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Utah's Teacher Shortage

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This is the time of year we become keenly aware of a growing crisis in Utah schools. As students on traditional schedules return to the classroom, school districts across the state are struggling to hire enough teachers to meet the need.

What to do about the shortage of qualified teachers?

It is an issue that demands the highest priority status among educators, politicians, and creative thinkers, as well as the general public.

A recent study by the independent and respected Utah Foundation concluded "low salaries and unfavorable working conditions are significant contributors to teacher attrition."

In KSL's view, Utah teachers do, indeed, deserve to be paid at competitive rates. However, rather than across the board salary increases, thoughtful consideration should be given to the Utah Foundation's recommendation of "Providing differentiated salaries based on working conditions and skills."

Likewise, the idea of lengthening the school year, as proposed earlier this year by a Special Task Force on Teacher Shortages warrants study. It would give teachers longer contracts and higher pay while maximizing the efficiency of the available workforce.

These and other creative approaches must not become mere casualties of the politics of expediency. Every young student in Utah deserves to have a prepared, competent and fairly compensated teacher standing at the head of the classroom.

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