1) What is your stance on state standardized testing (RISE/ASPIRE/Dibbles)?
Scott Smith-I am against Nationalizing our Education, Common Core and Standardized testing. I do believe we need to test, especially in the form of benchmark testing for comprehension throughout the year. I also believe we need to have some way to gauge the effectiveness of teachers. However, I do not agree with any national standardized testing or even any of our statewide standardized testing. These end of year, high stakes tests, do not affect any part of the student’s grade. Their main purpose is to rate teachers and schools, which is not an effective approach. The students do not gain much from taking these tests except for learning how to take tests. The teachers miss out on valuable teaching time as they try to prepare all students for these tests. Instead of using these as blanket assessments, I would like to give the assessment power back to the districts, schools and parents. I truly believe parents will know if there is a good school or teacher. The market will push for reform or reward. We need to allow the district to review their teachers and most importantly allow the teachers to teach–the way we used to.
Kristan Norton– I am deeply concerned with the excessive amount of testing that has replaced learning opportunities. I believe that teachers, parents, administrators and state authorities can solve this dilemma by looking at the scope of educational learning and cooperatively plan the testing which needs to be done to assess the student’s mastery. We are duplicating efforts and the formative analysis which should be obtained from assessment is ineffective because of the delay in getting the information. Not only do we have too many tests, but the tests are too long. It shouldn’t take any end of level test 40 problems to assess if a 9-year old knows how to add or subtract. Classroom question-and-answer conversations, student demonstrations, drawings, publications, etc. are all effective ways to evaluate the student’s learning without a multitude of formal summative assessments.
CCG– We stand firmly against these tests, as they are a way for federal government to maintain control over Utah educational policies and parental rights as well as gather and store data about our children.
2) Approximately 2% of our state education budget comes from the federal government and is attached to a mandatory 98% opt-in state testing rate. Last year Utah fell below the 98% opt-in rate because Utah law allows parents the right to choose. Would you say no to those federal funds in order to maintain parental choice, or would you work to find a way to have every child tested but personal info kept private Do you have another idea you plan to present?
Scott Smith-I am against Nationalizing our Education, Common Core and Standardized testing. I would love to exit from all Federal funding. I want to work with the Legislature and a Conservative Board to replace this type of funding. I feel there is not a need for the Federal Department of Education. However, their existence is not our decision and our only way to make it work in our favor, is by voting and raising our voices. With that said, I do not believe federal mandates should be imposed, but again that is not our decision. As this is the case, there are almost always waivers or opportunities to file an appeal in court. I would work with the Legislature to limit any and all Federal interference. I would like to see a plan put together to eliminate all federal funds by replacing their federal programs with Utah programs.
Kristan Norton– The federal government provides much-needed funding and educational services to Utah schools. In doing so, they also have mandates that the educational system is required to comply with. I will look for ways to replace this financial resource and its associated requirements. One way that is currently being proposed is to assess property tax on the federal lands, or other methods, I would strongly support such actions.
CCG– Federal government has no business requiring or requesting anything of the schools. In fact, the Constitution specifically states, “Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Thomas Jefferson pointed out that each ward (6-mile radius) should have its own schools under the exclusive control of its own parents. CCG would like to see the state of Utah accept no federal funds because they come attached to specific federal requirements which tie the hands of local educators and diminish parental rights.
3) What is your stance on homeschooling?
Scott Smith-We love and support Homeschooling. I have been a reformer my whole life, our children starting in Traditional Education but shortly after we started homeschooling.
Kristan Norton– I concur with the USBE in their statement “While the Utah State Board of Education can provide information regarding state policies, home school jurisdiction falls under the local school district.” I believe that children are unique and that parents are most qualified to place their child in the environment that best meets their educational needs.
CCG– We believe it the parents’ right to educate their child in the way they feel is best whether it be public, private, home or otherwise.
4) What is your stance on Common Core?
Scott Smith-I am in favor of high quality digital learning that assists the teacher and that the teacher and local control have approved. I feel also parents should know what the programs are and be able to voice any concerns if a teacher picks programs that are not acceptable. Parents should have finally say and I believe a majority of parents would participate and review programs if given the opportunity. I believe high quality programs allows the teacher to be more creative and would excite students to move at their pace rather than a simple book on computer. I also believe the internet should be locked down from unwelcome sites so we do not allow programs or people to prey on our children. I will work to completely replace Common Core standards with something better.
Kristan Norton– As a teacher, the curriculum that is taught is a very important part of my profession. I am grateful that I live in a state where our legislature has not adopted the Federal Common Core, but instead, adopted the Utah Core Standards. This curriculum is not a set, rigid group of objectives, but instead allows the Utah State Board of Education (USBE) and the Local Education Agencies (LEA) to adopt standards and objectives that are rigorous, age-appropriate, and fit within the values and culture of our state. Furthermore, in 2019 the Utah State Board of Education adopted a schedule to review each subject matter on a rotating basis and appoint a committee of Utah citizens to revise that standard if needed. The USBE then reviews, discusses and votes on the updated subject matter’s core standards.
CCG- We oppose common core fundamentally because it comes forced on states by the federal government. We also believe that, as a set of academic standards, Common Core is failing miserably. We agree with Thomas Jefferson that parents should have exclusive control over their child’s education. Therefore, if the parents don’t want Common Core, schools should not be teaching Common Core.
5) What do you see as the biggest problem in Utah education?
Scott Smith-I entered this race as my grandchildren are now in school and I ache for them. I finally said if there needs to be a change, why wait for someone else to do it, and as you are well aware there needs to be a change. I am not sure there is one problem but many caused by one entity, State Office of Ed. I believe all the Testing, Curriculum and Reporting all generates from that office and the Board approves. I feel almost all problems could be solved by a Parent, Student and a teacher, and if the parent is both the parent and teacher it makes it even easier. I would like to see increased parental choice and vigorous educational format options.
Kristan Norton– Currently – The budget. Long term – Proliferation of digital testing
CCG– We believe that the biggest problem with education today is federal rather than local control. However, even when money comes from the state legislature, it is often designated to be used only on what the legislature specifies. The legislature sends money to the local school district but it is tied to certain things they need to do rather then the school deciding how to use those resources. Parents, local districts, and schools are better able to determine the best use of funds in their schools and should have the final say. We are also concerned that parents are being stripped of their rights to determine what is best for their children as guaranteed in the Utah State Constitution.
6) How do you feel about reopening schools in the fall? What, if anything, would you do differently due to Covid-19?
Scott Smith-I feel it is terrible that we closed schools and would not want to see them closed in the fall. I would be a voice for the parents to stop this insanity and allow the children to go to school. We gave too much control to the CDC without any information and based on fear we closed everything and now State’s like Colorado will keep them closed until a Vaccine, horrible.
Kristan Norton– First & foremost, the safety of our children is paramount. I do believe that sanitizing policies & procedures can and will be adjusted to make schools a healthier place to be. Secondly, it is my sincere hope that schools will be open in the fall. However, each child is different and if a parent determines that it is not appropriate for their child to be in school, I know that every effort will be made by teachers and schools to provide that child with a quality education and that may need to be delivered within a distant learning environment.
I am a teacher and I am licensed by the state of Utah. I am also required to comply with all safety precautions to keep our students safe and I will do that. Not as a condition of my employment, but I would never put our students at risk. I believe that in-school learning is the method that is best for most students. I can do my part to keep our schools open by keeping our schools safe.
Currently our faculty is planning and preparing for the new school year. We are meeting and talking about how to improve our lesson delivery and we will continue to meet throughout the summer to adapt to changes as needed. It is my hope and I am planning to be in my classroom, but I will be prepared if that is not the case. I know that our So. Utah local education agencies and the Utah State Board of Education is also continuing to meet to re-examining their policies and procedures and to learn from the past two months on how to prepare for a variety of different scenarios.
CCG-We feel that schools should be open without restriction in the fall. Schools should look and feel as they did before the shutdown.
7) Where do you stand on technology in the classroom?
Scott Smith-I am in favor of high-quality digital learning that assist the teacher and that the teacher and local control have approved. I feel also parents should know what the programs are and be able to voice any concerns if a teacher picks programs that are not acceptable. Parents should have finally say and I believe a majority of parents would participate and review programs if given the opportunity. I believe high quality programs allows the teacher to be more creative and would excite students to move at their pace rather than a simple book on computer. I also believe the internet should be locked down from unwelcome sites so we do not allow programs or people to prey on our children.
Kristan Norton– Going forward, I envision that technology will always have a place in Utah schools. I feel, however, that technology’s place is to be a resource for students to access new opportunities for learning. An example of this would be a tool to help Utah students gain much needed technological skills to compete for the highly sought-after jobs which are being created here in our state. Another example would be to give students experience using the software that is an important part of the business world. I do not feel that technology should take the place of highly effective teachers nor should it be the primary method of testing.
CCG– We are concerned that the trend is to replace teachers with technology, turning teachers into facilitators. Let teachers do what they do best – teach! Computers should not be a substitute for that. We believe technology should be used very sparingly in elementary school. Teaching technology in the later grades, such as keyboarding, Microsoft word, adobe, PowerPoint, etc. is entirely different than a child being taught primarily by a computer.
8) Are you on record with any of these issues that we can reference?
Scott Smith-I served on the Founding State Charter School Boars for 8 years, also serving on the State Transparency Board. My wife was the Founding Board member of Vista Elementary School in Ivins.
Kristan Norton– The majority of these answers can be referenced on my website: votenorton2020.com
9) There is a push to remove Utah’s abstinence-based education and replace it with a Comprehensive Sexuality Education program for K-12. Where do you stand on this issue?
Scott Smith-I am absolutely against the push to use the more “woke” teaching of sex education. For example, because of a more comprehensive sexual education, I have read hundreds of stories (even from Utah) of children who in their adolescence, have changed their identities. Exposure to mature themes in sexuality is more than students at this age need to understand. It is important to educate. However, making things like sexual experimentation normal, has an enormous effect on family and society.
Kristan Norton– I do not agree that with removing Utah’s abstinence-based education nor do I agree with a comprehensive sexuality education program for K-12. Childhood is a precious time and I hold a strong belief that as adults we have a responsibility to protect a child’s innocence and allow them to be children as long as possible.
CCG– Citizens for Constitutional Government is unequivocally against Comprehensive Sexuality Education in the public-school system. CSE programs are trying to change our society by modifying sexual and gender norms. CSE teaches students that sexuality is a right. The programs are graphic and promote promiscuity and are often disguised and taught to children without parental consent.
Here is the link to Scott Smith’s answers to “Utahns Against Common Core”
Here is the link to Kristan Norton’s answers to “Utahns Against Common Core”https://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/2020-school-board-candidate-questionnaire/2020-sb-candidates/entry/1977