Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008

When are ‘free’ public schools not free?

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Repeat a falsehood long enough and people forget it is wrong, and act as if it is true. The word ‘‘free” used by government is a prime example.

Take so-called ‘‘free” public schools. In fact, they are paid for indirectly by taxes (mainly on real estate). Because the tax is not direct, expenses for schools are largely out of mind or view for most. This makes it easier for focused special interests (e.g., school unions) to pressure government to rashly increase school costs.

Prudent budgets for public schools can be achieved only by charging for its outlay directly. I would not think of user fees for schooling as unfair. It would ensure funding accountability. My argument extends to so-called ‘‘free” libraries, recreation centers, park facilities, etc. run by government. Are citizens ready for such a change to reality?

Gerald Schneider, Kensington