It wasn't from lack of trying that vouchers lost. DeVos was joined by other big-business donors from outside of Utah, including Wal-Mart's Waltons and Overstock.com CEO Patrick Bryne, who orchestrated much of the late funding himself. The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board called them "Friedmanites," whose stated goal is the privatization of American education. The pro-voucher group didn't hold back:
The voucher crowd mounted a mean-spirited campaign that relied on distortions, dirty tricks, and personal smears. Their campaign of nastiness did not reflect Utahns' COMMON VALUES, our sense of common decency.In the end, having a common goal made the difference. Parents, teachers, unions and many excellent blogs examined all sides of the argument and presented their cases, and with the exception of one or two, all the major newspapers spoke out against vouchers.
The victory is theirs today, but will scars remain? This blogger is concerned:
And I hope that the real Utah can still be salvaged when this campaign by Parents for Choice in Education is over, when their money from All Children Matter in Michigan is all spent, when their money from the secret donors from Missouri and elsewhere in the county is run out, and when their political operatives and opportunitists have gone back to wherever they came from. They have dragged good people through a nasty political mess unnecessarily and I'll be glad to see them close up shop on November 7.We've been through the same voucher fight here in Michigan with the same results (voters resoundingly voted NO), so we can identify with that sentiment - we were happy to see them close up shop too. A word of warning though. The pro-voucher, educational profiteers may have been wounded, but they weren't stopped. Just ask Patrick Bryne, who had this to say to the Salt Lake Tribune today:
Byrne said the referendum defeat may have killed vouchers in Utah, but "There are other freedom oriented groups in other states - African-Americans in South Carolina are interested in it."Be wary, South Carolina. Be very wary.
UPDATE: Maybe DeVos should snap his wallet shut and call it a day. From One Utah:
Vouchers didn’t win in a single county in the state. Not one. Think about that - in the most conservative, Republican state in the nation, after spending millions of dollars of Patrick Byrne’s money and piles of out of state money from the Amway and WalMart families, vouchers didn’t carry a single county.(Cross-posted at Blogging for Michigan)