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.