Utah for Local Education

Candidate: Dave Thomas

Office: State School Board, District 4 (2016 PrimaryElection)

2016 Election Candidate Survey Questions and Answers

Candidate answers are presented exactly as received, including grammatical and spelling errors.

Q1: What are the three (3) most critical education issues in our state?

A1-1: A growing entry level teacher shortage

A1-2: Ensuring our students are college and career ready

A1-3: Putting our education financial house in order

Q2: Do you believe the Common Core State Standards (also known as the Utah Core) will prepare students to be college and career ready?

A2: Yes

Q3: Recently Governor Gary Herbert asked the State School Board to leave the Common Core and implement new statewide standards. As a member of the State School Board, would you support the Governor's request?

A3: Yes

Q4: Do you believe parents should be able to opt a student out of the statewide assessment tests and the State Longitudinal Database System?

A4: Yes

Q5: Do you believe Utah should provide universal pre-K education for children?

A5: Undecided

Q6: Do you believe public schools are adequately funded? If not, please briefly specify changes that should be made to provide appropriate financial support.

A6: No. The Education Fund, which is derived from income tax revenue, was intended to be used only by public education. In 1996, the Utah Constitution was amended to allow limited access to the Education Fund by higher education. Twenty years later, higher ed receives $1 billion from the Education Fund. We must stop that practice and use the Education Fund only for public education. I wrote an editorial, published in the Salt Lake Tribune, promoting this in January

Q7: With regard to the Federal Department of Education, do you support: A) Keeping it as it is, B) Changing it to a small research and advisory organization, C) Completely eliminating it, D) Other (please specify)

A7: Other. The DOE should have a limited scope. Block grant federal monies to the States and allow States to be the laboratories of innovation that they are. The DOE should audit federal funds for accountability and be a storehouse of best practices that States can voluntarily access.

Q8: If you want to clarify any of your answers, please do so here.

A8: Question 3 assumes multiple facts which are inaccurate. Governor Herbert did not call for getting out of Common Core. I had a 2 hour meeting with the Governor in which he stated that his letter did not call for that. What he did ask the State Board to do was to engage in a comprehensive review of the math and English standards. The second assumption is that Utah is in "Common Core". The State Board adopted the Common Core State Standards in math and English in 2010. The State Board comprehensively reviews, updates and upgrades standards on a 4-6 year cycle. Standard development is an ongoing work-in-progress. There are no perfect educational standards. The State Board adopted the Common Core standards because they were empirically of a higher quality than our existing standards. In 2013, the State Board conducted a comprehensive review, update and upgrade of the math and English standards. Substantive changes were made at that time. In April 2016 the State Board substantively amended the K-6 grade math standards (changing over 50% of the standards). Consequently, the Utah Core standards we have today are substantially different from the Common Core standards adopted in 2010. Understand that the State Board sets academic standards in 12 different subject areas, only two of which are math and English. I realize that the actual facts on the ground are different from the politics of education. What I told the Governor is what I have said publicly - I want the best standards. Therefore, I support a comprehensive review of the math and English standards, and support upgrading them, just as the State Board has been doing. Oft times, things get politicized for varying reasons. However members of the State Board have a fiduciary responsibility to the school children of Utah. They deserve robust, high quality academic standards. My commitment to Utah voters is to be continually open to upgrading our educational standards in order to provide the best education for Utah students. Over my 8 years in office, Utah's academic achievement has soared - going from on average a ranking of 29th in the United States to 12th. I favor reforms that work, including the upgrading of our educational standards in all 12 subject areas. Utah public education is on the rise and my intent is to promote ideas that continue that trajectory.

Q9: If you want to share a brief position on education issues, please do so here.

A9: I would invite you to read more about my positions on education through my website: dave4stateboard.com