Saturday, February 25, 2012

Educator Day on the Hill

Jordan had three teachers in addition to me attend Educator Day on the Hill.  Thanks to Ginny Raiser, James Maughan, and Pat Raymond for taking the time to attend. 

We started in the Senate Education Committee.  SB82:  Equal Access for Education Employee Association Amendments was discussed.  There was a room full of UEA members and a handful of other groups in attendance.  The majority of those who testified, including me, were against this bill; however, the committee voted to move the bill out favorably.  The membership lady from AAE (American Association of Educators) testified about how she has not been given equal access by various districts.  One of the reasons she has given for teachers to join AAE is that they are not political.  Testifying to a legislative committee is political. 

The other controversial bill addressed by the committee was SB67:  Teacher Effectiveness and Outcomes Based Compensation.  This is an education reform bill that is the opposite of SB64:  Public Education Employment Reform by Senator Aaron Osmond.  SB64 is the bill that UEA and other education groups helped write.  SB67 goes to 100% pay for performance by 2020.  Please contact your senator by letter, e-mail, and/or phone call about supporting SB64 by Osmond.

We then spent time trying to talk to legislators.  We were able to visit with Senator Thatcher and Senator Morgan. We watched Senate debate and heard from U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch until lunch.  At lunch we met with all the other UEA members and talked about what we learned.  We also heard from Represenatives Marie Poulsen and Joel Briscoe.  We watched House debate after lunch. 

There is one more Educator Day on the Hill, Friday, March 2.  If you would like to attend, please contact me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mountain Shadow Visit

Laura Black and I spent lunch at Mountain Shadows today helping JEA members "flip" to EFT.  Six teachers flipped and one gave us a retirement notice for the end of the year.  Dean Mednick has been teaching Kindergarten for 33 years!  He opened Mountain Shadows in 1987.  What a great career he has had!  My friend had three children in his kindergarten class over the last six years, and she has raved about what a wonderful teacher he is.

Online Education Program Amendment - SB0178

This bill, sponsored by Senator Howard Stephenson, was discussed at length in the Senate Education Committee.  Concerns were raised by charter and public schools about how IEP and IB requirements could be met and maintained through online programs.  The majority of online programs are through local school districts; however, some are provided by for-profit, out-of-state companies.  The core may not match Utah's core and the courses may not be taught by highly-qualified teachers.  Senator Stephenson would like to see high school students have a "credit card" where they could shop for the classes they want.

Kory Holdaway with UEA stated that education will look different in the future, but technology will not replace a teacher.  Senator Stephenson stated that the money goes to districts, but Kory said he heard that more money was going to private providers.  Quality of online education needs to be monitored to make sure skills are being learned through the online experience.  We do not want to do a disservice to our students.  Accountability needs to be in place.  He is also concerned about a 72-hour requirement for local districts to respond to an online provider about if the district will carry that online class.

A taxpayer said she doesn't want to pay more for students who choose to take more expensive online classes. Students who transfer mid-term from online to a local district lose the funding.

Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh spoke about how students learning needs should be put at the forefront. 

A parent and former teacher from Davis District is concerned about the funding formula.  Apparently there is a $50 bonus to online providers for each student that scores a "4" or at the highest level on an exam.  She suggested this be done for public education.  Would it be sustainable?

Martel Menlove, Deputy Superintendent at the State Office of Education, would like to see more support for Utah's Online High School that has been in place for about 10 years.

Judi Clark from Parents for Choice in Education says they are able to provide information for parents and students on which courses would be meet the students' needs.  She is supportive of the cost structure within the bill.

Committee Chair Senator Osmond summarized the concerns of funding, timing of funding for planning purposes, quality of content and instructors, and bonus is not provided for public education.

Senator Stephenson responded that districts and charters must monitor the quality of online providers they allow students access to.  He wants a market, competitive price structure, which he believes is a better model.  He said he will work with groups to address IEP and IB questions.  He said Utah has been recognized internationally for the online work we are doing.

Senator Thatcher does not want to hold the bill, because it helps refine the Online Education bill from last year.  Senator Morgan supports online education; however, she requests that the bill be held in committee so Senator Stephenson can make needed changes.  Senator Osmond supports bill, but also thinks there are some problems that need to be worked out before going to the floor.  He will support keeping the bill in committee.  The bill was passed out of committee with a favorable recommendation.  Senators Osmond and Morgan voted against this recommendation.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

JEA Elections Final Candidates

After receiving Nomination Acceptance Forms and Nominations Petitions, the following are the final candidates for JEA Offices:

President: Jennifer Boehme - Elk Meadows
Vice President: Kevin Ball - Rosamond, Jack Duffy - West Jordan High, Mallory Meyer - Sunset Ridge
Middle School: James Maughan - West Hills
Elementary: Kara Goodwin - Bluffdale
Special Certification: Renee Sass - Oquirrh Hills

Jordan Education Foundation Breakfast

JEA hosted a table at the Jordan Education Foundation Breakfast.  The program started with the awesome West Jordan High Madrigals under the direction of Kelly DeHaan, JEA member.  A big thanks to Kelly for providing wonderful entertainment!

A couple of JEF Board members spoke about the programs offered by the Foundation.  The focus this year was on the low income medical assistance program.  I appreciate those who attended including Senator Aaron Osmond, Chinese dual immersion teacher at Foothills Janet Craven, candidate for State House Seat 50 Chris Merrill, Zions Bank manager Lori Harding, Elk Meadows principal Howard Griffith, and Jordan UniServ Director Laura Black.

You can make monthly payroll deduction contributions to JEF, which are also tax deductible.  You can direct the funds to a particular program or school.  Contact Steve Hall at 

The JEF Outstanding Educator Awards nominations are due March 16.  See the JEF Website for more information.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New UEA Commercial

UEA has produced a commercial that is running this week during prime time on KSL.  Four Jordan teachers, Heather Reich at Majestic, Kara Goodwin at Bluffdale, Jannifer Young from Elk Ridge, and I are in the commercial.  You can view the commercial below.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Legislative Council (AR) Meeting

The AR meeting last night went well.  We talked about the EFT flip process and the progress that is being made.  It is slow but steady and hope to keep the momentum going.  If you have not had a meeting about the EFT flip, contact your building AR. 

Kyle Hansen from Human Resources came to talk about a few things with the coming of the transfer season.  He stated that the Intent to Return will not be going out, because the information was not useful.  Instead, there is an Early Notification Incentive of $200 to be paid on the final paycheck to licensed personnel who submit the Resignation Form to their principal and HR by March 1.  The intent is to help principals know of open positions and to be able to avoid a Reduction In Staff (RIS).  There will then be two Teacher Transfer Fairs:  Elementary on Friday, March 23 from 3:00 to 7:00 at South Jordan Middle and Secondary on Monday, March 26 from 10:00 to 2:00 at Riverton High.  This will give teachers the opportunity to meet with principals and have more choice in where they wish to transfer.  This process is also happening early to avoid a RIS.  Once the known RIS are identified by their principal through meetings with the Administrator of Schools to determine "school need", they will be placed into positions for which they are qualified.  Then the regular transfer window will open up.  If you are considering a transfer, attending the Teacher Transfer Fair is a great chance to determine where you would like to teach next year.

Nominations for JEA Leadership took place.  The following were nominated:

President – 2 years:  Jennifer Boehme
Vice President – 2 years:  Jack Duffy, Kevin Ball, Mallory Meyer

Middle school – 3 years:  Mallory Meyer
Elementary school – 3 years:  Kara Goodwin

Special certification – 1 year:  Renee Sass
Any active JEA member may file a petition with 25 signatures of JEA members to become a candidate for any open position.  If you are interested, please contact me at to receive a petition.  Petitions are due to the JEA Office by 5:00 on Wednesday, February 15.

We discussed the legislature and bills that are being run this session. You can go to Utah Public Education to see a summary of Senator Osmond's SB64:  Public Education Employment Reform Act.

We also talked about the importance of caucus attendance to become a delegate or to elect public education friendly delegates.  You should have the opportunity to watch the video on becoming a delegate that is linked on the Utahn's for Public Schools website.  It is 17 minutes long and a bit boring, but it does contain good information on the process and importance of caucus attendance.
Caucuses are scheduled for Tuesday, March 13 for Democrats and Thursday, March 15 for Republicans.  Any JEA member who attends their caucus will be entered into a drawing for a restaurant gift card.  We will collect this information on Friday, March 16.  Please take the time to attend and become involved.  Most decisions about education are political decisions.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Educator Day on the Hill

Jannifer Young, Elk Ridge, and Michelle Jorgensen, Mountain Shadows, attended Educator Day on the Hill.  Jannifer was invited to the House Kitchen for a while.  She also sent messages to Representative Hughes.  Michelle and I gave Senator Osmond a stack of thank you notes.  He continues to work on n education bill in conjunction with UEA.  We were able to talk to Representative Bird about a couple of his bills.  We also spoke with Representative Merlynn Newbold and asked her about the education budget.  She said, "We are funding growth.  We need more [money] above the line, not below the line."  I hope this is true.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Interest-Based Bargaining Training

Kitty Simmons from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services came and met with the District (Dr. Johnson, Dr. Godfrey, Dr. LeMaster, and Mr. Thomas) and JEA (Melissa Brown, Karl McKenzie, Kara Goodwin, Cindy Carroll, Laura Black, me) Negotiations Teams today in Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB) Training.  We spent the day learning the process of identifying issues, interests, solutions, standards, and coming to consensus.  We believe there will be more open discussion and dialogue by using IBB over traditional negotiations techniques.    Our first meeting will be March 15 to establish ground rules.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

UEA Educational Excellence Task Force

UEA is launching the Educational Excellence Task Force
and we need your expertise!

Every year dozens of policy changes affect Utah’s public schools, but these changes do not always result in the best outcomes for students. Teachers, as education professionals, are best positioned to propose important solutions to strengthen teaching effectiveness and improve student outcomes. Therefore, the UEA is organizing the Educational Excellence Task Force to study and prioritize critical education issues and make recommendations to the UEA. The task force will be comprised of current classroom teachers and administrators who excel in the field of education, are leaders in the profession, and who are willing to engage the Association, policymakers and the public in the important dialogue of creating excellent public schools for every child.

The task force will:
·         Be selected through a competitive application process.
o   Requirements are a cover letter, an application form, a resume, two letters of recommendation from individuals with direct knowledge of teaching experience and demonstrated excellence as a classroom teacher or administrator.
o   Applicant must be a member of the UEA and a current classroom teacher or administrator.
·         Meet once a month from May – September 2012, and work via email or conference call to draft, review and revise a written report.
·         Create a vision of teaching excellence that is led by teachers.
o   Develop a comprehensive set of policy recommendations for the UEA’s consideration  regarding teaching quality and effectiveness.
·         Work with policymakers, the public and association leadership to promote policy recommendations.

As a proud Utah teacher and member of the UEA, I hope you will take this opportunity to lead the discussion on teaching and teacher quality in the State. This is a unique opportunity to speak as an education professional about those policies and practices you know will create positive outcomes for education in Utah.  Apply today!!   Applications due Friday, March 9.

Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh
UEA President

For complete details and all application materials visit

"Not in Our Town"

The Inclusion Center is hosting a screening of the film "Not in Our Town", a film about bullying in schools.  It will be followed by an overview of Utah's climate, a youth panel, and an audience dialogue. 

Date:   February 8

Time:  7 p.m.

Place:  Utah Museum of Contemporary Arts, 20 S. West Temple