Kim Burningham represents District 5 on the Utah State Board of Education. He served for 15 years in the Utah Legislature and was an educator for many years, twice named Outstanding Teaching of the Year.
In this post, I want to share with you a startling comparison regarding education funding in Utah. Certainly, you are aware that Utah continues to be at the bottom of the heap when it comes to per-pupil funding, but the following information about education funding in New Jersey provides a dramatic comparison.
According to the Digest for Education Statistics, 2010, produced by the U.S. Department of Education, New Jersey ranks highest in expenditure per pupil with $17,866. The U. S. average is $10,441, and Utah lags way behind at the bottom with $6,062. Imagine, New Jersey spends almost three times as much per student as we do in Utah!
Now comes the startling news: According to an article in the New York Times, May 24, 2011, “Court Orders New Jersey to Increase Aid to Schools,” the New Jersey Supreme Court just ruled that cost-cutting measures in New Jersey were “unconstitutional and ordered lawmakers to raise spending for poor, urban schools by $500 million next year, despite a state budget shortfall estimated at $10 billion.”
Now I do not want to defend education expenditures in New Jersey, and frankly I suspect that some features of education spending in New Jersey are out of line and need “cost-cutting,” but I am absolutely overwhelmed at the stark comparison. The state that spends nearly three times what we do in Utah is found by the courts to be underfunding education!
What can be said of Utah! Our students are every bit as important as those in New Jersey, and their education should be appropriately supported. Apparently, at least some of our state leaders do not agree. To be frugal is laudable but to blatantly insist on inferior education for our children is appalling. When, oh when, will we, in Utah, place appropriate value on our students and their education!