Friday, February 18, 2011

Day Six at the Legislature/Educator Day on the Hill

Pat Raymond, English and Humanities Teacher at Valley High, attended Educator Day on the Hill with me along with 35 other teachers from around the state. 

We started in the Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Howard Stephenson.  The first item was SB53 - Activities in Secondary Schools.  This is in response to a new policy put in place by the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) about elegibility to participate in athletics if you transfer schools if recruiting is involved.  There was much discussion and many people who spoke in favor of the bill.  Those opposed are the State School Board and the UHSAA, because the new policy has only been in place since September, and they feel it hasn't been given a chance to work.   The UHSAA spent a year and a half studying the issue of recruiting and students transferring for specific athletic programs.  The policy was approved by the UHSAA Board of Trustees.  The bill was moved out of committee on a 5-1 vote.

SB179 - Math Education Initiative gives grants to schools who implement Singapore Math for elementary and offer honors geometry and/or honors algebra classes in secondary.  One complaint was the $1.8 million dollars proposed, especially in a year where there is no money for the basic program and growth.  Most spoke against the bill saying that Singapore Math does not have a research basis to produce results, it is similar to Investigations, it does not support the Common Core State Standards, and there is no secondary component.  In addition, the Utah Instructional Materials Committee has not approved it for use.  This also intrudes on the State School Boards role.  The bill was moved out of committee on a 4-2 vote.

SB 73 - Teacher Tenure had a lot of problems.  Only one person spoke in favor of the bill.  Many spoke against for reasons including the idea of teachers being judged on test scores causing a mass exodus from Title I schools, teachers not wanting to teach ESL or Resource students, there is already an evaluation in every district, poor teachers are fired every year based on the results of their evaluations, there will always be a lowest 5% so eventually all teachers would be at-will/provisional employees, it would require every teacher be evaluated every year, and not all teachers give state assessments.  The bill sponsor, Senator Howard Stephenson, suggested the bill be held in committee for modifications, because it has unintended consequences in the current form.  Here's the article about this bill.

Next we wrote to legislators and then tried to see them during floor time.  Pat and I were able to talk to Representative Ken Ivory.  He was friendly, but he is supportive of SB59 - Grading Schools and SB65 - Online Credits.  The immigration bill (HB70) came up for debate on the floor and passed out of the House.

During lunch, we discussed what we had learned in talking to the legislators.  This is helpful information for UEA to know where the legislators stand on various bills.  I also ran into Richard Osborn who was there for the School Boards Association meeting.

After lunch we went to the House Education Committee where we heard discussion on HB152 S1 - School Community Councils (SCC).  It modifies who can serve on the SCC, some of the SCC responsibilities, and asks for additional reporting and accountability.  It passed out of committee unanimously.

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