attorney, of counsel, Lear & Lear, education law
BA, teaching license--University of Utah
J.D. University of Utah College of Law
education administrative license--Utah State University
I have worked in almost every area of public education: I was a high school teacher (1972-1977); I worked as a consultant and teacher trainer with Law-Related Education (1978-1985); I worked at the Utah State Office of Education as the administrative rule writing specialist and Professional Practices Coordinator and Director (1998-2014); I am in private practice as an attorney representing school districts and charter schools (2015-present). I also do pro bono legal work for the Utah PTA. I also have 3 grown children (7 grandchildren) and was a room parent, community council member at all levels, and active school volunteer (1985-2001). I have been a PTA member for most of my adult life. I continue to study and understand education policy in Utah. I attend many legislative meetings and still attend local community council meetings. My entire life--personal, family and professional--has been devoted to understanding and improving public education.
1. Increasing funding for public education in Utah.
2. Supporting teachers and looking for ways to increase flexibility and creativity for teachers in the profession
3. Encouraging and consistently supporting fairness for all teachers and all public schools. ALL public schools should comply with the law. ALL public schools should be monitored and reviewed consistent with the law and other schools.
I am concerned that Amendment G would short change public education. I also believe it will create competition and divisiveness between public education and public service entities (public health departments, UT Dept. of Human Services, and groups that advocate for students with disabilities). Pubic schools have always worked cooperatively with these agencies--all of these entities share children and families in the communities and strive to provide services. Amendment G will create a fund that pits these groups against each other, not inspire collaboration and shared services. The current "guarantee" in the UT Constitution (earmarking income tax for public education) has not been consistently satisfactory. But at least it is a constitutional guarantee that cannot be changed (though it has been leveraged and distorted) readily by the Legislature. It is also a symbolic guarantee. Public education is a community service. We should not give it up during this pandemic.
Standardized testing is a fair expectation given the size and percentage of the public education budget in Utah. But we need a better test--and the education hierarchy (including the Legislature) should pick a test and stay with it. Otherwise, testing and state-to-state comparisons are meaningless. Also, standardized assessments should be used for healthy purposes--to inform instruction and allow parents to evaluate a number of factors about local schools. Standardized assessments should NEVER be used to evaluate teachers or pit local schools against each other. We need the Legislature's support to find a better assessment AND a statutory guarantee that assessment results will be used appropriately.
NO education board elections should be partisan. I was a plaintiff in the previous lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of making the State Board of Education a partisan board. We lost in a decision to the Utah Supreme Court. Public education issues are not partisan issues--especially in today's extremist partisan era. Also, most (maybe all) deeply partisan (and largely symbolic) issues are not public education issues, including gun rights, abortion, health care for all and the US Supreme Court). We should look to cross the partisan divide by maintaining non-partisan local boards of education. Perhaps public education policymakers and advocates can set an example of cooperation and compromise for deeply divided and stubborn partisans in federal and state government.