child has access to the education that fits their unique needs,” says U.S. Department of Education spokesperson Elizabeth Hill.
Because the Trump administration has championed vouchers as an innovative way to improve education in the U.S., Scientific American examined the scientific research on voucher programs to find out what the evidence says about Friedman’s idea. To be sure, educational outcomes are a devilishly difficult thing to measure with rigor. But by and large, studies have found that vouchers have mixed to negative academic outcomes and, when adopted widely, can exacerbate income inequity. On the positive side, there is some evidence that students who use vouchers are more likely to graduate high school and to perceive their schools as safe.
http://gousoe.uen.org/axP

 

Education Inequality Starts Early
Disparities in learning begin even earlier than you think.
U.S. News & World Report commentary by Sara Mead, a partner with Bellwether Education Partners

Upper-middle-class American professionals spend a lot on their children’s education and development. That fact – hardly news to anyone who has spent time with such parents – has gotten a lot of media attention lately, thanks to a new book by Brookings scholar Richard Reeves and a David Brooks column. Reeves’ contention – that affluent professionals’ investments in their kids serve to entrench a system of education-based privilege that makes it very hard for children from less advantaged backgrounds to advance up the socioeconomic ladder – has spurred heated debates on mainstream and social media.
These debates, however, often overlook just how early disparities in learning begin. Abundant research also shows that children’s earliest learning experiences and outcomes also vary considerable based on their parents’ incomes and education. The famous Hart and Risley study shows that children of professional parents are exposed to 30 million more words before age three than children from families in poverty, with significant consequences for language and cognitive development. Middle-class children are also more likely to be read to or exposed to educational and cultural opportunities, such as museums, zoos and libraries, than children in poverty.
As a result, by the time they enter kindergarten, children from the lowest socioeconomic backgrounds are already far behind their peers in the highest quartile of socioeconomic status on measures of early reading and math skills.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ay4

 

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Trump Ed. Dept. Changes Process for ESSA Feedback
Education Week

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her team have gotten big blowback for their responses to states on their plans for implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act. State officials and even some of DeVos’ GOP allies in Congress have said the department is being nit-picky, inconsistent, and going beyond the bounds of ESSA, which sought to rein in the federal policy footprint.
So now the agency is changing the process, Elizabeth Hill, a spokeswoman for the department confirmed. Instead of just sending letters to states on their plans, the department will first have two-hour phone conversations with states and go over any the issues that peer reviewers had.
If states are able to explain a potential hiccup to the department’s satisfaction, the department may not mention it in the state’s official feedback letter, which would come out after the phone call.
The new process seems designed to give states a chance to answer the feds’ questions about their plans before official feedback is made public.
http://gousoe.uen.org/axY

 

Four K-12 Issues to Watch in Health-Care Overhaul
Education Week

The Trump administration and congressional Republicans are in the midst of trying to replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act-better known as Obamacare. And the process could have big implications for the nation’s schools when it comes to special education funding, teacher benefits, and more. The House of Representatives passed its version of a health-care bill in May, and the Senate is wrangling its own legislation to replace the ACA this week.
What are the major issues at stake for K-12 educators, and how do these two GOP bills-the Senate’s “Better Care Reconciliation Act” and the House’s “American Health Care Act”-differ from the law now in effect?
http://gousoe.uen.org/ay0

Congressional Panel Asks: What K-12 Skills Are Needed for STEM Workforce?
Education Week

Washington — Schools need to do more to equip K-12 students with computational thinking skills to prepare them to fill the growing number of middle- and high-skilled jobs that require computing or programmming skills, witnesses told members of a congressional committee this week.
The STEM workforce is rapidly changing, said James Brown, the executive director of the STEM Education Coalition, a STEM education advocacy group. Mechanics and technicians-occupations that aren’t always popularly associated with a need for computing skills-now require some programming ability, he said. And the jobs pay well.
“If you’re really good at being an automechanic, and you work at a high-end car dealership, you might make more money in your first or second year than a college-degreed person-who is maybe in the middle of their class-with an engineering degree,” Brown said, in his testimony before the House, Science, Space, and Technology Committee.
States and school districts need to adapt to this shift, he said. But many aren’t focusing their computer science and STEM efforts on the kinds of career and technical education curricula and lessons that could lead to jobs after high school graduation.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ay2

 

Computer Science Teachers Needed. But Who Will Pay to Train Them?
Education Week

Washington — Conversations about improving K-12 computer science education very often seem to culminate with the same question: But where do we get more teachers?
At an event held at the Microsoft Policy Innovation Center here yesterday, panelists dug into that very question. And while there seemed to be widespread agreement that increased funding for training would help boost the number of computer science teachers, there was slightly less harmony on where the bulk of those dollars should come from.
Cameron Wilson, the chief operating officer and president of the Code.org Advocacy Coalition, which champions equal access to K-12 computer science, said state and federal funding are both necessary to ensure teachers get the professional learning they need. And that funding can’t just be allowable-it needs to be targeted, he said.
“This is a room full of people interested in computer science,” he said. “Generally school districts don’t have people like you.” If the professional funding is not designated specifically for computer science, it’s not likely to be used for the subject, Wilson suggested.
http://gousoe.uen.org/axN

 

Trump Administration Tapping Tech CEOs for STEM Policy Approach
Bloomberg

White House officials including Ivanka Trump have begun an outreach campaign to major technology, business and education leaders including Laurene Powell Jobs and Apple’s Tim Cook for advice on shaping funding approaches to science, technology, engineering and math education in U.S. public schools.
President Donald Trump’s daughter on Wednesday joined Reed Cordish, the president’s special assistant for technology initiatives, on a conference call with politicians, educators and CEOs to discuss STEM education, according to two people with knowledge of the call.
Other participants on the roughly hour-long call included Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson; Accenture North America’s CEO Julie Sweet, Microsoft President Brad Smith; Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and representatives from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Stanford, MIT and Broward County, Florida, Schools.
http://gousoe.uen.org/axQ

 

After Proposing $9 Billion Cut, Trump Making Salary Donation to Ed. Dept.
Education Week

President Donald Trump, who is seeking to cut the U.S. Department of Education’s budget by $9 billion, plans to donate his $100,000 salary for this quarter to the agency, to help pay for a camp focused on science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM. His press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, announced the donation Wednesday.
Trump has already moved to get rid of existing federal programs that school districts can and do use for STEM in his first-ever budget request, released earlier this year. For instance, he wants to totally scrap the $1.1 billion 21st Century Community Learning Center program, which finances after-school and summer programs, including many with a STEM focus.
The White House has also sought to zero out the brand-new Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, one of the few federal programs that school districts can use for science and technology. Lawmakers in the House who oversee education spending ignored Trump’s asks and approved funding for both programs anyway.
Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, did not address those proposed budget cuts in short remarks at the White House budget briefing Wednesday.
http://gousoe.uen.org/axZ

http://gousoe.uen.org/axV (AP)

http://gousoe.uen.org/ay3 (Fox)

http://gousoe.uen.org/axX (WaPo) video

http://gousoe.uen.org/axW (ED)

School Districts Look to Philippines to Fill Teacher Vacancies
Education Week

Clark County School District in Nevada recently hired more than 80 special education teachers from the Philippines.
The Las Vegas district isn’t alone in turning to the island nation to fill openings, particularly in shortage areas like special education. School districts from Los Angeles to New York City have for decades recruited Filipino teachers. But some critics say this is the wrong way to go for solving the teacher shortage crisis.
District leaders from Clark County, Las Vegas flew to the Philippines in April to interview 250 candidates, according to Principal Joseph Uy, who took the trip. Uy says a district from Texas had been recruiting there the week before Clark County’s arrival, and that the week after their departure a California district arrived.
http://gousoe.uen.org/axO

 

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CALENDAR
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UEN News
http://www.uen.org

July 27:

Retirement and Independent Entities Interim Committee meeting
8:30 a.m., 210 Senate Building
https://le.utah.gov/Interim/2017/html/00003166.htm

August 3:

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

August 4:

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

August 11:

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

August 22:

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

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

September 19:

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

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