Don't fund alternative education

Letter to the editor

Posted: Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Recently I sat and listened while parents and educators involved with the Montessori program argued their case before the School Board. While I agree with these parents about the need for educational alternatives to the public school system, I cannot agree with their misguided belief that the school district is responsible for funding these alternatives.

These people claim that the district is somehow obligated to provide them with educational options for their children. That is simply not true. The district's obligation is to provide all of our children with the best education possible. Trying to constantly fund a variety of educational opportunities will not achieve this goal; it will merely waste the district's already limited budget. The district would better serve the community by concentrating its efforts on the public system. Truthfully, the school district should be cutting all funding to these alternative programs and redirecting those funds back into the public system for the good of the whole community.

As I stated in another letter about the nearly identical situation with the charter school (another alternative educational program), the people involved with these programs are the ones who should bear the financial burden - and I mean all of it. The public, who will never see one whit of benefit from these programs for their own children, should not be forced to contribute funds to them at all. Our schools get precious little money as it is, so I would rather not have what they are given parceled out to every educational alternative that comes down the pike. If these alternatives are really worth anything, they will be able to stand on their own merit (and on their own funding). If the education provided by these alternatives is not worth the expense that they incur, then they should cease operations. And it definitely should not be competing with the accredited public system for our taxpayers' dollars.

To the Montessori parents who feel completely justified asking me to provide funding for their program, I would like to put this all in proper perspective. I will gladly fund your program when you start giving me money for whatever educational alternative strikes my fancy. I will even be more generous than you have been and match you dollar for dollar. Who knows, give me enough and I may just fund your whole program.

Patrick McGonegal

Juneau



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