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Letter: For the sake of North Dakota schools, don’t rob Peter to pay Paul

Ms. Cory, please explain how shifting funds from one established budget to a nonpublic school will fix those ”growing public school issues” you referred to?

Letter to the editor FSA
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In defense of public education, I would ask Rep. Claire Cory, R-Grand Forks, to reconsider the points she made in a recent Herald interview.

Regarding flexibility for parents to choose a school for their kids, Cory states that the “cost is a huge barrier to making those decisions” (i.e. enrolling students in a non-public school). True, unless someone else picks up the tab. Rep. Cory also writes, “…take the funding we are already spending.” Sounds pretty simple – no additional cost to taxpayers. But in fact, the process will take money from the local school, in this case from the Grand Forks Public School budget. In effect this plan would defund Grand Forks public schools, then what?

Ms. Cory, please explain how shifting funds from one established budget to a nonpublic school will fix those ”growing public school issues” you referred to?

To be clear, I taught in public schools (including Grand Forks) and non-public schools in this country and internationally. My children attended both public and non-public schools. Non-public schools are important and have a role to play in their community. There is a place on the American educational landscape for both non-public and public schools. Both sectors have advantages and face challenges.

Financing non-public schools is a challenge, but there are options besides robbing local public school coffers. For example, the state could establish a fund specifically for non-public nonprofit/non-public schools. Those schools would then submit an annual budget request to the state based on operating factors. The state would respond by providing a percentage of the school’s budget, based primarily on needs, enrollment and other factors. These funds would be appropriated separately from and in addition to the regular state support for public schools. Thus non-public schools would compete for those “aid to non-public school dollars.”

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The state should consider these special dollars as part of its obligation to educate the youth of North Dakota, whether done in cooperation with non-public schools or through established public school districts.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul is no solution for anything, we can do better.

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