Painting too rosy a picture of Utah's educational achievements may prevent progress in areas where the state is weak, a spokesman for the Utah Teachers United/American Federation of Teachers says.

Ken Zenger criticized state officials who take the position that education is doing all right and that it is important to maintain a good image."Many school district offices are failing to respond adequately to the warnings that Utah students in too many schools and too many areas, are near (in some cases below) national test averages," Zenger said. Utah parents should not be content with average or below-average scores.

Zenger said Utah's schools are in serious need of change to meet the challenges of the immediate future. The turn-of-the-century system now in effect no longer meets the needs. Utah students will not be able to compete effectively with students from other states unless changes occur, he said.

He suggested that the system can be altered to be more effective without huge increases in funding. Decentralization is necessary, he said, with more decision-making at the local level and in the hands of educators who are at the forefront of the process.

"Too much emphasis has been and is now placed upon schools to comply with rules and regulations rather than achieving increased results," he said. "Schools should be redesigned to fit the student, rather than the student fitting into a school with prescribed programs and expectations."