Letter to the Editor: Public funds should be used for the public elementary and secondary education system

in Voices by

Now that all 2013 graduations (high school and college) have concluded, I would like to congratulate the graduates and all of the persons who helped them achieve this milestone — family, friends and those associated with their respective educational institutions.

Personally, I would like to publicly express my deepest appreciation to the Technical College of the Lowcountry Area Commission, led by General Art Brown, Jr. and Dr. William Small, Jr., and Administration — President Dr. Tom Leitzel — for naming me their 2013 Presidential Medallion recipient. The award bestows “… the College’s highest honor upon individuals who have distinguished themselves through outstanding service in their field and in their community.”

As I stated at the time of the presentation, I accepted this honor on behalf of those who helped fashion my basic values and continuing development — including my late parents, other family members, former teachers, and those whom I have been privileged to work with in my fields of employment, volunteer and elective service. I would name names, but would surely get in trouble for overlooking so many.

I believe that all who know and have worked with me know that I strongly believe in the value of education, particularly a public education system that meets the needs of all citizens to become productive contributors to our community/society. (Note: I have never argued against a private education system).

I say this now because I have noticed in the proposed 2013-14 state budget that public funds are being allocated to support expansion of private education in our public Pre-Kindergarten program. I am disappointed, but not surprised, that there has not been more public debate about this. This is a slippery slope that leads to vouchers and tax credits — which will further undermine efforts to make needed changes/improvements in our public education system.

I hope those who believe in public education and necessary improvements made within it will voice their opinion to the members of our Legislative Delegation. PUBLIC FUNDS SHOULD BE USED FOR THE PUBLIC ELEMENTARY & SECONDARY EDUCATION SYSTEM.

I hope that there will be a public forum to discuss this and related public education system matters in the near future.

Fred Washington Jr., former chairman of the Beaufort County Board of Education