Utah public schools may be asked to 'make the grade'

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  • Lifelong Republican Orem, UT
    Nov. 11, 2010 8:36 a.m.

    If you want to see how Finland totally changed their education system go do a search on Finland education. You will find a nice article that tells you Finland, Singapore, and South Korea all recruit teachers from the top 1/3 of their students.

    They pay them similarly to engineers and they are the cream of the crop.

    In the U.S. we belittle our teachers and pay them a barely livable wage to start out. This is the main problem with out system.

    My Republican party is much to blame for the low wages for teachers in Utah. I am trying to do my part to change them.

  • Steven S Jarvis Orem, UT
    Nov. 11, 2010 6:03 a.m.


    When comparing Charter schools to District schools for funding, Charter schools which have less funds to begin with have a larger faculty.

    What is more perplexing is the percentage of monies spent on faculty is fairly low in Charter schools. My present school pumps in about 65%. That is very similar to other Charters I have worked for. Districts spend a much higher percentage on the employees. I have read that some spend more than 80% of the yearly budget on it.

    Considering the additional layers of expensive management at a District, I can see how they burn more money. The truth is we as a state aren't using the money efficiently enough.

    As far as schools being graded THAT ALREADY HAPPENS. This new scheme might make things a little easier for some to understand, but will be largely ignored. I doubt most people even care as long as they are happy with their own child's teacher and class.

  • Carolyn Sharette Sandy, UT
    Nov. 10, 2010 9:18 p.m.

    I have no interest in getting more funding for charter schools - or public schools of any type. I happen to be perhaps the only person in the state who thinks we actually receive adequate funding to educate students well.

    I have been responsible for operating two schools, for a total of 9 years. I suppose that is more experience running a school budget than most other posters here - and I can tell you the funds are adequate. I do think teachers could earn more and I would support any additional funding to go toward teacher's wages.

    I do have interest in ensuring students receive the best possible education. Scoring the schools is one way to help us know how we are doing as educators. I have no interest in "bashing" anyone - only in helping all of us to do our very best - and the more information, the better.

    I am quite sure that I have never said or implied that more funding is needed for schools - charters or otherwise.

  • Monsieur le prof Sandy, UT
    Nov. 10, 2010 9:05 p.m.

    What a waste of time and money! Howard Stephenson is one of the most anti-education people in our government. He has no idea what makes a good school. Very few do. We've been bombarded by "programs" and "innovations" and "new methods" for years. The only thing that matters is good teachers and motivated students.
    Look at any school with good programs in music, drama, journalism, debate, math, science, English, foreign languages, etc. It's the teacher who drives the success. It's not the latest (expensive) books nor computers that are responsible.
    Unfortunately, we don't/can't get the best and the brightest anymore because we don't pay them a decent living wage. And all the training and mentoring in the world can't replace a bright, creative, idealistic mind that loves his/her subject and students.
    Raise the teacher's pay and give him the freedom to innovate, and you'll raise not only school achievement, but the respect for those who should be the most highly respected in any society.

  • Veritas Aequitas Fruit Heights, UT
    Nov. 10, 2010 4:52 p.m.

    "YoU and you illegal's get out, there's no free lunch here, and American kid's really want to learn, you don't."

    Yep, let's get them out of school and on the street. Nice call, brother chuck.

    One of my best friends an his brother came here illegally in the 1980's leaving his older brothers (3 of them) in Mexico to learn a trade.

    Now my best friend, and his brother are BOTH principals of different schools in poor areas of CA, (one primary grades, the other a middle school) and both pass AYP every year.

    Meanwhile the older brothers came here legally through the process, and work cheap labor jobs, accept welfare, and state aided medical.

    Why dump the kids out of school again? So they can't be productive, and all of your predictions come true?

    Fact is, let's stop treating educators like trained rats, pay them a fair wage (OHMYGOSH???), and help them produce productive students who learn.

    Before telling teachers how to do their job, every legislator should have to prepare lesson plans approved by an educator, teach a class, and assess learning for a week before they pass ANY bill!

  • Brother Chuck Schroeder A Tropical Paradise USA, FL
    Nov. 10, 2010 3:56 p.m.

    It's working well in Florida?.

    Google Gov. Charlie Crist, he vetoed it, after the people wanted it.

    Don't be a "copy kat", or the same will happen too ya'll also.

    Your Gov. is more liberal that our Gov. Charlie Crist is.

  • Brother Chuck Schroeder A Tropical Paradise USA, FL
    Nov. 10, 2010 3:52 p.m.

    LOL, Utah's public schools may start getting "graded" in the future as part of a concentrated, cost-effective way to improve the quality of education in the state, as in YOU, you, YoU and you illegal's get out, there's no free lunch here, and American kid's really want to learn, you don't.

  • CHS 85 Sandy, UT
    Nov. 10, 2010 12:33 p.m.

    @Chuck E. Raser

    "Most likely it comes from those who are just anti-public ed. and want another way to hit at them."

    And we have a winner!

    Why else would Carolyn Sharette bother to reply. This is all about getting charter school equal funding and nothing else.

  • John C. C. Payson, UT
    Nov. 10, 2010 12:11 p.m.

    How would you fairly grade Elizabeth Smart during the school year after her rescue? What about a school that specializes in helping victims of any kind?

  • John C. C. Payson, UT
    Nov. 10, 2010 12:08 p.m.

    This sounds like another way to point at the poor students and kick those who are trying to raise and help them. In order to mean anything, the grading system must include marks for:

    1. The percent of students qualifying for free or reduced lunch.

    2. The percent of mobile students (those who transfer frequently).

    3. The percent of homeless students as defined by the McKinney-Vento act.

    4. The percent of students speaking English as a second language.

    5. The percent of students from single-parent or step-parent homes.

    6. The percent of minority students.

    7. The percent of students needing special education.

    8. School budget per student, including in-kind donations, money and volunteer time from local supporters, organizations, businesses, and parents.

    9. Average parent educational attainment.

    10. Average student time spent on extra-curricular activities.

    11. Percent of students suffering from abuse/neglect.

    We all know that teachers matter, but these risk factors matter even more. Give every teacher and school administrator more credit for the risk factors they must deal with. A fair grading system must also rate the families and the society behind each student.

  • Fitness Freak Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 10, 2010 11:31 a.m.

    I agree with "Goet" 110%!!

    If the legislature REFUSES to come up with the money to fund public education adequately - JUST SAY SO!

    Whats the point of just more and more "feel good" measures?

    Public education needs MONEY not just talk!

    BTW - I realize it wouldn't make a whole lot of difference to public education, but imagine how much psychological difference it would make to those doing the actual teaching if they just cut some of the administrators and THEIR salaries!

    Why do we need to have administrators at BOTH the district and state level?

  • Chuck E. Racer Lehi, UT
    Nov. 10, 2010 10:34 a.m.

    There are plenty of ways to grade schools right now. What the proponents want is a simplified way of giving an F to a school.

    This could be because they got an F in the past and want revenge.

    Possibly it is to prove that their own school is BETTER than some other school. (There isn't any joy in being good, just in being better than someone else.)

    Most likely it comes from those who are just anti-public ed. and want another way to hit at them.

    Grading schools with letter grades won't accomplish anything except to bash a few schools. It won't make them perform better.

  • OLD-GUY Central Utah, UT
    Nov. 10, 2010 10:29 a.m.

    If I read correctly the proposal is for the parents to grade the schools. As an employer I find that often parents think both their child and school are doing great. I observe that they can't even make change for a dollor or figure sales tax when it is not shown on the register etc.

    I went to school a long time ago and I am not good at some things, but of course we had large classes and underpaid teachers.

    Why don't we come up with something to motivate the parents. Maybe a 50% reduction in school taxes for those with an a, 40% with a B etc. That way those who play will pay.

    What about that concept?

  • satch Lehi, UT
    Nov. 10, 2010 9:12 a.m.

    The Finland model works, problem is it takes more money than Utan's spend.

    Utah would need to reduce class size, pay an honest wage, change the curriculum model, and spend 20x what they do right now on professional development to meet the Finland model.

    Utah's legislative branch continues to bring programs to "fix" the problem when they can't fix the basic problems overcrowded rooms and we don't attract the best individuals for teaching. Those two things are paramount for Finland's model.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 10, 2010 9:00 a.m.

    *Utah last in U.S. in spending per pupil again. By Molly Farmer and Lee Davidson 06/29/10 DSNews

    The census found that Utah schools spend on average $5,765 per student in 2007-08. Idaho was second-lowest at $6,931 but that was still 20 percent higher than what was spent in Utah.

  • Really??? Kearns, UT
    Nov. 10, 2010 8:33 a.m.

    Perhaps the powers that be could look into how Finland improved its educational system from mediocre in the 70s to what is considered the system with the best results in the world. That country's plan is almost opposite of the direction we seem to be going here in the United States.

    The "innovations" I see proposed to improve education are doomed to only stifle creativity even more. We are falling behind because the at-stakes testing does not encourage creativity and higher-level thinking. We are going in the wrong direction.

  • SLC gal Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 10, 2010 8:26 a.m.

    Personally, I think seminars on teaching parents to teach their kids would do more good. Parents can do so much more with their 1 or 2 then teachers can do with their classrooms of 40 or 50, and their lesson plans that have to apply to every student rather then targeting a few and the specific levels they are at.

    For example, many studies suggest that parents taking some time to read to their children makes a world of difference.

  • Hervey South Jordan, UT
    Nov. 10, 2010 8:10 a.m.

    School performance reports are already available for anyone who wants to look at them. Test scores, poverty rates, ethnicity, teacher training levels, mobility rates...are all public record and available online for anyone who wants to look at them. Why do we need more levels of measurement? What's the purpose?

  • Hellooo Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 10, 2010 8:03 a.m.

    So, exactly what would be the criteria for the grades?

  • Carolyn Sharette Sandy, UT
    Nov. 9, 2010 9:02 p.m.

    The grading system is important. I appreciate Superintendent Shumway's support of such a system which has proven to assist parents, students and school employees to clearly understand the goal and focus on moving toward it.

    Accepting the truth of our performance is the first step toward improving it, and this will directly benefit students. Adults must be willing to model this healthy and productive behavior - looking at our performance results honestly, and making changes for the better. How else can we teach students this powerful life strategy?

    Students will benefit from a universal grading system. And this is really all about the students, isn't it?

  • Goet Ogden, UT
    Nov. 9, 2010 7:47 p.m.

    So, yet more hoops to jump through?!?

    We already have multiple layers of "grading" just to keep federal funding and meet state guidelines. Why not just refer to those?

    More things to add to the checklist of unfunded mandates from the state ed. office. I have YET to meet more than one of these pie in the sky employees.

    Oh, that one that I met? They canned her for being too innovational and bucking the status quo.

    The rest, I swear, just collect a paycheck thinking up ways to make those at the bottom of the heap that actually do something just have to work harder.

  • Orem Parent Orem, UT
    Nov. 9, 2010 7:22 p.m.

    I can already hear it now. The legislature is going to try to enact yet another "program" to improve our schools that will have absolutely no effect on achievement.

    In order to fund it, the teachers will now be giving up more prep time and will now be paying the entire cost of their health insurance. We would take the money out of their retirement accounts but we completely wiped out teacher retirement last year. Health insurance is all they have left to cut so here we go....