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Utah's hard-working teachers can be given credit for much of the state's economic success, says Jordan District Superintendent Raymond Whittenburg.

While Utah is gaining a reputation nationally for its strong economy, Utahns should take notice of the thousands of teachers who work under difficult financial limitations to educate students who graduate and become a well-qualified work force.Money Magazine recently ranked Provo-Orem as the third most livable place in the United States and Salt Lake City-Ogden in fourth place. Their strongest ranking among the six categories was in economic strength. Probably because of the low amount of dollars spent per pupil, the Utah cities were ranked just average in the area of education.

"When you look at the amount of money spent per pupil on a national scale, Utah consistently falls at the bottom of the list, usually next to Mississippi," said Whittenburg.

"Our teachers have larger classes with fewer resources, yet continue to provide an outstanding education to our children."

In the Midwest, for instance, the ratio of teachers to students is about 15 to 1. In Utah, that ratio is the highest in the nation. In some secondary schools, the number of students in a classroom exceeds 40.

In the 1994 American College Testing exams, Utah students topped national performance averages in all but mathematics - and were at the national average in that category.

Also compared to the national average, Utah has a high percentage of students graduate from high school and continue on to college.

"Teachers are diligent in working with students, investing much of their personal time in preparing curriculum. Their work ethic compensates for the stretched financial resources," said Whittenburg.

Utah teachers work closely with Utah businesses to train students for available jobs. In many high schools, there are school-sponsored work programs that provide practical training that qualifies students for future jobs.

West Jordan High is an example of a school that benefits from dozens of businesses contributing resources and expertise to enhance students' education, said Whittenburg.

"Parents of students must also be given credit for Utah's top-rate work force. Utah parents generally take an active interest in their children's education and spend time working with them on homework assignments.

"As a state, we can be proud of the education our kids are receiving and the tremendous contribution our graduates are making to Utah's robust economy."