Weekly Math Updates

January 9 , 2008


  • Legislation Coming Up
  • Media Articles

Hi folks,

I apologize to those of you that may have emailed me in the past month or so.  I try to respond to every email I get in a very timely manner, but I've gotten a little slack due to family and personal health concerns.  It now appears I've got my first ulcer (bacterially caused, not by stress :)) and so I've felt a lot like I had morning sickness and have come to appreciate my wife all the more.  I also had a case of the flu, a cold, and possibly food poisoning.  All in all, it was a Christmas to remember.  So there's my excuse, I know it's weak, but...I guess it's the only excuse I have.   I just got on a pack of anti-biotics so hopefully I'll be a little better able to respond and have the energy I used to pretty soon.

As we prepare for the next legislative session about to start in just over a week, there are some bills we'll be watching closely.  Some of them have been posted and you can go check them out so here's quick summaries and links:

Math Task Force Bill sponsored by Senator Howard Stephenson
This is the bill we've been waiting for that will establish move Utah's new standards to a world-class level.  Here's the substance of what this bill will do:

 (1) The task force shall first review and make recommendations on the following
             67      issues:
             68          (a) mathematics education in the state, including building upon best current practices
             69      and recently revised items;
             70          (b) world-class mathematics standards for the state, including a comparison with
             71      standards established in other states and nations;
             72          (c) the state's mathematics core curriculum;
             73          (d) mathematics testing;
             74          (e) professional development of mathematics educators;
             75          (f) the recruitment of quality mathematics educators;
             76          (g) methods to improve students' mathematics performance, including reducing the
             77      need for remedial courses in both public education and higher education; and
             78          (h) the articulation of mathematics education and courses between public education
             79      and higher education.
             80          (2) As time permits, the task force shall review and make recommendations on issues
             81      relating to science and technology education.

Differentiation Pay for Teachers by Senator Stephenson

             21      requires a school district or charter school to provide a salary supplement of $5,000
             22      to a teacher who fills a mathematics or science position for which there is a critical
             23      shortage of qualified personnel.

Extended School Year Incentive by Senator Stephenson

The substance of this bill is designed to have professionals who are well qualified that want year-round employment, be enticed to become a teacher and have greater pay by working year round as professionals in business do.  Districts would be awarded sizeable sums of money to shift to such a program and I think this has been happening in Jordan or other districts right now in some respects.  It's not that kids go year round, it's a mix-up of children's schedules so that highly qualified teachers don't have 3 months off in the summer and can be paid for more teaching (at least I think that's the idea in my preliminary reading and prior conversations with the Senator).  I'll

Coupled with this last bill is one of interest to me.  I am aware that Alpine School District has turned down people that have volunteered to teach classes for free.  For example, I am aware of a retired rocket scientist that offered to teach an applied mathematics class for free as an elective in one of the high schools, but he was turned down because he didn't have his teaching certificate.  He wasn't about to go back to school and take a class to get a certificate, but he was ready to give students a REAL WORLD experience in mathematics.  The problem there is that districts aren't really interested in such a class because it doesn't allow all students to stay at the same level with each other and might make someone feel bad that can't do that work. :)  That said, here's something this fellow may be interested in learning about.

Resolution Encouraging the Advertisement of Alternative Routes to Teaching by Senator Margaret Dayton

The cat is out of the bag on this bill.  It turns out that districts can hire professionals without teaching certificates if they have a competance based license. I don't know details about that, but the Senator's bill is designed to give greater exposure to this bill WHICH ALREADY EXISTS but needs advertised more heavily to districts and admins so they know people without teaching certificates can in fact get a job and teach in a district. 

             35          WHEREAS, the state, school districts, and charter schools need to maximize strategies
             36      that can produce more qualified teachers, especially in the critical fields;
             37          WHEREAS, alternative routes to teaching programs are designed to provide for the
             38      recruitment and development of teachers from the ranks of mid-career professionals, other
             39      individuals with degrees, or people with specific competencies related to teaching, especially in
             40      certain secondary subjects;
             41          WHEREAS, the Legislature has specifically created an alternative preparation program
             42      and a competency-based licensing program in statute;

I'm curious if anyone on this list can send me an email about a teacher whose class meant a lot to you where that teacher didn't know the subject material.  In other words, every teacher I ever had that I learned a lot from and pushed me to excel, was specifically because that teacher knew the content as an expert and expected me to learn it.

School Financial Disclosure by Representative Ken Sumsion

             12          This bill:
             13          .    requires a school district or charter school to:
             14              .    make monthly and year-end reports of expenditures made by the school district
             15      or charter school; and
             16              .    publish the reports on the Internet.

This seems like a great idea to me.  It's back to basic public accountability.

For a full listing of educational related bills, go here:


You will find a number of other bills relating to charter schools as well.  This could shape up to be a great session for education items.

Media Articles

Voucher backer inspires challenge
The education community is ticked off at Representative Steven Sandstrom for voting in favor of vouchers after he ran on a platform that I believe included he would vote against them.  The problem was after he examined the issue he saw that not only did this give parents choice, but for every student that LEFT public education, public education would keep their money for 5 years.  He saw this as a win/win and a way to help with burgeoning school growth so he voted in favor of it.  Now Steven Baugh, former ASD superintendant, has committed to run against him in the next election.  Representative Sandstrom has also been a strong supporter of measures to protect the United States against those who would turn us over to the U.N. or create a regional government such as the *superhighway* project from Canada to Mexico and the SPP which I've previously mentioned. I have also stated before that I was disappointed when Representative Sandstrom got into office, but I have been duly impressed by his actions and reasonableness once in office.  I hope that he is able to withstand this challenge and may ask those of you able to assist him this fall to ensure a real enemy to reform doesn't get into office.

Till next time,

Oak Norton

If this email was forwarded to you, please go here and sign the petition to get on my mailing list.

Copyright 2005-06, All Rights Reserved