I would like to comment on a letter from Cheryl Andrist in the April 26 Star Journal titled “Legislators should remove vouchers from budget proposals.”
Ms. Andrist said that the Rhinelander, Crandon, Tomahawk, Niagara and Merrill public schools lost roughly $430,000 total because money was “taken” from them and given to private voucher schools. She says we should contact Sen. Tiffany, Rep. Swearingen, Rep. Czaja and Rep. Mursau and tell them to say “no” to voucher schools.
First, private voucher schools cost us $6,500 per student year. Public schools cost us $10,000 – $12,000 per student year. Private voucher schools are usually better. Although the public schools lose money, they have fewer students to teach. They must be able to manage their cost.
Second, it is the parent who decides where to send their child to school. Does Ms. Andrist pretend to know better than the parents on where to school their children? Is she wishing to have the authority to overrule parents on their child’s welfare?
Third, if public schools are losing students to better schools, let them compete and improve to retain students.
Ms. Andrist believes students should attend public schools to be educated by, in many cases, underachieving, unaccountable and overcompensated educators. She does not care for the welfare of our children.
Of all public school funding, 60 to 80 percent goes to salary and benefits. Our students score the same now as they did 40 years ago. We spend twice as much to educate our children, adjusted for inflation as we did 40 years ago. We rank 20th in the world in student achievement, yet spend more per student than any other country. When I see letters from our educators expressing concern over our underachieving education system and offering ways to fix it, I will then decrease my skepticism. Until then, I will identify it as the same twisted “things will get worse unless we get more” spin we heard after Act 10 was passed.
The vouchers may be hurting public school finances if they can’t manage them. They are helping, not hurting our children and isn’t that good?
I urge our state representatives to expand vouchers so every child has the opportunity to get one.
Charlie Gullan, Eagle River