Jay Evensen: Money alone won't make schools better

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    Sept. 23, 2013 6:11 p.m.

    “If it works in college... why can't it work in High School?”

    Yes, I also had the infamous American Heritage 100 class in the Joseph Smith Auditorium as well as several other huge introductory level classes. I learned because I went to the labs (one on one or small groups) that were always attached to those classes. I don’t know that “we” (as in everyone) always learned. Aren’t those the classes that freshmen often fail and then drop out of college because of that failure? I think they are.

    Furthermore, I was highly motivated to learn and succeed in college because I was paying 100% of my tuition costs. This is a HUGE difference between high school and college classes. Could it be that Senator Pat Jones is on the right track? Maybe parents need to pay more for the education of their children in order for them to take more of a personal interest in the academic progress of their students? (I will need to ponder further on that idea).

    But this I know--It IS criminal to have 45 students in a class!

  • Really??? Kearns, UT
    Sept. 22, 2013 9:13 p.m.

    The key word in the sentence "Money alone won't make schools better" is alone. That means that money needs to a partner in whatever we do to improve our schools. When people say that class size doesn't matter, imagine being the English teacher who has to grade papers. Would you rather have 150 papers to grade or 240 papers? How much more input could you provide to 150 students as opposed to 240. Believe it or not, many junior high and high school teachers have that many students to take care of, and they don't have teaching assistants to help with the grading. Imagine what something radical like adding a second adult in every classroom could do to our educational system here in Utah. It would be amazing.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Sept. 22, 2013 7:06 p.m.

    2 bits:

    I have a college education. But how many drop out of college and never finish? if our schools had the same drop out rate colleges have, people would truly be up in arms more than they are now. Therefore, I truly reject your premise that learning with hundreds of students in a lecture hall works.

    My best classes even in college were in a small group of students or even when I was fortunate enough to meet with my professors one on one. Once you're deep in your major, classes are smaller, sometimes very small. Did you do all your higher level classes in a large auditorium? Think back, I seriously doubt it. The main purpose of survey courses by the way to weed out students. I guess we can weed out younger students and send them out in the streets, but I don't think that is a good idea.

    Finally, let's take your premise all they way to its logical absurdity. Maybe we could put 400 first graders in an auditorium with one teacher and see if that works. Your assertion or premise is so insipid it's beyond incredulity.

  • redshirt007 tranquility base, 00
    Sept. 22, 2013 6:47 p.m.

    When will the DN finally drop the censorship? Will the DN or China continue longer?

  • Steve Cottrell Centerville, UT
    Sept. 22, 2013 5:45 p.m.

    Of course, money alone won't improve schools, but to do anything to improve them will cost money.

  • redshirt007 tranquility base, 00
    Sept. 22, 2013 5:33 p.m.

    Rich people disagree. They send their own kids to MORE expensive schools, not cheaper ones.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Sept. 22, 2013 4:53 p.m.

    In college I had classes that were taught in an auditorium of hundreds of students (and we learned). Some of these kids are just one year away from being in these classes. And yet... you claim it's "Criminal" to have 45 students in a class!

    If it works in college... why can't it work in High School?

    Class size isn't the only reason students don't learn (sometimes the student doesn't want to learn or thing you can make him learn). Money won't fix that.

    -Students who demand a good education will find one (they may have to take special classes).
    -Parents who demand a good education will find one (they may have to pay more for it).
    -You don't have to grovel at the feet of government to get a good education.
    -Pouring $$$ in doesn't automatically mean kids will want or get a better education.

    Sept. 22, 2013 4:28 p.m.

    Mr Evensen, How do you know more money won't help our schools? We've never tried it.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Sept. 22, 2013 3:03 p.m.

    If a teacher has 20-25 students he/she can actually teach. Maybe 30 if they are gifted or have good, easy-going students. Get up in the 40 range, which is where many teachers are at in many of our secondary schools, teachers simply become class managers. Some learning can go on but it becomes very difficult. Get up to 45 which is happening more and more in our secondary schools, I would almost call this criminal. Our legislature knows this is happening but they don't seem to care. It seems like most district administrators and school boards ignore the issues as well hiding in their offices most often making policy decisions that make things worse. Many parents don't realize fully how quality education is being eroded simply by huge class sizes. Even if every teacher was Jaime Escalante, they can't truly succeed in these conditions on a consistent basis. Money does matter. And as our schools become increasingly diverse, especially with ESL students, Utah can continue to load up their class sizes at its peril.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    Sept. 22, 2013 9:52 a.m.

    Learning some manners and how to be polite would be a good thing. since morals and mentality is a big part of being a educated person. Seems to me that the teachers aren't that educated any more.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Sept. 22, 2013 9:06 a.m.

    Money alone won't force kids to learn. What IS required is a student body that WANTS to lean, students who DEMAND to learn and be taught, and students who want to grow and expand their knowledge in every aspect possible.

    The problem Utah has more and more now days (and something other communities have been battling for decades before it became such a problem in Utah communities)... is the growing number of kids in school that don't WANT to be in school. And the number of kids that will invest their whole school career in finding the easiest way to get by while learning as little as possible.

    That growing body of students is what's dragging our collective scores down... NOT the lack of money.

  • EJM Herriman, UT
    Sept. 22, 2013 9:04 a.m.

    I agree with Mr. Evensen to a point. Our school problems can't be fixed by throwing money at them. However in Itah we have never adequately funded education, at least not in my 28+ years of education. We have never adequately addressed the concept of attendance and it's importance in our schools. September is the national and state's "Attendance Awareness" month but not one single school district is pushing this in their schools. Why not?

    Finally, our children are not proficient in technology. They can play video games but I have college bound seniors who do not know how to navigate even slightly the Internet.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Sept. 22, 2013 8:51 a.m.

    Wrong again, Jay. There's an old principle, "You Get What You Pay For." As long as Utah is comfortable with paying the least in the nation, we will continue to get what we've paid for -- the biggest class sizes, the least personal attention to students, the lowest-paid teachers (proportionally), and a continued slide downward from mediocrity. And technology can only do so much: a flatscreen can't hug a hurting child. (BTW, the "State Budget Solutions" organization is a front for the right-wing no-tax crowd, which you fail to acknowledge. How about giving us the whole story?)