Political Viewpoints & 2022 Election
Gender Identity Guidance
Why did the Utah State Board of Education (USBE) begin the task of putting together a guidance policy? A few teachers did getting to know you questionaires that asked students to identify pronouns. USBE immediately informed schools that this was inappropriate and not lawful.
Why did the board continue working on a Gender Identity Guidance document for over six months before shelving the work. The Standards and Assessment Committee was assigned the task of studying the issue and building a draft guidance. Initially I and several others thought that each LEA/District should address these issues on a case by case basis based on local policies. Many of the larger districts did not want USBE to develop any type of guidance policy and others were begging for direction. The committee continued to work on the document by gathering as much information as possible. We especially looked at current LEA policiies and policies from a wide range of states. I must admit that this process was as exhaustive as possible.
During the process of building the Draft policy I became more convinced that the guidance document would not be approved by either the committee or the full board. This conclussion was further strengthened with the passage of HB11 but more importantly the dumping of the compromise and eventual full ban of transgender girls participation in athletics. I believed that any vote of the board at that point would have negative consequenses for the board, but especially negative for transgender students. The USBE is very sensitive to protecting ALL students.
Some legislative leaders have already stated publicly that they believe HB11 will be overturned and that the law will actually never go into effect. In other words the standard believe is that the courts are going to decide this issue.
So do you have any suggestions or solutions? This is the most challenging issue I have ever worked on in my over 10 years of public service. As a former teacher I understood the gravity of the decisions that were being made. I believe that there are things that we can do to protect the rights of everyone. Equal protection of the law is guaranteed by the constitution. For example, I remember how terrifying the boy’s locker room was for me in 7th grade. I personally observed sexual harassment and bullying that was very offensive. I would imagine that perhaps some of that occurred in the girl’s locker room as well. I have no power to fund making bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers that insure privacy to ALL students, but the legislature can. No school should every be built that DOES NOT PROTECT the privacy of all students!
Critical Race Theory (CRT)
A friend said that they did NOT have the time or interest to read what I had written and to PLEASE give a summary. Are our children being indoctrinated with CRT is our schools? No, as defined by both the legislature in Resolution 901 and State Board Rule R277-329 it is not allowed. If you want to explore more than that then read further.
The last 16 months have been full of controversey and turmoil in the Utah education system and throughout the country. Many of these challenges were a result of Covid-19 while others were more political in nature. The debate over In person v. virtual education, mask and vaccination mandates, Critical Race Theory, Social Emotional Learning, book banning and transgender student rights dominated the headlines.
My intent in writing about these issues is to create a space where we can have open, respectful and honest dialogue about educational issues. Along the way it would also be desirable to build solutions and mutual respect. With that introduction I will now share the story of CRT from my perspective.
On January 6th, 2021 I took the oath of office for a 4 year term on the Utah State Board of Education (USBE). On that very first day the board unanimously approved a resolution that had been the subject of much thought and work. Looking back I realize more than ever the effort of the board prior to my time and I honor and appreciate them greatly. I hope that you will take the time to study it for yourself.
The term “Equity” would become more controversial as the months progressed from January into May of 2021. The USBE would as a result of adopt “Educational Equity”, not just “Equity” so as to differentiate between what some were suggesting as a marxist/communist useage of that term. The useage and definition of equity in education was in my view well established and not controversial. However I decided that clarifying the definition of equity by adding educational in front would be helpful to moving forward with good policy.
Political pressure for the Utah Legislature to act against CRT began to accelerate. In May the legislature called for an “Extraordinary Session” to prohibit CRT and Utahns’ 2ndAmendment rights. On May 19th the Utah Legislature passed Resolution 901.
You may have noticed that 901 is a resolution and not a bill/law. A resolution is not binding and is technically a recommendation. A close reading of the language makes it clear that Resolution 901 is a required recommendation (lol). Line 41 & 42 reads “BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Utah State Board of Education report back to the Education Inteerim Committee regarding the board’s progress related to this resolution. I can confirm as a member of the Standards and Assessment Committee that we took that charge seriously.
The Utah Legislature makes laws (passes bill) and if related to education the USBE make rules on the implementation of those laws. Resolution 901 was treated like it was a law when building the rule. The rule implementing the resolution was R277-328. Since being on the board I have realized that many administrators and board member can recite rules by number. Education rules always begin with R277.
Very seldom does a bill/resolution go through the legislative process without multiple changes and this was also the case with Resolution 901. Adapting and integrating Resolution 901 into R277-328 was like a good fitting glove.
Lines 31 through 37 of Utah Legislature 2021 Resolution 901
31 NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Representatives strongly
32 recommends that the Utah State Board of Education review standards for curriculum and
33 ensure that the following concepts are not included in the curriculum standards:
34 < that one race is inherently superior or inferior to another race;
35 < that an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment
36 because of the individual's race; or
37 < that an individual's moral character is determined by the individual's race.
Board Rule or implementation of Resolution 901 - R227-328 (3) (a) (b) (c) and (d)
(3) The professional learning provided by an LEA may not include instruction that promotes or endorses that:
(a) a student or educator’s sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or membership in any other protected class is inherently superior or inferior to another sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other protected class;
(b) a student or educator’s sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or membership in any other protected class determines the content of the student or educator’s character including the student or educator’s values, morals, or personal ethics;
(c) a student or educator bears responsibility for the past actions of individuals from the same sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other protected class as the student or educator; and
(d) a student or educator should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of the student or educator’s sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or membership in any other protected class.
CRT question from a constituent (nullification clause)
Summary – There is not a nullification clause in board rule R277-328. I stand 100% behind portrait of a Graduate. It is awesome!
In the school board debate between Christina Boggess and Stacey Hutchings there was a reference to a “nullification clause” in the board rule regarding CRT. What is a nullification clause and is the accusation true?
Nullify means to invalidate. I first heard this accusation from Boardmember Natalie Cline, secondly from Senator John Johnson, and thirdly from school board candidate Christina Boggess. Cline, Johnson, and Boggess are closely associated and actually were all part of a documentary paid for by Johnson with Cline and Boggess also appearing in the film. All three have propogated the idea that the State Board of Education intentionally invalidated its own rule regarding CRT. Perhaps the most egregious accusation of CRT is in regards to the USBE Portrait of a Graduate,
As a member of the Standards and Assessment Committee I was a part of every discussion and we strove diligently to implement a rule that was in harmony and alignment with Resolution 901. This so called nullification clause is absolutely false. I am weary of the constant deluge of the latest accusation of CRT in our schools. CRT is NOT systemically ingrained in our educational system.
The WPU (Weighted Pupil Unit) is the fundamental mechanism for funding schools. It allows local school boards to determine how best to utilize resources. That is the essence of local control.
Core StandardsUtah Curriculum Core Standards are the foundation of a successful instructional model. The State Board of Education must include all stakeholders in the standards adoption process. Local districts then have the responsibility to set the curriculum to meet the needs of their community.
Responses to Questions from UEA
1. The UEA believes that teachers and their professional association should be a partner with policymakers in making decisions affecting children and public education. What role do you envision for the UEA in advancing public education?
Teachers and their professional associations have a front row seat to the various issues and challenges facing education. This expertise must be utilized to the fullest extent. It would be my professional responsibility to communicate openly, honestly, and respectfully with all stakeholders, such as the UEA. Regardless of political ideology, we can all agree that a quality education focused on student learning is vital to the success of our communities, state, and nation. Connecting with all stakeholders is the primary focus of my commitment to education. I believe my skill set is complementary to the role of an effective member of the state board.
4. The UEA believes that a greater investment should be made in funding public education, which may include the need to increase local and state taxes. What do you believe should be done to ensure adequacy of funding for Utah’s public schools?
I am encouraged and optimistic about the more pronounced pro-education messages than those of 4 years ago. In fact, many stakeholders came together during the last legislative session with a compromise education funding bill built with the collaboration of many. Demographically Utah is changing. I believe these changes will provide an opportunity that will be positive and transformational for education in Utah. I have specific ideas on both why and how education funding can be greatly enhanced. At the heart of any funding discussion is the teacher. Teachers are our most valuable asset. As a member of the State Board of Education I would respect, promote, and advocate for the profession of teaching. Building connections with fellow members of the board, legislators, and stakeholders, such as the UEA is vital to accomplishing any legislative agenda. My vote on the board is only good if 7 other board members agree.
6. What is the role of the state board in ensuring the adequate preparation and licensure of all Utah educators? What critical skills and competencies must an educator demonstrate before being licensed? What role does licensure play in recruiting and retaining effective educators?
The current teaching shortage is a challenge to all Utah school districts, but to some degree it has always been a challenge to recruit teachers to rural districts. Many teachers believe that the profession of teaching is being undermined by the APT program while demanding their support and mentoring. I view the shortage as an opportunity to advance the profession and bring into alignment the expected accountability with the economic principles of supply and demand. The economic principle of risk and reward must find an equilibrium point or else there will continue to be a teacher supply problem that only disappears during times of economic downturn. However, if the reward is commensurate to the level of risk and accountability then competition will drive the supply of teachers. Key Points of consideration;
- All students in Utah deserve quality instruction from a professionally trained and certified teacher.
- Professional training of teachers requires both content knowledge and pedagogy. · Currently there is a teacher shortage in Utah.
- The teacher shortage needs to be addressed in both the short and long term.
- The Utah State Board of Education has recently approved an additional pathway to teacher certification to give additional flexibility in hiring new teachers.
7. Do you support the concept of a single letter grade to measure schools? Why or why not? Are consequences such as state takeover or conversion to charter school, appropriate for struggling public schools?
NO! It creates a moving target that does not adequately recognize growth. I serve on the AAPAC (Assessment and Accountability Advisory Committee) to the state board; this issue is always present. The use of the dashboard format has been very positively received. Progress has been made in regards to this issue and I am confident that you will be able to remove this question from your list in the future. State takeover or conversion to a charter school does not, according to the data, improve a struggling school.
9. The school board is often tasked with implementing policy via the rulemaking process. What role do you see the public and stakeholders having in this process?
Good decisions are best made with a wide variety of stakeholder input. Successful schools are essential to our communities. As an educator of 29 years, I am passionate about supporting students, teachers, and families. With 9 years of council work for South Ogden City I am skilled at building consensus and developing strong ties between education and community resources.
13. How should the state board ensure that every student in every school has access to equitable learning opportunities as the move toward “competency-based” education means the selection of coursework becomes increasingly self-directed and the completion of coursework becomes increasingly self-paced?
I am interested in the standards/proficiency based model. I know that these programs have been implemented in Juab and Granite school districts and I had anticipated visiting these districts, until Covid-19 occurred. Covid-19 has actually illustrated to me the importance of the “competency-based” model. This past January our school went 1-1 with Chromebooks and this has been extremely helpful in going online with our students during the pandemic. All students having a device has been equitably implemented, but internet access for all of them has been an issue.
Responses to Questions Regarding Brent's Views on Education
Educating the Whole Child
EDUCATING THE WHOLE CHILD is an integral part of our educational system. Providing support and opportunities for student participation in the visual and performing arts, athletics, student government, clubs and service organizations is a necessary and proper function of schools. Schools also are laboratories of society where students learn through modeling character traits necessary to functioning as productive members of society.
Utah Core Compentencies
How core competencies are implemented and formative assessments are utilized is totally within the autonomy of teachers, schools, and districts. As a teacher I like having the scope and sequence of the core to give guidance on standards that align with formative assessments, such as the ACT, RISE, and ASPIRE. The data from these sources is useful to improve instruction in the classroom. The biggest complaint is that there are currently too many assessments taking too much time away from instruction. One of the greatest challenges that the members of the State Board of Education face are mandates from the Federal Government and the Utah Legislature. This is challenging because the State Board must then implement these mandates and pass them on to local school districts. There are many challenges facing Utah and its educational system. It is important to understand the issues, but it is also important to have a clear and practical understanding of how these issues affect students and educators.
Assessments can inform instruction by providing educators the information to target instruction and improve student learning. I have been disappointed in how poorly the use of data is being utilized in some schools and some districts. In most instances the data is not provided to teachers in a format that is specific enough to truly impact instruction.
Technology and Learning
Several years ago the South Ogden City Youth Council attended a mock debate at the state capital. The topic of the debate was the use of technology in the classroom for instructional purposes. It soon became apparent that students view technology much differently than adults when it comes to education. The overwhelming majority stated emphatically that the number one factor, in their view, was not the use or non-use of technology, but the quality of instruction by the living, breathing, human teacher. Several students stated that some of their best teachers used very little technology in the classroom, while other great teachers used lots of technology. The opposite was also true of less proficient teachers. As a teacher, I have found technology to create greater efficiency for instruction, attendance, and grading. Technology can be an excellent tool in the hands of teachers and students, but it is not the end all. The social and interactive nature of the traditional classroom, enhanced by technology, is best. If technology alone were the answer, we could just have students sit at home and do all their learning on their computers. It sure would save lots of money. The teacher is the key element in an effective use of technology within the curriculum. Teachers need to adapt to technology as a tool to enhance learning. It is also important that technology is well supported in the school system, but it does not, or should it ever, supplant the teacher and students in a classroom as the base model of education.
Choice is a fundamental principle of republican government. As parents with seven children, currently spread out between junior high, high school, college, and college graduate; as well as a combined 42 years of teaching experience between the two of us, we have learned a few things. We still do not know everything, but we do know that over the years there has been only one time, where we as parents felt that we must take bold action in regards to the education of one of our children. On the other hand, we would both run out of fingers and toes if we were to count the wonderful experiences and educators that our children have had over the years. I absolutely believe in the principle of choice in education, but not at the expense of the taxpayer.
Note: Technology has been central to my ability as a teacher to provide opportunities for students to continue learning during the Covid-19 pandemic. The greatest challenges provide us the opportunity to adapt and change. As we move forward past the Covid-19 pandemic and its effect on teaching and learning we must closely examine the lessons learned. As we identify challenges and identify effective solutions to these challenges we have an opportunity to improve our educational system. I believe that one of the strengths I have developed as a member of the South Ogden City Council is the ability to build a vision and communicate that vision effectively. I believe I would be an asset on the state board as we work through the educational issues associated with Covid-19 and other issues.
Several years ago the South Ogden City Youth Council attended a mock debate at the state capital. As a member of the South Ogden City Council, I attended this event along with the youth. The topic of the debate was the use of technology in the classroom for instructional purposes. It soon became apparent that students view technology much differently than adults when it comes to education. The overwhelming majority stated emphatically that the number one factor, in their view, was not the use or non-use of technology, but the quality of instruction by the living, breathing, human teacher. Several students stated that some of their best teachers used very little technology in the classroom, while other great teachers used lots of technology. The opposite was also true of less proficient teachers.
As a teacher, I have found technology to create greater efficiency for instruction, attendance, and grading. Technology can be an excellent tool in the hands of teachers and students, but it is not the end all. The social and interactive nature of the traditional classroom, enhanced by technology, is best. If technology alone were the answer, we could just have students sit at home and do all their learning on their computers. It sure would save lots of money. The teacher is the key element in an effective use of technology within the curriculum.
Teachers need to adapt to technology as a tool to enhance learning. It is also important that technology is well supported in the school system, but it does not, nor should it ever, supplant the teacher and students in a classroom as the base model of education.