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In per-pupil spending, Utah ranks last, behind 49 states and the District of Columbia. And it's a big last.

No. 1 New York annually spends $18,126 per pupil. The national average is $10,499. No. 51 Utah spends $6,356 — $736 below No. 50 Idaho ($7,092).

If the Legislature miraculously raised per-pupil spending by $1,000, the Beehive State would just be No. 50, not even catching third-lowest Tennessee ($7,813). But what a difference an extra $1,000 per student could make in class sizes and tutors for failing students.

What would that cost? For Utah's 571,586 public school students, $571 million. I challenge the Legislature to show that it and our state are serious about educating our children by finding the half-billion dollars to move us up just one notch from dead last.

Anything less than that, and we're not serious that, as Gov. Gary Herbert loves to boast, "education is our No. 1 priority."

And that's just a start of what we need to do. Over the next five years, let's move up one rank a year so that by 2018 we're No. 46, beating out that great state known for its public education: Mississippi.

David Henderson

Salt Lake City

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