Don't we still want to provide every child with the best education we can? We made a commitment in Utah to all of our children. We decided long ago that we would invest in their education. It's good for society as a whole and provides our children with the knowledge and skills they need to be happy and successful throughout their lives.
Referendum 1, Utah's school voucher program, helps us keep our commitment by improving education for every child in Utah.
It starts by focusing on the needs of individual children. If we are serious about providing the best education for every single child, we must be willing to meet every child's unique needs. Parents will always know better than anyone else what will work best for their own children.
Vouchers put parents in the driver's seat, letting them choose the best education for the unique needs of their children. Sometimes their best option might be a private school. If so, we still have a commitment to that child. It is still important to us that he gets the knowledge and skills he needs.
By helping families select the education of their children, we will have more resources to help all other children, too. Here's how it works:
In financial terms our commitment to every child in Utah is over $7,500. That's how much we pay to educate the average child in public schools. Vouchers allow some parents to volunteer to take less money. Vouchers range in size from $500 to $3,000, depending on income with the average projected to be under $2,000.
For every volunteer who uses a voucher, we save more than $5,500. That money is then dedicated to the volunteer student's former school for five years and to the state's overall Education Fund in all years after that.
Leading researchers from Utah State University performed Utah's most comprehensive study of school choice in 2004. They found that the savings would total more than $1 billion over 13 years money that will be used to improve funding for public education and reduce class size.
We'll need that money and the space that voucher students create in public schools. In the next ten years, more than 150,000 new students will be entering Utah schools. Utah already has the lowest per-student spending and the highest class sizes in the country. To meet our commitment without bankrupting our state, we need to find creative and efficient ways keep our commitment. Vouchers are not just creative and efficient, they are effective too.
By saving thousands of dollars on thousands of students, we will have millions more dollars to improve education for all students. When parents are more involved and choosing the school, public or private, that best meets the unique needs of their own children, the education system will improve for everyone.