Thursday, March 08, 2007

Vouchers - Utahns for Public Schools Anti-Voucher Referendum

Over at Politicopia, Steve Urquhart and voucher foes are going the rounds about HB 148 (Education Vouchers). This a debate I missed out on during the legislative session (my blogging hiatas). The arguements against vouchers provided by Utahns Against Public School is akin to conspirocy theory at best, Mr Johnson argues that "vouchers are a stepping-stone on a path to eliminate all of our public schools," and that "the late Milton Friedman, Paul Mero of the Sutherland Institute, and Ed Crane, President of the Cato Institute, outline a clear plan to destroy public education."

It seems like those proposing this referendum are as a commenter noted, " 'Utahns for Public Schools consists of a number of groups including the UEA, Utah School Boards Association, NAACP, Utah PTA and individual citizens.' Their spokesperson is Pat Rusk, former UEA President. So, it is just a business deal. These aren't concerned parents, they are administrators who feel threatened by the new law." I fail to see how offering a choice of education plans, and schools, could be a negative thing. As for the conspirists argument that "vouchers are a stepping-stone on a path to eliminate all of our public schools" that is a broad and unfounded generalization. Judging from the '06-07 appropriations for vouchers, it doesn't appear that the legislature has any intention of voucher funding ever coming close to overtaking public school funding. From studies cited on Politicopia, there is strong evidence that competition from voucher school sytems has done much to improve public schools.

The strongest reason I have for supporting vouchers is this -- as a parent I feel that I know how best to educate my child. It is a fair handed move to allow taxpayers to have an opportunity to have choice in how their tax dollars are spent. Public schools are an important part of our society and will always remain the central piece of the education system, but public schools have taken there central role for granted and by creating competition between public and private schools will do wonders to increase innovation and improve education in the public school system.

Join the debate at Politcopia


Craig said...

It's not a conspiracy theory, my friend.

Their agenda is clearly stated in mountains of available literature. It's just not popular which is why they are concealing their intentions publically.

Do you support ending public education?

pramahaphil said...

In answer to the question: Do you support ending public education?

No, as I stated in my post I do not. I don't believe the members of the state legislature "support ending public education" either, as evidenced by the mitigation clause in the voucher bill.

As for the "MOUNTAINS" of literature referred to in your post at Utah Amicus, seems like a cut and paste hack job to me. I would find you a little more credible if you provided at least one source link to "mountain" of available literature cited.

Craig said...

"Cut and paste hack job"??? You must be joking. The stated intent from the beginning of the voucher concept with Milton Friedman to the present day ultra-right thinktanks is to dismantle public education because it is part of a socialist regime. Calls for the complete privatization of public schools have been made from the supply-siders for decades.

I actually left out much of the really incendiary stuff that comes from these folks.

The mitigation malarky is simply part of the "incrementalist" strategy that is advocated by folks such as the Heartland and Cato institutes.

Honestly, the privatization argument is a well-informed and tightly defended position. I simply disagree with it and think that ending public education would be catastrophic for millions upon millions of Americans. The other side can call public education supporters "socialists" and "educrats" all they want but it doesn't change the fact that a big reason our country is great is our commitment to universal access to a free public education. In my opinion, the dual pursuit of individual wealth with a shared commitment to the "commonwealth" are both necessary components of a vibrant and free society.

Get out your Google and you'll find the mountain I'm referring to. A couple of interesting articles (among many) can be found at:

- and, of course -

(I like the second one in particular - it is a fascinating conversation between voucher supporters and "anti-voucher separationsts" - they both want the same thing - separation of school and state - but they don't agree that vouchers are the vehicle to get them there).

Don't worry about finding me credible or not - take a look at what each side is saying - it's all out there.



pramahaphil said...

Thanks for posting links to your sources. I figured that someone in the software industry would know how to include HTML links on a blog post, the post you cited at Utah Amicus had none.

Curious, Craig what is your agenda? Why are you so protective of leaving the current public school system the way it is, when it has performed relatively poor for most of the past 3-4 decades? The voucher plan being initiated in Utah strikes me as a simple experiment to see if vouchers will have the benefits proported.

I appreciate your passion here, and I can easily believe that a classical economists like Freidman would like to see government out of nearly everything. However, I think your fears will prove unfounded in thew long-run. If the current proposal turns into part of this vast right wing conspiracy theory you speak of, than I will happily fight for the removal of vouchers with you -- until then I heartily support the current voucher proposal.