K-12 Education Plan for Utah

Providing great K-12 education is vital to Utah’s future.  It’s time for transformational improvements to Utah’s K-12 education system, including increasing teacher salaries and reducing bureaucracy to help quality teachers succeed and encourage new teachers to enter the profession.  Two principles should guide education policy: personalization and localization.

  1. Personalization: Education should focus on the individual child and not be beholden to an outdated, one-size-fits-all system.
  • Reading at grade level by third grade significantly increases a child’s chance of success.
    • Provide a comprehensive reading program which includes early literacy screening, parental notification and individualized reading plans for grades K-3.
    • Offer reading aides for 1-3 grade classrooms.
  • School counselors play an essential mentoring role in the progress of students.
    • Reduce the ratio from the current 1 counselor for every 350 students to no more than 1 for every 250 students.
  • Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), pioneered in Arizona and adopted in several states, allow parents to customize their child’s education to best fit his or her needs.
    • Place ESA funds in a parent-managed account to cover the cost of customized learning for a particular child’s education, including online education tutoring, private school tuition, dual enrollment, and even college tuition.
  • Home schooling is an important part of Utah’s education system.
  • Establish an optional tax credit of $425 for home school students not using an ESA.
  • Knowledge-based education lets students advance as they master concepts and skills.
    • Make it easier to earn general credit for extra-curricular, internship and work activities.
    • Encourage high achieving students to advance at an accelerated pace.
    • Promote skills-based certificates for high school students.
  1. Localization: The closer we make decisions to the individual and the family the better. Utah needs to empower parents and local school leaders with more decision-making authority.
  • Common Core is not the Utah way.
    • Let local school districts decide what standards to teach and test in their schools.
    • Continue to allow parents to opt their children out of national and statewide testing.
  • Local control lessens bureaucracy and allows for decisions closer to the student.
    • Allocate more district funds to local schools to increase teacher salaries.
    • Empower principals with budget and hiring and firing authority with input from parents, teachers and school community councils.
    • Involve school community councils in hiring principals.
    • Allow local school districts to implement simplified licensure for teachers and counselors with needed subject matter expertise (e.g., computer coding, STEM subjects).
    • Reimburse teachers for out-of-pocket classroom expenses up to $425 per year.
    • Reduce Utah’s reliance on federal education funding and its many intrusive mandates.
  • Charter schools educate 10% of public school students, most doing it effectively and with broad-based parental approval.
    • Keep the State Charter School Board autonomous from Utah State Board of Education.
    • Encourage collaboration among charter school teachers and district school teachers to share best practices, services and activities with each other.
    • Provide equitable funding for charter schools and traditional public schools.