Utah education news

Young Utahns need to know about consent and sexual violence in a real-world way, panel says

Romeo Jackson believes the best way to teach young people about consent and sexual violence is to put the concepts in a context they can understand. For example, they need to understand how consent might be sought and given in a crowded club when both people are drunk, said Jackson, a graduate student in the University of Utah’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy. “I think we need to then fit our conversations into what students are actually doing and experiencing in their lives so ...

Resurrected school truancy bill dies again in the Utah Senate

Utah Senators gave a decisive vote of opposition on Monday to a bill that failed the chamber last week but was kept alive through legislative maneuvering. The Senate voted 13-16, short of the majority needed to approve SB115, which sought to end the criminal penalties for parents of truant children. While truancy citations are rare, and typically used to compel school attendance and dialogue with administrators, bill sponsor Sen. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi, said contempt of court and other complic...

Struggling students forced to wait as Utah's public colleges don't have enough therapists

David Bush can’t pinpoint the exact reason, but he’s seen more students than ever before in Utah State University’s counseling center asking for help. It could be that the stigma associated with mental illness is dissipating. It could be that higher expectations have led to more stress and anxiety. Or it could even be that instant access to news is overwhelming and unsettling, said Bush, director of USU’s Counseling and Psychological Services. But whatever the reason, USU’s counselors are bei... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

Senate panel clings to school grading despite push to end practice

A brewing showdown over school grading may have ended Friday, when the Senate Education Committee voted to stop a bill from reaching the Senate floor that would end the controversial practice of awarding letter grades to schools. Both the House and Senate have passed legislation aimed at reforming school grading — HB241 and SB220, respectively. But while both proposals would broaden the performance areas used to measure school quality, HB241 would end the practice of assigning a single letter ... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

Senate combines property tax freeze, school funding equalization proposals

Senators played matchmaker on Friday, joining a bill to raise money for education with a dormant proposal to equalize school district funding. The Senate gave a preliminary vote of 26-0 to SB255, which would freeze the statewide property rate and capture roughly $21 million for schools — and potentially more each year — through inflation. But before that vote, the bill was substituted to include elements of SB80, which aims to supplement school districts with low property tax yields by creating... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

'I sure hope we weren't wrong': Utah school board questions decision to not immediately shut down Vineyard charter school

The Utah Board of Education had its first opportunity on Thursday to weigh in on the allegations of misconduct at Franklin Discovery Academy. The Vineyard charter school was given probationary status over the weekend by the state charter school board in response to concerns over student safety, financial impropriety and teacher licensing. But at least one school board member questioned why Franklin Discovery was given until June to address those issues, rather than being immediately shut down. ... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

'Good teachers deserve to be rewarded': Bonus bill sails through Senate committee

A proposal to pay high-performing teachers extra to work in high-poverty schools is headed to the Senate after a warm committee reception on Thursday. HB212 narrowly cleared the House Education Committee last month — ahead of a 51-23 vote in the House — but the Senate Education Committee gave the bill unanimous support, bolstering its odds of passage in the final days of the legislative session. “This may not be everything but it’s a little,” said Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper. “It has the ...

Senate approves lifting ban on 'advocacy of homosexuality' in Utah schools

The Utah Senate gave near-unanimous approval on Wednesday to ending a state ban on the advocacy of homosexuality in public school sex education courses. Senators voted 24-1 in favor of SB196, which replaces the homosexuality language with a restriction against advocating “premarital or extramarital sexual activity.” Utah law already restricts sex education to a format focused on abstinence and marital fidelity. But Adams has described SB196 as adding “belts and suspenders” to the law, while al... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

High school sports association gets another outside mandate -- this time from Utah lawmakers

A simmering debate over Utah prep sports reached the Legislature on Wednesday, with a House committee approving new requirements for the Utah High School Activities Association. Members of the House Education Committee voted 11-2 in favor of HB413, which places the association under Utah’s open meetings and records laws and cuts the group’s governing body in half, from 32 members to 15. During the fall and winter, the Utah Board of Education approved and later delayed implementation of a polic...

Senate panel OKs property tax freeze to fund schools

Members of the Senate Education Committee approved a bill Tuesday that would boost school funding through a statewide property tax rate freeze. Current law requires tax rates to remain revenue-neutral by adjusting down as property values increase. But Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, an architect of and advocate for Utah’s “Truth in Taxation” laws, said taxing entities are expected to raise rates and capture inflation every five to eight years. Except for a $75 million increase in 2015, he sa...

Tweaks to school grading and turnaround programs get early OK of Utah Senate

Senators gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a pair of bills that adjust Utah’s school grading and turnaround programs. The grading bill, SB220, would end the practice of grading schools on a curve, put more emphasis on student growth and expand performance metrics beyond standardized testing. Bill sponsor Sen. Ann Millner, R-Ogden, said the bill allows for expectations to be set for each letter grade level, allowing any school to receive an A or B independent of the performance of their siste... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

Utah lawmaker abandons pledge to run bill only with state school board's support

A Utah lawmaker is taking heat online for breaking a promise to abandon legislation if it didn’t earn the support of the Utah Board of Education. In late January, Rep. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, posted on Instagram and Facebook about pitching his bill, HB136, to the school board. The bill directs the school board to review federal education mandates and, if those mandates conflict with state goals, to request funding from lawmakers to allow Utah schools to ignore the federal Department of Education...

Robots to help teach children with autism? A House committee decides it is worth a shot

Schools looking to purchase humanoid robots for work with autistic children would get extra help from taxpayers under a bill that gained committee approval Monday. Members of the House Education Committee signed off on HB418, which would set aside $200,000 to reimburse school districts and charter schools for half the cost of a robot designed for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder. At a cost of $5,000 each, bill sponsor Rep. Brad Last, R-Hurricane, said: “The districts or the charters w...

House panel OKs requiring teachers to pass a skills test

A bill requiring the equivalent of a board exam for Utah teachers passed a House committee on Monday after a lengthy debate. The proposal was approved by the Senate earlier this month in a 22-3 vote. But it split the Republican members of the House Education Committee and would have failed if not for supporting votes by the committee’s two Democrats. Sponsored by Sen. Ann Millner, R-Ogden, SB78 would require graduates of a university education program to pass a test of pedagogical skills — suc...

Bill to stop the flow of funding from Utah K-12 schools to colleges hits committee roadblock

A proposal to cap the amount of income tax revenue awarded to higher education faced a cool reception in the Senate Education Committee on Monday. The committee voted to move on without a vote on SB255, which would place a five-year moratorium on expanding the pool of Education Fund money diverted from elementary, middle and high schools to public colleges and universities. “Any growth in the income tax would be retained by K-12 education,” bill sponsor Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, said. ...

House votes to give power, independence to School Children's Trust director

The director of Utah’s School Children’s Trust would receive independent authority and the potential for unlimited six-year terms under a bill approved Monday by the Utah House of Representatives. The Utah Board of Education currently hires — and is able to fire — the director of the School Children’s Trust Section, which oversees distribution of education funding from the $2.3 billion Permanent State School Fund. But under HB291, the school board would appoint the section’s director, with a c...

Board places Utah County charter school on probation over student safety, financial mismanagement

Vineyard’s Franklin Discovery Academy was reprimanded Saturday, making the school’s future uncertain beyond the current academic year. The state charter school board voted to place the Franklin Discovery under formal probation, giving administrators and staff until June to address a series of perceived lapses in financial management, campus operations and student safety. “I would like to see if the current board and the current staff can make this work,” state charter school board member Dean ... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

School board staff describe disarray, dysfunction and safety concerns at Utah County charter

Administrators from Vineyard’s Franklin Discovery Academy defended themselves Friday against allegations of running an unsecured, disorganized campus where a former employee was inappropriate with a student. At a hearing of the Utah Charter School Board, staff members of the board who visited the campus this week reported witnessing a lack of adult supervision, safety hazards and a largely disorganized class schedule with little instructional learning. “Children are coming and going all the time...

House votes to eliminate letter grades for schools

The House voted Friday to end the practice of assigning letter grades to public schools. “We have put so much pressure and so many labels on the schools,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Marie Poulson, “that it has a very demoralizing effect and we can’t get teachers to work with our kids who need the most help.” The House voted 54-18 to pass her HB241, and sent it to the Senate. Poulson, D-Cottonwood Heights, a teacher, is proposing to maintain a statewide school accountability system, but includ... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

Black students at BYU report ignorant comments, cultural isolation

Dhina Clement vividly remembers the day she realized Brigham Young University students looked at her differently because she is black. She was on campus when a male student commented on her hair. She was flattered — until he followed up with an “ignorant” statement that made her uncomfortable. He was from New York, he told her, and “He said, ‘Ya know, I’m used to girls like you ... ya know, girls who wear weaves all the time,’ ” she said in a YouTube video posted earlier this month. Clement didn... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>