Sutherland Newsletter – November 8, 2007

1.An Inconvenient Voucher Truth

In an opinion-editorial published by the National Review on November 6, 2007, Lyall Swim of Sutherland Institute says it is ironic that “the very people who position themselves as the saviors or advocates of low-income minority children are the ones opposing legislation that has been proven to lift these same children out of the abyss of educational failure.”


In Utah, more than 40 percent of Hispanics and African-American students are not graduating with diplomas.  “This is a travesty,” Swim adds. “Adding insult to injury, the ‘minority advocates’ in Utah seem to be doing everything in their power to keep minorities from having real educational choice and thereby from reaching their potential.”


2.Sutherland’s Transcend Series in St. George for First Time

Join Sutherland Institute as it takes the award-winning Transcend Series on the road for the first time in St. George next Tuesday, November 13, 2007!  The Transcend Series, two-time “Best of State” winner, has been enjoyed by over 300 state and local officials and community leaders throughout Utah.  We invite you to join us as Dr. Quinn McKay leads the dialogue, “Wrestling with the Challenges of Integrity in Public Service.”


Please contact Liv Moffat at 801-355-1272 or today to reserve your space.  You may also visit to register.  This session will be held in the St. George Social Hall, “Opera House,” 47 East 200 North in St. George from 8:30 am-2:30 pm.  Because of a generous grant from the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation, this seminar will only cost $40 per person, a savings of $60 off the regular $100 fee.


3.Voucher Defeat Doesn’t Solve Question of Who Controls Education

“The future of education in Utah seems bright after the debate and vote on Referendum 1,” wrote Sutherland Institute President Paul T. Mero in an opinion-editorial published on November 11, 2007 in the Salt Lake Tribune.  “It’s bright because politics are not policy and, though politics have determined our collective response to House Bill 148, politics have not even begun to address the underlying issue: Who controls the education of children?”


Mero asks, “What if that had been the ballot question?  What if Referendum 1 stated, ‘Parents control the upbringing and education of their children.  Yes or no?’  How do you think that vote would have turned out?  Even if the nearly 190,000 of us who voted for Referendum 1 accepted the anti-voucher majority’s generous invitation to collaborate in making our public schools the greatest in the world, the two camps face a crucial point of contention because it seems we disagree over this question of control.”


In conclusion, Mero said the important issues facing education in Utah cannot be settled until we settle the core of our contentions.  “We can continue to ignore this question and fight endlessly over education policy, or we can look in the mirror and determine our collective education identity.  Either we are free and pluralistic people in control of our own destinies, or we are Plato’s children of state — both ideals acting in the name of the common good.”


4.Vouchers Vote a Setback but Not Final Battle in Helping Utah’s Low-Income Families

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, Sutherland 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, Institute president.  “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.”