Capitol Daily Memo: HB 115 – duct tape on a shanty

So the Utah House passed HB 115 today, 51-18-6. It’s a bill that attempts to improve on Utah public schools’ mentoring programs. Having completed a similar program when I went through the USOE’s Alternative Routes to Licensure program several years ago, I can say mentoring is a valuable tool for new teachers. However, it mostly depends on how good your mentor is and how dedicated to the program your principal is. This new legislation may or may not improve mentoring, and, by extension, teaching in the state of Utah.

Bills like this seem to miss the larger structural problems with public education. It’s like putting duct tape on a house built with the structural integrity of a shack in a Mumbai shantytown. The entire structure of public education is built on the wrong premises.  Read more

Capitol Daily Video: waiting period for divorce

HB 316, a bill that would restore a 90-day waiting period for divorce, passed a committee hearing last week and is now on the House floor for a vote. Watch this video to hear what the sponsor, Representative Val Peterson (R-Orem), and Sutherland Institute’s Bill Duncan had to say about the bill.


Do you think a 90-day waiting period before getting a divorce is a good idea?

Capitol Daily Video: update on education savings accounts

On Wednesday morning, Representative John Dougall (R-American Fork) presented a bill that would give Utah students education savings accounts, providing them more options for their schooling. Watch today’s video report to learn more about HB 123 and why Sutherland thinks it’s a good idea for Utah.


What do you think? Would education savings accounts help Utah children?

Capitol Daily Video: Health Care Compact

Today’s video addresses SB 208, the Health Care Compact. Watch below to hear what the sponsor, Senator Stuart Adams (R – Layton), said about the bill as well as Stan Rasmussen, director of public affairs at Sutherland Institute. You can also read more about the compact here and here.


What do you think? Is the Health Care Compact a good idea for Utah?

Capitol Daily Memo: Committee OKs yearly teacher evaluations

A bill that would require Utah teachers and school administrators to be evaluated each year cleared a legislative committee on Monday.

SB 64, sponsored by Senator Aaron Osmond (R-South Jordan), would require the State Board of Education to design a program for school districts to evaluate their employees. Pay for school and district administrators would be linked to those evaluations; pay for teachers would not, although Senator Osmond said he is running a separate bill that could link teacher pay to performance.

While the bill would give the State Board discretion in making rules for evaluating teachers, it specifies that evaluations for school and district administrators must include at least student achievement results, “a periodic 360 degree evaluation tool,” and a report of administrators’ effectiveness in evaluating the employees in their own school or district.  The bill would also define more specifically the process a district must follow in order to fire a teacher for poor performance.   Read more

Capitol Daily Memo: When it comes to sex ed, why promote an inferior standard?

Rep. Bill Wright, sponsor of HB 363

Here are a few thoughts in light of the House Education Committee’s favorable 8-7 vote on HB 363 today, a bill that would require abstinence education in public schools:

The current debate in Utah regarding how much and what type of sex education should be taught in public schools is yet another example of a key difference between conservatives and liberals. Liberals’ solution to this issue, like so many others, is to have government take care of it: teach students about puberty, sex, STDs, contraception, consequences of teen pregnancy and so on.

Here is where conservatives and liberals agree: Kids need to know about sex and its consequences. The key difference is who should teach it. Conservatives believe moms and dads are the most effective teachers for their children. Some parents do a better job at this than others, and when government perceives a “need” (real or imagined) – in this case, the need to educate students about sex – and perceives that this need is not being filled by families, churches or other private organizations, then it is more than happy to fill that need.  Read more