Fishy education software bill out of Utah

Remember about a year ago when Utah was all atwitter over a voucher proposal that was on a ballot?  Remember all the talk about saving money in education?

Utah Education Issues explains odd features in an omnibus funding bill recently passed by the Utah Legislature (The Economist praised Utah’s efficiency*).  Among other things, it gives away $1 million to an educational software company that will provide families with reading software — at a fantastic pricetag of $3,400 per installation (computer included, but still . . .).

Describing the smell of this bill doesn’t come close to the total repugnance — go read the report.  Fewer than 300 families can be served at that price, statewide.  One might suspect the true beneficiaries of this bill are not Utah voters, not Utah educators, nor even the Utah families who get the freebies.  Did I mention this involves a major publisher of public school textbooks?

It’s a commendable job of reporting for a blog, no?


*   The “cultural thing”, as businessmen from out of state delicately refer to Mormonism, helps in other ways. Utah’s almost universal conservatism makes for stable, consensual politics. It took the state legislature just two days last month to plug a $272m hole in the budget. By contrast, California’s budget was 85 days late. Nevada’s politicians are preparing for a nasty fiscal fight next year.

One Response to Fishy education software bill out of Utah

  1. UtahTeacher says:

    Hello again and thanks for the kind words. I just want to clarify something about the cost that I probably didn’t touch on enough. That $3400 cost is purely for the right to use the software and testing for a year. There is an additional installation fee per computer and computers are NOT included.

    The assumption is that many or most will already have computers, and provision is made to purchase and lend computers, peripheral equipment,” and internet service to low-income families if needed. I don’t know how much thought was really out into this, but it is stipulated that at least 30% of the participants must be low-income. The rest, however, are supposed to be from diverse socioeconomic and racial background and from both rural and urban schools… ( Lines 340-360) with the “diverse” higher-income kids already having computers and internet service.

    The money spent on computers, installation fees, and the mandated audit all come out of that 1 million dollars, meaning substantially fewer students than my hypothetical 294 figure will be serviced by this program that is intended to miraculously cure early childhood reading deficits, thus justifying larger K-2 classroom sizes.


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