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UEA announces lawsuit against Utah's school voucher program

The Utah Education Association announced it will file a lawsuit challenging the state's recently implemented “Utah Fits All” voucher program, which allocates $82.5 million in public funds to private schools.

UEA President Renée Pinkney said the goal was to ensure public money stayed in public schools “where it can provide the greatest benefit to all our students.”

The teachers union, which represents 18,000 public school teachers, has been a vocal critic of the voucher program throughout its numerous legislative sessions. In Utah, bills were not implemented for decades until lawmakers drafted a bill to increase teacher pay in the 2023 legislative session — and tied the scholarship-model voucher program to it.

This idea was floated by Governor Spencer Cox in 2022 after he promised to veto a voucher bill that ultimately failed to pass the Utah House of Representatives during this year's legislative session.

He proposed a $6,000 raise for teachers as part of his budget this year.

The quota-based legislation made it to the desk of Governor Spencer Cox after he said he would

Cox had promised to block a voucher program that failed in the Utah House of Representatives last year. On January 28, 2023, he signed the bill, making it law. The program is scheduled to start this school year.

“The voucher program takes money away from the already underfunded public schools where 90 percent of our children learn,” Pinkney said Wednesday at a media event in Salt Lake City. “It puts at-risk students at risk by removing protection and accountability from them.”

“This alarming situation should raise serious concerns about the future of public education in Utah,” she added.

Supporters say the program gives parents more choices in their children's education and improves access to private schools for lower-income families.

Anna Harden

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