- The negative campaign being waged in Utah regarding proposed tax initiatives could have a lasting effect on children, Utah's PTA president said Tuesday.
"Think of the impact on children hearing that they cannot trust the governor, legislators, school administrators, college presidents, teachers, PTAs, chambers of commerce, school boards, newspapers, television news and on and on," said Darlene Gubler during a recent PTA legislative session.The PTA president urged her group not only to say "no" to the three tax initiatives on the ballot in November, but to counter the negativism that has been rampant during the campaign.
The initiatives would limit property taxes and government growth, roll back tax increases passed by the 1987 Legislature and lower income tax rates, and give parents of children in private schools a tax break.
The debate has increased many people's appreciation for the benefits of the free-enterprise system and the value of public education, along with awareness that taxes are "the expenses of making the system work," Gubler said.
Local units of the PTA conducted a final "walk and talk" campaign Thursday to alert neighborhoods to the potential effects of tax reductions on education.
The PTA legislative package for 1988-89 includes a call for fiscal restraints and rewards for cost-effective management of schools. It also seeks adequate funding to attract and retain quality educators, more in-service training for teachers and strengthening of the career-ladder program.
The parent-education group also seeks adoption of school district policies that put academic needs ahead of extracurricular activities and promotes legislation to provide an annual line-item appropriation to adequately fund purchase of textbooks and supplies.
- The Utah State Board of Education Advisory Committee for the Handicapped has gone on record opposing the tax-limitation initiatives.
The group, an advocate for handicapped students, is concerned that the initiatives could damage programs for the handicapped, seriously impairing attempts to provide equitable educational opportunities.
"The committee recognizes the impact of large class sizes on the time teachers have to give individual attention to students," the committee said in a position statement.
Besides compromising the quality of programs for mildly handicapped youngsters, the tax restrictions could jeopardize funding for severely handicapped students, which already is minimal, the organization said. Federal matching funds could be withdrawn if the state does not provide its share of money.
Cutbacks could negate progress that has been made toward providing appropriate educational opportunities for all children, as the law requires, said Dorothy Bingham, chairwoman.
- Utah college students have registered 22,350 new voters in their ongoing push to defeat the tax-limitation initiatives on November's ballot.
President Darin Bird of the Utah Council of Student Body Presidents, said recently the state's nine universities and colleges have been using various techniques to register students to vote in the general election Nov. 8.
"There is a political awareness on our campuses that I have never seen before. Students want to know more about issues and candidates. As you walk down hallways you can hear students discussing the tax rollbacks and other issues of this election," Bird said in a report to the state Board of Regents during its October meeting in Price.
Bird, student body president at Southern Utah State College, Cedar City, said that besides the voter-registration effort, students have been encouraged to write their parents explaining higher education's position on the tax initiatives.