Davis for Local Education

Candidate: Laura Collier Belnap

Office: State School Board, District 5 (2014 General Election)

2014 General Election Survey Questions and Answers

Candidate answers are presented exactly as received, including grammatical and spelling errors.

Q1: Do you believe the Common Core State Standards (also known as the Utah Core) will prepare students to be college and career ready?

A1: Undecided

Q2: Do you believe parents should be able to opt a student out of the Core aligned tests and the State Longitudinal Database System?

A2: Yes

Q3: Do you believe Utah should provide universal pre-K education for children?

A3: No

Q4: What are the three (3) most critical education issues in our county?

A4-1: I know that keeping local control with parental involvement is critical to our district. The diminishing role of the family in education is too prevalent. This is most evident for our at-risk children. No public program can compensate on a large scale for the life-critical values, priorities, and discipline that must be instilled in a successful individual. However, for some of our students, our schools are the only opportunity for them to receive these values and valuable skills.

A4-2: Parents, educators, leaders and community members must work together for a common cause, our children. We need more open communication about how we can work as a community for the students. Even when ideas may differ, honest open communication is vital to the success of our children. As these relationships are constructed, our community will have more open dialog and respectful discussions. As we become a collaborative team, student opportunities for a great education will increase in Davis County.

A4-3: The division that "common core" has created in our community.

Q5: Do you believe Davis County public schools are adequately funded? If not, please briefly specify changes that should be made to provide appropriate financial support.

A5: No. There is a need to increase financial support. It doesn't always mean an increase in taxes to get more funding for schools. Legislators and the state school board must work together to create positive change together. We can also leverage technology and open doors for businesses to get involved in our schools. As we make positive relationships we can work together to increase funding for our children. We must work with businesses and create partnerships with the schools.

Q6: With regard to the Federal Department of Education, do you support: A) Keeping it as it is, B) Changing it to a small research and advisory organization, C) Completely eliminating it, D) Other (please specify)

A6: Completely eliminating it

Q7: If you want to clarify any of your answers, please do so here.

A7: #1 This was difficult to answer with only three choice. The explanation will give a better reflection about my direction. I actually stand for good standards with local control and parental involvement. Our common standards, which include minimum standards for each grade are appropriate and I am comfortable with these standards. For example, third graders will learn to multiply by 2 digits, 5th graders will write a complete paragraph. I am concerned about how our teachers have been asked to teach these standards. We lack the training and professional development for this process to run smoothly. This has created issues for our teachers and their ability to present these standards in a way that our children can learn the information. This creates holes and gaps for our children and their learning. There are some teachers who do this intuitive but that is not the whole. We MUST be very concerned about the curriculum that has been used. Curriculum wasn’t created at the implementation of these standards so teachers and schools were left to search and find resources on their own. Teachers found curriculum to use that often didn't reflect the direction for our state and the values we have here. I know that our district is working to correct this problem by writing their own curriculum that reflects the values of each community. This again has put our children’s education in jeopardy.

Q8: If you want to share a brief position on education issues, please do so here.

A8: I have given my life to education. I taught school in Utah and Colorado, schooled my own children at home, taught in a private school and now serve on the State Charter Board. I appreciate that there is not a one size fits all our children. I bring a unique perspective as I view education from many different view points.

Member Opinions

Member opinions provided to DLE are shared as a service to our members, but do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the group.

From group member Lonis S.:

Laura Collier Belnap. lbelnap@utahonline.org, www.laurabelnap.com

Laura has plenty of experience in education, having taught public school, currently running an on-line school and serving on the board of a state charter school. She believes in allocating existing funds better, rather than raising taxes to acquire more funding. She is comfortable with the Common Core Standards, but feels that teachers need more professional training to implement them better. She is concerned about the diminishing role of family involvement and recognizes that no public program can compensate for that. She believes that technology is a very supportive tool for students. She does not agree with the way our schools are currently being graded. She believes in parental choice for the education of their children and that the funds should follow the student. She does not believe that the governor should be appointing the state superintendent. She feels that school board elections should be non-partisan. She is a Republican. She supports learning at the local level and disagrees with the federal over-reach into our schools. She believes that money cannot be the ruling factor.

Mark Bouchard. mark.bouchard@cbre.com

Mark currently serves as the Chair of the Governors Education Excellence Commission. He was also the founding Chairman of Prosperity 2020. He believes he knows the consequences better than most if our children are not ready for today’s workforce. Mark supports Common Core and believes that they are higher standards, that they present a new and demanding environment and that they prepare students for college and career readiness. He believes our teachers need more professional development. He believes that a financial investment in higher standards will improve education. He believes that we need to hire an independent source to evaluate what our national and global ‘best practices’ should be. He disagrees with the current school grading system. He believes that the state superintendent should continue to be appointed by the state board, but that they should also consult with an outside entity. He believes in the tradition of the governor appointing school board members, although it was recently ruled unconstitutional. He is a Republican. He believes that the mistrust which exists between parents and the school board is due to a teacher morale problem because their work conditions are less than par. He believes that financial investment and earmarks will help alleviate this issue. He believes that renewing the No Child Left Behind Waivers was the right thing to do.

My Comments

This is a very controversial race. There were originally 70 candidates who applied for this position. After the majority had been weeded out and the governor chose the final two contestants, one of the dismissed candidates, Breck England, filed a law suit... and won. The judge ruled that this weeding out process was unconstitutional. However, only Breck England was re-added to the candidate list, not any of the others who had formerly been unconstitutionally dismissed. Within a week after his reinstatement, Breck England dropped out of the race and swayed all of his votes to Mark Bouchard.

When I read Laura Belnap’s questionnaire, I was not overly impressed. I was more impressed, however, after meeting her and listening to her speak. My greatest concern with her is that she is not willing to fight to rid us of the whole Common Core package. However, I believe her heart is in the right place and that she may be willing to listen and learn. Between the two, she is by far the better candidate. I found Mark Bouchard to be an arrogant man with no educational background other than the Governor’s Education Excellence Commission and Prosperity 2020, each of which is more of a business endeavor than an educational one. Nothing he said was remotely related to what benefits our children. All of his remarks were centered around how our children could benefit society.