Jay Evensen: Education won't improve until it's as local as your kitchen table

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  • The Hammer lehi, utah
    March 31, 2014 10:27 a.m.

    Have you ever been in a large organization? In the army they have trouble controlling their budgets all the time because its a big organization trying to run a bunch of smaller units. It used to be that state provided soldiers and where given charters with revenue to support each unit. It wasn't until WW2 when that changed. But as we have seen its questionable that this is a good idea seeing the waste in our defense budget. Commanders are now forced to purchase equipment they don't need, to use up budget so congress doesn't take the revenue away.

    Under Kennedy we started the Dept of Ed. Since that time we have seen our system grow in bureaucracy but students and parents are far more distant from the organization that should have their deep involvement to be successful. The states didn't ask for this involvement the Fed just inserted themselves into it.

    The truth is money is harder to track in large organizations and that is why our tax dollars should be returned to the states without strings. Its our money anyway. Why not use more nimble organizations to administer it.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    March 29, 2014 2:40 p.m.

    I like your thinking Chris B.

    I say if we could put 100 first graders in an auditorium and pay their teacher minimum wage, test scores should shoot right through the roof...

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    March 28, 2014 11:56 p.m.

    Let me understand. You want federal dollars, just not the federal government saying how those dollars are spent. Just sign the check over, and be done with it? I know no successful enterprises that do that - not in the public sector, nor the private sector. No corporation hands a division a budget, and tells them to just go spend it "locally" how they choose. That is a completely unreasonable expectation.

    But if it is freedom from federal control, then you have to be willing to live with the consequences. Just like with my kids- my house, my rules. You want freedom, no problem.

    All this misses the point. There is no reason that employers and universities across the nation shouldn't expect that their is a common standard to what being a high school graduate means. Letting each district decide that on their own just breeds chaos. There is no prescribed curriculum here - just prescribed results. Trying blame the feds for what is truly a local problem is to try to dodge local responsibility. Districts have complete latitude on how to achieve the standards, anything short of that is just dodging responsibility.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 28, 2014 3:36 p.m.

    I'm glad I'm too old and my kids are grown and established in their professions. I don't know if I could help kids today with this "new math".

    I've heard that there are many parents who don't understand how it's being taught now days. That's sad. A kid should be able to sit down with his parents and get basically the same help and instructions he would get if he sat down with his teacher (IMO).

    IF they can't... that's sad.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 28, 2014 3:01 p.m.

    I don't have any problem with national OR local standards.... just as long as teachers don't hold students who are ready to leave the standards in the dust back... so they fit the standard.

    As long as the standards are PUSHING our kids to excel even more... that's great. If they are holding them back so they meet the norm... not so great.

    I think on most things common core is as good as our local standard. My main problem with Common Core is... it allows companies and the government to do data-mining on our kids. Not on an aggregate or anonymous level (that's OK), but on an individual and individually identifiable level. They can get data for a specific student (not just a group or population, but an individual if they want). This could be used to market to them, to limit their college possibilities in the future, etc. I don't like the government providing data about our kids to marketing people, etc....

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    March 28, 2014 12:24 p.m.

    @ bandersen, retail delivery at the local is a bust. Plain and simple. All I hear are rationalizations, excuses and finger pointing. Go back and look at the point made by Chris B who said that if funding was the issue, Utah would be dead last. The point is that where the rubber hits the road, in the classroom, is it getting done? What exactly does the Dept. of Ed. mandate that prevents effective teaching of language, math and science? Whining about the evil federal government is an excuse. Further, want the feds out of education? Do a good job at the local level (that applies to most issues). It isn't getting done. I know you hate Washington, the federal government, etc., but your political philosophy is not the issue.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 28, 2014 9:31 a.m.

    I agree. Parents need to learn that education doesn't happen only at school. I've heard that you learn more in your first 5 years than you learn the rest of your life. So if this is true... you learn more at home, before you even start school, than you will in your whole K-12 education.

    I think it's been proven that parents who focus on education at home (especially in those 5 years) get better results overall.

    I suspect part of it is that a parent that pays attention to this in the first 5 years is also going to be highly involved the rest of those years after you go to school.

  • freedomingood provo, Utah
    March 28, 2014 8:55 a.m.

    The premise of home school for all, defies the economic principals of specialization and economies of scale. But then, I learned that in public schools.

  • birder Salt Lake City, UT
    March 27, 2014 9:17 p.m.

    I am very much in favor of local (at least state) control of education standards. Even though the proponents of Common Core say that states/localities have a say in the standards, that is not completely true. State departments of education (including Utah's) were coerced into adopting the Common Core standards or lose federal education funding. And for those who aren't aware, most special education programs, Title 1 (programs for disadvantaged students), and the school lunch program are federally funded. States would not voluntarily give up those millions of dollars.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    March 27, 2014 7:12 p.m.

    How in the world is there a local standard for how proficient in math you are, or how is it locally determined that you are proficient enough in physics to be a scientist. This is absolutely nuts.

    Either we compete on the world stage or we don't.

    Either our kids are as proficient as kids in the rest of the world or they are not. So if you trust your local school board member who is a farmer to determine math standards then you are going to lose.

    Whether you choose common core, some other national standard or your local farmer will determine the future of your grandchildren far more than the size of the national debt.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 27, 2014 5:44 p.m.

    I don't have any glaring examples of local versus national education but in every case that I remember in these years since I have never seen any thing that would tell me that the Federal government lagged behind either private or state government in serving the public.

    Federal highways are better maintained than the state. Federal campgrounds and camps were hundred of times better that the state parks and campgrounds. In every case our lives were better because of federal regulations and rules where as the state government was only interested in business and the restriction of freedom for people.

    So, for me the notion of improvement of life by giving the state government money or land is a phony notion.

  • mom2six Prescott , AZ
    March 27, 2014 5:20 p.m.

    Jay, Have you ever heard of Achieve? Yes, the group that wrote the CCSS. They are in Washington DC. And for the comments regarding states and local schools failing before CCSS were adopted, you realize that the fed has been involved in education for a long time, right? It's not like Obama Admin. created Race To The Top because the states have had all of this freedom in education and were failing. It is just more federal control where the fed has no right to be.

  • MissTeaching Layton, UT
    March 27, 2014 4:23 p.m.

    I retired a few years ago and I loved my job. I believe that most of my students enjoyed school and we had a happy classroom. I was a teacher who had high expectations, unfortunately, this was not always successful because of the lack of parents helping their children with reading and homework which went exactly with what was taught that day at school. I taught in a really nice neighborhood so I saw very few excuses not to help their child. Some of the ones who didn't help at home were quite able to pull their children out of school and take them to Disneyland. No child, unless they are gifted, can reach their pull potential without help and expectations from home and school. Also, you will never get 100% in reading and math. Some children have disabilities. They can improve, of course, but IQ does have an influence on how a child does in reading and math.

  • jed c Payson, UT
    March 27, 2014 3:50 p.m.

    My Kitchen Table was made in Malaysia, shipped to New Orleans, put on a train to a warehouse in SLC and then sent via truck to a furniture store in Provo. "Just saying".

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    March 27, 2014 2:37 p.m.

    Esquire: Have you actually been in a school? Just go ask a assistant principal how many ways his hands are tied in dealing with discipline or teaching methods or testing requirements. My question is simple. How is it that anyone could recommend continued funding of the Department of Education when all of that money could be returned to the states and let them handle education? Where is there any proof that the Federal Department of Education has done any good that couldn't be given to a local panhandler and asking him to spend it as well? The state probably wouldn't handle it any better. The "do-gooders" at the state level want to work wonders as well, while the average citizen doesn't have enough self-worth to stop any of it, while the "do-gooders" continue to tell us how successful they will be with future funds. How about examining what they have done in the past? Really? No irony at all? This isn't a rant about government. I love government when its doing its job! I just want the government does everything with glistening results folks to "show" me some proof in regards to education.

  • Eliot Genola, UT
    March 27, 2014 2:28 p.m.

    Until such time as funding for schools is exclusively local, then local control is just a pipe dream. If you take the federal money expect to live by the federal rules.

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    March 27, 2014 2:16 p.m.

    If funding was most important, Utah would be dead last in academic success.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    March 27, 2014 1:55 p.m.

    @ bandersen, I'm sorry, but I don't understand how your argument supports the concept that local school districts need to deliver on executing education. Either the kids can read a a high enough level or they cannot. Either the kids know math well enough to compete at the world level or they don't. The federal government is not interfering with that at all. They are just looking for ways to get local districts to do better. Your argument makes no sense whatsoever, especially in the context of the op-ed piece and my original comment. Ranting about the federal government completely misses the p[oint the the delviery of education, at the retail level if you will, is being poorly done in many localities. And efforts of the federal government to get local districts to do better have been the objective of both Republican and Democratic Administrations, supported by the busienss community. So instead of deflecting responsiblity by pointing fingers at Washington, folks back home need to take responsibility for their failures.

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    March 27, 2014 1:15 p.m.

    Just for own curiosity isn't local control my community? Those who are complaining here point the federal government and their intrusion, what about the the state. Each year our Utah Educational experts (Stephensen, Urquhart, etc) submit between 100-200 bills to try to further micromanage Utah education. How about we get the Utah state legislature out of the business of education other than funding, and leave the rest to the local school districts.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    March 27, 2014 12:21 p.m.

    Esquire: At what date would you like to point to where local control began? Show me where local control has been fully tried over a just a few years without federal control? Since you won't be able to show me that, how do you know that local control won't work? What statistic, public approval rating, or return on investment can you show me that validates your claim that the Federal government's control over education has been a success? How about Healthcare? Social Security? Medicare? Medicaid? Does Fiscal responsibility come to mind? At what point would you question the federal government's ability to manage anything? When does the irony of those who support 17 trillion dollars in debt become a "a-ha" moment? Does it happen when another depression hits? When Social Security checks can't be cashed? Just wondering!

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 27, 2014 10:44 a.m.

    Chuck E. Racer.

    I think the children would be better served if teachers and parents spent their time teaching rather than "developing standards".

    None of the motives of public education of children should involve indoctrinating adults .

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 27, 2014 10:42 a.m.

    In almost every part of our lives we seek the best advise we can get. Usually, but not always, the best advise is obtained by seeking and finding the widest and most popular advise from the most people possible and the most educated and experienced.

    When we need medical care, we expect our doctor to know and follow the world of experience sometimes coming from the whole world. The same is true for legal help and thousands of other things that we just didn't have the time to become experts in.

    Yet, our supposed experts are telling us that we should teach our children ourselves according to the way we/they personally think it should be. Then our children are expected to be a success in the outside world.

    Could it be that the experts have different motives for the future of our children?

    Local control of public education often has meant the preparation of workers for local businesses. As I recall one school has a fully working television station while another a printing shop.

    There are many other competing desires for our kids, each would like to have taxpayers supplement their indoctrination.

  • Utah Dem Ogden, UT
    March 27, 2014 9:19 a.m.

    I am sure that someone somewhere is concerned about national averages, national percentages and numbers but isn't it far more important to know what is actually happening regarding achievement and student success in your local neighborhood schools? Reading about 35% of third graders in the US tell me very little about my state, my district and my schools.

    Just my opinion.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    March 27, 2014 8:10 a.m.

    National minimum standards are good. The world is not local, and competing requires more than minimum standards. Republican and Democratic administrations both recognize this reality. The problem is that at the local level, the job is not getting done. Period. Instead of whining about the evil federal government telling us what to do, maybe those executing the delivery of education need to up their game. States and localities, you are not doing your job. Stop point the finger at Washington.

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    March 27, 2014 7:48 a.m.

    Parents, students, and teachers all need to be held accountable for education. In early grades the parents and teachers bear a larger portion of responsibility. As kids get older, greater and greater responsibility needs to be transferred to them.

    But even so, placing all accountability on any one group gives the others an excuse to fail. Education will only work when all three parties are on board and held accountable.

  • Chuck E. Racer Lehi, UT
    March 27, 2014 7:38 a.m.

    When the decisions are made at the local level, it builds the local people. When they are made in Washington, only they learn from the experience. The teachers and parents grow from the exercise of developing standards. We need that much more than we need something handed to us on a silver platter from Washington (which IS where they were written).

    If you want to build the people who really make a difference in the students' lives, bring those decisions back to that level. Get Utah, and everyone else, OUT of Common Core for real improvement.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    March 27, 2014 6:03 a.m.

    How many times did Jay visit a public education classroom to study these issues before he wrote this column? How many times did he teach? How many educators did he interview asking them what would help education the most?

    Anyone want to take a guess?


    Why don't we listen to those in the trenches? Why doesn't this newspaper ever do any investigating? Why do you just repeat tired old repub talking points?

    If you were to ask any educator if local control is in their top 5... Or top 10 concerns, you'd be laughed right out of the classroom.

    It's the funding. Jay, it's the funding! That's what would help education the most! Get the class sizes down! Get new desks so all students may sit in one! Compensate these teachers so they stay rather than leave the profession.

  • slcdenizen t-ville, UT
    March 27, 2014 5:05 a.m.

    When our adult population is not proficient in math or science, localized education won't work. The essential hurdle we're trying to clear is one of ignorant parents being able to teach their young children critical thinking skills for an ever-changing world. Are we up for the task? Nope, so let's just blame the system so we can sleep at night.