"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Supt. Derek Glover Speaks Out on Oklahoma Voucher Bill

From the Muskogee Phoenix:
About Your School: Superintendent calls bill an attack on public schools

By Derald Glover

Everyone knows that education must continually improve and change. Everyone also knows that the United States has become powerful by attempting to educate all kids with an equal education. I am writing this article to make people aware of a bill at our state Legislature that will open the door to taxpayer dollars being siphoned to private schools.

Senate Bill 2093, the so called “New Hope Scholarship Program,” is an all-out attack mode on public education. The measure would give a 50 percent tax credit to individuals who donate to a fund providing private school scholarships. This tax credit would be on top of any charitable tax deductions donors already receive.

The Oklahoma bill creates a voucher system that would take public dollars and transfer them through the use of tax credits to private schools. The end result is still fewer resources left for those students who remain in public schools.

In the past three or four years, the Legislature has given more than $700 million to the wealthy in tax cuts. That, in a time when, education, roads and bridges, prisons and the Department of Human Services are all underfunded. This voucher credit is another tax cut for the wealthy.

As of April 16, schools do not have a budget allocation for next year, even though the law gives April 1st as the deadline for this to occur. What’s even worse is that after two years of record collections for the state, schools have not been funded for the current year in the amount promised last session.

No doubt, public schools have room to improve, but they are certainly not as bad as the those who promote vouchers want to indicate. Our public schools are required to teach all children. That’s the rich, poor, those with special needs, and those with language barriers. Private schools have the luxury of selecting the privileged few. If the Legislature would fund schools properly (just meet the regional average for per pupil expenses) and eliminate the unfunded mandates, improvement will occur.

Passage of SB 2093 will further erode funding for public education. As vouchers expand, less funding will be available for public education. If this continues, we will see more segregation of the rich and the poor. This goes against the very idea of “public education.” Competition is great and I would totally support a voucher plan that required any school that accepts a dollar of taxpayer money to be subject to the same legal requirements as is imposed on a public school. However that will not happen.

Please contact your State Representative and State Senator and ask them to kill SB 2093.

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