Utah Governor Gary Herbert joined statewide education officials Wednesday for a discussion about the state of public education.
Governor Gary Herbert says in the last two years, the state has made strides in funding public education. However he says because of a growing student population Utah continues to claim the title for lowest per-pupil spending and has the largest class sizes in the nation. In addition the high school dropout rate is 19 percent.
Despite few resources, Herbert says there is work to be done.
“The fact remains that to achieve the 66 by 2020 goal that the governor’s education excellence commission set in 2010 and the state legislature approved by resolution this past legislative session, we must increase the number of degrees and certificates we award by 4 percent each and every year,” Herbert says.
Right now, 43 percent of Utah adults have college degrees or certificates. Herbert’s goal is to raise that number to 66 in the next seven years.
In order to achieve this goal, the governor has tasked Utah public schools with getting 90 percent of 3rd graders proficient in reading and math and achieving a 90 percent high school graduation rate.
State School Superintendent Martel Menlove says with those goals in mind, the state board of education is asking for additional money to help teachers improve instruction, reduce class sizes, and pay for a new initiative to address graduation rates.
“Even the very best system cannot consider itself to be the successful if we continue to have a significant number of our students fail classes, have negative experience and eventually drop out,” Menlove says. “This is an area where we can and must do a better job.”
Herbert says it’s going to require real effort, real determination and some sacrifice.
“Certainly it will take more resources,” Herbert says. “However it would be a mistake to think that money is the cure all for every educational ill.”
Herbert said the number of degrees and certificates awarded in Utah has increased in the last year, but it’s still unclear whether it’s moving faster than the population is growing.