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A Credibility Problem

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Utah educators have a credibility problem!

For years, they clamored for more money to buy textbooks. “Out of date,” “dilapidated,” “insufficient,” were buzzwords used to describe the textbook state of affairs.

When a legislative audit in 2000 validated the problem, lawmakers responded with a hefty one-time appropriation of nearly $24 million. The textbook crisis, it was thought, had been solved.

Now comes a new legislative audit that says some districts may have spent the designated textbook money for purposes other than books. As a result, concludes the audit, “just half of the May 2000 textbook shortage was satisfied by April 2003.”

It begs the questions! If the textbook problem was as bad as advertised, why haven’t all school districts used the available money to remedy the crisis?

Some may argue, with some validity, that the education budget crunch is so severe districts are justified in using the one-time textbook funds for other needs. KSL empathizes with their ongoing struggle. But after arguing so vociferously for more money for textbooks, and getting it, it is simply disingenuous to use the funds for anything else.

Unfortunately, those who administer Utah’s schools have jeopardized the trust of those who supported increased textbook funding (including KSL) as well as the people who hold the purse strings.

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