Constitutional Amendment for Private School Funding Back Before Legislature
Controversial program would require public's vote as well
ANCHORAGE - A proposed constitutional amendment to allow public funding of private schools is back in the Legislature, this time, apparently with more support than in the past.
And it’s triggering arguments about allowing a school voucher program.
Fuhrer said public schools, already harmed by persistent flat funding, could not afford to lose money to private and religious institutions.
And he said accountability is lacking in non-public schools. "They are not required to be highly qualified; the teachers are not required to be highly qualified. They’re not required to take the state assessment tests for accountability. Those are two examples right there on the disparity between public and private schools."
Legislators are considering asking voters to remove the constitution's ban on direct public funding of private schools, considered a doomsday scenario by some supporters of public education.
But at Holy Rosary Academy, teachers and students alike said that vouchers would be beneficial for all education, including that in public schools.
Principal Catherine Neumayr said, "We ourselves as teachers, as administrators, as staff, are constantly evaluating every dime that we spend. And that kind of rigor really should be something that we see happening in the public schools as well. So in some ways that school choice initiative could really benefit both."
Fuhrer said he's hopeful voters would reject the amendment.
Neumayr said fear of vouchers is unwarranted. "I think a lot of people think if we did this, it would change the whole public school system. That’s not true at all."
But it's an issue being studied.
Keller said he's confident the Legislature will approve it.