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Enrollment growth, budget errors create funding questions for Utah schools

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  • Claudio Springville, Ut
    Nov. 29, 2012 12:36 p.m.

    Carman, the fact that you think our classrooms in UT have too few students erases all of your credibility. Classrooms with 40+ kids in them are not classified in anyone's book as "too few."

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    Nov. 27, 2012 1:59 p.m.

    Brer Rabitt,

    While I agree with you about the cost of educating those here illegally, the reality is a typical Utah family with four children isn't paying anything to educate their children either. So lets implement your suggestion and let's have Utah families share in the cost of educating their children and that would solve our education funding problem.

  • Brer Rabbit Spanish Fork, UT
    Nov. 27, 2012 11:12 a.m.

    Utah public education is primarily funded by corporate and individual income taxes which are not paid by illegal immigrants in Utah. Yes some funding comes from local property taxes which are paid by landlords that rent to them, but this amount is very small. However, the education of the children of illegal parents costs Utah taxpayers between $250 and $300 million per year. In addition the fertility rate of illegal immigrant women is even higher than LDS and Catholic women.

    If an enforceable E-Verify law were instituted in Utah most illegal parents and their families would leave the state, or at least not come here in the first place, allowing Utah taxpayer over time to substantially increase funding for Utah children. Illegal labor is a direct subsidy, and in the case of Utah employers, an entitlement, funded by taxpayers.

    U.S. Judicial Law requires the state to educate all children whether the parents are legal or not, and this is a good thing. However, if illegal parents are not in Utah these costs would be reduced. Otherwise states have no say on this issue.

  • carman Wasatch Front, UT
    Nov. 26, 2012 5:25 p.m.

    While i agree that we should be frugal with taxpayer resources - Those who want to completely strangle our schools with inadequate funding fail to understand 2 key facts:

    - Utah schools are not that great. We moved from back East into some of the best public schools in Utah, and I can tell you from a direct comparison, that Utah schools are not even close to there more professional counterparts in the Midwest and East. Key problems in Utah schools include the revolving door of young, inexperienced teachers who have no clue how to maintain order while installing a passion for learning, and far too many students in most of our classrooms and schools.
    - Utah school data, when reported, is not adjusted for demographic cohorts. While we come out BARELY above average, we should be doing much better given our demographic profile. When adjusted for income, two parent families, and parent education levels, we are BELOW average.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    Nov. 26, 2012 5:10 p.m.

    Danaslc-
    As an outsider, I too have witnessed the right wing, entitlement society in Utah. Have large families, pay little to no taxes, complain about the quality of education and the attitude of the teachers and the union. Public eduction will probably never be better in Utah because of declining revenue and the reluctance of people to pay for what they use.

  • danaslc Kearns, UT
    Nov. 26, 2012 4:19 p.m.

    In the right world, people who have children usually pay into the tax system. Mostly those having children in Utah are not paying into the tax system, they are abusing it. Children are the way to getting more entitlements. You don't have to pay taxes when you are on a wealth of entitlements. Maybe Utah better beware that a love of low wages and importation of workers is not the right way Utah should conduct business.

  • ManInTheMiddle SANDY, UT
    Nov. 26, 2012 4:04 p.m.

    "It sounds so easy, yet there are so many variables." I agree that firing teachers is difficult. Very difficult. Firing people is my least favorite part of owning my business. BUT IT MUST GET DONE. Try firing a single mother in this economy for performance that is average. It's HARD!! - if I want to be fair to her co-workers it must be done - if I'm willing to risk my capital in this business it must get done.

    The union and administrators can figure it out. Perhaps some schools choose to let the principal decide, others may want a panel made up of the principal, a teacher rep, and a union rep. It doesn't matter to me. What matters is that it gets done. We should give them the 10% mandate and tell principals they are all fired if it's not accomplished and tell the union they won't get another contract until it's done.

    You can read above that I consent to doubling my property taxes to pay teachers more. It is absurd that any reasonable person would expect that we can attract intelligent/talented people to teach our kids for $30,000/year.

  • xscribe Colorado Springs, CO
    Nov. 26, 2012 3:46 p.m.

    There will always be a bottom 10 percent! What metric will be used to decide how one is in the bottom 10 percent? Those that teach in affluent districts? Those that teach in very poor distrits? Those that teach in schools where parent involvement is high? Those that teach in schools where parent involvement is very low? It sounds so easy, yet there are so many variables. How about paying teachers what they are worth - they are only educating our children - instead of the paltry pay they start out with. That would, I believe, bring in more qualified and better teachers to begin with. Oh, and let's get rid of No Child Left Behind. Ask any teacher, and they will say the same!

  • ManInTheMiddle SANDY, UT
    Nov. 26, 2012 3:27 p.m.

    FSB - teachers should be able to be fired in 2 minutes - just like I fire my employees - no warnings, no paperwork, no lawsuits, no reviews. You aren't good enough? - then go find something that better suits your skill-set.

    Most teachers are good. Some are awesome. Some are terrible. We should fire the terrible ones by 4pm today. Why wait? Let the kids play in a gym until we can find replacements. The kids are better off in a gym than in the classroom of a terrible teacher. At least in a gym they are getting some exercise.

    The difficulty in firing people is one of the biggest problems in government today. If you don't perform you should be out on the street looking for a different job.

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    Nov. 26, 2012 1:21 p.m.

    JSB,

    Please quit blaming unions for what principals lack the courage to do. The greatest lie perpetrated by you and others on this board is that unions protect bad teachers. Ask yourself a simple question how would it serve the unions interest to protect a bad teacher? Answer it wouldn't. Do unions protect teachers rights to due process? Yes. Does that sometimes lead to unions protecting bad teachers because incompetent lazy administrators did not do the paperwork necessary to fire a poor teacher? Yes.

    Before you say principals are frustrated by the years of paper work and hoops they have to jump through to fire a bad teacher I will answer that one for you. A competent administrator could easily terminate a poor teacher in one school year. If the teacher were grossly incompetent it could happen faster than that.

    Many principals lack the intestinal fortitude to evaluate teachers, its easier to claim unions protect bad teachers than to do their job. The union does not have the power to protect bad teachers if the paper trail is created even if they wanted to, and they don't want to.

  • JohnnyJingle SOUTH JORDAN, UT
    Nov. 26, 2012 10:29 a.m.

    One word to fix this annual shortfall: LOTTERY.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    Nov. 26, 2012 10:15 a.m.

    Just go to Mexico if you want to see what a society looks like that does not invest in education. A simple user fee will suffice for any family that has over two children in public education.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Nov. 26, 2012 9:29 a.m.

    Oatmeal,

    I have never observed success coming from a government being the parent of its citizens.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Nov. 26, 2012 9:18 a.m.

    Howard Beal,

    Many students can't create a research paper, because all they know is down load, and print.

    * Most of the engineers, and chemist in our country are from other countries.
    * The engines and transmissions in most of our cars are designed by foreign engineers.
    * Half our college students are in need of remedial classes.
    * A large percentage of our people are on welfare, unemployed, and seventy percent of their children are fed by their schools.
    * We currently spend about twelve thousand dollars per student a year, and more is needed?

    Please explain how all these wonderful programs, and technology have been beneficial. How has the Head Start Program reduced poverty? As for me, I'd rather have students learn the times table then use a calculator.

  • ManInTheMiddle SANDY, UT
    Nov. 26, 2012 7:40 a.m.

    JSB - Firing is hard for every company, but they all do it. That's why I am for a quota. Give the administrators and the union a mandate to fire the bottom 10% worst performing teachers and let them figure out how to get it done.

    Personally I think the principal should control the hiring and firing but I'm willing to let the unions and administrators come up with their own system. They just need to get it done. We must do hard things if we want change. Firing nice people who just happen to be bad teachers is hard, but essential.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    Nov. 26, 2012 6:21 a.m.

    The trouble with firing incompetent teachers is that there is no objective way of determining teacher incompetence. I read an interesting study done at BYU of subjective evaluation of teacher incompetence by teacher ranking. In it the top and bottom deciles were in great agreement with lesser agreement but still correlation in the middle 80%. As long as teacher unions continue to refuse to cooperate with school districts in getting rid of incompetent teachers, the public schools will not be able to provide a quality education. And the taxpayer will still be hesitant to increase funding for education because there is no guarantee that incompetent teachers will be released. We're between a rock and a hard spot. The best solution would be some kind of vouchers but that is unlikely.

  • ManInTheMiddle SANDY, UT
    Nov. 25, 2012 11:42 p.m.

    Please double my property taxes and use the increase to pay for better teachers. We should fire the worst 10% of teachers (merit based firing only). We should replace them with 1.5 new teacher for every fired teacher (done to lower the student/teacher ratio) with the best teachers we can find. We should increase the good teacher's pay by at least 30% and starting salaries by at least 25%. We should reevaluate next year - if we need to fire another 10% of the bad teachers then let's do it.
    We should fire 20% of the administrators and not replace them.

    American students are not competitive globally and UT students are not competitive domestically - it's embarrassing.

  • Rural sport fan DUCHESNE, UT
    Nov. 25, 2012 11:22 p.m.

    If you are worried about school spending on sports...you really should ask your local board for the data. In most rural schools, the buses and building the seats in the gym or on the field are about the only thing the state pays for, everything else is handled by fund raising and ticket sales.

    However, thanks to federal involvement, there is a huge growth in overhead in education. We are forced to have large numbers of computers to do the on-line testing required, despite the fact that most good teachers can tell you exactly where their kids will score. Those computers carry costs in purchase and maintenance, as well as training, and the tests and scoring also carry costs. As in everything the Feds touch, the need to oversee, test and report everything costs a lot, and most of it is pointless, doing nothing for the kids, but providing tons of data that is as useless and/or open to interpretation as all statistics are.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Nov. 25, 2012 9:43 p.m.

    Worf:

    Would it be okay if a teacher had a computer? Or even for schools to have a computer lab? After all, it is the 21st Century and all? I mean, you even wrote your post on a computer I suppose.

    Maybe schools could have a phone?

    Maybe schools could be wired for the Internet?

    Maybe schools could have a TV or two? I hear they can be useful to some students to see what they are learning about. Heck, I even saw my Sunday School teacher use one once.

    Could that TV be equipped with a VCR/DVD player?

    How about an old fashioned slide projector? I remember one teacher showing me slides of things in Europe. That was sort of interesting.

    How about a white board? I mean the chalkboard is great and all but whiteboards are less messy.

    Would it be okay to feed the students at lunch? Sometimes students come to school hungry because their parents don't feed them enough.

    Would a secretary be okay to answer the phone/make copies? Sometimes people call schools for whatever reason...

  • SS MiddleofNowhere, Utah
    Nov. 25, 2012 9:00 p.m.

    If those who are critical about funding education were just as critical about our government spending our nation wouldn't be in debt. People complain about the quality of education in the United States, but are not willing to make it a priority.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    Nov. 25, 2012 8:55 p.m.

    As long as the public school have enough money for frills like inter school sports then obviously, they have enough money and don't need any more.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Nov. 25, 2012 8:29 p.m.

    Educational spending needs to be led by frugal, and wise leadership.

    This is lacking in the federal, state, city, military, and educational leadership,

  • Just Saying 2 Morgan, UT
    Nov. 25, 2012 8:23 p.m.

    Those who can.... teach... those who can't...... post on message boards acting like they know everything about teaching and the educational process!!!

  • Pack Layton, Utah
    Nov. 25, 2012 8:05 p.m.

    You mean in the real world like professional sports, entertainment, or politics, where it is always enough in those professions? Education is just a waste of money I guess.

  • Oatmeal Woods Cross, UT
    Nov. 25, 2012 8:00 p.m.

    "Worf" seems to think that counseling, support systems for handicapped and struggling students, physical education, arts and music programs, campus policing, technology, vocational programs (with all of that expensive equipment) and every other curricular expense is a complete waste of funding.

    "DN Subscriber 2" fails to take into account the article's assertion that student enrollment is increasing, and that is the need that needs to be addressed.

    This reader hopes that most Utahns are capable of discerning that a growing student population necissitates increased fuding. An undereducated generation would destroy our state's cultural and economic future and decimate the quality of life for many of these students.

  • DN Subscriber 2 SLC, UT
    Nov. 25, 2012 7:11 p.m.

    How much money is enough for education? Have they ever had "enough" or has the powerful education establishment ever said how much would satisfy them?

    In the real world, you prioritize your spending to meet the funding available, and lots of "nice to have" stuff usually does not get funded. That happened to my dreams of a yacht, fancy car, cruise around the world, and other cool stuff. The educators, and the legislators who fund them, need to make similar choices. Maybe we cannot provide all the administrative staff, or sports stuff that "we have always had." Or, maybe we need to cut the bureaucrats in the state and district offices by 50% to fund teachers in classrooms.

    What MUST not happen, is the attitude that "education wants" so "taxpayers must pay more."

    The Legislators need to take a similar tight-fisted and critical eye to every funding request. Then should NEVER fund anything just because it was funded last year, and NEVER fund anything based on last year's level plus an increase. Make the agencies justify every dollar of spending, not just "new" spending.

    Legislators and educators need to treat money like taxpayers!

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Nov. 25, 2012 6:10 p.m.

    Needed funding for students:

    * classroom
    * chalkboard
    * desks
    * books
    * supplies--pencils, paper, crayons, etc
    * a teacher
    * principal

    What's so hard about that? Anything else is a waste.