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 Kimberly Wagner’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?
As community council chair for our local junior high, I actually just attended a meeting today with the new superintendent of the Davis School District at which we touched upon social and emotional learning strategies. What’s not to like about giving our kids some tools to help them with decision-making, self-awareness, relationships, and self-management?
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 think health in particular contains information that makes it one of the more relevant courses students take—especially if the curriculum includes sex education. I think PE can be a great opportunity to get kids physically active and exposed to sports that may become a long-term interest. However, participating in PE class can be deeply uncomfortable for some students, and I support options for those students to take such a course online. I’d like to see both health and PE get ongoing funding.
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?
For starters, I’d look for opportunities not only to protect, but also to increase school funding. I would also make sure that school LAND Trust funds remain a dedicated source of revenue for improving student learning. At the schools at which I’ve served on councils, we’ve used that money in ways that benefit both teachers and students (e.g., funding teacher trainings, productivity periods, etc.). Money is important in retaining teachers, but it’s not the only factor associated with teacher attrition. A teacher on our junior high council (whose wife is a teacher at another school) mentioned last year that student and parent behaviors toward teachers have never been worse—a view I’ve seen echoed in nationwide reports. Furthermore, the Utah legislature seems intent on micro-managing not only school districts and schools, but also teachers in the classroom. I believe respecting the professionalism of teachers is a piece of the retention puzzle.
How do you define CRT and do you believe it is currently being taught in Utah public schools?
My understanding is that Critical Race Theory is one of the lenses through which students can view and understand more about history. It’s taught at the university level and wasn’t being taught in Utah’s secondary schools even before the legislature moved to have it banned from the classroom.
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 think schools should follow a set vetting procedure in response to such an objection that would include a review by a group of parents, media specialists, etc. I believe school districts shouldn’t react reflexively to strident parent demands, but should hold to established procedures. And if there are some books identified by committee members in the course of that review process as being unsuitable for the age-range in a particular school, then that decision should be honored.
Considering legislation that has been proposed in the last 10 years, how would you vote on voucher/school choice bills?
I have reservations about voucher/school choice legislation I’ve seen in the past, and anticipate that I wouldn’t support such legislation in the future.
What are your views on the Summit program or programs like it being implemented in our schools?
I think the idea of personalized, competency-based learning has merit, and also think we should be open to innovation in education. Having said that, I’m concerned about how Summit was introduced in my district (Davis). My understanding is that the local school board had little to no say in that decision and that students at select schools weren’t given an option of participating or not participating. I believe such a program should have been researched extensively; teachers should have had time to prepare in-class curriculum that would dovetail seamlessly with the online curriculum; and it should have been implemented on a smaller scale initially and not expanded unless/until it was more universally considered a success by various stakeholders. If I’m not mistaken, in response to parent concerns, the district has agreed to a program evaluation by an outside party. That’s a positive development.
What ways can we support diversity in our curriculum so that all students see themselves as culturally relevant?
Make it a priority. I’m running for the state legislature. It’s not clear to me that we want more legal mandates from the state dictating what happens in our schools. Instead, I’d like to see schools embrace this as a value and look actively for opportunities to support diversity. I have a front porch library full of books that I share with neighbors. I’ve intentionally sought out books to include in my library that feature kids from different races, ethnicities, and places around the world. I know many teachers and media specialists make a point of doing this already. My son is currently doing a report in school on a leader and was able to choose from among a list of options. That’s the sort of opportunity in which a teacher could include options of strong leaders from diverse backgrounds.
What have you personally done to support teachers/public education?
I’ve served for a decade on community councils at the elementary, junior high, and high school levels (more than half of the time as council chair). I’ve also served on two PTA boards, and been a classroom volunteer, a parent representative on a superintendent search application review committee, a member of a curriculum standards review committee, and a volunteer for candidates in two school board races.
How will you show your commitment to public education outside of your role as an elected official?
I’ll continue to look for opportunities to strengthen and serve our schools with my time and energy.