We believe in supporting increased funding for and reform of public education as a vehicle for creating good citizens. With the proper resources we can prepare Utahns for the future and improve the economic prospects of all Utah citizens. But we don't just favor education funding increases alone. We want a better emphasis placed on accountability and citizen involvement as we strive to improve Utah’s education system.
Some of the most glaring issues with Utah education is that teachers often complain about having to purchase costly school supplies out of their own pocketbooks -- while receiving a low salary. Only recently have school districts begun to raise teachers’ salaries as they realize they must compete for good teachers. Utah salaries for teachers rank in the bottom ten nationally and are more than $10,000 below the national average.
Utah ranks 51st in the nation in per pupil funding. While that indicator alone doesn't mean we are failing our children, it shows where our priorities are and what we value enough to invest. Utah has a unique demographic, ranking number one by far in the percentage of the population under age 18 because of large family size. This can also lead to more crowded classrooms and overwhelmed teachers. With a citizen-based commission to evaluate these indicators, and others, we can find better solutions and determine not just more funding, but how this funding can be best utilized to address our unique problems.
How can the United Utah Party make the difference? The Republican Party has not been a strong supporter of public education. It is the combination of Republican governors and state legislators who have devoted only incremental increases even in the best of economic times and severe cuts in the worst. It is our Republican legislature that answers to a Republican activist base, through the caucus/convention system, that is suspicious of public education.
Meanwhile, Democrats in Utah are limited in their ability to support public education. And let's face it, party politics always end up getting in the way of practical solutions.
The United Utah Party wants to take the best ideas from all of its citizens to consider the range of ideas and solutions to our problem with education. We need to be fiscally responsible by being wise stewards of our education resources. We need to be open minded to ideas that sometimes include increasing those resources. This isn't a partisan issue, it's a Utah issue.
We will nominate and elect governors and state legislators who will work together to create a vision of an excellent public education system that is adequately funded. The United Utah Party knows that public education is the vehicle for expanding economic opportunity and building a civil, democratic society for the future. We know teachers should be valued by adequate salaries and appropriate class sizes to allow them to work with each individual student. We will work to make Utah’s education system what it should be – a top-ranked state treasure that prepares Utah’s citizens for the global economy they will live in. That will not happen through rhetoric, but through a commitment to public education as well as a dedication to problem solving rather than ideology.