Reader: We should invest in education

Posted: Monday, September 03, 2007

Your Clarion Question, "Do you think charter schools should be funded with taxpayer money?" raises the opportunity to clarify some misconceptions about charter schools.

Charter schools are public schools. State statute allows for charter schools to be formed when a group of parents and teachers see a need for a new school with a distinct educational philosophy. Just like neighborhood schools, charter schools do not discriminate based on income, race or religion; students are admitted by a lottery system.

Charter schools do not charge tuition, just like neighborhood schools. Like neighborhood schools, most charter schools have students who participate in the school bus and free/reduced lunch programs.

In Alaska and the United States, all public schools are funded with taxpayer money. Our nation was founded with a strong belief in the value of public education. Thomas Jefferson wrote extensively about the need for a democracy to be supported by educated citizens.

For example, in 1789 he wrote, "Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government." He argued that the government should pay for public education.

Many things have changed since the days of the founding fathers, but the need for a strong public education system and our country's reliance on an educated and well-informed public remains as important as ever.

Charter schools, as public schools with innovative philosophies, are in the forefront of ensuring that our country s educational system remains fresh and relevant to the needs of our students and our world.

If we as a society do not invest in the education of our citizens, and particularly of our children, the future looks grim, indeed.

Kristin Mitchell


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