Deseret News
Letter to the editor

Education is important. Utah is falling behind. Why are we making potentially detrimental tax cuts now?

I teach middle school students with severe intellectual disabilities. They challenge me and bring me joy every day. The past two weeks are the first time I have had adequate help in over three years. Notice I say adequate, because it is still not ideal. Two of my kids require one-on-one attention due to behavior needs, and three others are regularly aggressive. I am expected to be a behavior specialist, counselor, supervisor and teacher simultaneously. There is literally not enough time in the day to finish everything.

Teachers everywhere feel the pressure. Students who exhibit problematic behaviors are finally getting their right to an education. However, this means that teachers have second-graders who destroy property and threaten others, requiring room evacuation of all students, in both special and general ed settings.

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Since we rightly must teach every student, we need more resources just for basic safety. We need behavior specialists, mentors, counselors and aides, but we can’t even staff teachers. This is the reality of underfunding. The Utah legislature has promised since the Great Recession that they will fully fund education when our economy recovered. Our per-pupil spending is still lower than 2008, and our students' needs are ever-growing.

If you know a teacher or care about a child, call your representative. Tell them that cuts to the income tax will be devastating to the future of Utah.

Elizabeth Ellingson