Letter: Teachers, not tech

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  • birder Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 8:29 p.m.

    @Brer Rabbit,
    A large class size would be allowed in a school if the numbers don't work out. I had over 30 when I taught 2nd grade years ago, and had 35 fifth grade students a couple of years ago, with some kids pulled out for a couple of hours a day for reading or math. The first grades at my school had 29 kids each last year. The state-mandated size is about 22, but it doesn't matter.

    Sometimes large class sizes are put in place in a school to avoid a split-grade class. I am teaching a split-grade class this year, and it is a nightmare, with the common core math and the science curriculum for both grades.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 5:25 p.m.

    Brer Rabbit:

    Those large classes do exist law or not. According to accreditation, secondary teachers aren't supposed to have more than 210 students but this is policy is fractured beyond belief.

    Don't believe what your district reports for class size. You need to add at least 10 to the reported class size in elementary and maybe 15 at secondary to really know what a typical class is like.

  • Brer Rabbit Spanish Fork, UT
    Feb. 23, 2014 11:20 p.m.

    I agree with Stacie that students, especially below high school needing their own tablet. However, she may want to recheck the 35 students in her son's third grade class. I have taught for nearly 30 years and no school district would allow such a large 3rd grade class, especially along the Wasatch Front. That number is well above state authorized limits for 3rd grade.

  • Utah Dem Ogden, UT
    Feb. 23, 2014 3:05 p.m.

    Mike Richards, your calculation are just too simplistic. What about custodians, secretaries, staff assistants, heating, air conditioning, water, maintenance personnel, nurses, therapists, transportation, and the list goes on - none of that is free.
    And you are right about parent involvement in education and I am not writing about volunteering at a fundraiser or helping with bus duty, but real involvement.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Feb. 22, 2014 4:45 p.m.


    You misread my post. The State spends $3.5 billion per year on public education. There are 25,000 teachers. That means that the State pays $140,000 per teacher. The average teacher's wage is just under $50,000. That means that $90,000 per teacher is spent on buildings, supplies and administrators.

    Good parenting does not add one penny to the cost of education. Good parents who spend an hour or two per day tutoring their children would do more good than putting another $10,000 in each teacher's pocket. Many families have computers in their homes that their children could use to enhance education. Giving each school $200,000 for technology would do less for the students than encouraging parents to spend time with the technology found in most homes.

  • Monsieur le prof Sandy, UT
    Feb. 22, 2014 11:24 a.m.

    Technology can be a benefit in a few selected classes, but not enough that we need to waste money furnishing every student with a new iPad. Real success comes from well-trained and caring teachers in the classroom. Wherever you find successful debate, journalism, drama, music, or AP programs, you'll find a strong teacher, not electronic devices.
    Research shows us that given equal socio-economic and cultural conditions, the teacher is the single best indicator of student success. The Finns have it right. Take the best college grads and raise pay to make education attractive to them.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Feb. 21, 2014 10:38 a.m.

    Money for ipads is a waste. Half the kids already have them, most of the others have their phones. The only ones who need them are the low socio-economic schools, so yes maybe there. But why buy equipment for kids who already have it and know how to use it better than their teachers do?

  • Wanda B. Rich Provo, UT
    Feb. 21, 2014 10:37 a.m.

    Giving the kids more toys to distract them will not educate them. We need to fix the fundamental problem first. Pay teachers enough and we will get better teachers. Cut class sizes and students will get more individual help from their teachers. This is not rocket science. Heck, it's not even iPad science. It's common sense. Then and only then should we spend additional funds on technology. This hare-brained idea from Lockhart is just another Republican attempt to circumvent the problem we have created in our schools.

    Yes, Mike, parents should get more involved. But we can't legislate that. What we can do is fix what we've been breaking for decades now.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Feb. 21, 2014 10:01 a.m.

    Tyler D,

    I believe the word is "kiitos".

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Feb. 21, 2014 9:37 a.m.

    Always thought it was strange how many Americans disdain looking at other countries, and where it makes sense using some of their ideas – and on education especially since our system is not that great compared with much of the developed world.

    In a book titled – The Smartest Kids in the World - the author did just that and came to a few key conclusions. Surprisingly, one is that technology in the classroom is largely a waste of money when compared to good teachers & curriculum.

    Other conclusions were the importance of math, critical thinking (e.g., essay questions, not multiple choice), extra help outside the classroom (Mike is right about parental involvement), and excellent teachers (who are paid accordingly).

    We could also learn a thing or two from Finland (#1 school system in the world even when compared to similar cultures & demographics). Key features there include:

    More playtime (75 minutes of recess vs. 27 minutes for U.S. kids) and a lot less testing
    No national mandates – guidelines only

    Small class size – 16 max for science classes

    Teachers must have graduated in the top 10% of their class

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 21, 2014 9:08 a.m.

    The one good thing about increasing the use of technology (instead of just increasing the number of teachers) is... Online resources don't require pensions, they don't collect pay checks each month, and they don't require expensive medical insurance.

    That said, I don't think we should replace any teachers with technology, but the teachers we have should use technology to the best of their ability to augment and enhance their teaching. It's hard for a teacher to spend one-on-one time with each student (even if there are only 20 kids in the class). It's easy for a web site or an app to spend one-on-one time with each student (no matter how many students are in the class). Educational Apps we have today are good at giving instant feedback and instruction at each student's own pace (not one speed fits all, like a teacher standing in front of the whole class).

    We should use both.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 21, 2014 8:26 a.m.

    Why can't it be teachers AND Tech??

    Why does it have to be one or the other?

    I think we need both.

    Feb. 21, 2014 8:15 a.m.

    @confused, most people take into consideration the entire benefit package when being offered a job. A person may keep a lower wage to enjoy more valuable benefits. And not just health benefits, there might be flexible schedules or other perks that make up for a lower wage.

  • Confused Sandy, UT
    Feb. 21, 2014 7:57 a.m.

    Mike Richards...

    Just curious where you get the $140,000 amount from?

    Are you talking about Salary (Average Salary is 47,000 which is ranked 38th in the country). Oh you must then add on benefits. I get it....

    Now, if you are a business person and you are interviewing a perspective employee, do you tell them that their salary and benefits = $$$$?

    of course not, you tell them what their gross salary is going to be...

    While I do agree with you about the family involvement, good education starts at home, not in the classroom.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Feb. 21, 2014 4:27 a.m.

    Perhaps the first task that a parent should have is to spend time with each child each day to help to educate that child. There will never be enough teachers to give one-on-one instruction, but each child has a parent who is primarily responsible for his child's education. Turning off the TV, the video games and staying home from distracting sports and social events would go a long way towards giving each child one-on-one time.

    Unless you can hire private tutors for your children, YOU are their tutor.

    I agree that charging each family an additional $150 per child in taxes and then "giving" those taxes to the schools for technology is foolish. The school system isn't accountable for the $140,000 per teacher that it is already given. Who would expect it to handle another $200 to $300 million?

    Families are the solution; strong families who understand their stewardship; strong parents who spend time with their children.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Feb. 21, 2014 1:24 a.m.

    Well said Ms. Mason.

    I don't know if Mrs. Lockhart actually thinks she is doing the right thing or if she and other legislators will be financially aided by technology contracts. I would like to give her the benefit of the doubt. However, her aim here is seriously misguided. We need to invest in people. Not just teachers but more tutors, aids, counselors and in-school administrators (the ones in district offices we don't need any more of them). But we do need more teachers especially, we need to attract them and retain them. We especially need more male teachers and this can only be gained through significant pay increases and restoring benefits. Throwing an i-pad at a student in a class of 40 plus students isn't going to help much at all. Again, for the vast, vast majority teaching and learning is a HUMAN thing and we need to invest first and foremost in HUMANS.

  • Orem Parent Orem, UT
    Feb. 21, 2014 12:05 a.m.

    I couldn't agree more! Our teachers have taken pay cuts the last 5 or 6 years. Time to pay them for their great work!