We asked all candidates to fill out a survey and our group has chosen to endorse, recommend or not recommend based on their answers. Here are Bryce Williams’ responses that shows that he is a great representative for our teachers, students and parents!
How do you define SEL strategies and what do you believe it does in the classroom?
Social Emotional Learning is an important aspect for the development and growth of our children. Social Emotional Learning helps students students learn skills that are both beneficial inside and outside of the classroom such as how to communicate with others, respecting difference of opinions or lived experiences, how to work together, and respect for boundaries. These skills along with academic curriculum assist in creating a holistic educational experience and well rounded child.
What importance do you attribute to PE and health and how do feel about the cuts made to these subject areas in the past?
I believe physical education and health are an important part of a holistic experience for our children and have to work hand in hand with one another. There are lots of opportunities right now for children to be spending time on devices and that was heightened more during the COVID experience. I do believe that physical education looks different for each child. For some it may be about competitive nature in sports, while others is may be more beneficial to develop new skills in a sport or physical feat. For health we need to look at the different types of health including physical, emotional, spiritual, etc. We must think outside of the box when it comes to physical education, and what has been the standard of health. We have seen significant cuts in these areas over time, but we can be creative to make up for the cuts that have happened by taking advantage of the outdoors when applicable. We must also thinking about physical education for students with different abilities.
What ideas have you formulated that will increase public school funding to keep up with growth, fully compensate teachers for their expertise and commitment to teaching, ensure they have the classroom resources they need to be effective educators, and making teacher retention a priority?
First and foremost, we need to pay all educators more and I cannot stress this enough. This includes teachers, paraprofessionals, child nutrition workers, and transportation workers among the many other educators who do the work of educating children. With the rising costs of housing and everything else, educators cannot afford to live her and are leaving the profession for moving elsewhere. I also do not believe the salary issue solves the entire problem. I also believe we need to compensate educators in other ways such as paid time for professional development. I also believe educators need to be supported and trusted to the jobs they were hired to do. There is a lot of criticism of educators and schools by people who are not qualified to make those critiques.
How do you define CRT and do you believe it is currently being taught in Utah public schools?
Critical Race Theory is a curriculum that is being taught in higher education. As a higher education professional, I am well aware of Critical Race Theory, but it is not included in Utah K-12 curriculum and it is not being taught in our schools.
What vetting process do you support when a parent objects to a book in their child’s school? What actions do you believe school districts should take or not take?
I have a couple thoughts on this topic. The first is that there is an issue of school libraries. If a parent doesn’t like a book, their child does not have to check it out, but I do not believe anyone should have any say over what any other child has access too. I believe in intellectual freedom and this is a violation of that intellectual freedom for others. I trust school librarians and believe they have the skills and expertise to make thoughtful decisions about the content in school libraries. Now if there is a text that is being used for curriculum, then I would want their to be intentional thought behind why that text is being used and being able to have an open and honest conversation as to why that text was chosen. If a parent still disagreed, I would hope for an alternative assignment that still allows the student to gain the skill development and learning outcomes from the original assignment and text.
Considering legislation that has been proposed in the last 10 years, how would you vote on voucher/school choice bills?
I do not support school voucher legislation. I believe school voucher legislation harms many of our underrepresented and vulnerable populations.
What are your views on the Summit program or programs like it being implemented in our schools?
I do not have a lot of knowledge on the Summit program, but from what I do know, I support programs that lift up students who are falling through the cracks due to lived experiences outside of their control.
What ways can we support diversity in our curriculum so that all students see themselves as culturally relevant?
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion should not be something we mark off a checklist, but it should be included in everything education related. I believe students should be able to see them in the texts and the lessons that are given. As someone who teaches in higher education, I have made a conscious effort to include scholars of color in my required reading. I think any opportunity to explore new cultures, new ideas, and new perspectives makes out communities stronger and it also fosters a community of belonging. The demographics in Utah are changing and if we can reflect the identities of our students in what we are teaching, we can create a stronger place of belonging.
What have you personally done to support teachers/public education?
It is my personal belief that public education is one of the greatest gifts that we have in our society and that our teachers are the vehicle in which this gift is given to society. While I am a higher education professional, I have made part of my career dedicated to K-12 education and devoted significant resources to student pipeline programs and relationship building between K-12 and higher education. In my personal life, I have also served 4 years on my districts education foundation board prior to being appointed to the board of education last year. I speak up for public education and public education teachers because I believe the combination of the institution of public education and strong teachers contributed to my successes in life.
How will you show your commitment to public education outside of your role as an elected official?
I think one of the biggest ways I can show my commitment to public education is by educating myself on the issues that impact our children and our teachers. I will seek out opportunities for my own professional development to make sure I am making student and educator-first decisions. I will also spend time with the folks doing work in schools. As individuals who are doing the educating, I must learn from their experiences and truly hear them to seek better understanding of what is working. what is not working, and what ideas they have to bring to the table.