Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Interim Superintendent

I received the following information from the District today.

"With the retirement of Superintendent Barry L. Newbold, the Board of Education has made the decision to name David Stoddard as Interim Superintendent of Schools for Jordan School District. As part of this re-assignment, the Board has approved some temporary modifications of assignments to provide coverage of necessary District administrative functions.

"These assignments will be temporary and will continue until such time as a new Superintendent of Schools is chosen by the Board of Education. Once a new Superintendent has been chosen, employees will return to their previous administrative job duties.

"Effective Jan. 1, 2011 John Taylor, currently Administrator of Auxiliary Services, will assume responsibility over the Riverton and Herriman schools and temporarily move to the District offices at 7387 S. Campus View Dr. In addition, he will assume the responsibility of the high school level.

"During John Taylor’s time at the District offices, Scott Thomas will have responsibility as Administrator of Auxiliary Services, with the support of John Taylor as necessary. He will remain at the Auxiliary Services building located at 7905 S. Redwood Road.

"All other cabinet members will retain their current assignments and will be providing assistance and support to Mr. Taylor and Mr. Thomas during the interim."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Matt Lund, National Board Certified Teacher

Congratulations to Matt Lund, Physics Teacher at Copper Hills High School, on earning National Board Certification!  He said it only took a year to complete.

More School Visits

Yesterday I spent lunchtime in the faculty room at Kauri Sue Hamilton School.  What a great staff and a beautiful facility built for the needs of that special population!  I was at Elk Meadows Elementary after school.  I showed them the TEF video and discussed reaching out to legislators and inviting them into our classrooms to see what we do everyday.  As the legislature begins in January, we all need to take the time to write our representative and senator on issues related to education.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

UEA President on National Panel

This press release from NEA is dated December 13, 2010.
UEA president and former second-grade teacher Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh is one of 21 educators nationwide selected to participate on an independent commission to study the teaching profession and make recommendations on maximizing teacher and teaching effectiveness.
The National Education Association (NEA) announced that the national Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching (CETT) will draw on the wisdom and experience of accomplished teachers—supported by researchers, policymakers and academicians—who will examine the policies and practices governing the teaching profession and craft a new teacher-centered vision of teaching and the teaching profession. NEA President Dennis Van Roekel first announced plans for this Commission during his keynote address at the NEA's 2010 Representative Assembly in New Orleans.
“There is a fundamental need to shake up the nation’s collective thinking on quality teaching,” said Van Roekel, “and we believe the best way to do that is to get the perspective of professional educators who are recognized for their innovation and accomplishments in the classroom. Our hope is that this Commission will not only focus on the professional practices that make a difference in student learning but also address the critical issues facing the future of the profession. NEA is dedicating significant resources and staff to support the Commission’s work because we recognize the significance of this task.”
Chaired by Madaline “Maddie” Fennel, 2007 Nebraska Teacher of the Year and fourth-grade teacher from Omaha, Neb., the Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching is charged with accomplishing work in four areas:
  • Analyzing existing standards, definitions, policies and practices related to teacher effectiveness and effective teaching and developing a teachers’ definition of an effective teacher and effective teaching.
  • Crafting a new vision of a teaching profession that is led by teachers and ensures teacher and teaching effectiveness.
  • Developing a comprehensive set of recommendations for the National Education Association about the union’s role in advancing and promoting teacher effectiveness and the teaching profession.
  • Developing a comprehensive set of recommendations for education leaders and policymakers about the future of the teaching profession and the role of teachers in governing it.
 The Commission will meet four to six times over the next year and conduct public hearings to gather input on topics of interest to the panel. Individual members of the Commission will work on various committees and activities in order to accomplish the goal of delivering preliminary recommendations to the 2011 NEA Representative Assembly in Chicago. Commission members will solicit feedback from NEA members and deliver a final report to the public in the fall of 2011. NEA will use the recommendations to examine the Association’s policies and long-term vision for teaching.
“The current policies and processes that govern our profession do little to support teachers or students today,” said Van Roekel. “Those with little understanding about student learning or the teaching profession have been allowed to establish programs, set standards and shape policies that impact teaching and learning. Absent a new approach to teacher policy, it is unrealistic to expect schools and teachers to prepare all students with the skills and knowledge necessary for the 21st century and beyond. Supporting the work of the Commission is one of many steps the NEA is taking to help transform the profession and give teachers greater authority over their profession, the quality of teaching and quality of public schools.”

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mountain Shadows School Visit

I had a good visit with the teachers and staff at Mountain Shadows this morning.  It was also fun to see people I have taught with over the years.  I am trying to visit all schools at some point this year.  If I haven't been to your school yet, I will be!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Educator Day on the Hill

Plan ahead now to attend a UEA Educator Day on the Hill.  Most of the scheduled days are Fridays.  Below is the list of the dates with which schedule would accommodate educators attending. 

January 28 (D track is off) - I will be teaching that day.
February 4 (D track is off/track change day)
February 11 (C track is off) - I will be teaching that day.
February 18 (C track is off)
February 25 (C track is off/track change day) - I will be teaching that day.
March 4 (B track is off/secondary PTC comp day/traditional elementary grade transmittal day)
Monday, March 7 (B track is off) - I will be teaching that day.

If you are prepared and are able to make your track change early or submit your grades early, every teacher, except A-track teachers, have the opportunity to attend at least one UEA Educator Day on the Hill.

Please contact me if you are interested in attending and let me know which day you would like to attend.

Friday, December 10, 2010


I thought you might enjoy this.

image from www.newyorker.com

Governor's Proposed State Budget 2011

Good news!  Governor Herbert's proposed budget includes money for growth and extended-day kindergarten.  See this article in the Salt Lake Tribune.


I spoke with Laura Finlinson about elementary reading and math.  She said, "We (the curriculum department) are not here to crack the whip.  We are here to be supportive."  She also stated that if principals request, she will come to individual schools to present the framework into which reading and math fit.  If you are having a lot of questions at your school, ask your principal to invite Laura Finlinson, Administrator of Curriculum and Staff Development, to come share this information with your staff. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

U.S. Department of Education Teaching Ambassador Fellowship

Applications for the US Department of Education's Teaching Ambassador Fellowship are now available online.

Teaching Ambassadors are outstanding teachers who have a record of leadership, strong communication skills, and policy insight who work for one year for the US Department of Education, either full-time in Washington, DC or part-time in their home states. The Teaching Ambassador Fellowship supports the Department's mission by enabling a cadre of teachers from across the country to contribute their classroom expertise to the national dialogue and in turn facilitate discussions with educators across the country. More information about the program and application is available at this website.  Questions can be sent to teacherfellowship@ed.gov

Applications are due January 17, 2011.

New Administrative Assistant

Cari, the great JEA administrative assistant, is expecting a baby girl in January and has decided not to return.  Laura, Cindy, and I have interviewed six candidates for the position.  We should be making a decision in the next week.

It was a learning experience for me.  I have been involved in interviewing teachers for positions on my team, but I have never helped to hire an administrative assistant.  I'm so grateful for the experience of Laura and Cindy in this regard.  They knew how to narrow the candidate pool, what skills to look for, and the best questions to ask.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Yesterday was the Sick Bank Committee Meeting and the School Board Study Session.  Sick Bank was pretty routine in looking at requests to use Sick Bank.

The School Board Study Session included the Interim Superintendent, Dave Stoddard, and the two new School Board members, Corbin White and Susan Pulsipher.  Changes to DP 303:  Staff Selection Guidelines and DP 308: Auxiliary Personnel were discussed.  Most were language changes to bring policy in line with practice.  The part that will impact some is the neopotism piece added to DP 303.  It states, "No one with supervisory responsibility shall hire or recommend for hire any family member including parent, grandparent, spouse, child, grandparent, sibling, or any corresponding in-law, step, adoptive relative, or anyone residing on a permanent basis in the supervisor’s home."

See DP 303 for all the proposed language changes.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Literacy Coaches

I spoke with Kathy Wittke again today about the role of Literacy Coaches and how classroom teachers need to understand the job of the coaches.  The job description was changed this year as the District transitioned from Literacy Facilitators to Literacy Coaches.  The same level of services provided prior to this year cannot be expected with Coaches servicing two schools.  Coaches are to help teachers provide interventions in their classrooms.  Coaches are not to be pulling students out. 

The job description for Literacy Coaches is going to be redefined again.  Kathy has said she will give me that job description once it is finalized.  I will distribute it, so all teachers will understand the role of the Coaches.

Costco Shopping

In conjunction with CEA, GEA, and the classified association, JEA is hosting a shopping event at the Murray Costco (5300 S. State Street) on Saturday, December 4.  Registration and breakfast will begin at 8:00.  Shopping will be from 8:30 to 9:30 with or without a Costco membership.  A drawing for two turkeys will be held at 9:00.

Come and enjoy!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Legislative Supply Money

"According to the Utah Administrative Code R277-459, Teachers Supply and Materials Appropriation is to be distributed to classroom teachers who provide instructional services to students.  These funds are intended to be used for school materials, supplies, and field trips."  -- TEACHERS SUPPLY AND MATERIALS APPROPRIATION GUIDELINES FOR IMPLEMENTATION

The Legislative Supply Money will be at your school next week after your principal attends the level meeting.  Here are the full-time amounts, which include the $50 you should have been able to access already.  If you teach part-time or job-share, your amount is half of what is listed.

Step 1 - 3:  $250
Step 4+:  $190.72

Step 1 - 3:  $200
Step 4+:  $140.72

Elk Ridge Middle School Visit

I enjoyed meeting and talking with the teachers at Elk Ridge Middle School today during lunch.  Overall, they are positive and enthusiastic about teaching.  They are concerned about kids and talked about how to help them. 

Meeting with Superintendent Newbold

I had a good meeting with Superintendent Newbold this morning.  We discussed Literacy Coaches, Guided Reading Levels, Math benchmarks, high school parent teacher conferences, District curriculum specialists, Herriman fire make-up day, and legislative priorities. 

I will be following up on the curriculum and parent teacher conference issues.  The grants funding District curriculum specialists will are for the next two to three years.  The District hopes to phase those positions in a few a year to permanent funding. 

I have received a few e-mails about the Herriman fire make-up day scheduled for Presidents' Day in February.  Superintendent Newbold stated that teachers are correct that the day will not be productive instructionally.  If the day is not made up, the District is out of compliance with the 180-day state law and will lose state funding.  Another issue if the day is not made up is Herriman area teachers receiving pay for not teaching.  The teachers in the other 45 schools would see an inequity in pay.  I hate to deliver the news, but these are the reasons Herriman schools will be in session on Presidents' Day.

The School Board met with Merlynn Newbold, Jim Bird, Ken Ivory, Wayne Harper, and Howard Stephenson's representative, Corbin White.  They discussed the Utah School Board Association's Legislative Priorities and the Jordan School Board's Legislative Priorities.  They are similar but in a different rank order. 

Jordan School District Legislative Priorities, December 2010:
  1. No reductions to the 2010-11 state funding levels to public education for the 2011-12 fiscal year.
  2. Fund new student growth.
  3. Maintain county-wide capital outlay equalization funding.
  4. Support efforts that strengthen local control and flexibility for local boards of education.
  5. Support direct non-partisan elections for state and local school boards.
  6. Reauthorize funding for full-day kindergarten.
  7. Provide long-term equalization of funding for school districts.
  8. Fully fund state-mandated student transportation.
  9. Oppose laws that would enact new education requirements until current requirements are fully funded.
  10. Restore the Quality Teaching Block Grant, or provide funds for teacher professional development.
  11. Maintain current bond election requirements.

Special Education Task Force Meeting

Yesterday afternoon I attended the special Education Task Force.  It is interesting to hear about the unique problems facing Special Education.  They lost money due to the split and the economy and had to cut aide help back, which is impacting nearly all Special Ed. classrooms.  They are also struggling to inservice teachers on policies and procedures that must be followed.  The Special Education budget is separate from the District's Maintenance and Operations budget.  All costs for salaries, benefits, aides, substitutes, etc. come out of their budget and not subsidized by the District budget.

The laws that govern Special Ed. are tight with repercussions if not in compliance.  Special Ed. teachers should contact Beth Usui at the District if a parent requests an Independent Education Evaluation or Revocation of Services, so all proper paperwork and notifications are completed.  This paperwork must be done correctly to show the District offered a Free Appropriate Public Education, FAPE, to the Special Education students, and why parents did not accept.

All schools should be using the tiered intervention system.  Before students are referred through TAT to Resource, Tier 2 interventions should be utilized within the classroom.  See the Resource Team at your school if you would like more information.

JEA Members serving on this committee include Deb Dolph at Jordan Resource Center, Barbara Wightman at West Jordan High, Jenny Pedler at Heartland, Renee Sass at Oquirrh Hills, and Christie Jarrard at Eastlake.  Contact them with Special Education issues you would like addressed through the Task Force.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ethics Review

I just received information about an Ethics Review all teachers renewing their license for June 2011 will be required to complete. The following is from UEA President, Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh.

"I spoke with Carol Lear, USOE Director of School Law and Legislation, to clarify this new requirement. The review is not graded nor is there a penalty for missed questions. A teacher may even have the copy of the Ethic Standards with him/her as they participate in this review. The USOE is hoping to bring the Board Rules regarding ethical teacher behavior to the forefront. Should a question be answered incorrectly, there is a tutorial provided to educate the practitioner."

More information will be available at USOE License Renewal after January 3, 2011.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Interim Superintendent

Last night at the School Board Meeting I was unable to attend due to weather, the School Board appointed David Stoddard, current Area Administrator of Schools over the Riverton and Herriman Feeder Systems, as the interim superintendent.  See Salt Lake Tribune article or the Jordan District Board Summary.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Salary Schedule Fixed

According to Current, the approximate $30 salary problem will be fixed on your paycheck this week.  See Current Blog for more information.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Terra Linda School Visit

I had a great meeting with the teachers at Terra Linda!  We talked about the search for a new superintendent.  I showed the UEA TEF video and answered questions about that.  They seemed like a very supportive group.  I look forward to visiting every school this year.

November Legislative Council (AR) Meeting

I feel like I did not lead the meeting well.  I hope you can chalk it up to my inexperience.  I apologize to secondary teachers for the extensive discussion around elementary issues.  I know those issues need to be heard, and the teachers need to share what is happening at their buildings.  I have talked to a couple of other local presidents to gain ideas on how to handle local concerns that are focused on one group and need the kind of time we devoted to them last night.

I have decided I will allot 20 minutes each meeting for building concerns.  If we need more time, we will finish the items on the agenda, and those who wish to stay to continue the discussion on the building concerns will be welcome to do so.  Those for whom the issues do not apply would be able to leave.  I do not want AR's to feel the meeting is a waste of time, nor do I want AR's to feel they are not being heard.  I hope this format will prevent a needed discussion from taking away the other items of business and training on the agenda.

If any of the AR's have other suggestions, I am open to hearing them.

The contact information for the NEA Value Builders representatives are Darren Moffitt - 801-835-8005 and John Forsgren - 801-663-4687.  You could talk to them about doing presentations at your schools or talking with interested individuals.

Remember the new AR portion of the JEA JEA website.  The Red Flag Moments PowerPoint is there for you to use with your members to advise them when they need additional help or representation.

November DAC

The District Advisory Committee met yesterday afternoon.  We discussed principals who are not following the newly negotiated item about Grade Transmittal Days being optional, and that teachers will complete their grades on time, either prior to or on that day.

High school Parent Teacher Conferences were discussed.  This item will go to the new committee that will begin meeting in January to look at possibly restructuring to make better use of time.

AP funding was addressed.  Funding is based on the number of students who passed the tests the previous year.  However, the amount of funding changes from year to year.  This is very difficult to predict.

Suspensions in 9th-12th grade show on the transcript, which is a permanent document.  Once information is on a transcript, it cannot be changed.

The time to administer the PLAN test in middle and high schools was a problem.  They would like a late start, but the logistics of transportation make this difficult.  Questions need to be directed to Clyde Mason.

A question about our calendared holiday breaks not matching surrounding districts was brought up.  We have year round schools, and try to match our traditional and year round holiday breaks as closely as possible.  This makes adding days to Thanksgiving, Winter, or Spring breaks nearly impossible.  Anyone who has served on the Calendar Committee recognizes this.

Finally, we reviewed some recently revised policies.


I spent most of yesterday searching school websites for names and contact information for School Community Council Chairpeople and PTA Presidents.  I would like to share the TEF message with parents, so they can join us in lobbying the legislature for education funding.  If you are a teacher representative to your SCC or PTA, please send contact information to me via e-mail.  I have started contacting these individuals to set up times for presentations.  I hope to schedule more over the next couple of months.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Elementary Reading and Math

I spent the majority of my morning on the phone with Kathy Wittke, Elementary Language Arts Consultant, and Maggie Cummings, Math Consultant, about expectations and roles.

I talked to Kathy about the job of the Literacy Coaches, how that has changed, and what is expected of teachers.  The Literacy Coaches are to be coaching classroom teachers on Tier 1 (classroom) interventions and best practices for teaching literacy.  The Coaches can come into classrooms to demonstrate parts of the Balanced Literacy model, work directly with individual teachers or teams on improving part of their instruction, and help with intervention ideas for teachers to use in their classrooms.  The Coaches are not to be tutoring students.  They can do brief training of aides to tutor students who need Tier 2 (pull-out but not Resource) interventions.  The Literacy Coaches are supposed to be effecting progress for the most students, which translates to helping all teachers become better teachers of literacy skills for all students.  The role is going to be redefined and narrowed in the spring.

Laura Finlinson, Director of Curriculum and Staff Development, has asked that Guided Reading Levels be turned in monthly on all students.  These levels can come from running records, PALS, or Fountas and Pinnell.  She said that is the ideal, but at minimum, students who are below grade level should have their GRL reported monthly.

I talked to Maggie about the Math Scope and Sequence, Blocks, and Benchmark Assessments.  The Scope and Sequence was designed to cover the state core curriculum.  The Blocks within each Benchmark can be taught in any order.  For example, teachers may wish to teach Block 3, then Block 1, then Block 2.  That is fine.  The Block and Benchmark Assessments are meant to be used in a formative way.  Teach the objectives, use the assessment, remediate as needed based on the outcomes of the assessment.  Maggie has asked that teachers submit their class average on the Benchmark Assessments to their principals.  Principals are then to find a grade average for each Benchmark and send that to Maggie.  She then compiles District averages which are sent back to principals.  The purpose of the District gathering this information is so teachers can see how their students are doing in relation to the District as a whole.  Approximately 70% of schools are participating in this data collection process.

For the past 20 years, Jordan District as it is (west side) has had average math scores lower than the state average.  Last year was the first time Jordan's averages were higher than state averages.  Since implementing the Jordan Scope and Sequence, Jordan's average math scores on the CRT's have increased 4.45% while the state increase has been 1.55%.  Schools who have fully implemented and used the Scope and Sequence and Benchmark Assessments with remediation as needed have seen as many as 25% more students score 3 or 4 on the Math CRT.

Using data to guide teaching is best practice.  We should all know where our students are as far as reading levels and math concepts.  Gathering and reporting the data will help us know who needs remediation on what concepts.  Discuss the data in PLC's for the benefit of those students who need the interventions.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Jordan Credit Union Honors Two JEA Members

Kristi Cleverly at Midas Creek and Jeff Smith at Jordan Resource Center were honored by the Jordan Credit Union.  Principals submit names to the credit union each week with a lucky winner drawn from those submitted.  The recognition comes with a check for $100.  Encourage your principal to submit your name!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Eastlake School Community Council

I attended the Eastlake School Community Council meeting tonight.  I was there to show the UEA TEF DVD and spread the message about making quality public schools a priority now.  See Utah's Future for more information.  The group seemed receptive to the information.

Slower Time

Things at the office have been pretty quiet the last couple of days.  I have been answering e-mails and preparing for upcoming meetings. 

Governor Herbert called a Special Session of the Legislature for Wednesday, November 17 to vote on accepting the Federal Jobs Fund Money.  Watch for more information after Wednesday's vote. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Association Elections

I know we just finished statewide elections, but the deadlines to declare candidacy for UEA and JEA positions are coming shortly. 

UEA Board of Director Positions

Any member is able to run for the following UEA Board of Director Positions. All positions start July 15, 2011. The date by which you must declare your candidacy is January 10, 2011 to Mark Mickelsen by completing the Declaration of Candidacy form found at myUEA.org.
NEA State Director on the UEA Board of Directors (3-year term)
NEA State Director on the UEA Board of Directors (1-year term to finish a retiring member’s term)

Ethnic Minority Director on the UEA Board of Directors (3-year term)

These three positions are statewide elections. The two NEA State Director positions involve going to Washington D.C. four times a year to meet with NEA leaders and Utah Members of Congress to lobby for education. All three positions attend the NEA Representative Assembly annually and the UEA Board of Directors meetings held monthly, usually on Friday evenings.

Jordan Director on the UEA Board of Directors (3-year term)

Jordan NEA-RA successor Delegate (3-year term)

These two positions are Jordan UniServ (Jordan and Canyons) elections. Both attend the NEA Representative Assembly, and the first also attends UEA Board of Directors meetings held monthly, usually on Friday evenings.

JEA Executive Board Position

The JEA High School Representative on the Executive Board will be the only JEA position for election this year. Candidacy is declared in February, usually during the Legislative Council (AR) Meeting. Inform your building AR of your interest in running for the Executive Board.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

November Council of Local Presidents

This morning was the Council of Local Presidents, where all the local association presidents meet to discuss statewide issues. Your membership card should arrive in the mail by Thanksgiving.  Please watch for it and do not throw it away.

Legislative issues that are being discussed already include merit pay, property tax equalization, grading schools, retirement, funding student growth, funding charter schools, orderly termination, full-day Kindergarten, non-partisan school board races, trimester schedules, and ESEA. 

Educator Day on the Hill is being planned again.  They will most likely fall on Wednesdays and Fridays.  I will keep you posted on when those days are being held.  It is an interesting experience to spend a day talking with legislators and seeing how the process works.

UEA will have some of the sessions from Convention available for you to watch to earn relicensure points from your own home.  When that technology is ready, I will let you know.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

November Jordan Education Foundation Meeting

This morning I attended the Jordan Education Foundation (JEF) Meeting.  They reported that every school had applications for Mini Grants submitted with 197 total applications.  This is the first time all schools were represented.  JEF does not have the money to fund all grants.  Awards should be presented before Winter Break.  The JEF Board loves to hear back from teachers about how the items purchased through the grants enhanced learning for students.

Amber Barron, a student at South Hills Middle, presented about the MESA Program she started there through help from a JEF Special Grant.  You can read more about Amber at Utah Mama.

JEF is hosting their annual fundraising breakfast on Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at the Gathering Place at Gardner Village.  The breakfast is free; however, attendees are asked to donate to JEF.  If you know a business owner or community leader who should be invited, please contact me.

Superintendent Newbold discussed the 2020 Vision of the Governor's Education Excellence Commission.  "By 2020 and thereafter, at least 66% of Utahns ages 25 to 64 will ahve a postsecondary degree or certificate, ensurinag a well-educated workforce that meets the needs of Utah employers leading to great economic prosperity and a better quality of life."  The strategic imperatives to reach that vision are:
  1. Bolster early childhood education
  2. Improve instructional quality and curricular alignments
  3. Strengthen postsecondary education
  4. align educational attainment and vocational training with economic development
  5. Utilize technology to effectively and efficiently accomplish strategic imperatives

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

First Negotiated Meeting with Superintendent Newbold

I attended my first meeting with Superintendent Newbold per our negotiated agreement.  We discussed several issues, but I believe two of them are most pertinent for teachers.

I asked about the possibility of additional year-round schools being moved to a traditional calendar for next school year.  The Year-Round Policy Manual states that principals will be notified of the possibility eight months in advance, which is this month.  Superintendent Newbold stated that the District looked closely at all year-round schools last year, and he doesn't think there are any that have the housing capacity to sustain the move to a traditional calendar.  He said that if there is a "significant budget deficit" again and the District does have to move school schedules, schools may not find out until the spring.  He also stated that this would not be the first place the District would look for money to fill a deficit hole.

The other issue relating directly to teachers working conditions is on meetings with angry parents.  Superintendent Newbold recognizes that these types of meetings are more likely to occur due to the social environment in which we find ourselves.  If parents do not like what they hear from a principal, they will often go to their School Board member.  The School Board members wonder why teachers will not meet with parents and then tell the teacher to meet with the parents. 

A couple of suggestions for these types of meetings.  If you know in advance, ask to meet with your principal for five minutes prior to the meeting.  Ask your principal about the following:
  • What does the parent wish to discuss?
  • What is the objective of the meeting?  What is the intended outcome?
  • Are you (the principal) on my side?  Will you support my position?
Parents need to hear that the principal supports the teacher's position.  Sometimes, if the teacher's position is opposed to the school position or the District position, the principal should tell you that before the meeting with the parent.

If you are called to the office to meet with an angry parent without notice, you have the right to ask for the meeting to be rescheduled for another time.  You also have the right to take JEA representation with you to the meeting.  The representative could be your building AR, another teacher who is a JEA member, or someone from the JEA office.  Laura and Cindy will be presenting helpful information on this topic to AR's at the next meeting on November 17.

Superintendent Newbold and I have scheduled these meetings through May, though I will start meeting with the Interim Superintendent in January.  In addition, the new committee negotiated will begin functioning in January with the Interim Superintendent.

Disappointing Elections

Gary Herbert will continue as Governor.  Only one of JEA's recommended candidates won, Jim Bird in West Jordan.  In addition, some key education supporters lost their State Legislative seats.  It is going to be a very difficult year at the State Legislature come January.  Teachers are going to have to fight just to maintain what we receive from the State Legislature.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Salary Schedule Issues

The retro pay from August (for year-round) and September (for year-round and traditional) was included in your October paycheck.  If you received a step and/or lane, the one or two months of increase was added in October.  In addition, the increase from the 9 hours of professional development was included.  Please be aware that your November paycheck will be less than your October paycheck, because it will have only your regular monthly pay.

Another issue has come up.  The pay for the 9 hours of professional development that was negotiated to be added to your base salary was figured incorrectly by the District by around $30 for the year.  Cindy Carroll and I met with Burke Jolley, Superintendent Newbold, June LeMaster, Judy Burton, and Bret Birge today.  They have agreed to fix the salary schedule and make the pay adjustment.  This is a time intensive process.  At some point, you will recieve the retro pay for the approximately $30 for the year.  We were not given a time on when that would happen, only that it would be before the end of the school year.

Negotiating for the 9 hours of professional development to be added to the salary schedule was to treat teachers as the professionals they are.  Teachers would do the work of preparing grades, grade transmittal, and track changes by the deadlines without teachers having to log their time on a timesheet.  The first of those days for traditional schools is Monday, November 1.  If you have completed your grades prior to Monday, you do not need to go in to school for the three hours. 

Track changes are different.  If you are rotating rooms, that work can only be done on the track-change day; however, if you are one of the fortunate year-round teachers who does not have to move rooms, you can do your planning for three hours at any time when you are off track.  Then you would not be required to be at school on the track-change day.

Please send additional questions on these issues to me via e-mail.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Couple of After School Meetings

The Jordan UniServ Membership Committee met today.  A lot of good ideas for engaging members and recruiting new members were discussed.  Watch for some in the coming months.

I also attended the Jordan Board Meeting tonight.  I was disappointed that no teachers from Oquirrh or Westvale Elementaries were in attendance, even though Oquirrh was celebrated and Westvale had signed up to attend.  Compliments to Tiffany and Karen from Silver Crest who were there.

The most interesting part was on policy changes and suggested changes for the next meeting.  I need to watch those changes closely.  Many may seem subtle but can have a big impact on JEA Members.  Herb Jensen was appointed Director of Transportation to replace Jim Hinckle who retired.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Comments on Meet the Candidates Night

The following is what Glenda Adams sent me and has given me permission to share about the Meet the Candidates Night at Southland last night.

"I knew it was going to be rough, and it was with [Carl] Wimmer. I gave my two cents. Dave Hogue did a good job. He is speaking for public schools. I didn't know that he substitutes two days a week in our schools. Mostly middle schools. I think someone from District 41 or 47 came and seemed to be buddies with Stephenson's representative. Chad Reyes did very well pointing out the bad moves by Wimmer.

"Then Wimmer gets up and tells everyone that he now knows he made a mistake voting for the district split. He said he is asking for our forgiveness now and has and is going to vote for help for our schools. Chad Reyes pointed out that when Wimmer makes it known that he doesn't want the federal money [from the Education Jobs Fund Program], that this isn't helping our schools. That's when I said, I don't trust him [Carl Wimmer] and because of his vote for the split, our district is going through so many changes and that it is time that we make a change with who represents us. I said, we need to make a change, not having him, as the person who represents us.

"I didn't care for him [Corbin White] . . . and [like him] less now. He just seems flighty. Newman wasn't there, [because] he had his son's football game to go to. A principal, I forgot from what school, was standing by Newman's table, and he told me good things about Newman. I just think Newman should have been there though.

"Later, after several elderly people got up and voiced their unhappiness with Wimmer as well, which I was very happy to see tonight, one got up to ask about money for charter schools. Wimmer offers to get up to answer that there is a waiting list to get into charter schools, and he says that this shows how parents want a better place besides public schools. He goes on about how he believes and will always support a parent's choice and a better place for students other than public schools. That's when I interrupted him to try and say charter schools don't have to go by the rules public schools have to. . . .Someone spoke up to point out that charter schools do not need to go by the same requirements as public. Stephenson's guy wanted to point out that charter schools don't cost the parents anything to attend. Then someone spoke up to [ask] how are they funded, then asked about the difference between vouchers funding that was voted down twice.

"Oh, it was fun all right. This stuff makes me tired. But I'm glad I went and boy I really hope the right people will be voted in. Glenda"

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Busy Two Days - Insurance Committee Meeting

The last two days at the office have been busy.  I have been responding to e-mails, many about the upcoming election.  In addition, I have been reading and posting on Facebook several articles related to education.  I planned, rescheduled, and prepared for the next JEA Executive Board Meeting.  I had a working lunch with other local presidents.  It is good to meet and talk with them about how their Districts and Associations are working together on issues similar to the ones we face.

I attended the Insurance Committee meeting yesterday.  The new healthcare law, called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, will take effect for Jordan District in the next plan year, 2011-2012.  The law states that companies must comply in the first plan renewal AFTER September 23, 2010.  Our first plan renewal after that date will be September 1, 2011.  As written currently, the new law will cost our plan about $900,000.  That is about a 2.5% increase in costs.  The cost will likely be greater than that when all children, dependent or not, single or married, can be added to our plan next year.  Many doctors may start to suggest more "preventive" benefits that must be covered at 100% next year.  That will sound like "free" to the patient, but our self-insured plan will pay for it, which means premiums could increase if these "free" benefits are overused.  Our plan is good as far as reforms go.  We will not have to add as many things to our plan in order to comply as compared to other companies.  I am interested to see where this new law takes our insurance plan.

Don't forget the Meet the Candidates Night tonight.  See the Meet the Candidates Night blog post for more information.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New Superintendent Timeline Modified

I attended the open portion of the School Board Study Session this evening.  The topic of discussion was the qualifications, application, timeline, and process for hiring a new superintendent.  After much discussion, which you can loosely follow at JEA on Facebook (I posted rough translations and summaries of what was said), the Board decided the December 14 date was too soon.  They also discussed how qualified candidates would likely be employed and under contract through the current school year.

In order to give time for applicants to provide all the documentation being requested, and to attract many qualified applicants, the job description brochure and application will be distributed through the Utah School Boards Association on October 26.  There will also be a link on the District website.  Applications will be due December 6.  An interim superintendent will be appointed on December 14.  The new superintendent would start on or before July 1, 2011.  See Salt Lake Tribune article on the subject.

From the conversation, I gathered that the Board wants to see who applies, then appoint someone from within, who does not apply to be the new superintendent, to be the interim superintendent.

Friday, October 15, 2010

UEA Convention Day 2

I spent a few hours helping in the UEA Membership booth today.  It was fun to do the prize drawings.  People were so happy to win!  I was there to take a membership form from a new member.  I also saw several people I have taught with at various points in my career.  I also enjoyed talking to several student teachers who came to the New Educator Workshop and Idea Fair.  They are all excited about teaching.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

UEA Convention Day 1

The opening session of the UEA Convention had UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh speak followed by Salt Lake Tribune columnist Robert Kirby and musician Kurt Bestor.  Music was provided by the Crescent View Middle School Choir under the direction of CEA VP Rick Steadman.  The speakers talked about making a difference in the lives of those students who are "borderline" as Kirby stated or are very "colorful" as Bestor said. 

I walked through the exhibit hall and stopped at many of the booths.  I ran into a lot of old friends who are teaching around the District or in Canyons District.  It is always good to catch up with them.

I attended the political portion of the convention.  I listened to both gubernatorial candidates speak.  Governor Gary Herbert talked about how he and previous governor Jon Huntsman had been able to increase education funding over the last four years.  He stated that he went against the legislature to "hold the line" on education funding and "absorb the growth".  Go to Gary Herbert to see his views on education.

Mayor Peter Corroon talked about having a 10-year plan for education.  He also talked about his 6 R's:  Renew commitment to education. Raise standards. Rigor in math and science. Rethink accountability. Return local control. Responsible school funding.  He went into detail on each of these items.  Go to Vote Corroon for his 36-page plan for education in Utah.

I know that UEA has made a dual recommendation in this race and that Governor Herbert seems to be using that recommendation more openly than Mayor Corroon.  As JEA President, I have to be cautious about how I say things.  This is my PERSONAL opinion after hearing and meeting the candidates today.  I will  be supporting Peter Corroon.  He is more intelligent, articulate, and personable.  He actually has a plan for education.  These are the reasons he will receive my vote.  I AM NOT speaking for JEA or UEA, just for myself.

I hosted the "Signing in Schools" workshop this afternoon.  It was about how to use basic ASL signs to maintain discipline, teach concepts, and assess knowledge.  The class was well done.

Michelle Willden, theater teacher at Bingham, receive the Excellence in Education award along with nine other teachers from across the state.

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October Legislative Council (AR) Meeting

We had a great meeting this afternoon.  John Rendell, Gary Olsen, and Chad Reyes, all recommended candidates for the Utah House of Representatives were there to speak and gain support. 

John Rendell can use volunteers the next two Saturdays, October 16 and 23.  His groups meet at Midvale Elementary at 9:30.  You can also help with a Get-out-the-vote phone bank on Wednesday, October 20 from 5:30 to 7:30 at 782 E. South Temple.  If you have additional questions, call John at 801-839-9249.

Gary Olsen is also walking on Saturdays.  On October 23 he will be in the Skye Park (9200 S. 4800 W.) area.  Other areas where he needs help are Daybreak and around the Salt Lake County Equestrian Center (11200 S. 2200 W.)

See the prior post about volunteering for Chad Reyes.

CONGRATULATIONS to Whitney Weaver at Sunset Ridge Middle School.  She is the new member winner of the 8 GB iPod Nano!

We had a good discussion of the budget and local building concerns.

See you at the UEA Convention!

UEA's New Website

The Utah Education Association has launched a new website at myuea.org.  I would encourage all of you to bookmark it and use it.  There is also a section to which you can refer parents and other community members for information.

See you at the Convention!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

UEA Convention

I'm sure many of you are looking forward to a couple of days off. I hope you will plan to attend at least part of the UEA Convention at the South Towne Exposition Center on Thursday and Friday. If you can't find your convention program, here is a link to the UEA website with information about the convention. UEA Convention

I'm hosting the Signing in the Classroom class on Thursdsay afternoon and will be hosting at the UEA Membership Booth on Friday from 11 to 1. I hope to see many of you there.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Volunteer for Chad Reyes

Chad is running as an independent candidate for House of Representatives in Riverton/Herriman against Carl Wimmer.  If you would like to help Chad defeat Carl, volunteer to help on your own schedule.

The following message is from Chad.

"Thanks to everyone's hard work thus far, we've covered a lot of ground; but we still have several precincts left that need our attention. In order to reach out and touch as many voters as possible before November, we've come up with the following plan for volunteers:

"If you're interested, several target-area maps, yard signs, door hangers and names of voters with strong voting histories in those particular areas are available to be picked up at your leisure. Once you're assigned an area, it's up to you to deliver this literature and attempt contact with the voters listed whenever you can, rather than having a set date and time for a group of volunteers.

"We realized most people cannot commit to donating several hours on one particular Saturday, so hopefully this new idea will be more accommodating for all of you whose help is so greatly needed, and so greatly appreciated.

"The remaining areas have been divided into lots with between approximately 80 and 120 homes, with hopes that each volunteer will be able to complete them by Election Day. Our response from the voters we've had the pleasure of contacting so far has been extremely positive, and it seems we've finally picked up some great momentum.

"If you're available to assist with this drive, please contact me directly; either by email, or by phone at (801) 592-3612. All of the packets (maps, scripts, signs and door hangers) are assembled and ready to be picked up whenever you're available.

"Again, thanks again for all your time, energy and support so far; and I'm looking forward to representing all of our best interests next legislative session!


Chad Reyes
Candidate, Utah State Legislative Representative
District 52"

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lots of Meetings

Last night was the Executive Board Meeting.  We approved committee assignments and the budget, which will be presented for approval by ARs at the Legislative Council meeting next week.

Today was a Sick Bank Committee meeting.  If you need to use Sick Bank, Critical Family Illness, or Adoption Leave, read the policy carefully.  Sick Leave Policy  Ask for clarification through Human Resources if needed.

District Advisory Committee was this afternoon.  Issues discussed were time for PLCs at the elementary level (work with your principal and be creative), salary items from negotiations, Herriman Fire make-up day for C track will be on Presidents' Day in the middle of their off track time (plan for it now), secondary Teacher Salary Supplemental Program application at http://www.tssp.utah.gov/, classroom temperature either too hot or too cold (talk with your custodian and principal first, then Auxillary Services), license renewal finger prints can start now if your license expires in June 2011, food policy that you can purchase food for students but not for employees, and legislative supply money starting at $50 now and the remainder will come in December.  More details later.

I forgot about the Special Education Task Force that met in between the other two meetings.  I will be finding out what was discussed there. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Meet the Candidates Night

Sponsored by Region 6 PTA on Thursday, October 21 at the following locations:

Oquirrh Elementary: 6:00 - 8:00
Format: Open House 6:00 - 6:30, formal questions & answers 6:30 - 7:00 then from 7:00 - 8:00 open house
School Board candidates Nathan Gedge and Peggy Jo Kennett

Eastlake Elementary: 6:30 - 8:30
Format: Open House
Jordan School Board candidates Susan Pulsipher and Roy Harward
United States House of Representatives District 3 candidate Karen Hyer
Utah Board of Education District 3 candidates Burtis Bills and Craig Coleman
County Council candidate Steven Debry
Utah House of Representatives District 41 candidate John Jackson
Utah House of Representatives District 50 candidates Gary Olsen, Russell Hatch, and Merlynn Newbold

Southland Elementary: 7:00 - 8:00
Format is introduce yourself, then an open house
Jordan School Board candidates Corbin White and Mark Newman
State Senate 11 candidates Dave Hogue and Howard Stephenson, who is sending a representative
House of Representatives District 52 candidates Chad Reyes and Carl Wimmer

Monday, October 4, 2010

First PTA TEF/EDX Presentation

I presented the TEF/EDX video and PowerPoint to Elk Meadows PTA today.  They were surprised at the funding changes that have hurt public education over the past 15 years.  I hope to be able to present this information to many more PTA and SCC groups over the course of the year.

Friday, October 1, 2010


The following is from the Current on the retro-pay due teachers for their lane and step increases and adding 9 hours of pay to the salary schedule.  See also Current.

In accordance with the recent Negotiations Settlements for the 2010-11 academic year, qualifying employees will receive a one-time lump sum amount on their October paycheck for the retro-pay agreed to beginning on July 1, 2010. Employee paychecks after October will be adjusted accordingly.

Retro-pay for time sheeted employees will be reviewed and paid at a later date. Additional information regarding retro-pay for time sheeted employees will be forthcoming.

Personnel in the Departments of Human Resources and Payroll will be working vigorously to meet the necessary October paycheck deadline. Please hold all questions regarding retro-pay until after the October paycheck. You may then view individual salary changes on Employee Access.

We thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation with this process.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

We Have a Contract!

Thanks to the dedication of your JEA Negotiations Team for bringing about an agreement for the 2010-2011 school year!  The entire process took about five months and more than 130 hours of volunteer time.  JEA went through the mediation process with Federal Mediator Lavonne Ritter in July. 

When a settlement could not be reached, JEA and Jordan District went to the final step allowed by law, a Hearing.  This is the first time in Utah that a local Association and a School District have gone to a Hearing.  What your JEA Negotiations Team did was groundbreaking and precedent setting for other local Associations throughout Utah.

Superintendent Larry Shumway appointed Dr. Ralph Haws as the Hearing Officer. Dr. Haws' support of teachers and his relationship with District Administration helped him bring the two sides to an agreement.  Remember that through a Hearing, neither side receives everything they want.  JEA Members officially ratified the agreement as of September 27, 2010.  If you read the minutes, once they are posted, of the School Board meeting from September 28, 2010, you will see that a couple of School Board members were not happy about using one time money from the Federal Jobs Fund Program to pay for the ongoing costs of steps and lanes.  Despite their concerns, the Board voted 7-0 in favor of approving the agreement.

There is a story behind each item in the agreement.  I would be happy to share the history of any item on which you have questions.  Also, classified employees and principals will be receiving their steps increases because of what JEA negotiated for teachers. 

Settlement Agreement between the Jordan District Board of Education and the Jordan Education Association 2010-11

1.  Salary Schedule Lane and Step increases will be provided to teachers for the 2010-11 school year.  The parties agree that the Board of Education will determine at its sole discretion the source of funding for lanes and steps.

2.  Beginning with the 2010-11 school year, the equivalent of nine hours pay, or 0.6%, will be included in the teacher salary schedule for grade transmittal, preparation, and track change.  Teachers will still be required to meet all deadlines and responsibilities regarding grade preparation and transmittal, classroom and personal preparation for the first day of school, school closing, and end-of-year check out.

3.  The parties agree that there will be no negotiations for Lane and Step increases or cost of living increases for the 2011-12 school year unless the State Legislature provides new and unencumbered fund specifically for employee salary and benefit increases. (Because the increases for 010-11 will most likely be funded through one-time funds, the Board will be required to find ways to fund the increases as an ongoing expense; therefore, both parties will work hard to lobby the State Legislature to increase education funding for next year.)

4.  Revisions will be made to the following negotiated policies:
    a.  AS67 NEG Discipline of Students:  Language changes reflect a change in practice by the District when student sanctions and interventions are deemed necessary.
    b.  DP309 NEG Salary Guidelines:  Clarification regarding credit for salary lane change will be granted only "from an accredited institution".
    c.  DP337 NEG Leave of Absence:  Change to require approval prior to the leave being taken.
    d.  DP327 NEG Reduction in Licensed Staff:  Adds the words "total continuous" before "District seniority".
    e.  DP304 NEG Teacher Transfers:  Includes the Jordan District website link for transfer forms, deletes the need to submit a resume as part of the transfer application process, and allows for the employee to continue to "interview for other positions" through the voluntary transfer process.

5.  Part II. C. of Policy A6 NEG Negotiations, Licensed and Classified was amended to require the employee agent groups to reimburse the District for the cost of paid association leave for eh purposes of negotiations.  The amended language reads:
    C.  The District shall comply with Utah Code 53A-3-425 and will require reimbursement to the school district of the cost of paid association leave activities to the extent required by the Code.  Employee agent groups will be allowed a maximum of six (6) days to complete the negotiations process.

6.  A joint committee with up to three representatives from the JEA and up to three District administrators will be formed to review and discuss issues related to working conditions of teachers.  Membership on the committee, the regularity of meetings, and agenda items shall be determined by the Superintendent and the JEA President.  This joint committee will function through June 30, 2012.

7.  The District Superintendent agrees to meet with the JEA President on a regular basis to discuss issues of mutual concern throughout the 2010-11 school year.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

School Visit and Meeting Prep

I spent lunch today at Rosamond Elementary.  There is a great JEA staff there with a supportive principal and JEA Vice President Kevin Ball.  I enjoyed talking to the teachers, answering questions, and listening to great ideas shared by everyone.

I prepared for next week's Executive Board meeting, which will involve serious budget discussions.

Be sure to check out the Facebook page at JEA on Facebook for updates during School Board Meetings and current news articles.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Waiting for Superman

I'm sure some of you have heard about this new movie that opened in New York and Los Angeles this past weekend.  I am inserting here the information I have at this point from NEA.  If you see the film, I would like to hear from you.

Talking Points on “Waiting for Superman”
NEA’s reaction to the film

About the Film
Who: This film was made by “Inconvenient Truth” producer Davis Guggenheim. It features footage of NEA President Dennis Van Roekel from NEA’s Representative Assembly, as well as extensive interviews with AFT President Randi Weingarten. The film’s promotion web site is found at: http://www.waitingforsuperman.com/.

When and Where: “Waiting for Superman” is scheduled for public release on September 24, 2010 in New York City and Los Angeles. It is scheduled for nationwide release the week of October 3.

Why: Guggenheim says he made “Waiting for Superman” to encourage the same level of national discourse on public education that “An Inconvenient Truth” generated on climate change. NEA and its state and local affiliates welcome others to the same discussion we’ve been having for years. In an effort to encourage a more thoughtful and thorough discussion, Association leaders have agreed to participate in panel discussions following film screenings. NEA is also exploring ways to leverage the film’s properties, including its web site and other outreach vehicles, to focus attention on our Priority Schools Program and our work around collaboration.

General Comments
• NEA and its 3.2 million members welcome and encourage filmgoers to join us in our mission of making great public schools for every student.
• NEA affiliates and individual members have consistently advocated for the basic right of all students to attend great public schools, and we hope the film inspires more Americans to become engaged in a larger discussion about the shared responsibility for ensuring that America has a public education system that prepares all of our children, not just some of them, to live and compete in a global society.
• “Waiting for Superman” is a film that evokes strong emotions. It tells the story of injustice in America’s education system—a story that teachers and education support professionals have been telling for years. We are delighted that more people are talking about these issues, and generating ideas about how improve our nation’s public schools for all students.
• In many places, the situation is urgent, so for those new to the conversation, the impulse is to recommend simple, silver-bullet solutions. Of course, the challenges our public schools face are myriad and complex and in most cases there are no quick and easy fixes. NEA seeks solutions that are research-based, collaborative, and sustainable.
• “Waiting for Superman” raises some important issues, but we should be careful not to allow a 90-minute film to define how we talk about improving public education – our children and our nation deserve a more meaningful discussion about how we prepare for the future.
• To a large extent, the film misses the point by over simplifying complex issues. Ultimately, it’s just a film, and as such it lacks the depth and factual, research-based policy analysis required to have a meaningful discussion about what’s best for every public school student in America. That said, we certainly appreciate that it has helped to spark a larger conversation about education.

Importance of Community Engagement in School Improvement
• We commend the film’s call to action on behalf of America’s public schools. Community involvement is crucial to ensuring that every child has access to great public schools.

Teachers, Unions and School Innovation
• For centuries, educators and their unions have led the fight for change and innovation in America’s public schools.
• While there are struggling public schools, there are also public schools across the country that help children from all backgrounds reach great academic heights. In them, unheralded teachers are doing extraordinary things every day. Unfortunately, this film did not feature those schools or teachers. It was a missed opportunity to shed light on the good that is happening in our public schools.
• Rather than waiting for Superman, responsible and caring adults must find ways to work together to make sure that teachers have the tools and resources they need to do their jobs well. We must develop and support the teachers to whom we entrust our children’s future.

Importance of Collaboration in School Improvement
• Waiting for Superman says important things about the challenges of the public education system. However, the reductive messaging—“charters are good” and “teachers unions are bad”—oversimplifies complicated issues and threatens to thwart thoughtful discussions about improving public schools. Improving public education is a shared responsibility—parents, teachers, administrators, elected officials, and other adults must come together to determine how to make schools in their community great. Unfortunately, this is not reflected in the film’s tone, which is divisive rather than collaborative.

General Flaws with the Film
• The film promotes nostalgia for a school system of years past, seemingly forgetting past inequities like segregated schools; institutionalization of children with disabilities; and marginalization of and discrimination against female teachers and teachers of color.
• The film glosses over the negative effects of testing mania and Bush-era reforms (NCLB) and ignores the impact of these so-called reforms on certain student populations, such as students with disabilities and rural students.
• The film promotes charter schools as the silver bullet to improve public education, even as it admits that only one charter school in five is more effective than a traditional public school. There is absolutely no discussion of the research confirming that public schools generally outperform charter schools.
• The film’s producer interviewed experts who are uniformly anti-union—mostly “reformers” who believe teachers’ unions are the main obstacle to great public schools. Guggenheim does not interview a single superintendent or politician who has a collaborative relationship with the union where real transformation has taken place (like in Chattanooga, Columbus, OH, Denver and other places.)
• The film blindly supports the Administration’s “reforms” without displaying any real understanding of the issues at hand.

“Waiting for Superman” Super Myths
A closer look at the film and its flaws

Super Myth #1: Teacher unions are “bad” but teachers are “good”
While acknowledging the many issues facing public education, in a sometimes animated and entertaining manner, “Waiting for Superman” concludes that teacher unions and teacher contracts are destroying the schools. Teacher unions are portrayed as “bad” and teachers as “good.” (Guggenheim fails to understand that the teachers ARE the union, they are the members. Teachers elect the union leaders. Teachers approve the negotiated contract.)

Although the movie tries to detach teachers from the teachers’ union, by portraying teacher unions as the root of all evil in public education, Guggenheim is, in essence, placing the blame on teachers. Those interviewed in the film are uniformly anti-union—mostly “reformers” who believe teachers unions are the main obstacle to great public schools. Guggenheim does not interview a single superintendent or politician who has a collaborative relationship with the union where real transformation has taken place (like in Chattanooga, Columbus OH, or Denver and other places.)

Super Myth #2: Charter schools are a magic, silver bullet solution
NEA believes that charter schools and other nontraditional public school options have the potential to facilitate positive transformation and foster creative teaching methods that can be replicated in traditional public schools for the benefit of all students. By definition, charter schools are free from many of the restrictions placed on traditional public schools. The innovative ideas that make some charter schools successful stem from the very issues NEA members have long identified as things they want to change about public education.

Charter schools are only able to serve a small percentage of the student population, and only one in five charter schools outperform traditional public schools. In fact, research suggests that two in five charter schools perform worse than traditional public schools.

Recent films have suggested that charter schools are the only way we can improve public education, but even well-known proponents of charter schools are critical of these films:

“Movies that sell charter schools as a salvation are peddling a simple-minded remedy that takes us back to the worst charter puffery of a decade ago, is at odds with the evidence, and can blind viewers to what it takes to launch and grow truly great charters. These flicks accelerate the troubling trend of turning every good idea into a morale crusade, so that retooling K-12 becomes a question of moral rectitude in which we choose sides and “reformers” are supposed to smother questions about policy or practice. They also wildly romanticize charters, charter school teachers, and the kids and families, making it harder to speak honestly or bluntly.” (Rick Hess, education commentator, American Enterprise Institute. His complete article can be found at: http://blog.american.com/?author=25)

Charter schools are one solution, but schools across the country are benefitting from a range of exciting, new ideas that are the result of communities working together to improve their local schools. NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign supports schools that are thinking about education differently—from teacher-led schools in Denver, to service learning in Ohio, to teacher-mentoring in Michigan—school districts are working collaboratively with local unions to improve teaching and learning.

Super Myth #3: Unions are unwilling to commit to “common sense” solutions
America’s public education system has recently captured the attention and imagination of lawmakers, newscasters, commentators, filmmakers and the general public. NEA welcomes others to join this large and very important national conversation.

In many places, the situation is urgent, so for those new to the conversation, the impulse is to recommend simple, silver-bullet solutions. Of course, the challenges our public schools face are myriad and complex. NEA seeks solutions that are based on research, collaborative, and are well-planned and executed.

Smaller class-sizes; increased teacher autonomy and flexibility; higher status for the teaching profession; improved teacher quality and professional development programs; broader support and involvement by parents and the community; adequate tools and resources; modernized schools —these are things we know, from research and experience, will improve our nation’s schools. All schools should have the tools and resources necessary to help all students succeed – students shouldn’t have to rely on chance or a lottery to get a quality education that prepares them to succeed in life. NEA members are eager to receive the support that is needed to ensure all students, not just a few, have access to quality public schools.

Because NEA members are in schools and classrooms every day, we are also aware of the challenges our public schools face, and we are eager to have collaborative discussions to help determine ways that we can work with parents, community organizations, elected officials, and other concerned adults to benefit America’s students. Educating our children is a shared responsibility, and the debate over how best we do that should be cooperative, not divisive.

Super Myth #4: Unions don’t represent the opinions of their own members, and only exist to protect “bad” teachers
The nation’s teachers unions—NEA and AFT—comprise more than four million individual members: teachers and education support professionals, students preparing to be teachers, higher education personnel and retired educators. At NEA, policy is debated and agreed to among democratically elected members—our members’ opinions are diverse, and collectively they set the organization’s agenda at the local, state, and national levels.

NEA members’ dues are spent on a range of priorities, which are democratically and collectively agreed upon each year during the organization’s annual Representative Assembly, in which nearly 10,000 members participate. These priorities include developing effective teacher evaluation systems; providing funding and support for innovative projects through our Priority Schools Campaign; establishing guidelines for improving teacher quality; working to decrease school drop-out rates and lobbying for increased funding for school construction, special education, school nutrition and other important programs that help improve the quality public education in America.

Nobody—especially NEA’s members—want teachers in the classrooms who do not help students to learn and prepare for the future. NEA’s membership has been at the forefront of developing and implementing ways to improve teacher quality, including exciting evaluation methods, peer mentoring, and effective professional development. Union contracts are the result of meetings, negotiations, and agreements between the administration, school board, and the bargaining unit. Due to the current economic climate, school employees have agreed to pay freezes, furlough days, and a number of other concessions so that districts can continue to meet their ever-shrinking budgets, without unduly shortchanging students.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Good and Busy Day

I went on a school visit to Herriman High for lunch.  I spent the afternoon contacting locations that still do not have an AR.  I hope to hear from a volunteer at each location soon.  I cleared a pile of issues off my desk!  This afternoon was the Year Round Committee. 

Here is a Deseret News article about the superintendent input meeting from last night.  I will not be able to attend until the one on Wednesday, October 6.  If anyone went to the one this evening, I'd like to hear your take on the comments made.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Do you really want a change?

I have heard from many members and nonmembers alike that they would like to see a change on the School Board, in the State Legislature, and that they are looking forward to a change in Superintendent. Now is the time to act to help that change happen. We must actively support School Board and State Legislative candidates who will be friendly to education in general and to teachers specifically. We must provide input to the current School Board on what qualifications, characteristics, focus, and compensation we would like the new Superintendent to have.

JEA sponsored a walk for three candidates on Saturday. We had a total of six people show up. There were 15 people at the meeting on for input on the new superintendent last night. If you don’t act now, we will have the same problems at the legislative level for two more years and for four years at the local school board level. If you don’t attend a meeting or complete the survey about the new superintendent, we could have a new educational leader whom you do not like.

The next JEA Walk for Candidates is scheduled for Saturday, October 23 in the morning. Put that date on your calendar now. If you cannot come that day, candidates are out campaigning every Saturday. You can contact them directly, or contact us and we will let the campaign know of your desire to help.

JEA Recommended Candidates:
  • Nathan Gedge in School Board Precinct 3 (Peggy Jo Kennett's seat) Nathan's website
  • John Rendell (D) in Legislative House Seat 47 (West Jordan area that used to be Steve Mascaro's seat) John's website
  • Chad Reyes (unaffiliated) in Legislative House Seat 52 (Herriman, Carl Wimmer's seat) Chad's website
  • Gary Olsen (D) in Legislative House Seat 50 (South Jordan, Merlynn Newbold's seat) Gary's website
  • Dave Hogue (D) in Legislative Senate Seat 11 (Riverton/Draper, Howard Stephenson's seat) Dave's website
  • Jim Bird (R) in Legislative House Seat 42 (West Jordan, incumbent) Jim's website
Make sure you have your voice heard on the new superintendent. Attend one of the upcoming meetings listed  here or submit your suggestions through the online survey by Friday, October 8.

If every member does one thing they have not done before, we can make a huge difference.

School visits

I have enjoyed the visits I have made to various schools over the last few weeks.  I like meeting all of the great teachers and seeing how each school is run.  I am learning a lot about middle and high schools.  I look forward to visiting the remainder of the schools by the end of this school year.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Member Appreciation Barbeque

The JEA Member Appreciation Barbeque was yesterday evening at Wheeler Farm.  We had a great turnout from the combined Jordan, Canyons, and Granite Education Associations and Classified Associations.  It was good to catch up with old friends and meet new ones, including recommended candidates.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Salt Lake Tribune Articles on Superintendent Salaries

Check out the two articles in the Salt Lake Tribune this morning about the salaries of superintendents. You'll learn a lot about Superintendent Newbold's and Mr. Jolley's contracts.

Is Superintendent Pay Too Super?

Utah Superintendent Pay Well Below National Average

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Council of Local Presidents Meeting

I hope the Walk for Candidates was successful today. I was unable to walk, because I had a Council of Local Presidents meeting. We were shown and given a copy of a DVD about the UEA TEF/EDX message. The DVD was well done and featured Jordan's own, Karen Gorringe. I will be working on a distribution plan.

We discussed the Education Jobs Fund money. I will be sending a link out so you can contact your state representatives to request that the money be accepted and be flowing to the individual districts sooner rather than later.

I was able to report that we have reached a tentative settlement. Some districts still haven't settled and are just now going to mediation.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Busy Day at the Office

I spent today responding to e-mails, trying to find ARs for a couple of locations, organizing committees, and reviewing the budget.  I hope some of you can make it to one of the Walk for Candidates tomorrow!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

JEA Walk for Candidates

If you want to see a change on the School Board and at the State Legislature, we need to work together now for education friendly candidates.  We will be walking on Saturday, September 18 in the morning.  The schedule is below.  If you can come, please e-mail me so we can let the candidates know how many volunteers to expect.

Nathan Gedge (School Board Precinct 7 against Peggy Jo Kennett) 
2794 W. 7550 S.                   8:30 a.m.

John Rendell (Legislative House Seat 47 against Ken Ivory, Steve Mascaro's old seat)
Midvale Elementary, 362 W. Center Street               9:45 a.m.

Chad Reyes (Legislative House Seat 52 against Carl Wimmer)
Rosalina Park, 13550 S. 5775 W. (Take 13400 S from Bangerter and head west past 5600 W. (Smith’s), turn left on Rosalina 5775 W.)                         9:00 a.m.

Legislative Money

I received a memo today that said teachers will be able to be reimbursed for $50 beginning October 1.  There is no mention of additional money after that amount.  Remember, the Legislature cut the fund by 50%, and there are more teachers who are entitled to the money, so everyone will receive less money.  Save your receipts!

School Visits

I went on a couple of great school visits today to West Jordan Middle School and Majestic Elementary.  I enjoyed talking with the teachers and answering their questions about the tentative settlement and other issues.  I am going to be visiting each school this year.  I look forward to meeting with our members!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

General Membership Meeting

Thanks to the approximately 150 members who attended the Contract Settlement General Membership Meetings this afternoon.  ARs will be receiving ballots with copies of the agreement next Monday, September 20.  All voting must be completed and ballots returned to the JEA Office or to the JEA Mailbox at the ASB by 5:00 p.m. by Monday, September 27. 

If you were unable to attend, ask your AR for information.  I have sent them the PowerPoint from today's meeting.

Salt Lake Tribune article about our tentative settlement.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Superintendent Newbold is Retiring

At the School Board Meeting tonight, Board President Peggy Jo Kennett stated that the Board had received a letter from Superintendent Newbold announcing that he is retiring effective January 1, 2011. 

The Board will be hosting six meetings for public input purposes and plans to announce the new superintendent on December 14.

See Salt Lake Tribune Article.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Education Jobs Fund Program

Because the Governor has made application for the funds and because of the bill’s language, UEA feels the money should flow directly to the local school districts without delay.

From the UEA level, we are taking the following steps:
· Contacting the Governor’s office to express our concern with expediting the distribution of the monies
· Contacting the State School Boards’ Association and the PTA to engage their organizations in this effort
· Engaging our members in a letter writing campaign utilizing the following link at this website in order to e-mail their legislative representatives
· Engaging members in contacting their local school board members, School Community Councils, and PTA asking them to join us in our efforts to request immediate allocation of the Ed Job monies to the local school districts in order to positively impact the students in Utah
· Participating in NEA Jobs Bill conference calls to obtain up-to-date information and strategies

Please use the link above to e-mail your state legislators and ask them to distribute the Education Jobs Funds in a timely manner.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Jump Start Coalition

The Utah Jump$tart Coalition is hosting the annual $tart $mart Teachers Summit on November 5, 2010 at the University Marriott in Salt Lake City, Utah. This is a free training event for K-12 teachers that offers substitute reimbursement up to $75, mileage reimbursement for Title I teachers,and 0.5 USOE Re-certification/Lane Change credit. The purpose of the Summit is to help teachers integrate financial literacy education into core curriculum and understand the Utah requirements for finance education for grades K-12.

You can resgister online at Jump $tart or you can call  Anne Tibbitts at 801-414-9981.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Contract Settlement General Membership Meetings

The JEA Negotiations Team and the Jordan District Administration, through the work of hearing officer Dr. Ralph Haws, have reached a tentative agreement. Superintendent Newbold will be presenting the settlement to the School Board for their approval at their closed study session on Tuesday, September 14.

JEA will hold two General Membership Meetings to present the settlement to members on Wednesday, September 15 in the Elk Ridge Middle School Auditorium. One meeting will begin at 3:30 and one will begin at 4:30. The same information will be presented at each meeting.

If you want to know what the Negotiations Team has spent 130+ hours and nearly five months on, be in attendance.

Legislative Council (AR) Meeting

Last night we had a good Legislative Council Meeting.  Most schools were represented.  We discussed local building concerns, PAC (political action), and negotiations.

13 ARs signed up to walk for JEA recommended candidates on Saturday, September 18.  You can sign up too!  Just ask your AR, RSVP on Facebook, or e-mail me.  You can choose the candidate you would like to help.  Watch the blog for meeting locations.

I want to thank he awesome ARs at the following schools for completing both of their homework assignments.  If your school isn't listed, go ask your AR about their roster and PTA/SCC contact forms.
  • Bingham, Riverton High, Iteneris, JATC, Valley, Elk Ridge, Oquirrh Hills, South Hills, West Jordan Middle, Rose Creek, South Jordan Elementary, West Jordan Elementary, Daybreak, Eastlake, Elk Meadows, Jordan Ridge, Terra Linda

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

JEA Walk for Candidates

Do you want to see a change in the face of the School Board or the State Legislature? Join other JEA members to walk for our endorsed candidates. Have breakfast and have fun walking to support those who will support us!

We will walk for JEA endorsed candidates on Saturday, September 18 beginning around 9 for two to three hours.

RSVP on the Facebook event at JEA on Facebook

Friday, September 3, 2010

Meetings, Meetings, and More Meetings

Today is a much calmer day.  I am catching up, because I didn't have time to answer e-mails yesterday, let alone post to the blog.  Here is how Thursday looked.

7:00 a.m. - Attended Jordan Education Foundation Meeting.  The Foundation raises money to give grants to individual teachers and scholarships to students.  They are considering whole school projects as well.  A JEF representative should be contacting principals to ask about wants.  Here is a link to the  JEF Mini Grant Application.
Superintendent Newbold said the new elementary in West Jordan will open next August.  He stated that local principals should work with their PTA and SCC to decide on if/when to broadcast President Obama's speech to school children, scheduled for September 14.  An opt-out form must be provided.

Arrived at the JEA office and started to answer e-mail when Cindy Carroll and I went to meet with UEA leaders about the hearing process.  We met with UEA President, Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, UEA Executive Director, Mark Mickelsen, UEA Director of Policy & Research, Jay Blain, and UEA Attorney, Mike McCoy.  UEA has been involved in knowing what has happened with our negotiations process and is helping us through the hearing, because no other school district has done this before.  In addition, Sharon contacted NEA for us to see about financial assistance to pay the hearing officer fees.  NEA has agreed to match state and local funds.    All levels of the Association have been involved.

11:15 a.m. - The Hearing Officer, Ralph Haws, called and wanted to meet immediately.  Cindy and I headed to Riverton High School where our Negotiations Chairperson, Melissa Brown teaches.  Luckily, we met on her prep hour to discuss a modified proposed settlement.  Worked to contact all Negotiations Team members throughout the afternoon.

1:45 - Back to the office for a monthly meeting with both UniServ Directors and CEA President, Tony Romanello.

3:30 - Out to South Jordan Elementary for a school visit.  The teachers there asked good questions, and it was great to meet them.

4:30 - Now to West Jordan High where we held the JEA PAC meeting to discuss candidate recommendations and PAC support.  The JEA PAC is recommending:
  • Nathan Gedge in School Board Precinct 7 (Peggy Jo Kennett's seat) Nathan's website
  • John Rendell (D) in Legislative House Seat 47 (West Jordan area that used to be Steve Mascaro's seat) John's website
  • Chad Reyes (unaffiliated) in Legislative House Seat 52 (Herriman, Carl Wimmer's seat) Chad's website
  • Gary Olsen (D) in Legislative House Seat 50 (South Jordan, Merlynn Newbold's seat) Gary's website
  • Dave Hogue (D) in Legislative Senate Seat 11 (Riverton/Draper, Howard Stephenson's seat) Dave's website
  • Jim Bird (R) in Legislative House Seat 42 (West Jordan, incumbent) Jim's website
Two walk for candidates are scheduled for Saturdays, September 18 and October 23 in the mornings.  More information on exact times and places will be forth coming.

8:00 p.m. - The Negotiations Team felt the Executive Board needed to know about the latest proposed settlement, but due to personal schedules, we could not meet in person.  We were able to have two Executive Board members present, with one on speaker phone.  Others were contacted by phone individually, but all Executive Board members were able to hear the proposal, ask questions, and express concerns.

I finally arrived home about 9:30 p.m.  It was a long day, a tiring day, but also an exciting day!  The work of the Association is important, and I am enjoying it immensely, even though at times, it can be difficult.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Busy Day

This was my first full day in the JEA office since school started last week.  I planned the Legislative Council (AR) Meeting and Executive Board Meeting for next week.  I answered several e-mails and a few phone calls about negotiations and some local school problems. 

The JEA Negotiations Team met again with the hearing officer, Ralph Haws, as part of the fact finding process. We continue to fight for lanes and steps. Additional information will be forth coming in the next few days.

Dual Endorsement in Governor's Race

As you may have seen in both the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News, UEA has endorsed both candidates for Utah Governor.  The following is information provided by UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh on the dual endorsement.

Why A Dual Endorsement?
1.     Both Mayor Corroon and Governor Herbert have identified public education as a priority in their campaigns. This is a positive for the Utah Education Association.
·       Corroon has involved UEA members in a summit designed to create a long-term plan for public education. He also recognizes the necessity of renewing our commitment to adequately fund public schools following the Great Recession. Corroon’s education platform uses pieces of the Association’s TEF message. He has a dynamic Lt. Governor running mate – Sheryl Allen – who knows the issues facing education. He is willing to look at current tax structure issues. He is anti-voucher.
·       Herbert placed a UEA representative on his Education Excellence Commission. He successfully argued in favor of ongoing funding, and against further cuts in public education, during the 2010 legislative session. He has committed to seek $101 million in federal funding related to the Jobs Bill. He has offered to help us overcome some of the attacks leveled at the Association. He has told us his door is always open. He is the first governor to have requested a meeting with the UEA Board of Directors.

2.     Both Governor Herbert and Mayor Corroon appeared before U-PAC and shared their ideas about education.
·       Both candidates asked for and actively sought an endorsement.

3.     A majority of U-PAC members voted for a dual endorsement.
·       U-PAC members represent every geographic region of the state.
·       Prior to a decision, full discussions were held at both the July and August 2010 U-PAC meetings.
·       Following the July U-PAC meeting, members were asked to discuss the gubernatorial race in their locals and UniServs. This information was shared and discussed.
·       U-PAC voting confirms the democratic nature of the organization.
·       Input was solicited from a number of sources.

What About Vouchers?
1.     Herbert told the UEA Board and U-PAC he believes the public has spoken and vouchers are dead.
2.     While Herbert played a role in the certification of anti-voucher petitions, it was the Utah Legislature that passed the voucher bill.
3.     Corroon is against vouchers.

Shouldn’t We Support Only Corroon? He Is Using The Association’s TEF Message?
1.     Corroon is using pieces of the TEF message. We are appreciative that he is willing to look at the current tax structure and examine problems associated with the systematic ‘defunding’ of public schools.
2.     Both Corroon and Herbert recognize the importance of investing in public schools to grow the economy.
3.     The UEA is planning to meet with Governor Herbert to talk about TEF.

Isn’t A Dual Endorsement A “Chicken” Way Out?
1.     Quite the contrary. It’s a win-win for candidates and a win-win for members. Both candidates have identified public education as a priority in their campaigns. Both have shown support for Association principles and ideas.
2.     By making a dual endorsement, we are saying both candidates have good qualities. We are giving our members a chance to weigh the pros and cons of each candidate and decide for themselves who will best serve the needs of students and educators throughout the state.
3.     We will provide a side-by-side comparison of the candidates for our members, and include the Association’s positions on various critical education issues.
4.     We recognize that the relationship we have with the governor is critical to moving our public education agenda forward.
5.     Education requires bi-partisan cooperation.