In regards to the state-funded education voucher program which a state judge ruled unconstitutional Friday: I strongly agree that the voucher program is just plain wrong. Many, many years ago, when I was a student in one of the best parishes for public schools (Ascension), I had no desire or need to attend any other school. My father served on the school board in Ascension Parish for 24 years and in his eyes, and the eyes of many others, public schools were where you got the best education possible.
If a school wasn’t up to par, I surely wasn’t given the option to change schools. I was told to work harder and study more. I couldn’t apply for a voucher and go to a private or parochial school unless my parents chose to pay for it. I repeat, the only way I could attend a private or parochial school was if my parents chose to pay for it, not with money set aside for public education. However, back then schools weren’t graded on the same level they are now.
Today, students who attend public schools rated C, D or F under the state’s accountability system and who meet income rules can apply for state aid to attend private or parochial schools. Why should only low-income students be considered for a voucher to get them out of a failing school? Isn’t that discrimination of sorts? Just because a child’s parents make slightly more money than another’s, why should that student not have the same chance? The voucher system is not fair to anyone.
If a school is failing, why remove the student? Why not find the real problem and fix what you have? Why not find out why the school is “failing” and fix that? According to a recent article, nearly 5,000 students statewide qualified for vouchers and those schools that participate in the voucher program receive an average of $5,300 per student from the state. That’s approximately $26.5 million that is set aside for public schools but being funneled to private and parochial schools — $26.5 million that can be better spent fixing the failing schools you already have than giving it to schools that privately raise more money than the state will ever see for public education.
I for one, and I’m sure there are more, am tired of shelling out tax dollars that are not going to their intended destination.
Natalie Bourg Adams
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