Support students, not teachers unions

March 19, 2010

The article "O'Brien urges tax credit to aid schools" (March 18) suggests one way we can begin to create a better balance of the blended funding that all schools, public and independent, will need in the future to survive and thrive. If we can see that all schools rely on multiple resources in varying degrees -- public monies, parent contributions, philanthropic dollars and entrepreneurial dollars (bake sales) -- we'll abandon our "us vs. them" mentality. Corporate tax credits are simply a way to distribute monies for education without using the government as the middleman. The donors will not want their dollars wasted; there are ways to make sure funds are spent appropriately by accredited providers.

Let's agree that we care about all the children and all the teachers and school staff in Maryland, not just those in the public schools. Let's agree that diversity of education models is a great American tradition that should be cherised and upheld. Let's agree that whereas public schools can be good, so can independent schools and that the very best Maryland could offer families is greatness in both arenas.

We may not be supporting teachers unions and government control when we allow tax credits for donations to private educational institutions, but we can support strong schools and our children. We could be courageous enough to use a wide angle lens as we look for new ideas and affordable choices; corporate tax credits are one way to start.

Our conversation could include public schools (charter and traditional), faith-based schools and independent schools as all parts of one educational stream to serve the families of Maryland. At the very least, we know that it is time to be creative and broaden our thinking.

Charlton Hughes, Baltimore

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