In support of public education

“We urge fair-minded and pro-education Utahns to join the opposition to HB215. Utah school funding is not adequate for the education of our children.”

On Friday, the Utah House of Representatives suspended its own rules to fast-track a bill that would take crucial funding away from public schools to benefit private education ventures.

The bill dangles a well-deserved bonus for teachers in exchange for passing what is essentially a school voucher program — a concept that Utahns have historically opposed in overwhelming numbers. In 2007, Utah voters resoundingly defeated a ballot measure that would have enacted school vouchers. In the 16 years since, Utah taxpayers have consistently voiced opposition for taxpayer dollars being pushed towards private organizations without accountability measures.

With their actions on Friday, the Utah House has denied Utahns across the state an adequate opportunity to review the proposed bill and provide public comment. The timeline of the bill’s passage — from publication of the final language to full passage in the House — was 48 hours.

The bill already has been placed on the schedule for Monday’s Senate Education Committee and could be headed to Gov. Spencer Cox’s desk after Senate passage as soon as next Tuesday. This process is clearly intended to prohibit the public from fully engaging on this critical topic.

Public schools are required to account for the taxpayer dollars expended to instruct students and operate schools. HB215 promises taxpayer funds to private entities — but does not hold them accountable in the same way.

Bill supporters say HB215 will create “healthy competition” with public schools. If private entities are not held to the same standards and public schools are not funded at competitive levels, then the playing field is not equal.

HB215 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin. It does not require the entities receiving this funding to refrain from discrimination based on disability, religion, or sex. It is unconscionable to support using taxpayer dollars to fund institutions that discriminate against any child.

We urge fair-minded and pro-education Utahns to join the opposition to HB215. Utah school funding is not adequate for the education of our children.

Class sizes are large when compared to other states, and our public school needs are far more than the funding appropriated by the legislature.

There appears to be a concerted effort to divert funds away from public education to private entities, just at the time when we need to build stronger support for our students. Supporters of public education must band together to fight these attacks.

Cade Douglas, Superintendent, Sevier Randy Shelly, Superintendent, Wayne Koby Willis, Superintendent, Piute Ralph Squire, Superintendent, South Sanpete John Dodds, Superintendent, Garfield We invite public education supporters to join us in the Hall of Governor’s at the Utah State Capitol on Monday, Jan. 23 at 5 p.m. for a press conference. The press conference is in support of public education.