• Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. used an elementary school a few miles north of the Utah Capitol as the backdrop for his Jan. 17 State of the State Address, which included calls for a stronger education system along with tax changes and an improved transportation system.
Mr. Huntsman, a Republican in his second year as governor, said he thought it appropriate for lawmakers to gather at Washington Elementary School in Bountiful, Utah, “to share a vision of a future where we work together to build a hopeful foundation for Utah’s next generation.”
Finance: As part of that foundation, Mr. Huntsman called for a 5.5 percent increase in the amount of money the state spends on each student. Utah’s per-pupil spending is the lowest in the nation—even when adjusted for regional cost differences—at $5,067, according to Education Week’s Quality Counts 2006. The national average, according to the report, was $8,041.
Mr. Huntsman said it was also important to inspire a lifetime love of learning in students. To do that, early education is crucial, he said. He proposed a $7 million voluntary all-day-kindergarten program in Title I schools, such as Washington Elementary. “Our students who desire extra assistance need it early in their academic careers,” he said.
Math and Science: Mr. Huntsman also focused on teachers. He said he would seek funding to enhance teacher training and incentives in mathematics and science for teachers of the 4th, 5th, and 6th grades. “Just as students in early grades need to master reading, children who are preparing to enter junior high school need to master the basic fundamentals of math and science,” he said.
A version of this article appeared in the January 25, 2006 edition of Education Week