Education News Roundup: July 28, 2017

Today’s Top Picks:

The Spectrum looks at future growth in Washington County.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ayt (SGS)

And it has come to this, ENR’s next best local story is about goats eating grass at Washington Elementary. Happy summer, everyone.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ayk (KUTV)

Sen. Stephenson clarifies his comments on technology in the classroom.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ayc (UP)

New Fordham report looks at state ESSA school improvement plans.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ayd (The 74)
or a copy of the report
http://gousoe.uen.org/aye (Fordham)

More states are offering STEM diploma seals for eligible high school graduates.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ayf (Ed Week)

 

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Washington County population growth: What it will look like
Southern Utah could look very different by mid-century, according to new Washington County population growth projections showing it tripling in size

Herd of goats cut grass at Salt Lake school, saving thousands

East High flooding destroyed donations for students

Roy High School vandals identified by police

OPINION & COMMENTARY

‘Let my students go!’ – Moses to the education bureaucracy

With all this cool techie stuff, it’s still all about the human beings.

Is School Funding Fair? A Roundtable Debate
Five experts on the connection between school funding and equity

Cabinet members beware: What Trump is doing to Sessions can happen to you

Why Schools Should Be Wary Of Free Tech Products — And Startups Shouldn’t Make Them

Why all parents should care about arts education

NATION

New Fordham ESSA Report (Happily) Finds States Moving Beyond NCLB Limitations With New Education Plans
Fordham ESSA report: states better on clear ratings, measuring all students, rating poor schools

States Adopt STEM Seals for High School Diplomas

More kids are logging on to learn at cyber schools

Report: School violence, bullying down in US public schools

The Ongoing Battle Between Science Teachers And Fake News

Spokane school board flooded with emails after sex education vote delayed

School board votes to drop high school’s Confederate name

From Skyhook To STEM: Kareem Abdul Jabbar Brings The Science

 

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UTAH NEWS
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Washington County population growth: What it will look like
Southern Utah could look very different by mid-century, according to new Washington County population growth projections showing it tripling in size


When state demographers announced last week that their new population projections had the greater St. George area ballooning from some 160,000 population today to more than 500,000 by 2065, it sparked renewed discussions about just how many people can squeeze into Washington County.
Surrounded by the natural borders of mountains, mesas and rivers, two-thirds of the county is publicly owned federal land. To the immediate south, whatever development happens in Utah eventually butts up against the Arizona state line.
Build to those borders with the same blueprint of single-family houses and small shopping centers, maintaining some open space in the most sensitive areas, and the general plans of local governments don’t predict enough room to get to such a large population.
Not only would southern Utah have to adjust, finding new ways to get people around, securing new sources for water and electricity and other infrastructure needs, but it would also need to make adjustments to its character.
“You imagine 500,000 in St. George and, I mean, what does that look like?” asked Pam Perlich, the director of demographic research at the Kem C. Gardner Institute at the University of Utah, which authored the state’s official projections.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ayt (SGS)

 

Herd of goats cut grass at Salt Lake school, saving thousands

Salt Lake City – For the third year in a row, a herd of goats are being used to landscape the tricky terrain at Washington Elementary. Greg Cover, of 4 Leaf Farms owns about 400 goats and does vegetation control across the entire Wasatch. Cover says his method is clean, efficient and cheaper than most every way of cutting grass cutting.
“We’re not hurting bees we’re not hurting birds, its just a natural thing that’s been around for thousands of years,” Cover said.
The Salt Lake City School District loves to use the goats because it can avoid using chemicals around school children and it can save money. Using a landscaping crew would cost up to $8,000 to clean out the dry cheat grass on the hillside. The goats, on the other hand, can do it for about $3,000.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ayk (KUTV)

 

East High flooding destroyed donations for students

The millions-of-dollars in damage to East High School from this week’s flood included donations that were intended to help students in need.
The “Leopard Stash”, as it’s called, helps students with food, clothing, and hygiene items.
“In the clothing pantry, the water came over the top,” Student Support Specialist Kris Barta said.
The donations were in the path of a deluge of water that rushed into the school Wednesday morning.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ayl (KUTV)

http://gousoe.uen.org/aym (KTVX)

http://gousoe.uen.org/ayn (KSTU)

 

Roy High School vandals identified by police

ROY – Police have identified the four male suspects involved in vandalism at Roy High School earlier this month.
Roy Police Department Det. Josh Taylor said the suspects were identified by school resource officers who had previously interacted with them. Two are minors and two are adults, but Taylor declined to release names, citing the ongoing investigation.
Weber School District spokesman Lane Findlay said one of the juveniles is a current student, and two of the other three involved are former students.
External security camera footage shows four figures with their faces covered, walking around the school and two of them spray-painting a wall. The group painted profanity, lines and a face on the west side of the school, doors and windows and on a wall near the baseball field and its dugout.
Findlay said the vandals caused an estimated $2,700 in damage for labor and cleanup. They also cut through padlocks.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ayj (OSE)

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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‘Let my students go!’ – Moses to the education bureaucracy
Utah Policy commentary by Sen. Howard Stephenson

Yesterday in Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee we discussed School Technology Programs and the low utilization of effective reading software in our classrooms.
Somewhat like antibiotics, when the reading software is used as prescribed (called “fidelity”) it can have miraculous results, but using more or less than the recommended dose will not achieve the desired results and may even harm a student’s learning experience.
Exasperated at continued reports of low fidelity, and the entrenched 19th century paradigm of learning that harms our kids, I asked the presenter a tongue-in-cheek question, “Are we going to have to wait like Moses did, wandering 40 years in the wilderness for the old ones to die off before we can really embrace this with fidelity?”
Reaction from the usual suspects was predictable and ridiculous. However, upon reflection, I could have chosen my words more carefully.
Obviously, nobody wants teachers to die.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ayc

 

With all this cool techie stuff, it’s still all about the human beings.
Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist GEORGE PYLE

After maybe a dozen attempts over 30 years, I finally finished reading “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”
Garrison Keillor is right. The ending is dumb.
Dragging the comic relief of Tom Sawyer back into an otherwise serious story – perhaps the most important story in our history – was the 19th century version of jumping the shark. That Mark Twain. Always ahead of his time.
But every American should know that classic. And I managed to keep my focus all the way to the end once I got a version of the book for my then-new, zoomy and easy to carry Kindle reader.
I finally read “The Time Machine” and large bits of “On the Origin of Species” and “The Life of Samuel Johnson” the same way. Always meant to. Never got around to it.
So when Utah state Sen. Howard Stephenson pushes, as he did again last week, the argument that technology can help people learn things, I have to grant that he has a point.
Too bad he did so in a way that was hurtful and crude at almost Trumpian levels.
Stephenson was grousing that not enough of the state’s public school teachers were taking to his preferred versions of computers that, in his mind, are the key to pushing Utah schools above current levels of mediocrity.
“Are we going to have to wait like Moses did,” Thursday’s Tribune quoted him as lamenting, “wandering 40 years in the wilderness for the old ones to die off before we can finally embrace this with fidelity?”
Fidelity?
The state has no business dictating particular bits of hardware or bytes of software for all schools, classes, teachers and students to use. The fact that Stephenson and others think it does leads many of us to suspect that it’s less about reading and writing than it is about procurement and politics.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ayx

 

Is School Funding Fair? A Roundtable Debate
Five experts on the connection between school funding and equity
Education Week commentary

On both the state and national levels, controversies over school funding have loomed large in conversations about the future of K-12 education. In addition to several recent high-stakes showdowns between governors and legislatures over school funding and a rash of state-level lawsuits aimed at funding formulas, the debate over what the Every Student Succeeds Act says about the use of Title I funding aimed at disadvantaged students has raged since the law’s inception. With ESSA going into full effect this fall, school funding debates will undoubtedly garner even more attention. Meanwhile, stark disparities remain in how state funding formulas serve (or, in some cases, arguably underserve) their poorest districts.
What do all these conversations end up meaning for students? Is the United States on the right track in how the country approaches funding education? Five education policy experts and practitioners weigh in.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ayr

 

Cabinet members beware: What Trump is doing to Sessions can happen to you
CNN commentary by Gloria Borger, Chief Political Analyst

Just imagine you are a key member of the President’s cabinet. Maybe you were completely loyal to him during the campaign; maybe you came around late in the game. Or maybe you were apolitical. Whatever your history, you’re in the thick of it now. And you’re in the job to serve the country.
But as you watch the President publicly troll, trash and torment Attorney General Jeff Sessions every day — the man who was the first senator to endorse him, who never abandoned his candidate (even in the darkest days of the Access Hollywood tape), who happily gave up a 20-year Senate career to serve — you have to understand: this could happen to you.
And that isn’t going to change.
The incoming communications chief Anthony Scaramucci put it this way: “The President wants his Cabinet secretaries to have his back.” And a friend of the President makes it even more clear. “This is the way the President likes it. Nobody has command and control except him.”

Instead, the one-way Trumpian notion of loyalty — which includes purging any former anti-Trumpers from government — remains at center stage. Another example: one source with knowledge says that a top staffer for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was called by the White House to say he was fired (he had been a Jeb Bush supporter). A frustrated DeVos called the White House to protest, and then suggested the President call her to discuss. The call never came and the staffer remains on the job. (CNN made several attempts to contact the Department and the Secretary’s office, and received no response.)
http://gousoe.uen.org/ays

Why Schools Should Be Wary Of Free Tech Products — And Startups Shouldn’t Make Them
Forbes op-ed by Mary Jo Madda, Senior Editor, EdSurge

When I was a middle school science teacher, I oftentimes found myself digging into my own pockets to pay for equipment – Bunsen burners, test tubes, dead frogs. And that didn’t change when one-to-one iPad programs in schools became popular; in fact, it added yet another item, software, to my to-buy list. So, you can imagine my excitement when I found free online products, especially those that seemed flashy.
It didn’t even cross my mind back then that using free tools (and more importantly, asking my students to use free tools) could be problematic and even potentially dangerous – more so than the free consumer products I was finding online and using in my own time.
But in the world of edtech, “free” isn’t only a danger to the users – it’s quickly becoming more and more of a danger to the makers of edtech, as well. The concept of free doesn’t always pay – especially for those entrepreneurs looking to pay back hungry investors.
Whether you’re a user of edtech products or an entrepreneur exploring the opportunity to create a free tool for educators, I offer you a small piece of advice by calling upon an old adage: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/ayw

 

Why all parents should care about arts education
Washington Post commentary by Jill Coody Smits, author of Expedition Austin: A Kid’s Guide to the Weirdest Town in Texas

When we think about “the arts,” often we go huge: the Louvre, Broadway, Swan Lake, Picasso. Perhaps without even realizing it, though, many parents instinctively know the value of the arts and incorporate them into our children’s lives in much smaller ways. Otherwise, why would we give our toddlers that first pack of crayons?
A few weeks ago, my 10-year-old daughter joined about 20 other tweens on a grand university stage for the culmination of six months of hard work with our citywide youth orchestra. Finely dressed in black bottoms and white shirts, the string ensemble snapped their bows to attention when their conductor raised her baton, then played the heck out of “Entry of the Tumblers.”
Though the performance was a thrill, in the context of an entire childhood it is hard to tease out how important the arts are to our kids’ lives and well-beings. I would like to think, however, that this recital will be remembered as some kind of turning point for my performance-averse child, who initially threatened to throw her audition.
I won’t know how accurate my theory is for quite some time, but there is a mounting collection of research that suggests arts education can have a powerful influence on kids in areas ranging from critical thinking and math skills to multicultural understanding and confidence.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ayu

 

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NATIONAL NEWS
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New Fordham ESSA Report (Happily) Finds States Moving Beyond NCLB Limitations With New Education Plans
Fordham ESSA report: states better on clear ratings, measuring all students, rating poor schools
The 74

Reviewers with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute were “pleasantly surprised” by how many states are taking advantage of the Every Student Succeeds Act to depart from the drawbacks and rigidity of its federal K-12 law predecessor, No Child Left Behind.
A new report from the conservative think tank rated the 17 plans so far submitted to the Education Department in three areas: clear, intuitive school ratings; a focus on all students; and fairness to high-poverty schools.
Those three categories represented the biggest parts of a state plan and, particularly the latter two measures, showed how far states moved away from the confines of No Child Left Behind, said Brandon Wright, editorial director at Fordham and one of the report’s authors.
“We were really concerned that because the federal government under NCLB was sort of so heavy-handed for so long that states would’ve gotten used to sort of being told what to do in so many respects … that there would be growing pains,” he said.
Several groups have released independent evaluations of state ESSA plans, including a group of peer reviewers led by Bellwether Education Partners and the Collaborative for Student Success, which rated state plans in nine areas.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ayd

A copy of the report
http://gousoe.uen.org/aye (Fordham)

 

States Adopt STEM Seals for High School Diplomas
Education Week

Colorado educators Elaine Menardi and Jess Buller would seem an unlikely pair to be writing legislation. But neither felt that their students, then middle schoolers, were on track for meeting state benchmarks for workforce readiness in technology and computing.
So, while participating in a fellowship together, the two cooked up a solution: a STEM diploma endorsement awarded to high school students with a track record of strong achievement in those subjects. In May, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the fruit of their labor into law.
“It was so valuable for educators to be in the thick of it all, because if a lawmaker had come up with the idea, they might have put in criteria that wouldn’t have been as rigorous,” Menardi said, noting the high grade point average students must maintain to earn the seal.
Colorado’s new law is unusual in the degree of participation educators had in shaping it, but it is not unique. Within the last school year, at least two other states created a diploma endorsement in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ayf

 

More kids are logging on to learn at cyber schools
Marketplace

From the outside, it would be easy to mistake the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School for a place to get your taxes done or mail a package. The downtown Erie branch is tucked away in a strip mall, across from a Big Lots discount store and a U-Haul storage center. But inside, a dozen or so kids are gathered around tables, making colorful sun catchers to understand how a liquid becomes a solid.
“Basically, you make Jell-O, but no clumps in it, and then put it on a plate and then let it dry,” explained third-grader Jakob Pandolph.
Most school days, Jakob and his older brother and sister log on from school-issued laptops at home in rural Union City, Pennsylvania, outside Erie. But on Tuesday afternoons, the family drives 30 miles for this face-to-face Science Explorers class.
“Everything that a traditional public school does, we essentially do that – just in a slightly different manner,” said Brian Hayden, CEO of PA Cyber, the largest and oldest online public school in the state.
Kids also get together at the Erie building for art and music. They take field trips and have German and Spanish clubs. There’s even P.E., done with at-home fitness kits that include yoga balls and jump ropes.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ayv

 

Report: School violence, bullying down in US public schools
Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The number of violent attacks and incidents of bullying in American public schools has gone down in recent years, according to a federal report published Thursday.
Violence and bullying were more frequent in middle schools than in high schools or elementary schools, said the study by the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics.
The report said the rate of violent incidents in middle schools dropped from 40 incidents per 1,000 students in the 2009-2010 school year to 27 incidents in 2015-2016. Bullying in middle schools was observed in 39 percent of schools in 2009-2010, compared to 22 percent last school year.
In 2009-2010, when the previous such survey was conducted, about 46 percent of schools reported that their students were threatened without a weapon and 8 percent with a weapon, compared to 39 percent and 9 percent respectively during the last school year.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ayh

A copy of the report
http://gousoe.uen.org/ayi (NCES)

The Ongoing Battle Between Science Teachers And Fake News
NPR

Every year Patrick Engleman plays a little trick on his students. The high school chemistry teacher introduces his ninth-graders in suburban Philadelphia to an insidious substance called dihydrogen monoxide. It’s “involved in 80 percent of fatal car crashes. It’s in every single cancer cell. This stuff, it’ll burn you,” he tells them.
But dihydrogen monoxide is water. He says several of his honors classes decided to ban it based just on what he told them.
The lesson here isn’t that teenagers are gullible. It’s that you can’t trust everything you hear. In a time when access to information is easier than ever, Engleman says that his current students have much more to sift through than his past students. These days kids come in with all sorts of questions about things they’ve read online or heard elsewhere.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ayo

 

Spokane school board flooded with emails after sex education vote delayed
Spokane (WA) Spokesman-Review

Spokane school board members have been inundated with automated emails following a controversial decision to postpone voting on a new sex education curriculum.
Spokane Public Schools Board President Deana Brower has received nearly 500 formulaic emails following the decision. The emails don’t indicate whether or not the authors live in Spokane, she said.
The emails urge the board to “Keep Planned Parenthood out of our schools!”
The emails read, in part, “The ‘Get Real’ curriculum emphasizes gender fluidity and sexual promiscuity. Our high school students don’t need the ‘Get Real’ curriculum. What they need is real, substantive teaching on sex and sexuality that represents the truth – that sex is a wonderful thing designed for the covenant of marriage and the creation of children. And this teaching should be left to the parents and churches of our students – not nameless Planned Parenthood officials and school administrators.”
In her six years on the board, Brower said she’s never seen a comparable response.
“We serve our children best in our community when we leave the politics out of it, and do what’s best for kids,” Brower said. “And when we allow our local issues to become politicized by national agendas, I think we lose our focus.”
One of the board’s primary responsibilities is to listen and respond to community input. Automated petition blasts make it hard to decipher what is of local concern from what isn’t, she said. She urges constituents who live in the Spokane district to identify themselves.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ayp

 

School board votes to drop high school’s Confederate name
Associated Press

FALLS CHURCH, Va. – School board members voted Thursday night to rename a northern Virginia high school named for a Confederate general, ending two years of debate on the subject.
The Fairfax County board met late into the night as members tried to decide the fate of J.E.B. Stuart High School’s name. Stuart, who was mortally wounded in an 1864 battle, was a slaveholding Confederate general.
The renaming process will start in the fall and the new name must be in place no later than the beginning of the 2019 school year, local media outlets report.
A year ago, the board pawned off the decision to a task force that it hoped would find a compromise. Instead, the task force fractured so badly it issued two separate reports – one in favor of changing the name, one opposed.
Stuart High, as it’s more commonly known, opened in 1959 and the school board chose the name in 1958, when Virginia was embroiled in what became known as Massive Resistance to federal desegregation efforts.
Today, Stuart is one of the most diverse schools in Fairfax County, which hosts the 10th largest school district in the nation and one of the wealthiest. Fairfax County has grown into a sprawling suburb of the nation’s capital.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ayq

 

From Skyhook To STEM: Kareem Abdul Jabbar Brings The Science
NPR

Kareem Abdul Jabbar is taking his shot helping narrow the opportunity and equity gaps with his Skyhook Foundation and Camp Skyhook. The Los Angeles nonprofit helps public school students in the city access a free, fun, week-long STEM education camp experience in the Angeles National Forest.
Every week throughout the year, in conjunction with the Los Angeles Unified School District, groups of 4th and 5th graders attend Camp Skyhook at the Clear Creek Outdoor Education Center, one of the oldest outdoor education centers in America. The hands-on science curriculum allows students to study nature up close: take water temperature in a stream; soil or forest samples during a hike; study the local wildlife or explore the stars. That’s alongside the traditional fare of hiking, swimming, and campfire songs.
It’s so popular there’s basically a five-year waiting list for the camp in the city’s schools, where about 80 percent of students receive free and reduced-price lunch.
Having an NBA Hall of Famer and the league’s all-time leading scorer support the camp certainly helps attract attention and financial support.
http://gousoe.uen.org/ayg

 

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

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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