A PUBLIC SCHOOL OPINION FROM A NEIGHBOR
AND WHERE YOU CAN LOOK FOR ANSWERS
I am a public school teacher who wants the best for all children. I believe that vouchers are not a solution to any of the problems facing schools in
This is a link to the official Utah Voter Information Guide on Referendum 1 with arguments from both sides, an impartial fiscal analysis, and the actual text of the bill, HB 148. http://elections.utah.gov/Citizen.htm
Public schools lift society up
Public schools are designed to teach all children and are open to all children. Public education available to all students is one of the main reasons that the
The inevitable and frustrating problems we sometimes face in public education are worth it when considering the alternative—a system where private schools are the only choice and only for those who can afford them. We have the entire history of the world before
Vouchers are specifically designed to hurt public schools
Vouchers are not new. They have been rejected by many states for over 30 years. Influential thinkers promote vouchers as a tool to “defund” public schools until they are eliminated, leaving a “free market” of only private schools. After failing in Utah repeatedly, voucher advocates added “mitigation money” to the bill in order to “mitigate” their negative effect on public schools, allowing them to pass vouchers by one vote. (See below for more on the real effect of the mitigation dollars.) Senator Curtis Bramble, the sponsor of HB 148, is a “Legislative Advisor” to a large think tank, The Heartland Institute, that advocates vouchers on a national basis. You can check their website for many pro-voucher arguments and see what you think. I am including a link to an essay by the president of The Heartland Institute where he specifically explains to libertarians how vouchers are the first step in the plan to “wean” the public from public schools and completely privatize education.
This explains why organized, out-of-state groups poured $750,000 into the 2006 Utah legislative campaign to elect those who promised to vote for vouchers, why they ran ads this spring trying to stop the public from petitioning for a referendum on the law, and why they initiated the current multi-million dollar ad campaign trying to convince voters that this subsidy will help public schools. They are convinced that
Vouchers and Money—The Oreo commercial isn’t true
Some voucher supporters sincerely believe public schools are not worth the millions of dollars spent and should be eliminated. We have an honest disagreement. But the voucher campaign in
There is a commercial currently running that features a prominent Utah couple using Oreos to claim that each publicly educated child in Utah costs $7500, so that when we spend $3000 on a voucher it leaves $4000 extra dollars to be spent on the remaining students. Here is a link to a true cookie video:
To explain briefly, public schools are designed so that each tax dollar benefits many students at once, not just one individual. The voucher supporters totaled every expense possible: teachers, administrators, counselors, custodians, heat and electricity, extra-curricular programs, school lunch, computers, buses, buildings, the interest on the loans used to construct the buildings, etc., and included funds that come from the federal government, school bonds in individual districts (The $229 million dollar bond Alpine District Voters approved last year is counted as “state funding!”), and school trust land money, to claim that the state spends a unique $7500 on each student. http://utahtaxpayer.blogspot.com/2007/08/7500-per-utah-k-12-student-in-fy2008.html This statistic is useful to compare education funding between states, but has no basis in reality when it comes to how money is actually spent in a classroom.
A student does not uniquely cost $7500 dollars in a school year. The state WPU, or the amount of tax dollars the state government actually sends each school district per student, is $2417 for the 07-08 school year.
The state also sends block grants for special ed., ESL, and other programs which leads to an average state expenditure of around $3500-3800 dollars per student. (The inexact number stems from the disagreement on figures from the various sources arguing about this bill.) Those WPU dollars are spread out to pay for the above-listed variety of things to help all students. So when little Johnny leaves a public school, taking a $3000 dollar voucher with him, there are not $4000 dollars left unspent to redistribute among the other children. The $4000 dollars is already allocated to some program or employee of the district, and it wasn’t provided by the state government anyway. The “mitigation monies” only refund the difference in the state’s average portion of funding for five years. So the state gives the district $500-800 dollars for five years…in exchange for removing $3000 dollars from district funding for thirteen years which has to be taken out of some other resource because Johnny only uniquely costs the school a few bucks in supplies each year.
Rich families subsidized with public money
And it gets worse. Look at the impartial fiscal analysis in the official voter information guide and notice how the program gets more and more expensive each year, costing at least $71,000,000 each year after 2020. Why does the cost grow like that? If the voucher bill passes, the kindergarten students of current private school families are eligible for a voucher next year, even though they weren’t planning on attending public schools in the first place and would not have cost us a dime of tax money. Each year, another grade is eligible until ALL private school students are eligible for vouchers after thirteen years. There are currently 16,000
Remember, for every $3,000 tax dollars spent in a public school—a teacher…a computer lab…an extra-curricular program…we help hundreds of kids who use those resources. On the other hand, every $3,000 tax dollars that an individual uses on vouchers would be resources taken away from the public good to pay individual tuition at a for-profit institution.
Teachers are not a “special interest”
The coalition against vouchers is not composed of evil, liberal, union goons “trying to take away parents’ choice” like the commercials tell us. The majority of
For more info and clickable links, see: http://www.utahedu.blogspot.com/
Vote no on vouchers, VOTE