State School Superintendent Larry Shumway called on state policy makers to step up and invest in public education Tuesday during his last state of education address. He also warned against partisan politics interfering with public schools.
Shumway urged policy makers to consistently fund enrollment growth, avoid reducing revenue when the economy is strong and invest in technology and teachers. He noted education funding has finally returned to 2008 levels, but with more than 50,000 new students, current spending per pupil is actually less than what it was in 2008.
“We cannot have the best school system in the country and be the lowest in the country in funding,” Shumway said. “We don’t’ have to outspend everybody else but our current position in last place when it comes to fiscal resources available for public schools is standing in the way of progress.”
Despite the challenge, he said Utah leads the nation in dual immersion programs, increased ACT participation and improved 8th grade English Language Arts proficiency scores.
“I believe that we in public education have made good on our side of the equation with real good-faith efforts to do the kinds of things the public has asked us to do,” Shumway said. “Now it’s time for policy makers to step up and invest in public education”
Shumway added partisan politics need to be left at the door because they give voice extreme and simplistic solutions for complex problems. He will step down from the state’s top education post in January. Martell Menlove was selected this week to succeed him.