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My view: Vouchers' effect on competition, choice

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  • LBU FORT CAMPBELL, KY
    Sept. 29, 2011 12:12 a.m.

    You share an interesting perspective. I have always been for vouchers, but your examples show how government can use this system to gain more control. Perhaps a better system would be property and income tax deductions for private school tuition. I don't believe parents who pay for their children to go to a private school should also be paying for everyone else's kids to go to public school.

  • spring street SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 12:13 a.m.

    Wait - so you mean if you accept government money, you have to follow government rules?

    Weird!

  • Chuck E. Racer Lehi, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 6:45 a.m.

    I would hope that we would always have a truly independent school to choose, even if it meant having to pay for that choice. It appears that government financing would ruin that choice.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 6:46 a.m.

    Be careful what you ask for...

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 6:49 a.m.

    @LBU;

    Are you also against those of us who have no children paying for the education of the children of others through property taxes?

    If not, your argument is hypocritical.

    Personally, I don't mind paying for PUBLIC Education. I believe that we are all better off when children receive an education.

    I am totally AGAINST using my tax money to finance private, FOR PROFIT schools (talk about Welfare - Corporate Welfare!).

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    Sept. 29, 2011 6:51 a.m.

    @ LBU: Do you believe people who have no kids should be paying for everybody else's kids to go to school?

  • LBU FORT CAMPBELL, KY
    Sept. 29, 2011 7:09 a.m.

    @spring street

    There is no such thing as government money. The government does not make money, all they can do is tax their people. A more correct term to use is tax-payer money. You mean that the governments of the United States, it's states, and municipalities are governments of the people, for the people, and by the people? Don't forget, we live in the United States of America, not the Soviet Union, we have a say.

  • Voice of Reason Layton, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 7:34 a.m.

    Interesting argument, and one I completely understand as someone who's worked in government and seen first-hand how accepting federal grants can sometimes be a deal with the devil.

    Vouchers are, clearly in my opinion, the solution to improving our children's education. And RanchHand's argument on here that it's somehow wrong to allow private providers in publicly funded education is easily dismissed - obviously he hasn't heard of publicly funded and privately provided foster care, professional training, construction of government buildings or even soldiers flying home on private (gasp!) airlines. We pay private companies to provide publicly FUNDED services all...the...time.

    But Mr. Cox's concern is a valid one. However, I think the solution is not to just abandon vouchers, but to solve the root problem - absurd government mandates. We elect lawmakers to ensure that such things don't happen.

    Another solution that doesn't kill the entire idea of vouchers is to make sure that the government is NEVER pay any private school directly, and that the money passes through the hands of parents first, with only basic requirements that the money be used only for certified schools. That way, no BigBrother PC rules can be targeted to specific schools.

  • Chuck E. Racer Lehi, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 7:53 a.m.

    @ Voice of Reason

    If "the money be used only for certified schools" Big Brother PC rules can and will follow regardless of whether it "passes" through parents.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 8:00 a.m.

    Hey, we've already told you folks NO on vouchers.

    Why must we keep bringing this up?

    The pro-voucher crowd won't let this go until they've stuffed their agenda down our throats.

  • Voice of Reason Layton, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 8:32 a.m.

    Chuck - Government could make "Big Brother PC rules" apply to private schools whether they're taking public money or not. The way to fight this is by voting in like-minded lawmakers who will fight it - this is how you fight any government injustice. The worst thing to do is to surrender & run away from the best solution out of fear.

    Maverick - I make no apologies for fighting for wise public policy -and I certainly won't give up just because society's not ready for it yet.
    The left should understand this well. If we were forced to give up at the first ballot box defeat, gay activists would have given up a looooooong time ago.

  • Hellooo Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 9:00 a.m.

    Thank you Mr. Cox for a very enlightening article. However, the use or non-use of vouchers does not appear to me to be necessary for government to control education. After all, to operate the private schools must receive a license. The requirements for which are made by government and they can place almost any qualification the public will accept as a condition to receive the license. So, the barrier to government control of private education and an assualt on the freedom of people to train their own children is a public supportive of such liberty. Hopefully, somehow even with the constant erosion of support for such concepts from elites through their influence on institutions of government and education, cherishing liberty by our citizens will continue.

  • LBU FORT CAMPBELL, KY
    Sept. 29, 2011 9:29 a.m.

    @Ranchhand

    It's obvious you don't have any children. You seem to cringe at the idea that parents would be allowed to use their money (i.e. tax breaks) to make choices (gasp!!) concerning their children's education. Since you have no problem paying taxes for other people's children to go to PUBLIC school, then you should have no problem with parents using their money (yes, even in the form of tax breaks) to pay for their children's PRIVATE education. It seems to me that YOU are the one who is hypocritical. If the money allotted for education goes through government hands for public education, or through private hands for private education, it really shouldn't make a difference. Unless of course you are anti-choice. Personally, I trust parents to make the right choice before I trust a Government Bureaucrat.

  • Ranch HUNTSVILLE, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 9:47 a.m.

    @LBU;

    Parents can choose to send their children to private schools should they desire to do so.

    They choose when they do so to PAY out of pocket for the CHOICE.

    As a society, we've made a contract to educate ALL children. ALL citizens contribute to that contract - i.e., PUBLIC Education. Parents sending their children to Private schools don't automagically get an exception to that social contract to educate ALL Children just because they CHOOSE to send their children to Private school. They're still obligated to contribute to the education of ALL children - including those not theirs.

    Hypocritical this is not.

    @VoR;

    "easily dismissing" the argument in no way addresses it. ;}

  • JMHO Southern, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 9:59 a.m.

    Some of you have missed the point of Mr. Cox's editorial. He is stating the obvious. If government money goes to a private school, then the private school will have to abide by federal laws. The article mentions Sweden's law making schools "all inclusive." What that means is that a huge financial burden will be placed on private schools to provide services for students with disabilities. An earlier poster said it correctly...be careful what you wish for.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Sept. 29, 2011 10:04 a.m.

    We already have "choice" in education. We can send our kids anywhere we want, or nowhere at all and educate them at home. What's the big deal?

  • LBU FORT CAMPBELL, KY
    Sept. 29, 2011 10:09 a.m.

    @Ranch

    You are right, we parents do have that choice to pay out of pocket for our children's education, but why should we have to pay double? The root of this argument is not whether parents should get to use their money allocated by the local government for public or private education, but the fact that you do not trust parents to make decisions regarding their children's education. I understand that if the government gives incentives for private education and school choice, your liberal social engineering experiment won't affect the entire population. Oh, the horror, we might have some free thinkers in the future!

  • Cameron Eagle Mountain, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 10:20 a.m.

    This is a really interesting editorial. One which seems to make a strong case against vouchers but FOR tax credits.

    Of note is that not only does it appear there will be tax credit and/or voucher bills run in the legislature this year, but there will also be a Head Tax bill run. The argument behind the head tax is that since all state income tax goes to education, ppl with more than just a couple of kids aren't paying their fair share to pay for their education, so they will lose their child tax deductions, in effect raising taxes on families.

    My proposal would be that if these legislators believe I'm not paying my fair share, then refund me my income tax and let me leave the system. Since my kids & my money are a burden on the system, public ed will be better off w/o them. Sounds like a win win to me.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 10:32 a.m.

    Re: "The pro-voucher crowd won't let this go until they've stuffed their agenda down our throats."

    Kinda like the pro-gay marriage crowd won't let their issue go until they've stuffed their agenda down our throats, huh?

    Liberals don't object in the slightest in using unfair, dishonest, draconian tactics to persuade people that disagreed with their agenda in the past.

    But they're happy to prohibit conservatives the same option. To the extent, even, of "suspend[ing], perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won't hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, just let them help this country recover."

    Only Taliban and Mafia-like organizations advocate making persuasion and changing one's mind offenses.

    Well, and liberals. At least if it doesn't favor them.

  • Darrel Eagle Mountain, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 10:36 a.m.

    @LBU

    The Utah State Constitution guarantees every child a free public education. The only way this can happen is if all people contribute. Many people contribue that either never had kids, or their kids have now become adults.

    If for whatever reason you feel a free public education is not right for your child, you are not obligated to send them. You are however, constitutionally obligated to continue to help pay for others to have that right to a free public education. If you disagree with this on moral and principle, I suggest you start a campain to ammend the State Constitution to remove this right.

  • Jon W. Murray, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 10:38 a.m.

    I'm in favor of universal education but I'm not in favor of the government providing it. If parents took on the responsibility of education of their children the same way they are supposed to take on the responsibility of feeding, clothing, and housing their children, the parents would be more engaged, the children would be more engaged, discipline would improve, values would be allowed to be taught, and the country would be better off. Tax funding for education could be as rare as tax funding for food stamps, and about as sparsely regulated. That's my opinion.

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    Sept. 29, 2011 10:57 a.m.

    Sweden's education system reminds me a Pink Floyd song. I had always thought that the cookie cutter mentality that we want everyone to think alike, i.e. standardized thinkers would be coming from blue suit corporate types trying to get everyone to be docile assembly line workers for big Republican businesses. And it isn't.

    "All in all it is another brick in the wall. Hey teacher [education minister] leave those kids alone!"

  • Lane Myer Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 10:58 a.m.

    jon w: ". If parents took on the responsibility of education of their children the same way they are supposed to take on the responsibility of feeding, clothing, and housing their children, the parents would be more engaged, the children would be more engaged, discipline would improve, values would be allowed to be taught, and the country would be better off."

    -------------

    Tell that to the single mother who is working two jobs just to feed and clothe her children.

    All this would do is divide education into those who have money getting the best education (like they have the best clothes, houses, cars, etc.) and the rest trying to find ways to educate their own.

    Totally incomprehensible that you would think of doing this to the future of our country. Yes, the children we educate ARE our future.

  • What in Tucket? Provo, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 11:02 a.m.

    Too much government. Let the parents decide where to send their child. If the parents are unhappy with the school the child will go elsewhere. I do not approve of religious schools receiving help. I like vouchers because for one thing they can save tax payer money and in these times that is big.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 11:07 a.m.

    Re: "If . . . you feel a free public education is not right for your child, you are not obligated to send them. You are however, constitutionally obligated to . . . pay for others. . . .

    By what provision of the constitution?

    The actual constitutional provision in question reads -- "The public education system shall include all public elementary and secondary schools and such other schools and programs as the Legislature may designate."

    Paying for my child's education, in whatever venue the legislature may designate, IS financing public education.

    My kids and grandkids are members of the public, every bit as much as yours, and nothing in the constitution requires me to pay twice.

    It's interesting that NEA/UEA has now taken to suggesting that vouchers would be socialistic. I guess they know what scares Utahns, even if their suggestion is disingenuous demagoguery.

    Vouchers would be better than what we have now, but I agree that a tax credit would be even better, as it would permit a system much less subject to control and interference by officious, liberal, educational bureaucrats.

  • JoeBlow Miami Area, Fl
    Sept. 29, 2011 11:10 a.m.

    "but why should we have to pay double"

    Isn't paying twice and getting one education the equivalent of
    Paying once and getting no education?

    Isn't that what those without children are asked to do?

  • The Hammer lehi, utah
    Sept. 29, 2011 12:28 p.m.

    @procuradorfiscal

    "It's interesting that NEA/UEA has now taken to suggesting that vouchers would be socialistic. I guess they know what scares Utahns, even if their suggestion is disingenuous demagoguery."

    Vouchers are socialistic. Did you not read the article? The idea of vouchers is you take public money and you inject it into private institutions. This is the oldest trick in the book to get private institutions under big governments arm. That's what happened with pell grants and subsidized loans at private univerisities.

    Whenever government money touches something it will come under regulation. Sweden is a great example of that!

  • Ranch HUNTSVILLE, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 1:15 p.m.

    LBU says:

    @Ranch

    You are right, we parents do have that choice to pay out of pocket for our children's education, but why should we have to pay double?

    ---

    You are paying to help educate ALL American Children, LBU. Not just your own. When you take your money from the Public system to educate your own, you are automatically taking money from the Education System as a whole.

    You are not required to pay double - send you kids to public school and you won't. You CHOOSE to pay extra when you CHOOSE to send your children to schools other than those the government funds. You should still be required to pay for the overall education system, which is what public school is about.

    "why should we have to pay double?"

    I don't have children at all. Should I not have to pay anything as a result? Your argument would indicate that to be the case. I disagree. I pay into the system so that it benefits Society as a whole. You want an Individual benefit by taking your money out of the system to send your kids to private schools.

  • Darrel Eagle Mountain, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 1:21 p.m.

    @procuradorfiscal
    Article X section 1
    "The Legislature shall provide for the establishment and maintenance of the state's education systems including: (a) a public education system, which shall be open to all children of the state; and (b) a higher education system. Both systems shall be free from sectarian control. "
    Article X section 2
    "The public education system shall include all public elementary and secondary schools and such other schools and programs as the Legislature may designate. The higher education system shall include all public universities and colleges and such other institutions and programs as the Legislature may designate. Public elementary and secondary schools shall be FREE, except the Legislature may authorize the imposition of fees in the secondary schools" Emphasis added

  • Cameron Eagle Mountain, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 2:30 p.m.

    Wow, some of these comments come off sounding like, "You'll take your mediocre education, and you'll like it!"

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 3:03 p.m.

    Re: "Public elementary and secondary schools shall be FREE, . . . .Emphasis added"

    Not sure exactly what the emphasis proves, but things like home schools or private schools could certainly be among the "other schools and programs as the Legislature may designate." And they would be, at least to the student, FREE [Emphasis added -- invoking Adam Sandler's "Bedtime Stories" performance] if vouchers paid a student's cost of matriculation.

    So your point is . . . what?

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 3:44 p.m.

    Repubs, hate to say this, but this is nothing more and nothing less than another "entitlement" program.

    This puts us on a slippery slope. What's to say that after we give out more handouts for people to take their kids to "private schools" that they'll be satisfied with this? Will they later demand more handouts for private police? Private fire departments? When will this stop?

    Also, how much is enough for "choice?" $1000? $2000? One year, it might be x amount, the next, they'll demand more.

    And we all know that once you start an entitlement program, it'll just keep getting more and more expensive!

    So I'm curious, why are repubs so aroused and pro-voucher? It's just another entitlement program that will become more and more powerful, more and more socialized, more and more expensive, and ultimately, will be unsustainable.

    Here's the choice, want private school? PAY FOR IT YOURSELF. Stop buying the brand new phones and video game systems, and save for your OWN education.

    Stop asking the government to pay for the lifestyle that YOU choose.

    We already have choice. We don't need another entitlement program.

  • TiCon2 Cedar City, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 4:44 p.m.

    @Maverick

    You do realize that this "choice" will help people take their children elsewhere, reducing the current strain on the system, right? And better yet, by effectively subsidizing part of their education, money STAYS in the public system. I don't think you'd be opposed to: smaller class sizes, better pay for teachers, technology improvements, school improvements, supplies that don't come out of your own pocket and the list goes on and on.

    Tax credits put choices back in the hands of the people who will pay to make them. You seem to miss the fact that we really don't have any choice with the current set-up. My kid lives in X neighborhood = go to X school. It doesn't matter that there is a school that is closer, has higher quality teachers, offers more classes/opportunities my child needs, or has a better student environment. Nope, i'm told to take my choice and shove it. And continue to pay.

    We've learned our lesson about entitlement spending. Utah is an excellent example of fiscal responsibility, and if you don't like the decisions, take it to the ballot box. However many times it comes up.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 4:49 p.m.

    Re: "We already have choice."

    No. We don't.

    The "choice" liberals so cavalierly inflict on us amounts to, "choose unaccountable, unaffordable, untoward, unproductive, unbelieving, unpatriotic, unabashed socialist schools -- or nothing."

    We all already pay for liberal schools. Most of us can't afford to pay for education twice -- once to educate liberals' kids, then again to educate our own.

    Is education an entitlement program? Sure it is. It's one that's written into the constitution, one for which we all pay taxes. But a voucher program is not, somehow, more of an entitlement program than liberal schooling.

    Rather, it's a recognition that many parents are constrained by decency, common sense, parental affection, and a desire to protect children from liberal lunacy, from choosing liberal schools.

    Vouchers -- or better yet, tax credits -- offer a real, not a Hobson's choice.

  • Ranch HUNTSVILLE, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 5:03 p.m.

    What vouchers amount to is nothing more than Corporate Welfare.

    Republicans want to put as much public money into private hands as they possibly can.

  • Chuck E. Racer Lehi, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 5:15 p.m.

    @ TiCon2 | 4:44 p.m. & procuradorfiscal | 4:49 p.m.

    You must have missed the point of this article. If the private schools get the subsidy, vouchers or tax credits, within a decade or two there will then be NO CHOICE! There is choice now IF you pay for it. With vouchers or tax credits there will end up being no choice, because all the choices will be the same, whether you are willing to spend the money or not!

  • john in az tempe, az
    Sept. 29, 2011 6:40 p.m.

    didn't the PEOPLE Utah reject vouchers? And now the Legislature is going to supplant the will of the PEOPLE? So much for Democracy....well Utah Legislature has the "mock" part down pat.

  • Gus Talwynd Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 7:45 p.m.

    Public schools are the best way to develop a multi-cultural perspective and learn about the complexities in modern life. Although the public schools vary considerably in their ability to fulfill their mission to educate our children, they remain the best example for learning about the myriad cultures and people who make up the United States of America.

    History has used public schools to develop a national identity with all of the immigrants who have settled here. Learning together and interacting together has allowed our nation to progress socially with new ideas and an basic understanding of the American Dream encompassed in the Declaration of Independence.

    This is not necessarily a function of private schools which may be restricted to students with a particular belief system or other selectivity factor in admissions. Perhaps the worst example is home schooling where students are indoctrinated to carry forth the limited ideas of the parent/instructor. Not having exposure to different people, different cultures, different cultures, and different ideas leaves the child with perpetuating existing attitudes without questioning the relevance to their lives. Social development is not served since maintaining the status quo is the objective, not learning to question the world.

  • TheOcean SPRINGVILLE, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 10:04 p.m.

    "smaller class sizes, better pay for teachers, technology improvements, school improvements, supplies that don't come out of your own pocket and the list goes on and on."

    The very things that were promised by charter "choice" advocates in the past. I remember a certain former legislator actually breaking down in tears at a city meeting as he promised traditional public school teachers that all of the above would happen if his company could be given land to build a charter school. Well, he fooled me then but I won't be fooled again. Charter "choice" has been partially responsible for higher class sizes, lower pay, fewer technological upgrades, and the list goes on. I will never be fooled by the lies and propaganda of the "choice" movement again!

    "You seem to miss the fact that we really don't have any choice with the current set-up."

    Absolute Rubbish! Many choices exist in education today. Some of those choices require a higher level of personal sacrifice than others do.

    "Nope, i'm told to take my choice and shove it. And continue to pay."

    Why shouldn't you continue to pay? If I hire a private security company, I still pay for police service.

  • Voice of Reason Layton, UT
    Sept. 30, 2011 8:12 a.m.

    I really think that deciding whether vouchers are a good idea is as simple as asking this question:

    Would vouchers improve our children's education?

    If the answer is no, then let's forget the whole idea. But if the answer is yes, let's at least try it. And in almost every place they've been tried, kids get a better education. That's what is important to me. Not "saving public schools", not obscure arguments on socialism, not bowing down to teacher unions. Improving my children's education. Let's keep our eyes on the prize, please.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Sept. 30, 2011 9:09 a.m.

    I think that most people missed the big message in the article. It is simple. Once you start receiving government money, eventually the government will come in and demand greater control over you. If you want to remain as free as possible, you should not use government money as your primary source of income.

  • JustGordon Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Sept. 30, 2011 9:29 a.m.

    While I to agree with procuradorfiscal that both liberals and conservatives have the right to pursue their agendas even after being rejected by a vote of the people, I disagree that liberals have used unfair, dishonest and even draconian tactics on the same sex marriage issue.

    Conservatives have dressed up the unconstitutional ugly sister that is vouchers in lots of devious schemes and then prevaricated about what their real intent is, as in this case.

    Perrdue's comment is a symptom of the frustration all Americans feel with a Congress that effectively plays chicken with defaulting on government loans - resulting in a down grading of this government's credit rating, a 3 trillion dollar world wide loss of market value from the resulting instability and continued extreme market volatility all to make a political point. This was clearly caused by the recalcitrance of conservatives who argued that Washington was dysfunctional and the only way to fix it was more dysfunctionality.

    Only the Tailban and Mafia-like organizations advocate making war on everybody to secure what they want.

  • TheOcean SPRINGVILLE, UT
    Sept. 30, 2011 4:38 p.m.

    "And in almost every place they've been tried, kids get a better education."

    Not even in the ballpark. Do some research before you post the "choice" party line next time.

    Here is just one well known example:

    I suggest you look up the Milwaukee voucher debacle and see what "choice" did to many students/parents who bought into the voucher propaganda and suffered the consequences of educational "companies" that only had profit and not education at their core. Study the longitudinal data (the Milwaukee program has been in place since 1990) and you will find the voucher accepting schools do NOT perform at higher rates when compared with the Milwaukee traditional public schools that were so demonized. Furthermore, you will find shocking amounts of corruption and a trail of broken dreams at some of those schools.

    "Improving my children's education."

    But what about ALL children's education? Of course vouchers have improved the education of SOME children but is that enough? I don't think so. Why can't we focus on improving the education of ALL children? Vouchers have never and will never be able to do that. Once again, look at the data. You will find you have been deceived.

  • Chuck E. Racer Lehi, UT
    Dec. 25, 2011 6:51 p.m.

    This issue would die on its own, if not for those who want to get their snout in the government trough. There are those who want to put out "Walmart" style education, getting government money and make a killing, not caring what it did to the students. These people are putting out huge amounts of money to keep the issue going. They believe that if they say it long enough, people will finally give up and try it. Of course if they did, they would never be able to kill this new entitlement program.

    Even now these well-funded (much better than UEA!) groups keep putting out legislation that ties up and hurts public education in an attempt to drag it down enough that people will try vouchers. We not only need to stop their attempts to create another government subsidy, but also stop their relentless attacks and additional burdens they are putting on our public schools.