Letter: Spend public money on public schools

Graphic by Lori Deaton

[Regarding “Public Money for Private Schools: N.C. Legislature Prioritizes Private Education,” Aug. 9, Xpress:]

I strongly believe that no public money should be spent on charter schools. Spend the money to improve traditional public schools. Any public money to any religious school is completely and wholly unconstitutional.

— Greg Massey


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

14 thoughts on “Letter: Spend public money on public schools

  1. Enlightened Enigma

    Parents prefer to let the money follow the student for the best education choices.

    • Jt

      PUBLIC money is for PUBLIC schools. That’s taxpayer protection. Parents should have zero control over it. This should have remained a solid wall between church and state. We all know it’s extreme Christians pushing their religion further into the public square.

        • luther blissett

          The public is the public. Parents of school-age children are a small subset of the public. All dogs are animals but not all animals are dogs. HTH.

          • I’d be curious to know if anyone has anything at all besides an artful but tired logic trope that can actually address the question posed? I may be easily tripped up at times but these kinds of replies seem to be more of an exercise in avoidance than any attempt at a real answer that gets to the heart of the question.

            A commenter implies that parents of schoolchildren should not be considered the ‘public’ that is meant by the term ‘public school’ and, therefore, should have no say (“zero”) in how schools operate.

            So, again, if parents are not ‘the public’ referred to by the term ‘public school,’ then who is this mysterious public who instead SHOULD have control over ‘public schools’? This seems to be an empty category and I am hoping more thoughtful readers can fill it.

            Also, in this context, ‘parents’ should not be seen as merely a “subset” of a wider group of interested parties that blurs their value, as some readers might too frivolously assert, but instead seem to make up the entirety.

            I would think that if a person does not have an answer, a person certainly should not offer one.

      • Tom

        Charter schools are public schools that are independent from their local school districts. They are tuition free and publicly funded yet independently run.

        Private schools, on the other hand, are private organizations run by private individuals. They do not receive public funding, depending solely on student tuition and private donors.

        Charter schools have open enrollment and are not allowed to discriminate in admissions, charge tuition, or be affiliated with a religion or religious group at this time but changes in these rules have been discussed by legislators.

        Why not give parents a choice to get something other than the sub-par education and constant socialization provided by the government schools and the teachers’ unions? They are paying taxes to see their kids educated – they are the “public” in public schools, and they’ve been locked out, lied to, and abused by the educational machine.

        • luther blissett

          Charter schools are indeed distinct from private / religious schools, but they are selective in the sense that places are limited. Here’s where you’re deeply wrong, though:

          “[Parents] are paying taxes to see their kids educated”

          This is a common sleight of hand. Parents of school-age children make up a minority of taxpayers. They are part of the public, but they are not “the public”. Everyone is paying taxes to see all kids educated.

          There is a well-established way for parents to pay for their kids’ education: private schools. The reality of “school choice” whether it’s charters or vouchers is that it provides some parents — typically middle-class parents who know how to work the system — with some of the perks of private education for their kids while other people foot the bill. The people who talk of “government schools” need to be honest about their anti-egalitarianism. If all taxpayer-funded schools were charter schools they’d still go all out to get their kids into the better charter schools and demand those schools be better funded than the ones where Those Other Kids go. The core principle here is “all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

          • Tom

            Thank you, first off, for responding intelligently and in a civil manner. Not enough of that anymore.

            I agree that parents with children in school are but a small element of educational funding. I will, however, say that all of us, whether we have children in school or not, have a stake in the process. We all benefit from an educated populace. We should all have a “say” in what goes on in those schools because we employ, receive services from, and interact economically with the graduates of the schools. Our democratic republic depends on an informed, educated population.

            As for your problem with the term “Government Schools”…what else would you call them. Whether leftist state legislatures (California) or right-wing state legislatures (Virginia) are writing the laws that fund the schools, the schools will be directed by them. Like it or not, as long as the funding comes from a legislative body there will be directives as to their management and conduct. Publicly funded means government by any definition, doesn’t it? We, in North Carolina, have a Constitutional mandate to have government funded and controlled schools – it is in our State Constitution. There is no parallel mandate in the Federal Constitution. The Founders were educated, and when reading their writings, one sees that most valued education and knowledge very highly. They chose to leave education out of the Constitution, probably not due to oversight, but to purposely leave that sort of thing to the States where local populations could better administer such. In NC, we have local school boards but strong State control.

            School Choice (private or charter) is easier for folks with more money, as you stated. It is almost impossible for lower income households to pay for education. The wealthy have always been better off than the poor – part of the human condition. School choice, most often in the form of vouchers, is their only hope of escaping the terrible schools with which they are often stuck. Depriving them of that choice because they are poor certainly doesn’t make them more equal than others, but rather less so. They’ll always have four legs rather than two, with no opportunity to stand upright.

            All of my adult life, we’ve poured money into public education. For decades the promise of more money equating to better schools just hasn’t materialized. There is little correlation between per capita spending and student success. Kids today don’t know as much upon graduation as the generation before them. Their grandparents knew more at the conclusion of 12th grade than their parents. All the while, we spend more and get less. How much is wasted? Asking a question like that gets one labeled “anti-education”. Want better schools, higher performing students; you must be anti-education. Point out that there is something wrong when a district has four million dollars for a new ball field complex but asks kids to bring their own toilet paper and you are “anti-education”. It all seems like a crock to me.

            My experience (and much of that is admittedly post-secondary though I worked closely with public schools and my wife is a retired AHS teacher) is that there are great, caring folks in the classroom. However, for every good teacher, there is a bad one and maybe two. I got into teaching in my 30’s, and of all the jobs I’ve held in a variety of areas, I was most disappointed with the teaching profession in that regard. Slugs, lots of them, wanting to do as little as possible for as much as they can make. True in every profession under the sun, but no one is willing to talk about it when education is the topic. We call out bad doctors, bad cops, bad waiters, bad cashiers, but we won’t address bad folks in education. Educators know they are almost bullet proof in that regard and there is little incentive to perform unless they internally have that drive.

            If we could actually get schools and school employees at every level (K-12, college, etc) to be accountable, choice would be mute. I’ve heard so many educators blame the non-involvement of parents for trouble teaching their children — and that is a big part of it. Unfortunately, when parents try to get involved they are labeled troublemakers, or even terrorists for goodness sake.

            When we put any entity, especially public institutions, on a pedestal, we’re in for trouble. All public employees, from the guy who empties the garbage at the local park to the Governor or President, should be accountable. Public school employees are no different, but for some reason they are sacred cows. That is why this discussion is even relevant — folks are tired pumping money into schools that don’t provide opportunity for their students to have a better life than their parents have. Depriving them of a way to escape that, dooms those who cannot afford better to continue in their current economic state for another generation.

            Ironic that so many ardent opponents of choice for the poor exercise that choice for themselves. Even the teachers’ union presidents, the most vocal anti-choice voices, send their kids to private schools — because they can afford it. Where do the Governor’s kids go to school (and I don’t just mean Cooper’s kids, but pretty much every governor’s kids in every administration.) Your own anti-egalitarianism argument admits this.

            How does one stop the wealthy from getting better education than the poor? The answer isn’t to bring the top down, but rather to bring the bottom, through opportunity, up toward the top. The current state of public education is failing in that pursuit thus pushing the choice alternative.

            Cheers! Have a good evening.

  2. Voirdire

    Charter schools have open enrollment and are not allowed to discriminate in admissions, charge tuition, or be affiliated with a religion or religious group at this time but changes in these rules have been discussed by legislators. OH RIGHT… “..BUT CHANGES IN THESE RULES HAVE BEEN DISCUSSED BY LEGISLATORS.” What educational machine lied and abused you? jesus. wow.

    • Tom

      My friend. Please read Article IX of the NC Constitution and pay attention to what our legislature has done and the things they are contemplating before commenting. A better understanding of how our state schools are organized and administered will make you sound a little brighter and more informed when posting. BTW – I spent 30 years in education and do understand what is going on. I am a product of public education who worked my way through several college degrees (no loans, no grants, just gainful employment at night) and feel as though I comment from an informed position.

      • Voirdire

        right, absolutely… you surely are a product of a stellar public school education…. the same public school system that “lied to” and “abused” children during your thirty year tenure, oui? Oh, and “a little brighter” …oh my, spoken like an “educator” who pulled himself up by his very own bootstraps …and came out as bright as the north star itself, lol. Got help us -and save us- from the disingenuous as the day is long MAGA gestapo that has taken over our state legislature and is in the untoward business of funding their very own “Charter school system” …with public funds of course.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.