Utah's education problem

>> Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It's just beginning to make the news now, but this idea popped up last December before Christmas.

That's the front page of the Standard-Examiner on Dec 18, 2009, courtesy of a friend. Basically kids would either not be able to make it to school or just won't have school.
Two state legislators painted a dire financial outlook for school funding at a recent meeting of the Morgan School Board.

"It is a bleak, bleak picture," said Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden.

"We have the perfect storm, financially."

Although he refused to name his source, Christensen warned board members that the governor's upcoming budget proposal may call for an elimination of all busing for Wasatch Front high schools and even the elimination of 12th grade from schools statewide.

"The argument is, the year is wasted anyway," said Christensen, who said he heard eliminating high schoolers' senior year could save the state $250 million....

But the Utah State Office of Education has heard some rumblings.

"We've heard they're going to propose some busing changes," said Carol Lear, director of law and legislation with the USOE.

"We will have a lot of concerns about it.

"They will have to define Wasatch Front. It doesn't sound equitable."

For example, Lear said, St. George includes many students in urban areas.

"It's equally as expendable (in St. George) as it is in Salt Lake," said Lear, who had not heard about proposals to eliminate 12th grade.

Eliminating high school busing could take away valuable incentives for students to attend school, she said. Also, many schools lack adequate parking for their student body.

But Lear said the issue could extend well past such immediate concerns.

"It becomes a rich/poor issue," she said.

If school bus transportation is denied students who also do not have access to cars, more students may find it necessary to walk or bike to school on busy roads. That could have unintended outcomes.

"Statistics provided by the Transportation Research Board indicate that teens driving themselves to school and children riding with a teenage driver are 44 times more likely to be fatally injured than if they were on a school bus," said Murrell J. Martin, a pupil transportation specialist with the Utah State Office of Education.

"We are working with every school district in Utah to assist them in their efforts to run their school bus transportation services as efficiently as possible. School districts in Utah transport their students to and from school at an average of $200 less per student than the national average cost per student," Martin said.

"Each district has been asked to continue to look at every possible way to increase efficiency while still providing the great safety they have in the past."

Eliminating the 12th grade is a move that could overload the state's colleges, Rep. Mel Brown, R-Coalville, told the Morgan School Board.

"People can't find jobs, so they go to college," Brown said. "There's 26,000 new college students this year alone because of the economy. What would we really gain by it?"

Brown said that public and higher education combined represents more than 70 percent of the state's entire budget.
When things like this happen, I have to wonder what legislators have against raising taxes on the rich, you know, the people who could afford to do with less.

Here's Utah state Sen. Chris Buttars explaining why kids some kids don't need 12th grade.

Yes, it's THAT Chris Buttars.


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