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Key Issues for the 2012 Legislative Session

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Other Key Issues:

State Spending Limitations (TABOR):

This type of legislation would limit state spending to the prior year’s budget, adjusted by inflation and population change. It would require any future surplus revenues to be held in reserve or refunded to taxpayers. By arbitrarily linking future spending to the current budget, the Legislature would effectively guarantee the state’s current last-in-the-nation education spending and highest class size status in perpetuity. In Colorado, results of similar legislation were so devastating voters passed a referendum to roll back its provisions.

Tuition Tax Credits:

This would allow businesses to take a tax credit when they donate to a scholarship granting organization. These scholarships are used by students to leave “failing” public schools to attend private schools. All of the money would come out of the income tax, hence the education fund. This is presented as expanding choice but will this voucher really allow enough for a student to attend a private school? We should be providing resources to help schools improve so that every student can have a quality teacher and a quality school. See more here.

Education Budget:

Growth must be funded without taking from any other part of the education budget. Business leaders have warned of the consequences of neglecting education funding any longer. Basic needs must be met before experimental and “pet” projects are funded. Shifting money from one line to another is not an increase. See more here.

Parent Trigger:

This would allow a simple majority to vote to transform a “failing” public school into a charter school, turned over to a for-profit management group. The staff could be dismissed and may or may not be rehired. While similar legislation has been enacted in other states, there is no evidence to suggest it does anything to improve student outcomes.

Teacher Merit Pay:

Research on the effectiveness of merit or performance pay in improving student outcomes is mixed at best. There are school districts (New York City for one) that have cancelled performance pay plans because of their ineffectiveness. Efforts are already under way at the USOE to include an educator recognition component into the evaluation system with emphasis on a state framework with local control and design.

School Board Elections:

Some legislators claim subjecting school board members to the partisan caucus process will result in more qualified officials. Polls clearly show Utahns favor keeping school board nonpartisan (78%). Political platforms have no place in the operations of a local school district or the Utah State Office of Education. Politics would just increase the cost of these elections.

Peer Assistance and Review (PAR):

This is a system where master teachers serve mentor teachers who are need of assistance and help them to either improve or recommend them for dismissal. It would vastly improve the current orderly termination process and improve the quality of instruction statewide.