Creating a legislative vision for education: Do Utah lawmakers' bills advance overall goals?

Published: Saturday, March 2 2013 1:55 p.m. MST

Dabakis also said that some of his colleagues in the majority party have the opinion that increased funding can't be considered until every instance of waste and inefficiency has been eradicated from the public education system. But while lawmakers strive to find the perfect educational structure, Dabakis said, Utah's students continue to see burgeoning class sizes while the state languishes with the lowest per-pupil funding in the country. 

"Republicans have been running this train for 30 years, if they haven’t gotten rid of the waste, fraud and abuse by now, when? Is there a day? Is there a year?" Dabakis said. "I am tired of hearing ‘Oh, we can’t just throw money at it.’ You know, we’ve tried everything else, let’s try throwing a little money at it and see if that works."

Reid said the appropriation of state funds is the fundamental responsibility of the Legislature and the task force would consider all of the neccessary means to improve student performance.

"Certainly, we will discuss what it will take to obtain excellence in student achievement, including what revenues are required," Reid said.

The state school board has taken a position of support on Reid's task force bill, Hales said. She added that the board hopes to be included in the task force's discussion of educational goals and outcomes.

Niederhauser said his intent as a member of the task force is to include the various education stakeholders and interested groups in the discussion, such as the state school board, the Governor's Education Excellence Commission and Prosperity 2020, a public/private partnership focused on improving student performance.  

"We want to bring all those good ideas together to help formulate and educated the legislature on where we’re going," he said. 

E-mail: benwood@desnews.com

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