Governor Huntsman Appoints Education Achievement Gap Task Force
Utah Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. has appointed a task force to address Utah's achievement gap in education. The 24-member task force includes individuals from all over the state who will work over the next five months to make recommendations on proposed legislation designed to have a measurable impact on the state's achievement gap.
"This is not a governor's initiative, this is a community initiative," said Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., who pledged to give the task force access to state data. "The committee will address the issues with a clean slate and no preconceived notions to compile the best recommendations."
Tim Bridgewater, the governor's education deputy, will chair the task force's Research Committee and an ethnically diverse Community Committee will be led by Yvette Donosso Diaz, executive director of the Utah Department of Community and Culture.
"Utah must address education deficiencies such as the achievement gap cost effectively. We need to study real world models that work and then work with local educators and administrators to modify those models to effectively support Utah students in order to maximize their academic success," said Bridgewater.
"We need a comprehensive approach to the problem, one that truly foregrounds equity among our underserved populations," said Diaz.
The Community Committee represents legislators, teachers and principals, individuals in Higher Education, CMAC (Coalition of Minorities Advisory Committee to the State Board of Education), parents, the state's Ethnic Advisory Councils, advocates, and top administrators in the Utah State Office of Education. The Research Committee includes professionals whose work focuses on increasing access and opportunity for underserved populations, as well as research to reduce the achievement gap.
The governor has asked the task force to make up to five tangible recommendations to him by September. Thereafter, the governor plans to have a public comment period where the community can weigh in on the recommendations. Legislation based on the task force's findings will be drafted for the general session of the Utah Legislature in January.