Thursday, August 9, 2007

MINUTES FROM AUGUST 8, 2007

United Womens Forum

Minutes
August 8, 2007

Debra Poulsen welcomed guests to the UWF at the home of Linda Reeves on August 8, 2007. Lauralee Christensen gave an opening prayer and Barbara Derricott led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Guest speaker Doug Holmes, Chairman of Choice in Education, was introduced and he was accompanied by his assistant, Spencer Hinckley. Doug has lived around the country and for the past 7 years has resided in Farmington, Utah. He is the father of six children. He has worked in the telecommunication industry in his professional life and in his discretionary time he has looked for ways to make a significant difference in the community. “Good causes make society better,” he stated. He has seen and felt that modern trends in education need positive reform commenting that “…education is a root issue to civility, morality and prosperity in society.” Doug has worked extensively with the legislature to make positive changes in education laws that affect our children. He has studied education reform and acknowledges that performance does not happen because of more spending per student, teachers accreditation or class size. It happens because of parent interest and involvement, education in household, traditional families, and poverty rates.

Doug taught us about how the Voucher program works. Essentially, he said that the Voucher issue is “state rights vs. parent rights” and that public school advocates feel that the school system is responsible for kids – not their parents. “Vouchers” he said, “empower parents and they (Vouchers) are tool, not a magic cure.” He said that Vouchers would:
• Increase public funding
• reduce class size
• increase teachers pay
• Invest in new technology
• Involve parents
• Allow struggling students to find a school that is a better fit

Taxpayers will spend more than $7500 per student next year in public schools. The average Voucher is less than $2000. That means that every child that uses a Voucher will save the public school system more than $5500. Local schools will have more money, and also fewer students. Funding per student goes up, while class sizes go down. The Voucher Bill provides for the next five years that $7500 per student will still go into the public school budget. Over 13 years, that will give more than 1 billion dollars to public schools. Where that billion dollars goes is decided by local school districts. They are free to spend it where they choose. They can spend it on more administrators, teachers salaries, classroom materials or whatever they choose. It behooves us to know who we are voting for on our School Boards because they will be the ones to decide how our money is spent.

Those eligible for Vouchers:
• All public school children
• All children not yet of kindergarten age
• Children currently attending private school
• Children being home schooled (if they qualify as low income)

Voucher Amounts:
• Amount is scaled on household size and income
• Highest scholarship amount (for lowest income) is $3,000 and lowest amount is $500.00.

Parent Responsibility:
• Parents submit application to the state office of education, verifying sized and income.
• Student is awarded a Voucher
• Voucher payments are made in four equal payments during the school year. Checks are sent to the private school where the parent must restrictively endorse it to the school for tuition payment
• Parents pay the remainder of tuition to private school

Voucher programs already exist in many states. Studies of these programs have all shown that Vouchers help all kids.
• Funding for students in public schools goes up, allowing class size to go down
• Students who use Vouchers are most likely to be low income children who struggle in public school
• Academic performance goes up for students who use Vouchers, and for students who choose their local school

For more information about Vouchers contact: http://www.choiceineducation.org/research.php

Next, Pricilla Johnson related her personal experience with private school and her 16 year old daughter. Pricilla spoke of her 3rd grade daughter who had struggled in public school. She was very shy and was always in large classes of 32-35 students. Her grades dropped and she did not do well at all. In 6th grade, Pricilla found the Children First Utah organization which helps provide ½ tuition scholarships for needy families. Thru that organization, Pricilla was able to find a private school to help her daughter. She started out with tuition prices of $3500 which eventually became $5000, and then $8000 and Children First Utah helped her out. The size of her daughter’s classes now is 20-22 and she is having great success as a 16 year old. She is college bound and hoping to one day attend medical school at Johns Hopkins. For anyone desiring to speak to Pricilla, you can reach her at: 801-392-1705.

Questions to Doug:
Who will be left in public schools?
Answer: Usually those who leave public schools are the ones struggling. Kids move because the public system isn’t working for them. They need something different. Everyone else will stay.

Are Charter Schools public schools?
Answer: Yes. Students are picked by a lottery system.

Why aren’t teachers in favor of Vouchers?
Answer: They are often bombarded by misinformation from teachers unions who have other agendas. They are not educated from both sides of the issue.

How can WE make a difference?
Answer: We are the underdogs. The public needs to be education on the issues of Vouchers. There is strength in numbers and right now there the teachers unions are able to pass out literature in mass amounts at the schools, in PTA meetings and other venues.
• We need to educate our families and friends and get everyone to the polls to VOTE in November.
• Be a voice to the legislature. A written letter is more valuable than email
• Pay attention to who we elect to local school boards.
• One source in Davis County is: www.davisparents.org Randy Smith is the source of this site and he provides current information about local spending in schools.
• Note that the NEA and PTA advocate moral issues such as: same sex marriage, gay rights, abortion, etc. and they contribute to organizations like Planned Parenthood. They have a larger agenda than just school Vouchers. NEA and PTA do not want Vouchers. They will loose support and funding for their agendas when parents choose something other than the public school system.

Where do we get the money to provide scholarships?
Answer: It is privately donated from individual and corporate donors.

In conclusion, Doug stated that: “When Vouchers start working, kids get a better education and it costs less. Government wants to take over the role of parents by giving the schools more rights with students. Vouchers empower parents to make choices for their children.”

Delane England commented briefly about the S chip Bill and the current attempt to re-authorize the old bill. This is a children’s Health Insurance program which is funded by cigarette taxes. The unintended consequences of this Bill are that when taxes from cigarettes run out, other sources will be taxed to fund children’s health care. This Bill would turn over health care of our children to the government. No longer would churches and charities receive tax breaks for this but there would be more welfare. Parents would loose control of their children’s health care. Cost of the Bill would be over 300 billion dollars over 10 years to fund. Some of this money would also be funneled to organizations such as Planned Parenthood.

Next meeting and kickoff for the year is scheduled for September 12, 2007, at 10:00 am. Further announcements will follow.

Submitted: Marge Clayton

1 comment:

CraigJ said...

Fascinating post. Quick question - in addition to supporters, there are many women of faith opposed to private school vouchers on moral grounds. Would UWF be interested in hosting someone to offer another viewpoint?

Kind Regards,

Craig Johnson
Draper