What do I think about vouchers? I don't have a one word answer.
I love the ideas of competition and parents choice.
Is a voucher system the answer?
I do have concerns that vouchers could be a tool to have State Government, (and perhaps even the Federal government), have more control over private schools.
The Federal government has no Constitutional right to be involved in education. (Art. 1, Sec. 8).
The State Constitution is pretty clear that "Neither the state of Utah nor its political subdivisions may make any appropriation for the direct support of any school or educational institution controlled by any religious organization. "
So vouchers couldn't directly help any private religious school, any school accepting vouchers could have more government control, and any private school not accepting the vouchers could be at a disadvantage to those that do.
The Salt Lake County Republican Party Platform states this:
We believe that all children should have access to quality education. Parents have the primary right and responsibility to educate their children, and we support their right to choose public, private, or home education. We support incentives to promote competitive excellence. We encourage cooperative initiatives to help all Utahans become literate in English. We support the prudent and profitable use of school trust lands. We support all interest and dividends from the permanent State School Fund being distributed to each public and charter school to improve student academic performance.
See also the Utah State Republican Party Platform.
Could a bill for vouchers be crafted that solve the stated concerns? Perhaps. We will have to see.
I would be more open to private charity scholarships and/or tuition tax credits, as they are less apt to run a foul of the State Constitution or create more government intrusion. The numbers would have to be looked at and work, as the last thing we want to do is hurt either the students or the teachers. Charter Schools are public schools with more local control. They interest me. We should monitor their progress.