Salt Lake City, UT – Vouchers? Small versus large school districts? Merit pay for teachers? Evaluating class size? School financing? None of these education issues are new. In fact, Utah’s education history is replete with ongoing, often controversial, reforms according to a new Sutherland Institute publication, Vouchers, Vows, and Vexations. The study’s results have been distributed to more than 4,000 Utahns across the state.
“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. Utahns 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. Based on Utah’s long historical record, the new voucher policy shares many familiar characteristics with early reforms:
· A community fund to assist our neediest families to pay for the services of teachers of their choosing
· Encouragement for struggling families to get the best education for their children
· The presumption that parents will make the best decisions for their children
· Local control in making education decisions
· Competition for teaching services
· Strengthening the community against any single influence or power
· The opportunity for moral and civic instruction not offered in some stridently secular schools
· A true reflection of the diversity of effective educational processes – a sincere acknowledgment that learning is unique to every child and that every child is unique
“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.”
To read the essay go to http://www.sutherlandinstitute.org/uploads/vouchersvows.pdf.