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Handicapping teachers
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In Utah, we're handicapped in trying to recruit, train and retain the best, brightest and most classroom-worthy teachers for our K-12 schools.

Compared with countries like Finland and South Korea, and states like Massachusetts, where commitment to teaching and all measures of classroom success put them among the world's leaders, we stumble along, undercompensating and overburdening teachers, choosing not to acknowledge their professionalism through real recognition and reward.

In recent years, insult has been added to injury by micromanaging K-12 teachers. Instead of freeing them to do their jobs with clear objectives easily managed by well-trained professionals who are expected to continue developing professionally through coursework, seminars, retreats, etc., we place in their paths inappropriate impediments to success.

Think classroom size and student mix. Think discouragement at compensation more in line with sanitation workers and bartenders than with true professionals. Think penury at state and local levels.

Some persist in blaming the National Education Association. The blame rests squarely with our tax-averse legislators and governor for excuses and annualized patch, patch, patch instead a committed development of new, reliable revenue streams to adequately fund K-12 now and to anticipate the future doubling and quintupling of student populations.

Ron W. Smith


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