To the editor:

During the 1990 legislative session, nobody was going to solve the educational crisis in Utah, but the folks on the hill had to think fast to avert a strike by people who try to survive in a system that is overworked, understaffed and undervalued.The primary objective of the Capitol Hill crowd was to keep the lid on one more year in the hope that the demands for change would dissipate.

To help the educational community shift focus away from present concerns, some politicians did something new - they structured their rhetoric by alluding to a strategic plan. They plan was supposed to help Utah education achieve international status. We would provide our children the best education in the world by the year 2000.

Reality vs. rhetoric came home during the 1991 legislative session. The reality is too many taxpayers and politicians are comfortable with the way things are; they are comfortable with mediocrity.

For years, we have ignored the obvious. Like our deteriorating infrastructure in America, education is in need of more than a fresh coat of white paint. We need to redirect our abundant resources to solve problems from within.

Mandated restructuring programs in Utah have typically done more to make conditions more intolerable than to improve the educational environment. We have experienced the conflicts of career ladder; we will soon be affected by the state's alternative certification program, and nobody can figure out how statewide standardized testing will improve education.

Educators should fight for professionalism. We need to be the expert problem solvers. We are responsible for restructuring education - where education takes place. When teachers demand to be treated as professionals and focus with strength on the needs of education, the actions of the Legislature will start matching the rhetoric.

Greg Hayes, president

American Federation of Teachers - Utah