Upward of $8 million spent on vouchers

Becker spends nearly $23 per vote, Buhler $31 in mayor's race


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  • MAK in Minnesota
    Nov. 8, 2007 8:11 p.m.

    Thank you Utahns! In Minnesota, Charter schools are the big push to 'save' education - these are non-district, but publicly funded. Interestingly, when when the US Dept of Education just this last year compared Charter and other private schools to traditional public schools, they found no achievement gap (the Rand Corp. hired by the State of California found similar results on Charter schools vs. public district schools.) A recent University of Illinois study showed little or no gap between parochial and public schools when comparing math education. Those who argue that competition will raise performance and lower costs will need to explain why, when public and private colleges are competing for students, costs have risen far faster than inflation. The NEA as the bogeyman argument from the other side is simply because they really have no answer or plan themselves...my experience here is that they usually are simply 'no taxes' types or want a break while putting there kids through private school - the well being of the public school kids is not really their concern.

  • bob
    Nov. 8, 2007 6:46 p.m.

    Sounds like poor losers. The issue is dead. It was wrong headed to begin with and now its gone. Im sure the egos of the folks on the hill will make them bring it up again in another form but I think the people are smart enough to know hogwash when they see and smell it.

  • DougS
    Nov. 8, 2007 5:48 p.m.

    Sure, Ed. Bramble, Curtis, and Stephenson just sat around one day (no doubt in an ornately paneled, dimly lit, smoke-filled room) and said "Ah HA! Let's destroy education for the common man! Vouchers are just the ticket--at least, until we can pass a bill requiring every public school student and teacher to keep two pounds of nuclear waste in their pillowcases!" 'Cause, you know, it's impossible for any reasonable, rational people to honestly disagree with your point of view--obviously, they just hate children. Maybe they even eat them, roasted, for Christmas dinner.

  • Buhler Supporter
    Nov. 8, 2007 5:49 p.m.

    Another thing that they didn't take into account is that Buhler and Becker both had to buy 2 votes, one in the primary and then more in the General election. So if you look at it that way Buhler didn't spend as much per vote, and was certainly nowhere near the $250 Keith Christensen spent for every one of his votes.

  • Drastic
    Nov. 8, 2007 4:54 p.m.

    I commend Ed on his willingness to share his opinion. However, I disagree with the idea that attendance will enhance the education. There are many students who miss few if any classes yet continue to learn little. Homework every night, exposure to immoral behaviour in the halls and the idea planted that average is good. It would be different if the public system wasn't overwhelmed with sub-par teachers and administrators. Sorry Ed but the product you are producing wouldn't stand a chance in the real world market place. We wonder why we have the issue we do today in our society. Let's look at where they were educated.

  • Boo Hoo Ed
    Nov. 8, 2007 4:48 p.m.

    There are good teachers and bad teachers - even Ed would have to admit that.

    How do schools get rid of the bad teachers? Unfortunately teachers just have to hang on long enough to get tenur and they can coast the rest of your career. Almost all my kids are adults now. Two of them had Pat Rusk as a teacher and she was great. But if the UEA was truely concerned with the education of children as their primary goal then why don't the propose a no-holds-barred accountability program and clean up their own act instead of doing what poor Ed does and just make excuses. Maybe we would have more teachers like Pat. Let's hear the "more excuses to follow" Ed.

    If you voted for vouchers you got sucked in by Ed and his gang. My guess is that 80% of the voters never even read the bill but just did what the UEA and NEA spent a fortune telling them. Sheep!

    I read it - it was a good bill.

  • Ed continued 2
    Nov. 8, 2007 4:35 p.m.

    For those who feel that all of this money spent in Utah for education goes to waste, due to administrative overheads and athletics....Well, the people on the eastside of the Salt Lake Valley just voted to split away from Jordan School District. If the Court of Appeals in Denver doesn't throw out the election results then those people have voted to create a WHOLE NEW BUREACRACY....a whole NEW layer...now THAT is a waste. It would have been better to allow the districts to increase the number of members of their school board to allow for better representation but you have some people who just want POWER.

    Finally, the voucher proponents will be back. Make no doubt about it. The next voucher bill will be much more simplified. They will take out the provision for parochial schools and will in all likelihood try to have it done on a trial basis, maybe in the Salt Lake Valley or in Utah County. But it will be back because Mr. Curtis, Mr. Bramble and Mr. Stephenson want to destroy education for the common man. These are men not to be trusted and should be voted out.

  • Ed continued
    Nov. 8, 2007 4:31 p.m.

    How do we improve education?

    1. Insist that students attend school. Absenteeism rates are ridiculous, and then parents want to excuse absences that are sluffs because they don't want to hold their student to their responsibilities of attending school and working in classes.

    2. Insist that teachers TEACH. Wow, coming from a teacher? Yes, and those teachers who do not teach should be worked with to improve their skills and if they do not, then they should be removed. The processes are in place in every district statewide and are used.

    3. How do we make teachers accountable? That seems to be a topic of discussion. Unfortunately, I can be the best teacher in the world but over my 23 years of teaching I have found, unfortunately...that I can't get about 10-15% of my students to want to do ANYTHING. Is that my fault? No. Most private sector companies would probably have a similar percentage rate of non-productive students. The only problem for educators is that we can't kick those kids out of school. But we CAN continue to work with them..and we DO! That's the beauty of education. More to follow

  • Ed
    Nov. 8, 2007 4:25 p.m.

    As a public school teacher I am amazed at the comments as to how the UEA and the NEA do not want to "lose their power" and allow for the "free market" to come in and prove how much better it is. Public schools have to take EVERY student, private schools don't. Special ed, gifted and talented, behaviorally disordered, you name it...we WANT those kids because those kids are the adults of America TOMORROW. People who favor vouchers because they want their students to go to private schools: please....place them there. In those private schools. Just don't ask for a change in the rules because you want an additional tax break. It is the responsibility, as we have shouldered this over the last 75 or so years...of ALL UTAHNS..and ALL AMERICANS...to pay for the future of our society. The PRIMARY way we do this is through the public education system. It is not perfect....it is a work in progress. I have a few ideas as to how to improve it and that will be in a future installment.

  • Glad it failed
    Nov. 8, 2007 4:17 p.m.

    I find it interesting the divide on this issue. The people I would normally support were on the other side. But, the big difference here is all of the supporters would and probably do sent there children to private schools. I too want the best education for my children; but the voucher would still not enable me to send my children there.

  • Drastic
    Nov. 8, 2007 4:02 p.m.

    Let's see, we have approx. 400,000 students in Utah public schools. 8,000,000 divided by 400,000 equals $20 per student at $2 a lunch we could have fed these students for 10 days. More nutrition than they would ever get in the over crowded classroom. Wake up Utah, communism is against the predominant religion. PTA and Public education is the least free institutions in our state.

  • Interested Bystander
    Nov. 8, 2007 3:29 p.m.

    Anonymous wrote, "Parents are searching for alternatives because Utah public schools are average at best." Isn't it interesting that we get schools that are "average at best" considering the fact that our per pupil spending and teacher salaries are so low? Seems to me we get a pretty good bang for our educational buck in Utah.

  • Mark
    Nov. 8, 2007 3:27 p.m.

    Vouchers were slapped down by 2-1. This is America. It's the land of "may the best man (or idea) win." Vouchers were not a better idea than the current system. Public schools have flaws, but vouchers had more. The people have decided.

    If you folks want to improve education, go back to the drawing board and come up with a better idea. Then we'll talk and vote again. But whining about the defeat of vouchers certainly doesn't help the kids.

  • Where's mine?
    Nov. 8, 2007 3:13 p.m.

    You know, what's missing from this whole debate is that with "rights" comes "responsibility".

    No wait, I get it. You have a right to a government sponsored handout - while the rest of us have a responsibility to fund it. Makes perfect sense - in an oreo sort of way.

  • It's called Democracy
    Nov. 8, 2007 2:09 p.m.

    I did not know that the Union could vote.

    I know they can spend money on ads (at least they didn't use the "Utahns are Morons with Oreos" ad), but their vote counts nothing.

    If the bill had been in Utah's best interest all of the Union Money in the world would have not been able to stop it. (Didn't we say the pro-voucher crowd spent most of the money on the campaign?)

    This is America. It is not only the Right, but the DUTY of Americans to point out unfairness and the exercise of poor judgement of the legislatures and governors. Thank you to the NEA and UEA for protecting us from our elected leaders.

    The time for whining and blaming (sour grapes) is over.

    BYU has a football game tonight.

  • Freedom
    Nov. 8, 2007 12:57 p.m.

    Anybody notice the similarities between Socialized medicine and socialized schooling ...errr public schools..? Oh that's right the NEA who garnishes wages from teachers (which is really tax payer money) in 20 of the 50 states-- as of 2003-- actually does support and promote socialized medicine. They also promote and have tried to push through to educate students about Gender sensitivity just like the Governator did so wonderfully in California.! Shouldn't the money that was funded to the UEA by the NEA have gone to the kids. That was tax payer money and I didn't say they could use my part for marketing schemes. Welcome to Socialist America!!! Hillary Care here we come!

  • Zacko
    Nov. 8, 2007 12:29 p.m.

    Re:Stephen in Tallahassee

    I'm sure that people living in a state that argues about "chads" and "disenfranchised" voters would want someone else to decide the hard things for them. So you're welcome.
    I'm proud to live in a state where we have the ability to think for ourselves and vote the way we believe. If this was not the case the measure would have won easily since the "whos-who" of supporters were all high ranking GOP members.
    Utahns are usually accused of being in lock-step with the GOP aren't we?
    But we weren't just sheep following the NEA/UEA shepard either.
    Utahns have a higher than average literacy rate and we are very capable of reading the arguments for and against issues. Unfortunately for the whiners out there, the argument against vouchers was a better one.
    The comments on these stories only continue the rhetoric of the pro-voucher argument. All emotion and no substance. The sky isn't falling.
    Additionally, this vote is proof that Democracy is alive and well. The PEOPLE can change, or in this case undo, what our elected Representatives do.

  • Listen to the Majority
    Nov. 8, 2007 12:18 p.m.

    The people have spoken. Nobody was swayed by the advertising campaigns and I doubt that anyone voted blindly on this issue. Simply put, vouchers are not what the people of Utah want for our children's education.

    It's rather unfortunate that the Utah majority had to force our legislature and governor into repealing the bill that they supposedly signed in our interest. It's obvious now that they were not representing their constituencies, but rather those of the lobbyists and private spenders. The bill was poorly drafted and unconstitutional. Public money simply can not be handed over to private institutions so carelessly.

    Let's make the increased discussion and attention worthwhile and look at other ways in which we can improve one of the best education systems in the nation. Good things are happening, but we can keep improving.

  • YK
    Nov. 8, 2007 12:00 p.m.

    Let's face it. The Utah referendum was merely the next battle in a nationwide attack by right-wing ideologists on public schools and the status quo in an effort to privatize education. The dismantling of the public education system in favor of privatized education is the ultimate goal of such groups as Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) who veil their goals in euphemisms that on the surface sound noble and good like "parental choice". These groups are opportunists and really thought they had an opportunity to get their foot in the door in very Republican Utah by appealing to the notion of privatization and free market policies which are generally more readily embraced by Republicans. The voucher issue is essentially a very conservative new-thinking policy being foisted upon what they thought would be a receptive political environment (and was in the Utah legislature).

    But they did not take into consideration the fact that many hold public education as a dear, even sacred, institution that shouldn't be altered lightly. The reason it got even this far and passed into law is that the PCE and other organizations have been cultivating like-minded Republican candidates at the Republican caucus level.

  • Thank goodness for the union
    Nov. 8, 2007 12:00 p.m.

    Anonymous at 11:07 said the union started the fight.

    Wrong they ended the fight.

    The people that started it were the legislators that passed a bill that vast majority of the public sees as wrong.

    They started it when they held back money from our school children.

    Thanks goodness the union has enough organization to stand up to legislators that pass lousy bills.

    They should be thanked.

  • David
    Nov. 8, 2007 11:55 a.m.

    We as Americans are so short sighted. As "great" as our education system is in Utah, it is more a result of the strong family values then it is of the education system itself. And even then we are still way behind when compared with countries in Europe and Asia. The voucher program wouldn't have been perfect but at least it would've been something, an attempt to change the status quo. The public school system has failure built right into it because it is focused on everyone watching there own backs instead of the kids. The higher up the food chain you go, the truer this becomes. Throwing more money at the problem will not fix the underlying issues. The only way to fix the underlying issues is to change the structure. But because of the "watch my back" mentality, that will never happen unless public schools are forced to compete. They are going to fight kicking and screaming to make sure they don't have to. The UEA and NEA does just that by unleashing misleading information on a voting public that doesn't seem to want to take time to really understand the issue.

  • To Fight
    Nov. 8, 2007 11:47 a.m.

    In your "solution", you failed to take into account the income tax (100% of which goes towards education). If you look at all education tax money, these parents wouldn't pay the "same tax" since the parents would get the 500-3000 income tax credit which reduces their tax burden.

    Not only do two person families get property taxed the same as a six person family, they pay significantly less income taxes. Thus, the "head tax" is really on the backs of those with no heads to educate! We in Utah seriously need to look at deductions and child credits on our income tax laws. While I'm not a proponent of a direct head tax, I am totally against unlimited deductions in a culture that has the highest birth rate in the nation. And, I have 4 kids, all of them currently in the public education system.

  • Jason
    Nov. 8, 2007 11:22 a.m.

    I agree with grundle. You win some you lose some. However it is up to us as parents to work with the teachers and our children to build a better teaching environment. Please understand that the NEA and UEA along with politicians DO NOT want to solve this issue. They need the issue because it gives them power each election cycle. They must have it to survive. Teachers Unions have never cared about the students or making education better. They want the money and the issue so that they can preserve their power. Do not be fooled by them.

  • JJWilson
    Nov. 8, 2007 11:18 a.m.

    You make it sound like $17 mil per day is a lot - it averages $29. per day per student based on 586,087 Utah public school students. If you want to know where the money is going visit your local school district offices and talk to the Business Administrator (that's the money person) that individual will show you where the money is going. It goes to salaries and benefits, pays utilities, textbooks, equipment, etc.

  • Anonymous
    Nov. 8, 2007 11:18 a.m.

    Money is spent on winning and losing sides of every election by candidates and on behalf of propositions and referendums. It's called the democratic process. To suggest that pro voucher money was wasted and anti-voucher money was well spent is ridiculous and reflects the obvious bias of the authors and the Deseret News.

    You like your public schools? That might be the most alarming comment of all. Parents are searching for alternatives because Utah public schools are average at best.

    Where will the money come from to increase salaries of teachers and how does simply increasing salaries guarantee a corresponding increase in the quality of education? It would require $1.6 billion to get to the national average of $8,468 per student. I could be wrong, but that sounds like a tax increase for citizens who would not even support a tax increase for much needed public safety facilities. Everyone seems to agree an increase in funding is needed but voting against school vouchers has only managed to maintain the status quo. Wait until it comes time to foot the bill for a meaningful upgrade. We will find out then how much you all really care about public education.

  • Fight is FAR from over
    Nov. 8, 2007 11:16 a.m.

    Think if you were restricted to going to the university closest to your home, and lastly, think if those student loans you are still paying off or those federal pell grants were not available.

    Would you have gone to college? Would your university have had the level of quality and education that it had? How would the professors have been? The facilities?

    The FAFSA programs are great programs that help some of the most deserving people get through school at some of the nation's best colleges, and our higher ed system is better off because of what is comparitively a "Federal voucher system".

  • go
    Nov. 8, 2007 11:14 a.m.

    Paying someone for their vote is exactly how our system works. Liberals and their social programs use money taken from working people to buy votes from people on the receiving end of these programs. Look at Hillary's $5000 per child promise...she is buying votes.

  • Fight is FAR from over
    Nov. 8, 2007 11:12 a.m.

    Also, why do the education unions fight against vouchers in k-12, yet they seem to support programs like FAFSA, which are tax-based grants and loans for higher education -which can be used at both private and public universities?

    The only reason I have been able to figure for this is that university professorships are not unionized jobs, so there is no one to protect. Has anyone thought about the amount of times any state legislature has cut funding to universities forcing them to cut faculty members? This does not happen very often in k-12 due to the unions.

    Yet, in my belief, because of the variety of choices for schools as well as funding sources in the realm of higher ed, there are obvious discrepancies in the quality and level of education between the two systems, higher ed being the one with better quality, teachers, facilities, and graduates.

    Honestly, think about it, how good would our universities be if they had to tow the line for district policy makers or a centralized education board like k-12 schools do?

  • Anonymous
    Nov. 8, 2007 11:07 a.m.

    Just think.... the law was studied by the legislature, voted on, the governor signed it.... It was all over and done with... no money wasted on any referendum campaign.

    So, who started this fight and caused all this money to be spent?

    The people who started the referendum. The TEACHERS UNION.

  • Fight is FAR from over
    Nov. 8, 2007 11:01 a.m.

    If anyone, pro or anti voucher thinks the fight is over because of one vote, think again.

    What the amounts of money spent on this campaign show me is that there are interest groups willing to spend alot of time and resources to get momentum started for their cause. We will probably see this issue for years to come, in many forms.

    The question I have is why there is so much circular logic around this issue? Many taxpayers say they don't like the fact that the tax system for education in Utah is not based on a head count, meaning that a 2 person family pays as much as an 8 person family who has the same value of property.

    Well, didn't Utah just vote down one solution(not THE, as there are many solutions) to the problem of no head count? If these families sent their children to private school, they would still pay the same tax, plus pay part of their own way for the more expensive private ed. So, this was a way that we could get them to pay more for their kids education, rather than using larger portions of other taxpayers' money.

  • Drew
    Nov. 8, 2007 10:58 a.m.

    As grundle points out, much of this "surplus" is just one time money. Why doesn't the legislature allocate some of that to school infrastructure. Especially, since they were the ones that allowed the Jordan District to split - which will result in hundreds of millions of $$$$$$$$$ on both sides of the split. New schools and rehabiliation of old schools, not to mention the institutional buildings that will be needed.

  • BH
    Nov. 8, 2007 10:50 a.m.

    Stephen in Tallahassee suggests that Utahn's were led astray by big bucks from the NEA and UEA, and failed to vote their consciense.

    Any accusation from either side suggesting that funding for the opposition was inappropriate, is hypocritical.

    The vast majority of funds for the Pro position came from one individual, seemingly forcing his position upon the state. Interesting that so very, very few of the 35% of Utah that voted for vouchers never valued them enough to contribute.

    The vast majority of funds for the Against position came from the UEA and NEA, most from outside the state of Utah, seemingly forcing outside political forces upon Utah. Not quite as important that so few Utahn's contributed to the anti position, as those against the vouchers weren't the ones trying to sell something new.

  • grundle
    Nov. 8, 2007 9:44 a.m.

    I don't think that investing in a political cause you believe in is a waste of money. It really is putting your money where your mouth is. In hindsight the losers will have always wasted their money.

    If Vouchers had passed, it would have been the teachers unions that would have wasted their money.

    I appreciate all the attention that education has recieved. Although I was for vouchers, perhaps this was a wake-up call for all involved to face the issue of improving our education system and providing our children with the best education we can.

    I see some voices calling for our legislature to give more money to the schools. Just understand that the money you are calling for must come out of our pockets. As for the surpluses, one time distributions to school districts have proven in the past not to be the best strategy (Tooele cheerleading outfits instead of books comes to mind) and would not address the issue of teacher salaries.

    Just my thoughts...

  • Think Again
    Nov. 8, 2007 9:32 a.m.

    Instead of pouring more money into the public schools, use some of it to "educate" a few of the pathetic parents whose children make it difficult to teach!

    There, I said it. I know a lot of you were thinking it!

  • DougS
    Nov. 8, 2007 9:28 a.m.

    Wasted Money: I'm generally pro-voucher, and I agree it was money wasted. The plan itself probably should have revolved around tax exemptions rather than actual hand-outs. The drafting of the bill was careless. And the voucher advocates resorted to distasteful and even underhanded tactics.

    That said, there will be no significant "fixing" of the public schools as long as the UEA keeps calling the shots:

    1) The UEA is unwilling to do what it takes to get equitable pay for Utah teachers if, in doing so, it puts its own institutional interests at risk. They have a virtual monopoly on the educational labor force in Utah, and could have instituted a strike any time they wanted. They haven't--most likely because even though a strike would probably be wildly successful, it would give them a black-eye in public relations.

    2) The UEA does not want the accountability that will come with a free-market approach. Institutionally, it wants to keep as many of its members working (and paying dues) as possible. Individually, its members naturally fear having to truly compete for their jobs.

  • holladay
    Nov. 8, 2007 9:25 a.m.

    17 million dollars a day!? Could we get the school districts audited?...I'd like to see what they are spending my money. Probably more for athletics then on academics.

  • RE: Stephen in Tallahassee
    Nov. 8, 2007 9:23 a.m.

    The fact that someone from out of state is saying Utah did the wrong thing pretty much shows us we did the right thing!

    Thanks for confirming our vote.

    We have some of the best schools and teachers in the nation. All we need is some money to reduce class sizes and then we can show the nation what education in the USA should really be like.

  • ClampetUT
    Nov. 8, 2007 9:16 a.m.

    Pro or con, it's sad to see that 8 million dollars was spent that had little, if any, direct benefit to education in Utah. By my calculations, that's equal to the cost of educating over 1,100 children for one year.

  • Agree with wasted money
    Nov. 8, 2007 9:13 a.m.


    Let the free market approach work. Supply the money so real changes can happen in Utah.

    It is the only way it will work.

  • 4kidmom
    Nov. 8, 2007 9:03 a.m.

    I disagree with Leah Barker's comment in the article that to have spent the 4million from advertising on scholarships to the Children First foundation would have been a temporary solution. Not so! That IS the solution. Private dollars going to private enterprise. The pro voucher movement needs to concentrate their resources on developing scholarships not on government educational subsidies. JMHO

  • Just give the schools some $$$
    Nov. 8, 2007 8:44 a.m.

    Let's face reality. We need to fund our schools better. The public has spoken and it needs to finally be done.

    My legislator in Utah County sent me a letter telling me how much they have done for education. They said how they have increased funding by so much.

    In reality they have kept and even line at best.

    Of course education spending has increased. The number of students has increased. When you have more kids you have to spend more.

    Simple economics.

    The letter I would like to see would say:

    We have seen the election results. We realize we work for you. We are listening and will do all we can to improve education funding in Utah. We have this huge surplus again this year and we are finally dedicated to making our schools the best they can be by paying for good teachers.

    I know, I know, I live in a dream world.

  • Stephen in Tallahassee
    Nov. 8, 2007 8:41 a.m.

    I find it funny how the decision of vouchers on education was decided by those who failed to educate themselves and just followed the commands of the UEA and the NEA. Thanks Utah for messing up education for the rest of the country. We were looking for you to lead instead you will just have to follow when another state will have to show us the way to tackle poor education standards. Next time vote according to your conscience instead of following scare tactics

  • Wasted money
    Nov. 8, 2007 8:23 a.m.

    Of course the pro voucher people will never admit it but that was money wasted.

    It could have paid for the vouchers themselves this year.

    The people have spoken.

    We like our public schools. We recognize they can be improved. We know the only way to fix them is to increase the salaries of the teachers to the point that we get a surplus of teaching candidates. Once that happens we can pick and choose from the best. That is called the free market approach. The problem is we can't do that unless the legislature provides the money to do so.

    That is the solution. That is what we want to see.

  • M
    Nov. 8, 2007 8:15 a.m.

    OH BROTHER!! Ever heard the expression you cant beat a dead horse? It is over already! Let this one go for now, if this was a close race I could see why it would keep coming up but enough is enough!

  • Anonymous
    Nov. 8, 2007 8:11 a.m.

    Eight Million spent and the numbers almost never changed.

    Oh well, I guess it was good for the economy.

  • Utahn in CT
    Nov. 8, 2007 5:33 a.m.

    The authors of this DN article write:
    "The pro-voucher PICs spent approximately $4 million, in the end receiving just 190,000 or so votes. That's about $21 per vote."

    Twenty-one dollars is a drop in the bucket compared to what each Utahn should be paying to upgrade public eduation. The $4 million was well spent!