Sutherland Newsletter – October 4, 2007

1.Mero and Byrne Focus on Low-Income Families in Vouchers Debate

On Wednesday, October 3, 2007, Sutherland Institute President Paul T. Mero and Patrick M. Byrne, chairman of the board and CEO of, participated in a vouchers debate in front of an audience of about 100 people at UVSC.  Mero said, “HB 148 [the school vouchers bill] is about giving hope to the hopeless…HB 148 is their emancipation proclamation.”  Mero and Byrne debated Kim Burningham, chair of the Utah State Board of Education, and Marilyn Kofford, from Utahns for Public Schools.


Go to and click on the stories under “Sutherland in the News” to read the news coverage of the debate.  And click here to watch last night’s video from KSL-TV‘s 10:00 pm newscast.


2.Vouchers Bill Holds Participating Private Schools Accountable

Private schools participating in the voucher program benefit from multiple layers of accountabilityas outlined in HB 148.  These layers of accountability are in addition to the market-driven accountability measures already adopted by nearly every private school in Utah.


“It may even be fair to say that under the new vouchers law, participating private schools are more accountable than their public school counterparts,” said Derek Monson, education policy analyst for Sutherland Institute.  “In fact, from the research we’ve conducted on voucher-eligible schools in Utah, they merit, to borrow a financial term, a ‘Triple A’ rating for accountability, including audits by the state board, annual testing of voucher students, and approval of participating schools by the state board.”


3.What Utah’s History Teaches Us About Vouchers: Part 5 of 6

On September 30, 2007, the Deseret Morning News and Salt Lake Tribune published the fifth of a six-part series written by the Sutherland Institute. The series examines the major forces from Utah’s historical records and cites their relevancy for today’s school vouchers debate.  Part Five considers the merits behind the historical push for secularization in Utah education.


The State’s argument in favor of public schools is intellectually compelling.  Utahns have accepted several of the major premises in support of the progressive education model.  To a very large degree, the State interest in education is our current identity.


While both “family” and “public education” are nowhere to be found in the literal text of our U.S. Constitution, the Court has found the existence of a very fundamental right of parents to control the upbringing and education of their children.  The same fundamental right has not been found regarding a public school education.


As the voucher debate proceeds, the public will be bombarded with platitudes about the importance of an educated citizenry, the need for a common social identity, and the right to an education.  Each claim has significant merit.  Each claim is compelling and persuasive.  Each claim has motivated generations of Utahns to support public schools.


For many Utahns, the prices paid to uphold these pillars of public education were all well-worth it, and the continued price of opposing all systemic changes to a system with such rich political, social, and cultural history remains well worth it.  Then again, other Utahns, especially Latter-day Saints who bore the brunt and insult of “progress,” might wonder if it was and still is all worth it. The words, “Forced to be Free,” may yet be the epithet on the gravestone of public education.  All would agree that would be a tragedy.


The sixth and final part of the series will run this Sunday, October 7, 2007, and will conclude with an attempt to describe the necessary elements for a lasting consensus, a diminishment of political contention, and a livable view of Utah’s “education identity.”