The Utah Education Landscape Is a War Zone

No one wants to live in a country or a state or a city or neighborhood…or anywhere, with stupid people. It’s why we provide (mostly) free (or, rather, tax funded) public education. We share a common belief that educated people make for better citizens, neighbors, and friends. And yet, public education, at least in Utah, is a bureaucratic warzone. Entrenched interests are at war with each other, scrambling for control, resources, and money. Whether it’s for the votes on the Board of Education, for funding from the Utah Legislature, or in…

Sen. Margaret Dayton: The Conundrum of the Common Core Waiver

By Senator Margaret Dayton I had the opportunity to address the State School Board today (on Friday, August 8, 2014) about the legislative intent of a bill that I passed nearly a decade ago. HB 135 was passed in 2005, but the drafting and crafting process took a full two years. During the 2004 interim, every single education committee meeting discussed the onerous ramifications of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and what could be done. HB 135 was the result of some of those discussions. When the bill was considered in the 2005…

Are We Asking the Right Questions About the Board of Education?

Utah State Superintendent Finalists Announced: Backup Plan for Some? John Barge, Martin Bates, Rich Crandall, Brad Smith

A couple weeks back, contributors to the Utah Politico Hub examined the role of the State Board of Education in students learning. Does the Board have a duty to parents or to students? The response was impressive, with parents, activists, and even a couple members of the State Board of Education weighing in. You can find those posts here. As I’ve thought about the topic since, though, I’ve begun to wonder if perhaps we–the public–understand what the Board of Education does and how it works.

Failed USBOE Candidate’s Viewpoint Discrimination Claim Fails the Ron Swanson Test

Breck England is complaining about viewpoint discrimination, and he is completely right…and totally wrong.   In the latest strange development in Utah’s political litigation industry, Breck England, an unsuccessful candidate for the Utah State Board of Education (USBOE), has sued the members of the USBOE nominating committee, Governor Herbert, and Lt. Governor Cox for allegedly engaging in discrimination in violation of his constitutional rights (a copy of the complaint is embedded below). The basis for England’s claim is that, during vetting process of state school board candidates, some candidates are favored…

The Cuts Continue: Day 2 of the State School Board Candidate Interviews

Today, the Governor’s Nominating and Recruiting Committee continued their interviews with State School Board candidates in the remaining two districts.  The committee, by law, is taxed with forwarding at least three names on to the Governor.  The Governor will in turn select two of those candidates to appear on the November ballot.  By law, the Governor must select candidates for the ballot before August 1st.   Here are the names that will be forwarded on to the Governor, those struck were eliminated in this round by the committee:

The Cuts Continue: Day 1 of the State School Board Candidate Interviews

Post updated with interview scores. Today the Governor’s Nominating and Recruiting Committee met to interview candidates in four of the districts up for election this year.  The committee, by law, is taxed with forwarding at least three names on to the Governor.  The Governor will in turn select two of those candidates to appear on the November Ballot.  All candidates below were interviewed today, and those with a strike-through were eliminated.   For those of you playing at home, pull out your bingo cards, here are today’s results:

USOE Negotiated $5.4M SAGE Contract with Florida without Board Knowledge or Legal Counsel Review

In recent weeks, the Utah Board of Education faced a strange situation when Judy Park, an assistant superintendent,  negotiated a contract estimated to be worth $5.4 million with Florida to share SAGE questions.  The State Office of Education did not give  full disclosure to the Board until after the fact, admitted that it lacked expertise in negotiating the contract, and did not conduct the negotiation with the advise of counsel. If it seems like news coming out of  the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) and the Utah Board of Education (UBOE)  is a bit…

[UPDATED] BUZZ: Official State Office Of Education Blog Endorses Candidates

[UPDATED 5-13-2014 3:20 PM: Superintendent Martell Menlove responded on the USOE Official Blog: Yesterday a post was published on the UtahPublicEducation.org blog that contained personal opinions that are inappropriate for posting on this site. I appreciate those who brought this to our attention and apologize for this mistake. We have reviewed our procedures for posting documents we receive and believe our procedures will assure that a similar mistake is not made in the future. If anyone finds any items on any Utah State Office of Education website that they find objectionable,…

Should I Opt My Child Out of the New End of Year Testing? or Is SAGE of the Devil?

The past few weeks I have received a lot of inquiries about Utah’s new end of year testing. Prior to this year, students were given the CRTs, this year Utah has moved to a computer adaptive testing model called SAGE. SAGE testing is set up so that if a student is answering questions correctly, the questions become more difficult, and vise versa. The tests are based on the new Utah Core standards, and as everyone knows, there is a lot of confusion, emotion, and opinions about those new standards. The new…

To the Utah Board of Education: Don’t Rush to Replace Menlove

Utah’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Martell Menlove is retiring, and the questions raised by his exit from the State Office of Education don’t have anything to do with the LDS mission he may serve with his wife. Selected unanimously by the state school board after just ninety minutes of deliberation in 2012, the process of Menlove’s appointment was seen as less than thorough by some legislators, though none criticized the selection itself. Menlove is well-regarded throughout Utah, with Governor Gary Herbert and former State Superintendent Patti Harrington thanking him for his…