Parents have the primary responsibility for the development of their children. Their attitude, encouragement and involvement have the most influence in a child’s growth and education. Over 90% of Utah parents enroll their children in district and charter schools. These combine to create public schools for kids. Cindy is uniquely qualified as both parent and practitioner to take a preK-post high school view of our education system. The Utah constitution calls for the Utah Board of Education to oversee public education in our state. Too often we have top-down unfunded mandates that reduce the nimbleness of schools and impair local ability to meet student needs. Cindy will work for policies that make sense for schools and families.
Funding for schools is needed. As our legislature provides funding for the WPU, it is important to recognize that some money is needed just to cover growth and inflation, so increases may have been deceiving. Due to an income tax reduction and a constitutional change to divide K-12 funding with higher ed, schools have seen considerable cuts in resources. However, with the passing of Amendment G, growth and a portion (on average) of inflation is provided automatically allowing the conversation now to focus more on improvements. While revenue generation for education does not fall under the purview of USBE, stewardship and oversight of Utah schools does. Board members can define and express need to legislators, and in turn, act as responsible stewards of allocations.
Public trust must be earned, and transparency is key to earning that trust. As a parent I have appreciated the effort that the board has made to broadcast meetings online. I have also appreciated the many reports that the board generates and publishes for all to consider. Additionally, when important changes are to be made, not only has there been an opportunity for public input at board meetings, but separate meetings have been scheduled for the sole purpose of listening to stakeholder input. I would support all of those things continuing and anything additional that could increase transparency for the Board of Education.
Thank you, teachers. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. We are losing many of our teachers to other states or professions. Attrition is concerning, and finding qualified applicants to teach is not always easy, especially during a healthy economy. We must look at recruitment, induction, and retention when it comes to our teaching force in Utah. That means listening to those who have boots on the ground and working together so that policymakers, practitioners, and parents can form bridges that will lead to a healthy educational milieu in our state.
As a principal, I was blown away by the service rendered by you, as parents to our school. You could have sat on the sidelines and complained about the million difficulties public education experiences. However, you jumped in. You got on board. You spent your time, energy, and resources helping in any way you could. I am mostly a stay at home parent now, and have tried to emulate you. As your principal, while nowhere near perfect, I tried to honor, respect, seek and implement your feedback. I said often as a principal, “If plan A doesn’t work, we will try Plan B. If Plan B doesn’t work, we will try plan C. If plan C doesn’t work, we will try plan D,” and so on. We as parents must advocate for what we feel is right for our students, and we as practitioners and policy makers must partner with parents.
I believe that all policy makers have a responsibility to finetooth comb policy and look for ways to support schools rather than give top down unfunded mandate’s. Educators have plates that are burgeoning, and not just from trying to meet vastly varied student needs. This is happening from a myriad of requirements that may or may not be funded, may or may not have technical support, may or may not have training provided, may or may not even make an impact on students. Administrators, teachers staff, and parents are working hard for our children. The mountain they have to climb does not need to be made steeper by unnecessary or unfunded mandates.
Sometimes I say to policymakers, “There is something you could do for education in the state of Utah and it wouldn’t cost one red cent. We could change our tone. We could seek to find the good while we also work diligently to extinguish the bad. We could give credit where credit is due even while trying to innovate and constantly improve education for our children. As colleagues, constituents, caregivers, critics, and community members, we could speak respectfully to one another even when we disagree. We could move forward in professional ways to find not only compromise but consensus. I have always thought that the longer we communicate, the more we will find we have in common than otherwise. Let’s tackle problems together not tackle each other in the process.
*How do you feel about Critical Race Theory being taught in schools?
Utahns understand that CRT is a graduate-level theoretical lens that would not be appropriate for K12 schools, but many feel that some elements have been or could be introduced to students. We created a board rule (R277-328) that prohibits:
1. Promotion that one race is inherently inferior or superior to another
2. Promotion that a person’s race determines his or her character, values, morals, etc.
3. Promotion that a current student/person bears responsibility for the actions of others throughout history
4. That a person can be discriminated against for his or her race
Our students need to know that a person’s race doesn’t dictate moral conscience. They also need to know that the country was not founded and designed to promote slavery. It was founded and designed to allow, for the first time in our history, the governed to have a say in the government. This was monumental. That is not to say that the abhorrence of slavery didn’t happen nor should it be omitted. Students should be taught accurate history, but slavery shouldn’t be taught as the predominant factor for the design of the United States of America.
My fellow candidate wrongly states in messages to delegates that our Board created a “loophole at the end allowing teachers to slide CRT into the class.” There is no such thing. There is an opportunity for the local board to have a public and transparent meeting if, for example, a parent does not want the civil war or WWII taught because the first prohibited concept is inherent to both of those. It is a safety net that children won’t grow up with big learning gaps if the Rule is misinterpreted or used inappropriately.
*What do you think of Common Core?
Common Core was adopted in Utah (and most states) 12 years ago in math and English. We revise our standards in these areas every five-seven years, so it can look different from what it was 12 years ago or even five years ago, but there will always be elements that are the same. For example, the Pythagorean theorem was in the CC. The Pythagorean theorem is also in the Utah core today.
Every time we have revised the standards, we have opened them up to massive amounts of public input electronically and held input gathering sessions in person for community members, so I feel comfortable in saying that we currently have Utah standards even if there is some crossover. Parents want students to know certain basic concepts that all students should know whether they were in common core or not.
I would invite all to visit our math and English standards and share with us which skills they feel are valuable for students and which they feel need to be added, removed, or revised. The English standards are up for review in 2022 and are out for public input currently.
On a historical note, I do not like that states were incentivized by the Race to the Top Grant to adopt Common Core. Even though Utah did not ever get one cent of that money, making our standards free from federal financial ties, I do not condone the carrot that was dangled.
*Are there federal funding ties to Utah Education?
Recently the DOE hinted at tying instructional requirements to CARES funding dollars in a draft application, and many states, including Utah, fought back (wisely.) The DOE pulled it out of the potential application, so there would remain no tie from federal funding to Utah standards. Federal funds continue to support special education and Title programs. Some say, “But we did have to make a plan for elementary and secondary recovery dollars.” This is true. However, the states have autonomy over their own respective plan designs, leaving us in the driver seat.
On a historical note- I was a teacher when No Child Left Behind hit over 20 years ago, and I don’t think it did students or teachers any favors in the arena of assessment. We could talk about this for a long time, but ultimately, two particularly egregious pieces were the calculation and reporting elements and the special education requirements (though new laws and adaptive testing have helped to mitigate some of that.) Little known fact—some think the federal DOE requires too much testing, but our state legislature requires more.
*What do you think of the legislative override of the veto for sports participation for transgender students?
My fellow candidate wrongly states, on her FB page, that I do not support women’s sports. Elite female athletes like Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, and Nancy Hogshead-Makar believe that transgender women competing with biological women threatens women's sports. Caitlin Jenner, famous transgender athlete agrees, and I agree, but I also understand the complexities of the issue, and so do both our governor and our legislators. While the legislature overrode Governor Cox’s veto, President Adams made it clear that there are quandaries with the override when he said that they anticipate a lawsuit and assigned 500,000.00 from the Attorney General’s budget to create indemnification for schools and the Utah High School Athletic Association.
When the lawsuit transpires, a commission will be enacted that will then study the issue to find solutions that will provide opportunities for transgender students and biological female students to participate in legal and reasonable ways for all parties to be protected. I don’t know what these will be, but may include such things as differentiated competitive categories. Or- perhaps it will include a requirement for double races spaced reasonably apart. Or- it could possibly include a requirement for USHE (Utah System of Higher Education) to determine scholarship recipients based on percentages of transgender and biologically female students, to create fair opportunities for all.
No matter how the commission moves forward, the legislature designed it to include input from multiple groups to find long-term solutions considering opportunity, competitive fairness, and safety for all.
*In a text to delegates, my fellow candidate wrongly states that teachers are forced to ask students what their preferred pronoun is or that students are forced to share it.
This is not true. Some teachers were asking for preferred pronouns on their initial info sheets. Our USBE State Superintendent, Syd Dickson, sent an email to every local superintendent and charter director counseling against the practice and explaining to them that the practice violates the state parental rights code.
There was a Gender Identity Guidance Document that the Standards and Assessment Committee was researching and drafting that included all state and federal laws, but it did not pass out of committee and was never heard nor voted on by the full board. It received 20,000 pieces of public input dispersed almost equally in favor and against it. In addition, the attorneys of six large districts asked USBE to allow them to work through issues at the local level, and one Rural district passed a public resolution requesting the same. The GID is no longer on the committee agenda and policy will be addressed at the local level.
*Do you support Comprehensive Sex Education?
No. It is against the law in Utah. Additionally, the areas of human reproduction that are taught in health classes include abstinence and must be opted IN by the parent.
*Do you support Social and Emotional Learning?
I do not support transformational SEL principles, but I do support SEL principles that help all children access learning better. For example, things like Wellness Rooms in school where the lights are a little less bright and students can go to regroup if they are struggling emotionally because a parent went into the hospital, they had an altercation with a friend, or any number of disturbances that beset children emotionally.
If there is SEL curriculum to be used across the board, I like the process that Washington District followed where they went to the publisher and explained their community standards and asked for anything contrary to be removed. The company did so, and the district brought the remainder of the materials back and made them all available to parents. Parents came and vetted the materials and wanted them for their kids. This is an excellent process if an actual SEL curriculum is going to be used.
*What about books in Libraries?
On social media opponents wrongly state that I support pornography in schools. Of all the false accusations being lobbed at me and the USBE, this is the most offensive. It is ridiculous that I even have to state that I do not support pornography in schools. To address concerns, USBE recently passed a Board Rule requiring each district and charter to create a policy that outlines how a book can be challenged to be removed from the library, but also one outlining the criteria and process to put a book IN the library in the first place. Materials online and in text form should be age-appropriate and legal. We are also working on a model policy where I have advocated to include a provision for communication to patrons and also one to have communication between similar grade schools in a multi-school district/charter system, so if a book is challenged at one jr. high, the other committees are made aware of the challenge and committee’s determination.
“Hands Down. Cindy Davis. Brilliant mind. Fierce defender of kids and Deeper Learning.”
“I am so impressed with Cindy’s understanding of Utah’s education system and her willingness to listen to all sides.”
“I cannot think of anyone more qualified to be on the state school board. Every once in a while we get a chance to vote for someone who we really believe in, who is a true leader, who is good to the core, and brilliant- well, that is Cindy Davis. I support her whole-heartedly… she will make all the difference for our children.”
“Yes, YES, a thousand votes yes!!”
“I remember that first day at Oak Canyon when, as new colleagues, I met you. You were amazing then and have maintained your enthusiasm and expertise. I hope the voters will help you serve all the children in the State of Utah as you seek this opportunity.”
“So excited to cast my vote for Cindy Davis for state school board! She embodies everything I value in a candidate: experience, poise, understanding of issues and perspectives, genuine concern, honesty, and on and on... Cindy is the kind of candidate that you hope with all your heart will run (for anything), and then it feels like Christmas morning when she does!”
“Cindy is passionate about education and children. She will do great things on the Utah state school board.”
“She truly walks the walk when it comes to supporting our schools and our children. She is running for state school board in District 11, covering most of the Alpine School District area. She will be a fantastic advocate and I encourage you to vote for her in June and November.”
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