January 20, 2023
Sutherland Institute supports HB 215 – Funding for Teacher Salaries and Optional Education Opportunities because it reflects the best of Utah’s policymaking ethic: avoid making a zero-sum game of two important and necessary education policy reforms, and instead seek policy outcomes that serve the common good.
Both parents and teachers endured significant challenges during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic – as did children – and HB 215 aids all groups in moving forward from the pandemic. As institutional leaders of families, parents deserve support in their effort to direct the education of their children. HB 215 empowers parents in this regard and properly entrusts them to ensure accountability from schools in the spending of scholarship funds. No one is better positioned or more strongly motivated to ensure that taxpayer funds are spent well in the education of their child than that child’s parent.
As leaders of their classrooms, public school educators deserve respect and support for their efforts to help students learn. The significant boost in teacher compensation in HB 215 moves in this direction, especially for early-career educators for whom an across-the-board pay increase will be more impactful.
National public polling shows that a majority of parents are supportive of both education savings accounts as well as increasing funding for public schools and raising teacher salaries. These objectives need not be mutually exclusive, especially when they are both the prudent next steps for our state.
For additional insights regarding HB 215, see our analysis of the legislation, our discussion of education choice policies nationally, and our recent perspective piece in Deseret News about how the effects of the pandemic call for a policy approach that combines expanding education choice with increasing teacher compensation.
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The passage of HB 215 showcased a lot of debate over education choice. But the impact of the bill on Utah’s teachers received far less attention.