Give resounding no to school vouchers

February 26, 2017, Arizona Daily Sun

Senator Debbie Lesko’s proposed SB 1431 sounds like a bureaucratic nightmare and detrimental to public education. I am opposed to school vouchers for many reasons.

According to an article in the Arizona Daily Sun (February 16, 2017), vouchers would cost “tens of millions.” The state would be spending an extra $13.9 million by 2020 if 2.6 percent move from public schools to private ones. Cost is not the only issue.

How many poor households would benefit from vouchers? Very few of those parents would have the time to research schools as many have to work two jobs just to meet their basic needs. Transporting those students to schools that are miles away from their homes would be difficult in terms of time, expense, and dependable transportation.

Critics say that many public schools are falling behind as indicated by test results. The loss of higher performing students from the public school system does affect these schools. Such students leaving are usually from middle to higher income families.

Charter schools, and private schools are not part of the Flagstaff United School District. The former operate independently of the public schools. Taxpayer dollars should not be used to support private and charter schools. Let parents who send their children to these schools pay for them through tuition, which has been done in the past.

Public schools functioned fine on taxpayers’ dollars until legislative action in Arizona began either reducing funding or not increasing it over time, affecting K-12 and universities. The quickest way to kill programs or institutions is to cut off their financial support. Property taxes, the traditional way of funding public education, is low. I would be willing to pay more to ensure that Arizona students get the best education possible which is an investment in everyone’s future.

The success of this country is based on free access to quality public education for all students regardless of their background, location, ability, or situation. Legislators need to focus on improving public education and veto bills that threaten it. Urge our state senators to vote “No” on SB 1431.

MARGARET VAN CLEVE

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