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The Scoop - School vouchers will be crippling
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It's disturbing to see our state lawmakers forge ahead with a school voucher plan that will cripple public education.

It's appearing more and more likely some type of voucher program is going to pass this legislative session and the entire state will be in worse shape because of it.

Before I get too far along, let's start with the basics about school vouchers. The premise is that it takes X amount of dollars to educate one student for one school year. When you factor in teacher salaries, cafeteria food, school bus transportation, and dozens of other variables, let's say it costs $7,000 a year to educate one student.

The concept of school vouchers is the program lets each student take their $7,000 allotment and apply it toward tuition at a private school if they wish. An idea floated this week would even allow parents to use the money to home school their kids. It sounds like an extra $7,000 to buy beer and cigarettes if you ask me.

The problem with school vouchers is, well, just about everything.

Haven't we learned our lesson from healthcare about what happens when a few people are forced to pay for the medical care of an entire nation? They system crumbles.

The exact same thing would happen to education. Take, for example, Morrison Elementary with some 450 students. If 50 of those students were to decide to take their $7,000 and leave, it would disrupt ratios throughout the entire school. Teachers would lose their jobs.

The only reason government programs are able to operate is because they are funded collectively by all the taxpayers. Just look at McMinnville Civic Center. There's no way a private business could EVER afford a $10 million expansion, but government can do it using combined tax dollars.

Think what a nightmare it would be if lawmakers allowed citizens to take all their tax dollars and use them as they see fit. If I'm not happy with my police protection, I could opt out of the city's service, be given $2,500 to spend as I wish, and use the money to hire my own personal security force.

It's easy to see how this would hurt police protection for the entire city. The same negative impact will be felt when people start pulling money away from public schools.

I've never used food stamps either. Can I get the money back that I pay for someone else's food stamps and spend it however I want?

The proper answer is government can never get in the business of refunding money for services someone doesn't want, or like, because it would ruin that service for everyone else. We'd have an awful transportation system if people were allowed to only pay for the roads they use. I'm never on Short Mountain Road. Let's get rid of that one.

To state it as simply as possible, the concept of allowing people to pull money away from public education to spend at private schools is sabotage. Nothing would be worse for our schools, our students, and our future.

Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.