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