BY SHARON MARTIN
When a politician says he or she promotes moral values, I’m reminded of Pharisees praying loudly in the marketplace. Talking about moral values is a performance for voters. What moral values do they mean? The hate-your-enemy moral values? The we-got-ours-now-you-get-yours moral values?
Fighting poverty is a moral issue. Look in any New Testament for proof. A good education will reduce your chances of living in poverty. Education and a decent income reduce the divorce rate and the number of abortions. Education, then, becomes a moral issue.
Every child deserves the best education we can provide, and money alone won’t do the job. But money can provide librarians and reading specialists to every district.
In 2003, less than half of the inmates in this country had a high school diploma or equivalent, according to Bureau of Justice Statistics. We know that struggling readers are more likely to drop out of school. What if we made sure that every child left school knowing how to read? How many of the inmates might have finished school and become gainfully employed if school had met their needs?
Maybe politicians don’t want literate voters. If we can read well enough to read between the lines we might find that what many support isn’t good for the average American student. We might discover the truth about vouchers and charter schools.
About one in five charter schools perform better than their public school counterparts, but twice as many turn in truly lousy performances, according to the Center for Research on Education Outcomes. Those that do a poor job of educating kids are draining needed funds from the public schools. That’s a waste of our tax dollars.
Charter schools funded by foundations and donations are a great idea, because those that fail their students will lose their funding. Those that succeed can be role models for public schools.
Vouchers are your tax dollars going into private pockets. So, you don’t mind if good Catholic schools get funding? Suppose a Muslim school is doing a great job of turning out engineers and economists. Shouldn’t they get funding? Who is going to decide which private schools get public money? If it’s available to one, shouldn’t it be available to all?
Candidates who look out for their constituents on education issues deserve your vote in November. Those who believe in vouchers and charter schools but not in increased funding are con men and women who should be sent packing. Don’t let their talk about moral issues fool you.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer