EDUCATION: Local Control
An 2018 Concern
Updated May 2022
All of our children deserve a quality education! North Davis students, low-income students, and minority students need community leaders who will fight for local authority and adequate resources directed towards local schools, teachers, and students to help students become educated, productive citizens not wards of the state. We cannot afford to allow our children to lag behind the rest of the world while students from other countries and other states take away better-paying jobs. "More Salt Lake County move-ins come from abroad each year than from many nearby counties," The Salt Lake Tribune (September 4, 2020). Residents have demanded better education for decades. We have waited too long for real educational reform.
Our teachers and parents deserve greater control over education.
Public education must change to meet the individual needs of our children. We need parent and teacher-driven schools in the second-largest school district in Utah. Our district is too big to be operated from the top-down. By amending existing state law, our local school community councils can easily become the most powerful voices at our local schools for positive change. We need to allow our local neighborhood schools the options to decide:
Who they want to have as their school principal.
What overall approaches and methods they want to see used at their school to ultimately meet just two simple but vital educational goals.
That 85% percent of students are admitted to colleges and universities of their choice, or
That 85% percent of students are hired in decent paying jobs that fit with their career choices.
In consultation with their state house representative, what state laws should be kept and which state laws only unnecessarily keep our teachers from actually helping to teach our children what we and they want to know and learn.
How to operate their own schools as I submit legislation to review and begin repealing as many State educational mandates as possible in order to give local schools, teachers, and parents greater control over how they teach our children in order to meet our State's educational goals.
As more and more controversial and extreme viewpoints become more prominent, as a check and balance to local school community council decisions, a state law amendment could be passed where such decisions could be overturned by a 2/3 vote of the local board of education [added proposal June 2022].
As a former School Board member in Salt Lake City, I have a track record of supporting local school decision-making. For instance even though I personally disliked the architectural design that East High had submitted to the School Board for their new building for approval, I supported their decision because it was their decision, not a District decision. Of course, Hollywood also disagreed with me and used the new East High School building for their set location in High School Musical (2006). Practical "naturalistic" assessments (see below) of students in middle or junior high schools, school districts and local schools will be able to look for both weaknesses and strengths in the different approaches that various local elementary schools undertake to address individual student needs.
Two Davis School District teachers back in February (2020) were complaining at Costco about how the District ignores teachers' needs. After their school was flooded, nobody asked them what their concerns were when the school was remodeled. Now the new repairs didn't include any cupboards for teachers to put their supplies for their students. Teachers and parents working together making their own decisions will enable our children to get the quality education they deserve and better able to qualify for, obtain, and enjoy better paying jobs. Even now, current State statutory law authorizing local school community councils exclusive power of the use of School Trust Land funds allocated to local schools, teachers and parents are in the beginning stages to influence real substantive decisions as to how crucial resources are to be directed to improve the quality of education for their students. One day, local school community councils may even be entrusted with the authority to hire and fire its own school principal. Local school decision-making directs responsibility back to teachers and parents giving them more personal investment and incentive to increase their personal involvement in schools and make better decisions that are unique to the individual needs of students in their schools.
Excessive growth is having a devastating impact on our schools
Newly updated June 2022. Constant building of homes will add to our already overcrowded classrooms and inefficient and costly addition of mobile classrooms and increased risk to students from road congestion. Development of high-density housing should to be required to obtain a form of certificate of community infrastructure availability. With the increasing limitations of available land, continued growth is creating unacceptable degradation in everyone's quality of life. Developers should be required to document that availability of sufficient road and school capacities, access to local commercial services and recreational facilities, and environmental impacts on water and agricultural and natural resources as well as air quality. Our neighborhoods can no longer assume that we have unlimited land and resources to sustain our exploding housing development and growth.
April 1, 2022. Residential street adjacent to West Point Elementary School. Street is completely lined with parked cars the entire length of the block for school event.
West Point Elementary School. April 1, 2022. With more unregulated growth with the building of high-density housing across the street, West Point already has multiple portable classrooms as pictured here that will only become more over-crowded. Adaptative new school designs are desperately needed to accommodate the evolving nature of our neighborhoods.
Schools and housing can be compatible together, but unless our local governments and residents are given the tools to responsibly develop their own communities:
Overcrowded schools and classrooms
Congested and dangerous roads
Degradation of our water and fair
Destruction of environmentally friendly agriculture
will occur. Our residents need a greater voice in how their own neighborhoods will develop and be maintained. As your state representative I will work to pass a law to give voters more say as to what happens in their own communities through requiring
public referendums on Master Plans on how local communities develop and
creation of Local Independent Housing Development Commissions
Mandatory Critical Race Theory
Has NO Place
In Our Public Schools
Updated May 2022
[Even as more than twenty different educational topics surfaced in my discussions with residents in 2021-22, CRT was among the top concern. One in ten residents raising educational concerns focused on Critical Race Theory, almost all of them opposed to CRT in our schools].
The Utah State Legislature and our State School Board during that past year have addressed Critical Race Theory and practically banned CRT from being taught in our public school system. CRT has become a non-issue and is now likely used only as a way to either inflame support or opposition to various candidates for public office.
CRT began as a Yale-derived theory in the 1970s and later embraced by various law schools around the Country. While this racially-tinged theory is based on a pattern of historical facts, the underlining beliefs and values of CRT are derived from the perspective of the personal experiences and subjective values held by the academics who developed the theory. The resulting CRT curriculum, it is my understanding, was designed for college-level courses, for "young adults" as an elective for those interested in civil rights and observed racial disparities in societies around the world, including the United States.
As a member and eventually Chair of the Davis County School District's Equity Committee from 2005 to 2008, the issue of CRT was never presented and never came up to the Committee for its evaluation or recommendation. Teaching history in our public school system using text material based on "accepted" and "verified" historical facts is an important and valuable part of our children's education. However, the inclusion of value-based interpretations of our Country's history should be carefully handled, especially when it comes to impressionable, young children. CRT is better restricted to young adults who have graduated from high school and have the mental faculties and ethical maturity to be able to distinguish between various opposing beliefs and values at the same time. Such moral development primarily occurs with a liberal arts education at institutions of higher learning.
However, if a sufficient number of parents and students in our Davis School District become interested in learning more about CRT on a "voluntary" basis, then the school district could be authorized to provide such an "option" should it choose to do so. Local control and parental rights should be respected where feasible.
Our children deserve a real-world educational schedule and life experience
We need to transform our Davis School District that meets the needs of real-world schedules and real-world community needs and services.
YEAR-ROUND SCHOOLING. Develop a pilot demonstration project enabling several high schools and their feeder schools to have year-round schooling to improve academic outcomes that fit better with parents’ year-round, real-world work schedule. Students will have a better likelihood to succeed in school without the loss of knowledge that often occurs when students are out of school for three months. Many parents will be better able to schedule vacation time with their families with a school schedule that is more in line with their own work schedule.
COMMUNITY EDUCATIONAL RESOURCE CENTERS. Transform our schools into better used public education community resource centers for students and residents throughout the year instead of letting them sit idle, wasting taxpayer money during the summer. By providing incentive grants to local schools to design schools for the entire community using modular designs, school buildings can be transformed with flexible building pods allowing various rooms to house various programs to meet the unique needs of changing neighborhoods. The sight of ugly detached, inefficient add-on mobile rooms can be eliminated. Areas for private and public contractors to provide for childcare or even social services to residents, the elderly can be made available. Libraries can be consolidated. Community education facilities can be used by adults throughout the year and into the evening hours in all our schools and decreasing the opportunities for our public school buildings to be vandalized and making better use of your taxpayer dollars.
As a State Legislator I would introduce possible ways to enhance education to local schools for their consideration:
Our teenagers deserve help in getting the best jobs possible. By increasing the academic and real-world rigor of our school curriculum, all high school seniors in their final year of high school could receive on-the-job training through real world education-business partnerships. We can introduce business and professional mentors for one-on-one assessment and support.
Instead of depending on letter grades to evaluate how our students are doing, using naturalistic evaluation methods such as narrative evaluations by local business people and professionals in the real world, both students and prospective employers can truly begin to understand each individuals' strengths and weaknesses such as those used by New College, Sarasota Florida where I went to school.
Explore the possibility of developing paid internships or apprenticeships with local businesses and invest in its students by extending low-cost or free college educational opportunities if students commit to working in Utah.
WE DESERVE TO ELECT OUR OWN NON-PARTISAN SCHOOL BOARD REPRESENTATIVES
Our Utah citizens deserve the right to directly elect their own non-partisan School Board representatives. Instead of letting special interest groups, political parties, or the governor have control over whom we can vote for as our representatives for public education at the state and local levels, we deserve the right to have qualified residents from our district file for office and have the public decide who they want to represent them without other people making the choices for us.
HOUSE DISTRICT 13
HAS NO PUBLIC LIBRARY OF ITS OWN*
HAS NO HIGH SCHOOL OF ITS OWN
AS YOUR STATE LEGISLATOR and former Salt Lake School Board member experience, I WILL WORK TO ATTEMPT TO FILL THIS CRUCIAL GAP BY WORKING WITH:
THE DAVIS SCHOOL DISTRICT
DAVIS COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM
DAVIS COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
TO FUND AT LESS COST A NEW HIGH SCHOOL COMPLEX THAT WILL PROVIDE COMMUNITY SERVICES, INCLUDING LIBRARY SERVICES, COMMUNITY HEALTH CLINIC (including mental health counseling), AND COMMUNITY PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. As West Point and Clinton get fully built out the demand on our public schools and public services will grow beyond capacity. We need to plan for the future generation.
*Beginning in 2023, when the new State Legislative redistricting in Utah's legislative district boundaries goes into effect for the next ten years, our Utah House District will include three new "old" Clearfield voting precincts where the new Clearfield library branch on Main Street (originally outside our House District) has been built will allow some people to say that our District now has a public library. However, the Clearfield branch library is mostly accessible to only Clearfield residents and geographically speaking still excludes most House District 13 residents from easy access to its services so that not everyone benefits.
WE STILL DESERVE BETTER.
OUR SCHOOLS DESERVE SPECIAL EDUCATION
& MENTAL HEALTH
All our children and teachers deserve help. Too many teachers and students have to contend with other students who have emotional and behavioral problems. Parents are forced to wait years for psychological testing of their children. For wife volunteered for three years as a Title I elementary school in Davis County as part of the Seniors Companion Program. Having to work in the Resource Program at the school she saw instead of helping students behind in their grade level, she experienced young emotionally disturbed students with possible clinical mental disorders that acted out in regular and resource classrooms. However, without adequate psychological testing, these students could not qualify for special education classes that they would have a federal right to receive.
Instead students before entering into our public schools need to be offered free and timely psychological and mental health screenings (with parental opt out options available) so that needed individualized educational plans and services can be identified and provided as required by law. Our schools need more mental health and special education personnel to work with these students so our teachers will actually be able to teach. These additional personnel can provide the services to help these students learn and perform better. Additionally, more mental health resources will afford an opportunity to spot for trouble that a student may be having, such as students at risk for suicide or acting out in a violent way. All our children deserve a better education.