America is a privileged land. We have the luxury to build grand houses, buy clothes of many different designs, purchase fast cars that we don't need, and most importantly, we have the opportunity provided by good education. At a critical time in the history of our country, we must recognize the necessity to protect what is most important: the education of the children who will become, as so many put it, "our tomorrow."
Recently, Republican House Representative Steve King from Iowa introduced Bill 610. It pits Republicans against Democrats, and has started a nationwide debate concerning the source and use of payments for education. As most people know, property taxes pay for public education; every property owner in America has to pay some amount, depending on the value of his property. King's bill recommends that we utilize the voucher system, which provides each student with the identical amount of money given to each other child in that particular state, to be used for his public, private, or home tuition. Property taxes are used for the benefit of all students, not for public education only; the government distributes these taxes to local governments, which divide them equally to pay at least in part for the tuition of all students. Perfect, right? Wrong!
Public schools are America's way of ensuring that every child in this country receives an education; however, in many districts, particularly poorer ones, they have been found lacking. If the voucher system were in existence, it follows that more children would go to private schools, as their private tuition would be paid for in part. Public schools would then receive less funding, and some of their programs would have to be cut. One might ask, “But couldn't all kids just go to private schools?” Private schools do often have a better education system, perhaps due in part to their having higher tuition fees. The average price of a private high school is $13,030 (as stated by Time magazine), whereas U.S. public schools cost an average of $10,615. If more students went to private schools (being helped by the government), public schools would recieve less funding. As a result, many teachers, janitors and administrators would lose their jobs. Another drawback to utilizing private schools more is that many private schools are either religious or teach only single sex. For example, in El Paso, Texas, 71% of private schools, and 74% of private high schools, have a religious affiliation. People of different religions may feel uncomfortable in a religion-based school. In America overall, 79% of private school students attend a religiously-affiliated school, according to the Council for American Private Education (CAPE). Additionally, students may often want to be educated with those of the opposite sex; this teaches them how to handle working with partners of the other genders in the real world. In 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 50.4 million children went to public schools (elementary through high school) in the U. S. Only 5.4 million children in the U. S. go to private schools, according to CAPE. It would be a lot of work to shift even a percentage of these students to private schools, and the schools, in turn, would be overwhelmed. Additionally, if less students were to go to public schools and their programs and spending were to be partially cut, there would be many disappointed children and angry parents. And after all this, the cost of a student's private school tuition might not even be fully covered. Some might not have the financial wherewithal to put their child completely through private school, and be relegated to sending their children to deteriorating public schools. This would leave them in a conundrum.
While there are advantages to the way things are run now, there are also drawbacks. For example, some send their children to private school or home school them, and many property owners don't have children. They still have to pay taxes for the public education system. While these tax incomes are vital to keep public schools functioning well, the people who have to pay for a service they don't use are understandably aggrieved. Look at it through the eyes of someone who has to work hard to pay for the child's private school tuition because the public schools in their district aren't adequate. In addition, they have to pay a heavy property tax for a school system they don't use. This is very clearly unfair.
A private school in D. C.
I propose a compromise. Currently, our political leaders are resisting compromise. Neither side wants to give in, to admit they may not have been entirely right. But I think that a reasonable system could be worked out. For example, those who send their children to private school could receive no help from the government, but would only have to pay half of the property taxes that go towards public education, or those sending their kids to private/home school get government aid, but have to pay full property taxes as well. There are many different agreements that could be reached. The point of this compromise would be to find the middle ground, to help everyone agree, and to establish a proper education for all.
To make this bill even worse, the part of the bill is ironically titled the “No Hungry Kids Act”abolishes the Nutritional Act passed in 2012. The Nutritional Act ensures that the schools lunches and breakfasts are held up to a nutritional standard. For some kids, this might be their one healthy meal all day. I have tried to look at this from the opposite perspective, but I simply can't. It baffles me as to why someone would remove such an important act.
Education is something that we, the precious few, take for granted. One of the things that is beautiful about public education is that it showcases the empathy of the community. We pay to put our youth through school. We have such well established public schools in the U. S. because of our government. It is why we have some of the greatest universities in the world, and why we are the one of the leaders in the world's economy. The children of this coming generation are our bright future. To be more cynical, they could be our downfall. We need to educate them, and well. This is not something to be gambled with. It is how we pass down what we know, and give another generation the knowledge necessary to continue moving the human race forward.
"Fast Facts." Fast Facts. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2017.
"Council for American Private Education." CAPE | Private School Facts. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2017.
King, Steve. "Text - H.R.610 - 115th Congress (2017-2018): To Distribute Federal Funds for Elementary and Secondary Education in the Form of Vouchers for Eligible Students and to Repeal a Certain Rule Relating to Nutrition Standards in Schools." Congress.gov. N.p., 23 Jan. 2017. Web. 08 Apr. 2017.
"How Sending Your Child to Private School Can Save You $53,000 | Money." Time. Time, n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2017.
Vo, Lam Thuy. "How Much Does The Government Spend To Send A Kid To Public School?" NPR. NPR, 21 June 2012. Web. 09 Apr. 2017.
"Home." El Paso County, TX Private Schools | PrivateSchoolReview.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2017.