Letter to the editor: Rep. Bernardy should support all Minnesota Students

To the Editor:

I appreciate and concur with the congratulations to Minnesota’s Teachers offered by State Rep. Bernardy in this paper last week. However, I was deeply disappointed to see the representative’s opposition to common sense education reforms passed by the legislature to expand education choices in this state.

Minnesota has fantastic public schools which we absolutely need to keep supporting. Yet, public schools are not the best choice for every student. Some children may have a bad experience with their neighborhood school, while the parents of others may want their children educated in a particular faith tradition. Some non-public schools may have just the right innovative program to fit their specific child, such as nearby Academy of Whole Learning, which is doing groundbreaking work educating children on the autism spectrum. Having more education choices doesn’t take away from our excellent public schools but only help make sure we are serving all of Minnesota’s diverse student population.

The legislation Rep. Bernardy was seemingly criticizing aims to help school choice not by funding non-public schools, but merely by encouraging private donations to provide scholarships to children attending private schools through partial tax credits. These scholarships would not only be funded by private charitable initiative, but be limited to those who truly need the help by restricting their award to families who make less than 200% of the reduced lunch program level. The legislation would not reduce public school funding at all.

This modest legislation helps improve the education prospects for Minnesota students. I hope Rep. Bernardy reconsiders her position next year, or the North Metro elects a new representative who will support quality education choices for all Minnesota children.

Ben Jones
New Brighton