From: CenturyLink Customer
To: Ann Millner, Steve Urquhart, Jim Dabakis, Wayne Niederhauser, Mark Madsen, Jerry Stevenson, Howard Stephenson, Aaron Osmond, Marie Poulson, Michael Noel, Carol Moss, Daniel McCay, David Lifferth, Eric Hutchings, Greg Hughes, Francis Gibson, Justin Fawson, Steve Eliason, Kim Coleman, Lowry Snow, Brad Last, LaVar Christensen,
Subject: Public Ed appropriatons
Date: Fri Feb 27 05:06:54 MST 2015
Dear Senate and House Education Committees,

    I know that some of you are on the appropriations committee and some not, so if you are not involved in the budget process just dump this note.  I know you have plenty to think about.  I look at all of the bills you have to look at during the session and I wonder why on earth someone hasn’t found a way to reduce what you have to look at.  To properly study and evaluate only proposed education bills would take most of a year.
    Some thoughts about funding, as you make your final decisions:
    The governor’s 6.25% increase proposal is supposedly the best increase in twenty years.  But that won’t come close to what has been cut systematically from public ed funding since about 1995,   so I hope you fund his proposal at the very least.  
    Giving districts more decision making power in determining how the new money will be allocated is a good idea.  But my research indicates that average administrator pay has been increasing more than average teacher pay.  I agree that an administrator should make more money than the classroom teacher, but not to the extent it is now.  All good education systems are based on good teachers.  Good administrators are important, but if they don’t have good teachers to work with in the first place, they can’t do as much to improve things.
    Increasing teacher pay vs. reducing class counts: Both have to happen if you want to see more quality teacher applicants, and more good teachers staying in Utah for more than a couple of years. 
    Paying some teachers more than others: I understand paying some subject teachers more than others, to a degree, as a supply and demand thing, so no opposition there; but good teachers of other subjects are also necessary, so make sure they get earned raises also.
    Spending more money on technology support in the classroom: As a major player in the Utah Taxpayers Association, Senator Stephenson has been trying to find cheaper ways to provide public education for over 20 years.  I noted in one of the discussions that Senator Stephenson admitted that technology doesn’t exactly improve learning, but he blamed that on the “old system” of teaching.  All studies prove that the human element is essential to the best learning outcomes, that technology can help in some ways to help a teacher, but not to replace one.  Baby sitters get paid more money per child than teachers in Utah get.
    Spending money on testing. People are finally admitting that too much testing takes too much class instruction time, so is counter-productive.  Also, much of the benchmark testing, while making sure more students get the basics before moving on, slows down learning of faster students.  There needs to be more study to see how to use the benchmarks without slowing down the total program.  More studies are showing the most student learning occurs when there are fewer standardized tests given, and teachers have more autonomy in how they teach.
Again, thanks for your service.
   Fred Ash, Legislative Chair of the URSEA