Robert Bennett: One problem America needs to fix — education

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  • catcrazed Eagle Mountain, UT
    Nov. 29, 2012 2:21 p.m.

    to WestGranger: I realize everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and that not every school or school system is perfect, but I disagree strongly with your description of the pubic school system. It and other ways of educating have their good points. To completely generalize about any system is easy to do but it is also inaccurate.

    I wish you and others would espouse the good in your own system, while leaving mine alone. I would love to see more facts and less opinion.

  • catcrazed Eagle Mountain, UT
    Nov. 29, 2012 2:13 p.m.

    To correct Redshirt1701, I am a member of the Alpine Education Association, and a building Rep. We defend teachers only when they shouldn't be fired. We are the first ones to want to eliminate poor teachers. They are a blot on us all. We want good teachers to teach great kids.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    Nov. 29, 2012 12:22 p.m.

    we're in an interesting time where children that are engaged educationally through some other private means can excel far beyond a school system's ability to challenge them. It would be impractical to expect, even in the most expensive schoolsystem that we could afford to hire the breadth of education to keep all kids actively engaged in good learning.

    The real challenge however is from the distractions to kid-life. This comes in the form of unstable families, moving, language barriers, peer trends and pressure, entertainment, media, devices, self-esteem, diet, exercise (or a lack of it), cellphones and other technologies. Sadly many kids don't even have an advocate in their life--no one to take interest in them, and gently nudge them into the more productive paths.

    A healthy attitude by esteemed peers and loved ones is usually enough to motivate a kid to improve in school. But creating a program like that is anathema to beauracracy and formal government programs.

  • Hank Jr Draper, UT
    Nov. 29, 2012 10:11 a.m.

    Blame Bush, don't blame the democrat's socialist agenda for dumbing down the American populace.

  • catcrazed Eagle Mountain, UT
    Nov. 29, 2012 9:30 a.m.

    I really believe as a teacher that what I am doing is of value. I also wish I had more time with technology in order to better align with the job skills that are out there. Right now our school is talking about how to better engage the techno-generation in learning. Engagement is a very necessary part of any education. Kids learn best with projects, good questioning that applies to real life, and technology. They need to be taught to WANT to learn. I could use some family help in that matter. I would like to start assigning on line homework, but not everyone has access to technology in the home. Any suggestions?

  • think b4 u speak Orem, UT
    Nov. 28, 2012 9:43 p.m.

    Let's not forget the impact our terrible immigration policy has on this problem. Many intelligent people from around the world come to our universities to study STEM subjects and receive advanced degrees. However, after graduating, many of them are unable to obtain the visas required to stay and work here, and so they go back to their own countries and work for a fraction of the salary they could here.

    Companies are then required to take those jobs to other countries because they can't find people qualified here. I would suggest that we allow immigrants who earn an advanced degree here visas to stay and work, as well as a path to citizenship. That way, we can attract the best and the brightest from around the world to come to America and allow us to keep a technological advantage.

  • Runner Chandler, AZ
    Nov. 28, 2012 6:03 p.m.

    Utah is a great example of the difficulties that the government creates for this problem. The legislature places ridiculous requirements on the districts to restrict their curriculum. For example, UT led the country in bankruptcy claims some time ago and ranked high in foreclosures so the legislature passed a law that all Jr High students need to take a Personal Finance class. This class, and the heavy focus on the liberal arts, i.e., humanities requirements, make it very difficult to take an adequate class schedule of STEM type courses.

    This, plus the culture in UT that encourages teachers to be reluctant in holding students accountable, i.e., teachers are trying to be nice that they provide extra credit, allow test re-takes, push out assignment deadlines, etc. all in an effort to help them get higher grades, ends up being a disservice to the students.

    I've found that when talking to UT administrators they seem to have a very high opinion of their schools but are reluctant to do any real benchmarking against other equitable schools districts in the region.

    Therefore their governmental-parental and myopic approach, and will continue to fall short.

  • sg newhall, CA
    Nov. 28, 2012 12:47 p.m.

    Let's stop rewriting our American history. Let's stop with the 'No Child Left Behind' failure of a program. Let's stop allowing the children of illegals from entering our schools. Let's stop offering bi-lingual education. Let's demand English as the language used in our classrooms. Let's stop teaching with standards that are progressive in nature and in fact don't teach anything but socialism. Let's stop teaching that homosexuality and all other forms of sexual behavior are normal. Let's eliminate the teachers union. Let's get rid of the Fed's Dept. of Education and return our schools to the states. Let's ensure that pedophiles are not hired. Let's get rid of the fluffy classes that mean nothing. Let's remove socialistic principles out of the classroom. Let's reward teachers that teach and get rid of those that don't or can't.

  • logical Meridian, ID
    Nov. 28, 2012 12:24 p.m.

    I agree with the comments that we need to return to traditional values and the family is the main force for education whether it is good or bad. But, what realistic proposal do you have to do get back to that? Not just ideals, but actual proposals?
    The education system is something that can be improved through the political process. Let's focus on the purpose of the article and not simplify everything by saying "turn to God" (I agree that would solve a lot of problems, but you and I can't change that through the political process.) Let's get involved and change the education system.
    We had some great ideas put forward here in Idaho, but because of ignorance and lies the people overruled a well thought out and forward looking plan. Was it perfect? No. But it was a start that could have been improved. But, the education establishment who's only real complaint was they "didn't have enough say-so in the process and they are the experts", biased our children and their parents with half-truths and lies to get what was best for them, not the children.

  • Rural sport fan DUCHESNE, UT
    Nov. 28, 2012 9:47 a.m.

    Wow, I am amazed at how many folks here understand that the real issue for education is our society and attitudes regarding things like "working" for a living. As long as we look to Jersey Shore and pro athletes as the models for our versions of successful people, we are in serious trouble as a culture.

    When the people that are successful or cool in the movies and TV shows are all , shall we say, less than intelligent, and the smart folks are all seen as either evil connivers or hapless fools with no common sense; who would want to be them? Who wants to be a scientist and work for an evil drug company that takes money away from us and hides bad test results, like they ALWAYS do in the movies?

    Also...we need to quit blaming "education" for graduation rates, and put the blame where it belongs, in the families. Until parents ensure that their kids go to school, act right and do the work, that statistic will not improve.

  • John C. C. Payson, UT
    Nov. 28, 2012 6:50 a.m.

    Senator Bennett is correct about the lack of sufficient math,engineering, and technology graduates to fill current positions. But the real crisis is our decline in family values, social stability, moral behavior, political sophistication, and historical awareness.

    We should rather pay more attention to the so-called "soft" subjects, even if it means being poor and happy instead of rich and dysfunctional.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Nov. 28, 2012 6:40 a.m.

    My son is studying to become a secondary math school teacher. I've seen the classes he has to take. He is taking way too many education classes of questionable value. This means he won't be taking other classes which would contribute to him becoming a truely educated person.

    I believe our education system might improve if we improved the education of our educators.

  • christoph Brigham City, UT
    Nov. 28, 2012 6:19 a.m.

    If we all threw the TV in the garbage can and followed the scriptures which say "Thou shalt work 6 days a week," we would see a little improvement.

  • logical Meridian, ID
    Nov. 27, 2012 10:40 p.m.

    I substitute teach in the public school system. I visit a lot of different classes. I teach math at the CC and have degrees in engineering and business. I feel I have a unique perspective on the education system.
    The AP and honor math and science classes I visit are full of girls, I generally see more girls than boys and the girls typically are doing very well in those subjects. I always try to find out what their intentions are for post HS and very seldom do I get a response that includes a STEM field. Why? Genetics? There is surely some evidence for this. But, it starts in elementary school. We are losing the boys in large numbers, so we can't count on them (see "The War on Boys" on this site). It is a fact that something is wrong with our educational system. We need to look at several areas, one of them being who is teaching our children.

  • wrz Ogden, UT
    Nov. 27, 2012 10:24 p.m.

    "And yet I hear teachers get demonized for demanding a livable wage. Don't we want to attract the best teachers for our children?"

    The best teachers care more about teaching (imparting of information to others) than wages.

    "Pay teachers like doctors... and you get the brightest students becoming teachers."

    No, no. What you'll get are teachers who place a higher priority on making money.

    Teaching is a unique profession requiring an overwhelming desire to impart information to others and seeing them succeed.

    "I also agree that it must be made easier to replace under performing teachers."

    Few people want jobs where they're always subject to dismissal if your charges refuse to perform.

  • Really??? Kearns, UT
    Nov. 27, 2012 8:25 p.m.


    I can name a school in area that has let three under-performing teachers go in the past five years. The principal is well aware of what is going on in the classrooms of her school, and the other teachers worked hard to mentor those struggling coworkers.

    This school also has a strong partnership with a university and provides student-teaching opportunities for prospective teachers. The partner or mentor teachers do a wonderful job and have helped guide the participants who would not make good teachers to other career options.

    I know there are other schools like this throughout the state. It's time the lies about out public schools here in Utah stop.

  • Winglish Lehi, UT
    Nov. 27, 2012 1:12 p.m.

    @ DiligentDave,

    Math and science teachers are already making quite a bit more than their counterparts in Utah schools. You have asserted a false notion that the education association stood in the way of increasing pay for math and science teachers, when in fact the association supported the idea. Nice try, though.
    Doug10 has nailed the issue at its core, in my opinion. Even though math and science teachers are paid more at every public school in Utah, they are still underpaid when compared with other individuals who have math or science degrees who are employed in fields other than teaching. Pay teachers like doctors, increase the rigor and requirements of an education degree, and you get the brightest students becoming teachers. Until the pay is increased, underperformance perpetuates. It's simple economics.
    I also agree that it must be made easier to replace underperforming teachers. Senator Osmond's bill does just that.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Nov. 27, 2012 8:57 a.m.

    To "Doug10" you realize that even if we wanted to replicate what is being done in Canada, the teacher's union would stop it. Just try and get an underperforming teacher fired. You have a better chance of winning PowerBall.

  • Doug10 Roosevelt, UT
    Nov. 27, 2012 8:45 a.m.

    In Alberta a teacher who has been teaching for 5 years averages $74,000 a year in wages. The teaching positions are highly sought after, and if a teachers class does not perform academically they are replaced as there are many good teachers waiting to take their place.

    A high school graduate from Alberta who attends university in USA and takes business as a major has all their math and science requirements waived as these are all high school requirements there.

    Do you think the higher level of learning and the much higher teacher salaries are accidental? (Canada ranks 3rd in world education)

    In the Tribune today a headline notes that Utah ranks in the bottom half of the country for high school graduation rates.

    When the teachers position in Utah is paid what it should be and what it is in other places the students will benefit, the teachers will excell or be replaced and education will be put in the right place.

    Mr. Bennett the title of the article should be "what Utah needs to fix is education" we don't need to look outside out own state until we have a higher level of competence.

  • Schwa South Jordan, UT
    Nov. 26, 2012 9:58 p.m.

    An argument I hear a lot is that executive pay is high because companies need to be able to attract the best talent. And yet I hear teachers get demonized for demanding a livable wage. Don't we want to attract the best teachers for our children?

  • WestGranger West Valley City, Utah
    Nov. 26, 2012 7:43 p.m.

    Education needs to be more focused on what students need and not union politics.Charter schools, vouchers will give parents more choice. Minorities and poor will not be stuck in poor performing schools. More open-minded, out-of-the-box thinking will help our children maximize the use of their talents and abilities instead of simply passing them along from one grade to another. For those who pay attention to education spending and student performance, they will see that excellence in education depends on HOW money is spent, not just HOW MUCH money is spent on education.

  • Bebyebe UUU, UT
    Nov. 26, 2012 5:45 p.m.


    According the 2011 census the population of the US is approximately 311591917. Of that number 23.7% are under 18 and 50.08% are female. That makes 311591917*0.237=73847284 female. Of those 73847284*0.508=37514420 girls under 18 in the US in 2011 (approx.).

    In your family there are 8 females and 3 males. Your assumptions on what girls like and what boys like are based on a sample size of 8/37514420 = 2.1325*10^-7 or 0.0000213%.

    Your statement on girls like to sit and boys like to run also ignores selection effects such as the girls you are basing your assumption on all come from the same cultural environment; they're your kids. So given that the commonality of having the same father is probably more of an effect than 'all girls like to sit'.

    But then, what do I know? I'm just a girl.

  • Diligent Dave Logan, UT
    Nov. 26, 2012 2:55 p.m.

    What law school will eschew new students? Their business is churning out new J.D.'s, whether there are jobs in the law for them or not. But, having so many lawyers as legislators, certainly they will do what they've done so well for centuries, muddle the law more so you need more of them to untangle the messes they help create. ObamaCare may become part of that boon and boom!

    And, on the 'flat-earther' commentator, may I suggest that we give the parents of children a voucher worth just 90% of what we pay for them now in public education. I guarantee you, they'll be much better educated for a lower cost.

    But, of course that effort would be thwarted again, as it was before in this state, by the education complex. While many public school teachers do their best, the education complex, which pays very high salaries comparatively, still can't deliver better results. Of course, the breakdown of families is much to blame. Still, true choice would still bring overall much better results. I guarantee it.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Nov. 26, 2012 1:21 p.m.

    Mr Bennett hints at a fundamental problem - the misalignment of jobs and degrees. One way to address this is to require schools to be completely transparent in reporting graduation and jobs obtained statistics (so a lawyer who now works at Starbucks would not be counted as "employed"). For-profit schools are notorious for their abuses in this regard, and should face dis-accredidation for these tactics.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Nov. 26, 2012 12:45 p.m.

    To "LDS Liberal" but the studies out there show that over the past 30 years Utah has doubled its spending on education (adjusted for inflation), and the test scores are about the same.

    So, if we are spending more than we have in the past, and have not seen any improvement, why should we throw more money at the system?

    (FYI, it is the flat earthers who are joining in on Progressive thinking.)

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Nov. 26, 2012 11:07 a.m.

    Aren't these the same legilators who constantly cut and cut education
    villify and cut funding to these very same
    Scientists and Engineers when they make mention and warn us about Global Warming or Stem Cell reasearch?

    Then we wonder why no on goes into those already low paying jobs.

    And YES - this is a shot at the Republicans and their 6,000 year old flat earth anti-progressive thinking.

  • Diligent Dave Logan, UT
    Nov. 26, 2012 10:49 a.m.

    I have seven daughters and two sons. I am very much for women getting higher education. However, with by far a majority of college students being female, you are not likely to see very more science and engineering degrees pursued.

    All my life, I have tried to interest my daughters (and wife) in things that interest guys, like those subjects. But have largely failed. The reason? Science and math, etc, though my girls are good at them, don't keep them fascinated.

    Programs that have promoted women in college, unfortunately, have made men, especially white men, but ultimately all men, less able to compete against women. In K-12, women do better being quiet and sitting better AND getting homework done. Males do better standing, moving, and learning by doing. Our education system is dominated by females, and is much more female friendly, and less male friendly.

    Teachers' unions prevent paying math and science teachers more than other teachers. This means they lose the best to the private sector. Without good teachers in science & math in K-12, you won't have young men ready to pursue college degrees in those areas. No amount of programs can change the nature of genders.

  • CobraCommander Orem, UT
    Nov. 26, 2012 10:43 a.m.

    Higher Ed (College and beyond) is the biggest pyramid scheme in America. People put a ton of money in, with no guarantee of return...but I digress...
    There are so many problems with our antiquated education system. What we have worked great in the early and mid 20th century. What we need is a reboot of the whole system with a complete redesign of how we approach everything. We need some leaders to make this happen. The piece meal approach of current government just makes it worse. There are a lot of great ideas how to make it better; we need action and a new system in which to perform them.
    I do agree with Bob, we can do it...Just need everyone to work together and be willing to compromise instead of criticizing and complaining.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Nov. 26, 2012 10:28 a.m.

    To "Truthseeker" that is a nice story, but how do you change society's attitude towards math and science?

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Nov. 26, 2012 10:19 a.m.

    No, Red, Mr. Bennett lost the election because he carries Common Sense in his head and tries to use it.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Nov. 26, 2012 9:50 a.m.

    "Unfortunately in today's society when somebody likes science or math they are labled a "geek" or "nerd"

    Nothing new or recent about that.
    The "jocks" and "popular group have long viewed the science/math students as geeks/nerds. Whether that affects the choice of major comes down to the individual's personality, and perhaps it also has to do with the school environment and population. I would say neither of my engineer sons suffered socially. Aptitude also plays a role. Engineering is a very demanding major requiring and not everyone has an aptitude for the math/science skills required to be successful. The elementary school my sons attended started differentiating kids according to math skills, in 3rd grade. Strong, medium and those students who struggled with math attended class with students of similar aptitude (for math only). Did this help? I don't know. The school district was in a relatively affluent community where many of the parents had college degrees.

    We are failing poor and lower middle class children. We need to figure out how to help these families and the schools that serve them.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Nov. 26, 2012 8:59 a.m.

    Our whole society actually villifies intelligent people, especially engineers, scientists and the like. Education is delivering basketball and football players, which is exactly what we want it to do.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Nov. 26, 2012 8:53 a.m.

    Blame the state Legislature.

    They're the ones preventing educators from educating. They're the ones constantly interfering with things they have no idea on.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Nov. 26, 2012 8:33 a.m.

    Blame business.

    When businesses short change a PhD starting wages at $40K -
    Why should someone invest 8 years of lost earnings, and $100K in-debt to earn barely 2X minimum wage?

    When I worked at Boeing, we hired Engineers from India and China because $20/hr was a King's ransom back home.

    They rented apartments in America,
    while buying huge mansions to move back to later.

    Unions stop this from happening,
    Government can't,
    Businesses won't.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Nov. 26, 2012 8:22 a.m.

    Mr. Bennett, consider this:

    Job creation has been lackluster since we lowered tax rates during the Bush Administration. As wealth has become increasingly concentrated at the top, fewer jobs are being created.

    One factor:

    "The financial sector, which includes lending, stock brokerage, complex securities and insurance, among many other services, derives enormous profits from collateralized debt obligations. These new products require such sophisticated engineering that the industry now focuses its recruiting on new master’s- and doctoral-level graduates of science, engineering, math and physics, and pays them starting wages that are five times or more what they would have earned had they remained in their own fields.
    “Because these new hires are often the very individuals who otherwise would have comprised the most robust pool of prospective founders of high-growth companies, the financial services industry’s steady rise has had a cannibalizing effect on entrepreneurship in the U.S. economy,” said Paul Kedrosky, Kauffman Foundation senior fellow and one of the paper’s authors. “Excessive financialization exacerbated and distorted the flow of capital in the economy, potentially suppressing entrepreneurship by drawing
    away entrepreneurial talent.”
    (Has the Growth of the Financial Sector Harmed the Economy?" )

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Nov. 26, 2012 8:10 a.m.

    Bob, you lost your last election because you don't understand that nation. If you want to get more people to enter into math and science related fields, you have to change people's attitudes. Unfortunately in today's society when somebody likes science or math they are labled a "geek" or "nerd" or some other deragatory term. Meanwhile on television the programming glorifies lawyers, doctors, businessmen, singers, actors, and non-science related jobs. Ask most any teenager if they want to sit behind a desk doing math and science, or if they want to do one of the jobs that they see on TV and most kids will do the popular thing.

    So, the challenge is this, how do you change society's attitude about people in Math and Science? You couldn't make a TV series because the science would bore people, and there are few science and engineering jobs that could be marketed as exciting to the general population.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    Nov. 26, 2012 7:50 a.m.

    Education, K-12 and beyond is not addressing real needs:

    I had a student at a local universality, who told me that in her HS health class she had to put a condom on a banana! Great. We have students that can't write a complete sentence but, glory hallelujah, they can put a condom on a banana!

    A friend of mine called his daughter's school to ask that she not be involved in the Harvey Milk assembly. When the principal told him she doesn't have a choice, he said he'll just keep her home. The Principal told him that she'll need a signed doctor's excuse!

    We spend thousands of $ on interschool sports that have absolutely nothing to do with education.

    My son received his masters degree as a prominent eastern university. His complaint: They had to water down the courses so that the "affirmative action" students could pass the classes.

    Unless a teacher is sexually involved with a student, you can't get rid of a poor teacher.

    20% of entering college students have to take at least one non credit remedial class.

    The list goes on and on and on.