The biggest takeaway that everyone on both sides can enjoy is that we are all sincerely interested in improving the education that we provide for our children. Emily, on Utah Amicus, said
As citizens of Utah and more importantly as human beings, we know that education of our children is the most important thing we can do for our country. I believe more than ever that crusaders on both sides of this debate have one common goal: to provide the best possible education for our children. I hope the voucher debate has brought us together, instead of pull us apart.Jesse, over at Coolest Family Ever, had a very magnanimous (except for correctly lambasting Parents for Choice in Education) way of looking at the issue from the perspective of the 38% who voted for Referendum 1:.
We lost. You know what makes it worse? We deserved it. We deserve the gloating and victory dancing from the opponents. Why? Because we let PCE run a filthy low-brow campaign and we didn't do anything to stop it. So now what?I completely agree.
Let's put this legislation to the side for a while. I know, it's really tempting to touch up the defeated bill and wheel it on out again, but we have some real work to do between now and then. We need to spend the next five years addressing all of the criticisms we faced this year.
Lastly, we just can't talk our way past valid concerns. The switch rate and break even point are valid concerns. The price of tuition is a valid concern. Giving vouchers to upper-income families is a valid concern. Yes, this bill is the result of almost a decade of compromise, but I don't think the Republican-dominated legislature compromised enough.Steve Urquhart represented the legislature very well with his comments, and we can only hope that the rest of the legislature exhibits such grace and aplomb.
Along with some silliness on both sides, we had some of the best public dialogue we’ve had on education in a very long time. Though over-the-top commentary frequently gets reported and facile or fictional talking points find legs, I enjoyed many tremendous conversations with (often tremendously informed) individuals, both favoring and opposing vouchers. Those conversations involved people earnestly trying to figure out how to best educate our children.Although I can see and in a small measure understand Jen's concern at Jen's Green Journal that some others in the legislature might try to be vindictive in this case as it has appeared to be in others.
I’ve received many calls and emails. Surprisingly few suggest that I throw myself off a cliff. Most (from both sides of the issue) said they enjoyed the debate and hope that we can use the increased attention to further improve education in Utah. My sincere appreciation goes out to everyone who gave their time to engage in the political process.
I'll admit that I voted for vouchers despite the warts I saw. I hoped that we could enact the law and later fix the problems that I saw, such as:
- Creating an income cutoff at which families no longer qualify for the voucher.
- Making it so that more children on the lower end of the scale would actually be able to use vouchers.
- Ensuring that public education doesn't get stiffed out of all the money saved by the state when a student leaves the public schools.
- Ensuring that voucher savings really can reduce class sizes and increase teacher salaries instead of just hoping that they might.
When it comes right down to it, we should remember that we are Utah. We are the best state in the Union. We enjoy living here, and we enjoy improving our quality of life in all areas.
Just because we don't agree on a particular solution for something doesn't make us enemies. I have been worried that it would. For the most part, though, I think we showed that even in the greatest of controversies, Utahns can be gracious and respectful of opposing viewpoints.
So let's move onward and upward--together. The dialog has just begun.