School of future • Granite School District is building a $15 million elementary school that will focus on STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and math. The district is rightly looking to the future by starting children out with a curriculum specifically providing the knowledge they will need to compete for the high-tech jobs that are and will become even more available in Utah as they mature. Students from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade will be able to use an iPad or a similar device in their daily classroom activities. They'll use the latest technology and become familiar with the basics of physics and other STEM subjects by connecting lessons with real life. The West Valley City school will have 600 students learning in a specially constructed school that could become a model for others.
Crimes of hate • While the FBI reports in its annual analysis of hate-crimes data that the number of such crimes dropped in 2011 to the lowest level since 1994, in Utah hate crimes have increased steadily over three years to 68 in 2011. Although the total number is relatively small 40 in 2008; 48 in 2009; 63 in 2010 the trend is worrisome. The increase could be due partially to an increase in the number of state agencies reporting data, but a 58 percent increase cannot be explained away so easily. The FBI report shows that 29 of the 68 hate crimes reported in 2011 were motivated by racial bias, while 16 were triggered by religious biases, 14 linked to bias against sexual orientation and eight to ethnicity. The trend should be taken seriously by those education and religion leaders who have an opportunity to promote tolerance among all groups.
Enhancing diversity • A small group of Muslims in Utah County is making progress toward having a mosque in which to worship. Talaat Al-Shuqairat, president of the Utah Valley Islamic Center, explained to the Orem Planning Commission that the group will first build three storefronts. One will serve as a temporary Islamic Center, replacing a rented space at the University Mall. Al-Shuqairat said a permanent mosque could be ready for use in five to 10 years, depending on how quickly the group can raise funds and how much profit it might see from the retail shops at 935 S. State. Most of the Muslims in Utah County are students at Brigham Young University, but a mosque could help bring a more permanent community of Muslims, and that would be a welcome increase in religious diversity for this mostly Mormon county.