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Letter to the Editor - from A. Earl McCain

Article Date: 
21 June, 2013 (All day)

Dear Editor:
Education’s purpose, process, and product is the eradication of ignorance and is, in turn, the foundation of law and order in any society.
Basically, there are two general forms of ignorance:
1.  Those who have not had access to the resources necessary to combat ignorance may be labeled as ‘naïve.’ 
2.  Those who have had ample access to the necessary resources and purposefully choose to ignore those assets which do not serve their agenda wear the label ‘stupid.’
Every human being has his/her own unique combination of those two general forms.  None of us knows everything and none are completely innocent of willfully choosing to ignore appropriate resources.
During the past several decades, willful ignorance has cost Morgan County taxpayers and their schools more than $7 million.  Much of that amount was in the failure to support the bond issues for the construction of a second elementary school.  There were those who would have approved the bond if the new school was to be build within the Morgan city limits . . . but, not outside of those city limits--especially if the location was to be in Mountain Green.
One might blame some of today’s financial problems in our school system on that willful ignorance.
Let’s take a look at some of the facts cited by Charles Crittenden in his April 5 Letter to the Editor.  He cited 114 teachers whose salaries and benefits for 2012 averaged $69,239 in a range between $40,323 and $104,055.  According to the district salary schedule, teacher salaries range between $33,430 and $62,478.  If Mr. Crittenden’s facts are correct that means that the teacher at the top of the scale with a EdD/PhD and 25 years of teaching experience received $41,577 in benefits or about $1,200 more than the total salary and benefits of the 1st-year teacher with a BA/BS at the bottom of the scale.
When I was a teenager my dad was driving a truck for the local Swanson/Campbell Soup poultry processing plant in our home town in southeastern Nebraska.  His travels took him to places in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and even as far as Minnesota.  One summer day he invited me to ride with him to pick up a semi-truck load of chickens at a couple of towns in southeastern Kansas.  We left 5 am and returned home at about 6 pm.  I think he may have been trying to convince me that I ought to become a truck driver too.  Or maybe  . . . he was showing me that there were better jobs to do.
But then . . . last year we got a report that a truck driver up in the Dakota oil fields was paid $150,000!  Maybe I shoulda done that!  
While my dad was paid by the hour, an over-the-road truck driver is now paid by the mile. The average, 35-40 cents per mile and multiplied by the speed limit of 60-70mph and amounts to $21-$28 per hour.  Eight-hour days add up to $42,000-$56,000 per year plus benefits.   Twelve-hour days with four over-time hours in shifts of “8-on & 8-off” can generate between $73,000 & $98,000 plus benefits for a year.
A comparison of teacher certification and commercial driver licensing to qualify for the jobs in question shows a wide separation.
Four campuses of the Utah College of Applied Technology offer CDL training.  The cost, in terms of fees and loss of minimum wage income during the training time, amounts to $3,350.  A similar calculation of cost for Utah teacher certification at local universities amounts to approximately $69,000.  Adding the requirements of two more academic degrees to qualify for salaries at the top of the scale would total approximately $120,000.
Over the past several decades, Utah students have consistently scored higher than 58% of students who took national standardized tests.  While ranking in the upper 42% in student performance Utah schools ranked dead last in per-pupil expenditures.  If Utahns paid at the 58th percentile it would double the current rate we now spent for the education of our kids.
Who is paying the bill?  Economists explain that every product [good or service] has a fixed cost in terms of land, labor and capital resources required to create/supply that product.  The average ACT score of 22.2 for Morgan High School students has the same cost as the same score in other schools in the nation.
So, who is really paying the bill?  Answer:  Our Kids (our children and grandchildren and the neighbors’ kids) and their Teachers.
While increased spending may not guarantee higher test score performance there are rules which describe those who take products without paying for them as THIEVES.
An analogy:  A Utah shopper loads up his shopping cart at the local Walmart.  The clerk at the checkout says, “That will be $39, please.”  The shopper replies, “Here’s my last 20-dollar bill.  Keep the change.”
The primary purpose of the proposed school levy tax is to restore the pupil/teacher ratio to what it was five years ago--a ratio which has increased because the state’s ultraconservative oligarchy has refused to do its part in maintaining that previous rate. 
Get out and vote to support our kids and their teachers!
A. Earl McCain
Mountain Green