The battle over school vouchers in Utah is just gearing up, and the State Board of Education is beginning to feel the heat. Yesterday more than 1,000 people rallied at the Utah state capitol in protest over the Board’s decision to postpone implementing vouchers at least until some legal clarification comes through, and perhaps until the referendum vote provides some direction.
Angry with the decision, groups favoring the public subsidization of private education are rumbling about court action. Even Senate majority leader Curt Bramble, a leading advocate of subsidization, has suggested that the legislature might sue the School Board.
The School Board, led by Chair (and Davis County resident) Kim Burningham has shown great courage and ethical integrity in refusing to implement the vouchers until certain issues and questions are resolved.
I understand that there are a number of thorny issues regarding the vouchers, what with two bills being passed, one with a challenge-proof majority. But this shouldn’t be about legal technicalities. This should be about the will of the people. If the majority of Utah agrees that subsidization is in the best interest of the public, then the referendum will fail and the program can go forward as planned. Pro-subsidization forces will have ample opportunity and resources, considering their well-documented corporate and out-of-state special-interest funding (see also here), to convince Utahns of the benefits of private school subsidization.
If the majority of Utah doesn’t approve of the idea of increased corporate welfare and the referendum passes, then the program should be revoked, regardless of multiple bills and legislative minutia. Curt Bramble’s threats of a lawsuit are rather petulant. Rather than throw tantrums, they should wait it out. Postponing their pet project a few months won’t hurt anything. And if the vouchers are rejected by Utah, they He and his cohorts need to remember that as legislators, they are public servants. They are there to promote the interests of the people of Utah. They do the people of Utah no service by aggressively pursuing an agenda against the possible will of the public.