Monday, November 5, 2007


When I started making I had no idea what I was getting into. On Tuesday (11/6) in Utah there is a statewide vote basically on whether or not Utah should have school vouchers (it's actually a little more complicated, but that's the basic idea). This is a HUGE deal. People from all over the country are watching this issue, because it could set a major precedent. There is massive opposition to the voucher movement, most of it brought on by huge leftist organizations. One major argument for the opposition is that the $3000 vouchers don't even begin to cover the expenses of private schools and therefore will only help those people who are wealthy enough to afford private schools in the first place. Enter The reason this site was rushed to go public (I would have loved to have spent a few more weeks working out a few bugs and making it way more stable and faster) is that it will play a major roll in the election, because it absolutely and utterly destroys that myth. There are 19 schools (if I remember right) in the state of Utah that will be FREE with a $3000 voucher. Anyway, Fox 13 in Salt Lake did a piece on this site Saturday and a few newspapers mentioned it in articles. On Friday, the following press release was sent to all (or at least most) the media in Utah:


November 2, 2007

Launch of -
Automatic voucher scenarios for any private school

Utah – A powerful new website launched today providing parents throughout the state with school pricing and mapping features that allow parents to comparison shop any private schools in their neighborhood. Automatic calculations of voucher scenarios for any family at any school are a key feature of the site. With a single click at, users can also sort schools by price, city, name, school size, classroom size and 15 other variables. Sliders allow narrowing searches to match parental preferences, including price range.

The site is the independent creation of Daniel Earley, a Lehi businessman who serves on the board of directors of Children First Utah and occasionally volunteers for Parents for Choice in Education.

"I first realized the public needed something like this a few years ago," said Earley. "At Children First Utah we were providing half-tuition 'vouchers' for disadvantaged kids to attend private school, but low-income parents rarely knew how many affordable private options they really had. This website makes it easy to compare them all side by side, see how close you live to them, and even see what size voucher you would qualify for, and how much it would reduce your tuition."

Earley began working on the website a few months ago when Referendum 1 first became an issue. "People need to be able to compare and see for themselves, with nobody manipulating the results. Once they see what's out there, the truth is undeniable."

According to the website, Utah offers over 115 private school options, not including residential treatment centers or boarding schools. Nearly 2/3 of these options would cost $1970 or less with a full voucher and almost half would cost under $950. Of those, about 20 school options end up costing nothing.

"To lump all schools together for a tuition average is meaningless to the real parent," said Earley. "I made the distinction between 'private schools' and 'private school options' because that's how parents actually shop for their kids in the real world. A school that offers K-12 might be a single non-profit entity, but from the perspective of a parent with multiple children, it's at least an elementary school and a high school, perhaps even a middle school. Besides, schools often set prices according to those categories, and some even have seperate administrators and buildings for each grade cluster. Because the bottom line is how the parent sees it while shopping, I organized the website from that perspective."

Designed to grow into a national "consumer reports" of private schools, the site has begun collecting data on classroom size, school size, teacher hiring priorities, admissions priorities, accreditation, testing, uniform policies and 15 other aspects of private schools for parents to compare. Data is displayed on the website under the categories Affordabililty, Academics, Culture and Availability.

"Think of it as the of private school shopping, combined with Consumer Reports," said Earley. "It's currently in beta while we work out bugs and fill in gaps over the upcoming weeks. Over the next two years it will cover every private school in all 50 states."

To test drive the site visit . (Site may not yet be viewable to Mac users.)

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