District 1 Education Debate: Terryl Warner vs Jennie Earl
Moderators:Christine Cooke, Royce Van Tassell
Questions and Time Stamps
- (22:18) What policies do you want to see implemented to both recruit and retain quality teachers in Utah?
- (26:06) So what role should the government federal government play in our state’s education system?
- (28:38) Staying on this theme, a lot of Utahns talk about local control and this principle that comes up a lot in policymaking, but still there’s a desire for some oversight at the state level so what limits if any should there be on local control?
- (34:02) So speaking of the legislative session, this past session the Legislature talked about abolishing the state board and replacing it with the governor-appointed superintendent. So what do you think is the best education governance structure in the state of Utah?
- (37:32) What do you believe the state’s approach to assessment should be?
- (40:36) What would be the one policy that you would change during your tenure on the school board?
- (44:46) What would you do as a state board member to try to close that gap and do you even see that it’s – do you feel if it’s important, that it’s important that we have teachers who look like their students?
- (48:58) Where do we move forward or how do we move forward in how we set these fees and make them more fair?
- (52:39) So my question is, what is your opinion on Question 1? And if not Question 1, what solution would you recommend to increase state funding to improve teacher salary and classroom resources?
- (57:24) What can we do to ensure that each child in a classroom has a qualified, well-prepared teacher in front of them?
- (1:01:07) My question is, in your view, what is the proper role of technology in Utah schools and where can we improve?
- (1:04:30) Can you please tell us what your position is on allowing the comprehensive sex education curriculum in Utah schools?
Royce Van Tassell
(Video Time: 15:30)
Good evening. My name is Royce Van Tassell with Utah Education Debate Coalition. We are so thrilled to be here tonight to hear and learn from and learn about the candidates for State Board of Education in State Board District 1. I want to specifically thank the Edith Bowen Laboratory School for allowing us to be here on their campus as part of Utah State University to host this debate. Our education debate coalition partners are the United Way of Utah, The Utah Association of Public Charter Schools, the Sutherland Institute and the Hinckley Institute of Politics, as well as KSL and the Deseret News. We are thrilled to be here. This is the second of five debates that we will be hosting this fall for general election candidates. We see these as a great opportunity for the public both via Facebook Live as well as those who are here in person to get to know the candidates and understand better the issues that face public education. We also hope that the candidates get an opportunity to hear from you about what issues are important to you, the voting public. I am going to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance. When I am done with that, we’ll turn the time over to Christine Cooke, who is the education policy director at the Sutherland Institute and will be tonight’s moderator.
If everyone will please rise and follow me in saying the Pledge of Allegiance. I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Thank you, Christine. Let’s have fun.
(Video Time: 17:35)
Good evening. My name is Christine Cooke. One part of the coalition that we’re so excited to host these. We just believe that education is so important to the state and that these candidates have a lot to offer and they have a lot of policy making power, and it’s important for voters to know what they believe. Thank you so much. So we flipped a coin and we’ll have Jennie Earl start. We’ll start with introductions and then we’ll move onto questions and then audience questions.
(Video Time: 18:16)
All right, thank you, Christine, and thank you for allowing us to have a debate. I think this is a key thing. I think it’s important and it’s healthy that there are two candidates running. And that’s one of the reasons why I stepped into the race. I think that especially in education issues you need to have two voices; you need to be able to make a decision on an area of education. Let me just share a little bit about myself. I’m from Morgan County and we’ve lived there for about 16 years. I have six children. I have three still at home and three that have that have left the house. They’ve grown somewhat. So no married yet. I have a degree in education – elementary degree in education from Southern Utah University and then also a master’s degree from Weber State. I taught for five years in special education. A few of those years were here in Utah and two of those years were in Reno. So let me just get to just a couple of key issues that I wanted to. Part of the reason why I’m running. I believe that children are unique. I believe that education is important. I believe that it’s important for the state of Utah to provide an education that is sound, developmentally appropriate and the best thing for families. OK, let me share just a couple more things. I believe that a system composed of Utah ideas will foster and create environments that are beneficial for educators. I do get concerned when we use a lot of outside ideas in place of the great things that our educators are currently doing in our school system.
Sorry it’s there so I apologize. I want you to know that I support local control and that local control has to do with what families and educators want, not necessarily what’s coming down from the top saying, this is what will that be. So I’m excited for the debate tonight. So thank you for letting us be here.
(Video Time: 20:29)
My name is Terrell Warner and I appreciate everybody that’s here, are tuning in online. I just wanted to share a little bit about myself. I’ve been on the state board for about four and a half years now but I thought I would let you know a little bit about me. My husband and I grew up in high-poverty, high-crime areas of Southern California. I graduated from the University of Southern California and I am a diehard Trojan. Not doing too well in football. But we’re hoping next year will be a little bit better. I speak fluent Spanish and my husband and I relocated to – we came up here to Utah for him to go to school here. He’s a science teacher, physical science, and we have four children. Our eldest daughter is a senior here at Utah State. She’s currently deployed. We have a son that’s a senior here, a daughter that’s a senior at Logan High, and a daughter that’s a sophomore at Mountain Crest. My kids have spent a lot of time at Edith Bowen – my kids are Edith Bowen kids. They started their first experiences in education here. I’ve worked with the Cache County attorney’s office for 22 years and before that I was in California as a victim advocate. I am very passionate about victims and I’m very passionate in making sure that people have a voice at the table no matter what the situation is. My husband and I are models for how public education can transform generations. My husband and I are the first ones to go to college, graduate from college, and our children have gone on and will be – I can’t imagine them not going to graduate school.
I am a firm believer of public education. Public education in this state is excellent. We have a lot of other areas that need improvement or work, but together as we collaborate we can improve for every single child in this state.
(Video Time: 22:18)
Thank you for those introductions. We will start into the questions and we’ll have Terryl again. The first question revolves around the teacher shortage. We hear a lot about that in the state. We also know that a good teacher is one of the most important factors in student outcomes. So what policies do you want to see implemented to both recruit and retain quality teachers in Utah?
Question 1: Responses
(Video Time: 22:39)
OK, well, first of all, I said I headed up the licensing task force for several years on the state board and we’ve tried to eliminate some of the barriers for recruiting so that somebody could come to teach in this state that was licensed in another state or with the Department of Defense. The other thing that really we need to have a discussion about – and one that I firmly believe in – is that we need to change the retirement issues for Tier 1 employees. Currently Tier 1 employees, when they retire, cannot enter the public sector in any fashion whatsoever. That makes no sense. So my neighbor down the street who has a master’s degree and teaches elementary school, when she retires next year she can’t come back into the class as a reading specialist, as a literacy coach, as a mentor or coach. That makes no sense to me. So I believe that if we want to really look at fixing the teacher shortage, we need to fix the retirement issues, and then we need to look at how to make the area of teaching appealing to young people and to people that are maybe in their mid-lives. We have a lot of turnover. Perhaps we need to look at. I’m just going to say having rooms where women can nurse their babies or pump milk, having women have breaks, looking at job sharing – those are some areas that I think really need to be explored in order to retain teachers currently and to recruit teachers as well. If we make it a little bit more of a positive profession to be a mother or to be a father or to take care of ailing parents will solve that problem.
(Video Time: 24:19)
So there’s a couple things, as I’ve gone around to the different districts that are within District 1 and talked with them about their teacher retention and ask them about what their needs are and what is happening in their community. It’s interesting, because depending on the actual area, it depends on whether or not you actually have a retention problem. There are some areas – let me take Morgan County, for example – where the retention problem has more to do with the inability for a teacher to obtain a house within the community that the houses are more expensive. And so the land is more expensive there. So it gets a little harder for some teachers to retain there. So what they’re doing is they’re trying to – what may be called homegrown – they’re looking at those people that currently live there, that currently work in the schools, and because there have been various changes to allowing other people to come in from other professions that they are able to then secure some very qualified as far as knowing the families, knowing the kids within the community, which also helps to keep it safer too. Another thing that I think is important with teacher retention is that the administrators should have enough time to be able to build strong relationships within their communities. That is one of the strongest things for teacher retention. Teachers that feel supported. The teachers that feel like they have the autonomy to do what they need to do within their classrooms when they have support from their administrators. They are more likely to stay and have and to continue with teaching in that area.
Question 2 Responses
(Video Time: 26:28)
Well, the funding is about 6 percent. And so if that gives you any idea of what role they should play, now what role they are playing currently within our education system is significant. They drive a lot of the dialogue. They drive a lot of the laws that are that are created in Utah. The laws are created to match up with the federal laws. And so when you ask what role should they play, I think it should be minimal; it should equal about what they’re actually contributing financially within Article 10. It tells us that the first priority is to meet the state goals. It doesn’t say “meet the federal goals, try to accomplish what the federal government wants to accomplish,” it’s to meet the state goals. And so I think it’s important that we’re careful not to allow outside entities, the federal government, one of those to have so much say in Utah that they drive the dialogue and education, drive the dialogue as well as the outcomes or the accountability systems.
(Video Time: 27:28)
Well, I think that there is a little bit of a role for the federal government in our school system. We have federal compliance issues such as IDEA and Title IX. So for example, on IDEA, a lot of our special ed is is driven by federal policy, and the Department of Education helps fund that. We do have compliance that we need to do when we accept that money, but I believe there’s a small role for the federal government to play. It doesn’t really need to be a very big role but to make sure that we’re complying with federal guidelines. I don’t want to go back to a time when we didn’t have federal guidelines shaping all of our children, because I truly believe that every student in this state, no matter what their background is or what their life, their home life is, they deserve to have a quality education. And sometimes that federal guideline needs to be followed to ensure that that takes place. So I know that they are about 6 percent of our budget and I agree that perhaps we should limit it to about 6 percent of our policy.
Questions 3 Responses
(Video Time: 28:56)
You know, I just firmly believe that the best decisions made are at the local level when community members can get together, when communities and their local boards – they elect their local boards and they can shape how what policies look like, what the curriculum is, and so truly I believe that we should at the state level set certain things like standards and have a little bit of oversight with establishing accountability and assessment.
But truly the majority of the decisions should be made at a local level. I’ll give you an example – what’s needed in Rich County is vastly different than what’s needed in Granite. The building itself is different. The students are different in terms of, it’s a very rural community in Rich County. We have Granite, for example, has an urban area and so the people in Rich County know what their students need, whereas the students in Granite know what their students need. And so for me I believe that the state level should be determining accountability, creating rules, setting education guidelines, our standards, and setting graduation guidelines and standards, and then letting the local areas take control and decide what is best for that area.
(Video Time: 30:24)
Okay, so I think that’s an interesting question, just the question itself. The idea that there should be some type of limits. I think there maybe are boundaries or standards set. And that’s what the state should be doing. But as far as maybe the creativity or the direction that they are able to take their education within those boundaries, the local entities should be able to do that with the accountability, hopefully, to the parents in place of accountable to someone distant and far away. We know that the closer you put the money in, the closer that you have decisions being made to the people themselves, the more accountability, the more they’re going to feel part of that, the more ownership there will be. It’s not uncommon to go to a meeting, a school board meeting or other meeting, and hear this dialogue: “Well it’s the law. So we have to do it this way. I would rather do it this way but it’s the law.” So we have to do it this way. which is just – it’s interesting because the idea that somehow that set the boundaries and that there couldn’t be any dialogue. Commonly I’ve said things like “the law’s only the law until the next legislative session,” which is the case because often a bill that’s not fully developed, so to speak, or that one year we had things in place whether that was trying to put a grade on teachers, that type of thing, that by the end of a session it’s actually been changed to something that meets greater standards for the teachers in the community itself.
Question 4 Responses
(Video Time: 32:22)
All right. Well, clearly we’re running for State School Board, so ths is kind of an interesting question. I think when you eliminate it or you dial it down to one person that’s making those decisions, and one person that’s not necessarily we elected but appointed by the governor, then really that the governor does become accountable. But I think that a structure similar to what we have right now that has 15 voices and I believe those voices need to be diverse. I don’t think you want the same entity, or the same mindset coming in. I think it’s critical that you have a diversity of mindsets there at the table, that they’re able to articulate their concerns, that they work together as a group. And I think it needs to be a group that can be unified, as far as coming together on issues, that doesn’t mean that they’re the same. Or the same thought process. I think it’s key that there’s great dialogue that takes place within a state school board, so I think it is it is valuable to have educators – I mean, excuse me, constituents in those communities vote in their state school board members. I ran for state school board four years ago. There were, I believe, remember 15 candidates maybe. Around 15 candidates. Probably most of you didn’t know that. And the reason why is because those are narrowed down by the governor in a group that narrows those down. And then two of those were selected and so depending on what the governor’s recommendations are, someone recommends to him will depend on who’s running. And so I had the opportunity this year that I was able to run.
(Video Time: 33:59)
I just believe in nonpartisan politics with education. When I was the PTA president in this very building of about 10 years ago – I’ll date myself – there was a gentleman on our PTA board that was not a Republican. He had an amazing idea and he had other amazing concepts. He was a wonderful man. If we have partisan politics we take those voices away. If we have one person that is picking who’s going to be on the state board, we take a lot of voices away and I believe truly running for an office – I don’t accept campaign donations, and so it would be really easy to align myself with a political party because there’s a lot of assistance that goes in with a political party. From finances to helping you walk the streets to helping you create logos and helping you create flyers. I do that all on my own because I strongly believe in nonpartisan politics, in education, campaigning in a nonpartisan race.
It can be really lonely. Those in partisan politics, they have a lot of, they have activities, they have meet-and-greets, they do a lot. It would be much easier.
But I strongly believe that education of our children to ensure that every child gets a quality education needs to be with a nonpartisan voice so that we can have a collective group of voices at the table. Thank you.
Question 5 Responses
(Video Time: 35:48)
Okay, well, I thought about that question and I think that something truly needs to change. We have a test that cost us millions of dollars. Parents can opt their students out. We can’t use it to grade a student. We can’t, we don’t use it to grade a teacher, which I’m totally okay with. But we have this test, and everything kind of boils down to that one test. And I thought about this and I thought back to when my husband was a student here and he was getting – and I don’t know if it was only the science education program – but when he was finishing up and after he did a student teaching, he had to put together a portfolio with a lot of different information and he had to go before a review board. And I thought, why couldn’t we do assessments that way? So if we’re looking at a school assessment, why can’t we do a school assessment where there’s a review team that reviews graduation or attendance, the school climate, going in class? I remember my son still talks about the time when Deborah Gahr in this building taught math using her snowboard in elementary school. Look at what teachers are doing. That’s a better assessment. If we want to talk about assessing students, I really like my husband’s approach. He gives a final the first week of class. He gives that same final the end of that school year. You can determine through that what kids are understanding. I think he does it in the middle of the year as well. But he can assess where kids are, where they’re struggling, and where they’re doing well. That’s really truly an assessment to me, but I really like my idea of a review board.
(Video Time: 37:25)
I would totally agree with what Terryl’s saying. I think we are off base on what we’re assessing currently. I think that we teachers review all year for this one high-stakes testing and that’s what it is, it’s the high stakes testing, which for kids themselves it also creates – for some kids, not all kids – but anxiety as well as stress within the classroom. It’s interesting because I was in a classroom last year and as the teacher was going down the lesson for the day, she had the children cross off the last three items, and said, “These won’t be on your test. Don’t worry about those,” which I, sitting there, I thought, well, that’s interesting. What else do we cross off because it’s not on our state assessments? So I think I think you’re absolutely right. I think we’ve got to go another direction. I think we know how to measure kids and I think we know how to measure and well those can be – it can be as creative as orals. My children have been in a school where they gave an oral exam to the children. And it’s a little different experience. You have to know the information that you’ve been studying that semester and you have to be able to articulate it and to be able to answer questions on the spot. That won’t work for all children, but it is a very viable solution. I think there’s other things that can be put together too. And I think this is something that we need to be talking about as a state. But why don’t we do it? We’re under currently our laws in the state of Utah as well as at the national level bind us to this type of accountability system that we have now.
Question 6 Responses
(Video Time: 39:14)
Let me think for a minute.
I think that the one policy or the one direction I would really like to emphasize is the massive amount of data collection that we are currently doing on our children and the privacy issues surrounding that. Last week I actually received an email with – this came from, it was a public service announcement from the FBI that had to do with data breaches and state longitudinal databases, schools that either were unable to secure their information for their children or large systems that had been broken into and data was taken. And then children’s information was either sold or it was used to extort whether it was through disciplinary action where the children’s information was going to be made public. I think there’s a great concern for me and I think for a lot of parents about the amount of data that we’re collecting and the amount of data that we’re putting together to create this system of information that can be used for a variety of things.
It’s interesting to me that a couple of the concerns that they have here says malicious use of this sensitive data could result in social engineering, bullying, tracking, identity theft or other means of targeting children.
And so that would be one thing I would definitely focus on is the security of the information about our children and where that data is going and who has access to that.
(Video Time: 40:44)
If I could change one thing in education it would be to include and start really focusing on a trauma-informed education process. I’m a victim advocate. My days are filled with crises, trauma and heartache. And I see children on a daily basis that are going through really difficult times. Yesterday we staffed over 30 cases in the Cache County attorney’s office on child abuse – 30. We have kids going to school every single day living in trauma, living in crises, living with violence in their homes, living with substance abuse and mental health. Unfortunately that carries over to education. When I prepare a child for trial I will always ask them – I build a relationship with them. Ninety five percent of the time a child will tell me that the person that’s the role model in their lives is their teacher. And I believe that teachers want the best for their students and moving toward a trauma-informed educational practice where teachers have the tools to deal with these types of issues that our children are facing on a daily basis is really truly the way we can implement an equitable education process for every single child in this state. And that’s our responsibility. I believe that teachers want what’s best. They need to know, we need to make sure that teachers know what’s going on and how to how to handle these types of things. We have a lot of trauma in our lives and in our families around the state. And so that would be my guess, my policy that I would like to implement is a trauma informed education process.
(Video Time: 42:46)
My name is Roger Donohoe. I’m vice president of Utah Education Association in Utah. We currently have, about 20 percent of our population is ethnic minority, about 25 percent of our student population is ethnic minority, and only about 3 percent of our teachers – our faculty teachers, certified teachers, are ethnic minority. What would you do as a state board member to try to close that gap, and do you even see that it’s – do you feel if it’s important, that it’s important that we have teachers who look like their students.
(Video Time: 43:21)
Of course. I speak fluent Spanish. I’m very comfortable in the Latino community and I believe that we need to have that. When I’ve worked with youth in that community I’m constantly asking them, would you be interested in being a teacher? Would you be interested in being a teacher?
I think we need to start in middle school though, Roger, and elementary school talking about kids being teachers. And we did clear that up with the CTE program where you can go in and learn what teaching is all about. Perhaps we need to look at that in middle school and make that an option because by high school a lot of times, people say if they want to be a teacher they have that decision or that desire by middle school. I truly believe that we could move in that direction. So as a state board member I’d like to continue making sure that we have that type of a class. We also have to do things with making sure that kids graduating from high school are aware of how to apply for college, how to do FAFSA, what kind of scholarships are out there, because a lot of times they don’t know. And so perhaps working with our high school guidance counselors, I know that they’re working really hard on this issue, but perhaps that’s something – we have an access community council that reports to the state board.
And that’s something that would be a great idea for them to really do an outreach to our different minority communities to ensure that their voices are heard as we move forward in trying to recruit teachers.
(Video Time: 44:56)
Thank you. That’s a good question. And especially Logan – did you say you’re from this area? You live here? OK, so you’re very familiar, I mean Logan School District itself, when I talk with them they had I believe it was 38 different languages. And so there is a lot of diversity within the community up here. Of course it would be ideal for role models to be coming from community members that they, that the children interact with and have a relationship with.
And so any way that we could build that would be a good thing.
I – sorry – I just think it’s, I think it’s important that we help to educate. We were states doing this – I don’t know if Utah state’s doing this too but they have these positive signs out there about education and about becoming a teacher whether it and in this case you’re wanting a very diverse, a specific diversity, but I think in general we’ve got to change our dialogue about education. I talked with several people while – I’ve been talking with lot of people during the summer. But there were a few people that I spoke with that said, “I’ve actually deterred people from going into education,” and this was interesting because these were people that were in the field themselves and were enjoying their occupation, but they said it’s just not for them. We’ve got to increase the pay, we’ve got to this, we’ve got to this. They gave all these reasons why and they were deterring youth that were interested into going into education itself. And so I just I feel strongly that the public dialogue that we carry needs to be a positive dialogue about education, about teachers and about where we want to go in the future and not this – there seems to be a continual dialogue of scarcity or not enough. Instead of “this is a positive direction to take, for the youth to take.”
Online Audience Question
(Video Time: 46:58)
We’ve got one from the online audience. OK. So there is growing concerns in the public and in the Legislature, it’s reports of unruly school fees. Where do we move forward or how do we move forward in how we set these fees and make them more fair?
(Video Time: 47:18)
Okay, so this is – I’ve attended a couple of local school districts that have had this dialogue recently. First of all I appreciate the schools that have gone through and audited their school fees. And it’s specifically outlined where is this going? How is this affecting the education of the kids? Is this excessive? Are the kids able to meet this, are the families able to meet these expectations? You had a question on here about books, about supplies, or you know having old books or whatever, and I thought that was an interesting question because the schools that my kids are attending right now, there is a fee for books. And so I just thought it was interesting it was on here, but then at the same time we are assessing fees for these books so if there’s not adequate supplies, there isn’t the funds aren’t being used the way they should be. So hopefully that’s not the case, and I’m not sure who wrote the question or what the direction was on that. But it is important to know where the fees are going to make them – as you said, someone said – equitable, that they are not excessive for families to be able to meet the needs of their families. I know registering this year for school was – I had two kids in high school and it was a quite a bit of money. It was a considerable amount of money, so I think it is good to measure those out and decide exactly what the benefits are or what the drawbacks are.
(Video Time: 48:44 )
With regards to school fees the audit came out. We’ve already talked at the state board about the audit that our office did. And then the legislative audit that came out. There are some concerns about we are allowed, we’re supposed to have them provide a free and equitable education. So what does that mean if it’s free and equitable? What does that mean? It means that we shouldn’t be having people pay hundreds of dollars probably; on the other hand we have schools that are really struggling financially with paying for things.
I think we also need to separate though in the school fees what is going on in the classroom compared to extracurricular activities. Because it’s my experience when I was looking at a lot of the school fees that a lot of them are the extracurricular activities.
Which brings us to a point where we probably need to discuss an equitable solution to how to ensure that students in one school with one ZIP code that may be living in poverty have the same opportunities that somebody living in a nicer area. I’ll use Morgan as an example and Logan Morgan has a little bit higher tax rate base than Logan, a little bit less minority group than Logan, and so we’ve got to look at, is it fair to Logan if Morgan has this amount of money spent and Logan doesn’t? So I think that we really need to open a discussion up for not only what’s going on in the classroom and the fees that are assessed during class time but the after-school expenses because it was my experience that a lot of those were after-school and extracurricular activities.
(Video Time: 50:36)
Hi my name is [inaudible]. I’m a teacher at Mountain Crest High School and UEA and Our Schools Now collaborated with the Legislature to bring Question 1 to the ballot in November. So my question is, what is your opinion on Question 1? And if not Question 1, what solution would you recommend to increase state funding to improve teacher salary and classroom resources?
(Video Time: 51:06)
So I don’t know, a week or so ago, this thing came in the mail and I said what is that?
My husband said, “I ordered an Our Schools Now sign.” He’s a schoolteacher. I am not sure about the gas tax. This is an advisory question.
It’s basically to say, this is what we want. I’m not sure that the gas tax is where we want to go with that because is that going to take away funding for our roads? And is it going to take money away from our budget?
On the other hand, I’m not sure that that’s a lot of money when we put it into perspective. So my husband commutes as a schoolteacher and we figured out it would cost him about 8 dollars a month with the driving that he does. He said I’m willing to spend eight dollars a month. I said, so am I. I’m willing to spend eight dollars a month. If we’re talking about a couple of cents a gallon, on a gallon of gasoline. For my car, we’re just talking about a dollar or so to fill it up in tax. Now that sounds like it wouldn’t be very much, and it may be a little bit harder for some people in their family budgets. But it doesn’t. I just think that for what we get out of it and what would go into schools that it’s really a good unique idea.
I don’t know if it will work, but it’s supposed to benefit the classes the teachers and the classrooms. My husband gets – I know that, Roger. I think you get about 250 bucks a year for supply money – that’s not going to cover science in your field. And so yeah, and so I think that this is a unique idea that we should at least try.
(Video Time: 52:53)
So we’re going to differ on this one because two things. This is a government issue. To me, this is the structure of government not so much the fact of education or anyways. When you, when a special group asks for special permission for something – just for a limited time. And that’s what’s happened here. We’re putting on an advisory question that will disappear January 1st so no one else can use that same method. The expiration date is January 1st, 2019. It was put on the end of the Legislature to put this on the ballot. That concerns me that we’re creating special piece, special things for in government for special situations. What’s the next entity that will create a special something for –? The working draft came out last week. And so if you’re right and maybe you’ve read through it already, I’m not sure, but I’m not sure what people think they’re going to get out of this.
From what I’ve looked at it’s extra stuff meaning responsibility – let’s see. So school personnel stipends for taking additional responsibility outside of typical work assignments, before- and after-school programs, summer school programs, community support programs, early childhood education. There’s a variety of things here. And the other thing is, if you don’t, if your district has not met the maximum for the local school levy, then that ends up being a double tax increase for communities. And so there is a concern of the continual tax increase which the Legislature did, it did increase taxes this year for our schools and it will continue for the next five years. There will be an increase. So I, no, I don’t support the way this came about, whether or not the bill – and we know it’s not a bill – so whether or not the deal works, we’ll see, who knows, in the legislative session because that’s not what we’re voting on.
(Video Time: 55:04)
Hi, Kurt Benjamin from Nibley. I’m the father of a teacher there. So my question has to do with licensing, and just kind of a little further discussion about that. With the changes that have occurred in licensing, and the proposed change in coming forward with the associate and then the professional license structure that is before us, what can we do to ensure that each child in a classroom has a qualified, well-prepared teacher in front of them?
(Video Time: 55:37)
Yeah. So thank you for the question. That’s a good question. A couple of things we want to make sure – we do want a qualified teacher; we want someone who’s capable and competent to help the children learn that year whatever topic they’re learning, whatever direction they’re headed.
We do know that we have a shortage of teachers and so there is a need to create that alternative path. But with that it shouldn’t just be open for whatever, it should be someone who can. First of all, they’re able to show or demonstrate that they can teach the subject area, whether that’s through the practice or other. Are there other requirements but also so that the administrators are able to go in and help them if necessary. There’s – my niece actually had a teacher that was from the military who came in and he didn’t have, he didn’t go through the regular route. He didn’t go through the training, through teacher education but what he did do was he came in, he received some training as far as the classroom management type of thing, and he has been a phenomenal teacher. He’s one of their favorite teachers at that particular school because of his ability to relate to the children and his ability to have a positive relationship with them. So yes, there is a concern that we want to make sure that those teachers meet the needs and are qualified. We also want to make sure that we’re able to adequately put teachers into classrooms too.
(Video Time: 57:21)
So there were, I think, there were more than a dozen ways to become a teacher in this state. There were a lot of obstacles, a lot of barriers. There were a lot of issues for people coming from other states or the Department of Defense. I met with the Hill Air Force Base teachers and they get noticed right away and within about two or three months of moving and they move and they come here from another state or from another country because they’re with the Department of Defense and they can’t get licensed here. So we looked at this and said, we need to look at some other options. We had a professor here at Utah State that wanted to teach at a local high school here. He’s a professor and yet we weren’t going to give him a license, so there were some issues that needed to be addressed, and so we do have the associate, we have the professional license. How to make sure? We need to be really careful with the LEA-specific license that we’re looking at. We really need to be careful and make sure that somebody has some background and understanding of what’s going on in a classroom. I think back to my husband right before, like a week before his first week teaching ever, we got a call from a family friend in California who had gotten an emergency license in California. She literally called my husband and said, can you help me figure out what a lesson plan is? And I just thought, oh my gosh. We need to make sure that there are certain things taught before somebody walks into a classroom. A teacher needs to know a little bit about special ed. They need to know about classroom management. They need to know about ethics. And I think we just need to be really careful with how that license is presented.
(Video Time: 59:07)
Hi, my name is Kyle Treasure. My question is, in your view, what is the proper role of technology in Utah schools and where can we improve?
(Video Time: 59:21)
Well I just have to tell you I’m not overly a fan of technology, and in fact I just did a presentation last week about social media and gaming and the increase in crime in Cache Valley due to it. However, I do know that that technology is really an important tool for teachers. It can’t supplement – it can’t supplement a teacher. It needs to be used with a teacher. I worry because we’re becoming a society that is pretty addicted to our media. Our average youth, according to the Pew Foundation, 45 percent of our kids are connected constantly. That’s kind of a scary statistic when you think about it. The average kid is spending more than seven hours a day in tech and on a media device. So I’m very concerned about as we move forward with technology about the constant use. Are we creating a generation that has got addiction problems? It is addicting. We know that now. Research is showing that young children should not be in front of a media device. We – but we’re using them. So I think at the state board level we need to be very careful. But again that’s a local control issue. I believe that local families and local school boards need to make a determination as to what is the best role for technology in their children’s schools or in their schools because it’s coming, it’s here. But we have to be very very careful with it.
(Video Time: 1:00:54)
All right. I think you’re going to see over the next probably five years or so some significant changes in the direction that technology’s taken in our schools, and specifically I think in the younger grades because I think the research is showing that children that are overexposed or spend a lot of time on technology have higher anxiety rates. They have what’s called brain fatigue. They’re overstimulated. There’s tons of research out there now and there’s actually an individual, Dr. Christy Cain is going around the state, she’s been doing a lot of, she was at one of the high schools last week down in Provo area. But she’s been doing a lot of, she’s done a lot of research and she’s sharing that with parents and with communities saying we need to cut back. You need to be aware that the brain is not fully developed and that overexposure to screen time games or what have you, that it’s creating problems with our youth. Now is there a proper role. Absolutely. Like Terryl had said too, there is a need for us to be aware of technology. There’s a need for us to know how to use the devices. There’s a need for us to know how to responsibly use them as well. So I think especially in the upper grades you’re going to still see that going on. But I’m hoping I’m hoping that we are aware of the screen time what it’s doing to the youth brains and how it’s affecting – how it’s affecting them both emotionally and in relationship to one another.
Online Audience Question
(Video Time: 1:02:30)
Can you please tell us what your position is on allowing the comprehensive sex education curriculum in Utah schools?
(Video Time: 1:02:43)
Okay, so Utah schools already have what would be considered – not the technical term of comprehensive sexuality education, because that has, that’s a catchall phrase, but they already have a program, their health program, which is – it covers the diseases, it covers healthy relationships. It covers a very broad range of details when it comes to comprehensive sexuality education. But there it’s important to recognize that an abstinence-based program that teaches youth about proper relationships, about the diseases that are out there and about waiting. And why we wait and the program that – sorry. We currently are adequately – what the Utah has right now is adequate for what we need. And I think our kids are are taught well and that they have the information that they need. And so I’m not for pushing comprehensive sexuality education. It’s extensive as far as the graphic nature and the things that it includes.
(Video Time: 1:04:02)
One in three girls were sexually assaulted in this state. One in four boys were sexually assaulted in this state. We’re talking under 18 years old. I am not a fan of comprehensive sex education. I believe that what we have is sufficient for our needs. I’m not comfortable. I believe that sex education is something that really needs to be discussed with a parent and the kids and the schools as to what they’re going to teach. That’s a really heated hot topic, because what may be taught in my home may be vastly taught a – vastly different than what is taught in Jennie’s home. It may be vastly different than what’s taught in Kim’s home over here. We may be, we may teach things that may not be taught in the schools whereas other people may teach something different. I just believe that that type of a topic really is reserved for parents and determining what their children should learn. I truly believe that our sex education needs to focus on the ways that you can protect your body and what’s okay and what’s not okay. There are some wonderful programs out there, but what we have is working well. We do have a – we do have a sex education bill, HB 286, that came out that talked about teaching kids about what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate and that seems to be working. But I’m not a fan of the comprehensive sex education that’s talked about with the U.N.
(Video Time: 1:05:27)
Thank you, and thank you for all of the audience and online questions. We want to give our candidates the opportunity to give some closing remarks. So we’ll give each of them two minutes and we’ll start with Terryl.
(Video Time: 1:05:41)
I believe I have a very simple philosophy of education. I believe that every student in this entire state has the right to be taught in an equitable and fair classroom with quality teachers in a manner that is determined best by the parents. That may be homeschooling, that may be online, that may be in a traditional school, and it may be a charter school. My children have used each of those educational practices, and like each of your children, my children are very unique and very different. And the way they learn is different. Every child learns in a different way. One of the wonderful things about Edith Bowen is they had a principal by the name of Kay Reese, and she used to send a questionnaire to parents about what ways do your children learn best, and we would fill out, oh, my child learns kinesthetically or something like that, and give some examples, and she would base how we were going to put what teachers we would have by that questionnaire and how our children learned. And it was a one way that I learned that really symbolized that this school and so many other schools take the learning process for children very seriously, that each child is unique. I believe that we need to be in a safe and nurturing environment. I believe that children have the right to come to school; they have the right to be taught and be safe in this, in their classrooms and at their schools. We, as I said before, my husband and I did not have the best of childhoods; we’re the only ones to have college educations. And we’ve learned the importance of public education. We’re models for that continuing on. You would not be able to tell with our children because of the way they’ve learned in this state that we struggled in education and in our earlier years. The state of the education in this state is wonderful, we have wonderful teachers and I’m not sure that they get enough credit for what they do. And I truly believe I have a little bit more work on the state board to do. I’m very focused on safety in schools. It’s my passion, victim advocacy and criminal justice and justice for people. It’s been my life passion and I’m known to be very passionate about my work here as we move forward. I would like to hope that we will have a trauma-informed education process so that every child gets the education they deserve.
(Video Time: 1:08:10)
Thank you. Yes, as I traveled around the District 1 and met with the different superintendents and also met with a number of the administrators and teachers I have been impressed. There we have some incredible leaders in our state. A couple of things that they want to see is less work on their end, meaning that as they’re trying to compete, whether it’s for grant money or whether it’s for other programs, that they find that this is taking up a lot of their time to, in place of actually administering, leading within their communities. I think it’s important to build relationships within schools. I think that’s a key thing that administrators do and it’s a key thing that will keep our schools not only, say, because when you have the consistency of teachers that are there you’re going to have a safer environment, but it will also create a continuity within the school system itself and within the community. I believe in a system that unifies, one that is creative, one that is – that builds, that isn’t derogatory towards teachers or towards families. I think this, that it’s key that we carry on dialogue that is uplifting. I think it’s important to realize that our parents are the key – they are key to a good education and that when parents are involved in and helping with their children, that you have educators and you – sorry, I’m stumbling on my words again, I apologize – I think it’s just key that parents have played a key role in their children’s lives and that we put parents first and then educators to help support those parents. I just have a positive vision for the state of Utah, for education. I’m excited to represent the families in northern Utah and I look forward to representing you. Thank you.