Tell your county officials that parents have the right to weigh the risks and benefits for their children and make the appropriate health choice. Your county officials have the power to immediately terminate any health order.
We have several opportunities to make our voices heard on current education issues.
Action items: 1) Contact your school district leadership and local school board members and ask about their plans to spend federal funding (ESSER III) to mitigate the effects of Covid. 2) Send in Public Comment for the new board rule on "Educational Equity" AND... 3) Contact your local district to ask what after-school programs and summer programs will be promoted locally with federal funds.
CALL TO ACTION #1 Background- The American Rescue Plan (ARP or ESSER III funding), enacted in March, provides K-12 schools in the United States with more than 122 billion dollars of money to help reopen schools and mitigate learning loss due to Covid. Utah's portion is more than 600 million dollars in education funding. District amounts can be found here. https://schools.utah.gov/File/d8372892-dc6e-47de-acc9-bb185ccfdead
What do parents need to know? (The below information was compiled to help parents educate themselves on the ARP funding for local school districts. Respect and thoughtful consideration must be used as you work with local district personnel and local board members. Working with people is far easier than working against them. Proactive positive interactions by parents will result in greater transparency and respect for all involved.)
First, Parents are the primary stakeholders and are encouraged to give input on the spending plan for federal funding. Listed below are some of the federal requirements. -The ARP ESSER funds require that an LEA engage in meaningful consultation with stakeholders in the development of this plan. -The LEA will assure that the public has been provided the opportunity to provide input to the LEA ARP ESSER plan -that the LEA has taken the public input into account - and that the local school board has adopted the LEA’s plan for the use of ARP ESSER funds in an open and public meeting.
Second, this money will be spent on your children, make sure it is what you want to see implemented in your community! (the full grant application for local districts can be found here https://schools.utah.gov/file/f0049a56-77e4-4230-bbae-25ad3fe86fd1) Page 1 indicates Utah's priorities Page 2-3 highlights the federal uses of the funding Each community is different and has unique needs. State or federal governments will often provide a list of recommended ways to spend the money, but local districts can choose how the funding will be spent as long as it stays in a certain framework.
Important note- Social-Emotional Learning or SEL is found throughout this application. There is considerable controversy over what exactly SEL is or is not. Some SEL models focus on goal setting, how to control emotions, breathing techniques, friendship-making, etc. Others focus on changing the beliefs and dispositions of children, teacher discussions on controversial topics, and identity politics often using Critical Race Theory as a method of implementation. USBE's priority includes SEL. Several keywords have been added to better inform policymakers on ways to use the funds "Student mental health and social-emotional needs including student health foundations and protective factors". A few children need counseling and mental health services, but most children need health foundations and protective factors. This language is proactive and preventative in nature. Building academic confidence in all children is a strong protective factor. Additional resources are listed at the bottom of the email for further reference and consideration. The point is: know what your local school is doing in the area of SEL and make sure it aligns with your family's values without seeking to transform or change them to align with political movements.
Page 8 LEA Safe Return to In-Person Instruction Commitment
-this section on the application addresses Covid mitigation. Utah is ahead of most states in this area, by law, the local authorities, not state or federal authorities, are to make decisions for their schools. So responses to the application might look like this: "We will continue to emphasize washing hands, we will consider information and respond to the needs of our local community members, or we will adhere to state law concerning vaccinations including-Utah Code 78B-4-517, Utah Code 26-1-33 and https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title53G/Chapter9/53G-9-S303.html?v=C53G-9-S303_2021050520210505". The language must be right on your district's application as federal funding will be tied to the comments made in this section and possible funding attached to it as well. So compliance will be expected.
* In the application it asks for the greatest needs in a community. Listed below are two possible ways to find root causes of learning loss so accelerated learning can take place.
Taken from Utah's Turnaround programs. https://www.schools.utah.gov/file/0661922d-d4dc-419f-b462-01acae3b070b Pages 102 and 103 give examples of how to use the root cause analysis. • The Fishbone Diagram, also known as an “Ishikawa Diagram” or a “Cause and Effect Diagram” was developed by Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa at the University of Tokyo in 1943. The diagram includes a central spine and several branches which resemble a fish skeleton. 10 The spines are used to represent categories that may cause the problem (e.g., curriculum, infrastructure, instruction, students, teachers, etc.). It is a useful graphic organizer for helping SST and SLT members brainstorm possible causes for a particular problem.11 •
"The Five Whys” is used to move past symptoms and understand the root cause of a problem. By asking “why?” five times in succession, team members can delve into a problem more deeply. By the time they answer the fourth or fifth “why?” they are likely to be looking at the root cause of the problem.
Review Action Item 1 Contact local school leadership and ask about ARP funding. Ask how you can help. Consider individuals in your community who have been greatly impacted this last year and recommend ways to increase excellence in education. Ask about SEL practices in your school. Check to make sure that the language in the Covid Mitigation section aligns with the parents in your community.
CALL TO ACTION #2 Background-USBE recently passed a rule dealing with "Educational Equity". The rule sought to address an advisory committee's recommendations to apply "Anti-racist" ideology into educator training not all agreed with this direction. Additionally, the Utah Legislature had concerns regarding Critical Race Theory and so they pass ed a resolution on "Critical Race Theory in Public Education" https://le.utah.gov/~2021X1/bills/static/SR0901.html
Recommended strategy for contributing to public comment. 1. Read through the rule. https://schools.utah.gov/File/26443335-a4c1-4ab3-ba8d-098808d22f25 2. Familiarize yourself with the way it is set up: Authority and purpose; Definitions; Professional Learning; Curriculum and Classroom Instruction; and Interpretation. 3. Consider these questions: What are the strengths of this rule? What are the areas of improvement needed for implementation? Will this professional learning improve education for children in Utah? Are there changes that would improve the rule? 4. Construct a concise and thoughtful email. The email may contain law, research, or exact word changes to the rule. You might share a story about you or a child and how you have been impacted by equity training. If there is something you like about the rule please include that as well. 5. Public Comments should be less than a page long. Concise, complimentary, critiqued, and to the point. Link for public comment (ends July 31) https://adminrules.utah.gov/public/search/R277-328/Proposed%20Rules
Some thoughts to consider concerning the rule: R277-328-2(5)(a) and R277-328-3(2)(d): Student's feelings are addressed twice in the document: in the definition of inclusion and the professional learning section "showing due regard for feelings". Can a school address a student's "feelings" as these are subjective? R277-328-3(1): The current rule mandates training by using the word "shall". Should this training be mandatory? R277-328-3(2)(e): Can we acknowledge what we have in common by focusing on diversity? R277-328-3(3) (a-d): This section comes from the resolution cited above by the Utah Legislature. Does it adequately protect from divisive theories? If so acknowledge your support. R277-328-3(5): This section serves as a protection for families. Does this language meet your expectations? What would you like to see in the rubric? R277-328-4(1): Some have had concerns with section 1, it allows divisive concepts to be taught if it goes through a public comment and approval process in a local school district. What are your thoughts? R277-328-4(4): What type of formal complaint process would be effective for violations of this section? R277-328-5(1)(b): In this section, it states that "one ideology is not to be promoted over another". There are concerns that Marxism and Capitalism are considered equal ideas. Is this language usable or should it be changed?
Review Action Item 2: Send in public comment on Rule R277-328 "Educational Equity" this week.
CALL TO ACTION # 3
Background: Utah was given ARP money for after-school and summer learning (12 million in total). Sometimes organizations that promote Critical Race Theory or Comprehensive Sexuality Education can work their way into after-school and summer programs. So it is good to be aware of what is being funded and promoted from your school.
Review Action Item 3: Ask about the after-school and summer programs in your area. Check to make sure they meet community standards. Refer an organization to the application process to be part of this program.