Education

Seventeen teachers in the Ogden School District were told not to come back to work next fall.  Many were surprised to learn one Jr. High School took the brunt of the layoffs. 

Six teachers at Highland Jr. High School will now have to find a new job. 

Ogden School District Spokesman Zach Williams says the school isn’t keeping pace with the progress other schools are making, adding the district is in the process of implementing a school improvement program.

Tnvols2 via Wikimedia Commons

An official with the U.S. Department of Education is in Salt Lake City today talking about the impact technology has on young children. Dr. Libby Doggett is President Obama’s deputy assistant secretary of early education. She's at the Hilton Hotel speaking and taking questions.

Doggett’s presentation, called “High Tech Tots: Opportunities and Challenges” explores how ever-increasing screen time can both aid and impair early learning. But she’s focused on helping technology improve education for young people. 

http://schools.utah.gov/superintendent/

The Utah State Office of Education announced today State School Superintendent Martell Menlove will retire after only a year and three months on the job.

Menlove was appointed as State Superintendent of Public Instruction in January 2013 after serving as deputy to Superintendent Larry Shumway, before Shumway, himself retired in 2012. 

Menlove said in a statement his immediate plans are to spend time with family.

The University of Utah is bringing science education to inmates at the Salt Lake County Jail. Starting today, scientists and educators will volunteer to give lectures and arrange hands-on projects inmates can do to get them motivated for life outside.

One by one, cell doors at the county jail open to release about half the inmates lodged in a housing unit of about 64. They take a seat and turn their attention to Nalini Nadkarni, a professor of biology at the University of Utah and director of the U’s Center for Science and Math Education.

Utah’s Higher Education Commissioner is recommending the smallest tuition increase in more than a decade. The Utah Board of Regents will meet next Friday to consider the proposal.

Anna Botz via Wikimedia Commons

A professor at Utah Valley University who founded the Utah Women in Education Project says women in the state continue to lag behind the rest of the nation in college graduation rates, despite gains in recent years. Dr. Susan Madsen was speaking at an annual meeting of the independent research group Utah Foundation.

The focus of this year’s Utah Foundation meeting was growing the state’s economy with graduates.

Dr. Susan Madsen, a keynote speaker at the event says in a statewide comparison between men and women, women are outpacing men by about 6 percent.

Photograph by Trisha Empey

East High School in Salt Lake City is widely known for being the film location of the Disney movie High School Musical. Now the public school is making its mark in the world of art. When the closing school bell rings Friday afternoon - a public art exhibit will be installed on an exterior wall of East High School. It’s intended to spark conversation about Utah’s cultural diversity, and it’s part of a global art project known as Inside Out.

About 450 elementary and middle school students were in Lehi today competing to see who could build the best underwater robot.  The event is part of an annual competition that gives students a hands-on introduction to science, technology engineering and math or STEM education.

Ashton Adamson and Brenna Pope are sixth graders at Snow Springs Elementary School in Lehi. They’re sitting poolside, where Adamson says they’re preparing to submerge their robot named Nemo into a tiny obstacle course. 

Early education won big this legislative session. State lawmakers set aside $6 million for preschool programs.

The Utah legislature had been reticent to fund preschool programs in previous years. Some were concerned about taking kids out of the home too soon. But Republican House Speaker Becky Lockhart says this year legislators were swayed by information about the value of preschool, especially for at-risk kids.

Some of the fastest growing Utah colleges and universities also receive the lowest amount of state funding per student. But this year, the state legislature has set aside $50 million to strike a balance at these institutions and keep costs low for students.  

Utah Valley University, Weber State University, Salt Lake Community College, Dixie State University and Utah State University regional campuses will all get some of the so-called equity funding.

A bill that would provide training for teachers and parents on child sexual abuse and give schools the option to educate students about avoiding abuse cleared its last major hurtle in the state legislature on Tuesday.

House Bill 286, sponsored by Democratic Representative Angela Romero requires the State Board of Education and Department of Human Services to approve the required curriculum by 2016.

BYU TV

  Kevin J. Worthen will become the 13th president of Brigham Young University.  His appointment was announced Tuesday morning at a student devotional.

Worthen is a former law professor and the current vice-president of advancement at BYU.

Among his challenges in the new job will be dealing with hundreds of young men and women coming home from missionary service.  The change in the age for service to 18 for men and 19 for women meant BYU had a smaller incoming freshman class this year.  Worthen thinks those returning missionaries may be better prepared.

Brian Grimmett

Utah House and Senate leaders have finally come to an agreement on the state budget following a week’s-long impasse. The sticking point was primarily House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart’s proposed $200 million technological upgrade for public education. But that bill is now off the table.

House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart says the technology initiative would have required up to $50 million in ongoing revenue to make it worthwhile. But Senate leaders were unwilling to spend more than $26 million.

Utah won’t be subjecting state school board candidates to partisan elections this year. House Bill 228, sponsored by Republican Representative Brian Greene, would have done away with the current process of choosing candidates for the ballot in favor of partisan election. The House narrowly voted it down on Friday.

Right now, a seven-member committee appointed by the governor is responsible for recruiting and vetting candidates. The governor then takes the committee’s recommendations and narrows the list down to two candidates for each district.

When fine particle air pollution along the Wasatch Front reaches the high end of what the Utah Division of Air Quality deems unhealthy, the Utah Department of Health recommends schools keep students inside for recess. But some wonder if that recommendation should come when pollution levels are even lower. Officials with the Utah Asthma Program say discussions about revising those standards are underway.

Brian Grimmett

In an effort to help fight intergenerational poverty the Utah Senate passed a bill to provide grants to schools to create or expand preschool programs that serve at-risk children.

State Library and Archives of Florida

The Southern Poverty Law Center says Utah is about average among other states in how well it covers the civil rights movement in the classroom. But the organization’s  latest report from the Teaching Tolerance Project shows the average grade is pretty poor.

Parents who homeschool their children in Utah will not be required to follow any state curriculum guidelines under a bill that passed the state Senate Monday. The debate centered around whose responsibility it is to see that children are educated – parents or the government.

The bill’s sponsor Republican Aaron Osmond explained to the Senate that parents who teach their children at home do not want to be constrained by state curriculum guidelines, and that some of the parents are concerned about the influence of national Common Core Standards in Utah.

A bill that would allow schools to set aside regular classroom days for teacher professional development advanced in the Utah House of Representatives on Wednesday--but not without some contention.

Professional development days give teachers time out of the classroom to collaborate and train on new technologies, learning materials and curriculum. Prior to the recession, Utah spent roughly $70 million dollars on professional development but that money is no longer available. 

State lawmakers in the Senate Education committee voted unanimously Monday morning to support proposed changes to the controversial school grading system. Republican Senator Stuart Adams’ bill would provide additional flexibility for schools, including the option to opt out of the system.

Last fall, Utah schools received, for the first time letter grades “A” through “F” under the state’s second and newest grading system. Senator Stuart Adams says it’s has already increased transparency.

Viktor Hanacek

House lawmakers want to give families with autistic children a helping hand. They voted Tuesday to continue supporting a few programs that have shown success in Utah.

Republican Representative Rhonda Menlove says a constituent call a few years ago triggered her interest in autism programs. She told her House colleagues that she picked up the phone one day and heard a screaming child in the background as the sobbing mother pleaded for help.

File: School Lunch Tray Credit Casey Bisson/Flickr

The Salt Lake City School Board plans to discuss tonight how to move forward with an outside investigation into the seizure of more than 30 school lunches from Uintah Elementary School. The decision comes as the district’s human resources department continues its ongoing probe into the incident.

File: prosperity2020.com

The University of Utah College of Engineering marks National Engineering Week boasting a doubling of the number of engineering graduates since 1999. 368 engineering and computer science degrees were issued that year by the U. Then Governor Mike Leavitt challenged the state’s higher education system with the 2000 Engineering Initiative. 777 total degrees were issued in 2013. Dean of the College Richard Brown says the result has been a reverse of the so called brain drain of 30 years ago.

Bob Nelson

A $6.6 million dollar renovation is planned for the Jon M. Huntsman Center. Crews will begin work as soon as the Ute basketball season is over so the project can be completed before the commencement season starts.  Shireen Ghorbani  of University Facilities Management says the sound baffle known as “the cloud” is going away.

“And then above in that space in the center will be a grid system that can hang curtains to break up the space in different ways,” says Ghorbani.

She says the project fills the long-time need for medium sized spaces on campus.

Aleks Dorohovich

House Speaker Becky Lockhart only needed to look at her own children to see kids and electronic devices go together naturally. The insight has inspired her new initiative to transform Utah’s public schools.

Lockhart says parents and teachers need to catch up to children when it comes to technology. That’s what prompted her Public Education Modernization Act. It would put electronic devices into the hands of all 620,000 students in Utah’s schools. Lockhart’s asking for up to $300 million to make her vision a reality.

Bob Nelson

What is Salt Lake City going to look like in 2050 with double the population predicted along the Wasatch Front? The University of Utah’s Department of City and Metropolitan Planning hosted the 4th Annual Mayor’s Symposium Thursday. Participants worked on that population question with the theme Mountain Urbanism, Mountain Modernism. Nan Ellin is the chair of the department.  She says the intent of the event is to catalyze the conversation about how to build harmoniously in the mountain landscape.

Tasha Cook

The Utah House threw its support behind new results-based programs to boost early-childhood education. It’s a concept backed by leaders of both parties.  

Republican Rep. Greg Hughes of Draper says all Utahns have a stake in making sure that all children get a good start at school – even before they’re in kindergarten. His bill calls for investors to foot the bill for expanding early education programs like those in the Park City and Granite School districts. Hughes says the $5 million program will provide opportunities for disadvantaged children

Bob Nelson

The riderless testing phase of the new all electric bus at the University of Utah is now complete. Alma Allred, the Executive Director of Commuter Services, says they’ll start shuttling riders for the next testing phase as soon as they get approval to release the federal grant money.

Bob Nelson

Chocolate: The Exhibition officially opens Saturday at the Natural History Museum of Utah. Sarah George is the executive director of the museum. She says the exhibition gives visitors a good sense of the botany, culture, and history of the cacao that date back to the Olmec people of the Mexican Gulf Coast.

The Westminster College community will be watching the opening ceremonies in Sochi with extra pride this year. The liberal arts school in Salt Lake City has more students competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics than any other U.S. college or university.

In all, there are 23 skiers and snowboarders in Sochi right now who are working simultaneously towards a degree at Westminster College. Deb Vickery is their academic advisor on campus.

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