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Schools Oppose Voucher Initiative

October 27, 2000

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ At Sacramento Preparatory Academy, where Puritan theology is taught along with math and English, Headmaster Joseph Bartosch worries a voucher initiative could lead to the government intruding on his private school.

The measure on the Nov. 7 ballot would give parents a $4,000 voucher to send their children to a private school, including religious schools.

``Taxpayers have a legitimate right to expect oversight and control of that which the government funds,″ Bartosch said Thursday.

``We believe that those who take government funding will sooner or later ... find their curriculum, their teaching methods, their textbooks and certainly their religious instruction″ regulated by the state, he said.

Bartosch was among about a dozen private school officials who held a news conference Thursday to voice their opposition to Proposition 38, even though it could bring them huge amounts of revenue.

Under the proposal, California’s 6 million public school students could get vouchers starting next year. Vouchers for the nearly 700,000 students now in private schools would be phased in over four years.

The proposal’s sponsor, Silicon Valley millionaire Tim Draper, and other supporters argue parents need alternatives to low-performing schools.

The measure is getting support from many private schools. The Association of Christian Schools International, which represents 805 schools with 155,000 students in California, is among the backers.

Opponents, led by Gov. Gray Davis, say the initiative is too expensive, costing $3 billion just to give vouchers to students already in private schools. Critics also say the proposal would give private schools the real choice _ to refuse children who are poor or have academic or behavior problems.

But the private school educators at the news conference Thursday said they fear that if they accepted vouchers, they could be forced to accept students who don’t meet their standards of conduct.

``The safeguards are not sufficient in 38,″ said Craig Garbe, headmaster of Cornerstone Christian School in Roseville.

Proposition 38 spokesman Mike Rodrigues said the initiative was written to ensure that government could not overly regulate private schools that accept vouchers.

``There’s no reason to expect the state is going to force them to take students they don’t take now,″ Rodrigues said.

The state’s largest private school provider, the Catholic Church, is not taking a position. Its Conference of Bishops says that while it generally supports parental choice, Proposition 38 is too broad, offering vouchers to all students, rather than being targeted at the poor.

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On the Net:

Proposition 38: http://vote2000.ss.ca.gov/VoterGuide/text/text_summary_38.htm

The two sides: http://www.schoolvouchers2000.com

http://www.novouchers2000.com

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