Utah last in U.S. in spending per pupil — again

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  • Jimmy James
    July 3, 2010 7:57 a.m.

    As far as I can tell, Utah is just getting the biggest bang for it's buck when it comes to education, and I'm fine with that. That's not to say Utah schools couldn't use a couple extra bucks, but trying to judge a school systems worth based on how much money they spend is completely illogical. I'm interested in how much we produce per dollar invested, not the total amount we spend.

    While some money is essential for education, more money is not necessarily the answer. In my opinion, by far and away the biggest predictor of someones educational success is the attitude of their family towards education.

    If you have parents who expect you to do well in school and help you and teach you along the way, that student will succeed regardless of the money or lack thereof.

    However, if the parents aren't on board with education, no matter how much money you throw at that student, very little difference will be made.

  • byronbca
    July 2, 2010 11:55 p.m.

    I love how we live in a state were whenever there is a moral issue the people shout “protect the children” “do it for the children”, yet when it comes to educating our children or money, money wins every time. Can you say hypocrisy.

    I for one think our children’s future is worth a raise in taxes.

  • Pagan
    July 2, 2010 3:08 p.m.

    'Utah has to be the worst state in the union to live. The people are close minded, it takes more beers to get drunk, the education system stinks, gays are being discriminated against, it's just a horrible horrible place. Seems there should be more people moving out of this state than coming in due to the abhorrent living conditions. Why do so many people want to live in such an awful place? Weird I tell ya.' - 9:25 a.m.

    Bleching Cow, agreed.

    Oh, were you being sarcastic?

    But...those were facts. :)

  • Midwest Mom
    July 2, 2010 10:10 a.m.

    Wow! Number one in online pornography and dead last in per-pupil spending. Now that's what I call family values! Way to go, Utah!

  • JSB
    July 1, 2010 11:04 p.m.

    We'd get a lot more bang for the buck if federal education dollars were distributed to the schools through a voucher system. Then the money could be used where the school district needs the money, not where Washington politicians and bureaucrats tell us where we need the money.

  • ObamaRepublican
    July 1, 2010 3:51 p.m.

    You would think Utah would spend Zero dollars on a socialist program like education. Goodness the teachers fill those fragile minds with progressive thought!

    They may teach them not to judge the beggar for the sitiuation he finds himself in or give to each man accorrding to his wants. Maybe to if you have more your should give more. Oh sorry I was thinking about Mosiah not a teacher.

  • Charles History
    July 1, 2010 3:30 p.m.

    We are a very small populated state with not a big influx of out of state moveins but we sure do know how to make more people.

    Re: "Counter..."

    You are wrong we are very low on the percentage of the state budget. Conservatives in their views do not value a quality public school education, they want a working class of poor uneducated workers.

    Remember child labor laws etc. all anti conservative views.

  • Belching Cow
    July 1, 2010 9:58 a.m.

    Oh yeah, I forgot. Another bad thing about Utah is the religious fanatics will be celebrating the 4th of July on Saturday instead of Sunday. Oh the horrors of it all!!

  • Belching Cow
    July 1, 2010 9:25 a.m.

    Utah has to be the worst state in the union to live. The people are close minded, it takes more beers to get drunk, the education system stinks, gays are being discriminated against, it's just a horrible horrible place. Seems there should be more people moving out of this state than coming in due to the abhorrent living conditions. Why do so many people want to live in such an awful place? Weird I tell ya.

  • eagle
    June 30, 2010 3:36 p.m.

    Re Egbert:

    The people that stole the money in Davis School District I don't believe were ever teachers or in-school administrators. Some districts do hire people from the business world, say CPA's, to oversee their finances and such, and they aren't necessarily educators. Now if I'm incorrect and these people from Davis School District that stole this money were former teachers and school administrators, perhaps your point has credence. But even then, I doubt the incidences of money swindling in our schools comes close to rivaling what takes place in the business world.

  • eagle
    June 30, 2010 3:33 p.m.

    Re Egbert:

    The people that stole the money in Davis School District I don't believe were ever teachers or in-school administrators. Some districts do hire people from the business world, say CPA's, to oversee their finances and such, and they aren't necessarily educators. Now if I'm incorrect and these people from Davis School District that stole this money were former teachers and school administrators, perhaps your point has credence. But even then, I doubt the incidences of money swindling in our schools comes close to rivaling what takes place in the business world.

  • Charles History
    June 30, 2010 3:08 p.m.

    Re: "Danish..."

    I do agree with a few of your beliefs, we need parents more involved, we need to allow discipline back into the classrooms.

    But, what is wrong with the teacher's union? Administrators can get rid of bad teachers, there are no rules that keep them in the classrooms. NEA does not want them there.

    What is wrong with Tenure? It take years of hard work, to develop in to a quality educator.

    Remember our country will fail if we fail in the education of our youth.

  • ObamaRepublican
    June 30, 2010 2:56 p.m.

    I find it very funny that the Red states consume more in Federal Spending then they pay in! Utah is in the mid 20s on the list. Sounds like State Welfare to me.

    I thought you people in Utah didn't want government spending. Oh yeah it comes from defense, which you are more then happy to take and waste. Yet, you whine when other states ask for more federal dollars for education.

    Hmm making bombs or teaching children, call me crazy buy my belief system spend all we can on education and as little as possible on defense.

  • Danish American
    June 30, 2010 1:48 p.m.


    You must be a teacher. Until we get PC out of the schools, get parents more involved, allow discipline back into the classroom, get rid of teacher's unions so we can get rid of bad teachers, stop tenure, get the federal government out of education, and the list goes on and on--it simply won't matter how much money per student we spend.

  • Charles History
    June 30, 2010 1:30 p.m.

    Re: "Egbert..."

    Remember it was those business people in the district that took all that money. They where caught, what more do you want?
    It is not the fault of the schools if some business person in the district did something wrong.

    Egbert if you want quality education let the professionals do the job. You must not have spent any time in the field for you seem very ignorant of the dealings with in a school building.

    I do not understand why you are so upset, (it might be because you are part of the conservative ignorant mass that believes in their own bliss.)

    The conservatives in this state like their pet projects.
    If it makes money for them or their friends they are for it.

    So, if we tied money making projects to public schools the conservatives in this state would open up the coffers and we would have successful fully funded schools.

  • CindyinSC
    June 30, 2010 12:42 p.m.

    At what point will Utah start to charge a "head tax" to families that enroll more than, say, 4 students per family? Big families are not paying their fair share of the burden. They get tax breaks on both their federal and state taxes due, and then they enroll them in school. Those of us with fewer children end up paying for OUR children and THEIR children, too. Yes I want everyone to have a "free and appropriate" education. I'm a teacher! But my kids' education suffers because I kept my family size small.

  • EgbertThrockmorton
    June 30, 2010 12:42 p.m.

    Perhaps if more Utah Districts were diligent in the efficient use of the taxpayer dollars they receive, and were actually held accountable for HOW the money is spent, then we taxpayers wouldn't be so irate. The John and Susan Ross Embezzlement of millions of dollars from the Davis School District went "undetected" for decades. Too bad the CFO is that incompetent that he couldn't have even TRIED to conduct an appropriate audit.
    This is why people are so furious, the imperious nature of "educators", folks, it's not that difficult to teach, nor is that difficulty to "administrate" the workings of a school district. Yes, folks we DO expect our School District employees to actually WORK for a living, therein lies the difference, between us and them. Merit pay for teachers is an excellent idea. No tenure, no seniority, make your job dependent entirely upon results, just like in the private sector. Oh, that's not "fair", says the UEA, no, it's called REALITY.

  • LDS Liberal
    June 30, 2010 12:16 p.m.

    LIBERAL Teachers
    LIBERAL Professors and Universities
    LIBERAL Education System
    LIBERAL Agenda

    Conservatives HATE anything dealing with eduction.
    Why on earth should they fund it?

  • LDS Liberal
    June 30, 2010 11:47 a.m.

    I think Conservatives are afraid of education.

    Education causes you to think for yourself,
    which in turn makes you become more LIBERAL.

  • LDS Liberal
    June 30, 2010 11:44 a.m.

    I wonder if there is a coorelation with being the most conservative as well.

    No wonder so many are turning to AM radios to get educated....by college drop-outs.

  • canyonist
    June 30, 2010 11:25 a.m.

    It's unbelievable that the arguments against better funding for education continue...teachers should be compensated better, they should not have to use their own money to purchase supplies for their students and, very important, class sizes should be reduced to 20 and under instead of 30, sometimes 40 plus.

    It may be enough for conservatives/republicans to have students who are about average but think what the "pretty great" state could do with just average funding...our students would in the top 10 and our future brighter.

  • Hervey
    June 30, 2010 11:06 a.m.

    @Danish American...Actually, if you consider both demographics and funding, you find education spending does make a difference. Most states with higher spending also have more minority students and higher poverty levels.

    Utah test scores are slightly higher than the national average ONLY because we are richer and whiter than the average.

    When compared with our demographic peers, Utah falls far behind in every category (Search for "Utah Foundation Report #681" for details).

  • Hervey
    June 30, 2010 10:53 a.m.

    Poqui, Not true. Utah is in the middle of the pack in % of budget going to education and 41st (as the article states) in terms of funding effort for education. In other words, we're no longer even making a significant effort towards educating our large number of kids.

  • Poqui
    June 30, 2010 10:04 a.m.

    Utah leads the nation in % of state budget spent on education.

    So you could say we are dead last in per-pupil spending or you could say that we are #1 in the nation in % of state budget spent on educating our children.

    The glass is half full as well...

  • Andersonsue
    June 30, 2010 9:51 a.m.

    Hey, Al, you are right on. I am going to take it a step further and ask that the Utah legislation and all politians go through the same strict security clearances and fingerprinting every time they turn around. Then, if they can't pass, fire them like they do the teachers.

  • Danish American
    June 30, 2010 9:27 a.m.

    Interesting that some of the worst states as far as education are concerned have the highest per pupil funding. They also have the strongest teacher's unions. Coincidence? Don't think so.

  • Orem Parent
    June 30, 2010 9:21 a.m.

    Imagine what our state could do if we had even average funding!

  • JSB
    June 29, 2010 9:55 p.m.

    Is there a correlation between the amount spent per student and student achievement? Perhaps our students are being short-changed, or perhaps Utah is good at getting a big bang for their education dollar.

  • Utah Teacher
    June 29, 2010 9:23 p.m.

    The real problem is about 10 years ago the legislature changed school funding laws.

    It used to be all income tax went to public education for k-12.

    They changed it so that it now includes higher education.

    Do you realize what size that chunk is?

    It is huge!

  • washcomom
    June 29, 2010 9:03 p.m.

    Is there was something out there about how many actually send their children to Private or Charter Schools in the state of UT? That would be interesting to see the division of funds for private education vs public. That would also show why people want to have better education choices when there is not enough money in direct line to the students' learning.

    How does UT rank with SAT? ACT?

  • patriot
    June 29, 2010 8:33 p.m.

    something to be proud of!!! Way to go Utah!!! Maybe that dead last education will produce A grade students??? I don't think so.

  • K
    June 29, 2010 8:19 p.m.

    Places like NY and CA and IL have massive amounts of kids out of the public school system and in parochial schools. So more dollars can be spent per child.

    Also cost of living. Costs more to live in other states.

  • eagle
    June 29, 2010 7:58 p.m.

    Students from eastern states typically do better on the ACT while Utah (and students generally from western states) will do better on the SAT. Since most eastern colleges put emphasis on the SAT, only a small minority of Utah students will take the SAT, usually the best and brightest. Same situation for NY for those students who want to go to a western college like a Stanford where the ACT is the standardized test of choice.

    I think Utah has gotten away with low investment in public education. With a strong LDS based of mostly involved parents from a homogeneous population, this helped keep scores higher, graduation rates higher etc. despite the lack of funding. However, times are a changing. Our population is fast becoming diverse, parents are spending less time with their children, Utah's divorce rates are close to the national average. These factors will strain public education in Utah. Teacher morale a generation ago, even ten years ago, was much higher. Utah is possibly teetering on education disaster if the prevailing attitude persists.

  • the truth
    June 29, 2010 5:48 p.m.

    It is NOT about How much you spend,

    IT is NOT about where place in some list,

    results have so much to do with a number of things not realtedto money,

    But what is the proper amount to educate pupil?

    Why is no one intersted in answering that?

    Why the obsession with meaningless lists?

    what if utah doubled the money so they are at top the lists and still got the same results?

    would that money well spent?

    it's not about lists,

    it about what is the actual cost to educate a student and many other factors.

  • OHBU
    June 29, 2010 4:09 p.m.

    re: so-what

    "There are no reliable or valid means of measuring quality of education....Our schools are actually "dumbing down" factories in many places. It is one reason that parents who care about their kids "quality" of education do HOME SCHOOLING."

    So many problems with this statement. First, you say there's no way to measure quality, then you assert that the quality is low. How, exactly, did you measure that?
    Secondly, I would contend that parents that care about their kids and want them to do well in this world are big enough to untie the apron strings and let them be exposed to varying world-views. No matter how much education I get, I will never be qualified to home-school my children because I only represent one world-view. Critical thinking skills are developed by being exposed to a foreign idea, deciding whether there is validity to that idea, and forming an opinion. How can this be developed if one never encounters different opinions? There's a reason companies always look to hire people with diverse backgrounds--the more ideas that enter a room, the more likely the company can be innovative.

  • OHBU
    June 29, 2010 4:01 p.m.

    re: dispel

    "America had a higher literacy rate when there were no public schools."

    I love this kind of Fox News lack of substance fact. America's literacy rate in 1870 - 80%, now? over 99%. While there were no surveys done before 1870, we can assume rates were even lower--as public education became more widespread, so has literacy.

    Also, when exactly was this supposed period before public schools? In this country, there have been public schools since the Puritans landed.

  • Arizona2
    June 29, 2010 3:44 p.m.

    Interestingly enough, Utah and Idaho, the two states with the lowest per-student funding rank quite high when it comes to actual performance. The National Center for Education Statistics, a government tracker of student scores on standardized tests shows Utah and Idaho students above the national average in almost everything--particularly when looking at the 8th graders. They even outdo the top spending state of New York in most categories. It seems that these two states have managed to do more with less. In contrast, if you look at Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, California, and virtually any state south of Utah from the east to the west coast, the scores are subpar, even when states spend more. This is only one study to show comparisons, so if anyone else has others, I'd love to see them. But for right now, I don't think you can say that per student spending is a good benchmark for success rates.

  • so-what
    June 29, 2010 3:09 p.m.

    Hey folks, take comfort in the fact that money spent on pupils does Not correlate into students' quality of education.

    There are no reliable or valid means of measuring quality of education. Many of the worst schools in the US spend obscene amounts on students and get very poor outcomes. The third world nations produce brilliant scholars with very poor resources. Our schools are actually "dumbing down" factories in many places. It is one reason that parents who care about their kids "quality" of education do HOME SCHOOLING.

    Throwing money at schools does not necessarily equate to improving education.

    Look at what schools teach and don't teach then decide what is valuable to keep or throw out. This includes teachers and administrators.

    I'm from L.A. and speak from the ugly experiences in schools there. Money is not always the answer to everything.

  • Observation Deck
    June 29, 2010 3:04 p.m.

    Going to make some generalizations here, so go ahead and fire away. But judging from the comments and incorrect spelling on this message board, a lot of you are all the proof the state board of education needs that Utah should increase spending per pupil.

    Take some initiative, get some more education/training, and get a job that pays more so you can be contributing tax payers instead of parasites on the system. Yes, I'm talking to you that spend all day on message boards complaining about everything from religion to politics.

  • dispel
    June 29, 2010 3:02 p.m.

    America had a higher literacy rate when there were no public schools. Case in point - America elected Obama...that should tell you something. Public schools are of little value. The real value is in parent involvement, not public schools.

  • Lets think
    June 29, 2010 2:42 p.m.

    Utah is running out of excuses when it comes to adequately funding education. Our families may be larger than the national average but we are far from the bottom in our per capita income.

    As our state's per capita income increased we had the opportunity to move away from our "bottom of the pile'ranking and invest more in the education of our children. In every poll taken, Utahn's resoundingly say they want more spent on education. So why has public education continued to be given a smaller percentage of the state budget each year?

    The Utah Tax Payers Association, along with many legislators consistently fight an increase in enough money to remove us from the bottom of the list in spending on public education They continually spew the line that more money does not equal better education. That logic does not apply when you spend more than $1000 LESS than the next lowest state on the list.

    More money can equal better education if you lower class size, update classroom materials, or provide better student support services by increasing the number of counselors, or school nurses.

  • Scooter
    June 29, 2010 1:23 p.m.

    Re.: Orem Parent, OK lets discuss the ACT scores for UT compared to states that have higher PPS:
    (PPS rank in brackets)

    State-ACT Avg.-% of Grads tested-Rank in ACT
    UT(51)21.8 68% 24th
    NY(2) 23.1 25% 7th
    NJ(1) 23.1 16% 6th
    MA(7) 23.9 18% 1st
    Nat. 21.1 45% N/A

    Just for fun, here is the SAT;

    State-SAT Avg.-% of Grads tested-Rank in SAT
    UT(51)1657 6% 20th
    NY(2) 1466 85% 46th
    NJ(1) 1506 76% 36th
    IA(28)1813 3% 1st
    Nat. 1509 46% N/A

    More interesting, look at graduation rates!

  • majmajor
    June 29, 2010 12:47 p.m.

    Bring back the food tax! You pay more with larger families and eat more. It is a great head tax.

  • thelogicalone
    June 29, 2010 12:30 p.m.

    Let's not forget that 100% of our income tax in this state goes to fund education, and few people want taxes raised. I moved here from a state where we paid for some of the things we get for free here, such as paper, crayons, tissues, field trips, etc. We give our students quite a bit without spending the amount other states do. Oh, and that state I moved from? Property tax 350% higher than here.

  • Mom of 2
    June 29, 2010 12:19 p.m.

    How about we require proof of citizenship before enrolling any students in our schools? That would take some of the strain off the system right there.

    I also think it's only fair that if you have more kids in the system, you need to be paying more for their education - but unfortunately those with more kids are usually the ones using fee waivers, while the rest of us are covering the expenses.

  • Charles History
    June 29, 2010 11:58 a.m.

    Re: "Scooter"

    You are right the conservatives in this state like their pet projects.

    If it makes money for them or their friends they are for it.

    Conservatives where for the Iraq war because it made them money.

    Conservatives are tied to charter schools so they fund them, they are tied to building projects so they fund them, they change the tax code to save money for themselves so they take money from the children.
    Follow the money they are greedy individuals that care nothing for the success of the overall state/country.

    Re: "Independent"

    Do you have any proof?
    I have lived in other states they make fun of our education funding. The conservatives in this state care about themselves not for the most needy.

  • BH
    June 29, 2010 11:55 a.m.

    Come on, Molly. This is old news. Reporting each year on Utah being last in per student expenditures would be comparable to reporting each year that Kings Peak is still the highest point in Utah. It just doesn't change. And until it does, there is no new news here.

    But if you insist on reporting on this, perhaps you could spend a little more on reporting how Utah leads the nation on return per dollar spent. Yea. Mention how we always manage to rank high on the number of students continuing with higher eduction. And do quite well on many other measurables. All this is spite of the handicap of expenditure per student.

  • Cameron
    June 29, 2010 11:54 a.m.

    To get an idea of what all of this costs-

    In an effort to reduce class sizes, between 1993 and 2007 the state spent over $700 million on top of its regular education funding.

    The net result? 2 teachers.

    The National Education Association says we should get our class sizes down to 15 students. Utah is at 26 currently. To get down to 15 it would cost an additional $900 million per year plus $4 billion for land and buildings.

  • Anti Government
    June 29, 2010 11:45 a.m.

    lowest spending......and the majority are still smart enough not to vote for obonehead the marxist.

    The spend gobs of money in DC and yet their graduation rates are in the toilet.


    Go figure.

    I would say this is not rocket science BUT clearly it is the equivlent if your brain is impaired withe degenerative disease known as liberalism.

  • Hellooo
    June 29, 2010 11:41 a.m.

    Just take one moment and ask yourselves whether you are a Democrat or Republican how much additional money would it take to raise the average money spent per pupil to the average spent pupil nationally. It is just an impossible goal given the relative meager earning power of average Utahn's. The fact is Utahn's no matter which political party is running things will not achieve such funding levels.

    Utah needs new innovation in how to educate and train its children if excellence is to be achieved. This old and tired industrial age model is not what we need in the 21st Century. There are better ways to train, educate, and fund than we are currently doing. But, resistance to changes is always very difficult, so we plod along year after year with average results, dissatisfied workers(teachers), and the highest income and property taxes in the intermountain West by a fairly high margin.

  • jazzfan
    June 29, 2010 11:23 a.m.

    I absolutely believe that familial emphasis on education has an impact on test scores and other things that are supposedly empirical ways of measuring achievement. However, to assume that great teachers won't respond to economic incentives and teach elsewhere is naive. My father has been teaching for 31 years in Utah. It makes me so angry when I hear people say that teachers do just fine and should stop claiming they are underpaid. He had to work 2-3 jobs YEAR-ROUND to provide for us kids. I understand the tax situation is difficult in Utah, but I for one believe overburdened teachers deserve much more credit for their devotion and pay for their performance.

  • K
    June 29, 2010 11:14 a.m.

    $5,000 times 20 is $100,000. Class sizes are more than 20. Why does so much money go to things not directly related to the classroom?

  • Scooter
    June 29, 2010 11:11 a.m.

    Charles, there is a way you could not be 'Sick' in this State ... figure it out!

    If we dumped all the money in your pet project, others would be upset because their project does not get enough. Everybody has a pet project that runs on OPM (Other Peoples Money) & OPM is just like the 'Drug', very addictive & always wanting more!

    Throwing money at something does not make it better, but managing the money you get does make it run better.

  • Charles History
    June 29, 2010 11:09 a.m.

    Re: "Gandalf"

    Thanks, if we had more people like you in the government then maybe things would improve around here.

    We spend more money in putting out the fires in this state then keeping the fires from starting in the first place. Point, if we spend more money on the students in this state we would then need to spend less money on the criminals that are created because of a lack of success in schools. If we spend more money on the students in this state we would then have a educated work force. (I know the conservatives do not want this because they want the cheap labor, for example of a conservative thought - look at Walmart they supported vouchers because it hurts public schools in the end they will have more people that can only afford a Walmart life.)

  • timpClimber
    June 29, 2010 11:07 a.m.

    Three points
    . As a science teacher for 20 years in Utah public schools I watched our supply budgets disappear as we had to pay for more and more fee waver students. regular students got the shaft as we had to add more and more free make up classes for those who failed. Guess who made up 85% of the make up classes? Children of non citizens.
    , We have been robbed by the federal government of our school trust land income, we can't even get to much of it tied up in parks and monuments and we never got a fair share of school improvement funds because of the formula. Less than 70% of our land can be taxed.
    . Our administrative cost is light compared to other states. We have far fewer administrators because we have larger districts and they all wear several hats so cutting administrators will only hurt. Education gets a greater share of the state budget compared to other states--We just don't have the tax base.

  • MapleDon
    June 29, 2010 11:07 a.m.

    Do a simple study showing that an increase in per-pupil spending results in marked improvement in aptitude and I'll go along with the mantra.

    Otherwise, we can stop with the insinuation and focus on more important matters, such as curriculum--what is being taught.

    I'm concerned that children today--on average--aren't as bright as they were 30, 40, or 50 years back by the time they graduate from high school. It seems we've lost our competitive edge.

    New buildings and more spending haven't produced results.

    The issue is what is being taught, how it is taught, and if sufficient discipline exists in the classroom to move each student progressively.

  • Independent
    June 29, 2010 10:57 a.m.

    Conservatives DO sacrifice to educate their own children. They spend time at home making sure their kids do their homework instead of relying on the government workers to teach them everything, which translates into less of a drain on teachers and schools. Many also send their kids to private school and foot the bill themselves, on top of the taxes they pay to educate other kids. I agree that teachers could be paid more, but does that necessarily translate into better results for students? Is this debate about giving children a good education or teacher pay? How can we offer everyone a "free" public education and then complain year after year about how everybody's not paying enough? There are plenty of wealthy concerned liberals out there. Why don't they foot the bill?

  • Pagan
    June 29, 2010 10:49 a.m.

    Any result of high marks on students in Utah is only because of our teachers and administration that are willing to make sacrifice upon sacrifice...

    not because Utah is helping them.

    This article is proof of that.

  • Independent
    June 29, 2010 10:49 a.m.

    Psst. No matter which state you live in, the teachers unions and their friends in government use some shred of data to show that your state is somehow last in education. You'll find the same kind of story in a newspaper in every state in the union. It's a tactic they use to perpetually increase funding and power. Keep looking at the real issue: Whether or not children are getting an adequate education. Sometimes money has nothing to do with it. Sometimes it does. Generally speaking, if a kid goes to school, pays attention and does his work, he's going to get a good education, regardless of where he lives. I doubt very much that differences in the quality of instruction from state to state are anything more than marginal on the whole.

  • Older Reader
    June 29, 2010 10:43 a.m.

    Some states spend double what Utah spends and get far worse results. All public schools need to cut the PC courses and get back to basics.

  • Gandalf
    June 29, 2010 10:37 a.m.

    Let's be honest with ourselves Utahns. As long as conservatives control the legislature, there will never by a significant increase in funding for public education. It's as simple as that. The only way to improve public education is to through out the "increased taxes over my dead body" crowd.

    It's a sad comment on the current selfish status of the "conservatives" that they aren't willing to sacrifice to educate their own children. That anti tax people ought to be ashamed of themselves.

  • OHBU
    June 29, 2010 10:33 a.m.

    re: PDonty and Scooter

    In Utah, only about 6% of our students take the SAT...any guess on which ones?

    re: Mayfair

    You say it's ok that we are dead-last in spending because we have teachers that care and are dedicated. So what you're saying, is that because they're doing a good job, we should make sure they don't get rewarded. Do you realize how offensive this is to those very dedicated teachers?

    I was raised by a teacher--it's very hard. Most teachers work AT LEAST two jobs to make ends meet. While I take your point to mean that if teaching is very lucrative then you will get people in it for the money, I don't see any harm in raising salaries to a level where they could have a single job.

    Finally, for a state in which the political climate seems very much to be against the idea of a nanny-state, Utahns certainly do hold dear the idea that it is moral to have a large family you can't afford and let the government and church pick up the tab.

  • Orem Parent
    June 29, 2010 10:21 a.m.

    Oops my bad.

    Mass = 23.9 on ACT
    NH = 23.5

    I'm guessing these two states will also be at the top of the list in per pupil spending.

    So there is your evidence that spending does equal success no matter what you want to say about it.

  • Hervey
    June 29, 2010 10:19 a.m.

    Those who say Utah is fine with its pathetic effort at education funding because our test scores are slightly above average should see what the Utah Foundation says. Utah test scores are only higher because the state is richer and whiter than most states. When compared with our demographic peers, our scores are just as pathetic as our funding (i.e. Dead Last).
    Yes, you get what you pay for...even in Utah.

  • Orem Parent
    June 29, 2010 10:19 a.m.

    NY = 23.1 average on the A.C.T. (2nd only behind connecticut)

    UT= 21.8 (middle of the pack)

  • scambuster
    June 29, 2010 10:19 a.m.

    Alan Sutton, I love it when people use the DC excuse as a reason why Utah should cut education funding even further. Again, Utah is not DC. Do you even know the the demographics for the DC area. I guarantee that if you trade the exact same Utah students and trade them for the DC students, Utah would have to increase spending significantly to meet the challenge, while DC would lower their spending. Again, you cannot compare Utah with DC because they are two very different worlds. I am becoming more aware of how insular Utahns are when I read comments such as yours.

  • Orem Parent
    June 29, 2010 10:17 a.m.

    Hate the burst the bubble but NEW YORK was at the TOP of the list for ACT scores!

    That is with some tough students.

    So yes $$$$ does equal success in education.

  • James A
    June 29, 2010 10:16 a.m.

    jotab you question the 24% increase in spending per student by saying:
    James A. You cite a 24% incease. What about growth during that time? What about the change in the demands of the students during that time? Do you make the same salary now that you made in 1994?

    This 24% increase was calculated after inflation!

    I apreaciate many of these comments and the good sense many have to question this article. Now I wonder how do we make it better? If spending per pupil is a rather poor indicator of a students performance what does matter? Do Principles need more authority to fire poor performing teachers? Is increased competition and the voucher program a good idea? It is time to think outside the box, look at real data and stop beating a broken drum over and over again.

  • scambuster
    June 29, 2010 10:15 a.m.

    NanBW, but there is a point where you can go too low in funding. I believe Utah has reached such a point. Most classrooms now have to share class texts. No wonder student reading scores are so low in Utah when they can't even take material home. School time should be used to discuss and analyze homework, not for doing homework.

  • Pagan
    June 29, 2010 10:13 a.m.

    'My points still stand, spending does not create smarter students & true journalists should present non-biased information.' - 10:01 a.m.

    So, why should the public pay for public education at all?

    Following this tired logic, Utahns should be responsible for their children's education alone.

    Not the public, at all.

    I'm sure parents would start asking for public assistance if they had to take responsibility for the children they create.

    Instead of putting that responsibility on public teachers...

    and then giving them the least amount of money in the country.

  • scambuster
    June 29, 2010 10:10 a.m.

    Doug S, don't forget that NYC has the highest cost of living in the country and the majority of NY state residents live in NYC, so it only stands to reason and logic that New York's high expenditures would not necessarily mean high results. People need to quit looking at places outside of Utah and then making direct comparisons by looking at those places through a Utah prism. Comments such as yours show a lack of critical thinking and analysis.

  • Evets
    June 29, 2010 10:08 a.m.

    I have said many times there seems to be no relationship between the amount of money spent per student and the success of the education system. Utah is a good example of this.
    I raised my children at various place around the US and abroad. Some of the schools were in places like NYC, Louisiana, Texas, California and Hawaii. Most of those places had very high funding per child but had poor schools. Our kids did fine because we, as parents, took education seriously and worked with the kids. It is what the attitude of the families are not how much they pay that makes the difference.
    BTW: All the kids went to college, did well, and are working professionals now.

  • Charles History
    June 29, 2010 10:03 a.m.

    The Conservatives in this state make me sick.

    They always will come up with some excuse of why they do not fund the children.
    They will spend millions on a variety of self serving bills but short change or future and the lives of thousands of students futures.

  • Scooter
    June 29, 2010 10:01 a.m.

    Re: JOTAB @ 9:14am ... There were alot more studies that could be posted/discussed, but I am limited to 200 words.

    Studies on ACT, SAT, Graduation Rates, Best High Schools, Standardized Tests, Etc., Etc. ... in all of those UT ranked higher than the top 10 in per-pupil spending. My points still stand, spending does not create smarter students & true journalists should present non-biased information.

  • Al
    June 29, 2010 9:44 a.m.

    Re: Cameron

    I am part of our district's negotiating team. Our BA opens up the books to us and shows us the money that is available for this and that. Then we work together to try to best manage what money goes where.

    We as teachers are involved in all the process and, therefore, see the benefits of being fiscally responsible. We don't start with unrealistic expectations or demands in order to try to fight for a compromise. The district does not put forth any take-it-or-leave-it proposals. We work together.

    As a result, our district is much better off financially in this economically challenging time than most of the districts in the state.

    Our legislature is secretive. They try to 'hide' money from teachers. They want to dictate where every penny goes instead of allowing individual districts to decide where they need to spend it. Then they pretend they are doing us a favor.

    Those are just a few respect issues.

    Financially, all I want is to be able to raise my family on my salary.

  • AlanSutton
    June 29, 2010 9:30 a.m.

    I agree with those comments that point out that per-pupil expenditure is not a good indicator of student success. There is very little waste in Utah's educational system. The system in Washington, D.C., for example, has one "administrator" for every 6 students, while Utah's ratio is 1 administrator for each 25 children. Clearly, there is too much administration and not enough education in the D.C. schools. Furthermore, Utah's students achieve test scores at a much higher level than other states whose per-pupil expenditure is much higher than Utah's. This all means that Utah's education system is one of the very best.

  • Not_Scared
    June 29, 2010 9:27 a.m.

    Be positive. This insures the future of Utah as a red state.

  • PDonty
    June 29, 2010 9:23 a.m.

    It's funny. If you graph the amount spent per student by state with the average SAT scores for those states (like I just did) you get a negative correlation. Test scores decrease as funding increases. It would seem that Utah leads the nation in educational efficiency.

  • Pagan
    June 29, 2010 9:20 a.m.

    Stay classy Utah.

  • libertyvista
    June 29, 2010 9:18 a.m.

    Above average results for the least expense. Shouldn't that make Utah first in the nation in education administration?

  • YoYo
    June 29, 2010 9:14 a.m.

    I agree that this is something to be proud of, given that Utah has on average larger families than some other states. Congratulations to our school administrators and teachers for good management. There are still those who think that the measure of good education - and good government - is the level of spending "achieved". Lower spending can be a good thing.

  • jotab
    June 29, 2010 9:14 a.m.

    Some of the misinformation in these comments cannot go unchallenged.

    My2cents: Where in the world do you get the figure that 20% of Utah's students are illegal immigrants? And immigrants don't pay sales tax? So, they never buy anything? And they are receiving over $3,000 per month in welfare benefits? Again source. Non-residents don't qualify for benefits.

    James A. You cite a 24% incease. What about growth during that time? What about the change in the demands of the students during that time? Do you make the same salary now that you made in 1994?

    Scooter: SAT scores aren't a good measure for Utah since only highly motivated students head mostly to eastern schools will take it. We will always skew high in Utah for that reason.

    The big statistic in this article is the one about effort. We have dropped from the top ten in effort to 41st. This is due to the constitutional change in allowing Higher Ed to get part of the income tax and the change to a single rate income tax. The last change took about 200 million dollars out of Public Ed to give high earners a break.

  • Teha Rangi
    June 29, 2010 9:08 a.m.

    Why does Salt Lake City School District spend $2,000 more per student than other Salt Lake County districts? Because it has a windfall property tax from all of the huge business properties.

    And its spending ability compared to rural Utah districts is truly immoral.

    It's time for the legislature to equalize tax spending when it comes to education. Why should children in sparcely populated communities with little tax money receive an inferior education to those in Salt Lake District or other metropolitan districts?

    Answer: Them that has the gold makes the rules.

    Remember, Utah legislator: All of God's children are equal in His sight. Are they likewise valued to you, or not?

  • Cameron
    June 29, 2010 8:59 a.m.

    From the article:

    "The Census Bureau also figured states' rankings according to how much they spent per $1,000 in personal income. Utah ranked 41st among the states in that measure, spending $37.86 on schools for every $1,000 in personal income. That was less than the national average of $42.14."

    I read this statistic to mean that Utah not only spends the least in terms of gross dollars per student, but also in terms of the percentage of our personal income that goes towards education. If this is correct, then it would seem that our high birth rate doesn't completely explain our low funding numbers.

  • Cameron
    June 29, 2010 8:52 a.m.

    @Al | 8:34 a.m.

    "I know that most teachers would be fine with a little less pay if it also meant an increased respect from our legislature."

    What would increased respect look like, if not more education funding?

  • dave31
    June 29, 2010 8:45 a.m.

    It's interesting that no one seems to remember how the voters in the state rejected the option to allow a minor part of the $5675 to assist parents who wished to enroll their children in private schools. Utah has a lower percentage of private school eductated students than almost any other state. If $2000 were to be spent for each private school student, an additional $3675 would be available for the public education system.

    You can't have it both ways. If the UEA and the PTA could add some economic reality to their thinking, that would be a great help.

  • Al
    June 29, 2010 8:34 a.m.

    Our state legislature is anti-education. I remember one of them saying that he could use a certain report as ammunition against the teachers in budget talks. This is their attitude towards education.

    I know that most teachers would be fine with a little less pay if it also meant an increased respect from our legislature.

    One of the things that keeps me in Utah is that I have over twenty years in the retirement system, which is a good one. Now the legislators would like to take that away, they tried this year but failed.

    Again, I know where my pay comes from, taxes. I don't want to increase the tax burden on myself or anyone else. I just think that the legislature should work WITH the teachers to try to improve education not try to find ammunition with which to attack them. But then again, maybe if they just drink and drive or do a little hot-tubbing it will all go away.

  • Bazinga
    June 29, 2010 8:23 a.m.

    For me, this is actually something in which I take pride I graduated from Nebo School district, which, according to the article, has the third lowest dollar per student ratio in the state with the lowest dollar per student ratio. Yet, after getting a full tuition scholarship to a state university, I'm well on my way to a lucrative career. Man, if only the had spent more money on me!!

  • Scooter
    June 29, 2010 8:15 a.m.

    This article is very misleading!

    Best and Worst States For Education Spending ranks all states by spending and shows the SAT Score Rank of its students.

    The more money spent clearly does not show up in higher SAT scores or graduation rates.

    New Jersey spends the most money. Its SAT score rank is 36. New York is 2nd on the money spend, ranks 44th on SAT scores. DC, though not a State, is 3rd on money spent is ranked 50th. The "Worst" State for Education Spending is Utah yet its students rank 20th on the SAT score list above NY, NJ & DC. Utah spends about 1/3 the dollars of NY, NJ & DC. Its students do better than all of the Top 10 spenders on Education. Utah may be considered a Best State for Education considering its bang for the dollar.

    Clearly money is not the only factor that impacts educational performance. You may want to consider carefully your state's approach to education. It appears more dollars on education does not lead to better results. Tell your political leaders you want accountability for results not just money spent.

    True journalist look at both sides of an issue!

  • Larry
    June 29, 2010 8:09 a.m.

    The State of Utah, Depends on these un Educated Kids for a Ready and Willing work Force.
    Cheap Help.
    You can see what the Legislature thinks about Education. Have you written your Leaders and received a return Letter?
    No I do not want one from his SecretarY or MAIL LADY.

  • B
    June 29, 2010 7:58 a.m.

    And yet, just last week, IN THIS SAME NEWSPAPER, there appeared a story showing how Utah has 15 of the best High Schools in the country. So less money + good performance = efficiency. It's true that other states spend more. Other states are also on the brink of bankruptcy.

  • Da Shadow
    June 29, 2010 7:45 a.m.

    We may be last in student spending, but we're right near the top in gasoline prices...I wonder where all that extra money goes that we bilk out of the Utah driver and the hapless tourist? Oh, yeah, that's right, it goes to fund those never-ending road construction projects and to buy 900,000 more orange cones! Glad we have our priorities straight!
    P.S.-This is intended as sarcasm, folks, so don't get on your righteous high-horse and get mad!!!

  • Chachi
    June 29, 2010 7:05 a.m.

    One glaring omission: How does Utah compare in standardized test scores? What about in other indicators of academic success, such as percentage of students that finish high school or go to college?

    The article makes it sound like the goal is to spend money. How much money we spend is significant in two ways: 1) academic results produced, which is a matter of serving students' needs, and 2) salaries, which is a matter of serving teachers' needs. That may or may not correlate directly to the amount we spend.

    For example, one of the top spenders is D.C. Are teachers or students better off there than in Utah?

  • defibman
    June 29, 2010 7:04 a.m.

    This is a very negative story with very little talk about where our students stand nationally in educational skills. Granted it is a sad thing that we spend so little on our schools, but lets see where we are in math, science, reading and other skills. Let's look at the big picture and then see where we can make improve things. New York spends the most and I use to live there and I will tell you, they do NOT get their monies worth there. The saddest place is by far the south.

  • SamFoo42
    June 29, 2010 6:58 a.m.

    How about a few statistics on performance. Not one reference to a statistic about how well (or poorly) our educators did?

    Unless we are dead last in performance, I'd have to say that anecdotaly we must be getting more for our money than New York.

    You can scream like the Greeks, but you still can't squeeze money out of an economy that doesn't have it.

  • Marky
    June 29, 2010 6:57 a.m.

    The real message here is that people are still using the wrong measuring stick. If every state in the country doubled their per pupil spending today (including Utah), Utah would still be in last place! Many of the states that spend far more than Utah have worse educational systems.

  • Nan BW
    June 29, 2010 6:47 a.m.

    Why do we have such a fixation on the idea that spending more money on education improves it? There is an incredible waste of supplies in the schools, many of which aren't needed to provide an education in the first place. There are also too many high paid administrators who don't do enough work to justify their salaries.

    I spent several years in education in a state that spends more on education, via federal financial assistance, and the students were less prepared (according to stats) there than in Utah. Better use of resources is one solution. Focusing on improving basic skills rather than trying to provide frills than have little to do with learning would also help.

  • James A
    June 29, 2010 6:45 a.m.

    I am so tired of these articles and the assumptions drawn from them. The thinking goes something like this: more money for students = smarter students. That seems logical but is that what is happening? How strong is the correlation between dollars spent and academic achievement? In this very article we read that despite having the lowest per pupil spending Utah does not have the lowest academic achievement. It appears that at least in Utah the assumption does not hold. Why? What about historical spending per student. A quick internet search seems to show that from 1994 to 2004 on avg. per student spending increased by almost 24%. So have our kids improved academic scores by 24%? Just food for thought...

  • Commontater
    June 29, 2010 6:33 a.m.

    I believe our problem is systemic. I believe careful evaluation would reveal that many in the upper levels of administration in our state education system have a "Mr. English" syndrome; they are compensated well above anyone else.

    There is absolutely no value in trying to win the nation's competition of dollars spent per student.

    My hat is off to the great teachers we have in our school system, but the administration folks need to be taken to the wood shed. A good house cleaning at the top would result in a dramatic change in classroom size and available dollars to directly educate our children.

  • DougS
    June 29, 2010 6:06 a.m.

    So, New York has the brightest students, the highest graduation rate, and the most qualifying for higher education? Not!
    Per pupil spending is a falacious statistic propagated to create teacher dissatisfaction and try to excuse such policies as "no child left behind". Like government per se, it is not how much money is spent.. Just how it is spent.

  • nu2ut
    June 29, 2010 5:57 a.m.

    I would like to see a side-by-side article on results.

    You can say that Utah doesn't care about kids, you can say that Utah doesn't care about teachers, but you sound like a whining employee who claims that the corporate across the street is so much better because the employees make another dollar an hour.

    No matter what industry or organization you discuss, you have to talk ROI- Return on Investment. What would that return be in education? Graduation rate, college acceptance/scholarships, SAT/ACT scores, etc. Let's see how Utah ranks in those areas and THEN see if there's a problem with spending in relation to ROI.

    Looking at the states with the highest funding, I would bet that many of them are at the opposite end of the chart when it comes to results. They spend the most but get some of the lowest outcomes. Money doesn't solve a problem, and in Utah's case, the lack of money doesn't cause a problem. It's just something people complain about with a belief that the grass is greener on the other side of the chart.

  • Mayfair
    June 29, 2010 5:55 a.m.

    Dead last in spending.

    Thats OK because the Utah teachers I know have something NO AMOUNT OF MONEY COULD EVER BUY: Dedicated, passionate, caring for their students.

    The ones I know teach because they love teaching, and they love the incredible influence for good they have on their students.

    Wouldn't you rather have great teachers like that--than ones who are focused on the $$$$??????

  • Phil Allred
    June 29, 2010 5:54 a.m.

    Utahns should be celebrating. Here in NY, taxes are triple those in Utah, with lower success in education.

  • Rick for Truth
    June 29, 2010 5:34 a.m.

    Is Utah is first for Home schooling? It would be nice to know if Utah families also keep more of their children home and out of the public school system than any other state. As a HS math teacher I can say that intense family involvement in student daily life combined with a strong personal work ethic in our students are the main contributors for keeping are student scores out of the gutter and not the poor dollar per student ratio. Yes we could use a higher spending contribution but managing that contribution must be a highest priority. In today’s economic environment we must continue to do the best we can with the little we have.

  • My2Cents
    June 29, 2010 5:18 a.m.

    Now compare this data with the per income and taxes that Utah citizens pay for education. This per pupil spending data is unrealistic when you consider that taxes for education become general fund spending money. Do they also include all the funds diverted from education to fund developers, UTA, and commercial loans? Then there is the waste in building $20 million dollar schools that will collapse in a minor earthquake. Per pupil spending in Utah is a fictitious and corrupt ridden report.

    Then add to that fact that 20% of students in our schools are illegal foreign nationals who don't pay taxes, sales or income. They are living on welfare and food stamps provided tax free to them, at an astonishing $40,000 of tax benefits a year to every one of them. That's a pretty comfortable life for an illegal who is seeking a better way of life and doesn't have to work or pay taxes for it. Most states don't fund foreign national forces occupying their state either.

    These reports are made and designed to show that we must be taxed more to fund education waste.

  • GaryS
    June 29, 2010 3:54 a.m.

    Utah's spending per pupil lowest--again.

    What they didn't mention: Utah's test scores, graduation rates, and college attendance rates are above average--again. Crime and poverty rates below average--again.

    How can this be? What is so different about Utah? I think we all know the very non-PC answer to that.

  • marilives
    June 29, 2010 2:04 a.m.

    ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This makes me so mad!

  • Aggie
    June 29, 2010 1:12 a.m.

    If Utah and Idaho weren't so anti-intellectual, more money might be allocated to education.

    We clearly need to do a better job in sex education as well.

    I agree with Jasper, let's tax junk food and soda pop to help fund education. The poor don't need those things to survive, so it's a fair tax; whereas taxing real food is not ethical.

  • satch
    June 28, 2010 10:38 p.m.

    Anger! This just makes me so mad. Utah can complain about taxes all they want, but we still don't spend for education. Come on, ranking 41 in the nation in per $1000 spent. This shows our communities, population, and legislature cares little about students.

    Utah is pathetic and should never say they care about families or kids. They care about money. I'm so sick of hearing this.

    Money doesn't mean a better education, but a lack of it means a pathetic education- you get what you pay for. The poor kids of this state.

  • eagle
    June 28, 2010 9:33 p.m.

    This isn't news to anyone that follows and cares about public education.

  • Steven S Jarvis
    June 28, 2010 7:01 p.m.


    Squeezing a grape results in very little juice. Families, particularly the larger ones don't pay much in taxes because they have no money after clothing, feeding and sheltering their brood. Some don't pay a dime at all.

    Large families don't have money to burn. Even when both parents work, there are many families that get by only with government help. If we were to place a greater tax burden on these families, they would require more government help. Doing so seems counter-intuitive.

  • Jasper
    June 28, 2010 6:27 p.m.

    This entire situation of school funding is counter-intuitive. Given Utah is dead last in funding, maintains the dubious honor as the nation's largest class sizes, continues to demonstrate poor (relative) scores nation wide - thus necessitating the unspoken social promotion rampant in middle/high school - why does the state tax structure allow those who most utilize these resources pay the least fair share? Instead of tax breaks for those with larger families they should be paying more in taxes for education, etc. When I hear the incessant whining about how the poor (or whomever) live off the public dole the double-think about the existing tax structure is incredibly self-serving. If the professed 'family-value' legislature were honest they'd restructure the code to be more equitable, sin-tax fast-food and soda and then eliminate the sales tax on food. The surplus in revenue would go a long way in providing the resources necessary to initiate an education system of which the children deserve.