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UEA requests veto for three bills

3/23/2015

In a letter dated March 20, UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishabugh asked Utah Governor Gary Herbert to veto three bills that UEA believes “are poor policy choices for public education.”

HB197 (1st sub.): Educator Licensing Amendments allows individuals without education experience or a teaching license to become school administrators. “(Principals) are the instructional leaders directly responsible for ensuring that teachers are effective in their classroom practice and for achieving high student outcomes,” wrote Gallagher-Fishbaugh. “Importantly, principals are responsible for evaluating educators through observing instruction and providing specific feedback and resource for continual instructional improvement.”

SB235 (2nd sub.): Education Modifications identifies the lowest 3 percent of schools as determined by school grading and other factors, and requires remediation for those schools through an ‘independent school turnaround expert.’ Gallagher-Fishbaugh explains that there are numerous policy problems with this bill. First, she says, it is based on the grading schools model and the SAGE standardized test, which “was not designed to measure school performance and the question remains about the validity and reliability of the test.” She also expressed concerns about the bill’s references to ‘streamlined authority’ granted to school boards and funding for ‘highly-qualified independent school turnaround experts.’

SB116 (5th sub.): Public School Dropout Recovery creates expectations for school districts to provide services, but no new funding is provided. It also requires districts to contract with an outside provider if certain targets are not met. “The requirements of the bill are highly prescriptive and diminish local control,” wrote Gallagher-Fishbaugh.

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