I believe personal educational autonomy is far more valuable to families than getting government funded vouchers/assistance tied with regulation and intermediary agencies “approving” familial decisions.
On Monday, January 23, 2023, the Utah State Board of Education held an emergency meeting for the purposes of discussing and taking a position the HB215. It can be viewed here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjCT8wPt6uI) As the USBE 8 representative, I did sign on to this request “for the purposes of public discourse and debate.”
I engaged in this discussion as the representative for USBE 8 in the Legislative meeting on 1/19/2023 (https://www.youtube.com/live/O7Vykl2HM5I)
I voted to oppose the HB for many of, but not limited to, the following reasons:
- It grows government in unprecedented ways.
- The bill is an omnibus bill (and could likely be determined unconstitutional): “With HB 215, there are two distinct and separate subjects contained in the Bill. One for public teacher salaries and one for creating an entirely new system of “choice” in Utah that gives public money in unprecedented amounts to private individuals and actors. The two subjects are not interrelated or correlated in any manner, as one can occur without any need for the other to occur.”
- This bill moves to regulate home and private schools in bold and nefarious ways through both government (USBE) and unelected bureaucrats (identified in the bill as the “program manager”).
- It places an intermediary quasi-government agency between parents and providers. This is inappropriate government regulation of the family and will manipulate the market.
- There is NO restriction on data mining and, for the first time, engages the data mining of our home and private school students through tests and portfolios. While others disagree with me on this, they cannot point to an injunction on the same.
- Should this bill pass, it will allow for scholarship recipients to use scholarship monies (by and through parent receipts or otherwise) to purchase real (personal) property that can be resold on the free market.
- It is not the proper role of government to create competition, it is the government’s role to prevent monopolies.
- Private businesses should not be subsidized by taxes, or they will cease to be private. Education is not an exception.
- Receiving funding from redistributed taxes creates more families who are dependent on the government. It is a conservative principle that we want families to become self-reliant.
In my opinion, this bill was poorly conceived, poorly written and was executed in the dark. God/Righteousness works in the light. I view the work in its entirety as deeply flawed and do not believe it can be amended into good public policy.
And while I “agreed” with my colleagues “across the aisle,” I do so for very different reasons. My opposition to expanding government was made clear during the election cycle. Furthermore, my assertion that I would defend and honour the fourth amendment to the constitution was also clear.
On Monday, I stood on the principles espoused, and I will do so again. Should the legislature be bent on initiatives of this nature, a moral way to engage is to explore a tax exemption for those who choose not to use the public education system.
All my best.
Utah State Board of Education, District 8