To the Editor:
The Legislature is proposing a voucher program that would pay a student to transfer to a private school, taking funds from already-strapped and underfunded public schools. The move is allegedly to benefit the student. The initial cost to public schools is estimated at $2.1 million with higher potential. The student loss would not reduce a school’s operating costs, busing, staff, etc. Taxpayer dollars already subsidize private schools in the areas of books and busing.
There is an alternative proposal of a $1,000 tax credit for a transferring student that would reduce state revenues, and would still reduce funds for the public school from the student loss. It may reduce the incentive for a student to transfer.
The legislature passed a school funding increase of 2.1%, less even than the governor’s proposal of 2.5%. Educators say 4% is necessary to meet their costs, and there is still a planned reduction of taxes. The legislature is also considering a bill put forth by Rep. Skyler Wheeler, HB222, that would cut funding from a school or university if they opted to teach a black history subject called the 1619 Project. It is so named as that was the first year slaves were brought to America. It is a legacy of slavery and the civil rights movement. While it was a dark time in our history, schools should not be denied the option to teach the truth that so many would like to deny. It has been taught in the nation’s schools since 1994. One parent asked if they could then opt out of white history. School curriculum should be left to qualified education professionals and teachers, not dictated by the legislature. It is highly doubtful that Rep. Wheeler, R-Orange City, has the necessary qualifications.
The bill smacks of racism. We are not born discriminating; it is learned and can be unlearned. Education can teach understanding, tolerance and acceptance. Ironically, this is Black History Month.
Another proposal would deny university professors of tenure. Some professors supposedly have been denied freedom of speech for conservative views on our universities’ campuses. This is a shotgun approach, shoot them all for what is perceived as discrimination by a few. Denying tenure would result in an exit of professors and would affect the quality of instructors that the universities could attract. I couldn’t find another state that denies tenure. The perceived discrimination is a matter of political interpretation, and if you are in the driver’s seat and have the numbers, your interpretation will prevail.
Universities are capable of dealing with this without legislative interference.