John Florez: Are school boards too insulated?

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  • squirt Taylorsville, ut
    March 4, 2013 11:47 a.m.

    Socratic, thank you for sharing your perspective but I must say that labeling teachers on the west side of the valley as ineffective based upon one test score is extremely irresponsible behavior. That is exactly what Mr. Clara has done.

    As a teacher in Salt Lake, I am very offended by this Board member's comments and actions and you should be concerned as well.

  • EJM Herriman, UT
    March 3, 2013 4:45 p.m.

    I would be interested in seeing the districts attendance numbers in those schools where they are under achieving. No one wants to address that issue in our schools but from current personal experience I can tell you that that one issue is what should be driving the discussion of successful schools versus less successful schools. I have numbers that are based on district attendance but my district doesn't want to discuss it.

  • The Socratic Salt Lake City, UT
    March 3, 2013 4:12 p.m.

    Mr. Squirt - from what I can tell, you have grossly misunderstood what is happening. Mr. Clara is questioning the high turnover of teachers in west side schools and asking why is that happening. He wants to provide teachers the resources to help teachers want to stay in west side schools. I know this because I have read the media accounts, I have read his blog and I have emailed him and talked to him on the phone about his stance. I just met him at our school last month. He is a very approachable and open person. I'll admit that he has a no-nonsense, type A personality that might rub others the wrong way, especially when you are standing in his way. The other board members just need to wake up and stop trying to shut him down and instead start working with him. As an educator of many years in a west side school, Mr. Clara is on the right path, we need to improve the conditions for teachers on the west side, why fight him on this?

  • RWSmith6 Providence, UT
    March 3, 2013 11:39 a.m.

    Schools in Helena MT, Denver CO and elsewhere have overcome the problem of the disparity between one area and another in the same district or city. It's called money. Being able to hire the best and brightest for the K-12 classroom requires adequate funding, and it excludes the undercompensation of teachers, the overloading of teachers (yes, classroom size and student load), and the underappreciation of teachers. Countries which are zooming past the United States in international testing all show one important similarity--great appreciation for teachers shown in every possible way, reward included.
    Utah has gotten by for years on too little. Now, with students' scores and evaluations of schools' success (or lack of it) readily available and uniformly showing deficiencies in our K-12 system, there can be no puzzlement.
    Money CAREFULLY infused can result in good things--like dozens of applications from near and far for every teacher opening, like 50% of teachers not leaving within their first five years, like students' scores in uniform tests soaring, not falling.
    Many books and articles are available that show exactly what I've said. Talking over problems has its place. So, too, money effectively employed.

  • squirt Taylorsville, ut
    March 3, 2013 8:02 a.m.

    Michael Clara along with Senator Stephenson and Mr. Florez reduce the definition of effective teaching to a single test score. The public shaming of our dedicated Utah teachers based upon one test score-which by the way is testing the old core not the common core being taught now in schools-has begun.

    Students will suffer as the most needy students-who also happen to be in many of the schools Mr. Clara so ardently defend-will likely lead to educators who do not want to teach them because of the public slamming of their dedicated work based upon a single test score.

    We must address the comprehensive needs of our students if we expect them to achieve. This includes poverty, health care, second languages etc. You could take the most senior teacher with amazing "test scores" from an east side school and place them in a high-needs school and the results would be the same. It is a shame that a school board member does not recognize the needs of the students he represents.

  • The Socratic Salt Lake City, UT
    March 2, 2013 11:15 p.m.

    I'm not a regular Des News reader. So I am surprised at the attack comments towards Mr. Flores. I teach in the Salt Lake City School District and Mr. Flores is right on, to be calling out the Salt Lake City School District. Our new school board member, Mr. Clara is actually standing up for teachers and is asking for more resources and assistance for west side teachers and the rest of the board members shut him down. Who was it that said "suffer the little children to come unto me for of such is the kingdom of heaven". Thank you Mr. Clara wanting nothing but the best for west side children. Many of the teachers are cheering you on, but we can't speak out for fear of retribution from the district. We appreciate you visiting our school on a regular basis, we know that you care. Thank you to Mr. Flores for calling it like it is, don't let these 'east-siders' bring you down- keep writing about education, you are spot on!

  • twells Ogden, UT
    March 2, 2013 11:12 p.m.

    Can anyone explain why we need a school board? The members are not teachers and are not involved in the classroom. What do they do and how has this system improved education? It is like an army being led by a group of private citizens not trained in combat.
    We have to many people trying to justify their positions and get in the way of educating students. The teacher know what works-they are in the trenches fighting the good fight. We have dumbed down education because of all the political agendas and do-gooders that get in the way.

  • Monsieur le prof Sandy, UT
    March 2, 2013 11:06 p.m.

    I think Mr. Flores has a point about school boards, but his example is poor. To have a board member make an unsubstantiated comment about poor teachers on the west side without empirical evidence isn't helpful. It didn't sound like a cover-up as much as a return to the purpose of the meeting.

    It's obvious that good teachers and good teaching methods are important to the progress of the student, but as a classroom teacher of 40 years, I can testify that some students resist the best that one can offer and fail through no fault of the teacher.

    Having said that, bureaucracy and inertia are major obstacles to progress, and school boards sometimes make and follow ridiculous policies that hinder educational purposes. But I'm sure most do the best they can. I know of one board member that quit because of the board's obstinancy and refusal to make intelligent decisions.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    March 2, 2013 7:12 p.m.

    I wish Mr. Florez would stop sounding off on education. His points of view are most often absurd, absent of real research and not helpful to bringing forth positive change.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    March 2, 2013 6:20 p.m.

    "Most women that I know earn teaching degrees so they can get off work in time to take care of their children. Then, they also have holidays and summers off as a family. If they want an additional part time job, they can tutor. They don't have to pay for sitters in the morning when their children reach about 4th grade. Teaching is all about convenience. It has nothing to do with whether you are good at it or not."

    That is, with all due respect, a very silly statement. Its writer has obviously never been a teacher.

    March 2, 2013 1:16 p.m.

    I think people generally mean well but it is uncomfortable and somewhat difficult to change any bureaucracy. School district administrations and their boards seem to be one of the worst bureaucracies we have created in America as far as being insular and self-serving.

    They generally seem to be out of touch with the poorer schools in their area, overlook the most effective changes as being too much change, too fast; and go to great lengths to maximize their own personal gain, such as making sure long-term employees get promoted to the highest level possible before retirement in order to maximize retirement benefits.

  • hoosibob St. George, UT
    March 2, 2013 10:53 a.m.

    Cover up? Whew boy, now that's a stretch. I'm a little tired of conservatives, like Mr. Flores, who observe a conspiracy at the mere suggestion that you need to look at the students (and their home lives) AS WELL as the teachers in evaluating achievement. This is why I ultimately left the Republican party. They are agenda driven to the point of dishonest debate.

    Mr. Florez, there could be a variety of reasons why some schools score lower on achievement tests than others. Automatically assuming that it is entirely the teacher's fault is overly simplistic and lacks intellectual integrity. It smacks of the right-wing agenda that public schools are de facto bad schools and the only answer is to privatize education.

    If you REALLY want to find answers, do a little more research before making outrageous claims of conspiracy and cover up. Maybe those "veterans" really do know what they are talking about.

  • sally Kearns, UT
    March 2, 2013 10:14 a.m.

    Most women that I know earn teaching degrees so they can get off work in time to take care of their children. Then, they also have holidays and summers off as a family. If they want an additional part time job, they can tutor. They don't have to pay for sitters in the morning when their children reach about 4th grade. Teaching is all about convenience. It has nothing to do with whether you are good at it or not. Also, those who have taught on the west side versus the east side, the biggest difference is the expectations and traditions of the family. Being pro education requires effort.

  • ShortGuy West Jordan, UT
    March 2, 2013 9:44 a.m.

    I think that there are way too many board members that are there for their own agenda. How about reserving a couple of those spots for some of the best teachers in the district that are in the actual classroom?