Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Utah and Common Core

A recent well published poll on Common Core  doesn't point out the Federal involvement. The Federal "Race to the Top" funding competition in 2009 provided little time for the states to adopt Common Core, so almost no legislatures were involved in the adoption nationally. With the National Governors Association behind it, I am not surprised it was signed in the approx. 2 months the states were given initially. The poll also doesn't talk about the Federal Government strings with the NCLB (No Child Left Behind) waivers.

The State Constitution reads: "The general control and supervision of the public education system shall be vested in a State Board of Education. ". Our State Board just voted for the NCLB waiver.

I don't mind having access to a national grassroots standard, as long as we have the flexibility to amend/modify/add/delete anything to make it better. With the Federal Strings tied to Common Core through the NCLB , it limits what we can change, which is one of the major problems. Also, teachers are saying the local school boards are using "Common Core" to tell teachers what to teach and when. 

Math teachers I have talked to believe the standard will do 2 things, help ACT scores rise and decrease the number of students taking remedial math when they reach college.

Many do not like the "no text books" and want other options.

There are those that would have taken 8th grade Algebra that would take Calculus their senior year that should not have to waste their 8th grade and could move faster and those that are not understanding the concepts, and may not understand, that have traditionally been taught by rote.

The standard, is a one size fits all approach, which will only work with the middle students. 

The schools have spent the last few years gearing up for this, and changing or discarding their books, etc. Whatever the Utah Legislature does re: Common Core, based on that, and based on the State Constitution, has to be measured. 

 Is Common Core a "national grassroots standard"? Is it really just "voluntary standards the Utah State Board of Education has adopted, first put forward by state governors and education experts"? Those statements hardly tell the whole truth.

Besides the National Governor's Association, with their Corporate Fellows, who are the "education experts" behind Common Core, and why did the Federal Government want to set a hook to get the States to adopt Common Core with Utah biting and being reeled in, hook, line and sinker?

Common Core State Standards are hosted and maintained by the Council of Chief State School Officers  (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices  (NGA Center).

As an architect, I have dealt with grassroots national standards and have done so for 35 years, including before I was an architect. There are 350 ICC chapters around the country and also in other countries. Members include building officials, architects and others. The ICC is truly grassroots. Utah also has a Building Code Commission that proposes amendments to the model codes for Utah. The Legislature adopts the code and the amendments.

Based on the information I have from them, I do not believe the NGA Center or the CCSSO are really "grassroots". 

Was Common Core created by the Federal Government? No, however the Federal Government has provided financial incentives to adopt it (which we didn't get) and the NCLB waiver, which we are taking. I see a very large hook on the end of that line. If you don't believe it, look at Oklahoma.

[Update. This article  shows that the current State School Board is aware of the Federal hook associated with both Common Core and NCLB, and are trying to protect Utah as much as they think they can. We will see if we are still firmly hooked or not in the near future.]

[Update 2. When I took 8th grade Algebra, the class was "too big". It was split and I had the "new" teacher that had never taught math before and had majored in English. In 7th grade, I had wanted to be a math teacher. In 8th grade I didn't want to be a math teacher anymore. It took years for me to fully understand some of the math concepts I should have understood in 8th grade. I believe, in that case, splitting the class hurt my education and providing someone else, perhaps the same teacher, to help would have been better. Great teachers are important. Class size isn't the answer to everything..

The 8th grade Algebra that I took would have allowed me to take Calculus my senior year, providing it was offered enough times for it to fit in my schedule with English and Choir. In my case it was faced with dropping one of those classes to fit in Calculus. Not having Calculus in high school hurt understanding both required math and physics classes for computer science and architecture at the University of Utah. ]

Thursday, August 14, 2014

NFIB/Utah SAFE Trust Endorsement

August 11, 2014

Mr. Fred C. Cox
Candidate for Representative District 30
4466 Early Duke Street
West Valley City, UT  84120

Dear Mr. Cox,

On behalf of the Utah Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB/Utah) Save America’s Free Enterprise (SAFE) Trust, I am pleased to announce our endorsement of your candidacy for State Representative in District 30.

NFIB/Utah represents the state’s largest small business association with some 4,200 small business owners throughout the state.  Small business represents an overwhelming majority of the total businesses in Utah and employs over half of the private sector workforce in our state. 

By receiving the endorsement of the NFIB/Utah, you have proven your willingness and ability to fight for small business in Salt Lake City.  Your efforts, and most importantly, your previous voting record, show that you understand the importance of small business to our state’s economy.  You have also demonstrated that you will fight to protect our free enterprise system and we appreciate your efforts.

As a candidate endorsed by the NFIB/Utah SAFE Trust, you may indicate our support in your campaign materials.  We will post your endorsement on the NFIB/Utah web site to inform our members of your value to small businesses. We will also be including the endorsement in our Insight E-Newsletter.  A Postcard will be mailed to all NFIB members in your district and finally, our endorsed candidates will be listed in our “Get-Out-the-Vote” pamphlet which will be mailed to our Utah members state-wide.

Congratulations and thank you again for your efforts on behalf of small business.

Warm Regards,

Candace Daly
Utah State Director

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Protecting Utah's Lands

Clean Air and Water

I received an award from Salt Lake Solar Day 2012 for sponsoring 2012 H.B. 262 Building Code Amendments, and continued working to adopt the current IECC (energy code for houses and buildings) during the 2013 session. That bill passed and the current code will be effective July 1, 2014. The amount of energy use and pollution caused by buildings is critical.  

I also worked for over a year to increase flexibility and ability for property owners to capture and use storm / rain water. At the end of the 2013 session, that bill passed the House, 75 to 0, and was signed by the Governor. We should be good stewards of the land, Extremes on both sides of this issue hurts our ability to live and work in our great state.

Protecting the Land

The Utah Constitution has the following provisions to protect lands if public lands are transferred to Utah.

Article XVIII, Section 1.   [Forests to be preserved.]
            The Legislature shall enact laws to prevent the destruction of and to preserve the Forests on the lands of the State, and upon any part of the public domain, the control of which may be conferred by Congress upon the State.

Article XX, Section 1.   [Land grants accepted on terms of trust.]
            All lands of the State that have been, or may hereafter be granted to the State by Congress, and all lands acquired by gift, grant or devise, from any person or corporation, or that may otherwise be acquired, are hereby accepted, and, except as provided in Section 2 of this Article, are declared to be the public lands of the State; and shall be held in trust for the people, to be disposed of as may be provided by law, for the respective purposes for which they have been or may be granted, donated, devised or otherwise acquired.

Section 2.   [School and institutional trust lands.]
            Lands granted to the State under Sections 6, 8, and 12 of the Utah Enabling Act, and other lands which may be added to those lands pursuant to those sections through purchase, exchange, or other means, are declared to be school and institutional trust lands, held in trust by the State for the respective beneficiaries and purposes stated in the Enabling Act grants.

To clarify this protection, in 2011 and 2012 I ran a bill. See for example:

While the land bill that passed in 2012 ran by Rep. Ivory excluded the 5 national parks, additional clarity could be used. 

Do we need to back off on Utah Lands vs the Federal Government?

Under the US Constitution, Art. 1, Sec. 8, Clause 17, and the 10th amendment, the Federal Government can not exercise exclusive jurisdiction or own land in Utah, unless it is for Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings, and it was purchased by the Consent of the Utah Legislature.

When Utah became a state, the Federal Government committed to selling the unappropriated public lands, extinguishing the title, and providing 5% of the proceeds of the sales to the State School Trust Fund.

I believe it would be better to have the land transferred to Utah as opposed to requiring the Federal Government sell the land to developers or other countries like China.

The Utah State Constitution is designed to protect the Public Land based on Article XVIII, Section 1, Forests to be preserved, and Article XX, Section 1, Land grants accepted on terms of trust. If the Federal Government sells or transfers any public land to Utah or others, 5% of the proceeds of the sales should got to the School Trust Fund. There is a gaping loophole in that process which should be fixed.

Question: Where does this come from? "When Utah became a state, the Federal Government committed to selling the unappropriated public lands, extinguishing the title, and providing 5% of the proceeds of the sales to the State School Trust Fund."

Answer: The Utah Constitution and the Utah Enabling Act. I believe it is pretty clear. Obviously some others don't, but look at what the feds did with the same language in the enabling act for states further east. They sold the lands, and extinguished the title. Utah didn't have the water and the Feds eventually stopped the homestead act and then FLIPMA violated the agreement from the feds side.

I would rather Utah keep the land, most as multi-use than the Feds sell the land to China. And yes, a 3 years ago many were pushing to make the Feds sell the land. I actively pushed back. The bill that the Gov. signed doesn't make the Feds sell the land to anyone, but recognize the Enabling Act and the US Constitution.

Utah Enabling Act:
SEC. 9. That five per centum of the proceeds of the sales of public lands lying within said State, which shall [SHALL} be sold by the United States subsequent to the admission of said State into the Union, after deducting all the expenses incident to the same, shall be paid to the said State, to be used as a permanent fund, the interest of which only shall be expended for the support of the common schools within said State.

Under Sec. 2
"unappropriated public lands"
" and that until the title thereto shall have been extinguished by the United States"

I believe the US was to sell the land and create a clear title. The US Supreme court in recent case involving Hawaii all agreed that was why the Feds had the land at statehood, to create a clear title, a transition. 

The US didn't sell the land in Utah, not all of it. Whether greed or water, it didn't happen. When Kleppe v. New Mexico overturned any states rights for land in 1976, Congress figured they could get away with anything. 1976 was when FLIPMA was signed, which officially put the US in violation of the Enabling Act. That is the point when Utah had claim for the land. You can argue that the US didn't have the US Constitutional power to create the agreement in the enabling act, since the US can't be owning large chunks of a state, under the US constitution. 

1976 is when the Feds tried to say they could drill in Utah Lake, whether Utah liked it or not. Utah went to the SCOTUS and won that fight. See some of the rulings below. 

So you have 2 choices, force the US to sell public lands in Utah to who knows, developers or China, or have the US recognize that they were only to hold the land in trust, violated their agreement, and transfer the land to Utah. I have fought against forcing the Feds to sell the land for years. I won that fight. The bill that passed the Utah Legislature did not do that. 

Some US Supreme Court rulings: