Final voucher debate focuses on funds |

Final voucher debate focuses on funds

Taylor Eisenman, of the Record staff

Since House Bill 148 was passed by the Legislature in February 2007, the controversy about providing state-funded scholarships for children to attend private schools has continued to grow, manifesting itself into two rigorous and amply-funded campaigns, which came head to head Thursday in a presidential-style debate at Ecker Hill International Middle School.

Representing the pro-vouchers side, were Lincoln Fillmore, the communication director for Parents for Choice in Education, and Sen. Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy. Arguing against vouchers were House Representative Mel Brown, R-Coalville and Vic Arnold, from the Utah Education Association, who for the past eight months has chaired the coalition Utahns for Public Schools.

"I believe that the debate over this issue has been a very, very good public process," Brown said in his opening statement. "I don’t know, in my entire political career, of any issue that has engendered this much public interest." While the interest in this issue cannot be denied, turnout at Thursday’s debate was disappointing with little more than 20 audience members.

Opening Statements

Fillmore said as an educator, his question is, "Will this help us better educate all the children in our state?"

Fillmore and Niederhauser focused on the child’s right to an education that best suits him or her, and the parents’ right to choose.

"It seems like my compatriots are really focused on improving the system, rather than focusing on the children," Fillmore said. "We

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