Public schools are essentially a one-size-fits-all paradigm. Yet one size does not really seem to fit all. Charter schools have significantly remedied this problem, and thousands of Utah public school students are thriving in various charter schools throughout the state. Several thousand more are taking advantage of another choice--home schooling. Until I spent a year in Iraq, my wife and I had home-schooled our children. While I was gone, our children were put into a K-12 charter school. We are very impressed with it, and all of them, continuing in that same charter school, are doing very well in their studies.
Apparently, we need to have additional choices, however. The State of Utah, as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, reported that for the most recent reporting period (2006?), only 84% of Utah Public school students graduated as expected. The Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE) extrapolates this to mean that about 8,400 public school students per year do not graduate in Utah. This, according to AEE means that:
• Dropouts from the class of 2006 cost the state more than $2.2 billion in lost wages, taxes, and productivity over their lifetimes.Those are some financial figures that would never be picked up by a Legislative Fiscal Analysis, yet they are compelling--even if only a fraction of the non-graduating students were to graduate with the help of a voucher to a private school.
• If Utah’s likely dropouts from the class of 2006 graduated instead, the state could save more than $79.1 million in Medicaid and expenditures for uninsured care over the course of those young people’s lifetimes.
• If Utah’s high schools and colleges raise the graduation rates of Hispanic, African-American, and Native-American students to the levels of white students by 2020, the potential increase in personal income would add more than $781 million to the state economy.
• Increasing the graduation rate and college matriculation of male students in Utah by only 5 percent could lead to combined savings and revenue of almost $39.3 million each year by reducing crime-related costs.
Don't nitpick the financial numbers. No matter how you slice it, the State of Utah will save money with vouchers. Don't nitpick the politics of subterfuge by Parents for Choice in Education--terrible but not the worst politicking that has ever gone on in Utah by far.
Instead look at the merits of vouchers, including this merit that I had not before understood or contemplated. Here is possibly a hidden diamond in the rough of the school voucher controversy. It is likely that several more students will graduate with high school diplomas if they can use a voucher.
If you didn't have a reason to vote for vouchers in November, now you have at least one.
Vote for Referendum 1 on November 6th.