Utah's public education system should be revamped with a program that includes experimental "governor's schools" and gives teachers the freedom to be more creative, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Wilson said Thursday.
In remarks prepared for a campaign speech, Wilson unveiled a plan that also would establish a citizens' commission to review schools and set criteria, and would call for each school to be governed by a board of parents, teachers and administrators.Rather than testing students against each other, Wilson said, his plan would have teachers test students against themselves.
Wilson, who leads Republican Gov. Norm Bangerter in opinion polls, said he will propose his plan to the Legislature in January if voters elect him.
"By the year 2000, Utah should have the best schools in the country," Wilson said. "Does it sound impossible? It sounded impossible to put a man on the moon in 1961 (the year President John F. Kennedy challenged Americans to do so)."
Under Wilson's plan, several of the state's public schools would be designated as "governor's schools" and given the flexibility to explore innovative teaching techniques.
"Various programs will be put in place to see if they do improve the performance of students," said Rob Jolley, Wilson's campaign manager. "What occurs at each school may be different."
Teaching techniques deemed successful would then be used statewide.
Jolley said Wilson, a teacher, drafted the plan on his own after much thought. Wilson believes the plan would better prepare students to someday develop new technologies and businesses, thereby improving the state's economy.
Wilson said his proposed commissions and governing boards would give parents, teachers and administrators more control of how children are taught.
Teachers would test students on the first day of school, then retest them at intervals to see how they are progressing, Jolley said. That way, student performance would become more important than teaching criteria.
However, the new system would not replace the current grading system, he said.
The plan calls for a review commission, made of Utah residents, to judge how well each school has improved each year. The state then would publish the findings.
Wilson promised to implement the plan without raising taxes. He stopped short of saying whether the plan could work if voters approve three tax-cutting initiatives in November.