Policy Perspectives

Thursday, October 25, 2007 Vouchers, School District Splits, Voting   Volume 3 Issue 10  
Vouchers: The Basics
New School Districts in Salt Lake County
Is My Ballot Being Counted?
Revisiting the Call to Action on Obesity
How to Hug a Cactus: Seeing Beyond the Spikes
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August 29, 2007
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June 27, 2007
Nonprofits, Utah Energy, Utah's Uninsured
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Vouchers: The Basics
Jennifer Robinson, Janice Houston and Sarah Wilhelm

In 2007, the Utah Legislature passed the Parent Choice in Education Program, which, if implemented, will provide scholarships (vouchers) to children to attend private schools. The Center for Public Policy and Administration has completed an analysis of the Parent Choice in Education Program. The following report addresses who is eligible for the vouchers, the standards for private schools, and the fiscal impact on the state and school districts. Some of the points of interest are that students already enrolled in private schools don't qualify for vouchers unless they're considered low income, private schools must apply to take part in the voucher program, but are not required to participate, and vouchers will cost between $43 and $59 million when fully implemented.
New School Districts in Salt Lake County
Consideration of the Impact on Students from Human Resource Allocation
by Kevin Walthers, Ph.D., V. P. for Administration, College of Eastern Utah

In November Salt Lake County voters will have the opportunity to vote on the creation of up to three new school districts. The advocates of the new districts provided detailed feasibility studies that carefully scrutinized tax implications, enrollment patterns and capital debt allocation. Left out of the equation was a thorough analysis of the impact that human resource allocation might have on the quality of education that students will receive. Failure to equitably distribute human resources could create a situation where some children are denied equal protection.
Is My Ballot Being Counted?
Voter Confidence in the Electoral Process
by Thad Hall, Ph.D.

Punch cards. DREs. Optical scan ballots. Canvassing board. Audit trails. Recount. Voter confidence. These words and phrases have only come into our common lexicon since November 2000, when the public first saw the way in which the mechanics of elections operate. Since then, the study of voting technology and election reform more broadly have become growing research fields. Beginning in 2004, various collaborations between colleagues at the University of Utah, the California Institute of Technology, and Brigham Young University have studied voter confidence in the electoral process. These studies have led us to understand basic issues related to the factors that make voters confident that their ballots are counted accurately.
Revisiting the Call to Action on Obesity
by Julie Metos, M.P.H.

Earlier this month, national and local experts from a wide variety of academic fields and practitioners from the community came together at the “Siciliano Forum: Considerations on American Society” to discuss the epidemic of obesity. This research forum provided unique perspectives on the causes and solutions to what has been termed the most significant public health problem of our time. According to conference organizer Rebecca Utz, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Utah, “The proportion of the American population considered overweight or obese has doubled in recent decades and there is not a simple explanation for why this has occurred.” This article will examine trends and determinants of obesity and describe promising interventions, including policy approaches, by highlighting topics addressed at the forum. Read on to explore obesity beyond an issue of personal weight management.
How to Hug a Cactus: Seeing Beyond the Spikes
by Tricia Jack, CPPA Program Manager, Education & Training

On a recent trip to Arizona, I visited the Desert Botanical Gardens in Scottsdale. There I found an array of desert plants, including many varieties of cacti. There were cacti that looked liked octopi, and some that were called “teddy bear!” The very idea of calling a cactus a “teddy bear” seemed to me to be an oxymoron, and maybe the Arizona heat went to my head, but I felt that I needed to try one out; just for the heck of it. And so I hugged one of them. As I looked closer, I realized that if you stroked the cactus the right way, the needles didn’t hurt you. Only when you stroked it the wrong way did it get feisty (so to speak.) It occurred to me that people are just like that: it is only when you rub them the wrong way that they are prickly.

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