If there are good reasons to vote for the school-voucher referendum in November, a recent argument from the Sutherland Institute isn’t one of them. According to the conservative Utah think tank, public schools are an anti-Mormon plot. Sutherland director Paul Mero ratcheted up the wacky meter for a new essay in which he argues dead Mormon pioneers would have voted for vouchers. Public schools, historically, were designed by groups like the Ku Klux Klan as an attempt at “cultural cleansing” of minority groups, according to Sutherland. And, for Mormons, public schools will mean “cultural extinction.” Who knew? All this time, we thought Utah’s public high school students were being given time off to attend class at LDS seminaries across the street.
Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon is putting the weight of his office behind the fight against childhood obesity. Too many county children are suffering from diseases related to obesity, such as diabetes, Corroon points out, and more than half of the county’s residents are unhealthily large. For the past two months, Corroon has spearheaded an exercise campaign that highlighted the county’s parks and trails as an alternative to TV or video games. More importantly, he banned candy and sweetened soft drinks from vending machines at county recreation centers. The county’s big man on campus even shed a few pounds himself—but still has the gravitas to enforce the junk-food ban.
If there is a plot against Utah school children, it appears to be anti-Mexican rather than anti-Mormon. Two report cards on Utah’s schools were recently released with opposite results. One from federal No Child Left Behind offices shows Beehive State schools plummeting further into mediocrity with 25 percent of schools failing compared to 18 percent the year before. The other report card, from Utah education officials, shows that all is well. One big reason for the spread is Utah’s way of measuring progress by minorities and children learning English: Brown-skinned children don’t count as much on Utah’s scorecard. Nothing to worry about, say state school officials. Utah schoolchildren may have to rely on those teachers recently imported from Mexico to turn things around.