It's amazing that Utah legislators expect first rate results from our
schools when funding them at just over half the national average. You
can't buy a first rate home in Utah with about half of the national
average cost. You can't buy classrooms, books, desks, paper, and any of
the other physical material for about half of the national average cost.
The problem facing public education is not a funding problem. And the answers
are not found in more funding. The more we think it is funding and focus our
efforts there, the longer our children wait for us to have the guts to address
the real issues. I believe perhaps the largest issue is that the quality of
instruction varies so much from classroom to classroom, school to school, that
great inequities exist in the education a student receives from one school (or
even one class) to the next. Education, as an "industry"
needs to figure out how to measure teacher effectiveness and provide training
and accountability to improve the teaching in places where it is weak. Schools
need to be more bold in letting poor teachers go, more quickly, and invest what
is needed in high potential teachers (by way of training and coaching). Our challenges are not primarily funding challenges. The solutions do
not lie in increased funding.
It takes better funding to address the very issues raised by Seek To Understand:
"that the quality of instruction varies so much from classroom to classroom,
school to school, that great inequities exist in the education a student
receives from one school (or even one class) to the next." Yes
inequities are significant. But to attract excellent teachers, and to provide
"training and coaching" all cost money.
There is not a single problem in education, but funding tops the list, followed
closely by parent and student apathy. Better salaries for teachers equals
better teaching, more accountability for students equals higher test scores.
Parents who choose to get involved in their childs life, not by being helicopter
parents and running down to the school every time your child tells you
something, but by reading to them in the early part of their lives, and then
having them read to you in the primary grades. By making sure that the do their
homework, that they attend class at the secondary level.