letter to the editor

A case study for school choice

Posted:  Monday, March 12, 2018 - 5:15pm

Dear Editor:

Interesting times in two neighboring RSU12 towns these days, offering a comparison and contrast of how school choices help parents avoid problems, and help a town get stronger.

In Whitefield, there are publicized safety issues at the elementary school. Parents have removed around 80 of their children. Some of these children are now going to independent schools, and parents not only have to pay taxes for a public education system that has failed them but pay for education a second time for tuition somewhere else. I am sure Whitefield will turn things around in time. However, in their critical learning years children don’t have the time adults do to wait for institutional or cultural changes to happen at schools when there are problems ... they grow up too fast. Parents need the ability to choose what fits best, year to year, without being financially penalized. With funded school choices, Whitefield families would have more options for their children when something unforeseen occurs — when a child’s best educational fit may be at a different school. 

Why am I talking about Whitefield elementary and comparing it to Alna? Because it is the nearest RSU12 elementary school to Alna. And, RSU12 would like to fill this rapidly emptying school with Alna’s children.

In Alna, many taxpayers see that choices allow parents options to easily side-step issues like those faced at Whitefield, or the next curveball that will inevitably come up ... maybe next month, maybe in the next few years. And when that flexibility also doesn’t cost taxpayers an extra dime, and parents have to pay the difference in tuition if they send their kids to a more expensive independent school, it is a win-win for everyone. That is exactly the arrangement Alna has had for nearly 20 years.

Freedom is good. Choices are best for families. Choices and competition are good for any education system. They help keep quality high, budgets sharp and the overhead right sized ... or parents will vote with their feet.

We have a duty to leave our town’s future generations with better opportunities than we’ve had.

Vote no on Alna’s school choice question.

Jeff Philbrick