Against taxpayer money going to private schools

MARLBORO — I do not want tax dollars going to private institutions to serve a select group of citizens/students.

Many private schools are quality learning environments with caring individuals leading classrooms and institutions. However, they are in essence, if not by design, gated communities - not all students are welcome or accepted, and some who are accepted are kicked out for grades or behavior, even in open-enrollment schools.

Tax dollars should not fund conditional acceptance to an educational community based on ability to pay or perceived intelligence. Educational funds are to equalize society, not stratify or sort.

The inequity propagated by private schools is built into their structure. Private institutions do not need to meet the requirements set by the state Agency of Education: standardized testing, special education laws, required days in session, teacher and administrator licensure, and busing students (a significant problem for many students without family cars and parental time to transport) ,etc.

Whether you agree with the existence of these requirements, at best they are designed to support the fullest range of students and are fiscal burdens that private institutions can avoid.

Private schools do not need to meet the days-in-session requirement set by the state. Private schools are also allowed to accumulate endowments that public schools cannot. And there are no caps on tuition collected.

Imagine what our public schools would be like if they could have endowments and charge $38,000 or more in tuition (compared to approximately $17,500 for a high school student). Oh, the support we could provide to all students/children/young adults?

As for historical or traditional independent high schools in Vermont, I understand the challenge of undoing legacy and tradition; it is painful. And, I would say, an argument for keeping or treating those historical institutions differently is evidence of the privilege they have existed under for a long time.

If these institutions want to continue to serve and educate, they should become fully public institutions. As for open-enrollment schools, If they are truly open enrollment, then just become fully public. If you do not want to, then there must be a benefit or privilege you do not want to relinquish.

I have worked in classrooms in Vermont public education for almost 30 years as a curriculum coordinator, teacher mentor, mentor coordinator, and coach in schools and districts throughout Windham County.

The schools and educators I have worked with are doing wonderful work. The greatest challenges in our schools stem from societal issues around equity and privilege that impact the educational process...the struggles outside of school, come into school. Isolating and dividing young people should not be an educational or societal answer. Public funds should be for public institutions or schools. Tax dollars should not be used to redline our educational system.

Finally, I am concerned that some folks will pose the elimination of school choice injurious to children, children who are attending private schools. I am sympathetic to that concern, yet I worry that narrative just perpetuates privilege.

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