Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Vouchers vs. No Vouchers in Utah

Okay, so I'm really, really sick of hearing about people who don't want vouchers for schools here in Utah. I believe that it comes down to parents who listen to teachers and the public school system rather than learning about it for themselves. I had a class at BYU where we discussed the voucher system and how it would change the school system, and so I feel I have better grasp on what would change if Utah adopted this system, and seeing as I will have a child who will be starting school in Utah beginning Fall 2013, I feel I should get to have an opinion about this.  


  1. The US has just about the best University system out of the world. Why? Because the system is competitive. Schools know that to get the student's money, they have to have the best teachers, the best programs, and the best system for educating the students. It makes the students work harder so that they can get into the best schools in the country as well. So basically it makes the schools and the students better.

    On the other hand, the US has one of the poorest public school systems compared to other countries of equal status. Why? Because there is no competition. Let me ask you, Who gets into Harvard, Yale, and other Ivy League schools? Are the majority of accepted students poor? Did they go to public schools or private schools?

    Our public schools aren't preparing students to go to Ivy League universities, unless maybe they live in a rich area where a lot of tax money roes to schools. I, on the other hand, went to a poor high school. We had one AP class offered, no real high tech classes, and the community was so apathetic to the school that every year the levy had to be voted on twice to get it to pass. If it hadn't, we would have had to pay $200+ just to play a sport or participate in activities, which, in my opinion, would have probably led to there not being sports because not enough students would have been able to pay for it.  Not only that, but the whole attitude of the school and the majority of the teachers was, "We don't expect you to go to college, so we'll try to teach you something you can use when you graduate." In that vein, we were offered auto mechanic classes, forestry classes, and classes at a local vocational school. Additionally, 90 out of 290 students of my graduating class did not graduate. This is what you get when you live in a poor community with not much money from taxes.

    On the other hand, if we had vouchers, elementary and secondary schools would have the same competitiveness as our universities. Since the voucher system is based on income, it wouldn't prejudice those with less money, but would actually give them a leg up. These vouchers would be between $500 and $3000. This school year, taxpayers will pay over $7500 per student (information from (http://www.votefor1.org/whyvotefor1.asp). Assuming the average voucher would be for $2000, that would mean an average of $5500 less money would be spent per student who used a voucher, and at least $4500 less.

    The result would be less crowding in schools, less students per teacher, and, according to Utah State University, $1 billion more for public schools over the next 13 years. For a good article about this from a BYU professor, see http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/64522.
  2. Parents would have more control over where they send their kids. What if your child was interested in the arts. There could be a private school devoted to art education in addition to general education. They would get teachers that were more specialized in teaching art and they would complete the school knowing more about their interest. What if your child was interested in dancing, sports, math, bilingual education, etc.? There could be schools that cater to these specialties. Just as you go to colleges and universities whose programs are the best in the country in your specific field, these schools could specialize in these various specialties as well. Of course, all would teach the basics of math, social studies, English, science, and so on, but they would have these other special interests that would be geared towards their students' interests.

    Not only that, but if you didn't like how they ran the school, or how your teacher treated your child, you could threaten to take your child out and the tax money with him/her. If they still didn't want to help, you could enroll your child in a different school. Can you do that now? Most parents feel powerless if their child is not getting the education they deserve. Now there is hope.
  3. What public school systems are the best in the country? The majority of them are in areas with rich residents. In these areas, a larger amount of tax money is apportioned for schools. With the more money, the schools have better programs, facilities, teachers, activities, etc. Basically, the rich are getting better educated because of their money. With vouchers, students who would not have the opportunity to go to a better school, or who not have a choice of schools to go to, would now have the ability to go to a school that they would like better.
  4. Teachers would have to sharpen their skills and become better teachers to stay teaching. Have you ever had teachers that were just horrid? My sister's third grade teacher dumped her notebook in front of her class for the purpose of humiliation. And you know what? She was there 4 years later to do the exact same thing to my brother his third grade year. How did she stay employed after teaching like that? Because that is how theschool system works. Teachers aren't fired, they're "transferred" to another school where they can continue to be horrid teachers.

    If schools had to be competitive, schools couldn't afford to have a teacher that no students want. They would have to get rid of that teacher. I'm not saying all the teachers would be wonderful, and I had my share of bad teachers even while in college, but it would raise the level of teachers overall. Plus, the teachers would get paid more, so they would have more incentive to get better as teachers, and more good teachers would stay in Utah rather than moving to other areas where they get more pay.
  5. Look at the results of private schools. Why would a parent pay for a child to go to a private school when they're already paying for public schools through taxes if they didn't think that the education received there was better? The results of private schools speak for themselves.
  6. If you can't afford a private school even with the voucher, you still have the choice of sending your child to public school at no cost (although a lot of schools' tuition falls under the amount of the voucher in Utah, depending on the amount you receive).

But don't just trust my opinion, there is evidence out there including this study done at Harvard, which can be found at http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/hoxby/papers/hoxby_2.pdf

Other links can be found here: http://www.votefor1.org/research.asp

Another place to go for a balanced opinion pro and con can be found here: http://www.balancedpolitics.org/school_vouchers.htm 

Go to http://www.kcpw.org/article/4339 to listen to a debate about the issue between Richard Eyre, pro, and Carol Spackman Moss, con.

Those opposed to this are the public school system and teachers because it threatens their monopoly. To this point they had complete control over the education of children and how it all works, and they don't want to lose that control. But at what expense?

Whether you agree with me or not, please take the time to get educated on the issue and vote on November 6, 2007 on whether Utah should adopt a school voucher system or not.

Also, if you do agree with my viewpoints here, please spread the word. Either write your own blog or link to this one so that more people in Utah can get educated about the issue. I'm not sure how many people even know it's up for vote, let alone understand the issue. So use the power of the Internet to get the word out.

If you need to register to vote, you can mail in a registration form found at http://elections.utah.gov/VoterRegistrationForm.pdf up to 30 days befor election day or present it at the County Clerk's office up to 15 days before election. 

And don't forget to vote!!