Education – Alliance for a Better Utah

Education

Utahns consistently rate education as a top priority, but the Beehive State has fallen behind in school. On a per-student basis, we spend less than any other state in the nation. The majority of our graduating seniors are not prepared for college, and we rank in the bottom ten percent for overall student achievement. Our classrooms are bloated; our teachers are underpaid. As of last year, state school board elections require candidates to declare party affiliation, which could result in more polarized elections, alienation of LGBT students, and danger for children of immigrants.

Our partner organization, the ABU Education Fund, has joined as a plaintiff in a lawsuit to challenge the partisan requirements to run for the state school board, but we’ve got a long road ahead of us. Learn more about how you can support our legal efforts and help Utah students make the grade.

Partisan School Board Lawsuit

Join the ABU Education Fund in saying “NO” to politics in Utah schools. Learn more about our lawsuit challenging partisan elections for the State Board of Education.

Latest Blog Posts and News

Can the Board of Education be partisan? Utah Supreme Court justices call state’s argument ‘thin’ and ‘almost nonsensical’, but acknowledge ambiguity in the law

This article originally appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune. Read it in its entirety here. A lawyer for the state of Utah argued Friday that the Utah Board of Education is above and apart from the state’s education system, and not subject to constitutional protections against religious and partisan job requirements. Arguing before the Utah…

Partisan State School Board elections? Utah Supreme Court weighing constitutionality

This article originally appeared on the Deseret News. Read it in its entirety here. SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Supreme Court took under advisement Friday oral arguments over the constitutionality of a statute passed by the Utah Legislature in 2016 that calls for partisan State School Board elections. In December, 3rd District Judge Andrew…

Competency-Based Learning for Athletes in Utah

As a current high school student, grades have often weighed on me, and I have felt like strict grading has restricted my ability to explore aspects of education. I moved across the country to a school that gives me access to an education as well as flexibility to be able to ski race. And as…

Outspoken member of State Board of Education draws criticism over controversial comments

This article originally appeared on KUTV. Read it in its entirety here. (KUTV) — An outspoken member of the State Board of Education is drawing criticism over her controversial comments in board meetings and on social media. Lisa Cummins, elected in 2016, represents District 11, which includes the Jordan School District and parts of Salt…

Sexual orientation question will be added to national student survey for first time ever

This article originally appeared on KUTV. Read it in its entirety here. (KUTV) — For the first time ever, a sexual orientation question will be added to a national student survey. This is a shift in policy that schools have been reluctant to talk about in the past. According to the Centers for Disease Control…

Enough is still enough

I will never forget the small, high-pitched voice behind me in the crowd of thousands that tirelessly chanted, “enough is enough.” When chanting had become fatiguing for the adults, that little voice kept going, kept chanting, kept the momentum until the surrounding adults again joined in. The voice didn’t seem to falter or tire; it…

November Is a Time to Be Grateful…And to Learn More About the Legislature

It’s the middle of November, which means we are smack dab in the middle of the holiday season. Next week is Thanksgiving and Christmas is just around the corner. For me, the middle of November also means the next Legislative Session is just around the corner as well. We are now only 67 days away...

Op-ed: Let’s not subject the school board to party politics

Source: Deseret News Having been a member of the Utah State Board of Education during what was perhaps its most “rocky period,” 1976-1984, I am, of course, always interested in USBE news and the many issues and accomplishments of this important body. I was surprised and very concerned when our Utah Legislature passed SB78, State Board…

Preliminary Injunction Requested in Constitutional Challenge to Partisan School Board Elections

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, September 29, 2017 CONTACT: Chase Thomas | ABU Education Fund | chase@betterutah.org – – – – – – PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION REQUESTED IN CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGE TO PARTISAN SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS – – – – – – Salt Lake City, UT –  Yesterday, lawyers representing the ABU Education Fund and other plaintiffs,…

Partisan School Board Elections and the Future of Sex Education in Utah

Last year, the Utah Legislature passed a law which requires the Utah State Board of Education hold partisan elections in 2018. An ongoing lawsuit aims to reverse that mandate, but if it fails, school board candidates will be required to declare their party affiliation. Given that Utah is undeniably dominated by the GOP, it is…

August 2017 Interim Session Update: Teachers’ Salaries

Education Interim Committee – 8/23/17 Education–it’s important! However, as we all know “action speak louder than words,” and while our legislators continue to speak tough on funding education, their actions continue to say otherwise. During August’s Interim Session, legislators met and discussed the topic of “Educator Salaries and Retention,” and although it seems like everyone…

July 2017 Interim Session Update

Another month, another day of interim session meetings up at the Utah Legislature. As always, Alliance for a Better Utah was up at the Capitol to monitor our legislators and learn more about the topics they are studying. July’s interim session consisted of meetings with the appropriations subcommittees. If you don’t know what appropriations are,…

RadioActive: July 26, 2017

Source: KRCL Hosted by Lara Jones and Nick Burns, tonight’s RadioActive featured a host of guests getting ready to march or rally for public education, public lands, and medical cannabis. Guests included: Sarah Gene Hjalmarson, Board Member, Equality Utah, offers reaction and insight on the early morning tweets from Pres. Trump banning transgender individuals from…

Low wages, little savings among many Utah families

Source: The Spectrum By many measures, Utah maintains the nation’s healthiest economy, with unemployment below the national average, some of the fastest job growth in the U.S. and a reputation for both hard-working employees and high rates of entrepreneurs. But like the rest of the U.S., the state still has large numbers of families stuck…

Utah unions, education advocates organizing march in response to Trump, DeVos policies

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune Utah’s largest unions will join with political advocates this weekend to stage a march in downtown Salt Lake City in support of public education. The demonstration is in response to the school-related policies and budget proposals of President Donald Trump and his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, according to Brad Asay,…

Partisan School Board Lawsuit Announcement

This morning, our partner organization, the ABU Education Fund, joined as a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the State of Utah to challenge the 2016 law, SB 78, establishing partisan elections for the State Board of Education. We have joined with the Utah PTA, Utahns for Public Schools, and several individuals to challenge this law…

Press Release: New Lawsuit Challenging 2018 Partisan School Board Elections

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, June 27, 2017   – – – – – – NEW LAWSUIT CHALLENGING 2018 PARTISAN SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS – – – – – – Salt Lake City, UT – A group of education-minded individuals and advocacy organizations filed a lawsuit yesterday to challenge last year’s law establishing partisan elections…

Sheryl Allen: We deserve nonpartisan elections in education

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune The 2018 election year will be different, very different. We’ll be voting on many elected officials. All of them will be important. But elections for the Utah State Board of Education will be altered. For the first time in decades, those elections will be partisan. Yes, that means candidates will…

Local educators file lawsuit challenging partisan school board law

Source: KJZZ A group of local educators will file a lawsuit Tuesday challenging a 2016 Senate bill that allows partisan elections for the Utah State Board of Education. “Few things are less vital and should be less partisan than the education of our children,” said Josh Kanter, board chair of the ABU Education Fund and…

Utah’s partisan school board elections are unconstitutional and exclusionary, advocates say. Now they’re suing

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune A group of education-focused Utahns on Tuesday asked a state judge to toss out the 2016 law that requires partisan elections for the Utah State Board of Education on the grounds that it violates the state Constitution. Set to take effect in 2018, SB78 violates the Utah Constitution’s ban on…

RadioActive: June 27, 2017

Source: KRCL Hosted by Lara Jones and Noor Ul-Hasan, tonight’s RadioActive was packed full of grassroots activists and community builders working on healthcare, non-partisan elections for the board of education, refugee and immigrant rights, and imploring others to speak up and speak out often. Guest lineup: Jim McConkie, Refugee Justice League, with reaction to the…

Lawsuit says Utah school board election shouldn’t be partisan

Source: Deseret News and KSL.com Current, former and possibly future members of the State School Board, the Utah PTA and Utahns for Public Schools have filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a law passed by the Utah Legislature in 2016 that calls for partisan Utah State Board of Education elections. At a press conference…

June 2017 Interim Session – Education Update

Education Interim Committee Meeting – June 21, 2017 Recodification The meeting began with a proposal to recodify Title 53A, which governs the state’s public school system. It will be divided into three new titles. 53E guides state administration. 53F contains funding policy. 53G guides local school administration. This was primarily for organizational purposes. After representatives…

2017 Interim Session – Education Update

Education Interim Committee The issues discussed by  May’s interim Education Committee were largely technical in scope, but here are a few things that caught our eye: Representative Snow presented the details of HB 239, his proposed bill for reforming K-12 school approaches to juvenile delinquency. Minor offenses (including tobacco use, truancy, and Class C misdemeanors)…

UTAHNS TO PROTEST VISIT OF EDUCATION SECRETARY DEVOS

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, May 9, 2017 CONTACT:     Chase Thomas | Alliance for a Better Utah | chase@betterutah.org – – – – – – UTAHNS TO PROTEST VISIT OF EDUCATION SECRETARY DEVOS – – – – – – Salt Lake City, UT – Hundreds of Utahns are planning to protest later today…

Getting Schooled: Protesters gather outside DeVos speaking engagement

Source: Salt Lake City Weekly But for the kindness of a teacher, Layne Arguello might not have graduated from high school last year. Around January 2016, an educator at Ben Lomond High School gave the teen a roof when he faced homelessness, Arguello said, which allowed him to focus on school and go on to…

DeVos draws controversy, others talk tech education gap at summit in SLC

Source: KSL Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos drew controversy for her appearance at the eighth annual ASU+GSV summit Tuesday, which welcomed tech and educational leaders from around the world to Salt Lake City. The summit, organized by Arizona State University and Global Silicon Valley, is being hosted for the first time in Utah’s capital Monday…

Utahns protest visit of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

Source: Good 4 Utah SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) The United States Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, was in town for a speech Tuesday afternoon and hundreds of Utahns wanted her to know she’s not welcome. The protest happened outside the Grand America Hotel. They were there to criticize the secretary for her views…

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos touts school choice, innovation in SLC while protesters gather

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune Schools in the United States need to break free of the federal government’s “arcane” approach to education, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said Tuesday during a visit to Utah. Education needs new models, she said, like how video rentals gave way to streaming media. And families deserve a range…

#UtahTeacherConfessions

We asked Utah teachers to tell us their education funding stories. How has funding affected life in their classrooms? How has it affected their career decisions or personal lives? We want to know. Education funding in Utah is inadequate – the state is 51st in the nation. Regardless, Utah teachers manage to work with large…

Tribune Op-ed: We need to focus on funding social services in schools

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune The talk about funding education during a legislative session usually circles around Utah’s low per-pupil spending, the state’s high proportion of school-aged kids, the high proportion of taxes dedicated to education and the reluctance of lawmakers and their constituents to support tax increases. These concerns are balanced by a genuine…

My view: We need local politicians to show leadership on education

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune By now, the standard talking points on education funding are well-known. Utah is 51st in the nation for per-pupil funding. Over 1 billion dollars have been taken from the annual K-12 education budget. And we have a teacher shortage coupled with problems retaining teachers exacerbated by low starting salaries for…

Utah lawmaker introduces ‘modified’ sex ed bill, hopes for more support

Source: Desert News and KSL SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers will rehash sexual education in public schools, but the bill’s proponents hope a different approach gains more favor this time around. HB215, introduced Thursday, “is a bill about ensuring our kids are more likely to know about and have the components of what makes…

Op-ed: Make the wealthy pay more to improve Utah education

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune Utah’s education system is in crisis. Our education outcomes for each demographic group lag far behind our peers across the nation. Our student-to-teacher ratio is second worst in the country. Our per-pupil funding is dead last. Our massive teacher shortage is completely understandable. Would you want to be a teacher…

Utah Technology Council flips its support in two school board races

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune In a campaign season of endorsements, unendorsements and re-endorsements, a Utah business association is experiencing its own political reconsiderations. In a letter to its members Wednesday night, the Utah Technology Council expressed formal support for six Utah Board of Education candidates, reversing informal endorsements for two races made earlier this month….

State School Board District 11 Debate – and Voter Turnout

You can find this post on our ABU Education Fund website, which sponsored these debates. Last night, ABU and the John R. Park Debate Society of the University of Utah co-hosted their first local legislative debate of the 2016 election season. Lisa Cummins and Erin Preston debated educational issues in their nonpartisan race for the…

BETTER UTAH RENEWS CALL FOR ADEQUATE PUBLIC EDUCATION FUNDING

Salt Lake City – In a letter sent to the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee, Alliance for a Better Utah renewed its call for the Utah Legislature to adequately fund our failing public education system. The letter was sent to the chairs and members of the subcommittee as they met during the Interim Session held this…

Kansas Supreme Court Orders Lawmakers To Fix School Funding That’s Biased Against Poor Districts

Source: Think Progress Kansas’ temporary school funding law is biased against poorer school districts, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled Thursday, aligning with a lower court’s decision. The ruling was the result of a lawsuit from four school districts that cited “wealth-based disparities” as the reason for poorer school districts’ insufficient school funding. The state’s 2015…

Senators reject bill to raise income tax on richest 1.5% of Utahns

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune Utah senators rejected a move Wednesday to raise the state income tax on the richest 1.5 percent of residents to better fund schools. Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, asked the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee to vote on his SB104. But members — after speaking against it — decided…

OpEd: By its actions, Utah shows it undervalues its children

Several years ago I was invited, by the head of a private school, to enter the teaching profession. I am a working artist and, having seen colleagues distracted from their art by their teaching, had previously avoided that route. I do enjoy working with kids, though, and had an interest in sharing the sense of…

Lobbyist group prepares to sue the state more school funding

Source: Eleven News One Utah lobbyist group wants more money for public schools and they intend to take the issue to court. The alliance for a better Utah said it’s preparing to sue the state to force lawmakers to increase funding for public education. The group said Utah spends the least amount of money per…

Debate: Suing for school funding, there and here…

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune Here, last week: — Alliance for a Better Utah preparing to sue state over school funding — Benjamin Wood | The Salt Lake Tribune “If Utah lawmakers won’t increase school funding on their own, maybe the courts will make them. “That’s the strategy behind an upcoming lawsuit by the Alliance…

Trib Talk: Covering the cost of education

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune What’s the best way to pay for Utah’s underfunded schools: a lawsuit, a tax hike, a new formula for school trust land funds or something else? On Wednesday at 12:15 p.m., state Board of Education Chairman Dave Crandall, Jesselie Anderson of Education First and Josh Kanter of Alliance for a Better Utah…

Press Release: Better Utah Launches #NoExcuses, Considers Lawsuit Over Education Funding

Source: Utah Policy The Alliance for a Better Utah announced the launch of #NoExcuses, a campaign aimed at increasing funding for K-12 public school education. While other groups are seeking legislative remedies, the Alliance for a Better Utah has initiated the work necessary to file a lawsuit against the State of Utah in order to…

Utah may face lawsuit over ‘inadequate’ school funding

Source: KSL Leaders of the Alliance for a Better Utah announced Monday they intend to file a lawsuit against the state to force the Utah Legislature to increase funding for public schools. The political lobbyist group points to Utah’s rankings as having the lowest per-pupil spending amount in the country, as well as cuts in…

Better Utah Legislative Update: Efforts to Restore Education Funding, Legislative Endorsements, More

Source: KCPW During this year’s meeting of state lawmakers, KCPW is joined once again by representatives from Alliance for a Better Utah for our Better Utah Legislative Update. Today Matt Lyon, strategic advisor to the group talks about what’s passed so far and about various measures to restore education funding in Utah. Listen to KCPW…

OpEd: Somewhere between ‘American Pie’ and abstinence-only is real sex education

Utah students are incredibly lucky to have “choice” in their sex education. They can choose to observe what healthy sexual relationships look like through recent cinematic greats, such as “Superbad” and “American Pie,” or they can choose to learn from an unrealistic abstinence-only curriculum that currently contains several problematic holes. Unfortunately, nowhere in the public…

Alliance for a Better Utah preparing to sue state over school funding

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune If Utah lawmakers won’t increase school funding on their own, maybe the courts will make them. That’s the strategy behind an upcoming lawsuit by the Alliance for a Better Utah, which argues that state leaders have failed in their constitutional duty to adequately fund the public education system. “If they’re…

Superintendent Smith – not quite ready for primetime

A self-proclaimed pragmatist, Utah State Superintendent of Public Instruction Brad Smith made pragmatically flawed comments two weeks ago when he called a rally at Capitol Hill childish and greedy: “It reminded me of when my kid was 3 years old and they started crying on Christmas morning because they didn’t get one more thing.” The…

Anti-Count My Vote bill is throwback to Tammany Hall and Boss Tweed

Salt Lake City — Despite majority support for the electoral reforms enacted through the Count My Vote Compromise, some Utah legislators are continuing their attempts to gut the compromise. The latest attempt, HB313, was heard in the House Government Operations Committee today. The bill would allow party bosses to override the will of the people…

Senator Todd Weiler does good by his constituents, Count My Vote

Senator Jenkins’ attempt to delay the implementation of the Count My Vote compromise is dead as of Tuesday. The Senate voted down a third hearing of SB43 yesterday in a 9-19-1 vote. SB43 bill would have delayed the Count My Vote reforms until 2018. In discussions prior to the vote, Republican Senator Todd Weiler gave a powerful…

Keep politics out of our schools

“Politics are a curse in educational affairs, even if they contaminate only a member of some board of education, some superintendent, or some teacher,” said Karl Maeser, a noted early Mormon educator. “In all cases there is danger that the contagion will finally reach the school and the children, and spoil the work.” Currently in…

Utah GOP gets desperate with freshman Fred Cox’s anti-Count My Vote bill

Salt Lake City — The Utah Republican Party is running out of tricks in its efforts to halt the widely backed Count My Vote compromise. A House committee rejected a bill today by Rep. Fred Cox that would have delayed implementation of SB54, the Count My Vote compromise, while the Utah GOP mounts its lawsuit….

Legislature plays with fire, ignores mainstream Utahns on Count My Vote

Salt Lake City — The Senate Government Operations Committee met today to hear two controversial bills, both sponsored by Sen. Scott Jenkins, that are aimed at gutting the popular Count My Vote reforms. SJR2 and SB43 passed favorably out of committee along partisan lines, with Republicans voting for the measures. Alliance for a Better UTAH…

Legislators give short shrift to education, again

Education lands near the top of the public’s list of issues every year during the legislative session–for good reason, of course. Economies and societies rely on an educated workforce. So, what is the state of education in our state? The bills being advanced this legislative session offer a few clues. Senator Alvin Jackson is sponsoring…

New campaign to hold legislators accountable for Healthy Utah votes

Salt Lake City — Good government group Alliance for a Better UTAH is launching a campaign to hold Rep. Jim Dunnigan and Sen. Allen Christensen accountable for their roles in blocking Governor Herbert’s Healthy Utah Plan. Herbert’s plan, while still falling short of full Medicaid expansion, would allow access to affordable health insurance for thousands…

Billions gone in Utah education spending since 90s

A report by the Utah Citizens’ Counsel shows a cumulative loss of billions in public education spending in Utah due to tax cuts and funding shifts.* If you were to assemble a group of the most brilliant, forward-thinking, data-driven Utahns, that group would look a lot like the Utah Citizens’ Counsel. Composed of some of the state’s senior…

The company you keep: Mia Love and Paul Ryan to team up

Congresswoman-elect Mia Love went to great lengths during her campaign to refute earlier promises she had made to do away with the Department of Education–including popular Pell grants and subsidized loans that allow many Americans to afford a college education. The assignment of her new congressional mentor, Paul Ryan, gives cause to consider whether or not her…

Utah and the low-informed voter

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– When it comes to Utah politics and policies, Utahns can’t always say why they don’t like something, but they certainly know what they don’t like. Several recent polls have shown the same interesting, although not surprising, data…

Standardized testing stunts classroom innovation

Paul Rolly’s recent column about a teacher who was placed on administrative leave for openly questioning standardized testing points to an authoritarian administrative approach that has no place in public education. Ann Florence, an honors English teacher, was placed on administrative leave after vocally criticizing the Granite School District’s computer-adapted standardized tests, calling them a…

Legislative session like a bowl of cold cereal

I don’t like breakfast cereal. Not because it’s not good, it just never satisfies me. I could eat a whole box and still be hungry for more. This is how I feel about the 2014 legislative session. Going into the session there were a number of important issues on the table and sadly, a lot…

Speaker Lockhart Hijacks Utah Public Education

Speaker Lockhart has officially hijacked Utah’s public education in what is being played out like a daytime hit soap opera. There’s been audience, drama, betrayal and suspense. Audience. All of Utah has watched this masquerade unfold. Drama. With Utah ranked last in the nation in per-pupil spending and second highest in the nation in teacher-student…

Count my Count My Vote vote

I’ve got to be honest, I’m a little disappointed. A few months ago, I signed the Count My Vote (CMV) petition in the hopes that it would ultimately end up on the ballot this fall. I was not just in favor of this particular initiative, I was also really looking forward to seeing how a…

Student loan debt surpasses $1 trillion

Debt accumulation is rising at its fastest rate since the economy took a nose dive in 2008. Residential mortgage debt saw the biggest increase in 2013, at $152 billion. Student loan debt came in second at $53 billion. Total student loan debt is now more than $1 trillion. To quote Ronald Reagan’s famous analogy for…

Fact Checking HB131, the Public Education Modernization Act

In recent interviews and committee hearings, House Speaker Becky Lockhart and HB131’s sponsor, Rep. Francis Gibson, have declared their massive education-technology expansion plan the future of Utah education. According to the two, it’s the one-size-fits-all solution. Since education-technology expansion is not a new concept–it’s been around for over a decade–I decided to do some fact…

Lockhart’s legacy bill would give your kid an iPad

Public education is one of the perennial focal points for the legislative session. This year’s session is no exception. Gov. Gary Herbert has allocated $261 million in his 2014-2015 budget proposal to increase education spending. That increase will go to pay for the additional 10,300 new students expected to enter Utah’s schools this year, as…

Uintah Elementary alumna: school lunch fiasco highlights income disparities

Uintah Elementary was my elementary school, this was my neighborhood. I have fond memories of my years there. It was a carefree time with kickball and science fairs, and all the great adventures that come with those first important years of school. One thing I don’t remember–I don’t ever remember worrying about whether or not…

A bailout for public education

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– Here in Utah, the way we pay for public education is backwards. Right now, the more your family takes advantage of public education, the less your family has to pay for it. That’s because the…

Privatized education coming to a public school near you

Ali is blogging from Chile this semester as a study abroad student with the University of Utah. A Spanish-language version of her post appears below the English-language version. Higher education is at a crossroads. In Utah, and throughout all of the United States, there is an open debate about how to value education. Should education…

An Inefficient Education

In a lot of ways, I suspect that I am the sort of student that the majority of the Utah Legislature dislikes. I’m not majoring in a STEM field. Quite the opposite, I am majoring in political science and Spanish. And I am certainly not heading into a field with great economic projections or potential…

A practical argument for keeping compulsory public education in Utah

Last week Senator Aaron Osmond wrote a post on the Utah Senate website arguing for the end of compulsory education in Utah. He focuses on the need to return the responsibility and right of educating children to parents: First, we need to restore the expectation that parents are primarily responsible for the educational success of…

Osmond on education: If you can’t fix it, eliminate it

For the past two weeks I have been in Washington DC with a group of like-minded students learning the ins and outs of politics and our nation’s capital. We were from all over the country, from blue states and red states. One night we decided to have a competition to see whose state was more…

Young Pakistani girl can teach Utah a lot about education

“Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution.” – Malala Yousafzai Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani education activist that survived a Taliban attack last October, is the courageous face of…

Failure to act on student loan interest rates highlights Congress’s continued disfunction

Salt Lake City – In light of Congress’s failure to prevent an increase in student loan rates, progressive advocacy group Alliance for a Better UTAH has released the following statement. Data on Utah’s own congressional delegation’s college costs can be found after the statement. “Utah’s delegation, with the exception of Congressman Jim Matheson, has once…

Miss Utah’s gaffe is our fault, too

We all have seen it. We all have heard it. We all have gasped, laughed and been utterly shocked by Miss Utah’s answer at the Miss USA Pageant last weekend. Here it is in case you haven’t. “I think we can relate this back to education, and how we are continuing to try to strive…

New national report details corporate manipulation in Utah schools

Salt Lake City – A new report released this morning by the Alliance for a Better UTAH and its partners details the damaging influence the corporate lobbying group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has had on public education policy across the country. The report, ALEC v Kids, documents the growing footprint that ALEC has in…

Student perspectives get lost at legislative session

Education has lost out recently in attention to gun rights, the attorney general, and air quality, but during the legislative session the biggest question is typically education funding. This is a question–along with other questions concerning sex education, the common core, scholarship standards, and prioritizing STEM fields–where students are largely left out. With the end…

Meet Neah Bois, summer student blogger

Neah Bois is a high school sophomore at Waterford School and one of Better UTAH’s student bloggers this summer. She’ll be posting regularly about how policies affect her as a young Utahn. This is her first blog post. —– AP tests, The Education System and the Unknown Student I recently got the opportunity to take…

Deficit drops despite pessimism and partisanship

A funny thing is happening on the way to the next debt ceiling showdown. When we last left our congressional super heroes they had tied our country to the proverbial railroad tracks and said the train was coming on May 18 (the current expiration date for the debt ceiling extension) – if you’re old enough…

Money earmarked for wolves should go to education

Every penny counts when money is tight. That’s why the appearance of $300,000 in the Utah state budget to combat wolves–wolves that as of yet do not exist in Utah–seems particularly wasteful. The money, requested by Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund, would likely go to the same people (the only bidders, actually) who were awarded…

Dyslexic students deserve attention, too

Currently in the state of Utah, special education accommodates everyone from students with physical disabilities such as deafness or blindness to mental disabilities like autism to learning disabilities like dyslexia and behavioral issues. Learning disabilities like dyslexia may be incurable; however, if intervened early enough, children suffering from dyslexia can significantly improve their learning challenges….

Education bill passes despite fears of socialism

SB100, Higher Education Scholarship Amendments, sponsored by Senator Jerry W. Stevenson, passed the House this week. Here are three things this bill will amend: This bill will allow the Board of Regents to weight grades earned in the International Baccalaureate program’s courses when selecting the recipients for the Board of Regents Scholarship. This bill raises…

Education bill to prepare, prevent

A very innovative bill was discussed last week on the Senate floor. The bill is called Results-based Financing for Early Childhood Education and is sponsored by Republican Sen. Aaron Osmond. It attempts to tackle the key issues of quality education and funding in the state of Utah by creating early intervention programs targeted especially at…

Bill to prevent higher education budgets from hemorrhaging

The highlight of this week is that SB51, substituted as SB51S01, unanimously passed the Senate. SB51, Higher Education Tuition Waivers, was proposed by Sen. Stephen Urquhart this legislative session in response to an expected drop in enrollment in Utah’s colleges and universities as a result of changes in the LDS mission program. The LDS church…

Education funding is complicated, worth studying

For the last couple days I have been attempting to understand HB 55 — Education Funding Amendments sponsored by Representative Briscoe. As I was studying the bill, I realized that I could not understand anything. I reread. There was no improvement. I tried again and again until I finally gave up. I started feeling dumb…

Better Beehive Awards get year-end coverage

With the old year wrapping up and the new year just beginning, the first ever Better Beehive Awards provided a choice opportunity for reflecting on progressive happenings in Utah. Five notable individuals and groups in Utah were honored for their progressive efforts throughout 2012. Honorees included the environmental organization HEAL, Murray couple Sandy and Paul…

Utah Couple Wins Better Beehive for Sex-Ed Repeal Petition

Salt Lake City — This week’s fourth Better Beehive Award goes to a Murray, Utah couple for their efforts in starting a petition rallying against the legislature’s passage of a so-called “abstinence-only” bill. The petition ultimately led to Governor Gary Herbert’s veto of the controversial law. Activists Sandy and Paul Krueger started the online petition…

After Fact-checking, Mia Love’s Claims on Special Ed Funding Not True

Salt Lake City — Congressional Candidate Mia Love’s recent claim that her budget plan would not cut funding to special education programs in Utah does not hold up to scrutiny. Over the weekend, Representative Jim Matheson and Love tangled over whether or not Love’s proposed policies would be detrimental to the needs of Utah’s 65,000…

Daily Utah Chronicle: “Mayor [Mia] Love Not Catering To Students”

Mia Love, current mayor of Saratoga Springs and the Republican candidate for Utah’s new fourth Congressional seat, has gotten a lot of attention this week after a speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. on Tuesday night. However, Josh Kanter, founder of Alliance for a Better UTAH, a nonprofit organization that educates Utah…

WATCH: Better UTAH Founder Talks Mia Love’s Plan To Cut Student Loans

Better UTAH founder Josh Kanter joins KSL to discuss why Mia Love’s plan to eliminate federal aid to college students is rubbing Utahns the wrong way.

Better UTAH Beat episode 13! Critical Thinking in Education

After the Republican Party of Texas instituted a policy to end “critical thinking skills” from being taught in schools, Alliance for a Better UTAH says Utahns should be concerned that extreme-right groups like the Eagle Forum and the Sutherland Institute are taking us down a similar path

Rep Steve Eliason: I Would’ve Been Fired

Representative Steve Eliason (R – Sandy) had a “Was My Mic On?” moment at the May meeting of the Interim Education Session. Speaking about the Education Department’s $25 Million “miscalculation,” he told Superintendent Larry Shumway that he understood the mistake, and that: “If every mistake I made came to light I probably would’ve gotten fired…

WATCH: New Bill Would Create Sex Ed Classes For Parents

Alliance for a Better UTAH joined FOX 13 last night, to discuss the possible ramifications of such a bill.

Interim Education Committee – May 2012

Superintendent Larry Shumway was not having a good day, as lawmakers on the Interim Education Committee questioned him, pointedly, over the Education Department’s $25 Million budgeting “miscalculation,” which may force a special session of the legislature later this year to make up the difference. One of the few legislators to take Shumway’s side was Representative…

LDS Church and Public Education

Much praise is being heaped upon the new City Creek Center that now graces the center of Salt Lake City and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints along with it. I have heard many people saying that the project is largely responsible for keeping Salt Lake City and Utah from falling to…

Press Release: Better UTAH Claims Victory with Veto of HB363

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 16, 2012 Contact: Maryann Martindale Executive Director Alliance for a Better UTAH (801) 557-1532 maryann@betterutah.org BETTER UTAH CLAIMS A VICTORY FOR THE PEOPLE WITH GOVERNOR’S VETO OF HB363 Salt Lake City, Utah – With the decision to veto HB363, Governor Herbert acknowledged the important role the citizens of Utah in public…

Public education’s biggest problem is funding

By Sheryl Allen Published: Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011 How refreshing. Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, has an idea to change teacher employment laws, and he is consulting with teachers. He either has good instincts, or he may have read the extensive research which validates that top down edicts don’t result in much improvement in education….