- Dr. James R. Moss, state superintendent of public instruction, is taking issue with tax protesters using data from his office to support their position.
In a letter to Mills Crenshaw, KTKK Radio talk show host and a leader of the tax initiative campaign, Moss said Crenshaw's use of data supposedly prepared by the State Office of Education is flawed.He said it mixes figures from two years, is incomplete, draws inaccurate conclusions and in some instances, uses figures that are totally incorrect.
Crenshaw, who said he originally received the data in a State Office of Education envelope from an anonymous source, used the information during a radio interview with Gov. Norm Bangerter on Sept. 23 and on other occasions, Moss said.
Crenshaw said Thursday he had asked the state office to clarify the data he'd received and was assured correct data would be sent to him prior to the Bangerter interview. No such response has been made, he said.
"We must assume they are not really interested in getting the data into the hands of a qualified analyst to be looked at. We don't want to disseminate false data, but what choice do we have?" Crenshaw said. He said he didn't feel he could trust data from the state office anyhow because of "inflated statements regarding the possible impact of the tax initiatives."
Moss said Crenshaw represented the information as coming from the superintendent. The superintendent outlined several specific misuses of education data:
-Information about teachers mixes data from two years. The number of teachers in 1982-83 is used to calculate teacher costs using 1986-87 financial data, skewing the results. There were more teachers in the later school year, which would have reduced the costs per teacher station, Moss said.
-Crenshaw's document uses average teacher salary as part of the budget being spent on teachers. The document does not include career ladder funds or substitute teacher pay and does not take into account money used for an additional 1,728 teachers and 54 interns who teach in the school system.
-As used by Crenshaw, administrative costs were greatly exaggerated by adding such items as guidance, health, social work, psychologists, libraries, library books and "other services," which included career ladder funds, some teacher salaries, substitute teacher pay, psychologists and library books - items that are "far beyond any accepted definition of this area," Moss wrote.
- Initiative C, which would give tax credits to parents with children in private schools, has been criticized as unconstitutional by Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
The group, based in Silver Spring, Md., contends the initiative on the Nov. 8 ballot is unconstitutional because it offers public assistance to private religiously affiliated schools, the Associated Press reported.
"No court has ever upheld a grant program designed to aid only private schools," American United's Robert Maddox said in a recent news release.
"The courts have wisely ruled that public funds taken from the taxpayer should be spent for public purposes," Maddox said. "Back-door methods of funding religious schools, such as the Utah proposal, run afoul of the rights of all citizens."
He said the tuition tax credit measure could not help but have a negative effect on public schools in Utah, since it would reduce the amount of tax revenues going into education coffers.
- Shelley Lindauer, early childhood specialist in the College of Family Life at USU, says kindergarten has an important place in the learning development process of children.
When places to cut "fat" in tax supported programs are discussed, kindergarten is often one place considered. Legislators and tax initiative supporters may reason it is just a form of "day care."
Few states, however, consider kindergarten a frill. Forty-one fully support kindergarten for all children of eligible age. Four other states provide it for 85 percent of the eligible children.
According to Lindauer, while some lawmakers or others would like to eliminate kindergarten, many parents want to teach more skills at younger ages. Parents often encourage teaching third grade math and reading in second grade and second grade skills in first and so on.