Idea to share educational value on web has $2.8 million price tag


By Miranda Collette

SALT LAKE CITY – A Draper Republic senator hopes to increase the transparency of the Utah educational marketplace to students and parents who are planning for the future.

Sen. Howard  Stephenson, R-Draper, proposed SB34 to the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee,  Tuesday, Feb. 11 hoping the online data this bill would make public the value of certain educational and career paths. The information in the records, according to the senator, could be categorized to show individuals post-college salaries based on their career choice.

Sen. Howard Stephenson sits in at the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee to propose funding for his bill, SB34.
Sen. Howard Stephenson sits in at the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee to propose funding for his bill, SB34.

“All education has value, but some education has more economic value then others in the market place,“ said Stephenson. “If high school student were able to see that, if they got a certificate first … they would be able to pay their way through college without student loans.”

Without the proposed funding,  Stephenson believes the existing programs that currently compile this data will likely shutdown. The Utah Education Network, in cooperation with work force services, higher education institutes and Utah Center for Assistive Technology would use the $2.7 million in proposed funding to help continue the longitudinal data system and make it more available.

However, according to the website, the Utah School Boards Association, United States Student Association, Utah Association of School Business Officials, and Utah Association of Secondary School Principals all feel differently and oppose the bill.

“The [Utah School Boards Association] opposes SB34 because the board that was going to be set up in that bill, we think is unconstitutional because it pulls power away from the state board of education to the governess of education.” Said Patti Harrington, the associate executive director for Utah School Board Association.  “Generally we support Utah Futures and we know it needs money and improvements but Utah Futures was not part of our opposition, it was the structure under the bill.”

Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, questioned weather the government would be able to track the personal information attached to the data to influence students into specific career paths.

Stephenson said, “This takes what’s currently being done and ensures that whatever data is collected is de-identified so that no one can track them.”

Privacy is to be ensured under Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, as well as state law. Parents and or post college graduates can also refuse to have their information put on the website.

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