Global Warming Calisthenics and State Leadership

smoke stacks

I recently sat through a luncheon with House Speaker Becky Lockhart. Her usual sharp and witty self, we discussed a number of issues and leadership challenges that face Utah in the future. It was agreed that while there is much we are doing as a state, there is much left to do. Love it or hate it, Utah’s economic future is intrinsically joined with our ability to harvest natural resources, particularly energy resources. With the ever encroaching federal intrusions into states’ rights, particularly in the realm of control of federal…

It’s all about the ROI

Return on Investment

I feel a little bad for Becky Lockhart. Her ambitious goal to bring a bunch of technology into classrooms has hit a major stumbling block as the Senate countered her $200M proposal with an offer of just $26M. Obviously, the  problem is going to be money. We only have so much of it to spend, and raiding the transportation budget seems to have ended up as a non-starter. I think this provides a very important lesson for legislators who want to get an ambitious spending plan approved: focus on the…

Games of chance legal in Utah. Who knew?

  In Utah, we don’t gamble. Games of chance are against the law. In fact, our State Constitution prohibits gambling. Yet every year a high stakes poker game plays out in our State Capitol as a $13.5 billion budget is ironed out. Think the World Series of Poker. On one side, The House led by Speaker Becky Lockhart. On the other side, the Senate let by President Wayne Niederhauser. Together, the two legislative bodies appropriate the budget. Another player at the table with a smaller stack of chips is Governor Gary…

Dear Salt Lake City School District, You’re Welcome.

Salt Lake City School District, still bristling from bad press around dumping  kids lunches at Uintah elementary school, resulting in a show of bi-partisanship from Senators Jim Dabakis (D – Salt Lake City) and Todd Weiler (R – Woods Cross), apparently needed to request bids to help their image problem. Not realizing that the problem was never with their messaging, but their tactics, they decided to engage a public relations firm, who said “We can fix all your problems for the low price of $50,000.00 $49,999.00. Why an arbitrary number like…

Audit: Utah’s “Ghost Student” problem.

Editor’s note: This article is specifically written to highlight serious allegations and problems noted within the State Board’s audit. This is in no way written, or meant to infer that home schooling and charter schools are bad. It highlights specific issues, and specific actors. Who have committed acts that must be addressed and fixed if school choice, and educational freedom are to be able to function without scrutiny. Recently, the State of Utah requested a performance audit of distance and online educational programs from the Utah State Board of Education. The results, released on…

Digital Natives, Devices and Education Funding [Holly on the Hill]

We have been hearing a lot lately about education funding, WPUs, and one-to-one but we haven’t spent as much time talking about those who really matter: the kids. Those kids who are already in the school system and those who will be entering it in the next few years have a distinct advantage over those of us who are their parents and grandparents. They are digital natives. Unlike those of us who are digital immigrants (born before the mid-90’s), digital natives live in a world where they are fluent in…

I’ll See Your Head Tax And Raise You A Credit [Productive Activities]

http://www.flickr.com/photos/fulanna/8482679716/

The Head Tax is an idea that’s been around for at least a decade. It’s an idea that purports to secure additional funding for public education. It’s called Head Tax because it would force families to pay extra income tax for every child they have. You see, when you file your taxes, you get a deduction for each dependent, which means your tax bill drops. Since all income tax in Utah goes to education, the Head Tax people think that means you’re not paying your fair share. After all, it’s your kids…

Cut From the Same Cloth?

There is a fundamental question making its way around the Capitol this session: should taxes be tied to users? For example, should those that drive more pay more for roads through gas taxes or tolls? Or should those directly utilizing our public schools pay more towards education? These items never quite correlate exactly, but there has always been a sense especially among conservatives that user taxes are better policy.

Technology in education. Rolling out 600,000 devices state wide.

I think one of the biggest things I am asked as “the IT guy” is, “how can we use technology within the classroom?” I am in a unique position. Aside from working in higher education, one of my favorite aspects has been the ability to work in K-12 education technology. I cut my teeth on this topic working with a good friend of mine who is the technology director in a rural school district.  One of the challenges they had is how to get the technology from the schools spread apart…