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School voucher program isn’t everyone's top choice for education

A school bus driving down the street
Elijah Ekdahl
A school bus

In a House committee meeting, Rep. Pierucci emphasized that while public education can be good for some, it doesn’t work for everyone.

“The past couple years really have highlighted that a one size approach really hasn't worked for every child,” Pierucci said.

This is where the Hope Scholarship Program bill would come in. Rep. Pierucci said this bill would offer scholarship money to eligible students to make private school a reality if that’s where they want to attend. For Rep. Pierucci, this bill is about empowerment.

“I think it's just important that we note that regardless of their zip code, or income, every kid should have the option of choices to best serve their educational needs,” Pierucci said. “And that parents, regardless of income, should have the ability to make decisions with their tax dollars to best serve the needs of their children.”

Utah County Commissioner Amelia Powers Gardener said this bill is about choosing what’s best for your child, and that might not always be public school.

“For some children, they are being failed by those systems because they're unique. It's not the fault of those systems. It's every child is unique and every child needs a unique answer,” Gardener said.

While school choice bills are gaining popularity, not everyone agrees. Multiple people and organizations spoke against the bill saying that Utah should be focusing their attention to public schools first. Governor Cox agreed at a recent press conference.

“I'm all in on vouchers, but we have a long way to go before we get there. I want to get there. I believe in vouchers. I can't wait to get there, but now is not the time,” Cox said. “So let's get our starting teacher pay at $60,000, and then let's do vouchers.”

Right now the bill is on the House third reading calendar.

UPDATE: Since this story was written, HB 331 failed in the House.

Emma Feuz is a senior at Utah State University majoring in broadcast journalism with minors in sociology and political science. She grew up in Evanston, Wyoming where, just like Utah State, the sagebrush also grows. Emma found her love of writing at an early age and slowly discovered her interest in all things audio and visual throughout her years in school. She is excited to put those passions to use at UPR. When school isn't taking up her time, Emma loves longboarding, cheering on the Denver Broncos, and cleaning the sink at Angies.