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Action Alerts!

"Until we, the parents, taxpayers, business and community leaders, and policymakers demand comprehensive solutions nothing will change." -Robyn Bagley, PCE Board Chair


The ACTION ALERTS listed below are things you should do RIGHT NOW to have a positive impact on K-12 education in Utah. Check this page regularly or join PCE's email list to stay on top of issues that require your immediate action.

School Grading Policy Bill

School District Leave Policies

Summary

Senator Niederhauser's School Grading Bill provides clear accountability and transparency for student performance by grading schools A-F, based on both student proficiency and student academic growth- performance gains - in the core academic subjects. This would make the reporting of student performance simple transparent and easy to understand 

In The News

See Governor's Bush letter addressed to the commission HERE.

Go HERE to read the report "Florida's K-12 Reform Lessons for Utah"

Salt Lake Tribune 2/3/11

Salt Lake Tribune 2/14/11

Salt Lake Tribune 3/4/11

Salt Lake Tribune 3/7/11

 


Summary

Representative Grover's School District Leave Polices prohibits granting paid association leave. It requires reimbursement to a school district of the costs for certain employees, including benefits, for the time that the employee is on unpaid association leave. 

  

Statewide Online Learning Bill

 Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship

Summary

Senator Stephenson's Statewide Online Learning Bill allows a student to customize education to better meet their academic goals. All students who are eligible for public schools will be able to earn high school graduation credits from a publicly funded online learning option from multiple course providers. What is unique about his policy is that not only does the money follow the student to the course, but also full payment of funding to the provider is predicated only upon successful course completion.

In The News

Salt Lake Tribune 1/18/11

 "'We need to stop limiting innovation because we are worried about who gets to keep their money, and we need to really put the emphasis on funding the solutions that work for our high school students today, tomorrow and in the future,' Clark said."

Salt Lake Tribune 2/9/11

Huffington Post 2/24/11

Salt Lake Tribune 2/17/11

“I urge you to set our children free. Allow them to take more online courses and serve their needs rather than serving the needs of institutions.”- Sen. Stephenson, bill sponsor 

Deseret News 3/2/11

"Utah's legislators have a historic opportunity before them right now to transform the state's education system by prioritizing the success of each individual student, which will catapult the state ahead of the rest of the nation."- Michael Horn

Salt Lake Tribune 3/2/11

“Right now students are not able to take courses a la carte from anybody except the monopoly at the State Office of Education ”Sen. Howard Stephenson

Deseret News  3/8/11

"If our goal is to educate every student to the highest potential, then schools need to move away from this monolithic classroom model and toward a student-centric educational one with a modular design that enables mass customization." Clayton Christensen

 

Summary

The Executive Appropriations Committee should not cut funding to this program to relieve budget shortfalls; it is counterintuitive. Policymakers should recognize that the cost of a scholarship to the taxpayer is significantly lower than the cost for the student to attend public school, saving the taxpayer dollars. Most importantly, the Carson Smith Scholarship allows Utah families to choose the best education option to fit their child’s unique needs. In fact, the recent legislative audit showed 100% satisfaction with the Carson Smith Program.

Go HERE to see how this program is impacting students in Utah.

Salt Lake Tribune 1/20/10
Education officials: Cuts are hitting bone
Deseret News 2/8/10
School programs at risk as budget decisions draw near

Go HERE to view the Legislative Audit

Act Now

1. Contact all members of the Executive Appropriations Committee and ask them NOT to cut Carson Smith Scholarship funding.

2. Contact all members of the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee and ask them NOT to cut Carson Smith Scholarship funding.

3. Become a volunteer during the session and help us lobby for this amazing program.  Contact us and let us know that you'd be willing to come to the Capitol.

4. Contact your Senator and Representative and ask them to continue to support the Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship.

Go HERE to see contact information for members of the appropriation subcommittees

Carson Smith Day

We will be having our 3rd Annual Carson Smith Appreciation Day at the Capitol on February 22nd.  Please join us for the day and communicate with your legislator about this phenomenal program!

Please contact Laura Anderson to join us (801)634-4821

  

Student Based Budgeting

PCE's Policy Principles

Overview

Requires that districts pass through up to  90% of district operating budgets (generated at the school level by per-pupil enrollment) to be budgeted at the school level by discretion of the principal and the site-based team.

Ensures that schools have the necessary tools to achieve their unique academic goals and meet the needs of their specific communities.

Stay tuned for more details about this student focused funding approach.


Overview

Education is a major policy focus during each legislative session.  We support and track bills based on our PCE Policy Principles which are reflective of our mission and values.

Increasing choice

Empowering parents

Transparency

Efficiency in funding

Quality Instructors

For more information click here

  

Always Stay Connect

Legislative Calendar

Bookmark the @ the Legislature page of our website.

This Week

Monday,January 24th

 

Bills To Watch

2011 PCE 's initiated bills

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 Archive News

New Century Scholorship/Regent Scholarship and Concurrent Enrollment

UPDATE: 8/18/09 Today at the Capitol House Speaker Clark announced "Earlier today, the majority legislative leadership and Governor Herbert instructed the Utah Board of Regents to fully fund the New Century Scholarship,”  Click on the News tab to see the media coverage.

Due to economic downturn and increased numbers of qualified applicants, the award amount for the New Century Scholarship and the Regents' Scholarship have changed.

New Century Scholarship: 75% of a Utah college tution for this year with next year's amount still be to determined.

Regents' Scholarship: 75% of a Utah college tutition for this year with next year's amount still be to determined.

See the legislative briefing written by Chris Bleak, the Utah House Speaker's Chief of Staff

Utah's Concurrent Enrollment program continues to be one of the best public education bargains!  It allows High School students to obtain an Associates Degree by taking courses that grant college credit.  The program has been recently updated to better represent college coursework and is available to Juniors and Seniors.

Hundreds of Concurrent Enrollment courses are offered each year across the state. The Utah State Office of Education posts all of the courses offered each school year. Your local High School should be able to provide you with comprehensive information as well.

In 2009, the State Legislature passed Senate Bill 81, which discontinues Concurrent Enrollment classes offered in 9th and 10th grade and strengthens the courses offered to better reflect the rigor of college coursework.

In Recent News:

 

Graduation Rates- Utah Students Falling Behind

In 2004, we were number one.  A year later we were number 8.  Now, in Education Week’s most recent report on U.S. high school graduation rates, Utah ranked 26th at 72.2%, just three percentage points above the national average.  In fact, Utah’s graduation rate has fallen more than any other state, save one, since 1996.
 
In 2006, the Utah State Office of Education reported a graduation rate of 83%, eleven points higher than Education Week’s figure, still meaning that nearly 1 out of 5 students didn’t finish high school.
 
In 2007 the USOE began calculating graduation rates by tracking individual student through high school.  Since implementing the new system, they have reported a graduation rate of 88% in both 2007 and 2008. 
 
The USOE’s new graduation formula only tracks students from 10th through 12th grade.  Those who drop out before 10th grade are excluded completely from the calculation.  The definition of “graduation” is broad and students who are expelled, suspended, or simply on the 12th grade rolls on the last day of class are counted as graduates (see here).
 
Education Week is the only source using a national standard allowing us to compare Utah to the rest of the U.S.   And in this regard, we’re not doing well. 

Minority students in Utah fare worse than the national average.  According to last year’s Education Week report, Utah Hispanics had a graduation rate of 53.6% while the national average for Hispanics was 57.8%.  Utah’s 30-point difference in graduation rates between whites and Hispanics was 50% larger than the national average.  In fact, Black and Hispanic males in Utah were more likely to drop out than graduate.
 
The current report did not include a breakdown of graduation rate by race and ethnicityIn Recent News:

Quoting a Deseret News editorial, “The Utah State Office of Education can quibble all it wants with the numbers in the latest Education Week Diplomas Count report. The truth is, whether the number for the state's graduation rates in 2006 was [83] percent, as state officials say, or 72.2 percent, as the report says, it's far too low.”
 
In an article covering the graduation report, Brenda Hales of the USOE stated that "We will not be totally satisfied until we have 100 percent of our students graduate." 

 

Follow New Canyon District

The new Canyons School District provides a unique opportunity for parents and taxpayers to observe the creation and development of a school district from the ground up. In the 2009-10 school year the District will begin serving 33,000 students in 44 schools.

The split of one district into two provides a lesson in per pupil funding as comparisons are being highlighted between Jordan and the Canyons District.  We learn that the local revenue portion of  per pupil funding varies greatly, meaning total per pupil spending is not equal district by district.   A recent Salt Lake Tribune article (June 28, 2009) reported, "The district [Canyons] generates about $3,545 in property taxes per student (compared with Jordan's $2,164)."  Property taxes account for only 29% of total per pupil funding.

Click here on http://www.utahsright.com/ to review the Canyons' recently posted information about who’s been hired, their position, department, as well as their hourly and annual salary (not including benefits).

 You can also use UtahsRight.com to check out the same information on your own school district.www.UtahsRight.com provides “data that Utahns have a ‘right to know,’ and brings to one central location a host of public information that had previously been scattered on various government and private Web sites or unavailable online-- all of it easily searchable.

Performance-Pay Pilot Program

An innovative Performance Pay pilot program for elementary teachers was approved in the 2009 legislative session!

Great public school teachers will now be recognized and rewarded based on student gains and other criteria. Those criteria are:

 - 40% Student Learning Gains
 - 40% Instructional Quality
 - 20% Must Include Parent, Student, or
   Community Satisfaction

Public schools had to submit their proposals by May 22. Out of the 19 schools that applied, 5 have been selected to participate in the two-year pilot.

To learn more about how the pilot program will work use these links:

Follow the progress of this innovative new performance pay pilot program.

In Recent News:

 

New Law Brings Greater Transparency to Taxpayers on Education Spending

Collective Bargaining Agreements will now be available online! A new law passed by the 2009 legislature provides accountability to taxpayers by requiring school districts and public schools who have collective bargaining agreements with the teacher's union to post these agreements on their websites effective May 12th.  In the past this type of disclosure was at the sole discretion of the public school governing boards.

Collective bargaining agreements are the contracts between public schools and the teacher's union. They dictate how a large portion of K-12 funding is spent at the local level and regulate such things as salary schedules, instruction time and school calendars. As parents and taxpayers, you have both the right and responsibility to monitor these agreements to ensure not only that your tax dollars are being spent properly and prudently but also that the best decisions are being made concerning instruction time for students.

In 2009, the State Legislature passed House Bill 210 requiring school districts and charters who have entered into collective bargaining agreements to post the entire agreement on their websites.
In Recent News:

 

Free Online. A-Home Preschool Program

UPSTART is a new Utah state–funded, computer–based preschool program that prepares 4 and 5 year-olds for school with a start in reading, math, and science. The Utah legislature provided the funds for this free, at-home pilot program as a way to help Utah’s children better prepare for kindergarten. Children are required to use it 15 minutes a day, five days a week. The program monitors each child's online time and progress. Tests are administered before, during and after using UPSTART to evaluate their progress. The program uses award-winning software developed by the Waterford Institute. The curriculum, which has been used across the nation in schools and preschools, has been offered in Utah only for home use.

Due to immediate demand and interest in the program, the 1,300 available spots have already been filled. Pre-registration for next year is now taking place.  Waterford's contract with the state stipulates that 30 percent of the UPSTART student population must be from families with incomes up to 200 percent of the poverty level. Waterford provides computers and high-speed Internet connections at no charge for families that can't afford them. To learn more about the program, eligibility, and how to apply call 1-800-669-4533 or click the link below.

In recent News:

Education Interim Committee- Utah State Legislature

Although the majority of K-12 state education policy happens during the 45-day General Legislative Session, the Education Interim Committee studies key education issues facing the state and recommends legislation for the upcoming session.
Offering valuable information and opinions regarding issues being considered in the interim committees is an excellent way for citizens to participate in the lawmaking process.
Next Meeting:
Sept 16 - 9:00 AM -State Capitol, RM 445

These committees, comprised of State Senators and Representatives, meet jointly on the 3rd Wednesday of every month between sessions from April - November and serve as an opportunity for the public to speak and give their input to the legislature concerning matters being considered.  Committee meetings are open to the public and your input is welcome. They provide a great opportunity for you to participate and voice your views on education issues that matter to you. You can attend the meetings or easily listen to the live feed online to stay engaged in key policy decisions.

 Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship
The Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship is a school choice option for children with special needs.  This state funded program provides scholarships to K-12 students who qualify for an IEP to attend one of nearly 50 eligible private schools in Utah. In order to receive a full year's scholarship for the 2009-10 school year, applications must be received no later than July 1.

A 2009 amendment to state law requires public schools to notify parents of children with an IEP about the Carson Smith Scholarship annually. Students receiving an IEP for the first time are to be notified within 30 days. Parents are encouraged to learn more about the scholarship to determine if it is a good option for their child. 
    •    http://www.carsonsmithscholarship.org/
    •    Utah State Office of Education>>
    •    www.CarsonSmithParents.org>>
    •    Eligible Schools>>
    •    Carson Smith Law>>
    •    Legislative Audit of Carson Smith>>
    •    SCHOOL OPTIONS: Carson Smith Scholarship>>
New State Superintendent
The search for a new Utah State Superintendent of Public Instruction has come to an end. Earlier this year, Superintendent Patti Harrington announced she would be retiring as of July 1st.  Over the last couple months the State Board of Education interviewed several qualified applicants, and on Friday, May 29th, the Utah State Office of Education announced Dr. Larry Shumway as the new State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
    •    Larry Shumway on New Position as Utah's Top Educator>> KCPW - June 2, 2009
    •    Larry Shumway named state superintendent of schools>> Deseret News - May 30, 2009
    •    Shumway named new state schools superintendent>> Salt Lake Tribune - May 29, 2009
Charter School Enrollment
Some charter schools are still accepting enrollment for the 2009-10 school year. CLICK HERE for a complete list of charter schools in Utah.  Once there, click on the individual charter schools you are interested in to find out if they are accepting enrollment and how to apply.  Charter schools are public schools and enrollment is done by lottery.  LEARN MORE>>
Financial Transparency Website - May 15, 2009 
This new website (www.transparent.utah.gov) shows all financial transactions made by Utah government.  Currently, it only includes data from state-level agencies, but by May 15, 2010, it will include school districts & charter schools.  LEARN MORE>>

Parent Task Force on School Boundaries
Parent input is a crucial part of the Canyons School Districts' newly formed Enrollment and Facilities Task Force.  The Task Force will provide recommendations on boundaries, facilities, and more to the Superintendent and School Board.  Visit the Task Force webpage for a list of meeting schedules, agendas, minutes, and school enrollment data.  Visit the Task Force webpage>>

 

 

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