Republican gubernatorial candidate Jonathan Johnson says lack of funding is not necessarily what's wrong with Utah's public education.
Johnson says his plan for education involves more personalization of education for students and more decisions made on the local level.
What does Johnson mean by personalization?
"A lot of studies have said students who are not reading at third-grade level by the third grade, their chances of success go way down.," says Johnson. "Let's personalize the first through third-grade education by offering reading aides in all of our classrooms."
Adding more aides to the classroom may sound like it carries a hefty price tag, but Johnson says that can be accomplished by tapping into Utah's spirit of volunteerism.
"Go back and think about the Olympics, and how everyone came out and made that great. If you have that kind of spirit going into reading aides for kids, I think it would be awesome."
Johnson also wants to boost the number of counselors in high school to help students choose a career path.
"I think we need to direct our kids to study the things that are interesting to them so that they know what careers are open. We talk a lot about jobs in Utah. We need to start talking more about careers."
Johnson also wants to push more decision-making down to the local level, which he says could help the education system realize cost savings by eliminating a layer of bureaucracy and reducing the power of the state board of education.
"I'd love to see school districts making decisions on whether they want to use a common core standard or do they want an Iowa-based standard. A lot of these decisions we can push down and when we do that we can remove a layer of cost and bureaucracy and move to the classroom."
Johnson also says local school boards should have more power in how they hire, fire and certify teachers.
"I can teach at BYU law school, but I can't teach civics in my local junior high. There should be a way for someone like me who is willing to do some of that and help to be certified."
Johnson says the changes he's proposing do not require tons of new funding, even though Utah spends the least per student on education in the country.
"More funding may be important and necessary, but right now more money is like pouring more money into a bucket with holes. Let's plug some of the holes and see if the bucket fills with water. If it needs more water, we'll put it in. If it doesn't, we won't."