Anger and frustration will be on the agenda for both of the state's teacher associations - the Utah Education Association and Utah Teachers United - when they hold their annual conventions this week.

Clearly, these are not the best of times for Utah teachers.A recent survey showed Utah's 17,000 teachers have the second lowest morale in the nation - ranking only ahead of West Virginia.

The reason is simple: Utah teachers feel they're paid less for working more than their counterparts in other states. This is borne out by Utah having the highest classroom size in the country, while teacher salaries rank a paltry 43rd. Expenditures per pupil are also a lowly 50th out of 51.

Add to that the fact that many tax protesters have declared open season on Utah educators, and it's no wonder teachers are unhappy.

And that's a shame. Rather than maligning Utah's teachers, we should be singing their praises for the tremendous jobs they do.

Granted, it's not fashionable to praise teachers these days. It's much easier to sit back and talk about stretching Utah's education dollars beyond the breaking point.

Despite such adversities, however, the vast majority of Utah teachers remain dedicated and are doing an outstanding job in the classroom. The proof is that even with limited resources, Utah students still score higher than the national average on achievement tests.

But teacher patience is understandably wearing thin, especially when it seems no one thinks they're doing a good job.

Writes one teacher: "A vigorous public relations program needs to be put in place to tell the public what is right in today's schools and that proper funding does indeed make a difference . . . ."

What's right with Utah's schools is its teachers and we ought to take notice of that.