As candidates for school board fill out the questionnaire, their responses will appear here. Click a name to read their detailed answers.
Name: Kristan Norton
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/VoteNorton2020
Race Type: State School Board
State Board Political Party: Republican
State School District #: District 15
School District & Seat:
What is the purpose of education?
The purpose of education is to prepare our citizens to obtain the skills and knowledge to live a full, happy and productive life. There are many sources where students obtain that education, most importantly from their family. The right to a free and public education provided to citizens in our country is the education provided in our public and charter schools.
What is your vision of the future for education in Utah? How do we help families and children get the education they desire?
In my vision, students in Utah will have access to a system that will deliver them the knowledge and skills in a method that best helps them learn the material. Upon completion, the knowledge and skills will be of a rigor and quality that will prepare the student to be able to obtain or create a means to support themselves and to be a contributing member of society.
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?
• More educational decisions will be made that the Local Education Agency (LEA) or school level
• State resources will be distributed equitably throughout the state
• Vision statement will continue to be revised and updated to meet the ever-changing needs of our students
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?
Running a grassroots campaign, I have not made commitments to anyone. Instead, I have laid out the vision I have for education. I will continue to listen to my constituents and represent their concerns and be a conduit of information to and from my district.
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?
I’d like to do a review of them with parental involvement
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?
From my classroom experience, I believe we are at a point where parents, teachers, administrators and state officials need to collaborate together and revisit the objective for testing and how this can best be accomplished. I have seen such “testing-exhaustion” from the students that it undermines the validity of much of our testing. A paper/pencil test has many advantages that have not been replicated on computers and therefore diminish the effectiveness of these tests. We are seeing more and more of the computer adaptive testing in the classroom each year.
Testing is an important part of the education process, but not the most important. I believe our kids need more time learning, and less time testing. As students demonstrate their understanding of a concept, testing is one way to provides information to the teacher as how to adapt their curriculum to reteach, review, enrich or to move on to a new objective.
State tests hold teachers and schools accountable for the work they have done during the year, ensuring that time spent in the classroom is productive. However, if information is reliable and results are readily available, it also has the opportunity to provide schools, teachers and parents with insight as to how learning can be improved, strengthened and what specific skills this student needs at this particular time.
Explain your position on data privacy as it relates to education? Who should have access to student information and under what kind of controls?
As an educator I am bound to protect the privacy of all student records through the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The only people that should have access to student information are parents (for students under the age of 18), their current teacher(s) and those education officials who have a direct involvement with that student.
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 do not agree that with removing Utah’s abstinence-based education nor do I agree with a comprehensive sexuality education program for K-12. Childhood is a precious time and I hold a strong belief that as adults we have a responsibility to protect a child’s innocence and allow them to be children as long as possible.
What role does the federal government play in Utah schools?
The federal government provides much-needed funding and educational services to Utah schools. In doing so, they also have mandates that the educational system is required to comply with. If it were possible to eliminate this financial resource and its associated requirements through finding a way to assess property tax on the federal lands, or other methods, I would strongly support such actions.
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?
Going forward, I envision that technology will always have a place in Utah schools. I feel, however, that technology’s place is to be a resource for students to access new opportunities for learning. An example of this would be a tool to help Utah students gain much needed technological skills to compete for the highly sought-after jobs which are being created here in our state. Another example would be to give students experience using the software that is an important part of the business world. I do not feel that technology should take the place of highly effective teachers nor should it be the primary method of testing.
The State Board of Education had to recommend cuts to education funding at 2%, 5%, and 10% What would your budget cut priorities be?
Those expenses which are non-essential, temporary or provide luxuries should be in the 2% cuts. Our state was able to budget for a few of those expenses lately due to the robust economy. That picture has changed and it’s time to give up those activities, expenditures and/or supplementary incidentals.
On the 5% list would be those items which are important and helpful to run the LEA, but do not directly impact the students. Travel, expansion, scheduled upgrades, are examples of budgetary items on this mid-level list.
The 10% cut would then get in to essential areas that might impact the classroom. Some supplies, equipment, and programs would be on trimmed if our system is impacted long term.
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?
There is a distinct difference between the board members, the superintendent and the staff. For me the natural comparison comes from my experience at SkyWest Airlines where I have been employed for over thirty years. The stockholders of this publicly held corporation have elected a board of directors to oversee and direct the corporation which is much the same as the voters of the State of Utah electing board representatives to the USBE. The Utah State Constitution has outlined that the board shall “exercise general control and supervision” over the public education system. In both cases the board members are accountable to those voters who elected them. Both organizations appoint someone to administer the directives of the board. In a corporation, that is generally a company president or CEO and at the USBE that position is the State Superintendent. Finally, both entities employ a diversified staff that perform the necessary tasks to keep the day to day operations flowing smoothly and provides the executive and the board with the information they will need to make informed decisions.
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.
As noted, Utah gives parents a fundamental liberty interest with their own children, so they have the right to decide how their children’s education needs will best be met. Our Nation has also established a precedence of protecting children’s rights until they are old enough to make that choice for themselves
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?
As a teacher, UEA has reached out to me and asked me to complete their questionnaire and accept their PAC money. I have declined their offer and they have not endorsed me. I have also declined their offer to help with my campaign. I have made it very clear to this and other special interest groups that I would not accept their offer to help. I am running a campaign that is made up of a grassroots group of family and friends.
The USBA has not contributed to my campaign, nor endorsed me in anyway. In the past, as an experienced teacher, I have provided professional development to teachers throughout the state and consulted with USOE to provide my expertise as they worked to improve education for students.
I have been a long-time member of PTA both as a parent and as a teacher. I am currently serving on my school’s PTA council. PTA has neither endorsed me, nor contributed to my campaign.
The only group that I will officially represent on the board are the children of the state of Utah. Every vote I make will be after considering what is best for Utah’s students.