[USOE-News] Education News Roundup

Peterson, Mark . MPeterso@usoe.k12.ut.us
Tue, 10 Jun 2003 09:42:24 -0600

Education News Roundup
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Schools in Budget Agony 
   Today, school boards across the state will begin holding painful budget
hearings that inevitably reveal frustrations about program and staff cuts
and spark heated discussions about how to increase Utah's cellar-dwelling
education spending. 
    The public feels the same pain, according to a recent Salt Lake Tribune
poll that shows that by 4-to-1, Utahns want to see more tax revenue
dedicated to public education. The survey did not ask whether respondents
preferred increasing taxes or shifting more existing tax dollars to
    Public education also topped respondents' list as the most pressing
issue facing Utah, with the economy a close second. 
    Valley Research conducted the poll of 400 people statewide June 2-5. The
margin of error is 5 percent. 
    According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Utah remains
last among states in per-pupil spending at $4,769, based on expenditures
during the 2001-2002 school year. The Tribune poll found that 78 percent
favor Utah putting more tax money into its public education system. 

Expensive penalty for Grand District 
State withholds $1.5 million over late financial audit

      In a rare move, the state has withheld $1.5 million in state and
federal funds from Grand School District over the past two months for
failing to turn in an independent financial audit, according to state
auditors and the Utah Office of Education.
      The audit was due last November.
      The 1,500-student school district, which is located in Moab and
operates on about a $10 million budget, will also have more state and
federal payments held up if its independent audit is not submitted to the
state education office by Wednesday, state associate superintendent Patrick
Ogden said.
      Any more withheld funds would spill into the next fiscal year, which
begins July 1. The exact dollar amount was not immediately clear.
      "I think this is a good wake-up call to districts and charter
schools," Ogden said. "We are placing greater emphasis on receiving accurate
information that is complete and on time because of the new (school
accountability) requirements."

Where does special education fit? 
Goal of new federal law is that every child scores as proficient by 2014

      The federal government wants to leave no child behind in school. But
when the student is in special education, is there any way to get ahead?
      It's a question being asked, and argued, nationwide, as the No Child
Left Behind Act extends sanctions to schools with stagnant test scores and
as policymakers hash out regulations on how states should apply the law.
      The national goal is to ensure every child in every group, from
children who speak little English to those living in poverty, scores as
proficient on state tests by 2014.
      So far, 31 percent of Utah third- through eighth-graders with
disabilities, which could range from speech therapy to learning
disabilities, have achieved those ranks in language arts on the state core
curriculum test, which is used to comply with NCLB. Twenty-eight percent are
proficient in math.
      Clearly, special education students have a long ways to go. And some
education officials say many them don't have the means, at least within NCLB
regulations, to get there.

Expansion of Open Classroom Program Under Review 

    Eager parents probably will have to wait until the 2004-05 school year
to enroll their children in a popular alternative learning program at
Washington Elementary School in Salt Lake City. 
    The Salt Lake City School Board is considering a proposal to expand the
Open Classroom, a co-operative public school where parents agree to spend at
least three hours per week in the classroom. If the board goes along, the
program will expand to another district elementary school in 2004 and will
include a kindergarten and first-grade class. 
    Next year, however, will not be soon enough for the parents of 19
students on a waiting list, desperate to enroll their kindergartners this
fall. And the move away from Washington Elementary, 420 N. 200 West, where
it shared the campus with a regular public school, has some parents
concerned whether a new program will be as good as the original. 

Forfeiture Cases Before Court Could Have Broad Fiscal Impact for State 

    Forfeiture proceedings rarely attract public attention, much less
require intervention from Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. 
    But such is the case with three otherwise humdrum forfeiture cases
before 3rd District Judge Tyrone E. Medley. In addition to pitting Salt Lake
County against the state in a "friendly" battle of legal interpretations,
the cases are precedent-setting -- a fact Medley underscored Monday,
declaring he will rule by written memorandum on or before June 27. 
    At issue is whether district attorneys and courts in three counties
skirted state law last year by awarding police departments a quarter of a
million dollars in seized money and property that Shurtleff believes
rightfully belongs to public schools. 

Utah considers incentives for teachers

	SALT LAKE CITY -- As state education officials face federal pressure
to raise student achievement in high-poverty schools, they fear teachers may
flee from those schools to avoid being labeled failures.
	The officials are considering pay incentives for teachers willing to
take on the extra challenges of teaching disadvantaged children and also
willing to bear the stigma associated with schools labeled as needing
http://www.standard.net (Requires registration)

Junior high's Reality Town teaches kids crucial skills 

      KAYSVILLE - Carrie Young, a registered nurse and mother of a
6-year-old boy, makes $34,320 a year - enough to pay for day care, but
perhaps not enough to pay for music lessons or soccer for her young son.
      At least that's the scenario Young, 14, dealt with last week at the
Fairfield Junior High School Reality Town.
      The event aimed to teach eighth-graders at the school what it's like
to live on a budget - and how educational attainment levels will impact
their future careers and incomes. Each student was placed in a job based on
his or her interests and GPA, with professions ranging from physicians and
attorneys to truck drivers.
      "Those that are not taking their courses seriously . . . these are the
range of careers they can expect," said Mary Ann Thurgood, Fairfield Junior
High School counselor. "They're based upon how much education you need."
      Young soon learned a monthly savings deposit and taxes take a big
chunk out of spending money.

No More Leis

	Woods Cross High School will not allow its Pacific Islander
graduates to wear lei's during this year's graduation ceremony. 
	The principal says the decision isn't trying to put down any
culture. It's just that graduation adornments are getting out of control.
Seniors will only be allowed to wear the traditional caps and gowns at
Thursday's ceremony. 

23rd Reading Conference to be at SUU June 23, 24 

      CEDAR CITY - Southern Utah University will host the 23rd annual
Reading Conference June 23, 24, with internationally known authors and
teachers participating. It is sponsored by the SUU Teacher Education Program
and the Student Reading Council Conference Committee. Included will be
literacy exhibits, drawings, breakout sessions, videos and workshops focused
on early childhood, special education, English as a second language, reading
endorsement, elementary, middle and high school literacy and masters'
      To register, contact David Lund at lundd@suu.edu, or fax 435-865-8692
on or before June 10 or visit www.suu.edu/ed/center/2003SUUReadingConf/. The
cost is $80 for both days, $90 after June 10, and $40 registration on-site
for graduate university credit. SUU student registration is $30 for both
days, and $20, paid on-site for undergraduate university credit. 

Summer science program for teens at SLCC July 14-17 

      A summer science program for Utah teens is being held at Salt Lake
Community College July 14-17.
      Along with robotics and programming activities, participants will
engage in scientific experiments such as mixing cement made of various
consistencies, and designing and building an electronic circuit board. 
      The summer scientists program will be held from 8 a.m. to noon July
14-17 at the SLCC Redwood Campus, 4600 S. Redwood Road, for teenagers 12 to
15. An open house will be from noon to 2 p.m. July 17. Cost is $100 for the
week. For information contact Cydnee Nielson at 801-957-4826. 

Westminster's camps on business for teens 

      Westminster College will sponsor a couple of summer camps for
business-oriented teenagers this summer.
      The Summer Challenge Camps will be held June 15-20 and July 13-18.
Participants will gain experience in finance, entrepreneurship, leadership
and aviation.
      The hands-on camps will provide such activities as making investments
from a $1 million portfolio, competing in head-to-head trading sessions and
taking the controls of a new Piper Archer plane.
      For information, call 832-2684.


'No Child Left Behind' fails to fulfill its promise
Honolulu Star-Bulletin op-ed by Sen. Daniel Akaka 

	As high school seniors bid farewell to teachers and schoolmates at
graduation ceremonies across Hawaii, let us pause to contemplate whether
they would have been better off if sweeping reform in K-12 education, known
as No Child Left Behind, had been implemented 10 years ago, and wonder
whether students graduating a decade from now will be better prepared or
ill-served after living with the new law.
	I voted for No Child Left Behind in 2001. The promises then were
real: We would provide our public schools with additional resources while
holding them accountable for narrowing the achievement gap.
	It now appears that the most cynical assessment of the Bush
administration's objective for this K-12 reform bill may be true: Its design
is to paint our public schools as broken and garner support for their
elimination. I see this in the Bush administration's refusal to adequately
fund the very measures that it says must succeed. I also see this in the
arbitrary requirements for our schools in the state accountability plan
approved by the U.S. Department of Education. 

Sometimes School Principals Need Lessons on Parental Involvement 
Dear Harriette column by Harriette Cole 

    Dear Harriette: When I visit my child's school I find that the reception
is a bit icy. The principal is never visible, the classroom doors are always
closed, the windows to the classrooms are covered and parents are not
encouraged to participate. I think this school is overlooking the potential
powerful partners that they have in parents. I am choosing to believe that
perhaps this is because they are short on ideas on how to involve us
constructively and not because they wish us not to be involved. 
    I have come across a great book that has ideas on how to involve parents
in the academic lives of their children. I would like to present our school
principal with a copy to begin a dialogue. Do you think this is a good
    -- Toni, Randallstown, Md. 
    Dear Toni: Glean a few key points from the book you have found and
request a meeting with the principal to discuss your ideas -- before you
give him the book. Share your interest in being an active part of your
child's education and point out a few specific ways that you believe you can
be of support. Be positive and engaging in your initial meeting,
demonstrating your commitment to work together rather than becoming an
    Inquire about the PTA at your school. Now's the time for you to rally
parents together to become actively involved in relationships with teachers
and administrators. Many schools today lack human and financial resources as
well as support from working parents who aren't available to be active
participants in their children's educations. Your enthusiasm and drive may
help to turn things around at your child's school. 

You Can't Outlaw Failure 
It only makes it harder to succeed. 
Wall Street Journal op-ed BY PETE DU PONT, policy chairman of the
Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis

	Ten years ago the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan published an
illuminating and unpopular analysis of American social conscience. "Defining
Deviancy Down" explained how America had accepted high rates of violent
crime and illegitimacy, rationalizing them as socially acceptable rather
than doing anything to lower them. He noted that urban elites increasingly
extolled rather than criticized broken families, notwithstanding studies
showing a high correlation between single-parent families and educational
	Since 1993 crime rates have gone down, especially in New York, but
illegitimacy, and the attendant educational failure, remains a social
calamity. Rather than confront the problem, many officials and activists
prefer to mask it by dumbing down the schools. Now they're meeting
opposition, in the form of state regulations requiring high school students
to pass a test in order to receive a diploma. Not surprisingly, the
activists are fiercely resisting the move toward standards.
	Defining educational standards down is hardly a new cause.
Intentional grade inflation at America's prestigious universities is the
norm. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences reported in 2002 that 22% of
Harvard undergraduates received A's in 1966; 33 years later 46% did and 82%
of its seniors graduated with honors. The same trend was seen at Princeton,
where by 1997 "only 12 percent of all grades fell below the B range." At
Dartmouth 44% of grades were in the A range.
	In 1995 the SAT was made less difficult and "re-centered" so as to
raise scores by about 100 points. 
	And in the 1970s the Harvard Medical school began a racial
preference program, admitting a large number of underqualified minority
students. When they began to fail the school's examinations Harvard lowered
its standards and adopted a policy that students could retake exams until
everyone passed, regardless of the risk this might place on future patients
treated by these doctors.
	In other words, sensitivity to social injustice led to a fear of
failure and thence to a policy of minimal measurement. So that, as one
school district in Delaware explained a decade ago as it abolished grades,
"every student can be successful, not just those who happen to get an A."
	The idea that every student must be declared successful is in direct
conflict with efforts in two dozen states to raise educational standards by
requiring the passing of a high school graduation test. 

Commentary: Graduation 
NPR Commentary by Will Layman

	It's graduation time at high schools around the country and a time
of transition for graduating seniors. High school teacher and commentator
Will Layman talks about what it's like to stay behind.
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Education Effort Meets Resistance 
Leaders Say Teacher Certification Test Was Sabotaged 

	Leaders of an effort backed by the Bush administration to accelerate
and improve teacher training say they have met with considerable resistance
from organizations allied with teachers unions and education schools,
including the sabotage of a proposed new teacher certification test.
	The leaking of test questions, which the American Board for
Certification of Teacher Excellence said led it to cancel a $1.2 million
agreement with the testing company ACT Inc., marks the latest battle in a
long war between the new organization and several established education
groups. Those groups dispute the administration's contention that education
schools are not doing a good job of producing qualified teachers. 
	Besides trying to develop a new way for college graduates to become
certified teachers, the board wants to award a special Master Teacher
certificate to experienced teachers based on a measurement of student
improvement in their classes. That would put the board in competition with
an organization supported by teachers unions, the Arlington-based National
Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which grants national
certificates to teachers based on their knowledge and skills, as assessed by

Behind the New Law 
Rule Aids Students But Drains Some Schools 

	Last in a series of occasional articles on the people affected by
the No Child Left Behind Act.
	John Wilhelmi loves the boisterous, multicultural flock of teenagers
he oversees as principal of Marshall High School in Portland, Ore., and
could not get enough of the high-fives, bearhugs and family celebrations
that animated the school's graduation ceremonies last week. 
	But the No Child Left Behind Act is letting many of these vibrant
youngsters slip away from him, he says, and that makes him wonder whether he
is going to have much of a chance to help those who are left. 
	Under the federal law, students in public schools such as Marshall,
where academic achievement is below state benchmarks, can transfer to
better-performing schools. Despite Marshall's modern brick building,
experienced faculty and rising test scores, Wilhelmi says 111 of his
incoming ninth-graders -- more than a third of the class -- have decided to
shift to other schools, and that number could rise by fall. 
	"My sense is the number could be staggering," Wilhelmi said. "For
every 30 students we lose, we lose a teacher. You lose teachers, and you cut
programs. You cut programs, and you attract fewer students. It's a vicious
cycle downward."

Researchers verify reading ability gets a boost from phonics

    A study has confirmed the premise of the Bush administration's "Reading
First" initiative that systematic phonics instruction is essential in
teaching young children of all backgrounds to read successfully. 
    The study, just published by researchers of the National Institute for
Early Education Research and Rutgers University in New Jersey, re-examined
findings of the National Reading Panel (NRP) in 2000. 
    The study gives even greater weight than the NRP to the importance of
intensive phonics, which is systematic instruction of letter-sound relations
in English and how to use them to read texts with controlled vocabulary. 
    "In our analyses, we found that programs using systematic phonics
instruction outperformed programs using less-systematic phonics," the study
concluded, adding that the difference with systematic phonics "is
statistically significant." 
    The study, titled "Teaching Children To Read: The Fragile Link Between
Science and Federal Education Policy," also confirmed the NRP's finding that
children's reading ability improves after they have acquired basic "phonemic
awareness and letter knowledge" by second grade, when phonics instruction is
combined with language activities and tutoring. 

A copy of the report

Law Allows Faster Graduation
	TAMPA - Tucked into the class-size amendment signed Monday by Gov.
Jeb Bush is an option to fast-track students through high school. 
	Only 18 credits are now required for high school graduation
beginning in 2004, but even the bill's sponsor doesn't think many will take
advantage of a three-year trip through high school. 
	``To say this is not for everybody is an understatement,'' said Rep.
Joe Pickens, R-Palatka, bill sponsor and vice chair of House education
	The law is not designed to save money, Pickens said, but rather to
``give bright students an opportunity to move on.'' 
	There are actually two new options, one for students who are not
college bound. Both cut the physical education requirement and most
electives. The new options are: 
	* College prep students need four English credits, three math
(Algebra I or higher), three science, three in social science and two in
foreign language. That leaves three credits in electives. 
	* Career students need the same except the math requirement doesn't
mandate courses higher than Algebra I. 

Charter Schools in Chicago 
	Charter schools -- which allow public schools to be operated outside
the public school bureaucracy -- are multiplying at an extraordinary pace
across the nation despite little or no evidence that they're doing a better
job academically than conventional public schools. In Chicago, however,
charter school proponents, tired of overcrowded, failing schools, say it's
only a matter of time before charter schools begin to show dramatic results.
NPR's Claudio Sanchez reports. 
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Head Start children lagging, report says 

	Preschoolers in the federal Head Start program still lag behind
average students in reading and math skills when they enter kindergarten,
according to a report released Monday by the Bush administration. The
report, which comes as the administration faces intense criticism of its
efforts to reform the 38-year-old program, said students' social skills
improved significantly. And Spanish-speaking students made strong gains in
English vocabulary. But the report found only modest academic gains for many
students. Children who started the program in 2000, for instance, scored
only about a point higher on math skills the following year. ''Slight
progress is not good enough,'' Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy
Thompson said. ''It's time to raise the bar.'' Head Start advocates
criticized the report as an attempt to salvage controversial legislation
that puts greater emphasis on academics and gives states greater control of
the federal money. The program feeds and provides medical care to nearly 1
million poor children 5 and younger.

Children's Summer 2003 Reading List
Critics List the Season's Best Books for Kids

	NPR's Neal Conan hosts Talk of the Nation's discussion of the best
summer reading for children. His guests include Eden Ross Lipson ,
children's book editor for The New York Times and author of The New York
Times Parent's Guide to the Best Books for Children; Carol Erdahl, owner of
the Red Balloon Bookshop, a children's book store in St. Paul, Minn.; and
Deborah Taylor, a former Newbery Medal committee member and librarian at the
Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Md. And listeners share their

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Pop Quiz Sends Paige Fishing for Help 
Fifth-Graders at Southeast School Fill In the Gap for U.S. Education Chief 

	One fish, two fish. Red fish, blue fish.
	Or is that "fishes," as in the biblical loaves and fishes? 
	The answer is that both "fish" and "fishes" are correct in
describing more than one fish. Faced with a pop quiz on the subject
yesterday at a Southeast Washington elementary school, U.S. Education
Secretary Roderick R. Paige supplied only half the answer before a group of
fifth-graders, who filled in the rest.
	Paige, who later said he was prompting student participation by not
providing the whole answer, was touring Randle Highlands Elementary School
with D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) and Superintendent Paul L. Vance
when they stopped in for a lesson. Teacher Barbara Perry asked each of the
visiting dignitaries to provide the correct plural form of a word.
	Williams handled "deer" (answer: "deer") without incident.
	Paige, up next, drew "fish." His answer -- "fish" -- was right as
far as it went, but the teacher pushed gently for more. "Is there another
plural for it?" she asked.
	"There don't have to be," Paige replied. "Is there?"
	Perry tossed the question to her class: "Help him out. Raise up our


UEN Events Calendar

	Ask The White House On-line discussion with Education Secretary Rod
	1 p.m. (MDT), Topic: No Child Left Behind


June 17:
	Public Education Legislative Task Force meeting
	9 a.m., Utah State Capitol, Room 129

June 18:
	Education Interim Committee meeting
	9 a.m., Utah State Capitol, Room 303


July 8-11:
        Rural Schools Conference
        Southern Utah University, Cedar City

Aug. 1:
        Utah State Board of Education Meeting
        8 a.m., 250 E 500 S, Salt Lake City, Board Room