Micro-managing school budgets vs. the real issues

The two fundamental problems in our educational system in Utah are (1) not enough per pupil spending (Utah is last in the nation) and (2) top heavy spending in the school districts (administration, etc.) for what benefits students are actually receiving.  #1 is by far the greatest issue.  Yet some legislators are choosing what I consider to be minor issues on which to focus in the budget of Utah’s already suffering school system.

Yesterday’s Salt Lake Tribune posted the piece Utah to reevaluate who pays for school supplies .

 

Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, is sponsoring a resolution that would amend the constitution so schools could ask students to voluntarily provide their own school supplies.

Powell is quoted as saying the teachers “are afraid to ask students” to bring any materials to class, resulting in teachers paying out of their own pockets.

I do not know of any teacher who is “afraid” to ask the parents of students if they can bring materials in to class.  I think this statement is a generalization based on deductive reasoning that has no statistical basis.

 

His proposal is one that’s drawn vocal opposition from some state school board members who fear the proposal is one that would allow the state to shirk its financial responsibility when Utah already spends less per student than any state in the country.

 

“The idea of financing our education system by parents and children bringing in their own supplies _ that’s a diversion from what is really supposed to be happening _ that is the school system in this state is supposed to be financed by the Legislature,” said board member Leslie Brooks Castle, who represents Salt Lake City.

 

“It’s really a relinquishment. It really is a way to discriminate against people who don’t have as much.”

 

Utah is 14th in median household income.  This means that there are 36 states with lower median household incomes spending more per pupil in public education.   Wyoming is 19th in median household income and yet spends double what Utah does in per pupil spending.  Idaho is 37th in median household income and 49th in per pupil spending.  Mississippi is last in the U.S. in median household income and is 6 ranks above Utah in per pupil spending.  Why is it that Utah is last in per pupil spending?  There is definitely something wrong with this picture.  Micromanaging the education budget with things like who spends what for supplies is a mockery in light of  the real budgetary issues facing Utah’s educational system.

(statistics garnered from Wikipedia the Census Bureau and the National Center for Education Statistics).

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

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