Comments about ‘Report: Utah education spending dropped 8 percent since '08’

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Published: Wednesday, Sept. 5 2012 2:00 p.m. MDT

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Pleasant Grove, UT

Excellent! Utah's leaders recognized that spending must be reduced when the economy struggles. Sometimes, belts just need tightening. The only other options are to: A. Raise taxes on already struggling households; or B. Put these students into debt (they're the generation that will pay it all offer, after all) with unfunded government spending. Utah took the harder - but correct and fiscally responsible - route. Bravo, Utah!

Floyd Johnson
Broken Arrow, OK

The state website does a very good job explaining the budget, and it is worth looking at. Utah allocates 28% of the total budget to public education and an additional 11% to higher education. In contrast to the "per-pupil" figures, Utah ranks very high when comparing the percentage of the total budget committed to education.

DN Subscriber
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Hardly objective journalism, relying only comments from two left wing groups dedicated to increasing funding for the teachers' union members, and from the head bureaucrat in the Utah education establishment.

Next time how about asking them "how much is enough?" for education, and "Why should taxpayers have to constantly cut their budgets in order to pay for more school funding?"

This is just the latest in the unrelenting propaganda effort to constantly increase education funding for teachers' unions and bureaucrats, not to improve education outcomes.

The "government skool" system in this country is broken, and the first step to fixing it is to ignore the special interest groups like those in the article which have been instrumental in the decline in our schools over the last 50 years.

Bravo to the legislature for making the tough choices in budget realities. And, to those who have helped get Charter schools going, the legions of home schoolers, and also to the many fine public school teachers who truly excel at educating children. But, not the union drones or bureaucrats who place their interests ahead of the students or the taxpayers.

Murray, Utah

Probably just taking the UEA and PTA at their word from their argument back in 2007 that extra dollars in the education system did NOT affect class size or teacher pay when they were arguing against the Voucher bill.

Central, UT

Bravo, Utah! That is the best we can do? Lets compare education funding to road funding. I guarantee we are not near the bottom in road construction. Our Utah legislature is choking education to death, until they can take public education and make it a private or voucher program. There is only one reason we fund roads like we do, it is the only way our honest legislatures can get their hands on tax money. It is amazing how many of our legislature members are affiliated with private our charter schools. There involvement is not because of concern for education students it is to get their hands on tax payers money.

Orem Parent
Orem, UT

This is sad. Even sadder are the lame attempts by the first few posters to paint this as a rosy picture for our kids.

I recently went to the local junior high and found no less than 37 seventh graders in a science class. Now think about teaching the little darlings in church. Most complain when they have a "big" group of 8 kids to deal with in their sunday school class. Now put THIRTY-SEVEN of them in one spot and try to teach them a complicated subject like science.

There is no way it is going to bode well for our kids or our state's future.

While you can chime away about being financially responsible and fiscally conservative, you are condemning your own kids and grandkids to a less than it should be and less than it could be education.

Cheer all you want but this is just sad.

Lifelong Republican
Orem, UT

How many times will ignorance reveal itself on these message boards? Utah doesn't have a teachers union. You guys crack me up with phrases like "left wing", "bureaucrats", and "percentage of the total budget". Hilarious stuff. The reality is we are pathetic in this state when it comes to education funding. Guess what. If I choose to have 20 kids, you can bet a large "percentage of the total budget" will be going towards food in my house. Well we have chosen to have many kids in our state so we'd better expect a HUGE "percentage of the total budget" will go towards education.

Just hilarious to see the pathetic excuses our public makes in the name of conservative thinking.

And this is coming from a Republican.

Centerville, UT

Doesn't the legislature have the ability to designate funds to education and direct where and how that money is to be spent? I feel it is disengenuous to state that the teachers union or PTA will somehow reach into designated education funds and snatch those moneys from the schools. Or somehow the teachers unions have infiltrated the school districts and schools and they steal that money so they can go to Lagoon, or contribute the funds to their favorite Democratic candidate. This simply doesn't happen.

If education funds are being mispent then the legislature should be held accountable, as should the school districts and schools. But do an audit to find out!

Why has transportation spending increased multiple times over during the past few years, while education spending has dropped 8%? Sometimes I feel roads are being worked on to simply keep people employed, which is a good thing. But couldn't they also be employed by fixing up schools, or building new schools? Couldn't we hire new teachers to reduce the student/teacher ratio?

Why must we settle for last in the country on per pupil spending?

Centerville, UT

Perhaps Utah government has been doing a bit of wealth redistribution themselves by spending all this money on roads.

I am certain that investing in education will provide a greater return on that investment than investing in roads.

It is time for a more balanced approach to governing and government spending. Why would a state that is so often heralded as the best managed state in the country, also be one of the worst in education spending? Does poor funding of education reflect a well-managed state?

Are legislators simply trying to punish the teachers union? Punish the PTA by not funding education properly and sending tremendous increases to road construction?

Why are so many conservatives against funding education? I can't figure that out. It doesn't make sense. Don't we want our kids to compete globally, nationally? Don't we want our kids to be future small-business owners, to understand the constitution, to write well, to read well?

I hear many conservative say educators can do the job with what they have. So teachers scrimp and use their own money to purchase classroom supplies. Is this acceptable?

I will hold political leaders accountable.

Wasatch Front, UT

While I agree with being fiscally conservative, and tightening belts when needed, at some point a failure to adequately invest in the future is just plain stupid.

Utah is below average in Mathematics and Science, and average to below average in language arts when comparing apples-to-apples demographic cohorts on standardized tests like the ACT. We hire too many young teachers, allow too many of our best teachers in math and science to leave for better paying administrative jobs or jobs in industry because we don't pay teachers enough to support a family with even a reasonable lifestyle.

We certainly don't need East coast heavy handed unionized teachers bullying taxpayers into absurd wage and benefit packages. But we also need to prepare our children for the 21st century job market which means increasing our math, science and language arts performance. Nearly three quarters of Utah students are unprepared for college level coursework in at least half of the four key subjests. And over half are unprepared in THREE of the four key of the four key subjects.

Wasatch Front, UT

This is an education disaster. It means that students will either have to take on more debt for post secondary remedial course work, or will not be able to obtain sufficient post secondary education to be able to work in the 21st century economy. Ultimately this means more unemployment, more underemployment, more poverty, and more stress on families.

We already have one of the shortest school years in the world, and below average performance in math and science when compared to first and second world nations (and even some third world nations). Unless we get serious about expecting more from our schools and students, and unless we get compensation and time in the classroom up, the situation will not improve. Continuing to do the same thing will not get us different results.

Logan, UT

This is what happens when you give state income tax breaks to the very people who are overburdening the education the system the most by having tons of children...

Wasatch Front, UT

We need to 1) extend the school day. 2) Extend the school year (e.g. Japan is in school fully 50 days a year more, with longer school days) 3) Pay our best teachers, those with a proven track record and 5+ years of experience, significantly more so they won't be forced back to school and into industry, or into higher paying administrative jobs. This is critical in math, science, statistics, critical thinking, key language arts such as communication and writing. We just cannot continue to burn through 22-28 year old teachers, get them effective and trained, and then see them leave the classroom. We have WAY too many 20 and 30 something teachers teaching AP classes. The difference is night and day outside of Utah in better districts where effective math teachers are well paid. They stay in the classroom because they love what they do. They even TURN DOWN administrative roles because they want to stay in the classroom.

We need to get serious, and make drastic changes soon. Every year we wait we become less competitive in the global economy, and lose a significant percentage of our children to mediocrity.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Welcome to Utah "stack em deep and teach em cheap". We already spend $4,000 less than the average state now. Go into classrooms across the state and see classes of 35+ students and then complain that teachers are not getting it done. Blame the teachers, blame their association, blame the PTA, but don't blame parents, don't blame kids and don't blame a state who doesn't value education.

One of life's realities is we put our money into things we value, and we don't value education. The percentage of the budget spent for education is really irrelevant. We have a significantly higher percentage of our population in 6-18 age than any other state, of course that should indicate we would spend a higher percentage of the budget. The more accurate figure is how much Utahn's spend on education as a percentage of their income. That number has declined steadily in the last 10 years thanks to the Huntsman tax cuts. We are middle of the pack in that statistic. I would call what the legislature has done a lot of different things, but responsible wouldn't be one of them.

Seek to understand
Sandy, UT

Utah is doing a great job with their budget. I am so proud to live in a state that understands fiscal responsibility, and where our leaders don't allow emotional blackmail to deter them from it. Other states I have lived in are suffering immensely right now because their leaders just couldn't say no when they should have.

High quality education can be delivered at the price we have to spend in Utah. We just need the expertise to make it happen in every school. If any one of our schools can provide excellent outcomes at the current funding level, then all of them could if they had the will and the knowledge.

Thank goodness research has conclusively shown, over and over and over, that academic achievement is not dependent upon price paid for education.

Wasatch Front, UT

I will use the last of my four comments to refute Seek To Understand's incomplete and misleading argument. What the research shows is that education outcomes are influenced most by 1) Time in the classroom focused on learning (length of school day/year) 2) A strong student work ethic. 3) Hiring/retaining talented teachers who care 4) Involved parents/family that read to young children, don't do their work for them, expect it to be done well, and expect children to not give up when learning to solve problems.

This is exactly how KIPP transformed education in poor, inner city neighborhoods. The children put in LONG days and are EXPECTED to do well. Another key point is that summer vacation is too long for most children. Children from wealthy families retain/improve over the summer, but most children slide backwards. That's what the research says. Having a bunch of 20 somethings in the classroom is a key cultural problem that Utah needs to face up to. And it WILL take more money to fix this problem, because the market is telling us that current wages are too low to retain the best young teachers.

Highland, UT

Money does not guarantee the success of a school but the lack of it will guarantee the failure each generation.

There must be a better balance between fiscal responsibility and common sense.

Teaching a room of 37+ kids in a classroom is not teaching, it is hoping. Elementary should be capped at 20 students. Jr/Sr High English, science, math, language classes should also be capped at 25.

Eagle Mountain, UT

How am I supposed to teach so many children to use technology when I can't get the funding to provide a computer to each of them?

I also teach 34 sixth graders, nine of whom are below grade level, and in special education. They would do a lot better if I could provide some electronic devices for them. I could also use a full time aide....but all of that costs money.
My kids do learn. Both myself and parents work hard to see to that. Still, I wish that I had the money to provide more opportunities for them. Thanks for all those people who who given their tax dollars to education. We try not to waste any of it. We pay taxes, too. We know that money is precious. Any one have creative ideas for raising more?

Coach P
Provo, UT

It is funny to see numbers like 37 and 35 tossed around. Most people don't think these numbers are real, exaggerated by teachers and their supporters. However, classes of over 40 are plentiful at the secondary level in many core classes. In fact, I teach five classes of 40 plus students and so do many of my comrades. I can only wish for a class of 35 or 37...

Taylorsville, UT

They are going in the right direction cutting cost but they need to go a lot farther to reach the level of economics we are living in. Our economic level and standard poverty is pre 1980 levels and that is all we can sustain.

Utah education considers their budget as a personal base line gift to grow and profit and fund special interest and developers. Educating children doesn't make them money. Putting the budget in the class room and educating children is not profitable so budget funds are diverted to other uses. What is not diverted is called the funding ratio and blaming tax payers for not paying enough, yet Utah has the highest education budget in the country.

In "cost effective" education they maintain high population student to teacher ratios to reduce and fire teachers, a 35:1 ratio seems to be the established ratio. The Utah system itself builds in its own roadblocks in education that over stress teachers and students to maintain a high student to teacher ratio.

Now that federal funding is declining we can cut billions from free international education paid to a million foreign nationals in Utah and our schools.

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