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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The value of a good education

By Janice Kopaunik

Utah has been known for its family-friendly policies, but apparently responsibility to children stops with having them — forget educating them.

As college students, we should be able to appreciate what a good education can bring to the individual and the community at large. Through education, we have made medical discoveries, cured diseases, experienced technological growth and overall become more civilized people.

As we realize the value of a good education, we should be outraged by the school voucher proposal. It claims to benefit our children, though all the evidence says otherwise.

As a private school student and a public school teacher I have seen both sides of the story and can tell you for a fact that vouchers threaten the strength of our communities by denying all children an adequate education.

Mine would have been one of the families to benefit from student vouchers. I went to private schools, but my family was far from rich. Despite the costs, it was important to my parents to keep me in private school. In a state with such inefficient public schools, they saw the value in a good education and worked hard to give it to me.

Although it prides itself on being a family-oriented state, Utah spends the least money on education. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in the 2004-2005 school year Utah spent $5,257 per student — well below the national average of $9,414. Even our closest competitor for last place (Arizona), spent more than $1,000 per student more than we did. Advancement-conscious states such as New York spend more than $14,000 per student.

Despite the lack of funding, Utah’s public school students are doing well. Test scores are at or above national proficiency levels in all areas. We are more likely to graduate from high school and perform better on college entrance exams. What is the reason for this education miracle? We have some amazing teachers who work hard, devote their lives to their students, often spending their own measly salaries on student supplies.

The threat of competition will not drive schools to provide better education. In reality, the public school system is working wonders with the little funding that it gets.

However, there is an obvious problem with the public school system. It doesn’t make sense how the voucher solution of taking money away from the schools will help. While the system promises opportunity by allowing students to take tax funds with them to the school of their choice, public or private, the fact that public schools stand to lose a lot of money is ignored. Many students are in private schools now while their tax dollars stay in public schools. Unless, that is, a bill such as this is passed.

Advocates for the voucher system claim that more students will be able to afford private school. Poor families will not suddenly be able to afford an $8,000 tuition even with the coupon. Most families won’t even be able to afford the cost of leaving work to drive their child across town to the private school. Few will be able to afford a better education. Those who can will get a tax break, and those that cannot will have less money coming into their school system.

Why is it that Utah does not value our children enough to give them a future by funding public education properly?

Seeing the value in a good education, it looks as if I am going to have to send my children to private school to get it, but the public schools can keep the money. They need it more than I do.

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