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 Carol Lear’s responses that shows that she 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?
SEL = social and emotional learning strategies. Ideally, these are home taught skills that are strengthened at school. Unfortunately, some children do not even begin to learn these skills at home. Without some social and emotional training and stability, children do not interact well with other children (or adults) and their academic process suffers. Full time students spend six+ hours a day at school. Social and emotional skill building is part of every person’s life. School teachers and staff members must help children learn patience, self-control, kindness, self-confidence so there is a basis for teaching primarily academic skills.
What importance do you attribute to PE and health and how do feel about the cuts made to these subject areas in the past?
PE and health courses are extremely important in schools–K through 12. Younger children need exercise and activity! They also learn sportsmanship and skills and sports. Not all families can afford private or even community teams and camps. Older students should learn to make exercise and outdoor activities part of their lives. Their health and lives will be stronger and richer for those opportunities. Some children learn about sensitive issues better from adults other than their parents. Health is also about sanitation and disease; these are topics that help young people become healthy and happy adults. I oppose cuts in these subject areas in public schools. Students need exercise at all ages. They need exposure to teamwork and an opportunity to build self-esteem through physical and athletic success. Schools are places where all children can be on a team!
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?
I am committed to working for increased public school funding AND for increased FLEXIBLE funds–these are the funds that are not dedicated by the state for certain state-selected programs. State funds should be adequate (and more!) to allow school districts and charter schools funds to focus on increased teacher pay. We also must be more creative than we have in the past to increase teacher compensation–(1) with the current housing shortage and increased costs, more districts should do what a few districts do now, use housing stipends to attract and keep teachers. (2) many teachers’ (especially women) ability to work and stay working depends on quality childcare. Utah is one of only a few states that does not fully fund all day kindergarten. Utah is even worse in its efforts toward quality pre-K programs. More mothers could and would join the teacher work force, with family-friendly hours and locations, if they had quality options for their youngest children. Some schools have pre-school programs as part of their CTE programs; these should be encouraged and incentivized. Though it costs money, schools could be leaders in offering decent maternity and paternity leave. (3) Many state government agencies pay partial tuition for employees to complete higher education programs and training. These opportunities–with a reciprocal work commitment–could provide incentives for teachers to work and stay in school districts. (4) Job sharing for teachers should be encouraged and incentivized. Teaching is an inflexible job! if schools offered teachers part-time employment, even perhaps with benefits, individuals with multiple jobs and interests would choose part-time teaching.
How do you define CRT and do you believe it is currently being taught in Utah public schools?
CRT or critical race theory is a graduate-level academic framework that argues that historical patterns of racism are ingrained in laws and modern institutions. The theory explains that bigotry is systemic, more entrenched than the feelings or beliefs of individuals. I think it is important to understand what critical race theory is not: it is not explaining racism, in an age-appropriate way, to students; it is not discussing what “diversity” in a class, school or neighborhood looks like; it is not discrimination against white students or indoctrinating them to believe that they are bad or hateful if they do not know or understand other cultures or ethnicities. It is also really important to know that it is a COLLEGE-level THEORY. It is complex and may or may not be “true.” But the concept is interesting and worth exploring in college history or sociology courses. Also, EXPLAINING to 17 or 18 year old students what CRT IS, is not indoctrinating them into the theory. No, I do not believe is is being “taught” in Utah 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?
The Utah State Board of Education (USBE) directed all public schools (both traditional and charter) to have a policy for reviewing school library or assigned curriculum materials if a parent, student or employee objects to the “material” as a “sensitive material” as recently defined in Utah law. The USBE provided a model policy for individual schools, but individual schools can personalize their policies. Policies must align with state and federal law. I believe, of course, that schools should have this review process in place–as soon as possible. The model policy is clear–materials may only be excluded consistent with the law (unique to SCHOOL libraries) and consistent with the school’s policy.
Considering legislation that has been proposed in the last 10 years, how would you vote on voucher/school choice bills?
I oppose any legislation that directs education funding (through parents or directly) to private schools. Private schools do not have the same assessment, accountability, teacher licensing (to name a few!) requirements as do public schools. I believe that public schools are like other COMMUNITY services–police protection, fire protection, garbage collection–they benefit whole communities without discrimination. They are also community centers (have you noticed the big, beautiful private school soccer field near East High School that is fenced off from public use!?!).
What are your views on the Summit program or programs like it being implemented in our schools?
I am not personally familiar with the Summit program. It sounds like a curriculum. Local school boards have procedures, including parent and community input, when they select curricula that are aligned with USBE standards. If parents like the curriculum or oppose it–they should take their opinions to local school board meetings and actively and transparently discuss various proposed curricula.
What ways can we support diversity in our curriculum so that all students see themselves as culturally relevant?
We can do better. We need to support diversity by encouraging individuals of color to become teachers and school volunteers. Students need school employees who look like them in school halls, classrooms and administrative offices. Local boards should select curricula that exclude stereotypes and fully explore diverse perspectives and history. We cannot tolerate any (any!) type of bullying or discrimination or name-calling–from students, volunteers or employees.
What have you personally done to support teachers/public education?
As a current USBE member, I have voted for every teacher support item (legislative bonuses and stipends) and against every bill that would add unfunded burdens to teachers and schools. I introduced the USBE’s support for optional educator professional development funding in the 2022-23 school year–which received $16 million in funding from the Legislature. I am endorsed by the teachers of the Utah Education Association. I support increased FLEXIBLE spending for school districts which would make more money available for school districts to increase teacher salaries and incentives.
How will you show your commitment to public education outside of your role as an elected official?
I will always support teachers. I support increased funding for public education and oppose siphoning public school money for vouchers or tax credits to private schools–and it really IS about the money! I am a volunteer for the East High food pantry and boutique–and am a regular donator. I have worked in the public education arena for almost 50 years–in many roles. I support every tax increase or proposed bond that increases funds for public education.