LETTER: Good education valuable, private or public

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This is in response to the Perry County News’ June 3 editorial, “We should fear government ‘help’ for education.”

A large part of the editorial addresses school closings in Chicago and the reasons for the closings. One possible reason given was the addition of 50,000 charter school seats during a decade when schools lost 30,000 students. I am not sure whether there is an implication that the school student loss was the charter schools’ gain.

Reading further one has to draw that inference, because it is stated that Indiana leaders prefer to redirect education funding from public schools to other schools. This was the point of bringing Chicago schools into the discussion.

Here is Article 8, Section 1 of our State Constitution. “Knowledge and learning, generally diffused throughout a community, being essential to the preservation of a free government; it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to encourage, by all suitable means, moral, intellectual, scientific, and agricultural improvement; and to provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all.”

The Indiana Choice Scholarship Program is a constitutional program and is within the goals of Article 8 above. The program serves the interests of the state, the students and their parents, and the taxpayers in that voucher amounts will never exceed 90 percent of the amount of funding per pupil the state would otherwise provide to the traditional public school.

Qualifying schools must be accredited by the state board of education. St. Bernard in Rockport is the only qualifying school in Spencer County now.

There are two schools in Dubois County, one in Warrick County, and none in Perry County.

Voucher payment amounts depend on family income and the school system where the family resides. Current amounts and information about the program are available on the state Web page at www.doe. in.gov.

There are differences of opinion about this program, but as a practical matter I cannot see how it has any influence on school funding in North Spencer. It could conceivably have some impact on South Spencer.

If anyone can quantify the actual impact with real numbers, then please inform us readers.