Utah Governor Signs School Choice Program Into Law

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Frances Floresca Contributor
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Republican Utah Gov. Spencer Cox  signed school choice legislation into law Saturday, providing families funds to send their children to private schools.

HB 215 Funding for Teacher Salaries and Optional Education Opportunities, sponsored by Rep. Candice Pierucci (R-Herriman) will provide eligible families $8,000 scholarships for more education options and give licensed educators a $6,000 pay raise according to KSL.com. The school choice program is known as the Utah Fits All Scholarship Program.

In 2022, Gov. Cox threatened to veto a similar bill according to the Deseret News, but it failed in the House before it could move forward. [RELATED: Iowa Gov Signs Into Law New School Choice Program That Funds Private School Students] 

A rally was held for the bill on Capitol Hill with over 1500 students and parents Jan. 24. There was also an opposition rally on Jan. 23 according to KSL News Radio.

After the bill’s final vote Friday, Sen. Lincoln Fillmore (R-South Jordan) introduced the founder and director of Roots Charter High School, Tyler Bastian.

“Roots Charter High School exclusively serves students who are at risk of economic failure. These are students who are about to drop out of their traditional school, and they come to Roots,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s a last effort to try to salvage education. It’s a great school, and I hope that we are able to change some of our incentives so that schools like Roots aren’t punished for focusing on the students who need help the most.”

The Utah Education Association, the Parent Teacher Association, and the conservative Utah Eagle Forum opposed the legislation according to the Deseret News.  The Republican-majority state school board opposed the bill, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

According to parent advocacy group, Utah Parents United, Utah is the first state to pass a school choice education savings accounts with a supermajority.

“This is a historic day! The Utah Fits All Scholarship program puts students first and will soon enable thousands of families to choose the education option that is best for their children.” State Policy Network Senior Policy Advisor and Utah resident, Katherine Bathgate told the Daily Caller.

“Supporting education means supporting the best approach for educating each individual child in our state. Supporting teachers as the frontline of education, and supporting students who should be the absolute focus of our efforts in education, do not have to be mutually exclusive,” Rep. Pierucci told the Daily Caller. “The Utah Fits All Scholarship is for every child, from every background, with every learning style.”