Public educator, veteran, and family man, Scott was raised in Payson and Fairview, Utah. He graduated from North Sanpete High School in 1996. Scott’s education and military experience has helped him develop a deep understanding of the public education system, pedagogy, and the data driven decision making process. Scott began teaching in 2006 where he taught both middle school and high school for the next several years. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2009 and was commissioned a second lieutenant at Fort Benning, GA in 2010. Scott later deployed to Afghanistan in 2012-2013 and served as a battle captain for an attack aviation battalion then attached to the 101st Airborne. Scott currently serves as a part-time soldier as a staff officer in the Utah National Guard. Upon returning from overseas and back to the classroom, Scott continued his education and
graduated from BYU with a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership. In 2014, he left the fantastic Alpine School District for an opportunity to teach closer to home. Scott currently teaches for Nebo School District at Maple Mountain High School where he has taught U.S. Government, U.S. History, A.P. European History, and Spanish. Education has had a tremendous impact on Scott and he is committed to fighting for parents and educators and improving Utah’s public education system. Along with being a full time educator, Scott also serves on the School Community Council and is involved in the Boy Scouts of America, the American Legion, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Scott enjoys reading, weightlifting, big game hunting, and being with his family. He is married to the former Camille Hurst, and they reside in Spanish Fork with their four children.
– Generally speaking, public education flourishes when it is controlled by those with skin in the game. The centralization of education at both the federal and state levels, and the seemingly endless bureaucracy that accompanies centralization, has not improved student performance. As a member of the Utah State School Board I will do all I can to promote and maintain an education system that is controlled locally.
– I do not support the Common Core for multiple reasons. First, when Common Core was created it was meant to level the playing field by giving every state a universal set of standards to measure learning. The reality is competition creates innovation and better products, even in schools. For example, I do not believe the curriculum and standards for Vermont schools should necessarily be the desirable -let alone the same- curriculum and standards for public schools in Utah. Third, too many teachers now find themselves “teaching to the test” as opposed to using different creative ways to help kids learn. Lastly, I believe the best education is one where local parents, teachers, and stakeholders determine curriculum and “college readiness” standards, not Washington politicians and other bureaucrats.
– I want an education system that helps students receive the education they need to realize their full potential as citizens of our Republic. I support Governor Herbert’s call to prioritize education, including STEM. There are literally thousands of high paying technology, engineering, and software jobs waiting to be filled; so many in fact that many people from around the world are flocking to Utah to fulfil the growing needs of many local employers. Our education system needs to get on board. Our future economic strength largely depends on the strength of our education system today. In our economy, finding a good job depends more and more on having a good education. While our state has some of the best universities in America, far too many high school graduates in Utah are lacking in reading and math. I will work hard to empower parents, teachers, and schools to get our kids the skills they will need to flourish in the 21st century economy.
– It’s no secret the federal government is too big, too intrusive, too costly, and largely inefficient given the tax dollars they spend. However, it is important to remember federal dollars are your tax dollars. I support Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that provides financial assistance to local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools with high numbers and/or high percentages of children from low-income families. Title I money is much needed funding to help ensure that all Utah children have the ability to meet state and local standards regardless of financial circumstances. Next, the Utah Legislature and the State Board of Education need to build and maintain good relations with the Department of Education. However, we cannot and should not accept federal funding at the expense of local control of schools. Sadly, the Obama Administration has worked tirelessly to put public education more and more under federal control by manipulating cash strapped states into accepting federal monies that include questionable and unnecessary guidelines. Utah desperately needs more money for education, but we should steer clear of becoming reliant upon the federal government to fund our schools.
-I advocate the immediate elimination of SAGE testing in Utah public schools. In 2012, the Utah State Legislature passed HB 15 allocating roughly $42,000,000 ($7,000,000 per year) to annually require each school district and charter school, as applicable, to administer a computer adaptive assessment system that is (a) adopted by the State Board of Education; and (b) aligned to Utah's common core. Let's examine the facts. First, testing does not improve student learning or performance. Second, teachers are not allowed to use SAGE scores to grade their students, which results in huge numbers of students who purposely fail the SAGE test because they have no motivation to score score well. I have personally helped proctor the SAGE test and witnessed many students randomly clicking answers because they know SAGE scores do not affect grades or college entrance prospects. Third, using the SAGE test to grade schools is not a true representation of the success or failure of schools. We can and should hold our schools accountable, but the SAGE test is asking teachers to make bricks without straw. If elected, I will work to eliminate tests that do not accurately measure student achievement.
- Appoint the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
- Adopt administrative rules directed to the whole system.
- Establish minimum standards for public schools.
- Make rules that establish basic ethical conduct standards for licensed public education employees.
- Define, establish and implement a core curriculum.
- Maintain general control and supervision over Adult Education.
- Annually prepare and submit to the Governor and Legislature a budget for the operation of the institutions and agencies under the Board.
- With the State Auditor, set and approve auditing standards for auditors employed by local school boards and charter schools.
- Verify audits of financial and student accounting records of school districts and charter schools for purposes of determining the allocation of Uniform School Fund monies.
- Fulfill statutory responsibility for the management of the Utah State Office of Education, Utah Office of Rehabilitation, and the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind.
Scott B. Neilson
Spanish Fork, UT 84660