Thursday, June 30, 2011

NEA Representative Assembly Day 1

This morning was the Utah Caucus. Both Dennis Van Roekel (NEA President) and Lily Eskelsen (NEA VP) came by to campaign since they are both up for re-election. The individuals running against them are the "Tea Partiers" of the NEA. I am planning to vote for both of them and hope in doing so I represent your desires for who you would like to lead the NEA.

 Sorry the pictures aren't great.  I am using the JEA camera and still learning.
Also at the caucus this morning, we discussed the policy statement on Teacher Accountability and Evaluation, the proposed $10 dues increase for the crisis fund for the next 5 years, and endorsing President Obama for 2012. These are the three big controversial issues facing the RA this year.
In the afternoon, I headed to the convention center to register, check out the booths, and go to the hearing on the policy statement on Teacher Accountability and Evaluation. Most people were supportive of the overall position with some wanting to tweak language and correct grammatical errors. As soon as an electronic version of the policy statement is available, I will post it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Howard Stephenson

UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh sent out the following request to contact Senator Howard Stephenson regarding his disparaging remarks about teachers in low-socioeconomic schools as well as the association.  See this Salt Lake Tribune article near the end and this Deseret News article, also near the end for his quotes.

"As your UEA President, I am troubled by recent comments made by Senator Howard Stephenson. He has referred to teachers that work in difficult-to- staff schools as mediocre and has also referred to fellow teachers that belong to the UEA as a group that promotes mediocrity.

"I hope that you are as troubled by this sentiment as I am and I am asking you to take the time to contact Senator Stephenson to express your concern about his mischaracterization of our profession and of our Association. In addition, it is time we shed light to the general public about our feelings regarding Senator Stephenson’s lack of respect for what we do every day. Please write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper expressing your views on this issue.
"As your president, I am working to try and improve relationships and the public perceptions of the challenges you face each day in your classrooms.  I hope you will join me in sharing what an incredible difference you are making in the lives of the students with whom you work. 

"You can contact Senator Howard Stephenson by emailing him at  or by calling him at 801-572-1038.
If you do contact Senator Stephenson, would you please let me know in a separate e-mail?  I would like to have an idea of the concerns you have shared with the Senator. Also, please copy me any letters to the editor you may write.

"Thank you for all you do for the students you serve."

Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, M.A., NBCT
UEA President

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Education Funding in Utah

Kim R. Burningham of the State School Board sent this to UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh.  The information is good and falls in with the TEF message of Taxes, Economic Development, and Funding for Schools.

Previously, I compared Utah’s low per pupil funding for education to that of New Jersey which is nearly
three times as high, and where the State Court recently declared the New Jersey appropriation inadequate!   I thank you for the responses that many of you sent.  One individual, although still supportive of the general tenor of my article, said that Utah’s makes a high effort, insisting that our effort was among the highest in the nation.  I felt a need to respond.
The truth is that our efforts in Utah are rapidly declining.   
The Utah Foundation Research Report, April 2006 dispels the myth that Utah’s effort is relatively high.   This generally regarded objective source provided astounding analysis.   The Foundation concluded, “In the early and mid-1990s, the paradox [Utah’s high effort but low funding] was quite stark—Utah’s funding effort was very high, even fifth highest in the nation in 1995 and within the top states for most of the decade.  However, that paradox no longer exists. [Underlining and bolding mine]   Utah can no longer lay claim to a very high, or even above-average effort for funding education.”
In an alarming graph, the Utah Foundation demonstrated how Utah’s public education revenues and current spending per $1,000 of Personal Income has slid steadily downwards in recent years.   We may have been 5th highest in revenue effort in 1995, but in 2004, we had dropped to 27th.  In “spending”, we were 7th highest in 1996, but by 2004 we had dropped to 36th.   This, even though we have far more children per taxpayer.
Public Education Revenue Per $1,000 Personal Income  (The chart in the Utah Foundation report provides statistical analysis for every year.  I have selected four sample years for brevity sake.)
Utah % of U.S. Average

Public Education Current Spending Per !,000 Personal Income
Utah % of U.S. Average

The Foundation provides excellent analysis claiming this reduction in effort may be traced to four major tax policy changes in Utah.  The effort that used to go into education, now appears to go into “health, human services, corrections, and transportation infrastructure.”
The report concludes that “if Utah still exerted the funding effort that existed in 1995, when the state was the fifth highest in the nation, Utah would have had an additional $1,200 per pupil available in public education revenues in 2004.  That would have been an increase of $600 million or 20% above the actual funding for that year.  Finally, that would have raised Utah’s overall ranking [in education funding per pupil] from 51st to 47th.”
It appears more important in Utah to build roads than educate students.   If you doubt this, remember the recent special session where the Legislature reversed Governor Herbert’s veto of a bill that set aside money for transportation, while education funding sinks lower.
Speaking to the issue of our comparatively weak funding of education, another respondent to more previous email wrote me:  “I think it’s education malpractice that causes long-term, lifelong harm.  If it were the hospital and the hospital knew it was critical to have diagnostic tools (MRI, c-scan, pathology lab, etc.) to best treat and diagnose those with illnesses and the hospital said, ‘By the way, we have the funds, but we’d rather pave the parking lot, redo the furnishings in the doctor’s offices, and we also want to pay for the lifetime health insurance of any medical staff who works at this hospital,’ the hospital would be sued.”
Appallingly, the figures explain that not only is our per pupil expenditure low, but our effort is in serious decline.
Kim R. Burningham

Monday, June 20, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jordan District Budget Hearing

Mr. Burke Jolley, Business Administrator for Jordan District, presented the proposed 2011-2012 budget Tuesday night.  He said the budget did not include any compensation increases (steps, lanes, COLAs) for any employees.  He said the budget should be revenue neutral, meaning that the District spends what it receives or uses reserves to pay for priorities.  He also said this budget is long-term and sustainable. 

I spoke to the School Board stating that a long-term, sustainable budget must include steps and lanes.  I talked of the implied contract of the salary schedule and that not funding steps and lanes violates the integrity of the salary schedule.  I also pointed out the possible problems that will come 5 to 10 years down the road as other districts continue to honor their salary schedules, and Jordan does not.  Veteran teachers who have already topped out on the salary schedule will retire.  New teachers will either go to other districts after a couple of years in Jordan when they realize they are not receiving increases, or Jordan will only be able to hire teachers who have not been hired by other districts. 

I expressed these same ideas on Wednesday to School Board President Rick Bojak when the School Board and JEA Executive Board met for lunch.  I told him I was concerned that the impact of the decisions to not include steps and lanes in a long-term, sustainable budget will not be seen immediately, but that in 5 to 10 years, the quality of education received by the students will decline due to the points mentioned above.  Other JEA Board members also gave personal examples or examples of teachers within their schools who have left or considered leaving Jordan to teach elsewhere.  In addition, we explained that a teacher with three years of experience being hired by Jordan from out of state is likely placed on Step 3 of the salary schedule, while a third year teacher who has only taught in Jordan is still on Step 1, making an inequity and not rewarding loyalty.

At the budget hearing, Representative Jim Bird also spoke.  He called Mr. Jolley out about hazardous busing.  He asked why the district was maintaining the legal maximum 5% in reserves ($14.5 million) when there are children who must cross Highway 111 or 9000 South.  Mrs. Peggy Jo Kennett pointed out that the School Board made that decision.

I appreciate the 10 JEA members who attended the Budget Hearing.

UEA Leadership Academy

Jannifer Young from Elk Ridge, Mallory Meyer from Sunset Ridge, and I attended UEA Leadership Academy the last two days.  Robin Frodge from West Jordan High was also in attendance the first day.  It was inspiring and informational.  We also had a lot of fun!  I will just say Jannifer, Mallory, and I were in the square dance group that needed Tier 2 interventions!

The first day started with an introduction to the new MyDeals app available for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and Android.  If you have one of those phones or devices, check out the app.  You should be able to log in with the number from your UEA Membership/Access card.  The app is mobile coupons!

Next we heard from NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen. She talked about the national outlook toward unions and how there is a coordinated effort to divide and conquer. When you have a half hour, take the time to watch and listen to Lily.

We were then shown data from three Dan Jones focus groups with parents and grandparents of school aged children across the state about their perceptions of neighborhood public schools and the UEA.  We were surprised at some of the positive things that were said.  Later on the second day, we brainstormed ways to help change the negative perceptions that were expressed during these focus groups.

I attended a breakout session on survival tips for presidents and one on Council of Local Presidents the first day.  On day two, I attended bargaining and school finance.

I enjoyed getting to know Jannifer and Mallory better.  They are motivated to become even better AR's for next year.  The UEA staff is great and did an outstanding job organizing the Academy.  Kory Holdaway was the facilitator for the Jordan UniServ table, which included two Canyons members, Rick Steadman from Crescent View and Judy Taylor from Peruvian Park.

Jannifer and Mallory with UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh (center) who, despite being named Utah Teacher of the Year was also in the square dance group that needed Tier 2 interventions!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Joint Educator Evaluation Committee (JEEC)

The Joint Educator Evaluation Committee met this afternoon.  We reviewed data from IBRIC, the company that compiles all JPAS results and looks for trends.  Overall scores are down two points over the last five years, which is statistically significant.  Managing the Classroom remained stable.  Delivering Instruction and Interacting with Students are trending down.  Some proposed possible reasons were district split, loss of professional development days, and low morale.  These results are from approximately 3000 evaluations done per year with Jordan and Canyons combined.  Jordan alone had about 1700 evaluations done for the last two years with overall scores dropping one point.

When JPAS was piloted in 1995, there were more categories on the bar graph including below basic (10% of pilot), basic (20% of pilot), proficient (50% of pilot), and superior (20% of pilot).  All but below basic were removed.  Utah is going to a teacher effectiveness model, see for more information.  The JEEC approved a pilot year (2011-2012) of adding the demarcations to the bar graph and labeling them Ineffective, Minimally Effective, Effective, and Highly Effective.  You will notice this change on your JPAS Feedback Report.  JEEC will be evaluating how these demarcations help improve teacher practice in the classroom.

Due to changes in Utah law, evaluations now must be completed annually on every teacher.  Jordan District is going to keep JPAS for all provisional teachers twice a year and for career teachers every three years. On the interim years when teachers do not have a JPAS evaluation, they will use the Licensed Interim Evaluation.  Teachers will receive information about this new evaluation tool during JPAS training at the beginning of the school year.  There will be a place on the JPAS website where you will log in to your evaluation within the first month of school.  There you will complete a .pdf on what you plan to do to meet indicators in Learning Environment, Instruction, Assessment, and Professionalism.  You will also complete the first part of the Licensed Interim Reflection and Professional Development Plan.  In the last month of school, you will meet with your administrator to review both documents.  The administrator will submit a version of the evaluation that says Yes or No on meeting your stated goals for those areas.  The indicators are similar to and aligned with those in JPAS.  Watch for more information as the new school year begins.  Year round teachers will not have their JPAS training until after the Administrator Conference where the principals will be trained.

Meeting with Dr. Johnson

This morning, Laura Black, Cindy Carroll and I met with Dr. Johnson, the new superintendent.  We each shared our experience in education and with the association.  Dr. Johnson has taught grades K - 8 and has been a principal at all levels.  In addition, she served as a local association president in California at the same time her husband was on the local school board.  She didn't say what the issue was, but she said she believed in what she was doing and led picketing of the school board!  She understands the role of the association.

We discussed the Common Core, state legislature, student growth model, evaluations, and student achievement.  Dr. Johnson expressed a desire to be collaborative and include JEA in changes she would like to lead.  She also stated that she is very competitive and wants Jordan District to become a top district in the nation.

Dr. Johnson agreed to continue the monthly meetings with me.  I was encouraged by the tone and respectfulness of the meeting.  I hope this is an indicator of good things to come!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Middle School Issues Committee Meeting

I attended the Middle School Issues Committee Meeting last week.  Since my only experience with middle school is when I attended, I was interested in learning more.  It seems the collaboration time of Fridays is very valuable and the time is used effectively.  Schools were concerned about the number of Friday holidays where collaboration time is missed.  Collaboration time cannot be moved to another day of the week, because then the schools would not meet the 990 instructional hours. 

There have been problems this year with classified position cuts from full to half-time, particularly with hall monitors and registrars.  There has been more turnover, and the qualifications and commitment of the candidates is lower.  These positions need to be consistent among the middle schools for equity and payroll purposes.

Reflections on my First Year in Office

I was elected president of JEA just as the negotiation process was beginning in 2010. I became president right after JEA declared impasse. What a way to start! We finally settled through the use of a hearing officer. Since then, I have been meeting with the superintendent or interim superintendent on a monthly basis as negotiated. A joint committee established in negotiations has also been meeting monthly. These negotiated meetings have helped to repair the relationship between JEA and District administration.

Following negotiations, the campaign season was in full gear. Working for education friendly candidates at the legislature became a focus. I also watched the Jordan School Board races closely. In between negotiations and campaigns, Superintendent Barry Newbold announced his retirement. I watched the School Board as they searched for the new superintendent, Dr. Patrice Johnson, who will begin June 1. I spoke with her, and our first meeting is scheduled for June 8.

In January came the Legislative Session. It was not a good year for teachers at the Legislature. We are still waiting to see what the grading schools, reduction-in-force, and evaluation changes are going to look like. I was up at the Legislature nine days watching the proceedings and talking to legislators about how various bills will impact teachers every day. Some of them listened, others did not.

I also attended many meetings, some monthly, others as needed: DAC, Insurance Committee, Sick Bank Committee, Calendar Committee, Jordan Education Foundation, JEA Executive Board, JEA Legislative Council (AR), Jordan UniServ Staff, UEA Council of Local Presidents, School Board Study Sessions and Board Meetings, We are One Rally, and UEA House of Delegates.

One of the best parts of the job is being able to meet and visit with members and to recognize them for all the good they do in and out of the classroom. I wanted to visit every school, but I have only been to about half. This will be one of my goals for next school year.

I want all of you to know what great UniServ Directors we have in Laura Black and Cindy Carroll. They do so much to advocate for members. Michelle Anzlovar, our new administrative assistant, has been great at keeping things organized for meetings and making sure I am prepared. I could not do my job without their support.

I appreciate those of you who stepped up and did something you have never done before. That was my request to all members at the beginning of my term. Some of you were an AR for the first time. Some of you participated in Educator Day on the Hill. Many of you wrote to your legislators. Some of you have attended School Board Meetings. If each JEA member does one thing again next year that you have never done before, we can truly make a difference in our profession and our association. Thank you for your membership in JEA!