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Utah schools chief urges investments in early childhood, technology


During his annual State of Education speech Oct. 6, state Superintendent Larry Shumway said Utah schools have achieved a lot with limited funding, but more money should be invested in areas such as early childhood education and technology to sustain and build upon schools’ success, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. “There will be unacceptable declines in the quality of education if we don’t provide the financial resources necessary to support our children in their schools,” Shumway said. He outlined four key areas for investment: early childhood education, expanded kindergarten, and support for early grades; technology; aligning curriculum to meet work force needs; and teacher ability. For example, he said, he plans to invite school districts and charter schools to apply for up to $50,000 for projects that demonstrate “innovative applications of technology.” He’ll use the results from pilot projects to make recommendations to lawmakers. State Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, called Shumway’s speech inspiring, saying he liked “that [Shumway] is asking for additional strategic investments, rather than the old method of just asking for a blanket increase in education funding.” But Kory Holdaway, government relations director for the Utah Education Association, said he didn’t think Shumway was direct enough on the need for more education funding. Holdaway pointed to a Utah Foundation report released last week, which showed that Utah students most often rank last on the National Assessment of Educational Progress when compared to states with similar ethnic makeups, parental education levels, and poverty rates…

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