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06 April 2008

School Choice Popularity in Maryland

A bill has been approved by the Maryland Senate to allow Maryland businesses to take a tax credit of up to 75% for a donation to an educational organization that provides scholarships to students. The bill has 78 sponsors in the Maryland House, which is more than enough to pass it, if Sheila Hixson, chairwoman of the House Ways and Means Committee, will allow it to be presented to the full House for a vote. Whether she does or not, this development is very significant because it shows how strongly disappointed many citizens are with the public schools and how desperate they are to maintain and promote private schools.

This is happening in a generally solid Democratic state. The governor is a Democrat and both the House and the Senate of the Maryland General Assembly are controlled readily by the Democrats. The Democratic party here, as everywhere else, is very beholdened to the public school teachers unions. This bill is opposed by the Maryland State Teachers Association. This group claims that the state cannot afford to give out handouts to private schools when public schools are cash strapped. Actually, Marylanders are very generous with their public schools, but no matter how generous they may be, it is never enough to make the teachers unions grateful.

Baltimore City schools are horrendous. The schools of Prince George's County, one of the two counties abutting Washington, D. C., are also very bad. Prince George's County School System is the second largest school system in the state, while Baltimore City is about tied with Baltimore County as the 3rd largest school system in the state. Many families in Prince George's County fled Washington, D. C. in large part because its schools are terrible. Now, there is pressure from many families because they wish to send their children to better schools. This pressure is particularly keen in areas with particularly poor schools, which turn out to be some of the most intensely Democrat strongholds in the state. Democrat politicians are now getting the message, partially.

Let us examine the opposition of the Maryland State Teachers Association. A business volunteers to give $100 to educate children. The corporation tax rate in Maryland is 7%. So, the corporation would usually pay $7 to the state out of $100. If the corporation gives this $100 to educate children, then it reduces its taxes by $75 - $7 = $68. Thus, education gets $100 and public education loses some fraction of the $68 less collected by the state. With this program, more students are educated privately, so public education has fewer students to educate, allowing them to spend a lot less money. More net money is going to the education of students and because private schools are better than public schools and many spend less money per student than our troubled public school systems, the total cost of education may actually drop. Our youth are net beneficiaries.

Ah, but the Maryland State Teachers Association does not like this. Is this not clear proof that the teachers represented by the Maryland State Teachers Association are not true professional teachers, who would, of course, put the interests of the students first? Yes it is. They are simply semi-skilled blue collar union workers. No more. It is clear that their priorities lie with having their hands in the government cookie jar and feasting at great expense upon the cookies put there by many hardworking citizens of the state of Maryland. It is time that Maryland citizens put the education of their children ahead of the interests of the public school teacher unions.

What is especially important here is that even Democrat parents are beginning to realize that their children are being poorly served by many of the school systems, especially those controlled most completely by the Democrats and the teachers unions, and they are rebelling. In fact, with enough vigor to get Democrat legislators to act despite the protests of the Maryland State Teachers Association.

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