2020 SB Candidate Responses

As candidates for school board fill out the questionnaire, their responses will appear here. Click a name to read their detailed answers.

Name: Jerry Haslam
Email: haslamforgraniteschoolboard@gmail.com
Website: http://haslamforgraniteschoolboard.com
Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/haslamforgraniteschoolboard
Race Type: District School Board
State Board Political Party:
State School District #:
School District & Seat: Granite School District Precinct 2

What is the purpose of education?

Public education’s first mission is to provide everyone with equal opportunity to develop both the practical skills that will be needed as a strong foundation for careers, and for a liberal arts and art-based background to develop the interpersonal and thinking skills to serve students through the rest of their life.

What is your vision of the future for education in Utah? How do we help families and children get the education they desire?

We must continue to assess the needs of families in the Granite School District, and from those observed needs, we must be prepared with the flexibility to best serve those children. It will be more important than ever moving forward in these uncertain times, that we are prepared to think outside the box in how we deliver a balanced curriculum.

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, in light of the current COVID situation, a top priority is to reduce class sizes for the safety of students and teachers. Second, I believe it’s vitally important to bring back fine arts education at the elementary level. Last, I think we need to take an honest assessment of the ways in which minority students are are served in our schools, and a stark evaluation of the curriculum in multiple subjects at multiple grade levels to evaluate its accuracy with regards to systemic racism and its honesty in approaching the historical realities of American society. We cannot ensure that all students are treated fairly and equitably without reckoning with this reality.

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’m an honest, straightforward person, which can be easily verified by the many educators and families I worked closely with during my time as an administrator in Granite School District. My approach has always been pragmatic, ground-level solutions that result in material, measurable results.

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 current Utah standards with parental involvement to just improve them.

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?

Testing should be done via multiple tools, allowing for the student to prove their mastery of the curriculum in different ways and mediums. I don’t believe that one test fits all, and we’re shortchanging our students by focusing so hard “teaching to the test.”

Explain your position on data privacy as it relates to education? Who should have access to student information and under what kind of controls?

Student information should be layered, with the requisite information available to teachers, counselors, and administrators depending on need. Counselors and administrators especially will need access to a broad spectrum of student data in order to best serve their needs. Parental/guardian releases are very important for any manner of release of student data, and stringent IT protections need to be maintained around that data.

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?

My absolute first priority is the health and safety of students, and on this topic, I think going with data-backed best practices for sex education is what the district should enact. Whatever method or curriculum is proven to keep students healthiest is exactly what I would want taught. Parental notification and involvement in this curriculum is crucial, in order to respect the needs of different backgrounds.

What role does the federal government play in Utah schools?

The federal government provides title money to ensure the equity of our education for students of all different backgrounds. Every student has the right to fair and appropriate education, and the federal government provides funding aimed at protecting the rights of students.

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?

This may be the time that we must provide school-provided computers to students across the district. It’s a difficult balance in terms of budgeting, but in light of the ongoing difficulties with COVID, computer access for all students would provide with creative means to reduce class sizes in some areas, and ensure that no student is denied an education in case of further closures. I believe we can re-allocate certain funds in the district to make this possible.

The State Board of Education had to recommend cuts to education funding at 2%, 5%, and 10% What would your budget cut priorities be?

Schools in Utah have been working on shoe-string budgets for many years, and I would strongly advocate that no further cuts happen. Extracurriculars such as sports have already been cut so badly that many are a “pay to play” system, funded by activity fees from families. It’s very difficult to see where to further cut, but I would probably first look at staff such as hall-walkers and teachers’ aides to see if they could be streamlined. If these severe budget cuts are enacted, we may need to look at limiting elective courses. I would hate to see that, but it would allow us to ensure that primary courses such as math and English are not cut so far that students’ education outcomes are affected.

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?

To make an analogy, the Superintendent functions as an executive decision maker, while the Board of Education more closely resembles a legislative body, whose responsibility is to the parents and students of their respective communities. Their staff function as data collectors and are tasked with ensuring districts follow through with policy.

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.

I’m a firm believer that schools should be set up in a way that students and their families *want* to attend, rather than being compelled to. The ultimate responsibility of schools is to produce young people with the critical thinking skills and background to become productive members of their communities, and if a student or their family doesn’t want to attend school, we should be finding out why, and what we can do to provide them with what they need. In my experience this approach works far better than punitive measures.

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?

I am not accepting donations or endorsements of this nature to my campaign, but as a former educator, I worked with all three listed organizations, though I worked more closely with the GEA (Granite Education Association) than the UEA. In 2009, I received the Region 5 PTA Principal of the Year Award from the local PTA. Because I’m running for District Board rather than the state board, my main objective is representation of the community of my precinct.

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