Utah lawmakers denounce comments claiming they’re trying to ‘destroy public education’ – KSL.com
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SALT LAKE CITY — Multiple state lawmakers on Monday disavowed comments by a prominent backer of the school choice bill saying she wanted to “destroy public education” in a recording that circulated online.
Allison Sorensen, the executive director of Education Opportunity 4 Every Child, a major player in the push for school vouchers, apologized for the comments on Monday evening. Sorensen is registered as a lobbyist for the state of Utah.
In the recording posted on Twitter, Sorensen can be heard saying that she wants to “destroy public education” and insinuates that lawmakers do too. The recording was posted on social media Sunday night and was being widely circulated just a few hours before HB215 passed the Utah House on Monday afternoon.
“Let’s actually take the money out of the public school system,” Sorensen said in the audio. “We’ll change the way we fund the program so that it literally is pulling that money straight from the school.”
“I can’t say this is a recall of public education even though I want to destroy public education,” she added. “The legislators can’t say that because they’ll just be reamed over the coals.”
Prior to those comments, Sorensen was asked if teachers’ unions are going to argue that teachers will lose their jobs if the bill passes.
“Of course, they will,” she said. “They’re just going to say that no matter what I do, even though I’m giving them a pay raise. They’re still going to put a gun to your head and take your taxes, and the (Utah Education Association) is still going to come to them and say give me the damn money. And so, until you take your money back, they don’t care.”
Sorensen apologized for the recorded remarks in a statement to KSL on Monday evening.
“I apologize for my thoughtless and inappropriate comments. I should not have made them,” she said. “My remarks as an individual should not be interpreted to represent any organization, the Legislature, or the tens of thousands of Utahns who are asking for more education opportunities for their families and communities. Like any other mom, I want every child in Utah to have access to an education that helps them thrive.”
Senate sponsor Kirk Cullimore said Sorensen and her group are one of “many” stakeholders he has worked with on the bill.
Cullimore said Sorensen’s views are “not reflective of me or the Legislature” and that there is a “real motivation” to continue to support education.
“My job as a legislator is to help those with maybe extreme points of view, moderate that and get it to a point where we can pass the bill,” Cullimore said, referencing the large amount of opposition and support for the bill. “We are trying to strike a right balance.”
Majority Assistant Whip Sen. Kirk Cullimore, R-Draper, and Rep. Candice B. Pierucci, R-Salt Lake, listen during public testimony in the Senate Education Committee hearing for HB215 at the …….