Sutherland Newsletter – October 28, 2009


In an effort to prevent further federal intrusion in Utah public education, Sutherland Institute urges the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) not to apply for federal “Race to the Top” (RT3) grants.  The Institute believes that accepting RT3 funds would deepen Utah’s dependence on federal funding and would inhibit state and local educators from doing what is best for Utah’s students.

A new Sutherland report, Federal Intervention in Public Education: Is it Good for Utah?, reveals that $186 million in stimulus funds (fiscal stabilization) already budgeted for Utah public education increased Utah’s dependence on federal funds by 46 percent in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009.  The state has budgeted an additional $113 million in stimulus funds for FY 2010 and intends to seek $400 million more in federal RT3 funds.  Accepting all these funds would make Utah 123 percent more dependent on federal funds for education than it was before the Recovery Act.  In other words, although just one-in-12 Utah public education dollars came from federal sources in FY 2008, one-in-five would come from federal sources in FY 2010.  Furthermore, additional federal intervention in Utah education would only perpetuate and compound the unnecessary regulatory burden placed on Utah educators.

According to the report’s author, Policy Analyst Matthew Piccolo, Utahns have learned from experience with “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) that federal education programs burden administrative offices and schools with regulations and paperwork, lead to micro-managing of their work, and often conflict with state and local priorities.  They have forced the state, districts, and schools to reprioritize funding, modify curriculum, restructure programs, and alter the teacher-hiring process in ways that often are not good for schools, teachers, and students.  Even if officials claim that RT3 regulations might be less onerous than those of NCLB, Piccolo says, Utahns have no reason to believe that repeated injuries of the past will not recur.

The federal government has said that the purpose of “Race to the Top” is to “lay the foundation for education reform.”  According to Piccolo, “RT3 is President Obama’s deliberate attempt to foist his soon-to-be-released version of NCLB onto the states.  Utah should avoid participating in any program that builds on the flawed policies of NCLB.”

State Superintendent Larry Shumway recently said, “We don’t want to apply for significant federal money if the program doesn’t make sense for us – just for the money.”  Sutherland Institute agrees.  Piccolo says, “RT3 money might help boost funding for public education, but the program itself doesn’t make sense for Utah.  Utahns have plenty of ingenuity, resources, and commitment to help provide their children a world-class education.  They don’t need the federal government to tell them what to do.”


Read the executive summary and full report



Sutherland Institute will host its first Movie Night on Friday, November 6, 2009 at 7:00 pm with a no-charge screening of the film, Not Evil Just Wrong.  The documentary premiered worldwide on Sunday, October 18, 2009, as more than 400,000 viewers participated in the largest simultaneous film-premiere party in U.S. history.


Produced and directed by filmmakers Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer – who were guest presenters at Sutherland’s Earth Week 2008 event – the documentary challenges former Vice President Al Gore’s Oscar-winning film An Inconvenient Truth.  With a focus on the nine “significant errors” in Gore’s movie, as found by the British High Court in 2007, this new film is already attracting attention.


Washington Post columnist John Fund said, “[The] Irish documentary filmmakers have stirred up trouble before by debunking smug liberal hypocrisy.  Their latest film takes on the hysteria over global warming and warns that rushing to judgment in combating climate change would threaten the world’s poor.  The film reminds us that environmentalists have been wrong in the past…”  Admission to Sutherland’s Movie Night is free, but an RSVP is required.  Those wishing to attend may contact Dave Kimball at 801-355-1272 or visit and click the “Movie Night” button on the right side of the page.


Appropriate dress for the evening is casual.  So get comfortable and bring a date to watch Not Evil Just Wrong on Friday, November 6 at the Sutherland Institute in the Crane Building, 307 West 200 South, Suite 5005, in downtown Salt Lake City.  Free parking is available adjacent the building.