Not only does State Representative Jack Draxler, R-District 3, want to increase funding for education during the coming legislative session, he wants to make sure the increased funding is spent in a way that will help improve education the most.
After serving for two years on the Utah Legislature’s Education Task Force, the Republican lawmaker has proposed a bill calling for a one percent increase in state income taxes to help improve education. On KVNU’s For the People program Monday he said seven percent would go for increased pay for teachers and 75 percent for technology in the classroom.
Draxler said there is a right way and a wrong way to do both those of those. For example, he said the wrong way to give performance-pay increases to teachers is through test scores.
“The crop of kids you get into your classroom every year varies dramatically,” Draxler said. “Then the wrong way to do technology is to just buy the iPads and give them to the kids.”
Draxler said you must have the infrastructure in each school that can handle that much technology and you need to have the professional development of the teachers to make sure they are up to speed with the students.
Draxler said the one percent increase would bring in $585 million and he admits it is a significant increase for taxpayers. For a medium income family, he said it would mean paying approximately $575 a year. The Republican acknowledged that numerous surveys have shown Utah residents are willing to pay more taxes if it goes for education.
“They want it to be in the classroom. So the teaching profession and the technology (are) the best way to focus those dollars in the classroom,” he continued. “We have many models around the nation that show when you do that and when you do it right it can dramatically improve the performance of your system.”
Draxler said the teacher salary increases would be performance-based and he has learned that there are now some excellent teacher evaluation models available. The 3rd District representative said so far the response to his proposed bill has been “mixed.”