Utah Democratic comittee calls state education problems a crisis

Posted at 9:05 PM, Jan 29, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-29 23:05:19-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- A Utah Democratic Party committee held a press conference Tuesday to address what they’ve called a crisis in Utah education.

Local Democrats outlined the “Flashpoint” areas of concern for Utah’s public schools, which are ranked 38 out of 51 in the nation.

Utah also ranks 32nd in the country for graduation rates, which means almost a quarter of students will not graduate each year, and even more Utah students aren’t reading at grade-level. This is a decrease of nearly 6 percent from last year’s rates.

Josie Valdez, Utah Democratic Party chairwoman, said it’s important for people to know what’s going on with education.

“We are in a crisis, and what we want to do is educate people,” she said. “Get them talking to say it’s not just a problem, this is a crisis, and it’s affecting all of our citizens.”

Valdez said the state’s education problems are especially prevalent among minority students. On average, minority students score 20 to 30 percent lower in reading than their white peers, and 40 percent of minority students will not graduate.

“In a very great way it is affecting a lot of our ethnic minority community—our immigrants, our Latino community, our Native Americans, our African-American community,” Valdez said. “But it’s affecting our low income communities that are Caucasian. It is affecting the future of Utah.”

The Democratic committee hopes the meeting will lead to Democrats, Republicans and members of the legislature working together to come up with solutions to Utah’s education issues.  They did not put forth any specific proposals.