Saturday, November 3, 2007

New visitors--why the voucher "savings" are untrue AND Nuts and Bolts of Voucher Funding part 5

Hi. For a more concise summary of what this website is about, look at the Oct. 30th entry:

There are many voucher supporters who philosophically wouldn't mind hurting the public schools in a voucher program to spur competition or punish the teacher unions. While disagreeing with their reasons, I can respect these opinions as honest differences.

But the voucher program is being sold as something it isn't. Many voters believe it will actually increase student funding and help the schools. Organizations and letter writers berate the opposition for ignoring the “simple math.” The truth of voucher costs would dissuade many voters if known.

I'm holding a 16-inch long door hanger from VoteFor1 that claims in bright yellow to reduce class sizes, increase teacher pay, and add 1 billion dollars to public schools without raising taxes. The back claims The State of Utah spends $7500 per student, so a voucher leaves $5500 in the system, "adding" $1 billion dollars to public schools. VoteFor1 literature was also given to me at a meeting with most of the Orem legislature members on Thursday.

$7500 false
What they don't tell you is that the $7500 figure includes federal money, local district bonds, and trust lands money dispersed independently of the state. That money is almost completely devoted to school construction and maintenance, or strictly defined federal programs. To claim it as "savings" is dishonest and misleading. It cannot be redistributed.

The TRUE Utah Cookie Voucher Ad:

The state uses a complicated formula to claim "savings”
The state funds districts through its headcount formula called MSP, which is an average of $3800 including all of the money for special ed., ESL, etc.

The WPU, which is all the money a district gets for a student who isn't in any of those categories, is only $2417.

The state takes all of that funding, "mitigating" a bit during the first five years. That mitigation money provides the difference for five years--it does NOT leave all of the funding. Read the bill: Lines 309-313

Lines 309-315 of the bill show the funding shell game at its finest. The cost of the voucher is allocated to the district, and then taken back out to the Uniform School Fund to sit until the next year. It counts as allocated public funding even though it doesn't go to a school and sits unused in a state account all year. See my Nov. 1 entry for the example of Timmy.

To sum up the voucher hustle -- For a first grade student next year who switches because of the voucher law HB 148, the state gives the districts an average of $1800 for five years in exchange for taking $3800 for twelve years. That money taken or withheld each year sits in the Uniform School Fund until the next year, NOT being redistributed or spent on classrooms, schools, or teachers, but still counted as education funds to fuel the deception of 1 BILLION DOLLAR SAVINGS!

Major Fiscal Untruth about Vouchers #5: Subsidizing the tuition for ALL private school students forever, but phasing in the implementation of that aspect of the bill over thirteen years to hide “what will become essentially a subsidy for students who would have attended private school in any case.” —Randy Raphael, Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst, 2-16-07

ALL private school students will be eligible once the law is fully implemented. AND they are estimated to be the ones who will principally use the vouchers. That means we will be giving a subsidy to all of the families who were already going to attend private schools—about 20,000 students in 2020. You can read this in the Impartial Legislative Fiscal Analysis of HB 148 provided as part of your official voter’s guide:

The Fiscal Analysis of HB 174, the amendment to the real bill, HB 148, is even more blunt. Read the bottom of page 1 where the analyst says that the bill will most likely be "essentially a subsidy for students who would have attended private school in any case."

Then scroll down to pg. 3 of the fiscal analyis for HB 174, and check out the first two years of the program. In 2008, a bunch of kids use the new program. But in 2009, they estimate that only three--yes, you read correctly, three students will be able and desire to switch because of the voucher subsidy. But five lines below, we also see that 1224 new kindergarten students who would have attended private school in any case--at NO cost to the public--will also be eligible for a voucher. So in 2009, we "help" 3 students, and give a tax-funded handout to 1224 students.

This subsidy for the rich will cost taxpayers $71 million a year according to the legislature’s own analyst! NOT save a billion or “redistribute” $5500. They know this. They use the misleading figures anyway. Then they accuse everyone else of being misleading when they’re called on it.

Honesty counts for something. EVERY claim of savings for vouchers is false.

Tomorrow, I’ll post links to a few of the varied national organizations wanting to privatize education. It is not a myth—they’ve sent thousands of dollars to Utah through Parents for Choice in Education to further their agenda.


Ed Darrell said...

Great blog, good analysis. I don't see your video here -- why not?

Thanks for dropping by Millard Fillmore's Bathtub. Good luck Tuesday -- and, Orem? Hey, I grew up in Pleasant Grove. Got other good photos of Timp?

Ed Darrell said...

Well, now the video shows up. Must be a browser issue on my end.

Your site's still good.

UtahTeacher said...

No, the link was there in a couple of places, but not the video. My brother helped me embed it. I have opinions, but I am not a computer guy. =)

UtahTeacher said...

Oh, and maybe I'll post a few more pic's after Tuesday. I do a lot of hiking. I just am hoping people actually will take the time to read this stuff before voting, so I want to stay focused for a couple more days.