Letter: Brenda Bengtson, Hamilton

Editor: Virginia’s public education system is respected, recognized, accredited and overwhelmingly utilized by those who value an educated populace as an ultimate benefit to society.  Public schools accept everyone, no matter the intellectual level, belief system, economic standing or parental support.  Public schools provide a foundation of our economy and society, a compact for democracy and civility.
 
Tia Walbridge is the one candidate for 33rd House of Delegates’ District who fully supports public education.  She understands the value of an active and educated electorate who can protect our treasured democracy.  That’s why I support Tia.
 
I am deeply troubled by experimentation designed to dismantle public education which has had devastating effects in Michigan, Kansas, Arizona, Louisiana, and Indiana.  Redistribution of funds for elite K-12 tuition leaves already underfunded schools at an educational disadvantage, and penalizes working families.
 
Families I know who choose private, parochial, or homeschool options are not interested in seeing monies siphoned from public education.  They do not seek to defray costs that do not need to be defrayed.  Those who can afford to pay a sizable difference between what a voucher provides and what private or parochial options cost probably are already able to afford those costs.  None of them wishes to see the “haves” flee, leaving public schools for the “have nots.”
 
I am also concerned about accountability.  Michael Resnick of National School Boards Association recognizes that in public schools “each student is guaranteed the right to attend a neighborhood school that operates in conformity with academic standards and other legally required protections” with curriculum and an environment that are “free from the inculcation or primacy of any specific religion, social class, or ethnic group.”
 
Yet nowhere in privatization discussions have I heard details of accountability for public funds redistributed via vouchers.  This gives me pause!
 
I wholeheartedly agree with Thomas J. Gentzel’s philosophical optimism:  “It is our public schools, after all, that impart onto millions of young immigrants our unique American values: love of country, religious tolerance, freedom of speech, indeed all of our democratic values.  Public education also offers solutions on the issues of our economy, the shrinking middle class, and the future prosperity of America. . . public schools that will provide the educated, innovative, and creative workforce of tomorrow — the entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists, and political leaders who will ensure that our nation will flourish in an increasingly competitive global economy.” 
 
Tia Walbridge appreciates the benefits that her family derived from public education, and will promote legislation to respect and protect public education for the majority of families and nearly 95,000 students in Loudoun, Clarke, and Frederick Counties.  Please join me in voting for Tia Walbridge on November 7.
 
Brenda Bengtson, Hamilton

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