By Christine Cooke
Published on February 26, 2018

Will focusing on a student’s individual needs and creating personalized learning paths cost taxpayers more money and result in ANOTHER tax hike?

The short answer is no.

  1. Personalized learning is a philosophy, not a program. Like “choice in education,” personalized learning is an umbrella term – most people think technology, some think competency-based education (CBE), and some think of an “a la carte” education policy like Flex Spending Accounts. Technology has some costs upfront but often cuts down on costs over time. CBE can be as simple as an AP class or as extensive as the model being used by Innovations Early College High School in Salt Lake City.
  2. If a policy furthers more personalized learning but costs money, it’s probably worth funding – in most instances it simply requires prioritizing funds for the program. Sutherland Institute does not support tax hikes in education without a clear plan for how the money will be used to improve learning for students. In fact, Sutherland Institute has repeatedly said “no taxation without innovation” in response to the current proposed income and sales tax hike ballot initiative. But reallocating funds is not the same thing as pursuing a tax hike.
  3. Many current forms of personalized learning don’t require a tax hike. Utah is using state funds for a CBE pilot program without raising taxes. Flexible spending accounts – another way to personalize education – are actually crafted to save the state money. You can learn more about flexible spending accounts here: Teachers can even personalize learning by letting students choose areas of study or selecting projects of interest.

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Christine is director of Sutherland Institute’s Center for Educational Progress. She is a member of the Utah State Bar, with a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and a law degree from Arizona State University. She worked as an English teacher at a public school and a residential treatment center. She also worked with the Arizona Office of the Governor, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, Goldwater Institute, and The Heritage Foundation.

Christine is regularly featured in national, local and regional publications and radio shows. Christine is an appointed member of the state Competency Based Learning Review Committee. She also serves on the Greater Avenues Community Council. She loves music and making cookies.


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