Utah can’t Vouch for Vouchers
Sigh. This was probably one of the better chances we had at getting school choice into the public school system. But Utah’s voters rejected the referendum yesterday.
Utah voters on Tuesday killed the nation’s first
statewide school voucher program that promised tax dollars for private
tuition, no matter how much a family earned or whether kids were in bad
In another of the most closely watched questions on state ballots
Tuesday, New Jersey voters rejected the state’s plan to borrow $450
million over 10 years to finance stem cell research. In Oregon,
residents decided against hiking the cigarette tax to pay for health
care for kids who don’t have it.
The Utah measure was the first voucher election in the U.S. since
2000, when voters in Michigan and California rejected efforts to
subsidize private schools. There have been 10 state referendums on
various voucher programs since 1972, all of them unsuccessful,
according to the National School Boards Association.
Utah, with a conservative electorate, a Republican governor and
GOP-controlled Legislature, was seen nationally as a key test of voter
sentiment for vouchers. But opponents, with millions of dollars from a
national teachers union, persuaded residents to say no. Experts had
said a green light in Utah could have led to similar programs in Texas,
Arizona, Louisiana and elsewhere.
The program would have granted $500 to $3,000, depending on family
income, for each child sent to private school. The hotly disputed
voucher law won approval by one vote in the Republican-controlled
Legislature in February but was suspended before taking effect when
opponents gathered more than 120,000 signatures to force a referendum.
I guess everyone is not as hot for schoolyard capitalism as I am. Bringing choice to schools is important because it puts pressure on teachers and schools to preform better or there are going to be consequences. Maybe there is a compromise to be made here though.
Instead of including private schools in the voucher program why not
let parents choose which public school they go to? While not the best
option it is much better then the current situation for children. And
it will have the same affects just more limited in their severity.
Or this could all just be about voters not wanting to pay more money
for another ill-fated program. Take a look at all the other stuff voted
on on Monday:
_ Oregon voters opted not to raise the cigarette tax by
84.5 cents a pack — to $2.02 — to fund health insurance for about
100,000 children now lacking coverage. Tobacco companies opposing the
measure outspent supporters by a 4-1 margin, contributing nearly $12
_ Texans authorized up to $3 billion in bonds over 10 years to
create a cancer research center. The proposal was pushed by cycling
champion and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong and opposed by some fiscal
_ Voters in the northeast Ohio city of Streetsboro, where a
19-year-old fell short of reaching a runoff in the mayoral primary last
May, raised the legal age to run for mayor or council from 18 to 23.
_ In Denver, voters were asked whether to make the private use and
possession of marijuana the city’s lowest law enforcement priority.
Elected officials and police said it would have little effect since
state and federal law supersede local law decriminalizing the drug.
In 2005, Denver passed an initiative making possession of small
amounts of marijuana legal. It’s had little effect. Police and
prosecutors continue to follow state law, which marijuana proponents
tried but failed to change through a vote last year.
_ Residents of Hailey, Idaho, a former mining town with about 3,500
registered voters, approved three measures to legalize medical
marijuana, make enforcement of marijuana laws the lowest police
priority, and legalize industrial hemp. They rejected an initiative
that would have legalized marijuana and required the city to regulate
_ The Passamaquoddy Indians were asking approval to operate a
racetrack casino with up to 1,500 slot machines in the town of Calais,
Maine, where downturns in the seafood and paper industries have made
the economy the worst in the state. The question trailed slightly with
about three-quarters of precincts reporting.
It is odd that I’m saying this but there might be some good we can
take from the fact that medical marijuana is gaining support all over
the country. Maybe if people were able to come around on drugs they
will be able to come around on learning in a market economy as well.
What, you don’t think so? Let’s just keep on pushing it and as we chip
away at the unions in charge of America’s education we will start to
make some serious gains. Break the union’s power and all else will fall
in place. BigT