Monday, September 6, 2010

Why do we allow Howard Stephenson to drive Utah's education agenda?

Here are the current bills being prepared for the 2011 Utah state legislative session on the topic of education:

10 of 19 bills are from Senator Stephenson. (These numbers will change as we get closer to the session. The 10 of 19 is as of Sep. 6, 2010.)

A quick look at the bills reveals:

2 curriculum bills,
2 charter school bills--one specifically about financing, probably taking district property taxes again,
Converting public schools to charter schools,
School "restructuring,"
Public School Accountability,
Public School Teacher Tenure Modifications,
Funding of Online Learning,
Engineering Education in Elementary and Secondary Schools

So basically, make more public school mandates--"engineering education," "accountability," messing with teacher tenure, and both curriculum bills (Is Howard Stephenson going to jump on his buddy, Oak Norton's bandwagon and demand we teach Cleon Skousen as "real" history? Oak told Howard during the March 13th Red Meat Radio broadcast that his group gave copies of The 5,000 Year Leap to the Alpine School Board as examples of appropriate curriculum material.)--while giving more of the limited pie of public education funding to charter schools and online programs that will not be subject to those same requirements. Plus dictating "restructuring" and possible conversions to charter schools.

Howard Stephenson thinks public education is socialism (Very end of post). He runs public education bills to benefit specific companies, hypocritically overriding local control and increasing the costs of public education when it's one of his pet projects. He constantly misrepresents his bills and abuses the legislative process in order to pass controversial provisions with little or no scrutiny: 2008 (plus an ongoing $190,000 annual expenditure of education funds just to spite an employee of the State Office of Education who ran against Greg Hughes at the county Republican convention. Seriously.), 2009, 2010. He is unabashedly conflicted as a paid corporate lobbyist--he is the only legislator whose entire livelihood depends on the issues he supports and how he votes on those issues. Combining his last two issues--he literally ran a bill in 2010 authorizing conflicts of interest for charter school board members as a sneaky provision in a larger charter school bill.

Senator Stephenson is on all public education interim and Senate committees in the state of Utah and is literally the sponsor of half of the education bills for 2011. I believe all claims by the legislature that their ethical safeguards are sufficient can never be taken seriously while this well-paid corporate shill is allowed to not just hold public office, but be one of the leading policy makers in the legislature. I also believe Howard Stephenson would be voted out of office in a heartbeat if the public paid attention, but unfortunately they don't and he'll probably be voted in for 4 more years of self-interest come November.



Dave Hogue said...

That is exactly why I am running against Howard. I need any help I can get.
Dave Hogue (or)

JBT said...

Stephenson has been the arch enemy of the UEA and public education for as long as I can remember.

One of the most damaging effects of the lack of checks and balances of one party system in our state is the fact that one man as dangerous as Stephenson can attain and retain such power over the public education system that his goal is to destroy.

Joel Wright said...

I think Howard Stephenson has done more good for public education in Utah than any other single person in the history of this great State.

Utah has the fewest taxpayers supporting more students than any other State in the Union. We've simply got to do more with less to remain competitive. That is what Howard is always trying to do - more with less.

UtahTeacher said...

Joel, this may sound strange, but I hope your statement is just political hyperbole. A lobbyist who despite lip service at public meetings, literally views public education as evil socialism, is good for education? Saving money for your clients is not the same as being efficient.

This is one example of why I voted for someone else at the county convention and can't see myself ever voting for you unless something drastically changed.