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Friday, January 12, 2007


Read Jennifer’s article and be prepared as this issue takes center stage.

From the article:

Rep. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, is preparing a voucher bill with input from other House and Senate leaders. He believes this is the year it will pass.

"I think the dialogue has been evolving," Urquhart said Wednesday. "It's much easier to rally around the status quo than it is to change.

"I think our constituents are realizing this could really help some families and some individuals and that a lot of the rhetoric about harm it might do to public education is overblown."


Anonymous Jeremy said...

Why is the legislature so set on vouchers when tax credits are so much easier to defend legally?

It is not as easy for those opposed to parental choice in education to accuse the state of establishing religion in schools when tax credits are the tool as it is when vouchers are used.

I'm curious about the opinion of the Senators who post to this site on tax credits versus vouchers.

1/13/2007 6:48 AM  
Anonymous JamesMcDermott said...

I wonder why vouchers are even considered at all. Let's work for some REAL solutions, not political or special interest ones. One side is gimmee more money all the time, the other is cut and run. Let's look for solutions for ALL schools.

1/13/2007 11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"One side is gimmee more money all the time, the other is cut and run. Let's look for solutions for ALL..."

Sounds like Iraq.

1/13/2007 11:45 AM  
Blogger steve u. said...

Mr. McDermott,

Thank you for participating in the dialogue. However, even if you write it in all caps, the quest for moving things forward requires more than simply telling us we should look for REAL solutions. We need to know what people think those solutions are.

1/13/2007 12:59 PM  
Blogger Natalie said...

Hmmm. 48% to 46%. Within the margin of error. You know what we called that in college? Too close to call.

Aside form the constitutional concerns, I am against vouchers for 5 reasons.

1. Funding. Utah's schools are under funded. Let's try and get to 45th (I'm not even asking for AVERAGE) in per-pupil spending, and then talk.

2. Accountability. If private schools want competition, then private schools would have to be accredited, have accredited teachers (or an acceptable alternative) and take all the same tests with the same reporting requirements, right? Not under any proposal I've seen. No one is talking about a level playing field.

3. ADA compliance. Private schools don't have to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act - which means that they can turn any disabled child away, or don't have to provide accommodations for their disabilities. This includes both developmental delays or disabilities and also behavioral disabilities like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Oppositional Defiant Disorder. These children, who are more expensive to educate, would be left in our public schools, which would be left with less money.

4. Religion. Do we want to give tax dollars to support Warren Jeffs Private High School? Summum Elementary? Because we'd have to.

5. Socio-Economics. Voucher programs don't help children in poverty or those who are lower-middle-class. Those parents can't afford to make up the difference and can't pay to get their kids to school. Which leads me to point 6:

6. Vouchers are, as my son's assistant principal calls it, Educational Apartheid. They may provide a better experience for the children of wealthy Utahns, but they would be disastrous for children of color or children in poverty. What is best for all children? To work to improve our public schools, helping all children have a better experience; not to sell our schools and our children out.

Vouchers are Separate and Not Equal. Not a good direction to be heading.

As Kim Burningham said in the Deseret News last week, To help your own children is a high ideal; to help all children is nobler.

So, let's stop discussing ways to pillage our public schools and instead talk about real improvements that will close the achievement gap and benefit all students.

Reduced Class Sizes
Increased Education Funding
All-Day Kindergarten
Increased Teacher Quality (which the law of supply and demand dictates will require increased compensation)

1/14/2007 7:19 PM  
Blogger Frank Staheli said...


I agree with Mr. Burningham's statement. I agree with your list of real improvements, except All-Day Kindergarten.

If we really want to help all children, reduce their class sizes, increase funding for (I assume you mean public) education, and increase teacher quality, then it's critical that we give children and their parents more educational choices. We may be 45th or so in per-pupil spending, but I think we're lower than that in educational choice.

The real improvements you seek will be found if we provide better choices. Vouchers are a means to facilitate those choices.

1/15/2007 4:07 PM  
Blogger bbart said...

School choice is there and has been and will be with or with out vouchers or tax breaks. I can send my children to any school in my district, any private school or home school. I have those choices now. The government doesn't give tax breaks to students to attend Yale instead of the University of Utah. Yale rewards scholarships to those who cannot afford to attend but have meet requirements. Private schools in Utah need to step up and do the same instead of asking for government handouts. I don't think I would want to send my kids to any private school that needs government subsidies to remain open.

1/15/2007 5:36 PM  
Anonymous Curt said...

Vouchers are just the latest weapon used against Public Education by the Utah Legislature. Their plan has been very easy to see.

1) Starve the schools for funding so they look bad no matter how hard everyone works.
2) Over-regulate the schools to such an absurd degree that nobody has time to teach the students, again making them look bad.
3) Once the schools have been bloodied and battered, the public will accept vouchers.
4) Once the wealthy republicans have their education lifeboat, abandon ship and let public education sink.

There is a scene from the movie Titanic that should give you a good example of what this will be like. The ship is listing badly to one side and the wealthy passengers are scurrying toward the limited number of lifeboats. Meanwhile, someone turns the lock in the stairwell that traps the less fortunate below deck.

It is a perfect plan and it will work to perfection. The only think missing is a surge.......

1/15/2007 7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if Utah's imbibers were given vouchers to shop at private liquor stores across state lines? There really aren't that many who would take advantage of this opportunity so it wouldn't make that much difference in state tax coffers. In fact, allowing choice could even improve the service and quality of government liquor stores in Utah! The government liquor stores would still be adequate for most imbibers. This concept could be problematic though for those who do not live near a state line and would like to have a choice in where they shop for liquor. I support government liquor stores but the competition of our nearby private liquor stores in Evanston and Las Vegas could improve on the current quality of our government liquor stores as well as save money on costly pensions and other state benefits. School vouchers and liquor vouchers sound good to me!

1/16/2007 7:07 PM  

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