State school board member concerned with latest legislative moves

Members of the Utah State School Board were uncomfortable when legislators pushed through a bill during their latest session to grade public schools. Now board member Tami Pyfer says there is even more concern.On KVNU’s Crosstalk show Tuesday, Pyfer said now it looks like at least one state senator, Republican Howard Stephenson, wants to get rid of schools that get bad grades.”He wants to look at schools that, now under the new grading system that he pushed through last year that would grade schools with letter grades A through F,” Pyfer said, “he wants to take schools that are awarded F grades and dismantle them, is the word he uses, put them out to bid and let private entities come in and run those schools.”Yet she says these schools would continue to be funded with public money. Pyfer says under the state’s criteria no school could get an A grade. Now she says we have these great schools that are no longer great schools because of an arbitrary grade the state has attached to it.Pyfer says she’s inclined to agree with those who say Utah legislators are pacing unrealistic expectations on public schools.Pyfer expressed another concern about the changes in on-line classes. In the past, she says high school students have been allowed to take a full day’s seven or eight classes and then another one or two online classes to enhance their education. Under the state’s new plan they will be limited to two online classes if they go through the state’s online program and if they take those classes they cannot go to school for those two periods.”In addition to the restriction on the number of classes that you can take, and not being able to go to school if you take those classes online, they’re requiring local school districts or charter schools to pay $736 per class to this online provider,” Pyfer continued. “Which is interesting because in the past these classes typically cost about $250.”Pyfer says this is the last year high school students will be able to take the State Office of Education’s electronic classes unless pressure from the public convinces lawmakers this would be a big leap backwards.

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