As Our Schools Now begins collecting signatures around the state, yet another ranking was released this week showing that Utah’s education system is not dead last (as is commonly portrayed by those who suggest more taxpayer money is the answer).
WalletHub’s “Best and Worst States for Teachers” ranked Utah #11 in the country. This goes along with Utah receiving high marks in dual language immersion, digital education, science education, and the list goes on. Just yesterday, an update on Advanced Placement testing in Utah showed that high school students are taking and passing these at an ever increasing rate. Many of these tests are used as college credit for graduating high schoolers.
All of this comes at the same time as Utah Senate President Niederhauser’s remarks about a potential deal with Our Schools Now next legislative session. “We’re so far apart on what they want and what we can give. Even for us to come to the middle, it would be a very hard time getting there.”
And he’s absolutely right, because as Our Schools Now has said previously, “Even 750 million [dollars] isn’t enough to solve the problems that we’re in.” In other words, no matter how much taxpayer money the Utah Legislature gives to the school system, it will never be enough—not only because funding has very little correlation to student outcomes, but because Utah’s $15+ billion budget looks very much like a leaky sieve when it comes to K-12 education spending. As the state adds taxpayer money to the general and education funds, a lot of it is siphoned off to transportation and higher education.
Utah doesn’t have a lack of funding problem, it has a budget prioritization problem. That is why, in the end, this tax increase initiative will do little to help teachers, as we explained in this op-ed published last month. If Our Schools Now wants to move Utah up from #11 to the #1 state for teachers, then they should advocate for budget reform and education choice—not another tax increase band-aid.