Salute to Utah Public Schools: No "Dropout Factories"

During this time of controversy and mudslinging between those who support and those who oppose private school vouchers, I thought it appropriate to give praise where praise is due. The Utah public school system is one of the best in the country. Utah is the only state where there are no high schools that are classified as "Dropout Factories". This reflects positively on Utah teachers, educators, and lawmakers working together to provide an excellent education product.

A dropout factory is
a high school where no more than 60 percent of the students who start as freshmen make it to their senior year.
Some feel that Utah is the only state with no such schools because we have a lower rate of minority students, who tend to drop out at much higher rates. This may be a small factor. However, I think the real answer lies in the emphasis that Utah public teachers and administrators place on seeing Utah children succeed. This statistic is a great credit to Utah's public educators.

There are excellent people who subscribe to both sides of the school voucher debate. Many of those who oppose vouchers are public school teachers and administrators. Some of those who are in favor of vouchers are public school teachers and administrators, although I suppose they get a lot of pressure from some to be in the opposition camp.

At any rate, this is why I think vouchers can succeed in Utah, and NOT at the expense of public schools. I have a lot of public school teachers and administrators in my immediate and extended families. I also have a lot of friends who teach and administrate in the public schools as well. These are high-caliber people, who will continue to be high-caliber professionals even if vouchers become legal in Utah. With their being perennially underpaid, the fact that friends and family members are public educators says a lot about their dedication in the first place.

I support vouchers. But I do not do so as a slight to the public school system. Utah is one of the greatest states in the Union--with one of the greatest education systems as well. It's largely because of the dedicated men and women to teach our children in the public schools.


  1. The Salt Lake Tribune says that private school vouchers would "deal a devastating blow to public schools" in Utah.

    That's a big reason why so many of us signed petitions to get this issue on the ballot.

  2. What about this KSL article which says "In one area school district alone, nearly half of all students don't graduate from high school."

  3. Richard,

    The beginning of the SL Trib editorial is propaganda bordering on the insane. They make very few good points in the entire editorial.


    I was not aware of this story. It sounds like someone needs to write a new story about Utah "Dropout Factories".

    I almost wonder as to the timing of the story I quote now, being right before the Referendum 1 vote...

    Or is the KSL story inaccurate?

  4. I suspect it's just bad journalism - these are the same people who churned out articles a few weeks back stating that there is no longer any scientific doubt that man is causing global warming and that Utah is the worst in terms of emitting greenhouse gases...

    I'm pretty disgusted with both sides of the voucher issue... One mailer yesterday featured faces and names of those for and against the voucher thing - didn't even mention a single issue. It's kind of hard when you have morons like Orrin Hatch and the Governor on one side and then Hillary and Teddy Kennedy on the other.

    I do agree though that Utah has great schools, I credit the teachers, in spite of the over paid administrators, legislators and the UEA.

  5. connor,

    That's old news. The numbers reported in that story were incorrect. Here's the story with the correct numbers. It came out about a week after the first one.

  6. Thanks Don.

    I wish the newer KSL story would have been more detailed as to what the mathematical error was. Does anyone know where I can find more detail about it?


    I agree about the vitriol on both sides of the debate, a good example of which is the SL Trib editorial that Richard linked to in comment #1. The truth is somewhere in between.

  7. Thanks Don. Looks like some government worker didn't know how to put the decimal point in the right place. Your tax dollars, hard at work. :)

  8. Many of my kids' teachers have been great. Some have been nearly superhuman. Some have been ... well ... much less so. But overall, we are not doing as good as we could be doing.

    This WSJ article (requires subscription to see full article) reports that "Utah's children may not excel in math or English, but their teachers are very good at instructing them in how to run a political campaign. As 2007 achievement test data show another disappointing year for the state's children, the teachers union is running a multi-million-dollar campaign to insulate itself from competition."

    Studying school testing results, this Utah Foundation report found that while Utah performs on par with the national average, its performance is "well below what would be expected for a state with its demographic profile." In fact, "Utah is the lowest-achieving state in its overall demographic peer group."

    In other words, Utah schools look fine when comparing apples to oranges. But when comparing apples to apples, Utah schools are the worst! Utah's kids don't have a high drop-out rate, but they also don't perform up to their capabilities, on average.


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