Thursday, March 22, 2012

2012 Education Suvey Questions and Answers

1. Why are you running for the Legislature and what priorities have you identified that you want to pursue as a member of the Legislature?
I believe I can make a positive difference and that we must stand up and be heard to protect or rights and freedoms. I also believe we need more consensus building and less compromise. If we focus on what we agree on, we can accomplish the most good. The areas I have selected to focus on include: Economy, Fiscal Responsibility, Energy Independence, Education Excellence. I have also been working on protecting our land, air and water.
2. Please describe your previous public (community) service.
• Utah State House of Representatives, District 32, January 2011 to present. (2 General Sessions)
• Utah Republican State Central Committee 2011 to present.
Utah Republican State Delegate 2002-2003, 2005-2011.
• Salt Lake County Republican House District 32 Chair, August 2010 to January 2011.
• ChamberWest Regional Chamber of Commerce Government Action Committee, Nov. 2010 to present
AIA Utah, Government Affairs Committee, January 2008 to January 2011.
Assisting with tracking, suggesting, and coordination of bills and regulations affecting the practice of architecture.
• Campaign Volunteer and/or Consultant for the following:
Ron Bigelow, Utah House of Representatives, 1994 to 2011.
Jason Chaffetz, U.S. House of Representatives, Utah 3rd District, May 2008 to 2011.
Kevin Fayles, Candidate for Mayor, West Valley City, UT, 2009.
Dave Hansen, Utah State Republican Party Chair, March 2009 to June 2009.
Cherilyn Eagar, 2010 US Senate Race, May 2009 to May 2010,
Tim Bridgewater, 2010 US Senate Race, May and June 2010.
Morgan Philpot, 2010 U.S. House of Representatives, Utah 2nd District, June 2010 to November 2010.
Daniel W. Thatcher, 2010 Utah State Senate, District 12, August 2010 to November 2010
• Church Based community service
3. What personal experiences have you had with traditional public schools and/or with charter schools? (Please be as specific as possible.)
I grew up in Salt Lake City and attended public schools, Uintah Elementary and then Indian Hills Elementary School. I then graduated from Hillside Junior High School and Highland High School. I attended the University of Utah and graduated from what is now Salt Lake Community College. During High School I was involved with Track, Cross Country, choirs, assemblies, chess and table tennis. Since graduating, I have had limited opportunities to help students learn about architecture, including in the classroom and as a mentor for an IB student. I would be interested in being more involved. I have attended a few concerts to show support for children in my neighborhood. I have been frustrated that community councils are designed to include only parents, and other interested neighbors tend to be excluded.
4. Serious attempts to limit the rights of teachers and other public employees were proposed, but defeated, this year. What is your view on the rights for public employees regarding collective bargaining, payroll deduction of dues and other association issues?
I met with [Steve White] to discuss the union side on at least one bill. I believe that there needs to be balance, and in many cases the Utah Legislature should stay out of it, other than insure Utah remains a Right to Work State. I am in favor of secret ballots when deciding to be in or start a union. I don’t believe Government should prohibit or stop unions, including the right to collective bargaining. I never got a chance to vote on that bill. When deductions are from government or public employment, the system needs to be transparent and fair to both sides. One bill, 2012 SB 82, included not only clarifications to existing law, it included penalties to principals and districts. Even though I am supportive of associations having equal access, I personally ran an amendment to remove the penalties and when my amendment was replaced with something that still had some, the bill died in the house.
5. In 2007, Utah voters overwhelmingly rejected private school vouchers, would you continue to support this position while serving in the legislature?
I love the ideas of competition and parents’ choices, however, I have strong concerns with vouchers.
I have concerns that vouchers could be a tool for State Government, and perhaps even the Federal Government, to have more control over private schools. The Federal Government has no Constitutional power to be involved in education. The State Constitution is pretty clear that "Neither the state of Utah nor its political subdivisions may make any appropriation for the direct support of any school or educational institution controlled by any religious organization."
So vouchers couldn't and shouldn't directly help any private religious school, and any school accepting vouchers could have more government control, and any private school not accepting the vouchers could be at a disadvantage to those that do.
I haven't seen any voucher bills that solve these concerns. Until I do, I will oppose them.
I would be more open to private charity scholarships and/or tuition tax credits, as they are less apt to run a foul of the State Constitution or create more government intrusion. The numbers would have to be looked at and work, as the last thing we want to do is hurt either the students or the teachers.
Charter Schools are public schools with different local control. They interest me. In some cases they do very well, but sometimes they don't. We should monitor their progress.
We have a Utah Constitutional requirement to protect and provide public education.
Article X, Section 1. [Free nonsectarian schools.]
The Legislature shall provide for the establishment and maintenance of the state's education systems including: (a) a public education system, which shall be open to all children of the state; and (b) a higher education system. Both systems shall be free from sectarian control.
6. Substantive public education reform legislation was passed this year as the result of broad collaboration between legislators and the education community. What would you do or how would you continue that positive trend of collaboration?
I was impressed with 2012 SB 64. Senator Osmond worked hard on the bill working with all sides and I believe we need more bills like it. I also supported keeping both the Online and Electronic high school systems. I voted in favor of the HB 336 and then spoke in favor of an amendment to SB 178 that kept both systems.
7. Utah currently has the lowest funded Public Education System in the United States. What ideas do you have related to this challenge?
Utah invests $2.5 Billion for Public Education out of the $5 Billion of actual State funds, which scores near the top of the nation. Some have stated it is in the top 5. We have over 600,000 students and I have been grateful that the system does as well as it does. I have supported funding education, but to add large amounts we need other revenue and I do not believe we should raise taxes to get it. One of the reasons I ran 2012 HB 209, which if amended would have been titled “Utah Lands and School Trust Fund Amendments” would have solved a large and concerning loop hole in the payment of 5% for public lands to the school trust fund. 2012 HB 148 bill, Transfer of Public Lands Act and Related Study, which is likely to be signed and then challenged in court didn’t fully solve the current loophole in the 5% that should go to the School Trust Fund. In addition to revenue dealing with our public land issue, I believe we need to have better tools. I was one of 3 that amended and therefore saved passage of one of the two bills providing such tools. 2012 SB 97 was facing strong opposition in the House. One of the main concerns was student privacy. My amendment focused on that. The bill passed the house with over a 2/3 vote.
8. In a few short years many in the teaching ranks will be retiring, what should Utah do to attract new and retain existing highly qualified teachers? I believe several changes last year and this year will help. I am hopeful that 2012 SB 64 will help also help the perception of teachers. I am interested in the Paraeducator program, hoping we can attract some older teachers from the business community.
9. What do you see as the most pressing issues facing public education? Growth, safety, innovation.
I would like to see greater cooperation between “traditional” and charter schools in innovation, helping each other succeed instead of the perception of enemies.
10. What role do you support for the Utah Education Association and the teachers we represent as the state moves forward in advancing education?
Both sides of an issue should be known to make good decisions. Through cooperation, I believe UEA can continue to provide needed communication to parents, schools, districts, school boards, the legislature and the Governor.