Special coverage

Education

Education news from the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene area.

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

UI summer science camps let nature be teacher

NATURE — The University of Idaho is offering summer science camps that allow youths grades 6 through 11 to go outdoors for hands-on discovery.

Enrollment is open for students interested in spending a week The McCall Outdoor Science School on the shores of Payette Lake learning from University of Idaho graduate students, exploring the mountains, lakes and rivers of central Idaho and releasing their inner scientist.

  • River Science Boys’ Expedition: June 22-27, Grades 6-9, $387.50
  • W.O.W.S. (Women Outdoor with Science): July 6-11, Grades 6-11, $387.50

These are five-day field science expeditions where students explore the rugged Idaho mountains, go whitewater rafting and learn what university climate, water and alternative energy researchers are studying.

  • Beyond MOSS: July 13-18, Grades 6-9, $297.50

This five-day program goes beyond the school year MOSS program for those who have been to MOSS or who will be coming soon.

  • Adventure Day Camp: June 17-August 1; Grades 3-5 and 6-9, Cost varies

This day camp focuses on learning, playing and enjoying nature while letting imagination drive discovery.

The McCall Outdoor Science School is an outreach of the University of Idaho College of Natural Resources. The residential science school engages Idaho students in year-round learning through our school partnerships. The college also hosts an on-site graduate program for university students who serve as teachers while working towards their graduate degrees.

Idaho wildlife experts talk turkey to teachers

WILDLIFE — Wild turkeys have a lesson to teach, according to the Idaho Fish and Game Department, which has scheduled a teacher's workshop based on the birds this month.

Although turkeys roam wild areas and neighborhoods alike, many people know very little about the giant birds, said Phil Cooper, department wildlife educator.

What do they eat?  Where do they sleep to avoid predators? Do they nest in trees or on the ground?  Why do some gobble and others not? Are domestic turkeys and wild turkeys the same? 

And, why are some of them walking around these days with their brilliantly colored tail feathers all fanned out? 

A “Wild about Turkeys” Project Wild workshop is being offered in northern Idaho for teachers and youth leaders. Attendees will learn about the interesting and unusual habits of the wild turkey, a non-native species that was introduced into Idaho in the 1960’s. 

Grade school educators often talk about turkeys when Thanksgiving rolls around each November.  Teachers participating in this workshop will receive activity guides they can use with their students…and the materials are tied to Idaho’s state standards!  

Scheduled for April 25-26, the workshop includes a Friday evening (4-9 p.m.) at the Post Falls Cabela’s store, and most of the day on Saturday, which includes a field trip.  Space is limited, and pre-registration is required. 

Sign up for this or a future Project Wild workshop online at fishandgame.idaho.gov. Go to the “education” tab, then click on “Project Wild” specialized workshops.   Optional continuing education credits are available through multiple Idaho Universities for a fee.

Idaho K-12 Cuts Among US Steepest

During the recession, Idaho’s public school budget cuts were among the deepest in the nation. And while Idaho’s 2013-14 public school budget included a $28.6 million increase, the added money merely kept pace with inflation and enrollment growth. These are two findings from a national study, released this month by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit think tank. The center’s reports put Idaho’s K-12 cuts into national perspective; Idaho is among at least 34 states that are spending less per pupil than they did in 2008-09. And the report comes just as Idaho education stakeholders are making a concerted push to reverse K-12 budget cuts — with initial support from Gov. Butch Otter and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna/Kevin Richert, The EDge, IdahoED News. More here.

Thoughts?

Plummer-Worley OKs Tax Levy

Voters in the Plummer Worley School District on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation approved a two-year tax levy Tuesday that will spare the district from eliminating funding for all athletics, moving to a four-day school week and making other severe budget cuts. About 60 percent of the votes cast were in favor of the $1.1 million supplemental levy request. “Needless to say, we are ecstatic,” Superintendent Judi Sharrett said. The cash-strapped district of about 400 students had eliminated all sports funding, cut kindergarten to part time and ordered three furlough days for all employees, and it was ready to cut one day off the school week starting this fall/Scott Maben, SR. More here.

Question: 5 of 6 levies passed statewide last night. Does this mean Idaho's anti-education movement is waning?

Otter: Education is state’s #1 economic priority

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has sent a guest opinion out to Idaho newspapers declaring that education is the state's top economic priority. “We have a variety of incentive programs designed to foster business opportunities in Idaho, but the most important thing we’re able to provide is our people,” the governor writes. “Idahoans are creative, resourceful and hard working – exactly what growing businesses need. But we also need to provide graduates who are prepared. Education is the key to higher-paying jobs. Full story.

Thoughts?

Hope Chests and Silver Spoons: How girls’ graduation gifts have changed

This past weekend in Spokane, thousands of high school seniors graduated and most received gifts from friends and family.

My daughter graduated this weekend, as well. And, just as it was with her siblings, our gift was a computer to take to school with her. It's a pretty common gift these days, a tool for study and work. Exactly what the contemporary student needs to succeed. But that wasn't always the case.

In the not-too-distant past, girls didn't get that kind of gift. Instead, they were given items that would prepare them for becoming wives and mothers. College was fine, but the real work came after they were awarded their 'Mrs.' degree. Later, in the 1960s and 70s, luggage became a popular graduation gift, suitable for a traveling coed, single working girl and (fingers crossed!) eventual honeymooner. Remember Mary Tyler Moore's matched set of white luggage?

I write a column about antiques and collectibles for Nostalgia Magazine each month. In the latest column I wrote about the tradition of Lane Furniture Company gifting high school senior girls with a miniature cedar chest to be used as a jewelry box. The hope was that soon they would be buying, or be given, a full-size 'hope chest' to fill with things they would need as wives and homemakers. Silver companies gave girls a miniature sterling spoon or knife, often fashioned into a pin, when they picked out a silver pattern.

Today the idea of a hope chest filled with household items, linens and lingere seems laughable. But it wasn't that long ago that young women were expected to marry young and set up housekeeping right away.

 

Inslee: Extend temporary taxes, close loopholes to spend more on schools

Gov. Jay Inslee explains his budget as students from Seattle's Cleveland High School look on.

OLYMPIA — The state should make temporary tax increases on beer and some business services permanent, cancel a variety of other tax breaks and spend an extra $1.2 billion on public schools, Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday.

Standing in front of a group of Seattle high school students involved in a program to boost science and math skills, the governor released his first budget proposal. It’s a plan for expanded programs from pre-kindergarten to high school, designed to satisfy a state Supreme Court order to adequately fund public schools.

“We must do hard things. It’s the right thing to choose education over these tax breaks,” he said at a press conference to announce his spending plan for the 2013-15 budget cycle.

The proposal met quick resistance from Senate Republicans, who will likely release the first full budget in the Legislature next week. It will not propose tax increases or ending the tax exemptions Inslee proposed, Sen. Mark Schoesler of Ritzville, the Senate Republican leader, said. . .

 To continue reading about the budget propsal, and reaction, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

Spokane-area instructors groomed for fly fishing in the schools

FLY FISHING — An instructor training program for the National Fishing in Schools Program — a nationwide program that brings outdoor education indoors to students in grades 6-12 — is set for Sunday (March 24) at the Loon Lake Elementary School.

The idea is to give more adults the skills and tools to get kids hooked on a lifetime sport.

Info: Sondra Collins, (509) 710-8329.

  

Otter on education

Gov. Otter signaled his intent to avoid a clash over quick action on education reform, recommending that a task force he is creating return with recommendations for action in 2014.


Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2012/12/27/2393930/idaho-gov-otter-asks-for-a-year.html#storylink=twt#storylink=cpy

Following the Nov. 6 defeat of the three Otter-backed Students Come First laws, both Otter and other GOP leaders had suggest they might seek to act as soon as the 2013 session. Otter said he'd seen polling that indicated Idahoans agreed with that approach.

But leaders of the repeal came out firmly against immediate action, saying that all stakeholders needed to be consulted before any new changes are proposed.

Otter adopted a similar approach in an article sent to Idaho newspapers Thursday, in which he outlined how he hopes members of the task force are selected and quoted the president of the Idaho teachers' union, among others. Idaho Statesman  Read more.

Is it just me, or is government the only entity that considers creating a task force taking action? Does this bode well for the future education in Idaho?

 


Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2012/12/27/2393930/idaho-gov-otter-asks-for-a-year.html#storylink=twt#storylink=cpy

 


Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2012/12/27/2393930/idaho-gov-otter-asks-for-a-year.html#storylink=twt#storylink=cpy

Ex-Dem Exec Pushes Luna Laws

The latest campaign commercial in the fight over whether to repeal Idaho's controversial school reform laws is running statewide, including in the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene market. John Foster, a lobbyist and political consultant who's behind the new “Parents for Education Reform” PAC that's running the ad, declined to identify its financial backers. “We'll file our disclosure reports at the appropriate time, but we're happy to receive enough support to get this ad off the ground, and hopefully do more,” Foster said. “This PAC is just one piece of a larger effort to spread the message of education reform in Idaho, and we'll be announcing more about that in the coming days. It's an effort that is not wholly about this campaign or this election season, it's bigger than that and will go beyond and past November”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Thoughts?

A simply lovely statement

I love this guest columnist’s thoughts from today’s New York Times.  Education in America is at a crisis point. Some places get it right, while others simply warehouse kids until they reach 18-years-old.

And some people – like this writer - survive the system, and then flourish.

From Ta-Nehisi Coates’ column: “I can tell you everything that was wrong with my education — how cold pedagogy reduced the poetry of Macbeth to a wan hunt for hamartia, how the beautiful French language broke under rote vocabulary. But more than that, I can tell you what happens when education is decoupled from curiosity…”

The clock is ticking; we need to figure out how to inspire our children to learn about the world in which they live, not simply learn how to survive a broken system.

(S-R archives photo)

Allan: Carlson Wrong Re: Donations

Before I respond to Chris Carlson’s recent column attacking the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and Indian Gaming, I want to start by disclosing a few things. First, I support Indian gaming. I have seen first-hand how gaming on the Coeur d’Alene Reservation has transformed this community and delivered our people from abject poverty and a century-long dearth of opportunity. I see the pride in our people that comes from the hope and opportunity that gaming provides. That is precisely the reason Indian gaming was embraced by the United States and the state of Idaho. Second, I echo what many wonderful people in this community have already expressed; I too am tired of the hostility directed toward the tribe based on false information and inaccurate half-truths. That type of hate-inspired rhetoric should not and cannot be tolerated any longer/Chief Allan, Coeur d'Alene Tribe chairman. More here.

DFO: Chief Allan of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe is at odds with Publisher Dan Hammes of the St. Maries Gazette Record and Chris Carlson, who writes for the weekly newspaper, re: state oversight of required donations of gaming proceeds to area schools. Carlson has also question the propriety of the tribe contributing designated school donations to the Coeur d'Alene Kroc Center.

Feedback on today’s column

“Your column today about the ignorance of young people was good and, of course, humorous,” wrote retired teacher Jeff Brown. “But it also is a particular hot button of mine. We live in interesting times — runaway technology is proof positive that Eric Toffler was right with his concept of 'Future Shock.'

“That said, I have a standing offer/bet with detractors of modern education. Whenever someone complains that students are ignorant of — they seem to prefer history and/or geography — a particular piece of knowledge, you can be sure that piece of knowledge is something said detractor already possesses.”

His bet? Take that critic of modern education. Then match him or her up against a randomly selected 16-year-old. “Find some piece of knowledge that NEITHER possesses. See which one of them finds the answer first. I'll bet on the 16 year old.

“A philosophical question for you: In this day and age, which is more important — having specific knowledge, or knowing how/where to find the knowledge?

“With information and data multiplying in quantum leaps, maybe it's not import for the 16-year-old to know where Samoa is located on a map if he has the ability to FIND OUT where it is.

“End of rant and GET OFF MY LAWN.”      

Detectives offer sex offender information

Here's a report from Sgt. Dave Reagan:

Recent angst regarding a suspected sex offender watching children at a Spokane Valley school has prompted the sheriff’s Sex Crimes unit to offer information that might clarify how sex offenders are monitored in Spokane County and eliminate some common misconceptions.

There are about 1,400 registered sex offenders (RSO’s) in Spokane County, a number that changes slightly day-to-day.  Tracking these offenders is a joint effort by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, the Spokane Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service.  Each agency has personnel assigned to register, track and monitor each of these 1,400 RSO’s.

The sheriff’s office has three detectives, one deputy and a secretary dedicated full-time to this effort.  SPD has two full-time detectives and the marshal’s office has one full-time agent and several who work it part-time in addition to other duties.

When a suspect is convicted of a sex or kidnapping offense that mandates registration, and then is released from custody, he is required to go to the sheriff’s office and register.  The Department of Corrections (DOC) will have designated a “Level,” I, II or III – one being considered the least likely to re-offend and three being the most likely.  This “leveling” is based on a statewide standard.  If an offender comes from another state or was not confined, sheriff’s detectives assign him a level based on the same DOC standards.

All RSO’s receive regular visits at their homes by a detective or deputy to verify they are living at the address they registered.  Level I offenders are visited at least once a year, Level II at least twice and Level III at least four times.  They are visited each and every time they change their address as well.  If an offender has no home, he is registered as a transient and must report in-person weekly to the sheriff’s office.

    When an offender is sentenced, he can be released to be supervised by DOC until his sentence time as expired.  While on DOC supervision, there may be restrictions set by the Community Corrections Officer restricting his or her freedom to live or work in certain places – schools or daycares, for instance.  If an offender has completed his sentence and is no longer on supervision, he is free to live and work anywhere he wants – there are no legal restrictions.

In some rare instances, the court may note that an offender is a “Sexually Violent Predator” and will restrict where he can live – not within 880 feet of a school, for instance.  Without this court designation, offenders are free to live anywhere they choose.

If an offender fails to comply with his registration requirements, a detective will write a warrant request for him.  Regardless of where the offender is found in the United States, he will be brought back to Spokane County for prosecution.

Members of the sex offender units go online daily to search for predators and users/makers of child pornography.  These cases are aggressively investigated, and when possible, search warrants are written and executed for the perpetrators.

The sheriff’s office will notify schools when offenders tell us they will be attending or working there.  Schools have the responsibility to notify certain members of their staff.  However, this only applies when the offender attends or works in the school.  Schools are not required to notify students, parents or neighbors if the offender merely lives nearby.

When a sex offender registers, his or her name is entered into a statewide law enforcement database with the Washington State Patrol.  The name is also entered into a sex offender database called Offender Watch which is accessible to anyone with a computer.  A person can look up his own address and the database will show all Level II and III offenders in the neighborhood.  By state law, level one offenders are exempted.

The following limited public information about an RSO may be released by law enforcement –

For Level II and III offenders, a flyer is printed and distributed to SCOPE and COPS offices where volunteers distribute them in a two block radius of the neighborhood where the offender is living.  Level III information is released to media as well.

For Level I offenders, information may only be released to the offender’s victims, witnesses and individual community members who live near the offender and who request it.

When people see known RSO’s in schools, daycares, libraries, parks and other places children might frequent, we ask that they remember that offenders have the same rights to be there as everyone else, and to be free from harassment.  However, we also welcome calls if the RSO is in any way acting suspiciously.

Other states joining Idaho to defy No Child Left Behind requirements

It turns out that Idaho's not alone in vowing to ignore the latest requirements under the No Child Left Behind Act in an act of defiance against the federal government that demonstrates their growing frustration over an education program they say sets unrealistic benchmarks for schools, the Associated Press reports. Joining Idaho are Montana and South Dakota, while Kentucky is seeking a waiver from the law and other states are considering the issue. Click below to read a full report from AP reporters Jessie Bonner and Christine Armario.

Budget cuts and school changes

What kind of changes are you hearing about at your kids' schools due to budget cuts? I'm hearing larger class sizes by combining grades, as in first-graders and second-graders in the same class and 3-4, 5-6 combos. Then upwards of 31 kids in the room. 

Be interested in how some other schools are addressing this.

Greg Mortenson packs ‘em in

Greg Mortenson, the author of “Three Cups of Tea” and “Stones Into Schools” drew a crowd of at least 4,000 to Gonzaga University's McCarthey Athletic Center — on a night when this basketball-obsessed college was playing an Elite Eight women's game right down the road.

It was exhilarating and refreshing to see so many people perfectly aware that some things are more important than sports, namely, empowering people in Pakistan and Afghanistan through education. That's what Mortenson does with his Central Asia Institute. They have built 178 schools, mostly for educating girls.

It was an inspiring night, but not necessarily because Mortenson is a dynamic and polished speaker. He's not. I would describe him more as heartfelt and sincere. He admits he's no born speaker. But that's one reason I have been so impressed with him, both in an interview I did with him last week and in Monday's GU talk.

He doesn't have any of the smooth slickness of a politician, a huckster or an evangelist. He's just a guy who thought he saw something that needed doing, and kept doing it until he got it done. And then he kept doing it after that.

If you missed the speech — maybe you were watching a certain basketball game — I would encourage you to get a copy of “Three Cups of Tea” (and after that, “Stones Into Schools”). His story is told more thoroughly there — and it's a story that may change the way you think about the world.

Here's one of his insights: Educate a boy and you educate an individual. Educate a girl and you end up educating  the whole village 

Greg Mortenson on the military

I just finished interviewing Greg Mortenson, the co-author of “Three Cups of Tea” and “Stones Into Schools.” I have tremendous admiration for him and his work building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan and I have written an extensive story for Saturday's paper.

But I didn't have enough space to include all of the topics we discussed, including this fascinating one: His changing perception of America's military.

 Here are a few excerpts from the interview:

“In 'Three Cups of Tea,' I was fairly critical of the military. I said they were all laptop warriors. … But my opinion of the military has really changed. The military really gets it. …

“Because many of our troops have been on the ground three or four times, of all of our government entities, the military understands and has an awareness of respecting the elders and building relationships and listening to the people. There has been a huge learning curve.”

In fact, the military sought him out as an adviser on how to effectively build relationships with the Afghan people. 

He'll be speaking at Gonzaga University on Monday at 7 p.m. Tickets available through TicketsWest.