Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Citizen referendum on vouchers--an urgent appeal for your help

Dear friends,

As you are probably aware, a dedicated group of public school supporters known as Utahns for Public Schools has been working tirelessly to get Utah’s new voucher law on a referendum ballot, allowing voters to decide whether our tax dollars will fund the largest private school voucher experiment in the country. The referendum law sets an unbelievably high hurdle, requiring us to collect over 92,000 valid signatures in just over a month.


We need volunteers all over the state—and especially in the densely populated Wasatch Front—to volunteer a few hours of their time during our Citizen Days event this Friday and Saturday. On those two days, volunteers will work in three-hour shifts starting at 10 am and 2 pm. (There will also be some evening shifts from 6 to 9 for volunteers unable to help during the day.) We will provide training, materials, and a location. I know it’s a sacrifice to take time away from your regular lives for an event like this, and I know that many of you have already donated time gathering signatures in your own neighborhoods. Please consider dedicating one more morning or afternoon to these important causes: protecting the future of our public schools and ensuring that citizens have a voice in their government.

Polls show that 80% of Utahns want to vote on this issue. But if we can’t gather the signatures in time, we won’t get that chance.

To sign up to help, you may contact me at lisa@metaserve.org or 801-495-1035.

You can also contact our volunteer coordinator directly at lindsay@utahnsforpublicschools.org or at 801-268-2161.

Pass this information along to your friends, or bring your friends with you this weekend.

(You may also use the contact information above if you are interested in signing the petition.)


Lisa Johnson

Let Utah voters decide!

In the session ending February 28, 2007, the Utah State Legislature passed a bill allowing tax dollars to subsidize private schools. This so-called “voucher” program is the widest-ranging, most poorly regulated law of its kind in the country.

Legislation establishing the voucher plan passed the Utah House by a single vote. It was then quickly passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor with little opportunity for public debate or input. The program is projected to cost taxpayers more than $425 million over the next thirteen years, according to legislative fiscal analysts.

Utahns for Public Schools believes voters should decide whether or not to move forward on the voucher proposal. Our petition will place the subject on the ballot in the form of a referendum.

For more on the referendum effort, visit http://www.utahnsforpublicschools.org/.


A single mom said...

I hope this doesn’t pass.

A number of private schools are already advertising on their web sites about the possibility of using vouchers to help parents.

In Utah we have the opportunity to make history by enabling parents who might not otherwise afford private schools the opportunity to have a choice in their child’s education.

Let’s not bow to the status quote of the educrats and the teacher unions and the NEA and UEA.

Let’s do what is best for parents and children.

Anonymous said...

Your continued parroting of silly PCE rhetoric doesn't make it any more accurate (although even they to my knowledge haven't referred to the "status quote" before).

But you are right about one thing - we should do what's best for the parents and children.


Thank God for Unions said...

Single mom,

Unions bad, Walmart and Amway good.

Get a grip woman, you have weekends off and health care because of Unions.

Richard Watson said...

So, if vouchers are defeated, then the so-called "unions" will have their "status quo".
One problem with that rhetoric is that the current condition of public schools, the "status quo", is set by the Republican held Legislature. If the teachers were in charge, then we would have the best and greatest public schools.

Anonymous said...

Redbook Blasts Unions for Bad Teachers

Woman’s magazine urges parents to “protect your child”
Written By: George A. Clowes
Published In: School Reform News
Publication Date: October 1, 1997
Publisher: The Heartland Institute


“Bad or incompetent teachers may be verbally or even physically abusive. They may not know the subject matter, or be unable to communicate it. They may be incapable of running an orderly class or may be lazy or burned out. But whatever a teacher’s particular sin or shortcoming, he or she will probably never be fired.”

In a six-page story labeled “A Must-Read Report for Every Parent,” Redbook magazine takes on “bad teachers” in its September issue. The story, by Redbookwriter Ronnie Polaneczky, opens “In public schools today, rotten teachers--whether they’re incompetent, lazy, or even downright abusive--can hang on to their jobs for years. Strong union rules will protect them. Here are the ways to protect your child.”

The article’s focus on protecting children is not unusual for Redbook, but the clearly anti-union story is rare for a magazine whose leading stories in the same issue include “7 Sex Tips He’ll Be Thrilled You Learned” and “Your Breasts: How To Keep Them Healthy, Smooth & Firm.”

Polaneczky’s article recounts horrifying stories of the abuse children take from bad teachers who never seem to get fired. The Carrier family in Oklahoma had their son tape-record one sarcastic, abusive teacher who was still teaching a year later. Though they could ill afford to do so, the Carriers eventually removed their children from the public school and placed them in private school.

“I couldn’t keep my children in a school that allows an employee like that teacher to stay on the job,” says Delynn Carrier.

The Earl family in Indianapolis found that other parents, teachers, and the school principal had known for years that their daughter’s third-grade teacher, with 20 years’ teaching experience, was disorganized, scatter-brained, and incompetent. So she was assigned children whose parents hadn’t known enough to request another teacher.

“The teachers know she’s bad, the principal knows she’s bad, but instead of getting rid of her the school has organized its system around her,” says an amazed Rosemary Earl.

How many “bad apples” are there among the nation’s 2.7 million teachers? NEA president Bob Chase contends there are just a few, which may explain why so few public school teachers are dismissed each year. For example, the Denver Postrecently revealed that only five teachers had been fired in Colorado during the past three years.

But Polaneczky argues that the small number of teacher dismissals is more a tribute to tenure laws than anything else. “While tenure doesn’t actually guarantee a teacher a job for life, it does make the conditions for dismissal--including lengthy documentation, reviews, and appeals--incredibly costly and time-consuming.”

Mary Jo McGrath, an attorney from Santa Barbara, California, estimates that about 18 percent--almost one in five--of teachers are incompetent. McGrath bases the estimate on her own survey of 50,000 administrators nationwide and on her own experience as a specialist who helps schools terminate bad teachers.

“The large number of students who are shortchanged each year by incompetent teachers underscores the importance and seriousness of this problem,” says Stanford University education professor Edwin Bridges in his book The Incompetent Teacher.

But children are not just shortchanged by bad teachers, they are permanently and significantly harmed, according to William L. Sanders and June C. Rivers of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. (See “Bad Teachers Have Devastating Effect on Student Performance,”School Reform News, April, 1997.)

Sanders and Rivers found that students who have poor teachers for several years are likely to achieve at a significantly lower level than comparable students who have had several years of good teachers. But achievement scores don’t bounce back when students are later assigned to good teachers. Although an effective teacher can produce excellent academic gains for his or her students, students who suffered with ineffective teachers early on show lower achievement scores over the long term.

“If an ineffective teacher isn’t dealt with, children can be permanently harmed,” says Sanders.


George A. Clowes is managing editor of School Reform News. His email address is clowes@heartland.org.

A single mom said...


Teacher’s shouldn’t run the schools..parents should.

Teachers should have to answer to parents, not to their union thugs.

Craig said...

Of course there are bad teachers and unions do have their problems.

But parents aren't perfect, either. Without the work of the teacher's associations, educators (even the good ones) have little recourse against false accusations, uptight administrators with an ax to grind, and lazy parents who take no personal responsibility for their unruly children's poor performance and bad behavior.

In my opinion, pure at-will employment, when applied to education, is a huge mistake. There must be middle ground struck between the two extremes of lousy professional agreements that protect bad teachers with the owner-centric at-will mantra in which a teacher can be fired without cause, for any reason, without discussion and without due process.

Why is this important? Because study after study points to the remarkable effect the best teachers have on children. I'm grateful the legislature this year adopted the "No Excuses!" concept and funded public schools accordingly. This funding places us in an improved competitive position to help prevent the exodus of good teachers to neighboring states.

If we make our educational environment more competitive, we will attract better educators which reduces the opportunities for the bad ones to perpetuate their badness.

Our professional agreements should encourage excellence, reward the best teachers (yes, through merit and differential pay), and shine the light of accountability on poor teachers who shouldn't be in the profession.

Anonymous said...

If you look at private schools you'll be very hard pressed to find one that isn't orders of magnitude better than a public school. It happens, but it's a rare exception. This isn't just due to the funding issue, though of course that plays a large role. It's also due to the size of the organization. They can make changes, and quickly if necessary. There's not miles and miles of red tape to go through to make a simple adjustment that can benefit the students.

Old Fashioned Democrat said...

Some thoughts on what is wrong with public schools :

1988 Senate Committee on Education - "We beleive that education is one of the principal causes of discontent of late years, manifesting itself among the laboring classes"

The Rockefeller Education Board (Major provider of funds for the creation of government schools) - "In our dreams, people yeild themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people, or any of their children into philosophers, or men of learning, or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians or statesmen, of whom we have an ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple... We will organize children... and teach them to do in a perfect way, the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way."

Also of note is to look into the very textbooks our children are being 'educated' out of... take for instance books published by Harcourt Publishing in reference to your bill of rights.

2nd Amendment (as seen in the US Constitution) - A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

2nd Amendment (as seen through Harcourt's filter) - "The second amendment says that states may enlist citizens for a trained militia and provide and train them with weapons"

ZERO on the individuals freedom to own and operate their own for their protection.

10th Amendment (as seen in the US Constitution) - The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

10th Amendment (as seen through Harcourt's filter) - "The tenth amendment says that any powers not given to the federal government may be passed on to the state governments and the people."

Anyone want to tell me how one can pass on something to someone when that something wasn't theirs to begin with?

One last note for those of us who profess to shun socialist behavior yet revel in a state mandated education... the Communist Manifesto contains a 'short list' of required practices to make way for a communist society.

#10 on that list - "Free education for all children in public schools."

Anonymous said...

I found this gem in my mailbox yesterday morning:

I’m fed up with teachers and their hefty salary guides. What we need here is a little perspective.

If I had my way, I’d pay these teachers myself, and I’d pay them baby-sitting wages.

That’s right, instead of paying these outrageous taxes, I’d give them $3.00 an hour out of my pocket.

And I’m only going to pay them for 5 hours, not coffee breaks or that long lunch they get.

That would be $15.00 a day.

Each parent should then pay $15.00 a day for these teachers to baby-sit his or her child. Even if they have more than one child, it’s still a lot cheaper than private day care.

Now how many children do they teach a day…maybe twenty?? That’s $15.00 X 20 = $300 a day.

But remember, they only work 180 days a year! I’m not going to pay them for all those vacations they get!

So that is $300 X 180 days = $54,000 (just a minute, I think my calculator needs batteries.)

I know, now you teachers will say what about those who have ten years of experience or a Master’s Degree?

Well, maybe (to be fair) they could get the minimum wage, and instead of just baby sitting, they could read the kids a story or something.

We can round that off to about $5.00 an hour, times 5 hours, times 20 children. That’s $500 a day times 180 days.

That’s $90,000…huh??? Wait a minute, let’s get a little perspective on this. Did anyone see a salary guide around here???

Richard Watson said...

First of all, union thugs??? Who are these union thugs? I keep hearing that "unions" are bad, but where is the proof? Especially with Utah Educators. By the way, the UEA is not a true union, it is an association. But it needs to be a union and it needs to start fighting back the idiotic attacks from the right.
Second, for those who keep thinking that public education is falling apart, we can blame our Republican Legislators for the lack of concern they have for public schools. If someone runs away from a problem, is the problem going to be solved? Of course not. And the voucher program will do just that. Our lawmakers want to run away from solving our problems in public schools just to satisfy a handful of ultra conservatives.
It's amazing how Republicans complain about how bad government is, then they get elected and prove it.

Rob said...

Single mom,

Union thugs?

Since my election as vice chair of the Utah Democratic Party I have met with hundreds of union officials and members. I have yet to meet a "union thug", especially in the Utah Education Association.

Your misrepresenting of the good parents and teachers who are involved in the referendum effort is reprehensible, and ironic considering that PCE is partially funded by contributions from the Walmart and Amway thugs, err, I mean fortunes.

Rob said...

By the way, The United States is a Union.

A Single Mom said...

No Rob,

The United States is a Republic, read your civics book

Anonymous said...

The ongoing propaganda campaign against Wal-Mart ignores what is probably the most important aspect of it: It is primarily a labor union-inspired campaign against Wal-Mart employees, as well as the company in general. This is the essential truth of all union organizing campaigns. Historically, all of the violence, libel, and intimidation that goes along with "organizing campaigns" has been directed at competing, non-union labor, not management.

It's bad enough that teachers and TSA workers are union - they care about themselves than their jobs.

Anonymous said...

So as vice chair of the Utah Democratic party (the party whose core base are labor unions) you've never had a bad experience with union bosses? That's so odd? That doesn't make sense at all.

Well, try being one of the few teachers in your school who isn't a member of the union, who gets visits from the union rep every week, who supports vouchers because of the benefits it will provide to Utah children, and who doesn't agree with the petition.

Try being that person, and maybe, just maybe, you won't have such a rosy picture of the union when they come knocking on your classroom door during school hours trying to shove a petition down your throat!

I suggest people read "The War Against Hope: How teachers' unions hurt children, hinder teachers, and endanger public education" by Rod Paige, former US Secretary of Education.

Unions have their place in the system, but the system is broke.

Think about it.

Teachers are paid based on experience and degrees (degrees which don't even necessarily have to deal with the subject they teach). Teachers aren't paid based on how well they teach. Could you imagine trying to run an organization where you couldn't pay your best employees more?? It's ridiculous.

On top of that, the union wants all teachers to be paid the same, so math and science teachers get paid the same as gym teachers. No wonder there's a shortage of math and science teachers!! For crying out loud, if you want more math and science teachers, pay them more than other types of teachers!!

It's called common sense, and the union's policies don't seem to have any.

Everyone likes to blame the Legislature for the lack of funding, but how come local school boards (which are often run by teachers unions or their sympathizers) don't raise property taxes?!! They love to pass the buck on to someone else.

Also, isn't the purpose of unions to represent employees against management? Well, in our broken system, the people in management are also members of the union. No wonder teachers get screwed over! Instead of worrying about improving conditions for teachers, the union is more worried about getting its people into the high paying admin jobs.

It's so messed up that I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!!!

Paul Hanson said...

s we are a republic. Unfortunately the majority of Utahns are not being represented!

I do see where Rob is coming from however, Abe Lincoln fought to keep our "Union" united.

God bless the Union!

a single mom said...

The union bosses are the only ones who get any kind of dividend at all from being union these days.

If working conditions are good, pay and benefits are competitive there is no reason for a person to join a union.

Anonymous said...

Any college grad would know we are a republic, come on Rob..don't leave yourself open to hits like that

Peter said...

I want to thank Dave for writing about a very important concept. The Democrats have been attacking the Legislature for the status quo. The Republicans have been attacking the unions for the status quo.

Have we completely forgotten about the school boards both state and local? They have the power of the purse as well. Most school boards are not at their local and voted board leeways. Why not? They are largely responsible for curriculum and teachers.

Do we want to get serious about our education problems? I do!

Also, I applaud the Legislature for passing vouchers. It's probably not a panacea nor the silver bullet but at least they are looking at potential solutions and additional tools.

More money alone will not create a better education system.

Anonymous said...

Rob said, “Since my election as vice chair of the Utah Democratic Party I have met with hundreds of union officials and members. I have yet to meet a "union thug", especially in the Utah Education Association.”

Rob of course they are nice to you…how many checks have they written to the Democratic Party and to democratic candidates so that you will be their lap dog?

Try working in an open shop environment where you refuse to join the union and see what a living hell your work life becomes.

Shame on you and your tie to organized labor!!

Rob said...

Of course we are a republic. If you don't get my play on words, oh well.

The fact is it is silly how single mom and others are using the image of "union thugs" to to misrepresent those who are involved with the referendum petition.

What I learned in public school:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Richard Watson said...

I can't believe I'm reading how awful "unions" are. Does anyone remember the history of labor in this country? Obviously not. Ultra-conservatives want to return to the days of child labor, low wages, no insurance, no days off, no safety regulations, etc.
Business and unions have coexisted for a reason. Happy employees are productive employees. And happy employees help business make a profit. Take away either and our economy will suffer.
But in today's right wing "dream world", they want every business to run like Wal-Mart, including education. Funny how they stress "choice", but in a Wal-Mart world, alot of choices are taken away.(have you ever been to a town where the only store is Wal-Mart?)
And it's more than if workers are treated fairly, small businesses also suffer in the "Wal-Mart" business world.
Conservatives are quick to argue about unions, but they also ignore the small businessman/woman.
Also, the usual arguement that "union bosses" gets all the money is a lame arguement and has watched too many mobster movies. But what about the CEOs who are compensated more than 200 times of what their employees are earning.
Where is the outrage over them? I guess greed is good and a worker wanting to put food on the table is bad.

Anonymous said...

How many union checks have you taken Rob?

A single Mom said...

Dated..but speaks volumes

1999-2000 Top Overall Contributors to State Party Committees
Profile: Top Contributors - Sector Totals - Top Industries - List of Committees Profiled - Search State Soft Recs

Sort By: Top Democratic Donors
to Dems

AFL-CIO $50,850 $50,850 $0
LEUCADIA NATIONAL CORP $46,500 $46,500 $0
Bastian, Bruce $45,000 $45,000 $0
Cumming, Ian M & Annette $26,500 $26,500 $0
ENVIROCARE $27,900 $20,900 $7,000
Smith, Jeff $20,000 $20,000 $0
TEAMSTERS-DRIVE $18,500 $18,500 $0
NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSN $21,656 $17,956 $3,700
UTAH LEAGUE OF CREDIT UNIONS $17,758 $15,600 $2,158
HOWA CONSTRUCTION $15,500 $15,500 $0
UNITED STEELWORKERS $15,000 $15,000 $0
US WEST $29,030 $15,000 $14,030
MEDIABANG $13,125 $13,125 $0
FIDELITY INVESTMENTS $15,151 $11,151 $4,000
Esner, Sandra $11,000 $11,000 $0
UTAH TAX COMMISSION $10,868 $10,868 $0
Graham, Michael Neil $10,000 $10,000 $0
OPERATING ENGINEERS 3 $10,000 $10,000 $0
AT&T $18,750 $8,150 $10,600
ZIONS BANCORP $12,600 $7,600 $5,000
Abraham, S Daniel $7,000 $7,000 $0
UTAH BANKERS ASSN $6,200 $6,200 $0
UTAH BEER WHOLESALERS ASSN $23,760 $6,000 $17,760
Henrie, Tanya $5,602 $5,602 $0
NEWSPAPER AGENCY CORP $5,114 $5,114 $0
Korchmaryov, Arina $5,000 $5,000 $0

Data based on reports filed with each state's Secretary of State or other state election disclosure agency and cover the 1999-2000 election cycle.

Rob said...

Q: How much money would it take to turn Rob Miller into a union lapdog?

A: There isn't enough money on this earth to turn me into anybody's lapdog.

I accepted three checks from union organizations when I ran for Davis County Commission.

$400.00 from the Teamsters, $500.00 from the Communication Workers, and $300.00 from the United Steelworkers.

I also proudly excepted a $500.00 check from the AFL-CIO.

Unlike PCE, I am not scared to disclose the donations I have accepted from any organization or citizen.

Now back to reality, this is about the people of Utah and their right to have an equal voice with the Utah Legislature.

A Sugar House Resident said...

“…this is about the people of Utah and their right to have an equal voice with the Utah Legislature.”

No, this about professional associations and unions loosing power and not maintain the status quo.

It’s about parents wanting what is best of their children, and if that means using their tax dollars for private schools, so be it.

It’s about the pro-active change taking place in America to do away with the monopoly that public education has in our society.

Anonymous said...


Correct me if I'm wrong, but as part of state campaign finance rules you HAD to publicize the source of your donations, and PCE has done that as well.

It's all available on the Lt. Guv's website, and frankly, it doesn't reveal anything too shocking:

The Dem's get money from organizations that share their view on things, and PCE gets donations from organizations that share its view.

The real question is, whose view do you agree with?

Personally, I don't agree with the teachers unions' or the AFL-CIO or the TEAMSTERS' view on things, but I sure agree with PCE's and the organizations (like All Children Matter) that send them money, and I hope they keep sending them money because there's no way parents are going to get parental choice without PCE's help.

We simply can't compete with 30,000 public school employees and 20,000 or so teacher union members.

Parents who support school choice don't have free access to each others work place, work email, work mailbox, and work break room to communicate and organize. We don't even know which parents on our blocks support school choice, but our opponents sure know who's on their side, and have more than enough publicly funded ways to stay in touch.

On top of that, there aren't 500 to 2,000 kids running around our workplaces to whose backpacks we can attach political propaganda for them to take home to their parents.

Sorry for the tangent, but I'm glad for the guys that started PCE, and I hope they're in it for the long run.

Anonymous said...


I'm conservative and I support vouchers, and guess what, I don't want everything run like Wal-Mart and even more surprisingly, I'm against child labor, too!! (Shocking, I know)

But I'll sure take Wal-Mart over any government-run department store. Just ask the East Germans how well that worked out.

If anything, your indictment against Wal-Mart and lack of competition is an indictment against our current public school system! Even in the world of department and grocery stores, Wal-Mart doesn't control 96% of the market like our public schools do in the world of k-12 education.

Anonymous said...

Look what happened to Germany after they eliminated organized labor.

Every organization has their problems, but I cannot support a voucher system that is sponsered by Wal-mart or Amway. Wal-mart treats their employees like cattle and Amway is just a scam.

I'm signing the petition.

Rob said...

For Dave,

Parents for Choice refuses to comment on the source of the organization's financing until after a September federal tax filing deadline for PAC disclosure forms.

"Nobody's going to comment,'' communications director Nancy Pomeroy said. When pressed about the sources of Parents for Choice's money, specifically All Children Matter, Pomeroy said: ``I don't know what you're talking about.''

Anonymous said...

Catholic schools are accepting vouchers...if you are catholic don't sign..you will be hurting the church

Emily said...

Single Mom -

You don't want the voters to VOTE on whether they want to do this? The referendum is simply about putting it to a vote. What do you fear? If the voucher people are right, you win.

No matter what, it will be the PEOPLE deciding how they want their tax dollars spent.

Single mom's wife said...

Single mom isn't a single mom. Single mom is a man who visits this blog like a two pack a day smoker.

How do I know? I'm single mom's wife, and I'm lonely.

Sorry honey but you're obsessed.

Richard Watson said...

to Dave and other anti-education followers:
I work in the grocery industry and you'd be shocked in just how much Wal-Mart does control the food industry. Manufacturers have adjusted their production to fit Wal-Mart's needs and have given the rest of the industry the "take what we have or leave it". Wal-Mart is having a ripple effect throughout the industry.
By the way, Wal-Mart is a big contributor for PCE and vouchers.
On vouchers, why can't anti-education followers see that it is not about choice? The choice is there now!!!
Actually, I could believe that arguement if were not for the idiotic arguements that some how public education is a monopoly and the unions want to keep their status quo. The monopoly and the union arguement is where conservatives look silly. Public education is not a business, therefore there is no competition. Apples and oranges.
But, I guess if conservatives keep saying it, they probably convince themselves it is true.
President Kennedy’s historian, John Kenneth Galbraith, sums up the intent of PCE and our Republican controlled Legislature. He said, “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

Anonymous said...

Lets remember that this is not a partisan issue. Only PCE and some members of Utah GOP leaderaship want people to believe this.

A single mom said...

"President Kennedy’s historian, John Kenneth Galbraith.."


Galbraith was an economist, Arthur Schleisnger, Jr - who recently passed away was Kennedy's historian.