Utah's Board of Education wants to launch a comprehensive study of the state's educational system and has asked Gov. Norm Bangerter to co-sponsor the effort.
In a meeting Thursday between the governor and the board, Board President Ruth Hardy Funk proposed that the two entities, along with Utah's Legislature, cooperate in making a thorough "diagnosis of education in Utah. Let's find answers based on our own demographics." Such a study also would help define the roles of the various agencies that deal with education in the state, she said.Bangerter did not commit his office to the study Thursday, but encouraged the board to pursue preliminary steps.
After the meeting, Funk said the board will undertake a study whether the governor and Legislature choose to participate or not. The board is willing to accept the fact that a study might indicate areas of weakness and the need for approaching education differently, she said.
"We want to look at every need, every constituent part of education and every educational posture for Utah," she said.
During the meeting, board members told the governor that all educational decisions now are being filtered through the Shift in Focus strategic plan the board adopted this winter.
Teams consisting of a board member, a state office staff member and a member of the commission that drafted the document are being sent into every district in the state to discuss how its principles can be implemented, she said. The board expects to have the plan thoroughly reviewed by the end of 1989 and well into the implementation phase by 1990.
"By 1992, we hope to see it completed and in place," she said. The board expects that the plan will be variably applied in local districts and said it has the flexibility to accommodate different interpretations. Many districts or individual schools already are incorporating various elements of the plan, which focuses on the individual education of each student.
Every element of education will be affected, including students and parents, Funk said.
Board Member John M.R. Covey emphasized that the shift does not lie in program changes, but in an altered philosophy that puts the child at the center.
The governor said he was pleased that the shift involves more local control of education, with increased ownership in programs by teachers, parents and district personnel.
"The most critical elements of education occur in the classroom. Our efforts should be to strengthen those classrooms," Bangerter said.
When Funk pressed for a better definition of how the board, the governor's office and other educational entities should relate, Bangerter said role clarification is something that is continually being interpreted.
He suggested that "we not worry about it so much. Let's not get hung up on details. We need shared governance. We should be trying to help each other with kids as our focus."