Today's high school construction more customized than text book

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  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    Jan. 23, 2012 7:29 p.m.

    I'm sure many of you walked uphill to school every day in 2 ft. of snow, sat on wooden benches and were only allowed one pencil per year. Those times are long gone. Olympus was built in the 50's to be a Junior High with 1000 capacity. In 1969 we had over 2900 students in class sizes of up to 40.
    Today's educators need computers systems and technology that doesn't exist and can't be retrofitted. None of these buildings meet current earthquake code and over the next decade or two virtually every school in the state will be replaced. Heaven forbid we try to educate your grandchildren to move into the 21st century and do what we can to keep them safe. FYI, it's 2012.

  • Orem Parent Orem, UT
    Jan. 23, 2012 2:08 p.m.

    Dr Don,

    Provo had two schools, Maeser and Franklin, that were over 100 years old before they were replaced. They still have Dixon Junior High which was built in 1930 I believe. Just this year they replace Farrer Junior High which was built in 1930 as well.

    Most of what is being replaced now is due to earthquake safety issues. I for one don't want my kids smashed in an unreinforced building and feel we have been very lucky up to this point. The legislature spent millions upon millions of dollars to reinforce the Capitol building and build new offices for themselves. The least they could do is the same four our kids.

  • DR Don Salt Lake City, Ut
    Jan. 23, 2012 1:04 p.m.

    I fail to understand why schools in Utah, at great expense to the taxpayers, need to be replaced so frequently. The original elementary school I attended, is a state with more severe weather than most of Utah experiences, was built in 1926 and is still in use. The next elementary school I attended, in a state that is much more seismically active than Utah and with higher summer temperatures, was built in the 1940's, as was the middle school and high school I attended, and they still are in use. Why, specifically, do Utah schools have such a limited lifespan?

  • Utah Teacher Orem, UT
    Jan. 23, 2012 1:03 p.m.

    I have 34 kids in a classroom that was meant to hold 28.

    That is in our school that was built for 700 that is now holding over 1,000.

  • jrgl CEDAR CITY, UT
    Jan. 23, 2012 12:33 p.m.

    In my area where new middle & high schools have been built or additions added to older schools, I'm dismayed at the small size of the classrooms. This is during a time when class sizes in middle or high school have exploded up towards 40 students. I'm seeing classrooms without adequate amount of desks for every student as well as students wall to wall. These buildings are not designed this many students, rather some school utopia. Another problem I have is that many buildings have lavishly large, decorated, administration areas. The Special Education area of the new schools is shortchanged or reduced, as always, without thought of handicapped accessible bathrooms & changing facilities (as in changing soiled briefs)for the moderate to severely disabled student population. Nothing like seeing an aide with a bucket of soapy water changing a student in an adjacent classroom or office. The smell isn't so great either for the other students. Our priorities are mixed up while administrators are the only winners, space wise & compensation wise. Let's build classrooms for 40+ students rather than "stack 'em deep & teach 'em cheap"!

  • PCParent Park City, UT
    Jan. 23, 2012 11:31 a.m.

    Enough is enough. We need to stop spending millions on buildings and maintaining all these expensive tributes to the reign of administrators! They even have the sense to purchase plaques with their names on them...
    We need to have simple buildings and pay the Teachers better. THAT IS WHERE results come from!!! It is not rocket science. The incompetent school board in Park City has spent more than 40 million on the high school in 16 years with only 990 students in the school. Then they want to cut teacher pay and benefits.
    Missing the entire target.

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    Jan. 23, 2012 11:26 a.m.


    Abraham Lincoln states that "those principles taught in the classroom in one generation become public policy in the next."

    It therefore follows that government controlled schools and self determination are mutually exclusive.

    Every despot in history has seized the press, schools and guns. Just can't allow other voices to exist if despots wish to retain power.

  • JRJ Pocatello, ID
    Jan. 23, 2012 9:53 a.m.

    AND most schools seem to be eliminating art, drama, physical education as well as the aforementioned "home ed" and "shop". It is a proven fact that children learn better when those kinds of needs are met. Not everyone will be a physicists. We still need artists and plumbers among other trades. I do have to agree with those who are objecting to the public schools having to teach sex education, ie, gender preference and all that goes with that. If we were really on the ball, the vouchers would be given out, the parents would gather and decide on a curriculum, and everyone except the politicians would be happier.

  • Wayne Rout El Paso, TX
    Jan. 23, 2012 9:30 a.m.

    Our "educators" really have no interest in controlling cost. Building a palace for kids will not improve the end result. A child on one side of town or in another state has pretty basic needs...discipline, and education that puts focus on basic needs instead of political opinion, a place to work, and capable teachers who want to teach. None of these things are related to building style. School buildings should be a "box" filled with quality teaching and sound subject matter. The building does not make the school, rather, the quality of the teaching will produce good or bad students. An environment with discipline and high standards will make education possible. It is a bit strange, that the same people that want to create monuments to their own careers have no interest in student dress, student behavior, or clearing out deadwood.

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    Jan. 23, 2012 9:12 a.m.

    Much can be said for an against the current education system.

    I can appreciate the technology that is available today how many advantages that can add to the education system. But for all good things, there is also a down side; quite often in what we sacrifice in the name of progress.

    I am for equality, however currently that state in which I live is pushing hard for same sex-marriage. (Please, I'm not here to argue that point). What does concern me is that in other states where such laws have been passed, education has also been required, by law, in the elementary school level, to teach (promote) many of the intricacies of same sex couples. Such curriculum regarding heterosexual couples if not taught to those same grade levels.

    As I see it, one of the problems with education in this country is that it is no longer about academics. We must now instruct in sexual orientation, condom application; as well as monitoring violence and all sort of societal issues - including many areas for which parents should be responsible.

    Jan. 23, 2012 9:10 a.m.

    the sad plight of today's graduates being unable to change a tire, cook a meal or balance a checkbook to survive in the real world

    In a world where people are screaming for our high schools to concentrate on math and science - and quit teaching the arts or having physical education, in a world where teachers are pretty much forbidden to teach anything about sexuality or human reproduction because it's the job of the family ...

    You want our schools to teach children to cook and change a tire? Shouldn't that be mom and dad's job? These are survival skills that parents should pass on to their children - they are also great times for parent/child bonding. But to spend valuable school time? Really?

    This is not to say there is not a place for an auto mechanics certification or a cooking academy at certain schools for those who are interested in these fields as careers, but the basics don't need to be available in every school.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Jan. 23, 2012 8:43 a.m.

    DN Subscriber,

    You cannot compare the test results of high school graduates of today with those of 50 years ago. The student body being analyzed is not the same.

    Fifty years ago not everyone graduated from high school. Many dropped out. Having worked with some who did, my analysis of those workers is that they had learning disabilities that were undiagnosed. So they went out and got a job - usually one with very little future.

    A few years ago I asked my father and mother-in-law about their experience in high school in the 1940s. I asked them what percentage of their peer group they thought graduated from high school (an unscientific sample I admit). Both thought about half. Those same school systems (both in the NE) currently graduate over 95%.

    I agree with you reference shop and home economics classes. A resurgence of vocational education is essential if we are to elevate the non-college track to a good and purposeful place in our educational system.

    Not every kid wants to or even should go to a four year college. But they need an educational track that leads them toward further education and certification.

  • Chuck E. Racer Lehi, UT
    Jan. 23, 2012 7:55 a.m.

    What that really means is more expensive buildings and therefore fewer buildings. It does enrich architects though! What we need are smaller buildings in the neighborhoods. That would do far more good.

    This talk of "factory model" education is a fabrication of teacher trainers and architects who want to sell themselves and their products. If you want an "individualized" approach - get a tutor. Individualizing is ALWAYS way more expensive and frankly it doesn't pay off.

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    Jan. 23, 2012 6:33 a.m.

    Funny, Every LDS chapel looks almost identical. There are a few standard plans and the church has little trouble duplicating buildings on different sites.

    A friend of mine was visiting China. He saw a chalk board outside in a little plaza. The chalk board had a small roof over it, just enough to keep it dry. The board was filled with physics equations. (My friend is an engineer and recognized the equations.)

    China is teaching successfully without buildings.

    This article describes something like straightening the deck chairs on the Titanic.

    Eliminating shop and home economics classes is very short sighted.

  • AmPatriot Taylorsville, UT
    Jan. 23, 2012 5:21 a.m.

    How is this going to impact standardized education testing, the goal of government control? Just yesterday the national convention of State Governors came up with a nationwide plan to standardize education so it can be measured. To do this they have to standardize teaching materials so all students across America can be measured to better distribute federal funds. How can education be measured? It's impossible and more so on a national level.

    The Utah plans are also objectionable and how they expect to have equality in education is puzzling. Every student should have the same opportunity and curriculum in every school in the state. These community choices schools promote discrimination and inequality in education.

    Education has one purpose, knowledge for any future use of those getting an education. Education is not career supervisors, they provide the material and knowledge for individual to choose their own career. Reward and grade those who want to learn and fail and grade those who don't. But you can't grade students of teachers with biased and prejudiced school funding.

    One final question, are these billion dollar high schools safe in earthquake yet or usable for local emergency disasters?

  • kanaka818 West Hills, CA
    Jan. 23, 2012 1:26 a.m.

    I'm a 1950's graduate of Olympus High School. Although I've lived out of state for the past 40+ years, I just can't get it through my brain that the buildings need to be replaced. It makes me sad.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 22, 2012 9:35 p.m.

    The "experts" all tell us that these expensive new buildings are wonderful and the students will learn so much more.

    However, comparing test results of graduates today with those educated 50 years ago in "primitive" buildings, with "outmoded" teaching techniques seems to refute all the hype from the professional education establishment about what does and does not work.

    And, bowing to community desires to omit shop type classes, and presumably the sexist "Home Economics" stuff only worsens the sad plight of today's graduates being unable to change a tire, cook a meal or balance a checkbook to survive in the real world. Indeed, far too many (although hopefully not in Utah) cannot even read their own diploma.

    Maybe we should listen less to the education "experts" and just dust off the "old school" ways of teaching and designing school buildings. You know, the stuff that actually produced well educated students.

    And, expect parents to help teach and discipline their kids.