Sunday, February 4, 2007

Utah House Passes Universal Voucher Bill

It is too bad that this passed only after Milton Friedman had died, but it is still quite a testiment to the influence that he had on the nation's public debate. This will have a bigger impact on schooling in big cities. The shame is that competition is still not occurring in the biggest cities in the US with horrible public school systems.

School voucher opponents, dejected after the House voted 38-37 Friday in favor of a school voucher bill, predicted supporters will one day regret their votes.
They fully expect HB148 to sail through the Senate and win Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s signature, but rather than calling for a constitutional challenge or a repeal effort, they spoke only of "bad policy" and escalating costs.
"I'm terribly disappointed. I think people sold out from fear of special interest groups," said Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, a retired teacher.
If the bill is signed and becomes law, the heavy lifting would fall to the Utah Office of Education, which would have to get the program up and running by summer so parents can use their vouchers by fall.
"It's a huge assignment and [the bill is] very prescriptive," said Carol Lear, attorney for the Utah Office of Education.
Voucher supporters embraced each other in the halls after the vote.
"We've been chewing on this issue for seven years," said Rep. Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George, who sponsored this year's bill. "We learned from the dialogue, and we have passed something that will be beneficial to some families and it will be beneficial to the system overall."
HB148 would let parents spend public money on private school tuition. Families whose children already attend private schools would be exempt unless they are low-income, but every family with children in public schools would be eligible for vouchers ranging from $500 to $3,000. Public schools would lose some but not all state money for every voucher student who leaves. . . . .

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