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Richard Davis: Despite leaders, Utah needs a comprehensive education plan

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  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 7:17 a.m.

    Re: ". . . a coalition of non-governmental groups [should] put an initiative on the ballot."

    Yeah, good luck with than, Prof. Notwithstanding all the UEA/NEA blather, Utah education has yet to offer any credible evidence of a coming educational distopia to support their incessant cries of "wolf." In fact, Utah education is doing quite well, particularly in those districts not overly controlled by or beholden to UEA/NEA.

    Leftist educators and their trade-union bosses constantly bleat about the necessity of concocting grandiose educational plans, but, focus some light on the propaganda, and these "plans" invariably boil down to more unsustainable taxing and spending -- as it does the Prof's article.

    A savvy state legislator once asked a UEA/NEA boss, "how much money would it take to shut you up?" The stunned lobbyist could not come up with a figure.

    That clearly illustrates the real issue here -- a UEA/NEA tactic and need to engage in perpetual community organizing, attacking any and all educational funding as too little, too late.

    All to cover up the real single-item agenda -- more money for greedy trade-union bosses.

  • Sal Provo, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 7:49 a.m.

    There wasn't much or anything in the article about student scores in Utah and our low per pupil spending. D.C. has one of the highest per pupil spending in the nation but continues to have some of the lowest test scores in the nation. The money didn't make the difference. Parents and families make the difference.

    I'm in favor of higher taxes for education, but only if the money goes to reduced class size and teacher salaries; and, only if there is a reduction in administration costs.

  • Utah Dem Ogden, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 7:50 a.m.

    I fully agree with the comments by Mr. Davis but I am also curious as to why the state superintendent of public instruction has taken no action to develop a long range plan for public education in the state. Shouldn't the state superintendent be out front on every public education issue in Uah?

  • Mark l SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 8:04 a.m.

    More money is simply not available for public schools. 60% of the state budget goes to public education.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 8:28 a.m.

    The teachers unions and their allies on the left have only one solution for improving education- more money, always more money.

    First, education is Utah may not be funded at what they think is an appropriate level, and indeed per child may be well below the national average. But, thanks to the quality of Utah teachers, the involvement of Utah parents, and the diligence of most Utah students, our education system produces pretty well educated kids. The notable exceptions being in communities with non-English speakers, many of whom are illegal aliens, but that is a different problem from school funding.

    Second, as pointed out above, mere spending does not produce better results.

    Third, no one asks, as they should, what is the best use of the funding currently available? Where is money wasted, what programs are unnecessary, and what jobs are not essential? How much are we paying for "administrivia" and non-value adding people, programs, requirements, reports, structures, advertising, equipment, etc.?

    Finally, the "more money for schools" advocates ignore that fact that Utah taxpayers are taxed quite enough already, and they have no right to demand more money from people who are not getting paid more themselves.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Aug. 13, 2014 8:50 a.m.

    Why are Utah students average performers on every national test?

    Simple math: A high school teacher with 200 students has half the time to assess, instruct, and remediate individual students than a teacher with 100 students.

    That's the difference between Utah and, say, Vermont, which has the nation's highest scores.

    So much for the tired, illogical conservative argument that class size is meaningless.

    Utah parents would do anything for their kids except pay the price to educate them.

  • kiddsport Fairview, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 9:53 a.m.

    I wish people would look closer at the statistics before formulating their opinion.
    Utah used to be a leader in educational outcomes and college preparation. Capital spending did not cause that. Now it appears Utah has fallen behind recently and I wondered why so I dug into the statistics to find out what is really happening with Utah education. I looked up the ACT web pages and read the Executive Summary which recommends looking at the five-year history rather than year-over-year changes. I noted a significant dropoff of ACT scores over the past two years and a couple of pages later, the Summary displayed the ethnic makeup of student test-takers. Not surprisingly, Hispanic representation was the only group which showed a significant increase during those same two years. Conclusion: because Utah is ranked #1 in economic conditions for underprivileged children (according to a report in DN), it is a magnet for immigration from Latin American families who have come to this country without the benefit of a solid educational foundation.
    Whatever Utah's comprehensive plan eventuates, I hope it takes into account the underlying causes for current scholastic performance.

  • Tenn12 Orem, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 9:54 a.m.

    Sal and DN Subscriber,
    Davis actually cites a study, you know, facts to back up his claims. Please list for me a handful of credible studies that refute any correlation between spending money and education performance. All I saw from your post was there's no proof it helps without anything to back it up as opposed to Davis who DID back up his claim. Until you do, I am 100% in agreement with him.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 10:21 a.m.

    Amen. I have a friend who teaches math in a junior high. She has class sizes in the mid-40s. This is unacceptable. The problem with Republicans today is that they put ideology ahead of both common sense and real solutions to real problems.

  • bradleyc Layton, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 11:34 a.m.

    This is how we fix education.
    The state legislature gives an abundance of Money to the local school districts and we trust the local school boards to make correct decisions.
    The State office of Education should provide vision and support.
    The local school district should be in control of planning and implementation, curriculum etc.
    The local schools along with their community councils and teachers, differentiate curriculum for specific student and population needs.
    Teachers should be able to print out a report showing which standards they have taught, where your child stands when it comes to learning the standards and which standards will be taught over the next few months.
    Parents should be actively involved in schools.

  • bradleyc Layton, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 11:35 a.m.

    Part 2
    Working mothers and fathers should be taking time off to spend with their local schools.
    Parents should read to and with their kids daily at home... oh and help them to do their homework.
    Parents should keep up on the latest instructional strategies so that they can help their kids at home. (This one is for all of you complaining that "they aren't doing it the way I had it as a kid.") BTW... We should probably be grateful for that.
    Parents should learn the Common Core Standards, follow their kids progress and help them if they fall behind.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 11:52 a.m.

    Let's take the arguments of proc and sal to their logical level and put 100 first graders in a lunchroom with one teacher and see if works out...

  • kiddsport Fairview, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 12:14 p.m.

    @Tenn12- do your own study. Look up the per student spending by state. Then look up the student achievement scores by state. You will see there is not much correlation between the two. Of those states with high expenditures and high test scores, I have seen a distinctly different demographic makeup. You might have to agree there is a greater correlation between demographics and test scores than between spending and test scores.

    @bradleyc- if you have ever looked at the Common Core Standards and methodology, you would never recommend that as an education solution.

    @Howard Beal- what is logical about putting 100 first graders in a lunchroom except to serve them free meals to teach them dependency?

  • Tenn12 Orem, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 1:14 p.m.

    kiddsport,
    That's the problem, I have. I have found the same conclusions as Mr. Davis. I don't find credible studies to back up anything you claim. Please enlighten us all. Oh and Washington D.C. doesn't cut it. They were an outlier. This is why I'm asking you and others who claim money won't help to show me credible studies that prove it doesn't.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 1:53 p.m.

    Re: "I'm asking you and others who claim money won't help to show me credible studies that prove it doesn't."

    Sophistry.

    The burden is not on real Utahns to prove a negative. Rather, it's on leftist educators and their union bosses to prove to us we should support measures they're constantly whining for. And that simply hasn't been done. Certainly not to any confidence level real Utah voters need to see in order to support the ruinous taxes UEA/NEA shills are demanding.

    And, BTW, your suggestion that we should just dismiss out of hand -- as a somehow irrelevant outlier -- Washington, DC's shining example of the fact that heaving unsustainable boatloads of extra cash at schools enriches unions, but not kids' education, seems just a little too convenient to thinking Utahns.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 3:15 p.m.

    It's simple:

    Eliminate the child tax dedication. Big families should slap some skin into funding public education too.
    Raise minerals and natural resource exploitation taxes to levels of "liberal" states like Wyoming. It's time for these guys to pay their fair share of taxes.

    Use these new revenues as ways to fund education.

    Now, greatly strengthen the teachers union and the state board of education. The legislature, Eagle Forum, and Libertas is institute should have zero say on curriculum, testing, of how money should be spent. Get the special interest groups that want to privatize education out of the way!

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 3:17 p.m.

    Contrary to what the Eagle Forum says, there are studies after studies that show a strong correlation to per pupil spending and academic achievement. To say there aren't studies that confirm this is like saying that there isn't any man made global warming or that evolution doesn't happen...

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 5:10 p.m.

    Re: "To say there aren't studies that confirm this is like saying that there isn't any man made global warming or that evolution doesn't happen..."

    Exactly.

  • Harvey1950 SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 5:15 p.m.

    So much misinformation here! I'll just address two:

    First, Utah students do NOT perform better than in other states. Broken down by ethnicity, every group scores below average...even Caucasian Utah students do worse than average. White students perform better on standardized tests than non-white students...and Utah has lots more white students than other states. That's the ONLY reason it appears we are above average.

    Second, money DOES matter. Naysayers always point to Washington DC, but the reality is that--when poverty, ethnicity and other factors are considered--study after study confirm a very strong correlation between spending and student success.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 5:53 p.m.

    There is a plan. It is starve public education to death and hope it all works. Until then, there will be a lot of collateral damage.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 8:07 p.m.

    Re: ". . . study after study confirm a very strong correlation between spending and student success."

    So, cite some of them. We've been burned too many times by not being skeptical enough of liberal claims.

  • The Educator South Jordan , UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 10:32 p.m.

    "So, cite some of them. We've been burned too many times by not being skeptical enough of liberal claims."

    Let's try this again. Hopefully the dnews moderators won't deny this for reasons unknown to me.

    You can start with using various peer reviewed academic journals off Jstor. If you cannot access them from home, then you might be able to access them at your local library or university. The GSS (the general social survey) which is one of the main providers of information to Congress, collects data. Their days shows a significant relationship between per pupil spending and academic achievement. You may also look at the number of countries worldwide. Finland, is a great example of investing in education. For you, something more simple and easier to understand, there are various articles from experts published by the New York Times, Time, etc which show studies indicating a correlation between the two. Of course, you'll never find articles like these on Heritage!

    Finally, common sense. You get what you pay for. You can pay for a Geo and expert a Mercedes.

    Good enough or do you need more?

  • FreedomFighter41 Provo, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 10:40 p.m.

    What's wrong with public education? Why are so many in this state so against funding public education? I thought we loved our children? Yet, we don't want to educate them? So what will? Religious leaders they see a few times a week? MTV? Friends at school? iPads?

    It's pretty obvious to me that there's been an increased effort by many in our legislature to choke off and starve public education to the point that things are so bad that they can stuff public vouchers down our throats. Many in our legislature stand to make millions off of this. Leaving a legislature who's so anti-public education and stands to gain so much money via privatization would be like leaving the control of the US military in the hands of ISIS leaders.

    No wonder why public education in Utah is in such bad shape. The leaders are purposely trying to kill it off.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Aug. 14, 2014 1:47 p.m.

    Was it me, or did Mr. Davis confirm that there is no correlation between spending and outcome. All that is changed is the buildings, books, and computers. What is the point of having the highest quality education if the outcomes remain the same?

    Think of it this way. What is the point of buying a shiny red Ferrari California, if you only intend on driving it from your house to the grocery store 1 mile away? Yes you look good, and have a high quality car to drive, but in the end you have just spent a lot of money on a high maintenance car that does the same thing as a Toyota Camry for 1/10 the cost and 1/10 the maintenance.

    I don't care about the quality of the buildings or programs offered. I care about the results of the education. The facts are that there is no correlation between dollars spent and the outcome of education. The only studies that show any correlation do not look at all 50 States and Washington DC.

  • The Educator South Jordan , UT
    Aug. 14, 2014 2:57 p.m.

    @ Redit

    Actually, the GSS takes statistics from all 50 states and Washington, D.C. It's information is actually used by political scientists, law schools, and even congress. You should probably look up their surveys! I know, upper education smart people! Yikes! Scary stuff. They show a correlation between per pupil spending and academic achievement. Of course, heritage would never mention these findings. Expand your horizon and look at actual credible sources!

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Aug. 14, 2014 5:07 p.m.

    To "The Educator" let me use a very well written and verifiable article by the Heritage Foundation. See "Does Spending More on Education Improve Academic Achievement?" at the Heritage Foundation. They do the very simple study using inflation adjusted dollars to show that between 1970 and 2005 spending per pupil (inflation adjusted) was increased by 138%. There is very little difference in the academic achievement despite the fact that spending per pupil more than doubled.

    Also read "Decades of Increased State Spending on Public Education Yield Scant Results" in the Huffington Post. If an uber liberal paper finds that educational outcomes and spending don't correlate, that shows there really is no correlation.

    If spending is the key, then why are the students now testing at nearly the same level that their parents did?

    Please give us a verifiable study, if you can.

  • Paul Timothy Gibbs Taylorsville, UT
    Aug. 18, 2014 6:09 a.m.

    If Utah's leaders want to keep calling this a pro-family, pro-child state, they really need to stop being so resistant to anyyhing that actually helps children and families.