Comments about ‘Letter: Utah schools underfunded’

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Published: Thursday, Jan. 16 2014 12:00 a.m. MST

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Steve Cottrell
Centerville, UT

Dear 2 bits: You ask for an amount so I have a proposal. How about spending just a national average amount? We spend an average amount for the average car or bag of groceries or tank of gas. We don't seem to expect other products for 2/3 of average national cost.

Is it not amazing that we get an average education (it varies a bit depending on the measure) for 2/3 of the average cost?

Of course average expenditure would require nearly a 50% increase above current funding levels so that proposal is sure to be rejected. So how about just enough to make us second to lowest? or perhaps even third lowest?

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

"1. Everything is underfunded - roads, Highway Patrol, state buildings and every other type of infrastructure, department and salary."

Yep. Now do you understand why so many here in Utah are outraged at the state wasting millions on this gay marriage debate? Now do you understand why so many Americans are upset with the endless wars that Bush started?

"2. When referring to education, just what within education is underfunded? Is it teacher salaries, staff salaries, buildings, utilities, tables and chairs, books, band programs, busing, floor polish, UEA/NEA dues or what?"

Spend one week in a classroom and you will find out. Undercompensated, huge class sizes in small classrooms, old facilities which are falling apart, severely outdated textbooks, and lack of materials.

Sense Maker

Volunteers are the answer. One more adult in a classroom can make a huge difference. Many schools that are middle income and above, have enough parents that will volunteer. If we want to make a huge difference we need to volunteer in the more impoverished schools, and schools where there are twenty different languages spoken within the school boundaries. (I know. I taught at a school like this and know how much difference volunteers make. I had members of my family helping, but the principal no longer allowed this.) With the Common Core Curriculum, the federal government will have more and more power over our schools. They can force the school district to teach the children the propaganda they want them to hear, even though the local school community doesn't want it to be taught. Also, parental expectation of their child, and the willingness to help and encourage children at home, is a huge factor in success at school. Parents and students who want to achieve can excel at any school they go to. We have a vast amount of knowledge available on the internet,"Google," etc. Libraries have computers, also, for student use.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY


First, college kids are (nearly) adults mentally. Kids in grades 1-12 are not.

Second, the huge auditorium based classes tend to be the introductory classes – not the more advanced classes where more individualized attention is necessary. Note that what is “advanced” depends on the kid’s age and learning status.

Third, my elementary education was in the 1960s. I recall plenty of testing.

You think there is no way to assess education? Sure there is. Is it perfect? Of course not. It likely works only somewhat to measure the knowledge of a single person but much better to compare educational efficacy among different populations.

Class size is like so many things – there is a sweet spot. A little bit of variance one way or the other is not very important. But start to get outside the norm and efficacy will suffer.

Class size is one of several things that must be in line for education to be effective.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

"With the Common Core Curriculum, the federal government will have more and more power over our schools. They can force the school district to teach the children the propaganda they want them to hear, even though the local school community doesn't want it to be taught. "

Propaganda? Examples please.

Darn that common core for teaching kids propaganda like evolution and how the founding fathers weren't perfect and owned slaves. Dang propaganda!

Pasedena, CA

To "Twin Lights" unfortunately there is even more testing now than in the 1960's. The kids have at least 4 different national standardized tests in addition to the testing that Utah has set up to determine if you meet the state standards.

It used to be that the students were given national standardized tests once every 2 years. Now they have multiple tests each year.

If class size is so important, explain Korea. For elementary school they average 30 to 40 kids per class, and in Highschool they average 35 to 45 kids per classroom. If class size was so important I would expect them to do worse not better than the US on the international testing.

What you, and most liberals, have ignored is that the key to success in school is determined by their parents. You can't legislate parents to care about education and ensure their kids have a desire to learn.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY


First, I am no more liberal than any Eisenhower style Republican.

Second, I essentially agree with you on the testing. One or two testing periods a year are enough. My point was that we were tested then too.

Comparing us to Korea would be difficult. There are so many differences that I could not account for. Nor do I believe it is the only issue. But the point was made about large lecture hall type classes and I responded to that.

In my teaching experience and classroom experience (in both professional education and church), class size does make a difference. Too few - the discussion can languish. Too many - and you cannot really talk to everyone and guarantee the type of participation you want.

I stipulated earlier that parents are key (see prior post). My point here was simply that there are other things too.

Mike in Sandy
Sandy, UT

That's because they waste money fighting lost causes like trying to derail gay marriage, which will soon be accepted nationally. And spending those dollars on outside sources. And other states like California.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

The old adage that in college we can have huge auditorium filled classes and it works just fine is a false premise. It doesn't work out just fine. Half of college students will probably wash out. Do we want that percentages in our high schools. Do you think we could put 500 kindergarteners in a auditorium and it will all work out? Plus, like said above, once you get past the "survey" classes, most of my classes were much smaller than what I see in our high school's today. My post-graduate courses never have more than 20 students. You see, college use large auditorium classes as a way to weed out students. I hope our public schools can do better. I hope any of the above that think this is quality education and we need to spend less and just house hundreds of our students in an auditorium because it might have worked for them or some others, is totally ridiculous. Those who argue against this letter need to bring more to the intellectual table.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

I have to address how what in college really works.

1) Large lecture hall classes don't work. They are weed out courses. Those who are intelligent and good test takers will do well. The lecturer may be entertaining. But a good share of students drop out of college after the first year. Perhaps, this is the way it is designed.

2) Will you continue to have large classes as you go deeper into college and in your post-graduate studies. Well, no. Because here good teaching comes with smaller class sizes. In many cases you will develop strong one-on-one relationships with your professors, class sizes rarely are over 15 students.

3) Does anybody really believe that putting 100 seniors or 100 9th graders or 100 first graders in a lecture hall with one teacher will really work because it supposedly "works" in college.?

Nan BW
ELder, CO

Schools have too many functions that have nothing to do with education. (Teaching political correctness for one.) The record keeping required of teachers and other staff is overwhelming and is largely a waste of time. Too many school resources are wasted because we have become extravagant with paper, technological equipment, food, pencils, educational knick-knacks and a thousand other things. Students are not respectful of what is provided for them so maintenance and repair are costly. Too many people believe that new buildings and equipment are necessary for academic excellence.

I do think the teachers should be paid salaries appropriate for the job they do, and I think a lot of administrators are not worth their salaries. I don't see greater expenditure as the answer. I see better use of what's available is a better solution. I also see greater family stability and students with greater character development a big step in the right direction. I have been there (teaching in four different states over several decades, with spaces in between when I had small children).

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