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 Sarah Reale’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?
Social & Emotional Learning Strategies are essential for a classroom. They are essential for growth and development. To me, we have our core academic values and curriculum we have emphasized since the beginning of formal education. Those are important, necessary, and should still be emphasized. However, as we have progressed in education theory and policy, the need for integrated social and emotional learning has become more prevalent. They are strategies integrated into our core curriculum that help students develop socially and emotionally– from understanding friendships and boundaries, learning how to respect other opinions, listening, and team work. A well-rounded learner can excel academically and socially.
What importance do you attribute to PE and health and how do feel about the cuts made to these subject areas in the past?
As a student, I cared more about my record running the mile, than I did about my ACT score, so you don’t have to convince me to support PE and Health. However, I do believe there are new ways to look at PE and health— creating a healthy child by finding new ways to integrate movement and physical well-being into a child’s life beyond running the mile or doing the Presidential Physical Fitness test. It is more important today than when I was in school to teach students about health and fitness as they have far more distractions than ever before. But integrating new approaches, like yoga or hiking, into our PE classes could be a way to get more students interested (I know many educators have already done this). I want to make a point about health specifically, however, it is time for us to expand our sex education curriculum at the state level to be more applicable to our students of today. Abstinence only education has shown to not be an effective way to help and prepare our students.
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?
To start, we can stop cutting our taxes. We can start using our 1 billion dollar surplus on education. We need to not only fully compensate teachers, we need to also find money for more time and resources (prep time increases, or leave time for professional development). As someone who has spent their career as an underpaid higher education professional, I understand the need and importance of paying our educators well. Especially when we are staring down a frightening teacher shortage. We need to always be fighting for higher pay, but we also need to be looking for ways to compensate our educators and staff with other benefits like additional leave and funding for professional development or other ways they can prepare and support their students without having to work beyond their contracted hours. Lastly– we need to trust our educators as professionals. We need to stop with the hateful, targeted policies that make our teachers feel undervalued and under-appreciated.
How do you define CRT and do you believe it is currently being taught in Utah public schools?
Critical Race Theory– as someone who has worked in higher education for almost two decades I know this theory very well. No where in our Utah State Curriculum is CRT being included, nor is it being taught in any of our classrooms.
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?
This question needs to be broken down into two parts: Required Reading & Library Book. If a parent is opposed to a book that is required reading within a curriculum the first step I would take is educating the parent on the process of developing and approving a curriculum so that parent understands the book wasn’t chosen for no reason. I would then let the parent know that if they oppose of this required reading, there are options for alternative assignments for their student. In regards to library books– I think it is important to remember the purpose of libraries. And to remember our libraries are managed and supported by trained library professionals who do such important work in our schools. The parent must know that if they oppose of a book, their student doesn’t have to check this book out. They can talk to the librarian and ask them to ensure their student doesn’t have access to any books a parent disagrees with. However, it is important to remember there are books in the library that many students may need as learning resources and guidelines for research and otherwise. That is the purpose of a library to enlighten and inform students on all views of the world. But it is most important to remember these books are not being forced on students in any way. And that our librarians are capable of making sure the books our students read are appropriate and with parents permission (if necessary).
Considering legislation that has been proposed in the last 10 years, how would you vote on voucher/school choice bills?
If any legislation mirrored the previous legislation on school vouchers I would vote no. It is not good governing and did not do enough to support our populations who need additional support.
What are your views on the Summit program or programs like it being implemented in our schools?
I believe any program that finds creative and strategic ways to support students who may not come from a privileged upbringing are needed. We need to support all of our students, regardless of their background or zip code. There are many students who fall between the cracks and when we leave students behind, who have had no say in their pathway to this point, we hurting our communities and our state.
What ways can we support diversity in our curriculum so that all students see themselves as culturally relevant?
Diversity and inclusivity should be laced into our curriculum so we can not only build empathy in our classrooms, but so our students are better prepared for our diverse, growing population. My sister (who teaches at Ridgeline High School) has committed her career to finding ways to support diversity in education. She describes it as “mirrors, windows, and doors” Mirrors: curriculum that allows the student to reflect on themselves or learn about others like them. Windows: Opportunities for students to look into a world they may not understand to learn about new diverse cultures and experiences. And Doors: hands-on experiences for students where they get to experience for themselves something outside of their own world that gives them a greater understanding and appreciation for the diversity of our world. Our population in Utah is changing, we need to find more ways to integrate diversity in our classrooms so we can build a more equitable future for our students.
What have you personally done to support teachers/public education?
My mom teaches in Granite School District (Churchill) my sister in Cache County (Ridgeline) and I have spent 20 years in higher education focusing on student-first strategies to help students fulfill their dreams. In our family, we believe in teachers and public education. I think education is one of the most important institutions our government manages, and we need to remember that education can be the pathway to changing someone’s life. It is the cornerstone to an equitable society. I have dedicated my career to supporting teachers and public education through the p-20 pipeline and by being an advocate for public education funding and support for our educators.
How will you show your commitment to public education outside of your role as an elected official?
I will continue to be an advocate for our educators, be a champion for inclusivity, and do anything I can to build bridges with the Utah legislature to stop the unproductive and ineffective legislation they have been writing in the last decade. We need to focus on the real issues in education: equity, innovation, academic excellence, and stop with the hateful political theatre that has placed a burden on our schools.