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 Yvette Romero’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 strategies in the classroom are vital to supporting growth and human development. SEL skills include naming and managing emotions, communicating needs, setting boundaries, listening to others, and managing conflict. The goal of SEL is to equip the person with the skills they need to be resilient and relate to others. As an educator and social worker, I have worked first-hand with folks facing mental health challenges inside and outside the classroom. I know people can’t engage or learn when they are emotionally unwell or in fight/flight mode. Incorporating SEL strategies in the school is essential in considering the trauma of COVID and the alarming rates of anxiety, depression, self-harm, and suicide among our students.
What importance do you attribute to PE and health and how do feel about the cuts made to these subject areas in the past?
Our kids need health and PE classes at every stage of development. Cutting funding for these programs is counterintuitive, knowing the amount of physical activity our students need. Physical health is a pillar of wellness and our students need to be empowered with the knowledge and skills to care for themselves. As a mental health provider, I always start with physical health (sleep, nutrition, physical activity) because if our basic needs aren’t met, we can’t function well.
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?
As an educator, I know what it’s like to be underpaid and expected to stay current on the latest evidence-based practices without the necessary resources or support. I am very worried about what will happen to our education system if we don’t look carefully at pay, workload, and overall value proposition for school employees. I know several educators who exited the profession in the last few years, feeling discouraged and unappreciated. A healthy system must offer people a competitive and livable salary, work-life balance, and a supportive work environment. The bottom line is that when our employees are well, they are better equipped to serve our students. Our state enjoys a sizable surplus and must practice financial stewardship by increasing the WPU (Weighted Pupil Unit) and creating capacity that supports the well-being of our employees (preventing burnout and attrition from the profession). One idea involves allocating money to create a sustainable substitute workforce to alleviate the burden on teachers whenever they need to take time off or attend professional development opportunities they are excited about.
How do you define CRT and do you believe it is currently being taught in Utah public schools?
CRT is a tool used by scholars in higher education to explain how racism became embedded in many institutions and its effects on communities of color. CRT is not a program or a curriculum, and it is not taught in Utah 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?
Two things are true: families know what’s best for their children, AND our librarians and teachers are trained professionals who carefully select books based on the standards set by USBE for a wide variety of children. On the whole, I believe it’s essential for our students to have access to books that reflect their realities and create opportunities to learn about others’ experiences. If elected, this vetting process is something I hope to share with more parents to give them comfort in knowing that the books our students read in the classroom have been carefully and thoughtfully chosen. To my knowledge, the Granite School District is developing a policy and protocol for sensitive materials. I support a process that is clearly defined, collaborative, and thoughtful. We must ensure that decisions are made carefully and in collaboration with parents and educators representative of diverse constituencies. Regarding library materials, parents have the right to restrict the books their children borrow from the library. They can also submit a challenge if they believe the content does not follow Utah law or USBE rules regarding sensitive materials. Regarding required reading in our curriculum, if a parent objects to a required reading assignment, the parent may request an alternative book (of equal value). As an avid reader, I’ve learned much from reading books, and I know libraries are the door to discovery and understanding.
Considering legislation that has been proposed in the last 10 years, how would you vote on voucher/school choice bills?
I do not support vouchers or school choice bills. Let’s make every effort possible to strengthen our neighborhood schools and support and strengthen our state-funded public education system.
What are your views on the Summit program or programs like it being implemented in our schools?
On the surface, it seems like a promising tool for teachers and students, especially in the realm of individualized teaching/learning. To my knowledge, this program is not currently used in the Granite School District, and I would love to learn more about how it’s working at other local schools.
What ways can we support diversity in our curriculum so that all students see themselves as culturally relevant?
As someone not exposed to literature that reflected my experience in my k-12 education, I’m fully invested in this matter. We can develop a strong sense of self, confidence, and resilience when we see ourselves in the curriculum, space, personnel, and school culture (operations). This translates to better engagement and relationships and prepares us (and our students) to live in a vastly changing world. One of the biggest reasons I’m running is to create a bridge and elevate the voices and needs of the many communities missing from Granite School District’s decision-making tables. Our student body is minority-majority, with Latinos being the largest group in every school within my precinct (except one elementary). I am the daughter of a working-class Mexican family who worked from a young age to help her family. I was once an English Language Learner (or ESL as previously identified) who navigated school with the support of my parents, equity programs, and people who understood my challenges. I know the challenges many of our families face from personal experience and from continuing to work in the community. I have an important perspective to lend that can bring greater representation to families in our district.
What have you personally done to support teachers/public education?
I have been actively engaged in West Valley City, where I grew up. I have worked as an AVID tutor, college access advisor, and summer program coordinator/facilitator (paraeducator) in Granite schools. I have advocated at the legislature for increases in salary, balanced workloads, and smaller class sizes. I have worked as a youth development specialist and mental health provider in the community, working with gang-involved, justice-involved, and underserved youth. As a university educator, I work alongside my colleagues to train social work students to assess needs, identify assets, and implement community-informed services to address the basic needs of our students and the larger community. Both inside and outside of school settings, I have been working to remove barriers to wellness and learning that work parallel to our k-12 educators.
How will you show your commitment to public education outside of your role as an elected official?
I will continue to engage with community members in the places they frequent, especially with communities missing from decision-making spaces. I will continue to advocate for more mental health support for our youth. I will continue to utilize my Spanish language skills to support families to advocate for themselves and their children. I will continue to have meaningful conversations with people concerned about our kids and seek to find common ground with the people whose approaches may differ from mine.