Education

Judy Fahys

Legislators have proposed around 80 education bills in the Legislative session so far. Democrats and Republicans say they will work together to improve Utah’s classrooms.

Proposed legislation could give Utah teachers more days to train and prepare at no additional cost to taxpayers –but it would mean fewer days in the classroom with students. Members of the Senate Education Committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to advance the bill.  

Senate Bill 103, sponsored by Republican Senator Aaron Osmond would give local school districts the flexibility to swap regular instruction days for teacher professional development days.

Bob Nelson

The Governor's Office of Economic Development launched its 2-million dollar STEM Media Campaign Thursday at Neil Armstrong Academy in West Valley City. In 2013 legislators approved 8 and a half million dollars to support math readiness and another 1 and a half million to set up the Utah STEM Action Center to build student skills in science, technology, engineering, and math. Executive Director of GOED, Spencer Eccles, says kids need to have these skills whether they are going to be artists or astronauts.

Casey Bisson/Flickr

A spokesperson for Salt Lake City School District says Uintah Elementary School made a mistake by taking away the lunches of students who owed money. Now state lawmakers say they want to get to the bottom of it.

District Spokesman Jason Olsen says on Tuesday cafeteria workers at Uintah Elementary School threw away the lunches of about 32 students whose lunch accounts were in the negative. Those students were instead given a partial lunch of fruit and milk.  

Utah Fourth Graders are all improving their reading scores, but child advocacy group Voices for Utah Children notes that over the past decade, fourth graders who come from low-income families have not improved as quickly as their peers. 

According to a report released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, from 2003 to 2013 the gap between reading scores from low income children and upper income children increased by 22 percent – meaning kids from higher income households are improving at a faster rate.

File: Office of Utah Governor Herbert

Governor Gary Herbert has appointed state school board member Tami Pyfer as his new education advisor. The Governor’s spokesman Marty Carpenter says Pyfer brings in a very broad-scoped education experience from administrator to parent volunteer in public and private classrooms.

Bob Nelson

A small crowd of about 150 Westminster College students, faculty, and families from the neighborhood celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King Junior today Monday. They marched through central Sugarhouse.  Luciano Marzulli is the director of Diversity Student Affairs and Services at Westminster. He says the legacy of Dr. King should be celebrated because there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Andrea Smardon

Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton spoke at the University of Utah today as part of its Martin Luther King celebration week. Fulton called on all Utahns to stand up against racism and injustice in their communities.

A Republican State lawmaker from Bountiful wants to change the way state school board members in Utah are elected to office, and he hopes to leave politics out of the equation. 

Right now, a seven-member committee appointed by the Governor is responsible for vetting state school board candidates. That group sends it’s nominations to the governor who then selects two candidates for each position. House Bill 59, sponsored by State Representative Jim Nielson would get rid of that committee and the governor’s role in process.

The University of Utah kicks off its week-long Martin Luther King Junior celebration Thursday with an appearance by Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed in Florida almost two years ago. The U’s theme this year is “Beneath the Hoodie: A Look at Racial Profiling in America”.

File: University of Utah Continuing Education

Continuing Education at the University of Utah has just added a new cybersecurity certification class to its list of technology education courses. The class is called CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) Certification.

Republican State Representative Greg Hughes is sponsoring a bill that would get about 3,000 at risk-kids into preschool. He says Utah will save money by getting kids better-prepared for kindergarten and reading at grade level. 

Last year, state lawmakers said “no” to this idea– or at least one that closely resembles Representative Hughes’ proposal.

But Hughes says getting more kids into preschool will shave costs for the state, which shells out an additional $2600 per student for kids who need special education and individual attention.

Yesterday’s fire at Utah State University’s Extension Facility in St. George has resulted in an apparent total loss. Brian Higgenbotham is the Associate Vice President for the extension. He says it’s going to be difficult to put a dollar value on the damage to this center of community education.

“In St. George we actually have, we had I should say, a very nice facility that had conference rooms, and rooms for demonstrations for some of our family consumer science programs, also had large area for our 4H,” he says.

Courtesy of the Merritt Family

When Westminster alum Anthony Merritt died this year, he and his wife left money to start a scholarship for single mothers at the college.

Tony Merritt was born into poverty. His wife, Anne, says Tony’ mother was the sole provider in his family.

“She worked as a domestic, she had 8 children, things were very, very rough. So Tony always said if we had the means to do it that we should set up a scholarship at Westminster,” says Ann Merrit.

File: Google Images

The Utah Educational Savings Plan is expecting to seeing an increase in investments as the year ends.  It’s already seen a 10 percent year-to-date jump in investments. UESP is Utah’s official non-profit 529 college savings program. It was set up by the state legislature in 1996. The fund gives tax incentives to anyone wanting to invest in a young person’s higher education. Diane Johnson is the outreach manager for UESP. Johnson says the nationally-recognized fund typically sees a nice jump in investors at year-end.

File: University of Utah

Geography researchers from the University of Utah have discovered a perennial aquifer in Greenland estimated to be 15 times larger than the Great Salt Lake. The findings were published online Sunday in Nature Geoscience. University of Utah geography professor Richard Forster says his small team of researchers found the huge reservoir while drilling for samples of compacted snow called firn.

Google Images

Attorneys and law enforcement personnel at University of Utah are reacting to recent attacks by so-called cyber-squatters. Thousands of University employees are being targeted by an internet scheme making fraudulent purchase orders with sites that attempt to appear to be representing the U. Valoree Dowell is the interim communications director for the University of Utah. She says right now the purchasing department is busy alerting suppliers to the scam.

US Department of Education via Creative Commons

The country’s top education boss was in Utah today to praise and learn from one of Salt Lake City’s highest-achieving Title 1 schools.  U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan stopped by Northwest Middle School to talk about gains the school has made with the help of a federal school improvement grant.

Tulane Public Relations via Creative Commons

Next year, thousands of Americans will take the GED test and obtain a certificate that’s equal to a high school diploma.  But come January 1st the test will be a much different experience. The GED Testing Service has announced a new exam for 2014 that focuses more on college and career readiness and less on high school completion. 

The Spanish Fork City attorney’s office filed a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct against a Spanish Fork Junior High School teacher accused of kicking one of his students. Meanwhile Utah State School Board members are considering beefing up teacher discipline standards. 

Utah education officials unveiled a  list of the state’s highest performing Title 1 schools based on end of year exams. Schools in Utah classified as Title 1 often serve students facing poverty.

Ann White is the State Coordinator of Title 1 Improvement.  She says Title 1 schools have a number of unique challenges beyond having a large population of low-income students.

Snow College

Members of the Utah State Board of Regents announced last week that Snow College President Scott L. Wyatt will be the new president of Southern Utah University.

Wyatt will succeed SUU President Michael Benson who stepped down last spring to accept the top job at Eastern Kentucky University. A 21-member committee conducted a nationwide search and considered nearly 70 candidates for the job.

At Friday’s announcement in Cedar City, State Board of Regents Chair Bonnie Jean Beesley praised Wyatt’s work at Snow College.

http://biologylabs.utah.edu/rose/

A new University of Utah program will allow students who attend Nankai University in China to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree by attending both schools. The new partnership was announced Thursday.

Robert Newman is Dean of the College of Humanities. He says the U of U’s 3+X program is a flexible agreement. Hence the name, Chinese students who are admitted to the program have three options.

http://tooeleschools.org/schools/secondaryschools/dhs/Pages/default.aspx

The United States Department of Defense announced today it is providing a $13 million grant to the Tooele County School District for a new high school.

The federal Public Schools on Military Installations Program provides funding for schools most seriously in need of new facilities. In addition to the federal grant, Tooele County School district has set aside about $2.7 million in matching funds for the new school, which did not require a tax increase or bond measure. Principal Robin Nielson says the benefits are two-fold.

State School Superintendent Martel Menlove describes the current state of education in Utah as amazingly successful, but with ever-present needs for improvement.  Menlove delivered his State of Education Address last night at M. Lynn Bennion Elementary School in Salt Lake City.

Menlove calls public education in Utah the most effective and efficient system in the world.  Public Schools in Utah operate with the lowest funding per student in the nation.

Menlove says Utah education continues to be a success story and these are some reasons why…

U.S. Department of the Interior

Students around the country were able to watch a broadcast of the ceremony commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address in Pennsylvania today. Afterward, several schools participated in a video conference call with a National Park Service Educator and a Gettysburg Park Ranger.

Guadalupeschoolslc.org

Guadalupe School is $1.5 million away from fully funding its new 50,000 square feet learning center on Salt Lake City’s west side.  The school provides education and support for underserved infants, children, and adults, largely through donations.

http://www.slcc.edu/ssvp/contact-us.aspx

The State Board of Regents has appointed Doctor Deneece Huftalin as interim president of Salt Lake Community College. 

Huftalin will fill the post that’s soon-to-be vacated by President Cynthia Bioteau. Bioteau has accepted a job as the president of Florida State College in Jacksonville.  Huftalin has been with SLCC for 21 years as director of academic advising, dean of students and currently as vice president of student services. She says President Bioteau has situated the school to be an amazing force in the higher education fabric of Utah.

http://www.behs.besd.net/

 The Box Elder School Board voted 5 to 1 Wednesday night to allow non-curriculum-related student clubs. That’s good news for a group seeking approval for a Gay-Straight Alliance at Box Elder High School. But the group has one last hurdle to cross.

Salt Lake Community College

Salt Lake Community College students, studying to be the next great cartoonist, radio reporter or graphic designer now have the opportunity to get a more real-world; hands-on education at SLCC’s new building for the School of Arts, Communication & New Media,   The state of the art facility opened this fall on the South City Campus. 

In the new media center, students taking an advanced audio course are learning how to superimpose sounds like doors closing or floors creaking onto a film that’s already been made.

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