Turning a Corner

I have been a vocal supporter of vouchers previously, but I have been less than pleased with some of the tactics of those behind vouchers. My support was wavering because of my displeasure but then as I stared at the conclusion of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst’s Report that vouchers would be draining more than 40 million dollars per year once all students have become eligible for them I realized the magnitude of the flaws in our current voucher laws. In my opinion, that’s too much of a drain for an experiment. I also firmly believe that it’s much harder to change a law once it is implemented than it is to just let 40 million dollars get siphoned off from our state budget each year.

Between that financial drain and the gutter-politics associated with voucher support I can not support Referendum 1 in good conscience. I still support the idea of vouchers, and would be supportive of future efforts to implement a better implementation later. Good suggestions include using tax credits or requiring that students attend a minimum amount of time in public school before accepting vouchers. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I have one answer – I have to vote “no” on Referendum 1 in November.

About David

David is the father of 8 extremely organized children (4 girls / 4 boys) who is constantly seeking answers to tough questions related to parenting, education and politics while moonlighting for 40 hours each week as a technology professional. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, and sports.
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10 Responses to Turning a Corner

  1. Pingback: Jeremy’s Jeremiad » An Example Of Intellectual Honesty In The Bloghive Followed By An Anti-UEA Screed

  2. To quote a favorite line – “You’ve got moxie, kid!”

    Thanks for your brave and thoughtful post. I wish our legislators gave every issue the same detailed consideration that you have shown.

  3. David says:

    I wish our legislators gave every issue the same detailed consideration that I try to give on the issues I consider – they might catch and repair these things before we get to this point. (I can hope, can’t I?)

  4. Daniel says:

    David,
    Make sure to check out Jesse’s posts on the costs of the voucher program. Here: http://www.coolestfamilyever.com/2007/10/21/voucher-math-part-2/
    And here: http://www.coolestfamilyever.com/2007/10/18/voucher-math/ There will not be $40m in costs for at least 12 years.

    What really matters is the number of switchers–as Jesse discusses. There will likely be more switchers than the Legislative Fiscal Analysts report suggests because voucher programs have been successful in creating benefits for students. http://www.dr5.org/?p=1516

    If you accept Jesse’s number, there isn’t $1 of financial drain until year 7.5 or so. That’s a long time for an education market to develop and for people to see the benefit better incentives have created.

  5. David says:

    I know those costs won’t come until much later, but by then nobody will be willing to close that financial drain. My opposition to Referendum 1 is not strictly a financial one. By the time I changed my stance I was quite certain I would not be switching back.

  6. Jeremy says:

    Daniel,

    Jesse is doing his best but his math relies on more assumptions than I’d feel comfortable using if I wanted to create a new government entitlement without any worries of it being a drain on Utah’s taxpayers…and as David intimated above…there are other problems with this plan besides its finances.

  7. Daniel says:

    Both the Legislative Analyst’s report and Jesse relies on a assumptions, but as Jesse’s is explicit in his assumptions. There are many reasons to believe that the number of switchers will be much higher than the Legislative Analyst predicts.

    Even if you believe voucher will be a net cost, there is value for money in terms of higher quality education, greater competition, and greater experimentation. These are the only forces that will improve education in Utah or anywhere else.

    It’s too bad that the tactics of the pro-voucher supports prejudiced you against them.

    I hope to see David and Jeremy fighting for full vouchers in the future–as in the state writes a check for the full amount of your children’s education and allows you to spend it as you see fit.

    Also, as fiscal conservatives, I also hope to see you fighting about the UTA’s Commuter Rail project.

  8. David says:

    I want more information on the Commuter Rail project because besides being fiscally conservative I also value mass transit. (What’s the difference between paying for roads and paying for mass transit – there is some difference, but they’re closer than we often give think.)

    I don’t mind the idea of full vouchers except for one thing – why does every dollar have to flow through the state? It seems to me that the state should only collect and distribute enough money to help the children of those who can’t afford to pay for education in the first place. If I can afford $7500 to educate my children why do I pay $7500 to the state so that they can write me a check for $7500 which I can spend any way I want to educate my child. It seems to me that the state should collect just enough money from those who can afford more than $7500 to get everyone who can’t afford $7500 up to that level. (I choose $7500 because that’s out per-pupil expenditure right now – the actual dollar amount can be adjusted to whatever level we deem appropriate in the state)

    In other words those that can afford $7500 keep their money while those who can afford only $7000 get an extra $500 which comes from those who can afford more than $7500. We make no attempt to bring everyone down to $7500, only to bring everyone up to whatever is deemed the accepted standard rate to get a decent education. ($7500 in my hypothetical scenario)

  9. Daniel says:

    David,
    I’ll find the information on Commuter Rail and send it along.

    I’m glad you support full vouchers and I agree 100% that the state shouldn’t even collect the money in the first place.

  10. David says:

    I look forward to getting whatever information you find. Like vouchers (or unlike them depending on your perspective) I believe in the value of mass transit, but it has to be done right (not just running a system on taxpayer money) or else it shouldn’t be done.

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