Utah voucher referendum: Slapping the hand in the cookie jar

A Utah school teacher made his own video, in his home it appears, with a non-professional camera and crew — and it eviscerates the points Richard Eyre was trying to make in his slick, professionally-produced, commercial version.

The Truth about Cookies Utah Vouchers:

Tip of the old scrub brush to a reader and commenter named Brack.

Update, November  7, 2007:

Utah voters soundly rejected vouchers in the election November 6.  Here’s my version of the story.

10 Responses to Utah voucher referendum: Slapping the hand in the cookie jar

  1. UtahTeacher says:

    I’m the guy in the video. My first purpose was to refute the outright lie that public ed. fixed costs can be redistributed on a proportional basis when an individual student leaves. I think I did that. And both school and district end up with less money, despite the allocation made from the General Fund.

    Second, I do mean to say that public education money should be allocated to public schools to benefit the largest amount of kids possible, regardless of their background, family support, or religious, political, social beliefs etc. Taxes are not distributed to individual interests to spend on their own little clique for any public good–roads, police, fire–and society prospers from these services even though most of us never use our individual “share” paid for by our taxes. Public ed. is a public benefit as large as those others.

    I read your site and do not share your views that the Left only exists because public educators indoctrinate America’s children. It especially won’t fly here in Utah where even most of the “evil union members” are solid Republicans. We disagree philosophically on what are the purposes and benefits of school. That is an honest disagreement. I probably do agree with you on some other things, because on a national spectrum I’d be considered conservative. But surely we can agree that the battle of viewpoints should be fought honestly? Many share your views that public education should be defunded or completely privatized. Why pretend? The campaign here in Utah does just that as it repeatedly makes absurd claims that vouchers “increase” public education funding. For a long explanation involving the specifics of the Utah law and studies, see:

    I’ve enjoyed your blog and linked you. Thanks.


  2. Ed Darrell says:

    Parents in Utah have already chosen: They prefer public schools. Your reasoning seems to be that parents are stupid, and they need to have their choice limited, directed to some other venue.

    What is it you have against public schools? What is it you have against parental choice?

    The voucher money is what should have gone to the public schools for increases; and the voucher money in the Utah plan comes directly out of the public school’s budget, for the school the kid attends, according to the voucher advocates’ claims.


  3. Israel says:

    This is the most rediculous case against allowing parents to choose the education that best meets the needs of their children. The reasoning appears to be that public school funds help many children, while vouchers help only the individual child. Sounds like voucher children attend schools where they are the only child in attendance. Additionally, the voucher money is not being taken from the public schools. These funds are not coming out of the school budget at all, but from another source.


  4. Ed Darrell says:

    Outstanding question. The short answer? Vouchers are a bad idea, grotesquely oversold. They can’t possibly do half of what advocates claim. That becomes obvious once a plan is advanced, and details start to leak out. Utah voters defy Barnum’s edict. All politics is local — and in this locality, schools are near sacred.

    The longer answer is that education is part of Utah’s history, perhaps moreso than any other place in America. Education in the west is public education. Vouchers are seen as an assault on public education. Outside interests missed that. They thought if they bought off the legislature (which appears easier to do these days), they’d be in. They didn’t count on an armed and informed peasantry.

    I ought to write at some length on this. Where is the teacher’s short work day when you need it?


  5. jd2718 says:

    How did the voucher pushers get buried so deeply in a badly losing campaign? Or have I missed something?


  6. Ed Darrell says:

    Our experience in Texas shows that private schools do worse than public schools on such things. But you’re claiming that things like classrooms, gymnasiums, and libraries shouldn’t have money spent on them.

    What good is an education without access to a library?

    The teacher’s video is spot on, and it shows the difficulties of taking money from public schools.

    If you cared for children’s education, you’d work to build the institutions that support it. Killing libraries is a time-tested method of oppression, and it’s a classic way of causing recession. Think again, please.


  7. Andy says:

    All this video tells us is that there is way more money in the government part of public education than is actually being used to teach children. When the schools can use more than 50% of the funds they get from taxes to actually educate our children and not pay for the government organization that runs it, then will I support public schools. True, we do have good statistics when it comes to education, but public schools are taking more credit for that then they deserve. It has more to do with the individual teachers and parent involvement. If anything, teachers have been under paid and under staffed for years in the public school system.
    I am voting for the vouchers because I care more for children’s education than an expensive government institution that is only going to get worse because people don’t have a choice.


  8. Ed Darrell says:

    Nathan, the public schools in Utah are doing a great job, by all accounts. Though student spending per capita is low, though teacher pay is low, Utah is the only state in the nation that doesn’t have a high school listed as a “drop out factory.” Utah’s test scores are good, college follow on from high school is very good, Utah’s schools win national awards.

    Utah’s parents overwhelmingly support the public schools. If the parents think the schools are doing great, shouldn’t the schools get a boost? The Utah plan punishes public schools regardless of what happens. The best a public school can get under this plan is a slow death by bleeding.

    The push among educators is to make the schools even better. The push among parents is to make the schools even better. It’s ideologues in the legislature who urged vouchers to punish the schools.

    If vouchers work, why not try a straight up plan? Utah could create a pool of a half-billion dollars (about what the voucher plan calls for), but with new money not taken away from public education. Then let the kids and families decide. If the kids eligible like their public schools, let them add their voucher to the pot at their school.

    Vouchers are based on the idea that schools get better if they have money to spend. But the Utah plan is based on the additional idea that public schools should be shut down regardless how well they do, that public schools should be punished even when they do well.

    Utah’s students and parents deserved a lot better than that. They are voting these vouchers down because the vouchers are vampire vouchers, sucking blood out of the public schools. If vouchers work, why don’t voucher advocates come up with a plan to find new money, to improve schools, rather than try to ruin good schools?


  9. Nathan S says:

    If the parents don’t think the public school is doing a good enough job the public school doesn’t deserve the cookies. It’s telling enough that the push is to try and withhold vouchers rather than to make the public school good enough that parents want their kids, and their cookies there.


  10. John Moeller says:

    Awesome! “Eviscerates” is putting it lightly. I was smiling the whole time I watched it. Nothing like using the same dumb metaphor to discredit a bad argument. Thanks for posting this. I’m spreading it as much as I can.


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