Over the years
a variety of legislative measures had been adopted to promote equalization
in the distribution of state education funds, resulting in a patchwork
quilt approach to the problem of equality of educational opportunity.
In 1946-47, under the leadership of the Utah Education Association,
efforts by a coalition of educational, civic, and business groups succeeded
in passing amendments to the Utah constitution and in consolidating
the many funding measures so that the quality of the equalization formulas
was improved. The object was to establish a state-wide standard which
would provide equal educational opportunity for all students and at
the same time spread the financial sacrifice more equitably among the
state's taxpayers. As a result, Utah was put in the forefront of the
national movement to provide equal opportunity and tax equity.
From the mid-twentieth
century concerns over such national priorities as defense, veteran's
training and equal opportunity led to increased federal involvement
in Utah schools. As teachers throughout the nation became more aggressive
in the 1960s in their demands for increased compensation, Utah's teachers
captured national headlines with a state wide strike and the National
Education Association placed the state under a sanction to keep teachers
outside of Utah from breaking the strike. With the return to the traditional
curriculum emphasis in the 1980s, Utah adopted a structural approach
to its reform focusing on graduation requirements, curriculum control
and teacher incentives such as career ladders. During much of the twentieth
century the focus in Utah's public schools has been upon the way schools
can help fit students to the economic and social needs of American civilization.
At the same time, and somewhat paradoxically, the schools are expected
to meet the individual needs of the students. Utah schools have followed
these national patterns.