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I mailed the following letter to President Clinton.
10 August 1997
President Bill Clinton
The White House
Senator Paul Cloverdell wants the voters to write you in support of tax breaks for those who send their children to private schools. The Senator is quite wrong. This is a terrible idea.
There is no room in government budgets for such a loss of revenue as long as the government's own public schools remain under-funded. Yes, as a labor-intensive activity, education's problems can be corrected by throwing money at them. Across our nation, however, we are trying to run public schools "on the cheap"; and we are getting cheap results. If there is insufficient money to buy better public education, there certainly is insufficient money to grant tax breaks to those who choose private education.
In many states, public schools are funded according to the number of students enrolled or the number actually attending classes. Parents who send their children to private schools are not paying twice; the public schools do not receive funding for their children. Likewise, the public schools do not benefit from any reduced burden of educating children who are sent to private schools; the public schools lose both the students and the funding.
At least in California, private schools are generally exempt from the many laws and regulations imposed on public schools. There are no state standards of curriculum, teacher qualifications, or hours of instruction for private schools. My tax dollars should not be diverted into programs over which taxpayers have no control.
Vouchers, tax credits, and other subsidies for private schooling are inappropriate. Your opposition to these concepts is correct.
David E. Ross
10 August 1997
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