Despite the referendum vote on HB 148, school-reform efforts are not going away. The Sutherland Institute is continuing to develop sound policy ideas for education reform in Utah, including how to provide the large population of minority students – who are now not graduating with a diploma – new opportunities to succeed.
Thirty-eight percent of Utahns voted in favor of Referendum 1,” said Derek Monson, education policy analyst for Sutherland Institute. “Further, an unknown portion support voucher policy but voted against this bill. That is a significant number of Utahns who are dissatisfied with the state’s educational system and feel it merits substantial change. Parents and policy leaders need to be working on multiple fronts to identify and advance conservative, principle-based reforms in the way we educate our children, including efforts to help make the public schools better.”
In Utah, special needs students attending private schools already take advantage of a successful school voucher program, the Carson Smith Scholarship. Among other types of reform, the Sutherland Institute is evaluating the merits of amending and expanding the program to include low-income and minority students, often referred to euphemistically as “achievement gap” kids.
“Try as they might, the special interests who would subordinate struggling children to a stifling ‘system’ will find themselves on the losing side of history,” said Paul T. Mero, president of Sutherland Institute. ”This election represents a real tragedy in the lives of Utah’s low-income minority families. These are the families that are now left to struggle alone to give their children a better life. Education reform is their personal trek to freedom.”