Sunday, January 30, 2011

Retirement Seminar

The JEA sponsored retirement seminar was on Thursday evening.  There was a good turnout.  Judy Burton, Jordan District Director of Payroll, stated that there will be a district sponsored seminar on March 7.  Watch for more information to come. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Second Day at the Legislature

This morning I attended the Joint Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee.  The Executive Appropriations Committee directed each subcommittee to cut their budget by 7% as a base.  Supposedly they will add items back in later.  They claimed it is not the intention of leadership to cut education. 

Several legislators asked for what education leaders want cut.  They say they don't want to randomly cut.  A couple members of the committee stated that this effort if futile, because the revenue numbers are not in.  Why make a budget without knowing the hard numbers? 

Some options include reducing the value of the WPU approximately $292.  Another option would be to eliminate all below-the-line items (items paid for on a year-by-year basis with one-time money) including many programs, transportation, and the educator salary adjustment of $4200.  Yet another option is to cut the "flexible allocation" which is distributed like the WPU.  This is money that is given to districts to spend as they see fit.  One option presented was to move everything to above the line, cut the 7%, and let the districts decide how to spend what was left.  An additional option is to pay for student growth above-the-line (WPU on-going funds) and cut the 7% from below-the-line. 

As you can see, there is a lot of discussion to be had yet on the budget.  I would say not to worry too much about these early budget numbers you will see in the news.  The Chairs, Senator Chris Buttars and Representative Merlynn Newbold, will make recommendations for the 7% cut to be presented at the committee meeting on Monday, January 31.

This morning, the House passed HB 218 - Clubs in Public Schools which adds language that the playing fields of high schools are part of the school and should be available to school clubs for their use when not being used by UHSAA sanctioned sports.  It now goes to the Senate.

Yesterday, two resolutions passed favorably out of committee.  SJR 1 and SJR 9 would both change the control of public education from the State Board of Education to either the legislature or the governor.  See this article for more information.

Today was Charter School Day on the Hill.  JEA Member, Jeff Bossard, was there with Principal Steve Jolley and students from Itineris Early College High School, a charter school run by Jordan School District.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

First Day at the Legislature

Nothing about education came up on the floor today.  HB 199 - Advertisements on School Buses sponsored by Representative Jim Bird of West Jordan was in committee today.  This would bring about $3 million in revenue to the state.  UEA is supporting this bill.

Some resolutions to watch are SJR 1 and SJR 9.  Both address the "general control and supervision of the public education system".  SJR 1 leaves the control with the State Board of Education, "as provided by statute", which statue could be changed.  SJR 9 puts this control in the hands of the Governor.  Both are, in effect, limiting or diminishing the responsibility of the State Board of Education.  Either one would be a constitutional amendment requiring a vote of the people.

Another bill UEA is watching is HB183 - School District Leave Policies sponsored by Representative Grover.  This bill is targeting association leave paid by the school district specifically where the district pays for part of the local association president's full-time salary.  You dues dollars fund my part-time JEA salary.  JEA requests very little association leave time from Jordan District. 

An interesting event going on today was Utah State University's Research on Capitol Hill day.  Undergraduate student researchers had displays about their research and answered questions.  I spoke with Morgan Summers about her research "Critical Issues in Middle and Secondary Mathematics Placement:  A Case Study".  She told me that the implementation of the Common Core State Standards will impact which math classes are available to students in high school, making the initial middle school math placement important. 

I also spoke with Matthew Richardson and Lauren Harper about their work on "The Self-Perceptions of Non-Profit Organizations".  They found that non-profits need to be business-like in dealing with personnel and finances, but that when working with clients, they must work to their non-profit mission.  The conclusion was that non-profits see themselves as stewards of funds and using those funds wisely to move their mission forward.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ethics Review for License Renewal

I just took the Educator Ethics Review to renew my license.  It took about 30 minutes.  They encourage you to read two sections of Utah Code before starting.  You can look at them while you are doing the test too.  There were 25 questions, most were scenarios where you had to apply your knowledge of the Code to unethical situations.  If you miss one, you are told the correct answer and why.  Be careful!  I missed two questions, because I inserted the word "not" or left out the word "not" in my head (as in "not ethical" versus "ethical").

Two More National Board Certified Teachers

I recently found out about two more JEA Members who have earned National Board Certification.

Lisa Craig is a Physics teacher at Riverton High School.

Amy Merritt teaches second grade at Foothills Elementary.

Way to go!  Great work and congratulations to these two JEA Members!

Western Region Leadership Conference

JEA VP Kevin Ball, JEA Executive Board Members Lauren Flygare and Karl McKenzie, and I attended the NEA Western Region Leadership Conference from last Friday evening through last Sunday at the Hilton downtown.  The theme was "Turning Hope into Action, Action into Power".  We met as a state caucus then listened to NEA President Dennis Van Roekel speak at the opening dinner. 

Saturday was spent learning about and then discussing a particular element about the Association.  Political Action, Member Concerns & Representation, Funding Public Education in a Difficult Economy, Education Policy and Membership Organizing were the focus areas.  After focusing on one area all day, we met together to make a plan.  We did this as the Jordan UniServ.  We decided that funding is a huge issue, and we need to get the TEF message out, educate members, and work with legislators to help increase funding for public education in Utah.  One part of this is looking at each work site or building as its own education association with the AR leading the members at that site.  This is an interesting concept we will be looking at further.

Lily Eskelsen was the speaker at lunch on Saturday.  She talked about her visit to Honduras.  While there, she visited with local villagers about how they were working their way out of poverty.  The lessons she learned from them are:
  • focus on assets
  • empower the powerless
  • answers come from within - not from "experts"
  • build a culture of cooperation and support from the bottom up
Watch Lily's video explaining some of her thoughts from Honduras.

She also spoke about the PISA Report that ranks the U.S. 10th in reading, 17th in math, and 12th in science out of 65 nations.  The countries that are outperforming the U.S. are doing exactly the opposite of what we are seeing as part of "education reform".  In other nations, they have equity, no high-stakes tests, no ability grouping, local authority, better teacher preparation, and pre-school. 

Lily is a local, having been Granite Education Association President and UEA President.  You may want to start following her blog, Lily's Blackboard.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Women's Leadership Training Program

Last week from Wednesday night through Friday about 2:00, I attended the NEA Women's Leadership Training Program in Advancing Your Leadership Skills.  The first part of the training was basic information about leadership, attributes of leaders, and how the Association is set up from the local building level up to the NEA level. 

The most interesting information was about NEA's commitment to social justice.  These are the types of injustice NEA is working to prevent, with historical examples.
  • Exploitation:  what one group does only benefits another group (slavery)
  • Marginalization:  exclusion of group from society (Indian reservations)
  • Powerlessness:  no access to make decisions (women's right to vote)
  • Cultural Imperialism:  group's culture is the norm (White Anglo Saxon Protestants in Western culture)
  • Violence:  random attacks against a group (burning crosses on lawns of blacks during 1960's)
I'm sure you can think of examples of each of these occurring in your classroom or elsewhere in your life.  This is important, because if there is not social justice, there is not a great public school for every student.  NEA has a Department of Human and Civil Rights and you can see an overview at

One of the great things about attending these trainings is to meet and network with others from around the nation.  One gal from Kansas said they had a big district, because they just opened their second high school.  The lady from Nebraska teaches in a K-12 school that is it's own district!  The woman from New Mexico said they are not able to sit down and negotiate salary or benefits; they are told what they will receive, and she is glad they currently have a "benevolent" superintendent.  I have already corresponded with a couple of these ladies and have some ideas to use in the coming year.

The concluding event on Friday was lunch where NEA President, Dennis Van Roekel was the speaker.  He is very inspiring to hear speak.  I had the opportunity to meet him.  He talked about the power we have as the largest labor organization in the country.  We need to use our unified voice to be powerful at the District and State levels.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Joint Educator Evaluation Committee

I attended my first JEEC meeting today.  There have been some problems with other classifications including counselors, teacher specialists, and library media specialsts.  There is a change being added that will require documentation if "Unacceptable" or "Fair/Below Standard" are marked in any domain.  Jane Martain is making the changes, which should be done by the end of February.  If you fall into one of those categories and have more specific questions about the changes, please e-mail me.

NAACP Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Luncheon

JEA Vice President, Kevin Ball, and I were invited by UEA to sit at their table at the NAACP Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Luncheon at Little America on Monday.  Also at our table were James and Abby Maughan.  Abby is one of the scholarship recipients, and James is a French and English teacher at West Hills Middle School.  In the picture, Abby is standing second from the right. 

The main speaker was Dr. John H. Jackson.  He was very inspiring!  He is action in education policy and served on President Obama's Education Policy Transition Group.  He talked about the "IT" for different groups of people and for individuals and what happens when "IT" is gone.  We need to build our future leadership.  We will not always be here to do the work.  Education is the key.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

UEA Elections

The candidates for UEA positions are announced.  Robin Frodge will be in a primary for the NEA State Director.  The primary election will be in February.

Melissa Brown and Kevin Ball are both running for the Jordan UniServ Director on the UEA Board of Directors.  Election dates to be announced later.

School Board Meeting

The newly elected and re-elected School Board Members were sworn in last night by SL County Clerk, Sherry Swensen.  Rick Bojak was elected as President of the Board, and Leah Voorhies was elected as Vice President.  These terms are for two years.  Rick was a 30 year member of JEA as a teacher, and he has been a friend to the Association.  I truly hope this is a positive change in the working relationship between the Board and JEA.

The Superintendent Search Committee has decided to extend the deadline for applications until March 18 in order to have more candidates.  Information on the members of the committee, their contact information, and the application process can be found on the Jordan District website.  Here is a Salt Lake Tribune article about the extension.

The boundaries for the new elementary school in West Jordan were discussed.  No matter which option is selected, both Oakcrest and the new school will be on a traditional schedule for 2-4 years after which they will go year round.  Hayden Peak will remain on a year round schedule for at least another 10 years.  If you teach at Oakcrest and wish to stay or plan to transfer to the new school, please remember the change in salary disbursements between year round and traditional.  The last paycheck on a year round schedule is in July.  the first paycheck on a traditional schedule is in September.  Plan ahead if you wish to make the transition from year round to traditional.

UniServ Council

The Jordan UniServ Council (JEA and Canyons EA) met on Monday night.  The majority of our business had to do with the budget and approving the contract for Michelle Anzlovar, the new Jordan UniServ Administrative Assistant.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Council of Local Presidents

Judy Park from the State Office of Education did a presentation on SMARTER Balanced Assessment which will assess the Common Core and will be implemented in the 2014-2015 school year. 

Kory Holdaway, UEA Government Relations Director, discussed the upcoming Legislative Sesison.  You can see a preview of hot issues at the link.  There are several issues that educators will need to monitor and respond to.  As members, you may receive e-mails throughout the session from UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh.  Please read them so you know what is happening on the hill and so you can act if necessary.

Sara Jones, UEA Director of Educational Excellence, shared the results of a survey on alternative pay structures. 

There was a lot of information presented at this meeting.  I believe these three items of the most interest and relevance to you right now.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Southland Elementary Visit

I spent lunch today at Southland Elementary.  I enjoyed visiting with all the teachers there.  I was also able to talk to the new student teachers.  One item that came up there was the SB 150 requiring a specific reading test for grades 1-3 prior to mid-year.  The Literacy Coaches have spent since before Winter Break going to all the elementary schools to do this testing.  By law, principals must send a letter to parents of students who are not on grade level telling parents of available interventions and then implementing those interventions.  Go to to see the law.

January Jordan Education Foundation Board Meeting

This morning I attended the JEF Board Meeting.  Interim Superintendent, Dave Stoddard, talked about Jordan District's support of Promises to Keep and the Prosperity 2020 ideas that came out of the Education Excellence Summit 2010: partnerships for Educational Success.  He discussed the hold on UBSCT for two years and how Jordan District received around $50,000 in a block grant from the State Legislature to pay for the cost of giving the EXPLORE to eighth graders, the PLAN to sophomores, and the ACT to juniors throughout the District.  The total cost is around $150,000.  Jordan believes the ongoing use of these tests can give teachers data to help students find their career path.  Jordan will apply if another grant is offered. 

JEF is holding their annual fundraising breakfast on Wednesday, February 23 at 7:45 a.m. at the Gathering Place a Gardner Village.  If you know someone who lives or owns a business in Jordan District who may be interested in helping the Foundation raise money which goes to teachers through grants and students through scholarships, please let me know so I can invite them to this event.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

January Executive Board Meeting

The JEA Executive Board met this evening for our monthly meeting.  We discussed the budget, upcoming negotiations, UEA elections, and the upcoming legislative session.  More information will be presented to the AR's next week.

South Hills Middle School Visit

Cindy Carroll and I had a great visit at South Hills Middle School during lunch today.  The first lunch group was very active and had lots of questions.  Second lunch was small, and third lunch had some teachers with good questions and concerns JEA will be working on.

Meeting with Interim Superintendent

I had my first meeting with Dave Stoddard, Interim Superintendent.  We talked about our careers and how we came to be in our current positions.  It is interesting that Dave was San Juan Education Association President over 25 years ago when he was starting his teaching career.  He was a member of the Association through his teaching years.  I believe JEA will be able to have a good working relationship with him while he serves in this position.

We established the meeting schedule for the negotiated Joint Committee that will function to address non-monetary issues prior to negotiations.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Superintendent Search Committee

I attended the open first meeting of the Superintendent Search Committee.  Various groups are represented on the committee.  A full list of members and their contact information will be relesaed tomorrow.  Those representing you are: Karen Gorringe, Bluffdale Elementary; Rick Minor, West Jordan High; Kevin Pullan, Principal at Midas Creek Elementary; and Kim Baker, Principal at West Hills Middle.

Peggy Jo Kennett will be the facilitator and spokesperson for the comittee.  The committee members are to solicit input from the groups they represent.  The committee will review resumes/applications, determine finalists, recommend a superintendent, and suggest salary and benefits for the contract.  The School Board will make all final decisions on hiring and the contract agreement.  I will post a link to the committee contact information when it becomes available.

The next meeting will be a closed meeting on Monday, January 10 at 4:00.  If you have comments, concerns, ideas, or requests, contact a person on the committee who best represents you to share those before the meeting, so they are best prepared.