On Behalf of Maryland PTA President Elizabeth Ysla Leight
Dear PTA Leaders,
The time is at hand to contact your local elected officials to ask that they work to keep public funds in the public schools. National PTA and Maryland PTA have historically supported the exclusive use of public taxpayer funds limited to our nation’s public schools. As you know Governor Hogan has already given funding to private and religious institutions and proposes FY 2018 Budget increases for an addition $6.85 million to be diverted from our public schools and to private and religious organizations.
PTA members are needed to take a stand against the siphoning off of public funds from our local schools who are in desperate need of additional needs and services. Many of our school children attend school in deplorably crowded conditions, attend schools without air-conditioning or that leak when it rains.
This is the second consecutive year that Gov. Hogan has decided to withhold school funding despite projected budget surpluses. Last year, he withheld $68 million passed in a bipartisan budget from thirteen counties that saw increased class sizes, eliminated educator positions, and cut programs. Then, he held back $25 million in funding that would have supported the maintenance of aging school facilities and helped counties pay for educator pensions without cutting funding levels for classroom instruction.
We need YOU to support our public schools who are trying to do more for students with less help from the state than ever before. Gov. Hogan’s proposal to create a private school voucher program, a $5 million line-item in the budget was included to send taxpayer dollars to private schools. Advocates of the effort argued that the funding would help students in “struggling” public schools leave for private sector options. In 2016, when Gov. Hogan included $5 million for the BOOST voucher program in his budget, an overwhelming majority of those taxpayer dollars—78%—were then distributed to families whose children already were enrolled in private schools. The truth is, this money would go a lot further to help low-income students if it was spent in our taxpayer-funded public school system to improve dilapidated buildings and support student programs.
When we have $3 million in unmet needs in the public schools, any dollar dedicated to private schools—whether it’s $5 million, $10 million, or one dollar—keeps us from meeting those needs. The failed BOOST voucher program should be eliminated.
We can’t afford to fund two different school systems—public taxpayer dollars should be spent improving our public schools, not subsidizing expensive private schools. If the state of Maryland cannot afford to spend taxpayer dollars on fixing aging school buildings and preventing class size increases, we certainly cannot afford to help subsidize tuition for those who are already enrolled in private schools, and it’s disappointing that the governor is choosing to siphon funding from public schools to help private schools.
Tell your elected officials that Enough is Enough. Support Our Public Schools. Here is what you can do:
Write an Email to your Senator and Delegate asking that they not support expanding additional funds to private and religious schools.
March with MSEA and Maryland PTA on Monday, March 13 to Support Our Public Schools. We are gathering at the MSEA HQ parking lot, 140 Main Street, Annapolis, MD at 5:00 pm and marching up the street to the State House for scheduled lobby visits and office drop-bys. You can see details on the march, RSVP at www.protectMDschools.com
Write a letter to Governor Hogan expressing your disapproval that he is not funding the public school system and diverting funds to private and religious schools.