Regarding "Voucher case tests church-state wall" (Feb. 20): Over the past 40 years, I have helped support, involuntarily, a public school system that has sent thousands of illiterates into our society. Over the past 12 years, I have also sent both my boys to parochial schools, avoiding the "free" public schools. If a voucher program were in effect, I, and many others in the same situation, could possibly recoup some "forced taking," funds (taxes) we have donated to a lost cause. I have six more years of schooling for my youngest and would welcome the voucher system.
There should be no debate on public versus private schools. Let the government help us pay the cost of the portion of private schooling which is not religious in nature. If it is my choice to have my child attend a private school that also has a religious curriculum, the government should not pay for the portion of the school day that is religious in nature. But 80 percent of my child's day is spent in science, math, and social studies, and this should be funded.
I send my child to a place where the parents make an extra effort to give their kids not only love and shelter, but also discipline and structure. Why shouldn't I get a voucher or tax break if I want my child in a better environment for learning?
Robert M. Hitchiner
North Wales, Pa.
School choice is a matter that works for the institution better than it works for the family. If a student doesn't fit a private school, there is always public school, designed and dedicated to welcoming students of all colors, nationalities, backgrounds, abilities, and disabilities.
In addition, vouchers that provide for school choice would never fund just any private school; vouchers could only fund schools that were subsidized by religious institutions. This system is contrary to the separation of church and state and should be stopped.
One of the main problems with vouchers is that private schools can pick and choose their students and parents. I have listened to the supporters and pundits preach the mantra that competition improves schools. But to have true competition you need equal starting points. The reasons public schools don't work well are the laws, rules, and regulations our politicians and legal system force them to operate under. To give public money to schools that are not hamstrung by these restraints is no kind of competition; it's discrimination.
If private schools are held responsible for all the same rules - including discipline, special education, busing, equity, equal access, and all the rest - I say: Let the competition begin.
I am sincerely in favor of the voucher system. All four of my children attended Catholic school, and I'm very proud of the strict discipline they received. It was not easy to pay for their tuition, and I wished I could write my tuition off my taxes at the end of the year. I simply cannot understand why I fully contribute my share of taxes, yet cannot write off my family's yearly schooling expenses.
The fundamental question has to be: What is best for our children's future? What message is sent to America's youngsters if we are willing to sentence the most disadvantaged kids to public schools that offer them no hope and few opportunities? If it is deemed that students fare better with vouchers, then let them be.
Richard R. de Villiers
The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. We can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.
Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to email@example.com.