1. Please briefly describe your background (education, family, occupation, etc).
Education and Occupation
My name is Lawrence Wright. I have a Ph.D. in Organization and Management from Capella University, a Masters Degree in Human Relations from Webster University, and a Bachelors Degree in Sociology from Brigham Young University. I am employed on the Business Faculty at Western Governors University, and as an adjunct professor for Webster University, Ashford University and Grand Canyon University. I teach management, strategy, organizational behavior and development, and ethics. I also teach human resource management and have been certified by the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI - SPHR and PHR certifications).
I am retired from the USAF and have served my country during times of war as well as peace. I have experience working with the business community and currently serve on the Centerville City Council.
I have been married for 34 years, have five married children and 14 grandchildren. My children are products of the public education system and six of my 14 grandchildren are now actively engaged in public education. My wife, Lisa, has taught for many schools and currently is the Special Education/Resource Teacher for Centerville Elementary. Her 20+ years has been a classroom for me and I understand many of the personal sacrifices our professional educators make to educate our children.
2. Why did you decide to run for school board, and what do you hope to accomplish if elected?
I believe it is time for new eyes to look at issues confronting our public education system. The high costs of education is the greatest threat to public education. It is forcing school districts to make decisions that are not productive, do not foster retention and learning, and creates civil discord. School districts are making bad fiscal decisions such as paying lobbyists $200,000 or mismanaging infrastructure issues. These are just examples but I would like to get to systemic problems that lead to these kinds of poor decisions. These outcomes distract us from the mission of educating children. I believe there are alternatives and I would like to explore and implement them as a board member. We need to add a quality benchmark to how we approach education. I believe I can make a difference and would like the opportunity to serve to improve - possibly overhaul how we approach these issues.
3. If elected, would you support adopting Texas' new state history standards with slight modifications to include important Utah facts? Here's a link to information if you haven't looked into this. See http://www.utahsrepublic.org/standards/the-awesome-new-texas-history-standards/
The Texas State Board of Education bucked the trend to wash, dilute or revise our history from the public school curriculum by ensuring that the curriculum teaches students (and their parents through their children) to remember the contributions of our founding fathers. Inclusive in this is the ability to use critical thinking skills and I would assume apply those skills to evaluate and measure what the founding fathers created against today's events. I support in principle what they did and would be open to find ways to implement it in our own education system. I believe in America. I believe our way of life and the freedoms our ancestors fought to preserve are under attack, and support any initiative that helps us all remember. In my military career I have put my life in harm's way defending our constitution and the cause of freedom. I have done this knowing full well that I could lose my life in its defense. I fully subscribe to the ideals of our founding fathers when they created our Republic. I intend to keep the memory of what they did in the active memories of future generations.
4. How would you handle a problem with an administrator, i.e. an administrator is engaging in unethical behavior, or lying to a parent, etc…
Personally, we cannot tolerate this kind of behavior - especially from someone placed in a position of trust. Our public schools need to be examples of ethical behavior. The negative outcomes cannot be tolerated and certainly sends the wrong message to our children. I want to put in place a systems approach to quality targeting excellence in leadership, strategic planning, customer focus, measurement, workforce focus, process measurement and the reporting of results. When accountability is in place the likelihood that such behavior occurs will diminish!
The Malcolm Baldrige Quality Model and criteria for Education is a proven framework from which to focus on excellence and quality. As a board member I will push hard to establish quality standards from which to measure school districts and link their ability to meet those standards to the disbursement of State Education Funds. I am proposing that we adopt the Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award Criteria for Education.
5. If elected, would you support replacing Utah's current math standards, or only slightly adjusting from, the standards of an international leader like Singapore or Japan or even one of the top math states in America like Massachusetts? See http://www.utahsmathfuture.com/
In many ways my answer to your fourth question addresses this question. Once we start down the path of putting how we educate into a quality framework we can start raising the standards. I would like to see our students get the highest quality education with emphasis in all subjects to include mathematics.
6. How would you encourage and support more parental involvement in the schools and with the board itself?
This should be built into the criteria. Parental involvement is critical and as a parent of five and grandparent of 14 I can testify of the effect on student performance being directly linked to the involvement of parents in their children's education. I see this as part of the quality and excellence platform I am running on.
7. Are you interested in taking a class on the US Constitution and would you encourage the teaching of the Constitution in the schools in the words of our Founding Fathers?
Yes. Sign me up!
8. When you take your oath of office as a school board member, you swear to protect the constitution from domestic enemies. What type of domestic enemy do you see as possibly affecting our educational system?
I have already taken that oath. In addition to my comments on cost, apathy is the greatest enemy. Our citizens need to remember the principles our founding fathers and our ancestors fought to defend. These principles need to be re-enthroned in the classroom, and that is our greatest defense.
Failure to do this leaves a legacy of ignorance to future generations. I am not prepared to let this happen and that is why I am running for the Utah State School Board. I would like to see us get out from under the thumb of the federal government and stand independent as a State to make changes and plot a course that is more in line with our moral values and beliefs.