Upward of $8 million spent on vouchers
Becker spends nearly $23 per vote, Buhler $31 in mayor's race
As proven by both sides of the voucher issue, and in the mayor's race, one still needs to spend big bucks on TV and radio ads. There were so many voucher ads on commercial and cable TV one couldn't watch an evening's worth of the tube without seeing at least one.
And while Buhler had a truly innovative, interactive Web site, neither it nor traditional campaigning seemed to help him in the end.
Voucher advocates' spending also didn't pan out. But Parents for Choice in Education spokeswoman Leah Barker has no regrets.
"If we're able to create any awareness or awakening in our communities that things ... are not good, status quo is not working," Barker said, "this investment was worth every cent."
Still, the $4 million pro-voucher groups spent could have sent 4,858 low-income kids to private schools on scholarships through Children First Utah, of which Barker also is executive director. That's 13 years' worth of scholarships at the rate they're being awarded now or, if the waiting list was taken care of, about four years' worth of aid to all applying, according to numbers supplied by the organization. This year, Children First Utah could afford just 368 scholarships at an average $1,647 per child; more than 1,000 applied for aid.
"That's still a temporary solution," Barker said. "We were trying (with the $4 million campaign) to create a permanent solution to a problem. Can we put a human cost on the failed education of a child?"
Likewise, the money also could have been spent in public schools, including funding the state's gifted programs for two years or even building a small elementary school.
"I would have loved to see it spent in our schools, because we need it," said Elaine Tzourtzouklis, director of Wasatch UniServ, a Salt Lake-Murray-Tooele regional arm of the Utah Education Association. The UEA and other anti-voucher groups say the reform measure will drain money from public schools.
But "had we not spent this money (the $3.5 million in the anti-voucher campaign ), we may not have gotten the results that we did," Tzourtzouklis said.
Indeed, all sides acknowledge $8 million is a lot of money.
But here's some perspective: $8 million wouldn't even cover a half day's worth of school in Utah.The state alone spends nearly $17 million a day on public schools.
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