Education Excellence is Everyone's Responsibility
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In these changing times, providing every child with a world-class education requires more from all of us. Teaching and learning can’t just occur in the classroom.
Schools work best when everyone works together
The reality is that everyone—teachers, parents, students, administrators, school boards, legislators, businesses, communities—must be partners in building quality neighborhood public schools. And we ALL should be held accountable for our students’ success.
Teachers must be held accountable to clearly defined standards that are based on research and use multiple measures. Parents must ensure that their children come to school ready to learn by teaching them values like responsibility and respect for others, and by instilling a love of learning. Students must be motivated to work hard to achieve their full potential. Schools must be accountable to taxpayers. Communities must engage and support their neighborhood schools. Legislators must provide school boards with the tools and resources they need to succeed. School boards, policymakers and administrators must partner with classroom teachers to promote student success. Elected officials should work with teachers and other stakeholders to address societal issues that impact student education.
The UEA is committed to working with all education stakeholders in a true spirit of collaboration—earnestly seeking education excellence for all students.
Students must be at the center of education reform
When it comes solving the challenges facing public education, there are no silver bullets, no short cuts and no quick fixes. No single law or policy change, no new program, no innovative technology will by itself bring about the changes necessary to ensure a quality education for every student.
We must create a long-term plan to ensure a quality neighborhood public school for every child—a plan developed in collaboration with classroom teachers. Education reform measures must be grounded in research, not experiments that waste scarce taxpayer dollars. We need to invest in the classroom priorities that build the foundation for student learning.
As we implement reforms, it’s important to maintain many of the traits that made our public schools great. We must ensure that public schools: are accessible to all students; prepare students with the skills to succeed in the new global workplace; allow classroom teachers to use their professional judgment; and provide a well-rounded education with many choices, including music, arts, sports and other extracurricular activities.
A strong economy requires strong public schools
Strengthening our public schools strengthens our economy. For example, we know that when business are selecting a location, the top reason they give for choosing one city over another is the quality of education. Class size and per-pupil spending are the two most important factors businesses use in rating a public school system. By those two measures, Utah ranks dead last in the U.S.
It’s important to note that, unlike corporate tax incentives, public school investments go back into the local economy. Property values are also higher in neighborhoods with great public schools.
Tax changes over the past few years have shifted the tax burden away from those most able to pay (large businesses and the wealthy) to individuals and small businesses with less ability to pay.
In order to ensure the strength of our economy for the future, we must create a long-term plan to adequately fund quality public schools. Surveys consistently show that Utahns overwhelmingly support a greater investment in neighborhood public schools.
Education excellence is everyone’s responsibility
It is critical we stop engaging in ideas that promote a cycle of short-term fixes, diminish our children’s comprehensive education, punish schools and educators, and perpetuate the blame game. Let’s recognize that we all have a responsibility. Let’s begin a new collaborative dialogue where we place excellence for our children and our public schools at the center of every conversation.