In every conflict the victor is always the one who proves to possess the strongest will.
In the swirling vortex of divisive rhetoric surrounding Utah’s school voucher debate it appears the victor will be the side that is willing to stoop the lowest in smearing its opposition rather than actually finding solutions to problems facing Utah’s education system. Caught in the crossfire of the debate are the state’s school-age children whom both sides agree deserve better than what they are getting. The part upon which they disagree is whom fault should be attributed to and who deserves the power to steer the state’s education system into the future.
Currently public opinions polls show support for vouchers at around 40 percent according to a Nov. 2 article in the Daily Herald. However Dan Jones polls repeatedly cited in the Salt Lake Tribune articles for the past six months have always put voucher support to be around 35 percent. This may indicate that voucher supporters have made a little headway in recent months and if so it could be attributed the pro-voucher interest group called Parents for Choice in Education, who back in August hired a New York based polling firm called Central Marketing to conduct and opinion polls of their own. According to a Deseret News article from Aug.18, Parents for Choice derived a series of "loaded" questions to link the anti-voucher UEA to other agendas not usually supported by typical Utah voters. The list of questions given to Central Marketing included, "If you knew that the same group that opposes vouchers, the liberal national teacher’s union, aggressively supports same-sex unions, higher taxes and more government involvement, would you be very or somewhat more or less likely to vote for or against the Utah referendum?"_
Likewise, in an Oct. 3 on-campus voucher debate Overstock.com CEO and pro-voucher lobbyist Patrick Byrne claimed that the organization of public schools in the U.S. was centered on Jim Crow era racism and segregation.
Currently, Utah’s school system spends around $7,500 per student per year and apparently that sum is far too low.
Government inefficiency may be partly to blame but so too is the fact that there are just too many families whose drain on the public system vastly outweighs their contributions to it.
Large families being the norm in Utah and large families being the very factor that has crippled Utah’s education system, the solution seems fairly obvious. Schools in Utah need to be funded differently.
Take for example the family of Richard and Linda Eyre, the wealthy self proclaimed "parenting experts" who were featured in the now famous commercial which used piles of Oreo cookies as an analogy for school children. The Eyres are the parents of nine children. If all nine of those children were in school at the same time it would cost the state $67,500 per year just for one family. While it is unlikely that all nine Eyre children were ever in school all in the same year, it is highly possible that six or seven were for a multi-year period. With this scenario being extremely common in Utah it’s no wonder the school system struggles.
Perhaps the best solution would be for influential men such as Patrick Byrne and their lobbies to focus their efforts on improving a system that already has an existing infrastructure. That is what would truly benefit all children.
If the teacher’s union is incompetent, let’s work to fix it. If the system is under funded why not employ the financial expertise of men like Byrne to devise new funding strategies.
But what we don’t need is more division, more fragmentation and more nine-children-having elitists using their privileged status to opt themselves out of the system they have been instrumental in destroying.