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Voucher foes take on other issues

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Even though Utahns for Public Schools got their big victory in November with the fall of the voucher law, which was the reason the group was formed, they are not going away.

Coalition leaders say the anti-voucher campaign serves as a springboard for future involvement in public school issues.

"People really got involved during the (voucher) campaign and the petition drive, and we want people to really understand there are other ways they can stay involved and really make a difference in their community," said Lisa Johnson, spokesperson for Utahns for Public Schools.

Leaders from the year-old coalition, which includes groups like the Utah Education Association, the Utah PTA and the NAACP, said their success during the Referendum 1 campaign showed that people who feel really strongly about an issue and care actually can make a difference and shape public policy.

"When a lot of people come together — then elected officials pay attention," Johnson said.

So now the coalitions wants to tackle other issues surrounding public schools as well as continue to encourage civic involvement. Currently, UTPS leaders are urging members to attend a party caucus on March 25th.

During the last month UTPS has held nonpartisan public meetings to inform voters about Utah's political caucus procedure, the importance of citizen involvement and how to participate or become a delegate.

Leaders say they are trying to get people to understand what caucuses are, how they can make a difference in their communities and really get the general public more represented at that early stage of the game.

"We are also going to be looking at things like class sizes and teacher shortage and those sorts ofthings that we feel are really important and the kind of issues that people really want addressed," Johnson said.

For moreinformation or details about caucuses visit www.utahnsforpublicschools.org.

E-mail: terickson@desnews.com