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Horror stories

Utah news outlets received a scary delivery last week from the Utah Education Association.

The state affiliate of the National Education Association highlighted some examples of inadequate or outdated textbooks and other supplies, gathered through an informal survey, by stuffing Halloween baskets with selected "scary facts" about school supplies and shipping them off to members of the state news media on Oct. 30.

The organization cited a 1950 world map at one elementary school, encyclopedias from 1966 in another, light fixtures in one classroom that leak water when it rains, and a 1920s-vintage alto saxophone used by a middle school band.

"There is an overarching need for new textbooks and new supplies in Utah schools," said UEA President Phyllis Sorensen.

In response to earlier reports of insufficient school supplies, the Utah legislature had called on legislative Auditor General Wayne Welsh last spring to assess the state of textbooks and class sizes in public schools. A report on the results of a subsequent survey was slated for release in early November, but Mr. Welsh now says it will be unveiled later this month or in December.

"Why they're holding back the data, we don't know," the union's Ms. Sorensen said. "We suspect it will confirm all of our worst fears and more."

But Mr. Welsh said the survey results were not being intentionally withheld. "We've been working as hard as we can," he said. "It's a long and complex audit."

—Jessica L. Sandham [email protected]

Vol. 20, Issue 10, Page 23

Published in Print: November 8, 2000, as State Journal

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