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The Unraveling Paradox

Posted - Oct. 15, 2004 at 9:52 a.m.



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It’s been dubbed “Utah’s Education Paradox.” For years, the state has spent a higher percentage of its budget on education than most other states, while actually spending less tax money per student. And since students have recorded relatively high test scores over the years, lawmakers have been quick to laud the efficiency of Utah’s public education system.

Now, though, comes a thought-provoking report from the respected local research organization, Utah Foundation, that suggests the paradox is unraveling. First, says the report, when federal dollars are excluded, the amount of state and local spending for education in recent years “has fallen well below the national average.” At the same time, claims the report, Utah students, overall, are not performing as well as they once did.

This, according to the report, can be partially attributed to the state’s changing ethnic mix, which is projected to continue challenging the system.

In KSL’s view, this shifting dynamic in Utah education demands priority consideration as voters evaluate those running for state and local office this year. Politicians should no longer be allowed to take refuge behind the fading notion the system can continue to perform above average without some sort of overhaul. Indeed, KSL believes it is imperative for voters to ask tough questions of the candidates, and support those who offer realistic solutions to the unraveling paradox.

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