June 2017 Newsletter

Dear Friends:
Over the last weeks, many of us have had the pleasure of attending high
school graduation ceremonies across the state. We want to congratulate
those students on their achievements and wish them a successful future.

As a Board, we will continue to meet throughout the summer. Some of
our current initiatives include examining the educator licensing process,
reviewing required high school graduation credits, preparing to submit the
Consolidated State Plan for ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) to the U.S.
Department of Education, and working to identify barriers that prevent
educational excellence in our schools. We look forward to working with
many of you on these important issues.

We meet again on July 13-14 and invite the public to join us. As always,
feel free to reach me at michellekboulter@gmail.com or 435-668-0758.

May 2017 Newletter

Please take the time to look over the newsletter and share any feedback that you might have!

Dear Washington County Parents:

Dear Washington County Parents:

It has come to my attention that the “alternative” test being given to your child if they opt out of SAGE is in fact still the SAGE test, just not recorded. This is happening in MANY of our schools and is an outright attempt to subvert your rights as a parent..

I am sharing with you State Law and our Board Rule so that you can be aware and better defend your divine right.

1- It is against the law for ANY points to be given towards a student’s grade regarding SAGE testing. Pay close attention to the word reward- This includes participation points for taking SAGE, prizes given for SAGE scores, and field trips awarded for high SAGE scores.

https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title53A/Chapter15/53A-15-S1403.html

c)An LEA:

(i)shall follow the procedures outlined in rules made by the State Board of Education under Subsection (9)(b) to excuse a student under Subsection (9)(a);

(ii)may not require procedures to excuse a student under Subsection (9)(a) in addition to the procedures outlined in rules made by the State Board of Education under Subsection (9)(b); and

(iii)may not reward a student for taking an assessment described in Subsection (9)(a).

2- It is against Board Rule to use the SAGE test to determine a student’s grade. The test can not be used to determine if your child can or can not take an AP class. If you are being told this, it is against Board Rule.

https://rules.utah.gov/publicat/code/r277/r277-404.htm#/E6

R277-404-6 School Responsibilities:

(1) An LEA, school, or educator may not use a student’s score on a state required assessment to determine:

(a) the student’s academic grade, or a portion of the student’s academic grade, for the appropriate course; or

(b) whether the student may advance to the next grade level.

3- Some LEA’s are using what is written here regarding an alternate assessment as a green card to offer it to all students. That is not the case. Read it carefully and you will see that you may exercise the right to exempt your child from a state required assessment, this includes any alternative assessment that your school claims is required by the State.

https://rules.utah.gov/publicat/code/r277/r277-404.htm#/E7

R277-404-7 Student and Parent Participation in Student Assessments in Public Schools; Parental Exclusion from Testing and Safe Harbor Provisions.:

(1)(a) Parents are primarily responsible for their children’s education and have the constitutional right to determine which aspects of public education, including assessment systems, in which their children participate.

(b) Parents may further exercise their inherent rights to exempt their children from a state required assessment without further consequence by an LEA.

(2) An LEA shall administer state required assessments to all students unless:

(a) the Utah alternate assessment is approved for specific students consistent with federal law and as specified in the student’s IEP; or

(b) students are excused by a parent or guardian under Section 53A-15-1403(9) and as provided in this rule.

(3)(a) A parent may exercise the right to exempt their child from a state required assessment.

 

Advocating for Parents

One of my favorite things about serving on the State School Board is touring our local schools and meeting the wonderful administrators in our area. During one such meeting, the topic of my recent radio interview with Kate Dalley regarding a parent’s right to opt out of the SAGE test came up. The administrators were concerned that I had relayed a few of Utah’s laws regarding parental rights to the radio listeners. In discussing the merits of parental rights, they felt that parents didn’t know what was best for their children. They tried to reason with me that it was better for school administrators to keep parents from fully understanding parental rights laws in order to protect the schools.

Until this moment, it never occurred to me that someone could be offended by laws that advocate for parents, let alone our own, public school administrators. Yet, throughout the meeting, it became clear that there are administrators in our own community that truly believe that their educational background and experience take precedence over parents in making decisions for the children of Southern Utah.

Now that I have a better understanding of what some local administrators believe, I would like to know the following:

1- What guidelines do local administrators use to assess what is in the best interest of the child and how do they regard the expertise of the parents as they make these assessments?

2- What measurements do the administrators use to decide if the parents are qualified to make educational decisions for their own children?

3- Will parents only be regarded as competent if they agree with the administrators?

4- What laws or statutes endow administrators with the power to decide a parent’s worthiness to make decisions regarding the education of their children?

5- Who are administrators accountable to if they make decisions for a child that end up negatively impacting that child?

Parents, please talk to your school administrators and make sure they understand that the family is the fundamental unit of society. We are grateful for school officials that serve our community at the pleasure of the parents.

May 2017 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

As the school year winds down, the Utah State Board of Education expresses appreciation to the students, families, and educators who help move the public education system toward excellence each day. We are grateful for your service and passion and especially want to thank teachers as May 8-12 is National Teacher Appreciation Week. In our May meeting, we began amending, creating, and repealing rules due to 2017 legislative changes to statute. Those reviewed so far are summarized in this newsletter. We meet on June 1-2 and invite the public to join us at 250 East 500 South. Feel free to reach me at:

michellekboulter@gmail.com or 435-668-0758.

Please take the time to look over the newsletter and share any feedback that you might have!

May 2017 Newsletter

Vote to elect Boulter

Vote on November 8th to #ElectBoulter! I will uphold the tenants of parental rights and local control of education.

“Boulter believes that under current educational reforms, parents come in last.”

“’There is a trend of lumping parents into a list of ‘stakeholders’ in their children’s education. This is wrong. We have a duty to work closely with parents who see the effects of state and local board decisions in the lives of their children,’ she said, adding that while the support of other stakeholders is appreciated, they should never be placed on equal footing as a parent.”

Read more here!

It is an honor and a privilege to receive an endorsement from former GOP candidate Jonathan Johnson.

“Michelle Boulter is a dedicated conservative who understands and champions parents’ role in education. She knows that parents know best.  Michelle is decidedly against one-sized fits all education, the federal Common Core standards and mandatory SAGE testing.  She will be a strong advocate for local control.  I whole-heartedly endorse Michelle for the Utah State School Board.  She will represent District 15 and Utah families and students well.” –  Jonathan Johnson, Chairman Overstock.com and former GOP candidate for Governor

State School Board UAPCS Questionnaire

I am the parent

Recently I was asked by UAPCS to fill out a questionnaire which will be published on their site. I have also posted my response here on my website.

  1. In your opinion, what are the two most important functions performed by the State Board of Education? First: Parents are the primary educators of their children and the State School Board exists to represent them. Second: The State School Board should always stand for and defend true local control.
  2. How does your experience qualify you to represent the residents in your district on the State Board of Education? I have been defending the family and parental rights at the United Nations and on the State and Local levels for the past three years. I’m not an expert in business and I’m not an expert in Charter schools, but I am an expert in defending the family and I believe that is what Utah needs now, more than ever.

As you know, the State Board of Education manages more than $4 billion per year in public education funds. Recently, it has come to light that the board, and its staff, have neglected critical finance and accounting matters. These miscalculations will likely take years to fix.

  1. First, what measures would you propose the State Board adopt, in order to prevent similar future problems? The real problem is that there is a lot of money to be managed by a few, part time State Board members. The answer is to put the money in the hands of the local school districts and allow them the option to contract with the State Office of Education for services rendered. 
  1. And second, what makes you uniquely qualified to assist in the correction of these errors? I am convinced that we need to hold firm to the guiding principle that the smallest or local level of government that can solve a problem should do so.
  1. The State Board of Education is unique in that its members are elected, and it has rulemaking authority. How would you approach the sometimes tedious process of writing, implementing, and enforcing education rules, all of which have the force of law?

When we implement policies and rules, we have to remember the ultimate law which is that the family is the fundamental unit of society…. As members of the State School Board implement policies and work with law makers we need to be the first to represent and protect the autonomy of the family. A good example of this is when dealing with attendance issues. A lot of well-meaning people would rather represent special interest groups like Attendance works rather than the families of Utah.  The State Board of Education should never implement rules and policies that come between parents and their children. It’s up to us as elected representatives to be the voice for the parents.

  1. Who do you believe should be the primary driver of education policy – the State Board of Education, the Legislature, or the Utah State Office of Education? The parents are the drivers of education policy and the State Board of Education are elected specifically to represent the parents.

 Why? Let’s look at each of these. The State Board and Legislature are both elected offices and when dealing with educational issues both should be representing the parents. The Utah State Office of Education is not an elected body and therefore does not have to come back for reelection and face the parents every 2 to 4 years. For this reason the Utah State Office of Education should not have any rule making abilities, their role should be strictly reserved to assisting local school districts who ask for their help.

  1. Charter schools and school districts have historically disagreed on a number of different issues. Those disagreements often manifest themselves at the State Board level. How would you manage disagreements between charter schools and school districts? The charter schools are succeeding because they work directly with the parents who choose their schools. Their student body is not mandated by where they live. I admire charter schools in that they work with parents in doing what is best for the child. These disagreements between the State Board and Charter schools are a perfect example of how State and Federal controlled money drives policy not innovation. Charter schools are using innovation to bring more school choice to families in Utah and I will work hard to maintain that Charter schools keep their autonomy to do what is best for their school and the families they serve.
  1. Over the years the State Board’s relationship with the Legislature has waxed and waned. How do you envision the Legislature and the State Board working together? This single issue is one of the most detrimental things to the prosperity of our children. We have too many voices affecting the education of a single student. How can this be possibly result in a productive education?  I hope to foster a relationship with the parents so that parents can work with the members of the Utah State Board to develop a working relationship with the legislature in making laws that best represent the parents.
  1. And what will you do specifically, to foster that relationship? I will work with the parents to develop a relationship with the legislature. Regular newsletters would be a powerful help for parents who want to know what is happening on the hill, but don’t have time to research.  This will also add a measure of transparency for the board.  Many parents want to be involved, but find it difficult, especially when our district is so far from Capitol Hill.
  1. Many students are working out of textbooks older than they are. How will you work to modernize public education, and ensure Utah students are prepared to succeed in an increasingly technology-driven economy? This is based off an assumptions that old textbooks are of no worth and the budget in the state of Utah can keep up with the constant changes in technology. This is where local control of curriculum, budget decisions and school choice comes in. If schools have the freedom to choose what works best for their students then whatever they choose will be most effective.
  1. In your opinion, what is the State Board’s role in shaping standards and assessment? No one running for this office knows every single child in our district personally. One size fits all could never fix any educational problem. It is then up to us to have faith in local schools and charters to know the children they teach and to adjust the curriculum as necessary. I hold as a firm principle that the smallest or lowest level of government that can solve a problem should do so: First, the family, then the community, then the city, then the county, and then the state.
  1. How do you plan to address the statewide teacher shortage, and what should the State Board do to help school districts and charter schools attract competent and effective teachers? Utah has some of the most amazing teachers in the world. Most have been trained in Utah schools and by Utah families with ethics of hard work, honesty and a love for the children they teach. It’s arrogance to assume that these fine teachers need to be told what to do and say in every situation. Micromanaging has never worked in any organization. If we want to help Utah children truly succeed let’s empower teachers to do what they do best and encourage them to come to the State school Board with what they need instead of the other way around.