What's wrong with Utah?

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harmony
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What's wrong with Utah?

Post by harmony »

That's the question Asbestosman asked, when I said public education in Utah isn't quite up to snuff.

So... what's wrong with Utah? Where should I start? Let's start with the teachers:

"Underpaying America's public school teachers is a classic case of being penny-wise and pound-foolish," said NEA President Reg Weaver. "Low teacher pay leads to high teacher turnover, and a constant revolving door of new teachers in classrooms hurts student learning. Every student has a basic right to attend a great public school staffed by experienced and caring teachers who are compensated fairly for the work they do."

Weaver said attracting highly qualified, enthusiastic individuals to teaching is a challenge when teacher pay lags behind comparable professions. And retaining new teachers is equally hard—more than one-third of teachers leave the profession within their first three years and half leave within the first five years. The attrition rate is even higher for ethnic minority teachers, male teachers and teachers under 30.

"In the end, it’s the students who pay the price for low teacher salaries," said Weaver. "If we’re going to close the student achievement gaps and reduce school dropouts, we need a stable corps of skilled teachers in our public schools. When teachers struggle to make ends meet, schools struggle to keep jobs filled and ultimately students bear the cost of losing good teachers."


Where does Utah rank? They're tied for 40th. The only states who pay less than Utah are the ones who traditionally share the bottom of the education rankings with Utah.

What about average spending per pupil?

Average per student spending for the 2004–05 school year rose 3.8 percent to $8,661— with 28 states below the average. Over the past decade, per pupil expenditures have increased by 20.6 percent, in constant dollars. The highest ranking states in per pupil expenditures for 2004–05 were New Jersey ($13,370), New York ($12,879), Connecticut ($11,874), Massachusetts ($11,681) and Vermont ($11,667). On the other side of the scale, Utah ($5,032), Arizona ($5,474), Arkansas ($6,202), Mississippi ($6,452) and Oklahoma ($6,614) had the lowest per pupil expenditures (Chart H-11).


Utah has the lowest spending per pupil of all states at $5032 per student. That's pathetic.

What else? How about number of students per teacher? Wow. Utah is #1! #1 with almost 24 students per teacher. Except that's not a good thing. It's much better to be #50 on this ranking.

Utah has the highest number of students per teacher, the lowest spending per student, and in the lower quarter for teacher salaries. Things aren't looking good for Utah. It's a good thing the kids are bright, motivated, and want to get the heck out of Dodge, because their SAT scores ranks them at #18, with a 1667 average.

Check it out for yourself: http://www.nea.org/edstats/index.html

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Post by OUT OF MY MISERY »

Harmony
The state Legislature keeps cutting the funding the to schools. Google "Scott Leavitt" he is one of the legislators that keeps bringing bills to the legislature for funding cuts. I guess they don't want educated Mormons there.
I do not know. Recently in one of the local newspapers they cut a 6th grade algebra math class for the more advanced students due to lack of funding for the teacher. So now these students get to take regular math with their other classmates.
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Post by OUT OF MY MISERY »

I think Utah may have one of the highest child poverty rates as well. Which makes sense. I will get back to you on that one.
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asbestosman
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Re: What's wrong with Utah?

Post by asbestosman »

harmony wrote: It's a good thing the kids are bright, motivated, and want to get the heck out of Dodge, because their SAT scores ranks them at #18, with a 1667 average.


That's an interesting point. Some of it is indeed self-motivation, but some of it in my case was also the motivation and involvement of my mother--one of those stay-at-home types. And by the way, she was also good at math when she was in school. She provided many opportunities to improve on my own by giving me lots of books on mathematics and computers.

I didn't do any of it to get our of Dodge. I would have been just as happy remaining in Utah. To wit, I went to BYU. The reason I studied math was because I like it. It probably helped that I had a thing for math-wiz girls too. Not surprising that I married an engineer.

Utah probably does spend too little per student. As the test results show, this doesn't necessarily hurt everyone. Plenty of bright, educated students come out of Utah. The problem IMO is that struggling students may not get the help they need to get them on track. In fact I was a struggling student at various times (5th grade as well as 7th grade). However, I had a dedicated mother. Not everyone is so lucky. And yet, I also think that even with good teachers it would not have been enough for me. Still, I think the situation would improve for many students sufficiently to justify a higher teacher salary. Unfortunately I don't see where Utah would get the money for such a thing. Nobody likes having a tax hike or diverting funds from one area to another. Such often results in the voting of people out of office.
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Post by Pokatator »

Well, the Utah Legislature is a product of their own school system.

Can't expect too much of them especially like an understanding of math.

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Re: What's wrong with Utah?

Post by harmony »

asbestosman wrote:
harmony wrote: It's a good thing the kids are bright, motivated, and want to get the heck out of Dodge, because their SAT scores ranks them at #18, with a 1667 average.


That's an interesting point. Some of it is indeed self-motivation, but some of it in my case was also the motivation and involvement of my mother--one of those stay-at-home types. And by the way, she was also good at math when she was in school. She provided many opportunities to improve on my own by giving me lots of books on mathematics and computers.

I didn't do any of it to get our of Dodge. I would have been just as happy remaining in Utah. To wit, I went to BYU. The reason I studied math was because I like it. It probably helped that I had a thing for math-wiz girls too. Not surprising that I married an engineer.

Utah probably does spend too little per student. As the test results show, this doesn't necessarily hurt everyone. Plenty of bright, educated students come out of Utah. The problem IMO is that struggling students may not get the help they need to get them on track. In fact I was a struggling student at various times (5th grade as well as 7th grade). However, I had a dedicated mother. Not everyone is so lucky. And yet, I also think that even with good teachers it would not have been enough for me. Still, I think the situation would improve for many students sufficiently to justify a higher teacher salary. Unfortunately I don't see where Utah would get the money for such a thing. Nobody likes having a tax hike or diverting funds from one area to another. Such often results in the voting of people out of office.


Teaching is a revolving door, not just in Utah but everywhere. The higher the turnover, the less prepared the replacement is. If, as the quote says, the turnover is close to 50%, that means that half the kids in the country get a first year teacher every year. Until we start paying them more, and take some of the stress out of the job, teaching is going to be made up of the highly motivated and the barely motivated. The highly motivated must do a great job, in order to make up for the poor showing of the barely motivated. Higher pay would likely make a difference to the barely motivated, and maybe they'd stick around the profession a little longer than 3 yrs. So, for Utah, paying the teachers more and paying for more teachers would go a long ways to getting their public education system out of the basement. And if you aren't going to invest in your future (your children), what exactly are the good legislators of Utah investing in? Shopping malls? Oh wait. That's the church. My mistake.

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Re: What's wrong with Utah?

Post by asbestosman »

harmony wrote:And if you aren't going to invest in your future (your children), what exactly are the good legislators of Utah investing in?


I don't know. I haven't been involved in Utah politics for a while. I'm sure some of it goes to road projects. Some may go to various welfare projects. Some obviously goes for law-enforcement. What do you suggest? Raise the tax on the already money-strapped Utahns? I thought they already had a high bankruptcy rate and all.
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asbestosman
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Post by asbestosman »

Pokatator wrote:Can't expect too much of them especially like an understanding of math.


Many Utah students do quite well in mathematics. I was friends with a few and aquanted with others.
Last edited by asbestosman on Mon Mar 12, 2007 4:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by rcrocket »

Utah students rank above and well above the national averages for a lot of categories, including SAT and ACT scores. In fact, there are no academic categories measured by the NEA or other professional groups in which Utah students are not at least at national averages.

Coupling this with an extraordinary pool of available teachers in Utah, propelled by a relatively small population but with a number of universities cranking out teachers, the legislature does not feel a need to increase salaries.

In California, where I live, salaries are always on the march upwards because of the difficulty of hiring and keeping teachers, especially in high cost of living areas.

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Post by Jason Bourne »

I have to be careful here or I may set myself up for ridicule.

That said, I am a product of Utah schools, at least through high school. I did complete high school quite some time ago. Maybe things have changed. But compared to what my kids got in the state where I live my education was pathetic. When I started college at 24 years old I was so far behind in math and English basics that I had to take a few no credit courses just to get up to speed. Utah schools are overpopulated and the class sizes are much to large. The teachers are woefully under paid. I cannot speak to requirements in core subjects now, but when I went to school the core requirements were light. I needed only one math class and one basic core English class all three years (then it was 10-12 in high school) of high school.

Maybe things have gotten better. But they were pretty poor when I went there.

Fortunately for me I am a bright fellow and was able to make up for it in college graduating Summa Cum Laude and the top of my class for my chosen major.

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Post by Alter Idem »

All public education has suffered in the last 30 years--not just Utah.

Here in utah, it really depends on where you go to school. Some are top-notch, others are not. My kids went to an elementary school which is very good with excellent teachers and high standards. But I know that other schools within the same district were not very good. Very little parental involvement and little in the way of liberal arts.

I attended school in northern Calif. in a wealthy district. The things my kids have missed out on at the high school level are the Archery classes, Fencing, Water polo, tennis teams etc-and our drama dept. was outstanding. But as far as the math, english and sciences, I have no complaints. I think those classes are on par with what I got in a Calif. district that had all the money they could possibly want to spend on students.

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Post by twinkie »

What is the money spent ON? $5k per student, although less than other states, does not seem low. You've got a class of 30 students I would suppose- that's $150,000 per year. They pay the teacher, what, 30-60k? So where does the other $90-120k go? How much do homeschool parents spend on their kid's education per year, I wonder?

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Post by harmony »

twinkie wrote:What is the money spent ON? $5k per student, although less than other states, does not seem low. You've got a class of 30 students I would suppose- that's $150,000 per year. They pay the teacher, what, 30-60k? So where does the other $90-120k go? How much do homeschool parents spend on their kid's education per year, I wonder?


It's not just the teacher:

Staff: including administrative, maintenance, faculty, bus drivers, secretarial, teacher's aids, etc.
Facility: including bond payments, repairs, furniture, heating, cooling, buses.
Instructional aids: books, work books, supplies, magazine subscriptions, etc.
Extracurricular: coaches/advisors, referees, uniforms/costumes, equipment, supplies, etc.

I'm sure there's more. Education isn't cheap.

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