It appears that we are likely headed for a vote on vouchers. It appears that the governor and the legislature will honor the vote, despite the blunder of not putting both HB 174 and HB 148 on the referendum. The question becomes what issues should Utahn's consider when deciding how to vote on Utah's proposed voucher system. Utahns for Public Schools is the largest organization heading up the referendum opposing the voucher system, they believe that Utah's voucher system is merely a stepping stone try and abolish public schools in Utah. I had Craig Johnson, Utah Amicus contributor, and UFPS supporter visit Green Jello and he quoted some highly touted Christian conservatives, Republicans, the and even famous economist Milton Friedman as evidence for the voucher systems "real agenda".
Choice in Education, is the largest organization in support of Utah's voucher plans. They believe that vouchers will increase the quality of public and private education through the market forces. They have a section of their website devoted to dissuading individuals from signing the petition, the even are soliciting reported uses of public resources in contributing signatures.
So, the question is what is best for the school children of Utah? While I don't doubt that there are those like Milton Friedman who would like to see the public school system abolished, I don't believe that the Utah plan has the end of Utah public schools as its end goal. Despite, Mr Johnson's insistence that the Mitigation clause in the voucher proposal is "malarkey" I believe that Utah's voucher plan has been well studied and designed to be a value supplement to Utah's K-12 education system. Study the bills HB 148 and HB 174. The bills have provisions to make sure that voucher accepting private schools meet safety requirements, have educators that hold baccalaureate or higher degrees, and that these private schools have regular financial audits from Certified Public Accountants to ensure that ensure that state funds are not misappropriated. I don't see anything malicious against the public schools system in these pieces of legislation, and the rhetoric used by those opposed to the voucher plan is a little alarmist for the current situation.
There are many anti-voucher groups, who are employing scare tactics to solicit support for the referendum. I'm not saying Utahn's shouldn't vote on vouchers, but I encourage Utahns to seek the facts of the voucher legislation that the state legislature approved. I would encourage groups like Utahns for Public Schools and Choice in Education to keep the arguments to the actual legislation, rather than using smear campaigns based on quotes from dead economist, right wing pundits, ex-school administrators, former UEA presidents, and support newly found support of deceased ex-President Ronald Regan.