Monday, September 17, 2007

Why is Sutherland's Paul Mero alone?

Over the weekend, the Trib covered the 44-page essay published recently by Paul Mero of the Sutherland Institute. I wrote about the essay last week and if I understand the Trib's report, Mr. Mero is alone in defending the essay. No one who was contacted by reporter Glen Warchol would defend Mero's work, and many wouldn't comment at all. Warchol's item is found here ( but here are the points that struck me, given that Mero worked so hard to weave the LDS church into the voucher debate.

The organization funded by All Children Matter of Michigan and that invested a lot of money in winning House Bill 148 by a one-vote margin isn't standing with Mr. Mero.

Voucher advocacy group Parents for Choice and other supporters contacted would not comment on the essay.

It may be worried that the essay will cause a backlash against its issue. And,

Brigham Young University, owned by the LDS Church, did not respond to a request for comments on Mero's essay.


The LDS Church, itself, appears determined to keep the voucher issue at arm's length. In response to questions about the Sutherland essay, church spokesman Mark N. Tuttle issued a two-sentence response: "The Church has taken no position on the issue of school vouchers. Past statements by Church leaders should not be interpreted to imply any position for or against the current issue."

Mr. Warchol did get comments from State Board Chairman Kim Burningham and Rep. Sheryl Allen, who didn't mince words and who didn't approve of the essay. And he did get the objective perspectives of two University of Utah historians, one active and one retired:

For many anti-voucher activists, the essay's most controversial statement is: "No honest person who has studied the historical record of Utahns prior to statehood could conclude anything other than that they would have embraced what we now call vouchers."

Harvey Kantor, chairman of the University of Utah's Department of Education, Culture and Society, says it is dangerous to try to compare historically distant societies. "He's trying to apply the practices of a 19th Century society to the concerns we have today. We are talking about two very different societies," Kantor says.

Frederick Buchanan, a retired U of U professor who has written extensively on the history of Utah education questions the idea that the public school system threatens Mormon culture in Utah. "That's nonsense. The public school system reinforces the LDS values at every turn."

So why does Mr. Mero alone on this issue? The answer(s) may be pretty simple.