The Lamp

Where truth can be shared.

Utah Vacillates on Vouchers

Posted by thelamp on June 18, 2007

Residents of Utah are embroiled in a contentious fight over the future of vouchers to allow parents to use tax dollars to enroll their children in private schools. Observers have estimated that as much as $5 million will be spent in efforts to influence voters, who will determine the fate of school choice in the November election.

Many people thought the state legislature already resolved issue. It did – sort of. In February, the Utah General Assembly passed a bill creating the voucher program, which allots up to $3,000 for any public school student to put toward private-school tuition. The measure is one of the broadest voucher plans in the nation, and Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. signed it a few days after it cleared the legislature.

The $3,000 voucher is a bargain, considering that the public school system in Utah invests an average of $7,500 on each student. After spending that kind of money, 25 percent of “graduating” seniors cannot pass a basic 9th-grade-level competency test of core subject material – even after five attempts at taking the test.

Yet parents are willing to take half of that money for the privilege of educating their children elsewhere – particularly in a school that best meet the individual needs of the particular student. This is a good deal, fiscally and socially, for the taxpayers. It is a great opportunity for parents and students. It is even good for teachers, who are likely to see the number of different employers needing their services increase.

Still, nearly every education organization in the state, especially the teachers’ union, opposes the program. They’re sticking with the lame reasoning that tax dollars should not be spent at private schools – even if taxpayers and parents get better results for half the cost. The battle has become so divisive it landed at the Utah Supreme Court, which ruled June 8 that voters should decide whether the program is implemented in the fall, or scrapped altogether.

All elections are important, but this is one issue that will impact families and determine whether children get access to a meaningful education.
 

Source:  www.centerformoralclarity.net

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