This is an article by my cousin regarding education in Utah. And the state legislature can't figure out what to do with the 1 billion budget surplus?www.sltrib.com/search/ci_3639676
Teaching in Utah: Why I quit the job I loved Utah Voices
By Jonathan Lawes
Occasionally there comes a time when one is in a position to speak up and shed light on an issue of great importance. I express my opinion here only because I know I speak for many others who remain silent. Education is the most important issue facing our state and our nation. However, education is suffering, badly.
The main reason is that high-quality people are not being drawn into the profession. Utah schools benefit from many dedicated, passionate and knowledgeable teachers. There just aren't enough of them. Moreover, those in power, especially in the state Legislature, are not doing enough to attract and retain high-quality teachers.
I taught for 12 years in Jordan School District. I have a bachelor's degree in math and two master's degrees, one in educational counseling and one in math. I have taught every secondary math course from the most basic remediation courses to the most advanced courses.
During each of the past three years I taught an Advanced Placement calculus BC course at Bingham High. This course is the equivalent of the first full year of college calculus. Of the 95 calculus students I taught, 94 of them took the AP exam. Ninety-two of them passed and 56 of them earned the highest score possible. My results were not unique, nor is what happened next.
I took a leave of absence last summer when a friend offered me a position at a small, but honest, mortgage company in Draper. Why did I leave a career that I loved? Money. I love teaching math. I love helping students get started on the path to success. I really love helping students learn that they are capable of doing something they thought was impossible. But love doesn't pay bills.
The situation is worse for beginning teachers, and it's getting more difficult for them to live on what they are paid. The starting salary for a teacher in Jordan School District in 1990 was about $17,500; in 2005, it was $26,382, a 51 percent increase. By comparison, the median home price in Salt Lake County in 1990 was $88,000; in 2005, it was $183,300, a 108 percent increase. Using standard underwriting guidelines, a starting teacher today would barely be able to afford a $100,000 home.
Educators should be paid a salary that attracts the most skilled and most talented individuals to the classroom. The selection process for teachers should be competitive and exclusive. There is a cliché: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach." This idea seems to have taken a strong foothold in Utah.
There are many who believe that because they can teach a church class on Sunday, they could teach chemistry to juniors or adjectives to fifth-graders.
Everyone can remember two or three teachers they loved - teachers who excelled and expected their students to excel. Imagine an education system in which every graduating senior had 40 outstanding teachers whom they loved instead of just two or three. That would truly be a world-class education. But this will not happen until the teaching profession and salaries are raised to a level that will attract and retain high-caliber teachers.
I'll be the first to admit there are some teachers, both new and experienced, who have no business being in a classroom. It's a shame. Due process should be followed to get rid of such teachers. But who will fill the vacancy?
I had the opportunity to teach the "cream of the crop." When I asked my students if any of them wanted to become teachers, most just laughed. It's a cruel irony that the best and the brightest of today will not consider a career in education to help the best and brightest of tomorrow.
I'd like to think that I did my part for 12 years. I have resigned my position as a teacher and now I use my skills in a job I enjoy, but that also makes it easier to pay the bills and secure a solid future for my family. The future of education seems more problematic.
The problems could be solved by knowledgeable, passionate, caring teachers. Great teachers should be the rule rather than the exception, but you have to pay them what they're worth.
Jonathan Lawes is a former Utah math teacher who lives in South Jordan.
If you can't beat them, join them. Then beat them.
If that doesn't work, arrange to have them beaten.