System has different rules
The push toward increased funding and development of charter schools as a solution to the state's academic shortcomings, citing test scores as proof, fails to consider the inherently exclusionary nature of charters.
A student must have parents who are informed concerning "school choice." An application is required. There's no bus service. Less extensive special education and behavioral intervention services are established. Many charters don't participate in the free meal program.
So, students who are homeless or living in transitional housing, whose parents are unable to access, read, and complete the application, students without reasonable access to transportation, and students with significant disability or severe behavioral issues are rendered less likely to attend a charter.
While, technically, anyone can go, it isn't working out that way. Fairmont's free and reduced lunch ratio is 67 percent (state Department of Education). Anser's is 0 percent (zillow.com).
I suggest the Legislature order a demographic workup depicting how many low income students, students with limited English exposure, receiving extensive special ed services, or accompanied by a behavioral interventionist Idaho's charters are serving. Present this information to the public. This might inform the decision whether or not to increase the allocation of public resources toward expanding charters.
ADAM PHILLIPS, Boise
Idaho bails out charters
Go figure: Here I live in a far right-wing Republican state that has total disdain for anything associated with Obama's bail-out of the auto industry and the banks.
But now our fine "Tax is a four letter word Legislature" is about to use our taxes to bail out a bunch of nonprofit corporations. 'What?' you say, 'They wouldn't stoop to something like that!'
Well that's what they want to do backing Bill 206, the Funding for Charter Schools.
Charter schools are nonprofit corporations. I was taught in school that to start a business you put together a budget in a business plan with the idea your business would make a profit and be able to grow. Nonprofits don't even have to make a profit; if they do they have to spend it.
To start off, charter schools get an average of $91.54 over public schools for each of their students.
Only 14 out of the 43 charter schools are paid less per student than the public schools that they are domiciled in. I guess the question is "What kind of socialist Legislature do we have?"
BILL LOFHOLM, Idaho Falls
Testing can save lives
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Did you know that colorectal cancer is the third-most common cancer in both men and women?
Of the 55,170 people expected to die of colorectal cancer per year, appropriate testing could have saved more than half. Regular screenings, like colonoscopies, can help in early detection and can save your life. When found early, doctors can use surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy for effective treatment.
Don't forget Relay for Life this year is scheduled for July 12-13. We're going big this year and we could use your help! Looking for a way to get involved and/or support the cause? Start a team. Join an existing team. Become a sponsor or donate money. Dedicate a luminaria. Become a volunteer. We also have some open spots on our Relay for Life Committee. There are so many ways you can participate and we'd love to have you!
Visit www.relayforlife.org and search for Ada County Relay for Life to get more information. Thank you for your support!
SHAUNA SWENSON, Meridian
PERSONAL PROPERTY TAX
Levy appears to be user fee
I would appreciate clarification regarding the proposed repeal of the personal property tax for businesses such as Idaho Power, Micron and others. If I understand this correctly, the businesses affected by this tax provide services and products to individuals who do business with them. The businesses increase the cost of their services and pass the expense on to the consumers, who actually pay the tax for the businesses. The businesses then take the cost of these taxes already paid for by their customers and reduce their own tax bill by the amount of this "business expense."
It appears that this tax is actually a user fee for those who patronize these businesses. Were this tax to be made up by increasing personal residential property taxes, whom does the homeowner charge to make up the difference for these businesses, which will, of course, continue to charge their higher prices?
TONY WIECZOREK, Caldwell
Examine our tax policy
Unless we return to tribal potlatch, society must operate with the collection of taxes. Our state Legislature seems determined to do away with taxes altogether; they're going to tackle death next.
But tax policy needs to be re-examined. Thus, the personal property tax for businesses: companies, for example, like CenturyLink, would be happy to spend monies developing their product to reap benefits earlier than planned (Idaho Statesman, March 4, front page). Reduce my taxes now and I'll happily invest in my business so that in the future it will be worth even more.
Reducing the personal property tax for business must either raise taxes someplace else, or harm innocent individuals and institutions, especially schools and local municipalities. I'd feel more comfortable if CenturyLink would give millions to help strengthen the public sector, instead of Gov. Otter's vague proposal of finding the future monies "somehow." Interestingly, ancient people already learned that those who have much, much is required, something our legislature has unfortunately forgotten.
President Reagan's comment that government is the problem ironically seems all too true in Idaho.
LOTHAR PIETZ, Garden City
Time for new fiddle player
As I was driving home recently, I noticed our Gov. Butch Otter, playing a fiddle outside the Statehouse with 16 freshman senators looking like "Star-struck Groupies." Maybe after our next election we will have another 16 freshman senators and a real governor to replace them.
CHARLES NIELSEN, Meridian