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Utah State School Board District 11

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  • Natalie J. Cline
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Tony Zani
    (Unaf)

Biographical Information

How do your background and skills prepare you to become a member of the State Board of Education?

What will be your priorities in addressing Utah’s education system?

A proposed constitutional amendment to allow income tax revenue to be used for pur-poses other than education. Does the proposed change provide for adequate funding for K-12 and higher education?

Do Utah schools spend too much time testing? Are there other methods of evaluation that might work better?

What difference will it make now that state school board candidates will run in partisan elections? Should local school board elections also be partisan?

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Campaign Mailing Address 4216 W OKOBOJI CIR
South Jordan, UT 84009
Campaign Email Address mr.zaniforusbe11@gmail.com
Campaign Phone (801) 997-6569
Current Employment Literacy Specialist, Salt Lake City Schools
Education Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education; Master's Degree in Instructional Leadership; National Board Certified Teacher; Level 3 Teaching License with Reading Endorsement, ESL Endorsement, and Teacher Leader Endorsement
Campaign Website tonyzani.com
I have been a teacher for 20 years. I am currently a literacy specialist in a Title I school. I have worked at every level of the school system to improve outcomes for students. I have the insight of working in a school every day and this insight is critical to informing the decisions made by the state board of education.

I have studied school law and school finance as part of my Master’s Degree in Instructional Leadership. The State Board of Education specifically deals with laws, finance, and school leadership. I am uniquely prepared to be a member of the board because I have studied these issues.

I am an Army veteran of ten years. I am a lifelong servant of my country and my community. My military service taught me the value of being an informed, honest, and hard-working citizen. My background in public service has prepared me well to be a true public servant on the Utah State Board of Education.
My priorities are eliminating the testing culture, increasing support for National Board Certification, and reducing class size through efficient use of funds and thoughtful increases in funding.

We have created a culture in which too much time is spent practicing and preparing for tests. We need to re-focus on teaching and learning. We need to emphasize the importance of learning, not the importance of testing.

The State Board should emphasize the importance of, and funding for, earning National Board Certification. Students of board certified teachers demonstrate 10-20% higher achievement than other students.

We can reduce class sizes by working to shift money away from administration and overhead and into classrooms. We also need to work with the legislature and local school boards to increase funding. Teacher salaries are expensive. Building schools is expensive. We need to work together to provide sustainable and meaningful increases in funding.
No. The Lt. Governor's Office states this amendment will take $600 million from public education. Our education system already ranks last in per pupil spending, it doesn't make sense to siphon off money.

This amendment gives the legislature power to remove funding from public education to give vaguely to "children and people with disabilities", but there is no definition of how the money is to be used. Yes, that's a worthy cause. However, the legislature can increase taxes or create new tax revenue and they chose not to. They chose to pull money from public education with only a promise to increase and stabilize funding. That promise is a bill that can easily be changed or rescinded. A constitutional amendment that siphons off money will be very tough to change.

If the legislature wants to reform education funding, they should do that up front, not in the form of a promise. If they want to fund worthy projects, they have full authority to create new tax revenue for that.
Absolutely. Over the last 20 years I’ve watched as we’ve implemented more and more tests. More complex tests, more frequent tests, longer tests. I’m a teacher, I know some testing is necessary, but we've gone too far. Instruction is better informed by frequent, short tests with immediate results. Currently we give very long, very secret tests at the end of the year. Teachers, students, and families get vague results only after the school year ends.

Most teachers already give short, frequent tests because that’s what is most useful for our teaching. Teachers should also ensure students are creating. This might be in-depth research projects, science experiments, or extended writing. Some states require student portfolios. Portfolios of student work would be a more authentic measure of what students know and can do.

Let principals focus evaluate teachers based on their observations and how well teachers improve learning through the use of short assessments and projects.
I am running as an unaffiliated candidate because I don’t believe partisan elections are best for school boards. Our two major political parties seem more interested in consolidating power than making decisions that are best for our citizens. Decisions about our children should not be made based on party lines. I do not want to see school board members making decisions based upon what their party tells them to do. I’ve seen how that works, I’ve seen how politicians are told how to vote or risk losing the support of the party. That’s not what I want for any school board.

I am an unaffiliated candidate because I want to make the best decisions for Utah’s families and children. I want the citizens of Utah to know I am not beholden to a political party. This should be true for all school board elections; keep politics off of school boards.