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 McKay Jensen’s 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?
I agree with the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning definition of Social and Emotional Learning, that “SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.” SEL in our classrooms should develop resilience in students, and contribute to the well-being of all.
What importance do you attribute to PE and health and how do feel about the cuts made to these subject areas in the past?
Physical Education has never been more important than it is right now. Every effort should be made to properly fund and support PE and health education in our public schools to combat the increasing rates of obesity, inactivity, and other public health challenges–and also feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and powerlessness that are increasing in our culture.
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?
The professionalism demonstrated by our teachers must be rewarded. Teaching must become a viable, long term career again. As such, I support the strategies in Envision Utah’s “Vision for Teacher Excellence.” To that end, teacher funding in Utah is largely balanced from two sources–one state and one local: an effective strategy for increased education revenues must address both sources. On the state level, I was proud to advocate for an automatic inflationary adjustment to the WPU, which passed in House Bill 357 in the 2020 legislative session. The WPU has seen record increases in every session since. On the local level, I support legislation that would also provide an automatic inflationary adjustment to the basic property tax rate to provide incremental, on-going, and sustained funding for our teachers.
How do you define CRT and do you believe it is currently being taught in Utah public schools?
All of the varieties of critical theory are approaches in some college education courses that focuses on reflective assessment and critique of society and culture to reveal structures of influence. Critical race theory is not found in our K-12 public 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 support the American Library Association’s position that; “It is the responsibility of the local governing board to adopt policies that guarantee students access to a broad range of ideas. These include policies on collection development and procedures for the review of resources about which concerns have been raised. Such policies, developed by persons in the school community, provide for a timely and fair hearing and assure that procedures are applied equitably to all expressions of concern.”
Considering legislation that has been proposed in the last 10 years, how would you vote on voucher/school choice bills?
My vote on voucher bills is NO. In Utah, we have a great system of school choice with codified open enrollment and public support of parental choices with funding directly attached to students through the Weighted Pupil Unit. I oppose all efforts that move public education dollars to private interests.
What are your views on the Summit program or programs like it being implemented in our schools?
There is nothing more human than education. The more human education is, the more effective it is. Conversely, the more mechanized or mechanical education is, the less effective it is. The efficiencies of purchased technology or curriculum platforms can be used to increase and enrich human to human educational opportunities, but screens and technologies should never be used as the primary method of instruction. Nothing can replace educational value of the human relationships between students and their teachers, their peers, and families. Now, more than ever, we need more teachers, more counselors, more classroom aides, smaller classes, more extra-curricular programs, and generally more human hands on deck in education.
What ways can we support diversity in our curriculum so that all students see themselves as culturally relevant?
The simple answer is that we have to try. I voted in favor of the Provo City School District’s statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which in part states: “Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion means that we dedicate ourselves to creating and nurturing an environment in which all people can thrive, regardless of race, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, political belief, physical or mental disability, ethnicity, socioeconomic level, age, or religion. We invite collaboration and teamwork from all community members to contribute ideas, perspectives, and experiences in order to cultivate a community of shared accountability and leadership. Our community-centered approach includes equitable distribution of resources such as funding, programs, policies, initiatives, and supports. These equitably allocated resources should address student and family needs and help ensure all students have access to high-quality education and extracurricular activities. Provo City School District strives to be a place of support, safety, and understanding. As we collectively prepare students to contribute to our diverse community, we endeavor to foster a culture where everyone in our buildings feels safe, valued, and that they belong.”
What have you personally done to support teachers/public education?
I have worked in public education as employee of Alpine School District for 21 years. I have advocated for public education as the President of the Utah School Boards Association and as Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee (USBA, Utah School Superintendents Assoc., and Utah Assoc. of School Business Officials). I have collaborated with with the Utah Education Association, the Utah PTA, the Utah Assoc. of Secondary Principals, the Utah Association of Elementary School Principals, and others in the Utah Public Education Coalition. I have contributed to public policy as a member of the Governor’s Commission on Excellence in Education.
How will you show your commitment to public education outside of your role as an elected official?
Education is my entire life. I will continue through out by personal and professional life to contribute to public education both as a practice and as an idea. I believe in education. – I believe in education as a catalyst for opportunity. – I believe in education as a disrupter of poverty. – I believe in education as a facilitator of prosperity. – I believe in education as a promoter of understanding and decency. – I believe in education as a generator hope, success, and well-being for individuals, families, and communities. – I believe that the quality of education available in my community will directly impact the quality of my life, and my children’s lives, and the lives of my grandchildren.