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Thursday, January 15, 2004
Frog Fountain
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Money must be put into public schools, not taken
Brian Chatman is a sophomore news-editorial journalism major from Fort Worth.


It seems that with every election, someone claims he or she is the champion of education. This year, schools have not gotten better — most areas are stagnant or have fallen in quality of education.

What should you do? Pack up your family and move to a gated community where all the houses look the same and send your kids to a private school.
Apparently people seem to think that hiding behind a wall will solve a

problem. The latest version of this, of course, is the school voucher program. On the surface, it seems like a great idea. The government has a figure that they say is the amount spent per student in your local public school. If your child makes the grades and passes the test, you can take that money out of your local school and put it into a private institution.

Sweet deal! We get our taxes back and it will pay for our child’s private education away from those hooligans in public schools. I don’t pretend to know exact dollar amounts, but the last I heard on the news was that the vouchers allow for around $2,000 per student. Tuition for local private schools is much higher than that. The largest private school in Fort Worth (which shall remain nameless) has tuition in excess of $10,000 a year. Even smaller private institutions are approaching $9,000 per year.

So where is the rest of the money going to come from? Some of these schools do offer scholarship programs, but what if you don’t qualify? Well take out a bank loan! So you put your child into a private institution from kindergarten to graduation with a bank loan of $120,000. Disregarding the fact that tuition increases every year, that still costs as much as a fairly nice home. Apparently if deficit spending is good enough for the U.S. government, it is good enough for the private citizen. Don’t want to do that? Use your personal retirement money. Thanks to the Enron Corp., we all know your 401(k) is safe. Translation: The well-to-do get to stay in their private schools for a discount, and the majority of the lower class stay in a public school that has less money than before.

Schools everywhere are suffering from a lack of funding. Teachers don’t get paid enough to care about every student that walks through their door. Students are learning from textbooks that are out of date and uninteresting. So if the teacher just teaches out of a textbook instead of engaging the students, and the students don’t have up-to-date material, who ultimately suffers? Society as a whole. SAT scores set an all-time low last year. If the government should do anything, it should be an increase in funding to get better teachers and materials into the system, not take money out.

Conservatives have said that the public school system is a monopoly that must be broken up. Look around and you find several private schools, proving options do exist for those with the money for it. Public schools are not a monopoly, they exist to give those that may not have the money for private school a quality education. With that education, they can become informed voters and productive members of society. And just maybe, they will be able to send their children to private schools, move into a homogenous, gated community, and get away from those ruffians that plague our public schools.