Last night, at a typically contentious Douglas County School Board meeting, union tool board member David Ray, who ousted a pro-school choice member in 2015, offended taxpayers and parents everywhere. In explaining his viewpoint on essentially why school districts should not be accountable to taxpayers, Ray said:
“Something I’m really struggling with is there seems to this mind shift where we have, we think PPR (Per Pupil Revenue), that I own that. That the PPR that goes to funding a school, that’s my PPR, and if I go to a different school I’m taking my PPR with me. And I couldn’t disagree with that more.
“PPR is my taxes too. I help pay for your kids go to Douglas County schools, even though I don’t have kids in the school system. So to have the mentality that PPR is owned by the individual, and that is should go into an account, like a saving account that can be deposited and withdrawn is really absurd to me. It goes against everything that I believe in terms of why we pay taxes into the public school system.
“So my opposition is really this mentality that I see growing which assumes that parents own the taxes or people own the taxes that they contribute for these social causes like schools, libraries and fire departments and police department. I would never think about well I want my share of my money that I spent on the police department because I’m going to hire a private security detail because I don’t want the police department protecting me.
“And that’s the mentality shift I see in these couple bills that I think is tragic, is we’re getting into this mindset of ‘It’s all about me. It’s about my money,’ as opposed to looking at what the intent of taxes and PPR are intended to do, and that’s finance education for all kids, not just the individual. So I’m opposed to this as well.”
Newsflash to Ray, actually “per pupil funding” is meant to pay for the approximate cost to educate an individual student. That’s why it’s called “per pupil” and that’s why schools count the number of children who attend their schools. In fact, what he is describing is called “backpack funding” where the dollars are actually attached to the individual child. The point of these funding approaches is to give parents choices in their child’s education – kids can take their funding over to charter schools, if they choose. But that’s not what Ray wants.
Ray’s diatribe here is really about undermining school choice and parental options. Ray, backed by the deceptively named Douglas County Parents (who only serve to agitate in Douglas County), is the same director who is refusing to build more charter schools in Douglas County until a study (that he commissioned) can be completed to determine how charter schools are impacting neighborhood schools. This is the education equivalent of an environmentalist’s “environmental impact study” meant to muck up and slow down approvals process.
Unfortunately for Douglas County students, Ray is completely blind to the fact that there are literally thousands of kids on wait lists to get in to charter schools across the county – and probably hundreds of thousands across the United States, if not more. Why does Ray’s “struggle” outweigh kids’ opportunity to get the education that best meets their needs?
It doesn’t. Douglas County parents should be outraged.