Sutherland Newsletter – August 30, 2007

1.KVNU Radio: Institute Highlights Lack of Accountability for Activities Board

Over the past several months, multiple legislative meetings have looked at the unhealthy relationship between the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) and the State Board of Education.  While the UHSAA is an independent, non-profit organization, Sutherland President Paul T. Mero stated in a KVNU interview on Tuesday, August 28, that UHSAA is making the rules for all of the extra-curricular activities in Utah’s public schools as a non-government entity and lacks any real structure of accountability.

Adding to the growing list of concerns, the UHSAA has increased their activity as a second arm for the public school lobbying unit on Capitol Hill.  “As educational opportunities expand because of new technologies and the advancement of school choice opportunities, the UHSAA is faced with these new situations.  And their rulings typically go against expanding educational choice and opportunity,” Mero said.  To hear the rest of his comments, scroll approximately a 1/4 of the way through the radio program.  Mero also presented three options in the reformation of UHSAA when he testified before the Administrative Rules Review Committee on August 13, 2007.


2.New Research Shows Vouchers in Line with Historic Reforms

Utah’s education history is replete with ongoing, often controversial, reforms according to a new Sutherland Institute publication, Vouchers, Vows, and Vexations.  “The voucher debate isn’t new,” explained the study’s author, Paul T. Mero.  “It is simply one more reform in a long line of school reforms throughout state history.  We may not realize that for many years Utahns used tax dollars to fund essentially private schools.  We also once had merit pay for teachers. School districts were small and our schools were locally-controlled.”

Vouchers, Vows, and Vexations examines many of the state’s past, major reforms that now shed light on the current debate over school vouchers.  “If a consensus among voters and policy makers can be formed, no matter the consensus, then Utahns can move forward confidently and effectively, in unity and purpose, in behalf of the education of their children,” Mero said.  “Evolving school reforms lead to change and we shouldn’t be surprised that these things continue to change.  It’s the nature of our human experience, and it’s certainly the experience of education policy in Utah.”