The realization of a dream for Utah's educational future depends on the participation of everyone involved, particularly parents, Gov. Norm Bangerter told PTA representatives Wednesday.
The governor addressed leaders from several PTA regions as they gathered at the State Capitol for PTA Day in the Legislature. Later Wednesday morning, Lt. Gov. Val Oveson addressed a second session of the parent/school partners."Utah schools are in good hands," the governor said. "Looked at objectively, we are getting the best bargain in America."
At the same time, Bangerter said, plans are being formulated to radically change the state's education system to be more responsive to the individual needs of children.
The Strategic Planning Commission's newly released document, "A Shift in Focus," will be the basis for wide-ranging change. That change, hopefully leading to a better system, will require deeper commitments from everyone involved.
Parents who already support education will find themselves more frequently in the classroom, the governor said, helping teachers devote the necessary time to direct an individually designed education program for each child.
The governor called for PTAs across the state to read, discuss and comment on the Shift in Focus document.
During the current legislative session, Bangerter said, he has targeted for emphasis several areas of education. Topping the list is an effort to increase the drive toward alcohol- and drug-free schools. Legislation before the 1989 session aims to strengthen prevention, enforcement and treatment, he said.
"The statistics are frightening. We must step up even more our efforts to combat this terrible affliction of our young people."
The governor also supports broadening the block grant concept, which is being piloted by six districts. They are being given more latitude in determining how to spend certain funds that had previously been specified for particular school programs. The governor said he supports necessary regulatory changes to "unshackle these districts from state and federal regulations."
Schools need more room for innovation and creative approaches to education's problems, Bangerter said, but at the same time, must be accountable to government and the public.
"Our kids are our greatest asset," he said. "We must help them to succeed."