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Improve education for all kids

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By The Staff

I would like to respond to Wynette Birchfield's column "Vouchers make education equal" in the April 4 edition of The Lancaster News. To have a genuine discussion regarding vouchers is worthwhile, but to use this subject as a platform to dismiss Mandy Powers Norrell as "haughty" is backhanded and snide.

Most parents want the very best education for their own children, but it is a sign of maturity when we recognize that educating all children benefits our entire society. We do not live in isolation. We depend on each other to make our community successful.

We, as members of this community, should understand it is our responsibility to take care of the most vulnerable among us. This includes providing quality education for everyone. If we do not, we are being short-sighted. The children of our community are our future taxpayers and community leaders.

I proudly send my children to public school. I received an excellent public school education that has served me and my family well.

Furthermore, it has allowed me to make contributions to the community I now call home. However, receiving an education is much more complex than simply attending a particular school. I was fortunate enough to have a loving, stable home where education was valued, and excellence was expected.

Fortunately for me, all the members of my community contributed to my education, not just those with school-age children. They had the foresight to understand that public education is an investment in our country's future.

Private schools generally have better scores because they are able to choose the students they admit. These students are usually of a higher socio-economic class, and have more advantages simply by the luck of birth. Children in poverty often have difficulties that interfere with their ability to learn: unstable homes, hunger and exposure to violence. They may not be as fortunate to be raised in families where the value of education is stressed. And they will not have the resources to attend a private school, even if the school would accept them.

Should we as a society simply write them off? In truth, this is an argument about class. The issue of vouchers is simply a smokescreen. If Mrs. Birchfield wishes to remove herself from this situation, that is her choice. If she truly believes that she "should be compensated to offset the cost of a quality education," so be it. But if she believes that accepting government monies in the form of vouchers will not invite governmental oversight and accountability, she is mistaken.

Rather than harboring resentment toward others, that energy would be better spent on activities that would improve the system for all. Addressing poverty and inequities in social class, for me, is a moral and ethical issue.

Yes, I want my children to be well educated. But even more, working to assure this for all children is what is right.