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Letter: Vouchers provide students access to better education

Vouchers provide students access to better education

According to the latest available rankings, the Buffalo Public Schools’ annual cost per student is $20,260. This is the fifth-highest in the nation’s 217 school districts with more than 30,000 students. The national average is about $11,000. Graduation rates and college attendance hover around 50 percent. Merely 12 percent of students are deemed proficient in reading and 13 percent in math. Except for a select few, most public schools academically rank close to the bottom.

In contrast, the cost per student in Catholic elementary schools is $6,300 but the cost the student pays is $3,100, the difference subsidized by the diocese and fundraisers. Moreover, 99 percent of Catholic high school students graduate, while 98 percent enter college. Statistics rank six elementary, six middle and five high schools in Western New York in the top 10 as Catholic. It is outrageous that many Catholic schools are closing while public schools are given a billion dollars to spend. More funding cannot be the solution.

Understandably, inner-city students face numerous additional problems, i.e., concentrated poverty, family difficulties. Unfortunately, their sole remaining option is attending cost-free public schools. Those most negatively affected include minority communities whose children desperately need excellent education to improve their futures. Lack of freedom in selectivity condemns them to a failed system.

This is a troubling and immoral catch-22. If they could choose vouchers for any school they select, (religious, private, home or charter), they could attain opportunities most other Americans routinely enjoy as their most important prerogative for a better life. Just across the border in Canada, students enjoy taxpayer funding regardless of which type of school they prefer.

Joseph Tomasulo

Buffalo