Half of the teachers surveyed by Taxpayers for Accountability in Government, a tax watchdog organization, said they believe the state Board of Education does little to help them in their classroom responsibilities.
Those who supported the board saw its prime purpose to be curriculum development and assurance of statewide quality and uniformity in education. About 19 percent of the respondents said they believe the state board should be eliminated. Another 22.9 percent did not respond specifically to the question.The organization surveyed 1,000 teachers whose names were randomly selected from state lists and received 153 responses, said Jerry Niederhauser, organization president. She said the survey questions were "straightforward, with no political motivation."
The group is concerned that too few of Utah's education dollars are actually getting to the classroom. "Education is failing our children," Niederhauser said. "Our ultimate goal is to be involved in finding better delivery systems for education for our children." The organization is not affiliated with other tax watchdog groups, she said, and proposes only to seek and disseminate facts.
Niederhauser said she is concerned that there are no written guidelines for the state Board of Education. (The board is a constitutionally required body. The responsibilities and duties of the board and the state superintendent of public instruction are outlined in Section 53A of the Utah Code. New legislative assignments for the board and office are added to the code as they are passed).
Superintendent James R. Moss said teachers often fail to understand what the state office does for education and how it affects classroom operation. Among its many responsibilities, he said, are passing through federal and state funds, curriculum development, teacher certification, child nutrition, data processing and developing assessment tools to measure student progress. The office also is responsible for rehabilitation for handicapped children and adults and operates the State Schools for the Deaf and Blind. Less than half a percent of the total state education budget stays in the state office, Moss said.
Ed Little, chairman of the group's subcommittee on education, said the teacher information gathered in the survey has been shared with Utah legislators.