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Comments about ‘Salt Lake City school board member's complaint stirs controversy’

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Published: Friday, March 1 2013 7:08 p.m. MST

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one old man
Ogden, UT

Although I haven't personally seen this in Utah because I don't have any connection with that part of SLC, I have witnessed the fact that good teachers are often scarce in low income schools. Parents in upper class neighborhoods raise a fuss when a poor teacher appears. Parents in lower end neighborhoods either don't know or don't care.

But many years ago I was witness to a wonderful situation in Flagstaff, Arizona. South Beaver elementary school was literally on the wrong side of the tracks. But it had a faculty made up of the VERY BEST teachers in the school system. To teachers in Flagstaff, it was a real honor to be asked to teach at South Beaver. Thus, in a school containing virtually all the city's poorest children -- children from several ethnic and cultural backgrounds -- Hispanic, Navajo, Pueblo and others, children who spoke a number of languages -- were some of the highest achievers in the city when it came to standardized tests.

I had the privilege of presenting some special programs there and was constantly amazed at the lively interest and interaction of the students. It CAN be done.

tabuno
Clearfield, UT

While I can't verify the belief about the predominance of inexperienced teachers in westside schools in Salt Lake City, I do recall vividly as a former School Board member representing the westside in the 80s and 90s that the issue of poverty was one of the persistent and most difficult problems facing the schools I represented. Without additional support for these schools significantly above that which was provided to other schools, there was little possibility have many of the students in these schools would ever have the opportunity of a rising to their potential as other students. The politics of being a board member is a heavy burden to bear particularly as a minority Board member. Hopefully the public will be willing to speak out to see that their students are well represented.

metisophia
Ogden, UT

If it is true that more inexperienced teachers are found in west-side schools, the problem will only be exacerbated by the Legislature's proposal to publish test scores by teacher.

Many new teachers are in fact excellent, but when faced with criticism that impoverished children are not doing as well on ridiculous tests, they will seek other schools with fewer challenges.

Sad all around. Thanks for nothing, Legislature.

My2Cents
Taylorsville, UT

The teachers and schools have a valid argument in pay disparity and per pubil funding in Utah's education system.

Distribution records of funds and pay are BOE and district office and limited public information sites. Utah education system is very discriminatory in per pupil spending and teachers pay and its all based on parental income demographics.

Does East High, Olympus, and Roy high schools deserve $30,000 per pupil and West get $15,000 per pupil and schools in cedar city get $700 per pupil? Averaged per pupil figures for public are misleading to cover up the discrimination.

Teachers should apply for jobs through district offices where managers can put the subject and skills of teachers where they are needed.

Each school pays its teachers according to per pupil funding. Perhaps its time to segregate teachers and pay from the hands of the schools and have a centralized state pay system for all teacher in any school.

Equalize standard pay scales by subject same in every school. The same should be done with per pupil distribution of funds. This discrimination of distribution it why per pupil spending is so distorted.

Third try screen name
Mapleton, UT

Mr. Clara's actions are irresponsible and hint at a much larger problem.
As a school board member he is part of a corporate body. His is one vote on an on-going governing board. Surely, he can (and should) express his opinion openly in board meetings. He might even lobby within the board for votes to study the problem or, AS A BOARD, issue a complaint on itself.
But as a board member he should not act unilaterally. Further, he must adhere to previous actions of the board going back to the beginning. The board is a continuous entity and policies and practices already in effect when he was seated become his own policies and practices.
He has clearly gone "off the reservation" and should resign. Any other action implies that he is acting for the entire board. He has less latitude than a private citizen.
Additionally, his approach is far too extreme and may result in expensive litigation against the district. See the U-46 discrimination suit in Illinois that has cost the district $16 million to date. Our education dollars are too precious to be spent for such things.

one old man
Ogden, UT

Third try, it looks as though Mr. Clara has worked hard in a lopsided uphill political battle against entrenched policies.

Maybe we should be thanking him for having the courage to speak out in public.

Third try screen name
Mapleton, UT

@one old man
I respectfully disagree. My reasons are outlined above. If he wants to champion his cause, he must do so as a private citizen, not as a board member.
Let's say this complaint has legs. He cannot participate in any way when the board prepares its response. He has privileged information as a board member that he cannot disclose or even hint at to investigators.
How can the board operate with the plaintiff among them? It just doesn't work.

one old man
Ogden, UT

Third, sometimes we need whistleblowers no matter where they may be.

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