Utah should go big
The Beehive State is setting a great example with creative approaches to stretching the school dollar.
Photo by Brian Swan.
The Utah legislature is considering a big move toward student-based state funding of secondary education, allowing students to apply public dollars not only to a variety of public secondary options, but to college courses as well.
Students could choose to spend that money to attend public schools, including charter schools; take public school online classes; and/or pay for courses offered by public and certain private, nonprofit Utah colleges. School districts and other providers would determine how much to charge for classes and that amount would be deducted from student accounts. Students could use any money left in their accounts after high school to continue their educations.
Providing secondary education services is becoming an increasingly complex proposition, as students add community college courses to their workload, explore virtual education options for foreign languages and advanced math and science content, and often try to take advantage of work or vocational ed opportunities.
The bill is currently in committee, and lawmakers may scale the program back to a pilot. Utah has quietly done some very bold things to stretch the education dollar in recent years. Sen. Dan Liljenquist's 2010 pension reform plan set the stage for proposals in a number of other states. We here at Fordham think Utah should keep going big: Give parents statewide the opportunity to spend their high-school dollars effectively to prepare their kids for work or college.
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About the Editor
Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow
Chris Tessone was a Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow and the Director of Finance of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. He has strong interests in governance and education finance, especially teacher compensation and school facilities finance.
June 13, 2013