By Illan Dubin Spiegel
Emotional scenes of worthy students being accepted into schools and receiving scholarships rightfully tug at our heartstrings because the education of children is essential to both the stability of our democracy and our economy. Schools that choose which students to educate, like the private schools highlighted in Jesse Mallory's guest column "Colorado's charter schools are successful" (June 5), however, serve to undermine the very principles of a democracy and a well-educated workforce. Further, 25 years of research has proven that Education Savings Accounts, a form of vouchers, result in ineffective educational outcomes for students, are discriminatory, lack accountability and deprive students of rights provided to public school students.
Not just some, but the vast majority of Colorado children are educated in our public schools. Nearly 90 percent of students in Colorado attend public schools, because Colorado families know that the benefits of public education extend far beyond an individual child or family.
All Colorado families should have the opportunity to send their children to adequately funded schools in their communities that offer a wide array of services to meet the needs of individual children.
Professional, licensed educators working collaboratively with families and communities are best suited to personalize learning for students.
The fiercest critics of providing opportunities for every student in every community are well-funded special interest groups that seek to impose free market privatization on the cornerstone of public institutions, schools, while promoting policies that segregate students by race, class, religion, and disability status. Furthermore, these policies do nothing to support the very real needs of students and families in rural communities.
Coloradans who have soundly defeated school vouchers on the ballot and in opinion polls are smart enough to recognize Education Savings Accounts as a rebranding of an unpopular, ineffective use of taxpayer money. Vouchers disguised as Education Saving Accounts divert scarce resources from public schools, and are a back door work around of the Colorado constitution's protection of religious freedom. Parents and taxpayers in Colorado are able to see through thinly veiled attempts to circumvent the Colorado constitution and the ruling of the Colorado Supreme Court.
Education of all children is indispensable for the stability of our democracy. The very concept of public schools was created out of respect for diversity of the citizenry. Along with the increase of immigrants to Colorado comes greater diversity of religion and culture, addition to the diverse needs, opportunities and choices available to urban, suburban, and rural students and families.
Colorado parents and taxpayers have seen the fiscal follies of back door voucher conspiracies (Education Savings Accounts) has brought to Arizona and Nevada, and will continue to rise above such absurd schemes to ensure that heartwarming stories of students realizing their dreams through a great, public education.
Ilana Dubin Spiegel is a board member of Taxpayers for Public Education.