Friday, February 21, 2014

Educator Day on the Hill - February 21, 2014

Today, Jenny Pedler from Kauri Sue Hamilton School accompanied me at UEA's Educator Day on the Hill.  There was a great turnout with teachers from as far away as Washington County, Iron County, and Cache County!  I saw Richard Osborn, Janice Voorhies, Kayleen Whitelock, Susan Pulsipher, and Peggy Jo Kennett from the Jordan School Board.  I also saw Dr. Johnson, Burke Jolley, and Mike Anderson from Jordan District Administration.

We attended the House Education Committee.  Senator Osmond presented SB103 S1 with an amendment that 4 instructional days could be used for professional development for teachers.  This passed out of committee favorably.

Representative Cunningham presented HB116 about changing requirements and oversight of school construction.  This passed out of committee favorably.

Representative Ivory presented HB109 which would take money in excess of the 9% maximum in the rainy day fund and use it to provide capital funds for qualifying districts.  Under the current proposal, a district would receive around $1.5 million next year (this is about 10% of what a new elementary school costs).  This passed out of committee favorably.

Senator Adams presented SB148 which would make the UPSTART program permanent.  This passed out of committee favorably.

Jenny and I then went to try to talk to some representatives.  She wanted to talk to Representative Cunningham, but he was not on the floor today.  We were able to talk to Representative Knotwell about increasing the WPU, funding retirement and social security on a separate line item, adding professional development days, and the problems with HB131, Speaker Lockhart's technology proposal.  He listened and agreed with us on HB131.

During lunch, several senators and representatives came to talk to the teachers.  The one surprise was Senator Howard Stephenson.  He came in and told us that he had sponsored the charter school legislation and online classroom laws and that he thought these were "silver bullets". He admitted that is not true.  He said, "The proportion of F schools under the school grading in charter schools is actually higher proportioned than for neighborhood schools."  He said the "macrochoice" of parents to be able to choose their school has less impact than the "microchoices" happening inside classrooms with computer adaptive learning.  "What you (teachers) are doing is far more significant than the macrochoices of parents." 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Jordan Education Foundation Donor Appreciation Luncheon

The Jordan Education Foundation holds a donor appreciation luncheon each year.  A few JEA members were participants on the program on Wednesday.

Jacob Bradshaw directing the West Jordan High Drum Line!

Sandy King, Elk Meadows, speaking about the value of mini grants and how the money she has received over the years has benefited her students.

Rita Boullion, Kauri Sue Hamilton School, speaking about the Outstanding Educator and Special Educator awards and mini grants.
The Foundation Outstanding Educator and Outstanding Special Educator award nominations are now open.  Each school can nominate a teacher for each of the awards.  I encourage JEA members to nominate other outstanding JEA members for these awards.  Check with your principal to make sure s/he is not planning to nominate someone else.  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Educator Day on the Hill - February 5, 2014

Represented today by Holly Peregoy from Silver Crest and Herriman Elementary, Carol Whittaker from Jordan Ridge, and Erin Pack-Jordan from Corner Canyon High in Canyons School District.  Mike Anderson, Administrator of Schools for Jordan District, Kayleen Whitelock, Jordan School Board member, and Tracey Miller from Jordan PTA were also at the legislature today.

Public Education Appropriations Committee meeting.

 Utah State Board of Education priorities. Full funding of growth at $64 million, increase WPU by 2.7% at $73 million (COLA, retirement and inflation increases). 

Ongoing expenses: secondary math PD at $5 million, early reading intervention K-3 at $20 million, state office staffing (IT, attorney, auditors) at $2.1 million, graduation initiative to pay for counselors at $8 million, school climate (suicide and bully prevention) at $2 million, core academy $5 million, concurrent enrollment at $1.5 million, high cost SpEd students at $1.5 million.

One time expenses: school improvement at $10 million, 1-to-1 device initiative at $50 million, evaluation implementation at $450,000, innovative transportation at $20 million, Beverly Taylor Sorenson Arts initiative $5 million, teacher supplies at $5 million.

Senator Stephenson stated that these are realistic funding requests. Representative Powell pointed out about Speaker Lockhart's technology initiative. Would like to see the 1-to-1 roll out quicker at a much higher cost. Senator Hillyard asked about the WPU request. May need more to match other public employees increases.  There are needs for necessarily small districts. This is formula driven. A lot of one time money need to build buildings for higher education. Attorney needs to come through district attorney's office.

Rep. Eliason asked about priorities. They were numbered in the order listed above. $6.2 million was deducted on 1040 by about 25,000 Utah teachers in 2012. This deduction expired. He would like to add money to teacher supplies to fill this hole. Rep. Briscoe said there is a separate line item for state employees' health insurance and retirement increases, but that is not in place for educators. Understands WPU would need to be increased by 3% to cover these for school employees. He brought up that up until 3 years ago, educator retirement increases were covered by a separate line item.

Rep. Handy asked about the innovative transportation. This would be for natural gas/clear air initiative. School districts would need to match funds. Rep. Moss asked about counselor ratio and student advocates (trackers, mentors, etc.).  Lots of questions about the various line items.

Committee wants state office to reestablish priorities.

Requests were made by the charter school board and Utah School for Deaf and Blind.  Need technology, new phone system, IT infrastructure. Senator Osmond asked about funding for a USDB building that is now in the infrastructure Committee. Motion to move this one time request to Public Education Appropriations. This building would cost $12 million. Money does come from infrastructure budget, but should be an education priority.

State office priority for 5 PD days added to calendar.

 At Utah democrats education press conference. Rep. Briscoe introduced education priorities. Senator Mayne is asking for funds for high need para educators and money to help students pay for AP classes and tests. Rep. Cosgrove sponsoring bill to restore some teacher professional development days. Also need long-term sustainable funding. Senator Jones spoke about SB118 which allows two child exemptions and phases out the rest with the money going directly to schools. Rep. Hemingway has bill that tracks students in military schools that attend school for some time in Utah. Rep. Romero has bill on giving teachers professional development days with local schools deciding on what is needed.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Educator Day on the Hill - January 31

JEA members representing you today include Carol Whittaker at Jordan Ridge, Robert Comstock at Oquirrh Hills, Mallory Record at Sunset Ridge, Patti Zealley at Silver Crest, Jannifer Young at Elk Ridge, Jeanne Yamashita at Elk Ridge, and Mary Smith at Eastlake.

 It is also good for you to know that Mike Anderson, Administrator of Schools for Jordan District, was at Capitol Hill today.

Public Education Appropriations Committee is looking at finalizing the base budget. Discussed Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind and the need to attract qualified teachers for this special population or teachers to be willing to drive from the Wasatch Front to rural areas to service students in need.

Science outreach program, by Clark Planetarium, Thanksgiving Point, Hawk Watch, Living Planet Aquarium, etc., budget addressed. This provides free entrance for students attending field trips as well as these groups going to schools, especially those outside the Wasatch Front, for science presentations and professional development.

Arts outreach program, by Utah Opera, Ballet West, Ririe-Woodbury Dance, etc., funding addressed. This also provides free entrance for these performances to those attending field trips or these groups doing assemblies at schools.  Asking for an increase of $200,000 ongoing and $250,000 one time funds.

Approving base public education budget. His can still be amended until Executive Appropriations Committee meets on Monday evening. Changes can be made throughout the legislative session.

 Motion to consolidate some programs that are based on the same WPU formula be put into the WPU, which would allow local control.  Pilot programs that are now ongoing, i.e. Dual immersion, take off mandates as to how money is spent and allow districts to decide how it is spent. Give state school board the responsibility to provide statewide priority programs, like science and arts outreach, and just provide the funding, but allow the state office to decide which programs to run.  This would weight the WPU differently. This would give the same number of WPU, but the value would be more (as I understand it), presented by Representative Nielsen. He is willing to have this looked at on Monday or in the interim before next year. There are concerns with global, sweeping change and with details of moving money around. Senator Hillyard said many programs (charter schools, dual immersion) would not be in place if the legislature hadn't provided grants in the past. Agrees that locals should have more control, but he doesn't want to just turn all the money over to local school boards. People seem more okay with income taxes going to education, but not with increases in property taxes. Representative Nielsen said we need to build leadership capacity in local superintendents. This motion failed.

Motion to ask state school board and public education committee to study in the interim and provide recommendations for consolidating some items.  Motion to study passes.

Base public education budget has been approved.

After talking to legislators, and debriefing over lunch, we attended the Educational Excellence Task Force Press Conference.  Two members of the Jordan School Board, Susan Pulsipher and Janice Voorhies, were in attendance as well.  See the following press release.

 Teachers present an innovative new vision for Utah public education
Independent task force asks lawmakers to consider their education policy recommendations, detailed in a new report
Although her independent teacher task force was charged with making education recommendations to policymakers, Park City teacher Anna Williams has a bold charge for her fellow public school educators. “Teachers must examine current practice, look beyond traditional roles and be willing to courageously take the lead in creating innovative education solutions for our students,” she said.
After 18 months of study, research and deliberation, the Educational Excellence Task Force presented a report detailing specific teacher-developed education policy recommendations to the Utah Education Association and state policymakers for consideration. The report is titled Educators Taking the Lead: A Vision for Fostering Excellence in Teaching and Learning.
“We are committed to a bold new vision where teachers have the time, support and resources needed to meet the demand of a diverse learning population,” said Task Force Chairperson Williams. “We envision schools rich in learning, where educators and students excel. We choose to transform our profession, knowing that educating our children is the key to creating a healthy, prosperous and compassionate society.”
Thirteen Utah educators who excel in their field and are leaders in their profession participated in the task force. They presented recommendations to UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh at a press conference Jan. 31.
“This report represents a bold vision for fostering excellence in teaching and learning for all Utah students,” said Gallagher-Fishbaugh. “Our hope is that it will serve as a springboard for dialogue in the education community on strengthening the teaching profession and supporting high student outcomes.”
The report outlines very specific “Call to Action” requests for the Utah State Board of Education, the Utah Legislature, school districts, parents, students and even their own teacher association and fellow educators. “It’s important to remember that education excellence is everyone’s responsibility. We all have a role to play and all must step up for every child to have access to high-quality schools staffed by highly effective teachers,” said Williams. “Every member of our great state will reap the benefits of investments in education.”
The Task Force began its work in May 2012, organized by the Utah Education Association as an independent group to study and prioritize critical education issues and create a vision of teaching excellence designed and led by Utah educators.
Task Force members represent a breadth and depth of experience in many areas including classroom teachers, instructional coaches, administrators, specialists, elementary and secondary education, diverse curriculum areas and low-income schools.
The Task Force met regularly with the charge to analyze relevant research to identify priorities for the Utah Education Association and public education in Utah; create a vision of teaching excellence that is led by teachers; develop a comprehensive set of policy recommendations regarding teaching quality and effectiveness; and create a report that will engage policymakers, the public and teacher association leadership in the important dialogue of change.
“Teachers are trained education experts and are in the best position to make policy recommendations that impact their individual classrooms and students,” said Gallagher-Fishbaugh. “The teachers on this Task Force represent the very best of Utah education. I look forward to working with all our education stakeholders in using these recommendations to champion a long-term, student-centered, fully funded plan for Utah public education.”
Educational Excellence Task Force members:
  • Anna Williams (chair), instructional coach, Park City High, Park City District
  • Eve Bean, assistant principal, Ellison Park Elementary, Davis District
  • Laurel Brown, speech-language teacher, Riverview Junior High, Murray City District
  • Jennifer Graviet, English teacher, Sand Ridge Junior High, Weber District
  • Debra Green, choral director, Sand Ridge Junior High, Weber District
  • Judy Mahoskey, sixth-grade teacher, Liberty Elementary, Murray City District
  • Suzy Merrill, third-grade teacher, Oakridge Elementary, Granite District
  • Jennifer Roberts, sixth-grade teacher, Lincoln Elementary, Davis District
  • Dan Rozanas, social studies teacher, Alta High, Canyons District
  • Mary Ellen Smith, BYU partnership facilitator, Eastlake Elementary, Jordan District
  • Denise Ulrich, second-grade teacher, Foxboro Elementary, Davis District
  • Leigh VandenAkker, social studies teacher, East High School, Salt Lake City District
  • Patti Zealley, kindergarten teacher, Silver Crest Elementary, Jordan District
See the report at