Utah May Have Cure for ‘Senioritis’

When I was a senior in high school, my teachers often jokingly accused my fellow classmates and I of having "senioritis" when our motivation seemed to wane. I’m sure they do this with every class but, in their respective defenses, our particular class was exceptionally apathetic at times — like, refusing to cheer at pep rallies apathetic. (Not proud of it, just saying it happened.) I believe "failure to thrive" might be an appropriate medical term to apply. But now it seems the Beehive State may have a cure for these academic duldrums: Eliminate the senior year. The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

Sen. Chris Buttars isn’t talking about dropping 12th grade any more.

Now, he’s talking about making 12th grade optional for those students who finish their required credits early — and some lawmakers are listening to the idea with interest.

"I like thinking outside of the box like this," said Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, who co-chairs the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee. "I think it really makes us examine what we’re doing."

Now, instead of trying to eliminate 12th grade, Buttars, R-West Jordan, is proposing the state save up to $60 million by giving students the option of graduating from high school early. Students who finish their high school requirements early are already allowed to graduate early, but Buttars’ proposal would provide more incentives for students to do that and make that option clearer, he said.

Buttars said he’s working on a bill on the concept.

"There are some [students] that really have a great 12th grade, but you talk to 100 kids and their parents, and I believe the majority of them will say, ‘Well, my kid didn’t do much in the 12th grade,’" Buttars said. "Everybody wants to talk about change … But to tell you the truth, they’re scared to death of it."

So what do you think? Cerebral move to save money or is it costing students valuable education time? Shouldn’t we be pushing more time in the classroom, not less? And what about the point made in the article about the burden this puts on higher education in the state? Let us know your thoughts.

Utah’s Four-Day Week Not Yet Yielding Big Results

We published a post last June about Utah’s public employees moving to a four-day work week in an effort to save on energy costs. At the time, gas prices had peaked and it seemed interesting — a possible archetype for similar moves across the nation. So far, however, the results have not been as pronounced as they hoped:

Several unforeseen issues, such as extreme temperatures, employee habits and workers coming in on the occasional Friday, made such a large amount of savings an impossibility this year, she said.

Michael Hansen, strategic planning manager for the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, calls the lower savings "lessons learned."

"We made all these estimates and assumptions, and it looks like we were optimistic," he said. "We thought it would be easier, but there were all these weird little things."

He said he has a draft report prepared with actual figures showing how much the state has saved thus far, but it has not yet been approved for release.

The initiative was implemented with little to no input from state employees, lawmakers or residents, but (Gov. Jon) Huntsman has worked to make the environment a top priority, even though many in the Legislature look at global warming as a farce.

The initiative moved 17,000 of the state’s 24,000 employees from working five, eight-hour days to four, 10-hour days.

Utah First to Move to Four-Day Work Week

The land of pioneers, Sundance, and enough salt to callously murder millions of slugs has now become the first state government to move to a 10-hour, four-day work week (to take effect in August).

Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. recently made the declaration as an effort to cut heating and cooling costs and to reduce gas consumption.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

Huntsman says 16,000 to 17,000 state employees will be affected when the change is implemented. He acknowledges some of those workers will have problems because of child care or transportation issues, but agency heads will be asked to spend the month of July working through those issues. 

"The energy efficiencies are significant that we can achieve," Huntsman said. "When you look at the totality of the needs, this is a good policy moving forward."