Senator Pat Jones proposal to raise taxes on families with children to send more money to Utah teachers sounds like a way to boost education dollars. In reality, Jones’ $400 million proposal takes from those who need it most:
Parents with children.
If passed, the bill would create jobs in education and allow schools to shrink class sizes by hiring new educators, Jones said.
I’m sure she means well, but the proposal is misguided. Never mind that we all benefit when a child is born, even if that benefit is so distant as one more person to pay into social security, to say nothing of all of the human potential in that one person.
In addition to ending tax exemptions for families with children, Jones’ proposal would also redistribute money to poorer districts, bypassing even the State Office of Education. The proposal brings in more money (it is a tax increase), but it still redistributes money.
Ironically, earlier this year Jones’ criticized a proposal that would have equalized money between poorer and richer districts as a “Robin Hood” proposal.
“This takes existing monies and makes people winners or losers depending on what district you’re in,” Jones said.
Instead, Jones would rather make people winners or losers depending on whether you have children or not.
At a time when the cost of living is rising faster than wages, when the middle class is finding home ownership increasingly distant, when unemployment nationally remains stubbornly above 7%, and when a staggering–and rising–number of young adults live at home with their parents, Jones’ has remarkably found a way to raise the barriers to having children.
Rather than encouraging families to have more children, grow the labor force and maintain the population growth necessary to maintain economic growth, Jones’ proposal would raise the cost of living, directly and deliberately, benefiting only teachers without any measurable effect on education.
Also, this is a good place to note: there isn’t any correlation between educational success and spending more money on education.
“I think there is an intuitive appeal to the idea that if we spend more money we will get a better education system, and yet the facts simply don’t bear that out,” Royce Van Tassel said in an article in the Deseret News. “If you’re going to move the dial on education reform, you can’t simply say, ‘Give us more money.’”
Perhaps we should focus more on growing our economy and reforming how we educate rather than just throw more money at the problem.
Utah has done relatively well during the recent years of economic turmoil, in large part because its growing population, lower cost of living, large families, and better educated workforce. If we are to improve education, we need to take a hard look at methods, technologies, funding, curriculum, and every other facet of education.
Raising taxes on the parents of Utah’s children, though, is a non-starter.
Instead of helping families, Jones’ proposal puts teachers ahead of the children they are supposed to be teaching.