Category: Political Viewpoints
Is a requirement to wear a mask in public a violation of my freedoms?
This past Wednesday a wide array of faith leaders issued a statement urging the wearing of masks in public. One particular sentence from that letter struck me deeply: “One cannot claim to love one’s neighbor while deliberately putting them at risk.” This simple statement contains all of the elements of a good argument: The emotional element of love, The ethical standard of a moral choice, and the scientific logic that wearing a mask reduces risk of Covid-19. On the other hand, the argument that the government cannot mandate the wearing of masks is based solely on an emotional and false definition of freedom. In the words of a popular and oft used saying, “Your right to swing your arms ends where my nose begins.” This principle applies to wearing a mask in public.
Much of the political philosophy on which our nation is founded comes from a philosopher by the name of John Locke. If you have the inclination you could research his ideas online. If you choose to do that you could also look at the ideas of Thomas Hobbes. The philosophy of Locke rejected the idea that kings ruled by Divine Right. Divine Right was basically the idea that disobeying the king was to disobey God. Instead Locke insisted that governments are created under a Social Contract to protect Natural Rights. He defined these Natural Rights as Life, Liberty, and Property. He further stated that whenever a government did not protect these natural rights then it is the right of the people to overthrow that government. Both Locke and Hobbes also understood that when people created government they gave up total freedom in exchange for security. Government must be strong enough to protect our Natural Rights, but not so strong as to completely destroy our individual freedoms. Finding that balance between a government with too little power and a government with too much power is why we must always be diligent. I do not agree with those that believe that mandates requiring the wearing of a mask during a pandemic is the first step to totalitarianism.
I would suggest that you now take a few minutes to reread the Declaration of Independence. The ideas and principles of the Declaration were so well understood that the opening line is “We hold these truths to be self-evident”.
The preamble (opening paragraph) to the Constitution of the United States of America outlines six principles on which the constitution is based. One of these six principles is to “promote the general welfare”. I would suggest that the requirement of wearing a mask in public could absolutely be considered in the best interest of and general welfare of our city, state, and nation. Promoting the general welfare has often required personal sacrifice. Any requirement to wear a mask in public pales in comparison to the many sacrifices of the past.Read More...
Posted on 27 Jun 2020, 15:52 - Category: Political Viewpoints
The original Constitution of the United States called the Articles of Confederation created a loose confederation of 13 independent countries. Without getting into the various strengths and weaknesses of this original government, suffice it to say that many saw a need for a new constitution. That new constitution was ratified on Sept. 17, 1787 and except for amendments still governs our nation today. Probably the greatest success of the Articles were the laws setting up the settlement and eventual statehood of new territories. These land ordinances dealt with important social issues such as Slavery, and the rights of Native Americans. These land ordinances also created a vision and funding of public education into perpetuity. This quote from the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 expresses that view: “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” In the Land Ordinance of 1785 Lot/Section 16 of every Township was specifically set asside for the maintenance of public education. A Township is 6 square miles. A Section is 1/36 of a Township or one square mile. There are 640 Acres of land in a Section. This designation of land for the sole purpose of education is a significant indicator of the value the founding fathers put on educaiton.
Article 10 of the Utah Constituion clearly defines the governance and funding of education in Utah. Section 7 of Article 10 specifically defines how the federal educational land grants, first established in the 1780s, would be administered under the Utah Constitution. I value greatly the wisdom and vision of those who have served our state so well over the last 124 years.Read More...
Posted on 13 Jun 2020, 11:49 - Category: Political Viewpoints
As a State School Board candidate the slogan of local control is extremely popular and often used. And for the record I am absolutely for local control. I believe that issues of governance and administration of schools are best accomplished at the level closest to the people.
Studies suggest that when a community has a connection to the neighborhood school, and a sense of pride in the school exists within the community, that teachers are more effective and student learning improves.
The autonomy created by local control is important to building bridges between the school and the community. These connections will result in the civic pride and economic support that is vital to a community based school system..
As a member of the State School Board I would focus on the feedback from local elected school boards specifically and in general all stakeholders. For example, I would absolutely never take a stance intended to bypass the elected members of the local Davis and Weber School District school boards of education. My job as a member of the school board would be to advocate to the legislature on behalf of increased funding (WPU - Weighted Pupil Unit). This would then allow school boards to meet the goals of their strategic plan.
In addition to local control being better for teaching and learning, local control also means trusting in the leadership and vision of local school board members because they are closest to the people.
Therefore, I commit to connecting with education stakeholders, such as the local Weber and Davis school district boards of education.
A vote for me, is a vote for true local control of Education!Read More...
Posted on 01 Jun 2020, 24:19 - Category: Political Viewpoints
What difference will it make now that state school board candidates will run in partisan elections? Should local school board elections also be partisan?
The majority of Utahns are not in favor of partisan elections for either local or state school boards. In addition, all municipal mayors and councils are elected as non-partisan representatives of their cities. Currently, local school boards are elected in non-partisan elections and until now state school board elections have also been non-partican. As a member of the South Ogden City Council I have never had a reason to declare myself as a Republican on any issue.
I am proud to be a Republican and under the current rules running as a Republican for the State School Board. I believe however that it would be best for our schools and society in general if all local and state school boards remained or returned to being non-partisan.
A possible solution is to have the governor appoint the State School Board. Utah is one of only 11 states that currently elect state school boards. In most states it is an appointed office by the governor. When resignations have occurred on the board, Governor Herbert has made excellent choices on mid-term appointments.
Note: When the Utah Supreme Court ruled that partisan elections for the Utah State Board of Education were NOT against the Utah State Constitution I was surprised and disappointed. I have concerns with my current position, but I do not believe we will never return to non-partisam, open primary, State School Board elections. In my opinion the middle ground by default then becomes the governor appointed selection process.
It is also important to note that the Utah Board of Regents which is given oversight of our colleges and universities is a governor appointed body.
In the final analysis I am not absolutely sold on any solution, but I believe we should be activly talking about it.
Posted on 29 May 2020, 23:00 - Category: Political Viewpoints
Do Utah schools spend too much time testing? Are there other methods of evaluation that might work better?
As a classroom teacher I assess everything, especially myself. It keeps me sharp and always improving. I also assess student learning in every class, every day. I need to know as a teacher if my students are making connections with the curriculum. Building connections with students and the subject being learned is of absolute importance. I strive diligently to assist my students in being proficient in the Utah Core Standards.
There are two types of assessment, one is formative which is the type of assessment described above. It happens every day and is often informal in nature. For example, after teaching 1st period U.S. History, I ask myself what I could have done better. I am not above receiving feedback from fellow teachers, students, administrators, etc. on how I can improve as a teacher. Modeling appropriate ways to both give and receive feedback is an important skill for everyone. Whenever I have a student teacher I have them observe my teaching and invite their honest and critical observations. By allowing this. it gives me the capital to be critical and help them grow. I follow the model; I teach, we teach, and then you teach.
The second type of assessment which I believe this question is focused on is summative assessments. I believe that these assessments have come under great scrutiny politically because of a school grading system that focused too much attention on proficiency and not enough focus on growth. There was also political fallout over the adoption of the Common Core and its linkage to SAGE. Improvement has taken place in regards to these assessments. During the 2018-2019 testing there were glitches that caused some distrust over the reliability of the results, but there have been several very positive developments. The new assessments focus on student growth equally with student proficiency. They also have measures of equity recognizing growth for high risk student groups and minorities. The public also has shown greater trust in these new assessments with a lower number of parents opting out their students, possibly because of their alignment with Utah Core Standards.
My main criticism of the current Utah summative assessments is that they are not being used as effectively to guide instruction. Teachers need the data in hand, broken down by skills, so that they have the ability to improve student classroom instruction.Read More...
Posted on 29 May 2020, 22:58 - Category: Political Viewpoints