"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Out-of-State Corporate Money Bought Utah Voucher Bill

Here is a clip from a great piece of local reporting by TV News channel, KLS:

The controversy over Utah's school voucher program has generated a lot of public and private debate. Now, Eyewitness News has discovered that some heavy hitters with big checkbooks are making sure their side of the issue is heard.

We followed a money trail that led to the likes of Wal-mart, Amway, Overstock.com and others. We followed the money, looked at contribution filings and found there was plenty of campaign cash on both sides of the voucher debate. Money on the pro-voucher side was in much bigger sums, half of it coming from out of state.

A big push is on to repeal, via referendum, the law creating a groundbreaking $3,000 per child school voucher program, which passed by one vote in this year's most dramatic Capitol Hill battle.

. . . .

The political action committee for Parents for Choice in Education took in half a million dollars last year; half came from out-of-state, $240,000 from All Children Matter.

Sen. Pat Jones said, "Why should well funded people out of state care about Utah's school system? What is in it for them?"

Matthew Burbank is a political science professor at the University of Utah with a possible answer to that question. "Why would people outside of the state of Utah be interested? Well one of the reasons is that this creates a precedent."

We found most of those opening their wallets have a philosophical stake in the issue, including Patrick Byrne, founder and CEO of Overstock.com, who gave Parents for Choice $80,000 last year. . . .

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