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School Voucher Initiative

August 27, 1993

* After reading Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.'s commentary "Big Brother, Thy Name Is Vouchers" (Commentary, Aug. 15), I agree with his thoughts. The wording of the initiative is a legal nightmare. Words such as may or unnecessary leave a wide level of interpretation to any bureaucrat, and wherever state funding goes there is a trail of paper. The bureaucracy would have to establish an account in each student's name. The surplus money would be held until the student turns 26 years old and then the funds would be returned to the general fund and not even to the education budget.

Rockwell left out another important point. If new regulations are needed in the future to rectify any part of this initiative, it would require a three-fourths vote of the Legislature, not the usual two-thirds. In the case of local regulation, it would require a two-thirds vote of the governing body and 50% plus one (a majority) of the registered voters . . . not the majority of those who voted. Fifty percent of the voters don't even turn out in a presidential election.

JEANNE WILLIAMS

Long Beach

* Rockwell comments on Prop. 174, saying that government "strings" often follow government aid. On this we agree. Under Prop. 174, who will be there to hold government meddling in check? The people.

Under current law, all it takes is a majority vote by a state, county or city governing body to add additional regulations to private schools. Prop. 174 changes this. Prop. 174 actually writes into law new protections against red tape, protections that specify that any new laws on private schools must enjoy a clear mandate from the people of California.

For instance, if the state wanted to add regulations to private schools, it would need the votes of an unprecedented three-fourths of the Legislature. This ensures that a trumped-up emergency cannot be used as an excuse to pass needless laws. If three-fourths of that body can agree on anything, it will indeed be the people's will.

The hurdles placed on local governing bodies are even higher: a vote of two-thirds of its members, plus a majority vote of the qualified electors within the jurisdiction. Does this mean 50% plus one of the voters? No. It means 50% of the registered voters--a much more narrow supermajority. Consequently, any new regulations will truly have to have the people's seal of approval.

In fact, Prop. 174 freezes regulations on private schools to include only those enacted prior to Oct. 1, 1991.

Rockwell is right when he laments the red tape that often closely follows government aid. But Prop. 174 gives the people of this state a giant pair of scissors to cut this tape before the government can dispense it.

SEAN WALSH

Communications Director

Yes on 174-A Better Choice

El Segundo

* In 1776, there was no public education. But soon after our nation was founded, the leaders realized that if our democracy was to rest upon the "consent of the governed," then all people needed to be educated. Out of this belief, public education grew. Public education was deemed to be a basic foundation for a successful democracy.

As the population has grown and diversified, the problem of carrying out this mandate has become more difficult. Now Prop. 174 is challenging the basic belief in tax-supported public schools for the purpose of developing an educated citizenry.

There are many side arguments presented that will confuse the issue for some voters, but when all is said and done, the vote concerns public versus private responsibility for an educated citizenry. Tax money can't be drained away from public schools without doing irreparable harm to already troubled schools. If passed, this proposition will be a death certificate for the concept of public education.

RUTH McGREW

Palos Verdes Estates

* Rockwell says 174 won't work. Then what will?

Money speaks so loudly in our society and yet the children suffer waiting for more money to make their school system better. Money is not the answer. Parental choice and involvement is. I have spent the day in my child's classroom on many occasions. Her teacher has too many children to teach effectively, outdated materials, and it is the child who goofs off who gets the teacher's time and attention. I don't know what Rockwell thinks the solution is, but my child cannot continue to get a poor education from the public school system year after year.

I agree with him that government intervention in private schools is a dangerous thing, but I want that choice. I think a little competition would be good for the school system just as it is good for corporate America. My husband and I would like to be able to say the same thing the Clintons do: We support the public school system, but we don't want to put our daughter in it.

JILL J. LEE

Redondo Beach

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