Utah education news

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>

Plan takes shape for spending Our Schools Now tax money

Since the launch of the Our Schools Now ballot initiative in November, organizers have emphasized that an individual school’s slice of $750 million would hinge on improved performance. But beyond raising Utah’s income tax from 5 percent to 5.875 percent, the initiative has been short on specifics for how schools would spend the infusion of cash. On Thursday, Our Schools Now shared the draft elements of its performance plan, which would see all schools receive additional funding on a per-student ...

Most Utah school districts say Trump transgender-bathroom reversal changes nothing, but one applauds move

Though at least one Utah school district is cheering President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of a federal directive to public schools to let transgender students choose which restroom they use, most others say it changes nothing. Canyons, Granite, Jordan and Weber school districts say they will continue addressing the needs of their students on a case-by-case basis — as they did before President Barack Obama’s 2016 “Dear Colleague” letter set guidelines for public schools to allow transgender stude... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

Senate committee approves college 'Know Before You Go' bill

A Senate panel on Wednesday signed off on a bill requiring Utah’s colleges and universities to notify prospective students about the debt and job placement rates of graduates. Members of the Senate Education Committee voted 4-0 for HB100, which would make information available on campus websites listing the total cost — including tuition, fees, books and equipment — for academic programs, the number of students who take out and default on loans and entry-level wage data for alumni. Bill sponso...

Utah won't 'soak the rich' to fund schools -- Income tax increase dies without debate in committee

A Senate committee made quick work Wednesday of shutting down a bill that would lift the income tax rate for wealthy Utahns. Without debate, from lawmakers or members of the public, the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee voted 4-2 against SB141, which would create a 7 percent income tax for individuals earning more than $250,000, or couples earning more than $500,000. Utahns below those earning levels would continue to be taxed at a 5 percent rate. “This isn’t about class warfare,” said bi... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

Immigration resolution elicits praise from community, SLC school board considers it

The calls West High School teacher Valerie Gates receives from worried parents are coming more and more frequently. The callers wonder whether it’s safe to send their undocumented children to school, Gates said, terrified that that day is the day their boys and girls will be deported. “I talk to [parents] every day, and when I say send them to school, am I telling them the right thing?” Gates asked Tuesday at a Salt Lake City School District Board of Education meeting. “Can I truly protect them... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

Senate committee signs off on repealing Utah's 'no promo homo' sex-ed law

A prohibition against the advocacy of homosexuality in Utah’s sex-education classes may be on the way out after a Senate panel voted unanimously Tuesday to strike the language from state code. The so-called “no promo homo” law is being targeted in court by Equality Utah, which filed a lawsuit in October accusing the state of promoting an anti-gay curriculum in public schools. Clifford Rosky, a University of Utah professor and Equality Utah board member, said the legal ambiguity of what “advoca...

Proposed changes to school turnaround programs would be less reliant on grades

Utah’s nascent school turnaround program would get a makeover under a bill that received committee approval on Tuesday. Under SB234, the $7 million-a-year program would continue to hire private contractors to work with struggling public schools. But success would be based on “statistically significant improvement,” rather than increasing by a letter grade under school grading, and turnaround schools would have the ability to use a portion of state funding on teacher retention efforts — if thos...

Students, advocates want Salt Lake City schools to push back against deportation raids

Students and community organizers are asking the Salt Lake City School District to take a stand against the deportation of undocumented Utahns. At Tuesday’s meeting of the district school board, the advocacy group Unidade Inmigrante plans to present a resolution urging the district to maintain the privacy of student-citizenship records and to demand warrants for any Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actions carried out on school grounds. “We just want to make sure we’re keeping our stude... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

State School Board would lose ability to reject new charters under bill OK'd by committee

New charter schools would no longer need the approval of the Utah Board of Education to open their doors under a bill that gained committee approval Thursday. Under SB223, the State Charter School Board would continue to review and authorize new charter applications. But once an application is authorized, the state school board would have the option to either consent to the charter board’s decision, or return the decision to the charter board for further consideration. “It’s not just a flat-o...

Senate committee approves updates to school grading system

Utah schools would still be labeled with a letter grade under a bill that gained committee approval on Thursday. But the grading system would no longer be set on a curve that restricts the number of high-achieving campuses, and greater emphasis would be placed on growth in student test scores. The Senate Education Committee voted unanimously to advance SB220 to the full Senate for debate. Another bill, HB241, is awaiting debate in the House and would end the state’s practice of assigning lette...

Senate committee supports lesser penalties for school truancy

Failing to send a child to school could earn a parent an infraction, down from a Class B misdemeanor, under a bill OK’d Thursday by a committee. SB115 would lower the criminal penalty for truancy, a relatively rare but occasionally used tool to motivate school attendance, with subsequent offenses in a single school year rising to a Cass C misdemeanor. Bill sponsor Sen. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi, said there is a need to remove the criminal element from compulsory education issues. “Let’s keep it ou...

House panel gives unanimous support to campus free speech bill

A bill protecting free speech rights on public college and university campuses sailed through committee with a unanimous vote on Thursday. HB54 designates the outdoor areas of a campus as public forums, and allows for legal action if expression is limited in those areas without narrowly-tailored, viewpoint-neutral criteria. Bill sponsor Rep. Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan, said there have been instances where campus administrators have limited speech to certain areas, or required prior approval fo...

Bill to give teachers at low-income schools a bonus clears Utah House committee without a vote to spare

It’s human nature to look for work environments that are safe and comfortable, Weber State University education professor Forrest Crawford said Wednesday. But in the context of schools, Crawford said, that natural inclination results in many of Utah’s best teachers working in affluent and homogeneous classrooms that have fewer academic needs. “Teachers are not necessarily inclined to graduate from a program and go to a high-risk [school],” he said. “We have to be able to encourage that in as man...

Utah bans 'advocacy of homosexuality' in the classroom. This bill would strike that law.

If there is a problem with Utah’s sex education law, Sen. Stuart Adams said Tuesday, it should be the Legislature, and not the courts, that fixes it. “I don’t really love the fact that courts have the opportunity to legislate,” said Adams, R-Layton. “We need to do that job.” Adams was referring to a lawsuit filed against the Utah Board of Education by Equality Utah, which challenges a prohibition in Utah law against “the advocacy of homosexuality” during classroom discussions. The senator is spo...

House committee approves bill to end Utah school grading

Utah’s school grading system launched with good intentions of helping schools, Rep. Marie Poulson, D-Cottonwood Heights, said Monday, But six years of the controversial and perennially-altered program has produced little more than a socio-economic survey of students and frustrating moving targets for teachers, she said. “School grading has become the public shaming of hardworking schools and educators,” Poulson said. “Basically, it’s a zip code system.” On Monday, members of the House Educati...

House speaker: Lawmakers won't act on nonpartisan school board bill

A proposal to keep state school board elections nonpartisan is currently stuck in the House Rules Committee and likely to stay there, House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, said Monday. Without legislative action, elections for state school board are scheduled to become partisan in 2018, the result of what Hughes called a “hard-earned” compromise approved last year. But after years of debate on the issue, Hughes said the state needs to see its existing law put into effect before looking to make ...

Free teacher licenses and 3% school spending bump in latest budget numbers

Utah lawmakers are looking to increase per-student education spending by roughly $90 million this year, a 3 percent increase, and end the practice of charging fees for educator licenses. Those budget details were teased out Monday by Rep. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, co-chairman of the Public Education Appropriates Subcommittee. The subcommittee is expected to finalize its budget recommendations Monday afternoon, but McCay said lawmakers are committed to prioritizing the weighted pupil unit, or WPU,... <iframe src="http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/garss.csp" height="1" width="1" > </frame>

'Thug Thursday' draws apology from Utah high school principal

A day after students dressed up for “Thug Thursday” at a Utah high school, the principal has apologized to parents and students for the “very inappropriate” Spirit Week celebration. This week at Olympus High School, students have been encouraged to dress according to themes, such as “ ’Merica Monday,” “Tropical Tuesday” and “Workout Wednesday.” But Thursday’s event, where students were encouraged to dress like “thugs,” was met with controversy. In a written apology addressed to the Olympus High ...

Panel OKs later school start times

A debate over the proper start time for Utah’s high schools is headed to the House floor. Members of the House Education Committee voted 8-2 on Thursday in favor of a resolution that encourages high schools to postpone their morning bells until 8:30 am or later. The resolution’s sponsor, Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, said there is a growing body of research suggesting that teenagers are naturally impeded from waking at early hours. That can lead to inattention in class, she said, and c...

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