Utah educators discuss funding, standardized testing at annual conference

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SANDY, Utah – Teachers from across the state are gathering at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy for the next few days to discuss education programs in Utah.

Programs and products are pitched to teachers who attend the annual Utah Education Association conference.

Lily Eskelson, a Utahn who serves as president of the National Education Association, spoke about the concerns teachers deal with on a daily basis.

“What they're facing is this onslaught of tests that people are just twisting in knots, trying to hit some score on a standardized test, because if you don't have your quota of kids that hit the cut score, someone gets punished,” Eskelson said.

Eskelson said common core tests don't reveal the truth about the talents of a teacher or the individual needs of students.

“This testing obsession isn't getting us anywhere,” she said.”We wanna look at the whole blessed child, and what that child needs to succeed.”

She said it's a matter of time before the UEA and NEA help bring about an end to the current set of standardized tests. The other issue on everyone's mind at this year's conference is an older issue in Utah.

“We have been the lowest funded school system in the galaxy,” Eskelson said. “We make Mississippi look good when it comes to funding.”

Eskelson said more resources would be welcome in Utah classrooms.

“Imagine what we could do if we didn’t have the largest class sizes, if we actually had the programs that we could offer all of the kids who are aspiring to higher education,” she said.

The UEA will be asking the Utah State Legislature for more than $320 million in funding during the upcoming legislative session. That total includes a 1 percent increase in per-pupil funding, adjusted for inflation.