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 Meg Van Wagenen’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 provide students with opportunities build interpersonal skills, helps them manage emotion, how to learn from mistakes, and build self-esteem. SEL strategies can also help students develop empathy and understanding of differences among their peers.
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 are imperative in our schools. Learning is expansive and does not just include classwork, reading, math, etc. Students need opportunities to move their bodies and be outside. Not to mention, the classroom setting can be more difficult for some students than others, making recess and a change of pace even more important. Health also belongs in our schools, and I believe we should look for ways to improve the way we teach health to our students. People come in all shapes and sizes, and how health curriculum should reflect that. Not all children have opportunities to learn about the topics discussed in health in their homes, school should be a safe and trustworthy place for them to learn.
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?
This is an area I have room for learning and growth, but am committed to supporting measures that will increase public school funding. Provo City School District did raise their property tax rate and dedicated the revenue for increase teacher pay. I support this increase in order to pay our teachers better.
How do you define CRT and do you believe it is currently being taught in Utah public schools?
Criticial Race Theory is a theory taught in higher education, specifically law school. CRT is not being taught in our schools. Expanding the materials in our schools to reflect all the students who attend our public schools is not CRT, but a great way to enhance learning for all our students.
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 do not believe that blanket book banning is appropriate. It is important for parents to know that their concerns are taken seriously, even if there is a disagreement about the problems in any given book. If a parent(s) have concerns about a book, school boards need to have a policy and procedure in place to resolve the conflict. The policy should take in consideration if the book is a requirement for a class, as opposed to just available in the school library. The policy should be consistently followed so it is clear for all parties what the process is and to discourage a wave of banning books without careful consideration.
Considering legislation that has been proposed in the last 10 years, how would you vote on voucher/school choice bills?
I would vote no on a voucher bill.
What are your views on the Summit program or programs like it being implemented in our schools?
I am not familiar with the Summit program. But like any program instituted in our schools, I think it is important if our teachers find it useful in the classroom. Upon a quick google search, the Summit program appears to be a great way to allow students to learn through project based assignments and collaboration.
What ways can we support diversity in our curriculum so that all students see themselves as culturally relevant?
More diverse books in our schools. Find ways to highlight lesser known people and stories from history that students of all races and backgrounds can see themselves in and find empowerment. I love “Bite-Size Black History” from Jasmine Bradshaw at First Name Basis. For the past couple years, I have purchased it for my kids classes so their teachers could use it during Black History month.
What have you personally done to support teachers/public education?
I have been involved in the PTA at my children’s schools for 6 years, which has included prioritizing ways to show our teachers we support them. While on the PTA, I helped start a reading Friday program where parents could come in, open house style, to help teachers give one-on-one time with students needing help with reading.
How will you show your commitment to public education outside of your role as an elected official?
Send my children to public schools. Stay informed about legislation involving our schools, teachers, and funding. I did not support the school curriculum bill this past legislative session that required materials to be posted 30 days in advance.