Jon Huntsman on Education
Republican UT Governor
Opponents of school choice decry the use of public money to fund private schools. There is a wrinkle: the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and, more specifically for Missourians, the Blaine Amendment to the Missouri Constitution, which stipulates that "no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect or denomination of religion."
In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that excluding religious institutions from school choice programs and funding amounted to discrimination. The court is currently weighing a challenge to Missouri's Blaine Amendment. Newly inaugurated Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley insists, "Blaine Amendments cannot be allowed to trump the First Amendment."
HUNTSMAN: This is a key question, because it has so much to do with our nation's competitiveness. I feel like I've run my own clinical trial in my home, raising seven kids. We've seen every option. We've experienced everything out there. But as governor I learned some important things. I signed the second voucher bill in the United States, Carson-Smith. I've actually done something about this. We actually worked on early childhood literacy. If you can lock in the pillars of cognitive development around reading and math before age six, you are giving those kids the best gift possible as they then proceed through education. Finally, you've got to say no to unfunded mandates coming out of Washington. They are totally unacceptable. No one loves their schools more than parents and local school boards, and local elected officials. Localize, localize, localize.
HUNTSMAN: No Child Left Behind hasn't worked for this country. It ought to be done away with. We need to take education to the local level, where parents and local elected officials can determine the destiny of these schools. Nobody wants their schools to succeed more than local elected officials and their parents. We need choice. We need vouchers. We need more technology in the classroom.
Q: [to Cain]: Would you return to the full enforcement of NCLB?
CAIN: No. I believe in education starting at the local. No Child Left Behind had some faults. I don't believe in unfunded mandates. I believe that the federal government should be out of the business of trying to micromanage the education of our children.
The Utah College of Applied Technology was created to be responsive to industry and meet the demands of a growing technical workforce. While there are still issues to be ironed out, but we all agree on the goal: a UCAT system that is more responsive to real-time business needs and is more accessible to Utah's students.
We are leading the nation in educating our kids in 21st century languages like Chinese and Arabic. So, to the thousands of students studying Mandarin Chinese I say: Gongx gongx. "Congratulations!"
Yet, our kids' literacy in these critical foreign languages must be matched by their mastery of numbers, an area that is in need of strengthening. We must keep pace. Through additional emphasis and reprioritizing, I have asked both public and higher ed to make this year the "Year of Math."
When I speak of focusing on our fundamentals, I speak of teacher compensation. Teaching must be reinforced as being among the most noble of pursuits. We must compensate fairly those who inspire our next generation of Utahns. If we hope to produce first-rate students, we must have first-rate teachers.
Educational excellence begins with the recruitment, retention and commitment of teachers who are passionate about educating our youth--the only future we have. I refuse to stand by idly as we lose good educators to other states in our region. Together with my colleagues in the legislature, we have made significant strides in bolstering education the last two years. We can do more. We must do more.
We must be mindful that 97% of Utahís students are enrolled in public schools. Itís imperative that we keep them strong. Competition is healthy and certainly does not exclude mutually beneficial dialogue that shares ideas, techniques % problem solving tools to improve our childrenís education. Failure to attempt improvement in education through market forces means that we are not striving to improve our childrenís opportunities for learning.
Partnerships between public education and the business community are beneficial and should be strengthened as a potential source of revenue. The private sector has developed and continues to develop practices and methods applicable to education, which can be shared with educators and parents.