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Letter: Amid Kirwan discussions, what about state funding for private school students?

I want to start a discussion with informed Aegis readers to improve student education outcomes in all of our state’s public and private schools. The Maryland legislature is currently reviewing and debating the merits of the Kirwan plan. If fully funded, this plan will eventually result in $4 billion in new public school funding requiring substantial tax increases.

Taxpayers will open their wallets if their children and their neighbor’s children receive a fair share of education funds. Unfortunately, the Kirwan plan totally neglects private, alternative schools which provide a competitive learning environment for many students. Shouldn’t all Maryland students be treated fairly? Why would we accept school funding discrimination in 2020?

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One possible solution is a state-wide school voucher. For example, the average cost of a public school education in Maryland is around $15,000 per year. Under this plan, each student receives a $10,000 voucher with the remaining balance of $5,000 automatically going to their public school system.

If the student’s parents determine that a private school is better suited for their child, then the $10,000 voucher will be used to offset tuition costs. If they choose their local public school, then the voucher money goes to that public school.

In recent weeks, I read in The Aegis how growing school enrollment is resulting in over-crowded classrooms. Some proposed very expensive solutions are building new schools, enlarging several existing schools, hiring many new teachers, mandatory busing, etc. A much better cost-effective solution is a school voucher program which economically moves some students to private schools.

Any education funding plan proposed by Maryland’s legislature should fulfill these two objectives: Virtually end school funding discrimination between the state’s public and private schools, and promote school choice.

All students in Maryland public and non-public schools are entitled to state education funds even if the lion’s share goes to public schools. A voucher will give low- and middle-income parents the option to send their children to a school more suitable for their education needs.

Does this proposal have any merit? Please write into The Aegis with your ideas and suggestions. Together we can improve the education of the next generation!

CHRIS PAYNE

Bel Air

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