Proposal in Utah would make senior year in high school optional

The state is facing a $700 million shortfall so instead of cutting the number of state employees, or trimming non-vital state programs. one Utah lawmaker wants to make the kids pay for the legislature's cowardice.

Dee Dee Correll writing in the LA Times:

The notion quickly gained some traction among supporters who agreed with the Republican's assessment that many seniors frittered away their final year of high school, but faced vehement opposition from other quarters, including in his hometown of West Jordan.

"My parents are against it," Williams said. "All the teachers at the school are against it. I'm against it."

Buttars has since toned down the idea, suggesting instead that senior year become optional for students who complete their required credits early. He estimated the move could save up to $60 million, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

The proposal comes as the state faces a $700-million shortfall and reflects the creativity -- or desperation -- of lawmakers.

"You're looking at these budget gaps where lawmakers have to use everything and anything to try to resolve them," said Todd Haggerty, a policy associate with the National Conference of State Legislatures. "It's left lawmakers with very unpopular decisions."

In Utah, the opt-out proposal could prove more politically feasible.

"The bottom line is saving taxpayer dollars while improving options for students," said state Sen. Howard A. Stephenson, a Republican and co-chairman of the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee. "The more options we give to students to accelerate, the more beneficial it is to students and taxpayers."

Are 17 year olds ready to face the world? Some will be, many others won't. The point is, even in conservative Utah, shrinking the size of government appears to be the option of last resort.

There are other things to be learned in high school besides what you get out of books. The experience of senior year is one most students will probably not give up since it is representative of being on the cusp of adulthood - the luxury of still being in the cocoon before going out into the world as a grown up.

I think Utah legislators can find something else to cut or eliminate besides this.



The state is facing a $700 million shortfall so instead of cutting the number of state employees, or trimming non-vital state programs. one Utah lawmaker wants to make the kids pay for the legislature's cowardice.

Dee Dee Correll writing in the LA Times:

The notion quickly gained some traction among supporters who agreed with the Republican's assessment that many seniors frittered away their final year of high school, but faced vehement opposition from other quarters, including in his hometown of West Jordan.

"My parents are against it," Williams said. "All the teachers at the school are against it. I'm against it."

Buttars has since toned down the idea, suggesting instead that senior year become optional for students who complete their required credits early. He estimated the move could save up to $60 million, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

The proposal comes as the state faces a $700-million shortfall and reflects the creativity -- or desperation -- of lawmakers.

"You're looking at these budget gaps where lawmakers have to use everything and anything to try to resolve them," said Todd Haggerty, a policy associate with the National Conference of State Legislatures. "It's left lawmakers with very unpopular decisions."

In Utah, the opt-out proposal could prove more politically feasible.

"The bottom line is saving taxpayer dollars while improving options for students," said state Sen. Howard A. Stephenson, a Republican and co-chairman of the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee. "The more options we give to students to accelerate, the more beneficial it is to students and taxpayers."

Are 17 year olds ready to face the world? Some will be, many others won't. The point is, even in conservative Utah, shrinking the size of government appears to be the option of last resort.

There are other things to be learned in high school besides what you get out of books. The experience of senior year is one most students will probably not give up since it is representative of being on the cusp of adulthood - the luxury of still being in the cocoon before going out into the world as a grown up.

I think Utah legislators can find something else to cut or eliminate besides this.



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