Testimony presented by Christine Cooke, Sutherland Institute education policy analyst, on Feb. 4, 2016, before the Senate Education Standing Committee of the Utah Legislature, regarding SB 101:
Thank you, members of the committee. I’m Christine Cooke, education policy analyst for Sutherland Institute.
Sutherland appreciates and sympathizes with the intent of SB 101 to create an early intervention educational program to target children most in need. However, the language of the bill does not adequately align with this intent. For example, lines 124-125 allow the children to be deemed “at risk” without independent or objective verification that the child falls into an at risk category. To draw an analogy, this is akin to targeting Medicaid to low-income families without objectively verifying family income. In both cases, the absence of the verification mechanism fails to align the policy with the intent of the targeted program.
While we have other concerns, we think the bill first needs to be amended so that its language aligns with its intent. Until that is done, we would recommend that the committee hold SB 101. If the committee chooses to delay action, we are committed to working with the bill sponsor to address our other concerns with the bill.