Letter: Why not strengthen public schools?

Friday, December 15, 2017
Why not strengthenpublic schools?

Having spent 19 years teaching in Concord’s public schools, I’ve seen first-hand the positive impact of public education on the lives of students. I oppose Senate Bill 193, the Koch-driven voucher program supported by Gov. Chris Sununu, because it would siphon money away from our already strapped school district and send it to homeschoolers and private schools.

Under the voucher bill, “school choice” for some comes at a hefty price for the many. If, as projected, 3 percent of students leave a school, each taking at least $3,600 from the district, the school’s expenses will not drop proportionately. This is because many costs (heat, administrative salaries, etc.) remain steady whether a school serves 600 students or 582. Reduced budgets will inevitably lead to fewer academic and enrichment options and less individualized instruction for the students who remain in public schools and represent the vast majority of our youth. And because private schools often turn away students with serious special needs, public schools will be serving an increasingly needy population, just as their resources decline.

Though not perfect, public schools have served Americans well for generations. In addition to teaching academic subjects and skills, they bring together children of varied backgrounds and abilities, preparing them to live and work in a diverse democracy. They offer more choices and individual attention than were ever imagined when I was a child. Rather than undermining public schools with vouchers and other privatization efforts, we should use our scarce public resources to strengthen and continually improve them.