The Baltimore Sun

No tax credit boost for private schools

A strong democracy depends on a good system of public education. Maryland's constitution requires that every child be provided an adequate education in free public schools. That is why we take issue with the Baltimore Sun editorial supporting the BOAST (Building Opportunities for All Students and Teachers) bill ("A win-win idea," March 22).

Reducing the state's general fund by giving tax credits to businesses that donate to private and religious schools isn't good state policy in good economic times. But now, as the state budget is being cut from community colleges to public school facility renovations to children's health care, it is certainly not the time to launch a program to fund private and religious schools.

Private schools can and do deny admission to anyone. They are not obligated to educate low-income children, special-education children, children with disabilities or children presenting any educational challenges. According to a RAND study, tuition tax credits benefit wealthier families and families of students who already attend private schools.

The Sun mentions that the BOAST bill is modeled after a program in Pennsylvania. The cost of that program grew from $30 million to $75 million per year in just seven years.

The Sun cannot fairly call this program a "success" because private schools receiving these state subsidies refuse to submit to any oversight or accountability or to provide any data that demonstrate the program is successful by any measure. Repeated calls for accountability and oversight have been rejected. Furthermore, study after study demonstrates that private schools do not achieve better outcomes for children than public schools.

Vouchers for private and religious schools are part of a political and ideological crusade, not a plan for education reform.

Sally T. Grant, Baltimore

The writer is a board member of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland.

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