Printed on: December 13, 2012

Vouchers unwise, likely illegal

Idahoans showed overwhelming support for the traditional public school model by defeating State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's Students Come First education reforms.

Also, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter just admitted Idaho is failing its constitutional obligation to "maintain a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools."

And yet, some in Idaho want the 2013 Legislature to divert money from public education to subsidize sending children to private and parochial schools.

You've got to be kidding.

Idaho's Constitution prohibits spending public dollars on religious instruction, though voucher advocates believe they can get around that by giving tax credits to parents and contributors. That's an untested theory in Idaho. Certainly it's a sneaky runaround of our guiding document.

Set the constitutional conundrum aside and focus on Idaho's disinvestment in education. Millions have been cut from public schools in real dollars, and the percentage of personal wealth spent on K-12 is down more than 20 percent since the 1980s. That's compelled many local school district patrons to bump their own property tax rates, creating a constitutionally forbidden uneven playing field for children in communities that cannot or will not raise their own taxes.

Private and religious schools are good options for some children. But clearly, given the votes on the Luna laws, Otter's admission and the words written in the state constitution, taxpayers should not be helping foot the bill.

Corey Taule