I don't normally get involved in state politics, but when I saw a commercial with Oreo cookies in it, I just had to jump in. (After all, they're America's favorite cookie.) On that commercial which supported referendum 1, some man was telling me that if a child leaves the public school system, he would take only three Oreos with him, leaving three Oreos for the rest of us. Three extra cookies for the rest of us? Why, that sounds delicious.
That must have been what William Sharp was thinking when he wrote his Oct.23 editorial supporting school vouchers. He wrote, "Make no mistake the money opposing vouchers is coming from hard left, anti-God liberals." Only godless "liberals" would try to stop the rest of us from getting three extra Oreo cookies, right Mr. Sharp?
Dangling the proverbial cookie in front of emotional voters will unfortunately sway many to vote yes on referendum 1. And I'm sure that there are many who will jump on Sharp's name-calling bandwagon and let the emotionally charged word "liberal" drive their election decision-making. But for the rest of us, let's take a moment to look at the voucher issue rationally and logically.
First, this is not an issue of choice. Parents are legally allowed to take their children to any school in the state. Nothing is stopping any child from attending any school of their choice but two factors: transportation and cost. As transportation will still need to be provided by the parent regardless of whether referendum 1 passes, this is also a moot point. Cost, however, is the very question vouchers attempt to address.
According to the proposed referendum, the average voucher will be approximately $2,000 per year. With the average private school tuition of $8,000 per year, that will leave the parent to pay an average of $6,000 per year (per child). I don't know about you, but I don't have $6,000 to lay down each year (for each child) for private school, let alone $8,000 per year.
Who does the voucher system help, then? It helps those who can already afford private school (the wealthy) get out of paying a portion of their child's tuition. These wealthy individuals want to pull their kid out of public school, then siphon a few grand off the public school system to pay for something they can already afford.
This is not a republican nor a democrat issue. This is not a "liberal" or "conservative" issue. (In fact, the very "conservative" KSL Editorial Board has spoken out against referendum 1.) This is about "rich people" wanting to take our "poor people" tax dollars to pay for their kids' private school tuition. If you want to send your child to a private school, go for it. Referendum 1 will neither allow nor restrict you. But don't take the average citizens' tax dollars with you. If you pull your kid from public school, we're keeping all six Oreo cookies. But thanks for asking.
And in case you are interested, I like to twist one side off, lick the creamy center, then eat the two chocolatey cookies.