Comments about ‘Letter: Important to compare Utah not just by money spent on education, but also by results’

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Published: Sunday, March 24 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Timj
South Jordan, UT

I've lived in Ohio. If Ohio, with its vast number of slums, and its public schools that are so bad that in some areas no middle class family sends its kids to them (instead sending them to Catholic or other private schools) is comparable to Utah as far as education results go, Utah's in real trouble.

Snoopy7
West Jordan, Utah

How about a raise for the dedicated Utah teachers who teach with less and have larger classrooms than anyone? We've even taken a pay cut in recent years. A cost of living raise would be nice too. I don't think it's a waste of money...do you?

Grover
Salt Lake City, UT

The import of this letter is that the goal of education is to spend the least money to get the best results possible. Is it? Because our results are as good as Ohio and we spend less, is it time to celebrate? Why not compare our results with Finland? I have no idea how much they spend, but the whole point is that their results are superlative...not a word heard in Utah educational circles in many many years.

isrred
South Jordan, UT

For Utah's demographic makeup, Utah embarrassingly underperforms in education. To be next to Ohio in the rankings is certainly not something to be bragging about.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

The Heartland Institute is an ultra conservative think tank which supports the same policies which have led us to the economic and education mess we are currently in.

They promote from their mission statement, "deregulation and free market solutions."

Gee, I wonder what direction they're going to take when it comes to education....

Just another anti government pro voucher letter. It had been a few hrs since the dnews had last printed one.

one old man
Ogden, UT

This letter is more pure nonsense from the Heritage Institute.

I'm familiar with Ohio. I've lived and taught in both Ohio and Utah. There is no comparison between the challenges faced by Ohio schools and those of Utah due to demographics, the lack of education by so many Ohio adults, economics and many other factors.

If Utah's schools are only equal in performance to Ohio's schools, something is very, very wrong! Could it be that such things as class size play a very large part in Utah's failure to do better?

ken12s
North Salt Lake, UT

I have no idea how Utah family size compares to the other states, I'm guessing that Utah ranks pretty high? I do know that while I was a property owner my taxes seemed to go up most years, even when the economy tanked, with the bulk going to education! So my question to lawmakers or anyone for that matter is this: are we taxed less than other states hences that amount for education is less? Or, as I'm guessing, are we taxed as much or even more than other states but because of the Utah mindset to super size families is less available per student. If so then that is yet another reason for a head tax on families of more than two or even three children. Some Utahans seem to think they can have unlimited offspring without it having financial implications on everyone, even those without children of their own or those that can't really afford to support other people's large families!

Steve C. Warren
WEST VALLEY CITY, UT

@isrred "For Utah's demographic makeup, Utah embarrassingly underperforms in education."

You are absolutely correct. Thanks for pointing this out. More funding and smaller classes would help.

Also, the Heartland Institute, which the letter-writer represents, is known for supporting tobacco giant Philip Morris in questioning the science that proved secondhand smoke has negative impacts on health. In other words, the Heartland Institute has little credibility.

RedShirt
USS Enterprise, UT

Ok liberals, if money is the solution, explain Washington DC. The spend over $29,000 per student in their public education system, yet have some of the worst outcomes in the US for education. Why is it that they can spend more than private schools cost yet have such poor outcomes?

The fact is that if you look at money spent per pupil and the outcomes in each state you will see that there is no correlation between money spent and outcomes.

To "The Real Maverick" if you want to consider free market solutions and deregulation, look at South Africa. The public schools there were terrible, so a movement arose that started inexpensive private schools. Those inexpensive private schools have higher education standards that the public ones, and result in better educations. You can also look to Europe where some nations have eliminated school boundaries and let the public schools compete for students. Those that don't meet enrollment or perform poorly end up replacing the teachers and administration.

The free market works.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

No “just spending less money does not automatically mean you're getting lower quality.” Nor does it mean you are getting similar quality hence a good deal. Service cannot be compared to manufactured products where there one can of coke is exactly like another.

Money and results are not the same. But if you are tasked with building a service organization, money means additional resources and the ability hire more and better qualified people.

If you seriously want to argue that money cannot (in the right hands) help build better results, then the opposite must also be true – that far less money or even NO money will yield similar results. That is simply not true. There is a relationship between money and resources and, in turn, between resources and outcomes.

I have seen two districts with similar demographics but one with more money available for schools. Schools were better, and parents wanted to put their kids there (increasing the difference between the schools).

BTW - You want to compare Utah’s results to other states? Don’t use Ohio and forget about New York. Look to other rural western states.

JoeCapitalist2
Orem, UT

I don't want to compare Utah students to Ohio students or Finland students. I don't want to compare states that spend $6000 per student to those that spend $18,000 per student.

What I really want to compare is two schools within the same community here in Utah that draw students from the same demographic but one is a public school with all the baggage that comes with it and the other is a private school that receives the same amount of funding via vouchers but gets to choose its own administration and rules.

That would really tell us if the private sector can do a better job than the public sector. That would tell us if paying a teacher more than another because they are better really makes a difference.

Unfortunately, such comparisons are impossible because the current bureaucracy prevents such a situation. They don't want to do a real experiment because they are afraid of what the outcome might be.

10CC
Bountiful, UT

Spending per pupil is not the right metric to use.

Class size is.

Finland, mentioned above as a perennial top educational performer internationally, has an average class size of 19 for first and second grade, rising to 21 for grades 3 through 9. For science classes the cap is 16 students. (Kind of makes sense, doesn't it? Science is pretty intensive, it stands to reason that students would need more attention from their instructor, hence smaller class sizes.)

If Utah can attract enough qualified & talented teachers on a substantially lower salary than exists today, and lower class sizes to something like Finland has achieved, then we should be proud of only spending $5000 per student. (Not many people are willing to take a 40% cut in salary without considering other employment options.)

But by the measure that has proven to get much better educational results, we're failing, miserably.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

JoeCapitalist2

My own experience with private vs. public schools for my kids broke down to two real points of difference.

First, the private school did NOT have to take all comers. They could pick and choose and if your child was having a lot of issues or needed expensive helps, they could just say "thanks for playing" and let him or her go. No public school can do that.

Second, private school parents were generally at least middle class and were very involved. Note that we know MANY parents with kids in public school (ourselves included) who were just as involved. But in a private school it was the majority. Yes, I completely understand that involved, interested parents are the ideal. But the sad reality is that all kids are not so fortunate.

Just my observations.

Counter Intelligence
Salt Lake City, UT

Utah is number ten in the percentage of its budget that goes towards education
Utah is last in money per pupil because it has the youngest population (most school children as a percentage of the poulation) in the United states
Yet, Utah is number 12 in education quality (ACT,reading ability)[Ohio is bottom ten]

Which brings up the question: If funds per pupil, not education quality, is the measure to be raised - which other program do you cut?

catcrazed
Eagle Mountain, UT

We accomplish a lot here in Utah, and much of it is good. Thank you to Counter Intelligence for pointing that out. I also want to remind people that it is the HOME which is the most important teacher in a child's life. Before you send them to school to be taught, send them prepared. Then see where these kids are able to achieve.

10CC
Bountiful, UT

Twin Lights is right on with regard to private vs public schools being a difficult comparison to make, because by definition the kids that go to private schools have better parental support than many kids who attend public school.

Private schools also do not have to provide transportation. School choice is a good thing, but one thing to remember is that as we transport kids to schools in every direction, the air pollution problem gets worse.

Utah school districts are some of the largest in the nation, meaning the administrative cost per pupil is quite low.

CatCrazed: Certainly parental support is the preferred model, but we have to remember those kids who don't have a great deal of parental support, for whatever reason. The single parent who is working 2 or 3 jobs is not going to be able to provide the same level of support as the ideal 2 parent house.

As Donald Rumsfeld might say, we need to educate the kids we have, not the kids from situations that we wish.

Redshirt1701
Deep Space 9, Ut

To "JoeCapitalist2" what you want to do is simple. You can compare students from east side Davis County to students on the west side in Davis County. Having lived in both areas, there is a huge difference in the outcomes for the students at the different schools.

Lane Myer
Salt Lake City, UT

JoeC: "What I really want to compare is two schools within the same community here in Utah that draw students from the same demographic but one is a public school with all the baggage that comes with it and the other is a private school that receives the same amount of funding via vouchers but gets to choose its own administration and rules.

That would really tell us if the private sector can do a better job than the public sector."

===============

Only if the private school MUST accept all social, economic and special needs children. Otherwise, they pick their students to win. Right?

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