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LISA CUMMINS, STATE SCHOOL BOARD 11
1. What is the purpose of education?
The purpose of education is to inspire, help develop of love of lifelong learning & show a path to the individual’s pursuit of happiness.
2. If you could change only one existing education policy during your tenure on the State Board of Education, what would it be, and why?
It would have to be the massive data being collected and siphoned to the State Longitudinal Data system. Close to $40 million of Federal grants have been given to Utah to collect our children’s data, without parental consent, allowing 3rd party shareholders to have access to that data. Data is gold in today’s world and shareholders are making lots of money off our children. The gathering violates the 4th Amendment of these children, and their collected educational results will never be erased.
3. In your opinion, what relationship should exist between the state Legislature and the State Board of Education in making education policy?
An equal measure of checks and balances, so that one side is not greater than the other.
4. In your opinion, what role is the federal government best suited to play with regard to education policy?
Under the 10th Amendment it states that all powers not delegated within the Constitution to the Federal Government, is there by given to the States. The Federal Government has no authority to dictate anything related to Education to the State of Utah.
5. What relationship should exist between the State Board of Education and the State Charter School Board?
I believe that there needs to be equal authority there. Traditionally, parents were the ones to set up Charter Schools, because of disappointment from the State public school system. It’s long past time to bring those parents to the table of how best to teach our children. The upcoming trend is to now have corporations become involved with opening Charters. I am very troubled by that, as public, private partnerships equate to Fascism. Again, the parents of the community need to be the majority at the table.
6. In 2010 Utah adopted the Utah Core Standards. Recently, some have advocated that Local Education Agencies should create academic standards instead of the State Board of Education. What level of government (local, state, federal) is most appropriate to create academic standards, and why?
Utah didn’t have an official set of standards until the State Board took it upon themselves to have that authority, in 1984. Then in 2000 or 2001 the Legislature codified it into law. Up until that time local districts had control of standards. Standards are best upheld at the local level where the community has had a vested opportunity in creating them. I’m not opposed for the State to basic set of graduation standards, and allowing the LEA’s to create additional standards that would meet that finishing goal.
7. Utah is suffering from a teacher shortage. What policies would help attract and retain quality public school teachers?
First off the laws need to stop punishing teachers on how they teach and what they teach. Many teachers have told me that they are now being given scripts on what to say in their classrooms. Why are we denying freedom and creativity in the classrooms? Reintroduce that and I think you’ll have teachers start to come back. The other of course is the issue of salaries. Utah is administration top heavy with many admins earning 6 figure incomes. Why? I don’t think we have a money issue. I think we have a redistribution issue.
8. Parents, students, and teachers are concerned with the amount of testing that is now required in school. What policies might help address these concerns?
The most obvious is too limit the amount of tests given. Let’s see we have the SAGE Summative, Online Writing Assessment, SAGE Interim, Dibels, WIDA ACCESS, ACT Explore, ACT Plan, ACT, SAT, NAEP, DLM (Dynamic Learning Maps), and all the other in classroom tests with the chapter reviews. Seriously!! Are we teaching kids to take tests for life or are we educating them for life?
9. Last year the State Board of Education approved a statewide digital teaching and learning plan called the Essential Elements for Technology Powered Learning. What’s your vision for technology in education?
Technology in the classroom is a recent phenomenon. It can add many positive elements in enhancing the learning of students. However, research is showing more and more that exposing elementary aged children to technology all day every day is not a good thing for brain development. Once children enter high school, of course proper usage is encouraged, with safety boundaries. I do not think it should be utilized for every subject, or every assignment. Again brain development is still occurring and fine motor skills associated with handwriting are still being developed. Wisdom and caution needs to be considered. Technology is a tool, not a means to educate entirely.
10. Bullying has become a national discussion. What policies would help protect students, inform parents, and help administrators deal with bullying?
I think the dialogue needs to change from “How to stop being a bully” to “How to stop being a victim.” We’ve developed a culture of social justice and needing administrative rules and laws to help solve our problems. It really needs to start with parents teaching their children about their individual worth and teaching them how not to be offended from someone’s ignorance. Aside from that at schools, need to punish where appropriate, detention, suspension, writing an essay on how to be kind. Let’s get back to basics of right and wrong.
11. Utah is known for its low per-pupil spending. Each year lawmakers are asked to increase school funding. Others argue the importance of how money is spent. With limited funds, what programs or initiatives would you hope to see funded first?
I addressed a little of this in the question concerning teachers. However here’s the other thing that does not get mentioned. Utah’s education budget for K-12 is over $5 BILLION, with one 1/3 of tax payer money funding education entirely. That’s huge! UT education also has roughly 107 acronym programs. Surely there is money to be found with some elimination of these programs and then we can decide where our money is best allocated.
12. National data suggest that early education has limited, short term effects on student outcomes. Some Utah early education programs have reported success through mid-elementary grades. Utah also uses UPSTART, an online program that allows children to access preschool at home. What is the best way to approach early education in Utah?
Quite simply I think Utah needs to get out of early education. Let me explain: In the May 24th meeting, Jordan School District reported a growing early education program benefiting many IEP families and they’ve seen great success. What concerns me is how they are recruiting these families. It was reported that in the JSD, over 20,000 families have had personalized home visits. What right does government, or a government entity have to go into a home to evaluate a family on how they’re raising and teaching their children? I’ve mentioned my concerns on data collecting. The goal is to collect data from birth to career! Why are we allowing our basic fundamental rights to be violated? And are parents aware of this when they enter in such programs?
13. Parental rights in education are protected in both federal and state law. What does it look like for the state to play a secondary and supportive role in education?
The State and LEA’s need to be aware of those federal and state laws. A yearly notice needs to be sent out to parents, teachers and administrators of parental rights, in full detail. SEA’s and LEA’s need to show respect of a parent’s decision and support of that decision. All decisions regarding children need to be finalized by parents. And parents need to be brought in for every administrative meeting with a child. Parents need to be aware of all data being gathered on their children, in full disclosure. Teachers should not undermine parents decisions in front of students, or punish students when parents have opted children out of testing. I am sure there are more ways to play a positive role in supporting parents and their authority as primary caretakers in their children’s education.