A recent ad by the pro-voucherers uses oreos to illustrate a basic fact about Referendum 1: the state of Utah spends roughly $7500 per student, per year. The largest voucher is $3000. Even assuming that every student received the largest voucher possible (the average voucher is estimated to be just $2000), that would still leave $4500 in the system. That’s $4500 dollars for fewer students.
Let’s also assume, as one friend who opposes vouchers suggested, that 30-50% of the $7500 paid per student went to some fixed cost like utilities or facilities. In fact, let’s use the larger number–50% of the original $7500. Halving our $7500 leaves us with $3750. Even if every student took the largest voucher amount possible–$3000–that still leaves public schools with an additional $750 after allowing for fixed costs. But all of this is a waste of time in debunking the deliberate deception of teacher’s unions. They know that for at least the first 5 years, the money for vouchers will come from the general fund, and not from monies allotted for education in the state of Utah. So when students leave their public schools, they aren’t taking any of the $7500. Every last cent stays behind to fund a behemoth monopoly which has no incentive to change or improve and, as we cited in our last post, educates Utah’s children worse than any other state with similar demographics.
We suspect that the real reason teachers oppose vouchers–you know, besides the fact that it threatens their monopoly–is because after 5 years, when the results of Utah’s vouchers begin to be known, parents of children will wonder how it is that private schools, operating with far fewer dollars per student, far out performed the still failing Utah public schools. They’ll wonder why they’re still paying in excess of $7500 per student, only to see the same old poor test results and the same grad rates for minority students. Remember the minority students? The ones who really want this measure to pass? And why do they want it to pass? Because 43% of their children don’t graduate from high school. And that’s just completely unacceptable.
The time has come for Utah voters to say with one voice to their failing public schools: You’ve had your chance and you failed our students. It’s time to give vouchers a chance.
*Additional reading: Professor Clayne L. Pope – Educate, don’t brainwash
**Even more reading: The Wall Street Journal – The Union Libel (subscription required)
***Update: Cougarboard discussion thread.
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