2012 Children’s Champion Award for Senator Karen Morgan

Yesterday at the annual Children’s Champions Luncheon sponsored by Voices for Utah Children, Senator Karen Morgan was honored as a Legislative Champion for her efforts to improve education.  She received the 2012 Children’s Champion Award.  This event brings together Utah’s most influential community and business leaders to support Voices for Utah Children and to focus on important children’s issues.

“Voices for Utah Children is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to improve the lives of children and families by advocating for effective programs and policies. Voices for Utah Children believes that all children should be healthy and safe, ready for school and live in families that can meet their needs and invest in their future.”

Congratulations, Senator Morgan, on this well-deserved recognition.


Senator Karen Morgan Honored by Canyons Board of Education

Tonight Senator Karen Morgan received the Apex Legacy Award from the Canyons School District Board of Education, the highest honor bestowed by the Board.  The Board of Education’s Apex Awards are designed to express gratitude to community leaders and educators who have served as champions of public education and who exemplify the Board’s four tenets of fostering student achievement, community engagement, innovation, and customer service.

Below is information on the Canyons School District website about Senator Morgan:

“The imprint of Karen Morgan’s guiding hand can be seen throughout Canyons School District, from its kindergarten classrooms to its high school graduation ceremonies. Widely known for her efforts to improve education, the Utah State Senator and Democrat from Cottonwood Heights carried the bill that led to the creation of Utah’s first new school district in a century. The former high school teacher’s efforts since have opened doors to innovation, improved student achievement, and unprecedented community engagement in public schools. Sen. Morgan’s vision for improving education for schoolchildren extends beyond Canyons’ borders.  She worked tirelessly to reduce class size and improve reading education for Utah’s youngest students.  She founded the University of Utah Reading Clinic, and has served on the Utah Governor’s Literacy Commission, the 3Rs Advisory Board, and as Vice President of the Utah Children’s Reading Foundation. Sen. Morgan never wavered in her advocacy to improve public education for all children, not in her five terms of service in the Utah House of Representatives, nor in her term of service in the Utah Senate, from which she is retiring this year. For her advocacy on behalf of communities and children, and vision to improve public education, the Canyons Board of Education offers to Karen Morgan its highest honor, the Apex Legacy Award.”






Senator Karen Morgan announces retirement from public service


For more information, contact:
Emily Bingham Hollingshead
Communications Director, UtahSenate Democrats
Ph: 435-590-9961

Senator Karen Morgan Will Not Seek Re-Election in November

Senator Karen Morgan, D-Cottonwood Heights, announced this morning that she will not seek re-election to Utah Senate District 8 this November.

It has been a great honor and privilege to serve the citizens of my community in the Utah Legislature for the past 14 years.  I will deeply miss working with them, my colleagues, staff, advocates and many friends on Capitol Hill. I would like to thank everyone, especially my dear husband and family, for their unwavering support during my years of service,” said Senator Morgan in a statement.

Karen Morgan was first elected to the Utah House of Representatives in 1998 where she served for ten years before being elected to the Utah Senate in 2008.

Reading Achievement, class size reduction and providing a top quality education for Utah’s students have been her highest priorities.   Through her legislation, she founded the University of  Utah Reading Clinic.  Senator Morgan has also worked to strengthen Utah’s economy through the creation of business incentives.  She has been a strong advocate for tourism and Utah’s ski and film industries. She has supported grants to enhance Utah’s Scenic Byways.  Senator Morgan has also passed significant pieces of legislation to improve the health care of Utah’s residents, including the creation of a task force to address the growing problem of Alzheimer’s disease and funding for cervical cancer screening.

In 2011, Senator Morgan created the “Utah Best Schools Coalition,” a group of legislators charged with creating a plan to put Utah schools on the path to becoming number one in the nation.  Through the coalition, several pieces of education reform legislation were sponsored and passed in the 2012 legislative session.

Senator Morgan will serve out the remainder of her term, which ends on December 31st of this year.

For more information or media requests, please contact Utah Senate Democrats Communications Director Emily Hollingshead @ 435-590-9961.




House panel kills bill that would cap classroom sizes

From the Salt Lake Tribune
by Robert Gehrke

A bid to shrink class sizes for kindergarten through third grade was derailed Wednesday after a House committee killed the measure, arguing it would hurt school districts.

“It’s a good program, but it’s an unfunded mandate,” said Rep. Wayne Harper, R-West Jordan, “and in the future they’ll be back here asking us for money or there will be a multitude of problems.”

SB31 sought to cap class sizes for kindergarten through third grade, phasing the caps in over four years. Kindergarten classes would be capped at 20 students, first and second grade at 22 each, and third grade at 24.

Sen. Karen Morgan, D-Cottonwood Heights, said the current class size in the early grades is 27 per classroom, although many have more than 30 pupils.

“It’s very difficult for a child to receive the individual attention they need in such circumstances,” she said. “With that many children, it often becomes a situation of crowd control versus learning.”

For the whole story, click here.

Utah Senate passes bill to lower class size

From the Salt Lake Tribune
by Lisa Schencker

The Senate passed a bill Wednesday to lower class sizes for young children, despite arguments from some that it could hurt schools because of the cost.

SB31 would cap class sizes at 20 students in kindergarten and at 22 students in first, second and third grades. Or, it would require teachers’ aides, known as paraprofessionals, in larger classes.

“As we all know, the early grades are critical years in a child’s education,” said bill sponsor Sen. Karen Morgan, D-Cottonwood Heights. “These are the years a child learns foundational math and reading skills that will determine their future success.”

A number of lawmakers also praised the bill because it would require schools to meet the new caps in order to continue receiving millions of dollars a year that have long been intended for class size reduction. A 2007 legislative audit showed that $460 million meant to make class sizes smaller in Utah over seven years hadn’t led to any change, though some have said class sizes would have been even larger if not for that money.

Click here to read the rest of the story.


Breaking News! Class Size Reduction Bill passes the Senate

SALT LAKE CITY – Senator Karen Morgan’s bill to reduce classroom sizes in the lower grades passed the Utah Senate today.  The bill would put caps on class sizes – 20 students in kindergarten and at 22 students in first, second and third grades. Or, it would require teachers’ aides, known as paraprofessionals, in larger classes.   The bill also includes measures to hold schools accountable.  In order to continue to receive state money that’s long been distributed for class size reductions, schools would have to meet the new caps.

“Kindergarten through third grade is a critical time in a child’s education,” Morgan, D-Cottonwood Heights, told senators. “That is the time they need more one-on-one individualized attention.”

The bill passed on a 19 – 9 vote, with all Democrats voting in favor of the measure.

How did your Senator vote?

Yeas – 19

Adams, J. S. Davis, G. Jones, P. Knudson, P. Mayne, K.
McAdams, B. Morgan, K. Niederhauser, W. Okerlund, R. Osmond, A.
Reid, S. Robles, L. Romero, R. Stephenson, H. Stevenson, J.
Valentine, J. Van Tassell, K. Waddoups, M. Weiler, T.

Nays – 9

Anderson, C. Bramble, C. Christensen, A. Dayton, M. Hinkins, D.
Jenkins, S. Madsen, M. Thatcher, D. Urquhart, S.

Absent or not voting – 1

Hillyard, L.



Senator Morgan aims to impose smaller class sizes in K-3 classrooms

From the Daily Herald
by Billy Hesterman

“It is just common sense that fewer students in a classroom allow for more one-on-one time in a classroom,” Morgan said. “These little ones need help learning the very basics of reading and math if they are going to be successful throughout the rest of their school years.”

Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, gave a strong endorsement to the bill. While many Republicans voted in favor of the bill but noted they still are deciding on their vote for final passage, Waddoups declared that he supports the plan because it is an issue that is important to his constituents.

To read the entire story, click here.


Senator Karen Morgan’s bill to reduce Utah class sizes advances

From the Salt Lake Tribune
by Lisa Schencker

Despite some debate and disagreement, lawmakers advanced a bill Thursday to reduce class sizes in grades K-3.

The Senate approved Sen. Karen Morgan’s SB31 by 18-9 on second reading on Thursday, meaning the Senate must now pass it one more time before it moves to the House. The bill would cap class sizes at 20 students in kindergarten and at 22 students in first, second and third grades. Or, it would require teachers’ aides, known as paraprofessionals, in larger classes.

Before lawmakers approved the bill, Morgan amended it to raise the caps slightly, reducing its cost to $3.6 million. Lawmakers also amended the bill to specify that in order to continue to receive state money that’s long been distributed for class size reductions, schools would have to meet the new caps.

“Kindergarten through third grade is a critical time in a child’s education,” Morgan, D-Cottonwood Heights, told senators. “That is the time they need more one-on-one individualized attention.”

To read the rest of the story, click here


Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness

From the Salt Lake Tribune

Advocates for Alzheimer’s education rally at Utah Capitol

Senator Karen Morgan-D, Cottonwood Heights

Alzheimer’s disease and its crushing burdens on caregivers, families, the health care system, businesses, worker productivity and taxpayers’ wallets must be addressed, a crowd of about 200 agreed during a Capitol rally Wednesday.

Billed as an advocacy day for Alzheimer’s and other dementias and sponsored by the Utah chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, the event was aimed at lawmakers who are considering a bill outlining a five-year state plan to address the 100,000 Utahns expected to have the incurable brain-wasting diseases by 2025. That would be a 127 percent increase since 2000, the highest growth rate in the nation.

For 13-year-old Boo Bustos, sitting in the front row, the rally was about his late grandparents, Cherie and Ed Hoerman, who lived with Boo’s family after their Alzheimer’s diagnoses. They both died, his grandfather in fall 2010, his grandmother last October.

Boo said he misses having them at home.

“After they had Alzheimer’s, they knew who I was,” Boo said. “But they couldn’t remember my name.”

Sen. Karen Morgan, D-Salt Lake City, and Rep. Carol Spackman-Moss, D-Salt Lake City, are cosponsors of SJR1, the Alzheimer’s State Plan Joint Resolution, now moving through the Legislature. A 20-member task force made recommendations that encourage state agencies, the private sector, the media and corporate and philanthropic organizations to make Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias a top priority. Morgan says she also is working on a bill that would put some of that plan into statute.

Key to the effort is eliminating the stigma that surrounds sufferers and their families by bringing the illness into the open.

Boo plays football with a recreation league team called the Royals. He asked team members to wear purple socks for a game — purple is the color for Alzheimer’s awareness — and posted his plan on a web site. Eight other rec teams wore purple socks, too. At Boo’s game, his parents hung a banner that said, “Royals knock the socks off Alzheimer’s.”

He wants other kids to understand what is happening with their older relatives when they have dementia. “It’s not a good disease,” he said. “If your grandparents get it, try to spend more time with them.”


Utah legislators say yes to proposal to shrink class sizes

The Salt Lake Tribune

Parents would see fewer students in kindergarten through third-grade classrooms under a proposed bill that earned preliminary approval Monday from the Senate Education Committee.

SB31, which the committee unanimously passed on to the full Senate, would limit the number of students in academic classes to 18 in kindergarten, 20 in first grade, 22 in second grade and 24 in third grade. But schools unable to meet the requirement, possibly due to limited classrooms, could instead hire teachers aides, known as paraprofessionals.

Sen. Karen Morgan, the Cottonwood Heights Democrat who is sponsoring the bill, said she gets calls from parents every fall who are shocked to find their child’s kindergarten class has upward of 30 students.

“The most critical time to have a smaller class size is in those early grades, where children are building a foundation for learning,” she told the committee, noting that 36 states limit class sizes. “We should not be one of the 14 states plus the District of Columbia that doesn’t have some kind of a cap on enrollment.”

But she acknowledged it will be challenging to find the ongoing funds needed to hire more teachers. The cost of meeting the smaller class sizes has not yet been calculated. This year, the Davis School District spent $2.5 million, using a property-tax hike, to cover a one-student reduction in average K-3 class sizes.

Peter Cannon, a member of the Davis school board, questioned whether the bill takes flexibility away from school districts. Cannon, who was not speaking on behalf of the Davis board, said the money might be better spent on improving teacher quality through a performance-pay system.

“We in the school districts know how to help our students,” Cannon said. “We don’t need to be told to help our students the way every other school district does.”

The state’s median class sizes are 22 for kindergarten, 23 for first grade, 24 for second grade and 25 for third grade, according to the State Office of Education.

During the same meeting, the committee also passed SB39, which would give the governor greater power in hiring and firing the state’s commissioner of higher education and the president of the Utah College of Applied Technology.

“The aim of this is to try to allow the governor to encourage coordination between the three silos of education,” said sponsor Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, referring to higher education, the applied technology colleges and public education.

The State Board of Regents would still select the state’s higher-ed commissioner, and the UCAT board of trustees would still choose a president. But their selections would have to be approved by the governor and the Senate. The governor could fire either appointee after consulting with the respective board.

Reid said Gov. Gary Herbert supports the bill.