Letter: Funding education

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  • Homer1 MIDVALE, UT
    Feb. 16, 2014 11:54 p.m.

    When I pay the light bill I'm not "throwing money" at the problem. When I pay my water bill I'm not throwing money at the problem. I'm paying my bills. If the public want a system of public education, we pay the bills. You can't honestly think that you just withhold money until teachers start to just magically improve education, then pay them. Despite the contempt that many unthinking Utahns have towards teachers, they haven't received pay increases since the recession. And the WPU, representing money spent per student to provide an education has actually decreased 10% since the recession despite the steady increase in the number of students enrolled in Utah. Money pays for the facilities, resources, support services and education personnel needed to get the job done. Just pay the bills, people.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Feb. 16, 2014 5:57 p.m.

    It is interesting to see how many conservatives say there is no correlation between class size and student achievement. Common sense might dictate otherwise and their own politics of promoting charter schools and private schools does as well. One benefit of these schools are smaller class sizes. I doubt too many private schools have 40 plus student sized classes in high school or 30 plus sized student in elementary. I've even had my own children in charter and private schools and the private school kindergarten had 8 students. No class was over 20. Charters might have more students but nothing like our public schools.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Feb. 16, 2014 7:42 a.m.

    I don't know how anyone got the idea that there isn't a correlation between per pupil spending and academic achievement. All studies done by non-voucher groups show that there is most definitely a strong relationship between the 2. With very few exceptions, more per pupil spending = more academic achievement.

    It's that simple.

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    Feb. 15, 2014 7:49 p.m.


    Teachers hired after 2011 still receive a retirement, it is simply a much smaller one. The state legislature passed a law 3-4 years ago that required significant increased contributions from individual school districts to the Utah Retirement System (URS) which funds all state employee pensions.

    2 Bits you are hung up on the idea that a large portion of the WPU will go to retirement and you act as if anyone has a choice. The districts are required to pay the increase determined by URS, districts have no option but to pay the increase. This increase does not impact how much a teacher will receive in their pension, but simply the amount of money URS has to invest.

    You argument is like raising your kids allowance by fifty dollars a month, then taking forty five of it back in rent and wondering why he can't by pay for his lunch every day.

  • Joe Schmoe Orem, UT
    Feb. 15, 2014 2:39 a.m.

    The teacher retirement fund is not receiving more money from increases in funding. In fact the teachers no longer receive a retirement pension if they were hired after 2011.

    The URS retirement fund for teachers hired before that is in great shape and currently making more money than will be needed to fund the retirement of those teacher in that program.

    Your argument is invalid.

  • Grover Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 1:45 p.m.

    Bits: Math truth please. There was NO increase in funding in 2009, 2010 and 2011 in spite of the annual increase in enrollment due to our status as the most fertile State. In 2012 they funded the increase FOR THAT YEAR ONLY. Then last year the legislature trumpeted that the increase was the "largest in history". Now both papers say most of the money went to retirement funding.

    Remember teachers ask, but legislators fund and direct to the buck where it is to be spent.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 12:25 p.m.

    Twin Lights,
    Some actually said, "Don't fund eduction at all"??

    I haven't seen anybody say that. Regardless... it's silly. We all know public education needs funding.


    Thanks for sharing how you would use this new money the Governor promised. I like those priorities.

    But the first thing most people want when beating the "increased funding will mean better education" drum point to is... decreased class size.

    Sending the whole increase to Teacher Retirement doesn't decrease class-size... does it?


    That just seems disingenuous to me. They petition the legislature and the Governor saying, "We need more money to decrease class-size so we can educate better"... and when they give one of the biggest funding increases in Utah history.... zero percent of it goes to decreasing class-size, and 100% of it goes to teacher retirement. What a disappointment for those that thought it would actually make it to the class room and improve education.

    I agree we need to pay teachers better. But we need to be up front about it. And quit pretending these increases are for smaller class-sizes, better equipment, better books, etc... Zero percent of the funding increase is going to that.

  • Grover Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 12:10 p.m.

    Twin: In order to understand Bits comments, first understand some things about Utah. One there is an aversion to education increases because the teachers are unionized (even though the union is not called a union and are so weak they shouldn't be called one).
    Bits pals tried to sell vouchers when they were passed by the legislature as a means of ending public education as it is currently structured. The people promptly punched them in the nose by repealing the law. Ever since that same crowd has tried to punish everyone and anyone who disagreed with them.

    As a testimony to how out of touch with reality, we get these kind of comments: "government-worshipers run the education system" and "we gave them a huge increase and not one cent goes to class size reduction". Last session the legislature gave the first increase to education since the recession. Bits view is that the legislature just threw the money their way and let them decide where to spend it...fat chance. The money was owed by law to teacher pensions. They had no choice.

    PS. I'm no government lover. My kid went to private school!!

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Feb. 14, 2014 11:31 a.m.

    Continued from Above . . .

    If I want to hire or retain good teachers (just like any other employee), I need money. That can be of two types – money now in salaries and benefits or money later in the form of pensions. When the package is sweeter I get to pick/keep better employees. When it is not, I have a thinner pool. Simple economics.

    Teachers are dedicated to what they do but for some reason we think that the laws of economics are suspended for them. Why? They have families and expenses. They make economic choices just like the rest of us. The more talented the teacher is, the more options they have. They can either leave teaching or go teach in another community or a private system that pays better or has other perks.

    Again, I don’t know about the specific situation you describe. My simple point is that, when discussing teachers we need to recognize their economic choices come back to us in the quality of teacher available for our children.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Feb. 14, 2014 11:17 a.m.

    2 bits,

    First, my post was general and not in response to yours.

    Second, it is not a straw man. It is the logical end to the argument (made by some, not you here) that there is no correlation between funding and results. I use it simply to show how foolish that argument is.

    Third, from my post above it should be clear that I agree that simply throwing money at a situation will not equal automatic improvement. You are right - it doesn’t improve every time. Sometimes it does and sometimes it does not - It depends on the situation.

    What would I do with the money? First, study the organization and find the weak points. What needs fixing first? If the buildings are terrible and the books are ancient but we have basically good teachers in place, then start with supplies and building maintenance. Depends on the situation.

    Reference the specific increase you are talking about. Please understand that I don’t know what it will be used for. But I do not think that teacher pensions are unrelated to the classroom. Just the opposite in fact.

    Continued Below . . .

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 10:31 a.m.

    Twin Lights,
    There's a big difference between not funding it at all... and all we need is money and education will improve.

    Nobody's suggesting not funding at all (that's a strawman).

    But just throwing more money at it does not always improve it every time.

    We're nowhere near this point now, but if you just keep throwing money at it...eventually you have so much money that just throwing more and more money at it does nothing to improve the actual education kids get.


    What is the first thing YOU would do with the money IF you got it??


    The Governor just gave you more money... are they going to do what you thought of above with it? Or is it going to go straight into the retirement system?

    I heard from a reliable source that the whole increase we just gave you was already spoken for by the Education System Retirement System, and not one cent of the increase will make it to the class-room... What is your reaction on that revelation?


    We give Education a huge increase.. and not one cent goes to class-size reduction! Just to the teacher's retirement program!

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Feb. 14, 2014 9:53 a.m.

    The argument that funding and outcome is not correlated is bizarre. If you believe this, then don't fund education at all (in your community please, not mine). What do you think the result will be? Now do you think there is no correlation?

    Money buys resources - nothing more. It can hire teachers, purchase supplies, maintain buildings, etc. Without these, precious little education will be going on. But the perennial question is how much must we spend in order to get a quality product?

    We know there is a correlation between spending and outcomes (see above) but how much of a correlation is often murky. The data is clouded by other things. We compare Utah with New Jersey or Alaska (I have seen both of these) instead of comparing it to similar western states.

    We need to be realistic. The data can be followed and the answers ferreted out. If we can let go of our own philosophical filters and let the data talk to us, it can show us where the problems are. But we have to be willing to accept answers that may be hard for us to accept.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Feb. 14, 2014 9:48 a.m.

    I was stunned at that editorial too. Nearly every "fact" in it was either reverse of reality or taken totally out of context. The DN editorial writers really need to hire a fact-checker

    @2 Bits, if you keep sending 10,000 more kids into the system every year, you're going to have to increase funding just to keep up. So, yes, they need more money EVERY year. And you're still not going to see any improvements that way.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 9:14 a.m.

    As long as government-worshipers run the education system, school leaders will think all they need is more money.

    A "Government-worshiper" is someone who thinks more government is always right, and more government spending is always right, and more government regulation of other people is always right.

    They think the more money they can get from the government the better. But they ignore that the government can't get one cent they don't take from you and me. So in effect they think the more money they can get from you and me (using the government) the better.

    I just don't agree that all it takes is money.

    I think there are MANY things we can do besides throwing more money at the problem.

    I appreciate teachers, but I wish they would stop the more money campaign for just a year, or a month, and focus on doing something else that could improve eduction (that didn't require more money). There must be some ideas out there. But it seems like the agenda is set, and now everybody (even teachers) refuse to do anything to improve until more money is addressed first.