Dear Editor,

Governor Reynolds proposed a sweeping education bill last week that promotes “school choice” which means that parents or caretakers of students who are attending an “under-performing” school, then they could elect that their kids go to a private school and their tax dollars transfer to the private school, leaving the local public school.

If a school is under-performing, then taking tax dollars away will only exacerbate the problem. Teachers, school staff, and school employees would have to be cut to balance the lost tax dollars.

According to Brad Zahn, ("Lawmakers advance Governor's private school plan," page A6 in Friday's Herald) “school choice” should be enlarged to include any kids who want to attend private schools. This means that parents or caretakers who want their school-age kids to attend private school, their tax dollars would be subtracted from their local public schools and be given to the private schools.

Marion County has 597 students attending private schools: Knoxville has 16 students, Pella has 569, Pleasantville has 1, Twin Cedars has 11, and Melcher-Dallas does not have any. They have made the choice to attend private schools and if school choice is enlarged, their tax dollars would go to private schools.

The tax dollars leaving public school systems would be between $5,500/student and $7,700/student according to ISEA and will go to private schools, totaling $3,283,500 to $4,596,900 out of the public school systems in Marion County alone.

What will public schools cut to balance their budgets? Athletics? The arts? Music? Dance? Teachers?

Also remember that private schools do not need certified teachers, do not have to take all students (can reject special education students and disruptive students), and have little accountability.

“School choice” would seriously erode the public schools in Marion County, as well as the entire state. Contact your legislator today to vote no for school choice.

Ann Fields, Knoxville

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