If you are more concerned with education funding than opposing the Utah Core Standards, send the pre-drafted message to your newly elected delegates (adjusting to your values) or “like” the article. The list of delegates is at the bottom of the page. If you’re not sure which precinct you belong to, here is the map.
“As a member of your district, I am more concerned with education funding than opposing the Utah Core Standards. I believe it is important to work with the legislators in a spirit of cooperation to ensure schools are funded appropriately for the success of students emphasizing smaller classroom sizes and ensuring quality teachers through proper compensation. Please emphasize my desire to allow local districts the ability to make decisions about allocations that are appropriate to their situation and demographic and/or fully fund line items for mandated expenses. I believe a more pressing need is consistent effort and emphasis toward education funding which is vital to the success and growth of our children and state.”
At the caucus meetings on Thursday evening, the selected delegates of my district seemed to consistently have strong opinions against the Utah Core Standards. I, too, have heard alarming information regarding the new standards. After attending a few meetings with Martell Menlove, the State Superintendent, and our previous State School Board Representative, Tami Pyfer, my concerns were addressed and I felt comfortable moving forward. However, the Utah Core Standards, are still at the forefront of discussions regarding education in Utah. It is not my objective to change your opinion either way on the Utah Core Standard.
My concern is that the Utah Core Standard issue is overshadowing what I believe is the greater issue, overall education funding. It is no secret that Utah is in last place in per pupil spending, given our demographic, it is unlikely that will change. However, there is still tremendous room for improvement. Morgan County, in particular, is close to the bottom within the state. But Morgan’s test scores, including ACT and overall graduation rates are competitive and above other districts that spend 2-3 times what we do per pupil. That speaks volumes about our district, teachers and families. Statistically, there is no indication to our legislators that Morgan County School District is not able, with current funding, to deliver a fair and appropriate education for our students as compared to other districts. I don’t believe legislators will make funding exceptions for our district until our results begin to falter. I’m not prepared to allow results to decline or sacrifice education excellence merely to send a funding message to legislators.
Overall State education funding is still not back to pre-recession value, as a percentage of the State’s budget. http://www.myuea.org/Articles/governors_proposed_fy2015_education_budget_maintains_status_quo.aspx I would like to see that improve. Districts are still struggling to fund ongoing expenses and less funding with cuts and one-time money. Morgan’s increased enrollment helps add some money back to the budget but it’s a double-edged sword. Morgan still needs to house and educate those students. Our student/teacher ratios make teaching more difficult, at best. I oppose any criticism that if our district had more money in the operating budget it wouldn’t be used to improve student teacher ratios. I would like to see our delegates work more cooperatively with our district to buoy funding from the State.
A few points regarding the Utah Core Standards that appeased my concerns are following. Utah receives no federal funding for participation and is under no obligation to continue. Utah has adopted only a portion of the Core; math and language arts, rejecting science, social studies and sex education. Refer to the Common Core Resource Guide on pdf page 19 or document page 11. The resource guide contains background on the standards, assessments, curriculum etc. It is a very comprehensive guide for those interested. Utah has written their own tests to correspond to the standards rather than using pre-drafted tests. (That is taken from Superintendent Menlove’s message at a local meeting.) The State also had a parent panel review the test questions. Changes were made as a result of that input. There is a lot of concern regarding data collection of non-academic information. The State superintendent, at a local meeting, said they have hired a company for their data collection that does do data mining; however, that is not in their contract. In fact, because of the concern, the contract has been amended to make it void immediately if the company collects any additional data not specified. No identifying student information is shared, required or otherwise, to the Federal government. Refer to the Common Core Resource Guide on pdf page 23 or document page 15. Reassurances were also made that the Core is a set of standards and actual curriculum is still the decision of local districts. If it is still the desire of individuals to opt out of testing, that is available.
In meeting with some teachers from MGES, the feeling is the standards in math and language arts are more rigorous and the students are rising to the challenge. Teachers have not mentioned feeling confined or stifled in their ability to teach appropriately. On the other hand, the budget issues have made teaching much more challenging. The adoption of some of the standards has not had that much of an impact on their teaching.
I have intentionally published this article on For Morgan Kids as a personal contribution rather than from the group as it may not represent the feelings of the entire group. I also wanted to be personally responsible for any errors there may be in the message. If there are any, it is not intended or made in an effort to be manipulative in any way. My sincere desire is to make a positive impact in education in the county with no political objective. My personal belief is that after food, shelter and clothing, education is next in line to improve the condition of the human family and we have an obligation to make and keep it a priority personally as well as legislatively.
Morgan County Republican GOP Representatives
Precinct 1:1 Lydia Nuttall, Randy Sessions, Kelly Wright, Pamela Smith
Precinct 2:2 John Barber, Jim (James) Bledsoe, Lanelle Butterfield, Karl Jensen
Precinct 3:3 Stephen Smith, Robert Harvey
Precinct 4:4 Brett Bowcutt, John Hubbell, Anna Phelps
Precinct 5:5 Barbara Wilkinson, Clay Wilkinson, Jim (James) Brown, Cori Morgan
Precinct 6:3 Matthew Barr, Clark Porter
Precinct 7:5 Chris Sauer