Free Market

Another Education Ranking Shows Money Isn’t Everything


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.

  • 1mom1voice

    Wow, Michael. Did you even read the WalletHub article? The whole point of it, for Utah, is that, in SPITE of being 50th in funding and 50th in student-per-teacher ratio, somehow Utah’s teachers have managed to keep us from being 50th in quality of school system. That position went to New Mexico. Kudos to our teachers! They are miracle workers really, inspiring kids to be national leaders in AP scores, as per the article. Not a fan of our legislative leaders who seem to have no vision of what Utah teachers could do for our kids if given the proper funding —and respect. — You claim Utahns are being taxed ad nauseum, but why is school funding BELOW the levels they were 10 years ago? I noticed your subtle dig at “government schools.” They are neighborhood schools that belong to and are governed by the community. The “choice schools” you suggest as an alternative — well, building and maintaining parallel school systems is the most expensive “fix” to our education problems that I can think of. They don’t produce a better outcome. And, strangely, they want more money.

    • zosomm_90

      Did you even read my article? I explained why school funding is below the levels they were 10 years ago. I also explained why this tax increase would hardly benefit teachers and how if education funding is truly a concern, what needs to be done to increase teacher pay. Lastly, education choice allows private citizens to supplement tax dollars with their own money, which ends up increasing the overall funding pool. And good luck convincing everyone that a one-size fits all school system is the best way to educate our children.

    • tw15

      Wait, it’s 50th in per student spending and that’s because we’re 50th in students per educator. It doesn’t tell us where we are on annual salaries. That’s a huge difference. It’s great that our teachers are able to help so many students. Most of them do a magnificent job and should be paid more. There’s nothing, that I could find, to guarantee a salary increase or even to maintain the current salary, regardless of how many tax increases we have.

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