The Provo-Orem area will have a new representative on the State Board of Education, succeeding Margaret Nelson, who chose not to run in District 8.
Competing for votes Tuesday in the district will be Lenora Plothow, a longtime PTA worker who has been involved in national education programs and who is a former liaison for rural schools with the Utah Legislature. V. Jay Liechty, her opponent, is a certified public accountant and on the faculty of LDS Business College.The district is in Utah County and includes Provo, Orem, Lindon, Pleasant Grove, Springville and the southwest part of the county, south of Provo and west of I-15.
In three other districts, incumbents are defending their seats against challengers:
District 2, where incumbent Keith R. Checketts, Logan, is facing William L. Garner, Huntsville, Weber County. Checketts is an employee of Utah State University and an expert on school testing. Garner retired last year as superintendent of the Ogden School District.
The district comprises Logan in Cache County, all of Rich and Morgan counties, and Weber County, except for the Washington Terrace-Uintah area.
District 4, where Ruth Hardy Funk hopes to overcome a challenge by Randall G. Harmsen. Funk is board vice chairwoman, past president of the Young Women organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and serves on several boards and commissions. Harmsen is a small-business owner and has been involved in education at all levels.
The district comprises Salt Lake City.
District 6, where incumbent M. Richard Maxfield is competing with Keith Henschen. Maxfield is a self-employed educational consultant and has served on state and national bodies concerned with education. Henschen is an educator with 23 years of experience in three states. He has taught at all levels and now is associated with the University of Utah.
District 6 comprises southeast Salt Lake County. Its western boundary is the Jordan River from Big Cottonwood Creek to 100th South and I-15 south of 100th South. The northern boundary starts at the Jordan River, follows Big Cottonwood Creek east to State Street, then southeast along Gordon Lane to 45th South, east to Seventh East, south to Big Cottonwood Creek, east to Highland Drive, south to 70th South, east of Wasatch Boulevard and north to Heughs Canyon.
Almost without exception, the candidates oppose the tax-limitation initiatives that also will be on the ballot Tuesday, although Henschen says he thinks a tax credit for parents of children who attend private schools might be workable. Their views on other education issues in Utah include:
The need for a state school board was challenged in the 1988 Legislature. How would you defend the board's existence?
Checketts: "The state board has an overall policy-setting responsibility that must be done by someone. If the board were not in place, the Legislature or some other body or forum would have to assume that responsibility. Throughout the country, experience has established a state board as the best body to set policy and overall direction."
Garner: "State policies should be decided by elected representatives (rather than by an appointed board as suggested in the Legislative debate.) The state board, however, should listen to local boards before acting on state policies."
Funk: "Forty-nine of 50 states have state school boards. They are essential to provide balanced leadership between statewide and local administrative concerns. They provide Utah with an independent, non-partisan, elected voice at the highest level of state government. They promote accountability and ensure uniform education opportunity for children in all parts of the state."
Harmsen: "The state board acts as a check and balance for the Legislature. It provides consistency and long-range planning and is an advocate for the educational needs of the entire state, both rural and urban. The board's presence discourages political manipulations of education by special-interest groups. It is a critical link in the system."
Maxfield: "The state board puts in place the guarantees for educational quality and equity across the state. But minimum standards cannot produce excellence. That is the task of local boards. Most important decisions should be made at that level. Without both boards, more educational decisions would be left to the state Legislature, with education further removed from parents."
Henschen: "If the state board were eliminated, only two alternatives would be available, neither of them viable. Local boards are not constituted to handle all facets of education, and chaos would be inevitable. Control by the Legislature is equally unacceptable due to the (short) length of their sessions and lack of continuity. The state board also is responsible for vocational education and rehabilitation."
Plothow: "A representative, elected board is a part of the democratic process. Those who serve should represent the local needs, interests and points of view of their constituents. The current process of election best represents the will and voice of the people."
Liechty: "Utah's Constitution gives general control and supervision of public education to the state board. The Legislature has encroached on the board's powers by defining specific use of money allocated to public education. The board members have the same powers within their defined area as legislators do in government in general. Constitutional powers should be restored to the board."
The state board is proposing a new strategic plan for education. What would be a more ideal system?
Checketts: "An ideal system would be one in which each could achieve at the highest possible level, where students and teachers could be recognized and rewarded for meritorious service. We should use the best tools available to us to enhance the learning abilities of each child. I would like to see basic universal values taught in the schools. Education should be a partnership among all aspects of society, with the child at the center."
Garner: "The strategic plan proposes a student-centered system, one of the reasons I am running for the board. An individual education plan for each student is a worthwhile goal if teachers are not saddled with extra paper work. Good teachers have always had an individual plan for each student, although they may not have written it down. It is evident we need to change emphasis from programs to retaining good personnel. We are losing the cream of our teachers. They should be rewarded with more pay and with respect for what they do."
Funk: "As a member of the Strategic Planning Commission, I have been fully involved in the development of the commission's work and its mission statement. I support that statement, which says, `Public education will empower students to participate meaningfully in society as competent, productive, caring and responsible citizens.' Education must be a partnership among parents, educators and the business community."
Harmsen: "The ideal education system would be a customer-based management system - an educational system that facilitates meaningful involvement and decision-making at the local level."
Maxfield: "The ideal education is one that prepares students to meet family, work-place and civic responsibilities in tomorrow's world. To do that, education must become more flexible and adaptive. Society has changed dramatically, and schools have not made compensating changes. We must give teachers a clear challenge and free their hands to get the job done."
Henschen: "Utah's educational system could benefit by some consolidation of administrative structure at state and district levels. We should teach for professional occupations, develop more computer abilities, help pupils overcome or deal with personal problems, emphasize knowledge in science, encourage lifetime learning, develop moral standards and the ability to speak and write effectively."
Plothow: "Some elements of an ideal system would be integration of effective reforms, more flexibility to address local needs, greater availability and use of technology, more involvement of teachers and administrators in decision making, more meaningful involvement between parents and schools and increased school-business partnerships."
Liechty: "Utah's education should step from the aircraft age into the space age. Electronic systems, including computer and two-way microwave communications, must be integral parts of education. The system must allow teachers to earn a more professional-level salary and students to progress at their own rates. Much of what we need to make changes is already available, it just needs to be integrated statewide.
Are there particular programs you want to see included in public education?
Checketts: "I would like to see more cost-efficient programs that tie the business community and education. I would like to see technology available to education and used to allow maximum learning to take place and relieve teachers of routine accounting. Students need better guidance to help them make good choices and reach their maximum potential."
Garner: "I believe that gifted students need to receive more attention. I would like to see them receive the same attention and funding as students in special-education classes."
Funk: "It is essential that we meet the needs of our youth who are at risk of educational failure, reduce and eventually eliminate dropping out both from schools and society. We must fully implement new technology, utilize differentiated staffing patterns and give teachers, students and parents help in knowing exactly where students need help and how they can be assisted.
Harmsen: "I would like to see students, teachers and parents get a greater voice in the schools, a strong system that involves the community in the process and keeps students in Utah following graduation. I would like to see the teaching profession strengthened by financially rewarding those who perform best. I would like to see a meaningful vocational curriculum that values and emphasizes this aspect of education, zero drug tolerance in the schools and a core curriculum for citizenship."
Maxfield: "We must alleviate the effects of class size on teachers and students. There are ways to do this that don't cost anything. We must implement effective school research, provide incentive funding for student progress and achievement, renew teaching as a profession and prevent teenage misbehavior. We now know the ingredients, including how to link academic and behavioral success."
Henschen: "We should implement `whole person' development curricular offerings, including artistic, physical and creative - talents other than memorization and regurgitation. Our children must be prepared for the future, not the past. Academic grades should not be the sole criteria for determining a successful public school education."
Plothow: "I am particularly impressed with the philosophies and practices of outcome-based education. I believe all students could benefit from it. I am concerned about the lack of arts education in some of our schools and believe equity for all students, through a broad-based core, is a priority concern."
Liechty: "Outcome-based education is a system of classroom management that is similar to management systems used in business. It tracks each student's progress and results in better evaluation of students, teachers and administration. With present systems, many students get through our schools without learning skills they need. OBE, if properly implemented, will make it possible for all students to learn all the skills they need for a happy life."