Posted by: Deb Henry | 02/06/2010

Utah is getting schooled.

The Utah legislature just passed a bill (HB1) which includes 12-15% less total education funding than this school year. Obviously they missed Obama’s State of the Union last month where he made clear, “In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity – it is a pre-requisite. Right now, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma.  And yet, just over half of our citizens have that level of education.  We have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation.  And half of the students who begin college never finish.”

Governor Herbert is dropping the ball in terms of leadership. While education may look like a line item to the legislature, the external effects will echo through every other industry. There are already complaints that Utah’s population is unskilled — which makes businesses nervous when they’re trying to decide if they want to move to Utah.  Hiring unskilled workers puts a burden on businesses to provide that training, which dilutes their ability to add to the economy. Cutting education could lead to more people needing social services, having the opposite fiscal effect intended. I would rather my tax dollars go to educating someone now than paying for them to be in prison or on welfare/ unemployment for the rest of their lives.

If Herbert thinks he’s going to have any chance in the special election this November against Peter Corroon, he better do a better job leading them in a direction that will encourage Utah’s future. I am hoping Corroon took notice at how Governor Huntsman rallied the legislature toward specific goals last session, such as the new alcohol laws. Obviously Herbert wasn’t paying attention.

I know there are people who can do well without a formal education, but when our economy is based on jobs that need degrees, I’m going to vote for the guy with the college degree. I have a feeling he has a different opinion on the value of education.

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Responses

  1. Great article, Deb. While I agree with 90% of it, I have to beg to differ with your statement that “Utah’s population is unskilled.” I’ve actually always thought the exact opposite of your sentiment. I’ve always thought that Utahns, per capita, are more highly-educated than most other states in the country.

    I’m assuming that when you refer to “unskilled,” you’re actually referring to education, since measuring a population’s relative skill level would be difficult to do. As far as education goes, Utah actually has a higher percentage of people earning higher-education degrees than 35 other states (according to http://www.epodunk.com/top10/collegeDiploma/index.html). It’s amazing what our school system is able to do with such a relatively small amount of funding for education. It’s just a shame that HB1 reduces the small amount of education funding in the State even more. I thought that’s why we have a rainy day fund?

    • Good point. That statement came from a few meetings I was in where the Chamber of Commerce was arguing for education funding. I’m assuming they know what they’re talking about, though I do not have a source for that information, so I don’t know what they were basing it on. While we may have one of the highest percentages when compared to other states, I don’t think that it matches the demand for very technical or advanced jobs. I have quite a few friends without college degrees that cannot find a job, yet none of my friends with advanced degrees are unemployed.

  2. […] at Hey Deb Henry this point is made: While education may look like a line item to the legislature, the external […]

  3. What’s up with republican politicans and their connections to american idol finalists?

    • If only I had a republican politician in my family 😦


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