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Front Page » August 19, 2004 » Opinion » Paying own way may solve education woes in Utah
Published 3,684 days ago

Paying own way may solve education woes in Utah


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate community editor

The rapid population growth that occurred in Utah during the 1990's is expected to continue for the next thirty years. The challenges presented by the significant growth underlie many of the other top issues facing this state.

Jobs, the water supply, health care, crime, environment, and transportation are all greatly impacted by population growth. One other thing is also highly impacted: education, including both public and higher ed.

According to the Utah foundation, population analysts say that Utah's school age population (5 through 17 years of age) is expected to begin significant growth in 2004. Analysis of the Utah Process Economic and Demographic Model (UPED) data used by the State of Utah shows that with average growth Utah's school age population will increase by 163,000 students in the next ten years and by over 264,000 students by 2030. This is a respective increase of 24% and 39% by years 2014 and 2030 respectively.

The Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR) at the University of Utah predicts that the college aged population (18 through 24 years of age) will decrease until 2008 and will then begin a steady increase and will see a boom period between 2016 and 2025. One issue of concern that is not reflected in the analysis is the increasing percentage of non-traditional students who are also choosing attend college and other institutions of higher learning long after they have left public school.

The boom is good in many ways, but there is one way in which this state could suffer from it and that is paying for all the extra bodies that will be in classrooms and labs.

Utah has been struggling with its budget for years because of growth and obviously it is just going to get harder and harder for the legislature, administrators and instructors to deal with more students and less money. What is the answer?

The answer I believe is in this conservative states own values. If one listens to people in Utah, they believe in little state regulation and that big government should stay out of their lives. That belief in turn should then have a flip side to it, which is if you don't want the government in your business, you should pay for the services you require yourself and quit depending on the population at large to take care of it.

That is the answer to our education funding problem. People should pay their own fair share and that means that if public education needs more financial support, then those that are using the services the most should pay more for it.

Some call this type of thinking anti-family, but they are also the ones that expect others to "pull themselves up by their bootstraps."

In think that the idea of "paying your own way" just makes common sense.


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