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Reader encourages adequate funding for schools

4/25/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Letter to the Editor

To the editor:

I am writing in response to Dr. Karl Wodrich’s March 28, 2013, letter [“Parent wants free market system for schools”].

Dr. Wodrich said he wishes every parent could send their child to a school of their choosing. I presume he believes this would prevent children from attending schools where they would be uneducated or undereducated. I am strongly in favor of all children receiving an excellent education. Educating all children well is one of the most decent, democratic and (for those concerned with how their tax dollars are utilized) fiscally responsible things we as citizens can do.

However, scholarly research does not back up Dr. Wodrich’s opinion on how best to achieve this goal. Eliminating teacher’s unions (which Dr. Wodrich says are “directly responsible for the decline” in our education system) and moving to a free market system for schools are not the answers to educational problems. If Dr. Wodrich truly wants all children to receive a good education, I encourage him to support the equitable and adequate funding of public schools. This is the best way to ensure that all children have the opportunity to receive an education from talented teachers in functional learning environments where the curriculum is rich and demanding.

If we continue to blame teacher’s unions for the ills of schools, we will continue to lose the talented teachers to which all students should have access. Without offering adequate pay and compensation, it is difficult to imagine how schools will recruit and retain high-quality teachers. If we continue to push for a voucher system and charter schools, we will continue to create a divide between those who are fortunate enough to find a quality school and those who are left behind. Taking resources out of the public system (allowing your tax dollars to follow your child) does not strengthen education for all. It only creates opportunity for some (usually the already economically advantaged). There has been much scholarly research done on the ineffectiveness of vouchers, charters and deunionization in solving educational problems. I refer Dr. Wodrich to the work of Linda Darling-Hammond (“The Flat World and Education”) and Diane Ravitch (“The Death and Life of the Great American School System”) and to studies done on the remarkable Finnish school system (The Finnish Way). These researchers and many others have refuted the notion that we can produce a better education for all students using a corporate, free market model.

In closing, it is my hope that all school districts will someday be strongly and equitably funded. This is the best way to ensure that all children receive an excellent education.

Elizabeth McAllister, Richfield

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