Thursday, October 18, 2007

And what did Gov. Bangerter say?

By the way, just as a footnote, Governor Huntsman wasn't the only Utah governor to speak on vouchers yesterday. Former Governor Norman Bangerter told Doug Wright on KSL that he had "more questions than answers" about the plan. He first made it clear he supports public schools and found no superior alternative in his own experience as a parent:

The first thing, I feel like, is we really have to continue to support our public schools and that's the best place for kids to get their educations, stay in their communities, stay with their peers, build that community relationship. I saw, when my children were growing up, and they opened up Skyline and some of those, my children went to Granger, and they transferred over there because they thought it was better.

I don't think there was ever any positive, anything striking, that was better about it for the child that made that choice.

For Governor Bangerter, the problem in the voucher is the change in funding to public schools.

But the thing that I'm concerned about is the money. If you break this down on a school-by-school basis, and if you look at it, say, the maximum waiver or voucher is $3,000 and assume the average would be $2,000, and you take 1,000-member school, they're going to lose 15 students. That's going to cost them about $30,000 in money that goes out, but they'll have $80,000 that they don't have a student. But there won't be any savings in that school. The teachers will still have to be there, the lights and heat have to go on.

When we talk about that this is a guarantee for 5 years, that the money stays there, what happens after the 5 years? And so, I don't have answers. I have more questions than answers.

Mr. Wright himself told the governor that "the more you kind of get out of the emotion of it, and dig down into the facts of it, the more, almost, troubling, it becomes."

And Governor Bangerter agreed, saying there's no way to know "what the impact will be."

We really don't know how many are going to go out, and we don't know how many will stay out, whether they go out for a while. I think there's some clear challenges to turning it over to purely private schools without any checks and balances.

I know educators who will tell you some of these kids will come back in three years and they'll be way behind. Some would say they'd come back and they'd be way ahead. So, it's kind of a roll of the dice in my mind, and I'm not so sure the savings will be there.

That's my major concern, and as you know, and as everybody agrees, we have some special challenges in the funding of education because of the demographics of our society.

That makes two governors of Utah who are for improving public schools and Utah's competitiveness and who aren't exactly "urging" voters to support the voucher referendum.