As candidates for school board fill out the questionnaire, their responses will appear here. Click a name to read their detailed answers.
Name: Scott Smith
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Elect-Scott-F-Smith-107758570855515/about/
Race Type: State School Board
State Board Political Party: Republican
State School District #: District 15
School District & Seat:
What is the purpose of education?
Education in Utah should prepare children with the ability to become lifelong learners–people who are able to love, work, and act as responsible members of the community.
What is your vision of the future for education in Utah? How do we help families and children get the education they desire?
We need robust and vigorous options for parents and their children in the realm of education–traditional public education, true innovative charter schools, virtual education programs, blended formats, magnet schools and private schools. Parents can then decide the best options for their child. We need laws and support for all of these options. This will assist them in getting started and give them the ability to thrive as unique and innovative options. We will not force them to be the same as our failing traditional systems. I believe the free market created will force those underperforming entities to either become better or close. This will make way for improved systems.
As a school board member, you will bring to the position your own agenda you have campaigned on. What are the top 3 things you wish to see happen during your time on the board?
First, I would like to see increased parental choice and vigorous educational format options. Second, Teachers need to know that WE KNOW their value. They deserve to be supported as they educate and prepare our children for the future. Third, there is a need to eliminate the Nationalization of our schools by allowing not only a revised Common Core but other effective programs into our schools.
Some organizations believe members should drop all personal agenda’s when elected, how will you resolve any commitments you’ve made to voters during your campaign?
I have been very open and honest about my views and positions. I represent the parents, their children and our teachers. I believe if we focus on these areas and take the politics out, we can improve our education system in Utah.
In 2010, Utah adopted the National Common Core Standards and later adopted the national science standards. Since then, numerous data has showed that this was a step backward for education. As a state school board member, will you work to completely replace Common Core standards with something better?
In recent years, Utah has adopted a number of initiatives such as computer adaptive testing through SAGE and Aspire tests. What is your vision for how testing should function in Utah schools?
I do believe we need to test, especially in the form of benchmark testing for comprehension throughout the year. I also believe we need to have some way to gauge the effectiveness of teachers. However, I do not agree with any national standardized testing or even any of our statewide standardized testing. These end of year, high stakes tests, do not affect any part of the student’s grade. Their main purpose is to rate teachers and schools, which is not an effective approach. The students do not gain much from taking these tests except for learning how to take tests. The teachers miss out on valuable teaching time as they try to prepare all students for these tests. Instead of using these as blanket assessments, I would like to give the assessment power back to the districts, schools and parents. I truly believe parents will know if there is a good school or teacher. The market will push for reform or reward. We need to allow the district to review their teachers and most importantly allow the teachers to teach–the way we used to.
Explain your position on data privacy as it relates to education? Who should have access to student information and under what kind of controls?
The only individuals that need access are teachers, students and parents. I am not sure why this would be anything different.
There is a push to remove Utah’s abstinence-based education and replace it with a Comprehensive Sexuality Education program for K-12. Where do you stand on this issue?
I am absolutely against the push to use the more “woke” teaching of sex education. For example, because of a more comprehensive sexual education, I have read hundreds of stories (even from Utah) of children who in their adolescence, have changed their identities. Exposure to mature themes in sexuality is more than students at this age need to understand. It is important to educate. However making things like sexual experimentation normal, has an enormous effect on family and society.
What role does the federal government play in Utah schools?
I feel there is not a need for the Federal Department of Education. However, their existence is not our decision and our only way to make it work in our favor, is by voting and raising our voices. With that said, I do not believe federal mandates should be imposed, but again that is not our decision. As this is the case, there are almost always waivers or opportunities to file an appeal in court. I would work with the Legislature to limit any and all Federal interference. I would like to see a plan put together to eliminate all federal funds by replacing their federal programs with Utah programs.
What is your vision for technology in Utah schools, particularly with the massive cuts coming due to the Covid-19 lockdown actions depleting our resources?
We have learned a great deal because of Covid. We have found many schools that are still not prepared for implementing the amazing tool of virtual education. Many just have not been trained on how to use it. COVID and this unpreparedness has led to others dictating how and when to use virtual education resources. I believe a teacher should decide what virtual programs they want to use. We need to then support them by vetting many of these programs to help show the value. Teachers need appropriate training on how to effectively integrate them into the classroom so that students can excel. This brings excitement back into education for the students. Rather than having to wait on others to catch up with students who are ahead, or worse, have students left behind because they cannot understand. Virtual Ed allows the teacher to focus on those who need assistance and also to be creative in the classroom. Virtual Ed is just another support that allows teachers to teach and students to learn.
The State Board of Education had to recommend cuts to education funding at 2%, 5%, and 10% What would your budget cut priorities be?
The USBE was asked by the Legislature to go through a budget cutting exercise. However, instead of taking the responsibility themselves they gave it to the Office of Education to do this and then they brought it back to the Board. I believe this has been to the problem with the Board for years. They rely on the Office of Education to advise them on the direction they should go. Shouldn’t the teachers and districts be involved in what programs they could live without or areas they could have cut? I would have invited all parties to participate. Then the Board could have advised the Office of Ed on what could actually be cut without taking away needed resources.
There are many different roles in education. At the state level there are board members, the superintendent and USBE staff. In your opinion what are the differences between these roles?
The State Board should be known as the People’s Board. They vote them in. The Board then appoints the Superintendent and the Superintendent hires her staff. That is how the authority should be. But for years it has been the office of Education and Superintendent wielding the power and telling the Board and Legislature what is best for education in Utah. The Board needs to remember, starting on the first day of orientation, that all the employees in the Office of Education, work for the parents.
Utah law recognizes a fundamental liberty interest of parents in the education of their children with schools as a secondary support. As such, should Utah have a criminal compulsory education law? Please explain the reason for your answer.
Is the premise that if we did not have a law, parents would not send their children to school? I think it is proven over and over that this is not true. We have millions of children being homeschooled. Even the elite Hollywood pay to have their children either home tutored or attend private schools. I do not believe this is a necessary law and should be removed.
What is your relationship to the education establishment in Utah? UEA/USBA/PTA. Have they contributed to your campaign or endorsed you in any way? (if so, how?) What schools, districts, or organization’s do you feel need represention to the state board through your efforts?
My wife was the Founding Board member of Vista Elementary School in Ivins Utah. It has been successfully open for 10 years now and we have a fond place in our heart for it. I have spoken to many teachers and a few principles who have quietly said they would vote for me because they are discouraged by the system they have to teach in. I believe I have a unique advantage of being a part of the education system, but not being in the education system. I have not had any endorsement from educational groups or have had any group email their members to support me. I believe I can truly work with ALL to bring about the best for our educational system and not be tied down by organizations pushing agendas.