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Outing some school voucher lies - Diane Wagner

The expulsion of a gay high school senior in Florida illustrates a few of the things wrong with school voucher programs.

There are more, but the biggest lie is that vouchers will enable students from poor families to attend better schools.

Not at a cost of over $4,000 a year, they won't.

The Palm Beach Post reported that tuition at Jupiter Christian School is $6,575 for high-schoolers. The private academy gets public money through the state's voucher system, but it can't be more than what the school system spends?which is about $2,000 a student.

Luckily, Jeffrey Woodard's parents could pay the balance of the fee. Most parents whose kids are stuck in low-performing schools can't.

That's the real issue, in black and white, so to speak.

I'm also tired of the evasions on a seemingly minor point. How can a parent who has to ride a bus to a job paying $8 an hour physically get his or her child to a pricey school that would certainly not be located in the ?hood where they live?

I've asked several legislators who support vouchers and get the same answer: That will be worked out as the program is defined.

And there's this bridge in Brooklyn for sale?.

Another big lie is that religion won't be forced down the students' throats if the program covers those private schools.

Well, that's not so much a lie because nobody really believes it anymore. The new mantra is that only good religions are allowed. In China they're called "state-sanctioned."

Personally, I see little difference between the Jerry Falwells and the Taliban of this world. A lack of love is a lack of love, and that is against MY religion.

According to the article, Woodard was not engaging in sex at school or even openly advocating homosexuality. School officials heard rumors about his sexual orientation, asked him in a supposedly private conversation, then expelled him. The expulsion letter does not cite the student handbook section he violated, because there isn't one.

Anyone is free to disagree with my conviction that the existence of a homosexual is not an offense against God. Where I draw the line is at the point where my tax dollars go to propagate that hate and intolerance.

Sensible people must see that, if they don't want to fund Wiccan, Buddhist or Branch Davidian academies, nobody should be forced to contribute to any church. Otherwise, you've got government-sponsored holy wars?exactly what this country was founded to avoid.

It's not a question of morality. All "religious" people are trying to do what their higher authority tells them is right. Jews, Muslims and Christians even share the same holy writ.

It's just a question of whether Caesar or the Lord tells you how to render it up, and we all know what the Lord says about that.

Because of his family situation, Jeffrey Woodard has a good support system and a range of options. He'll survive his surprise humiliation at the hands of school officials.

But if the government wants to use my tax money to help disadvantaged youths, the real solution is to fix the schools in their neighborhoods.

Diane Wagner covers county government for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or dwagner@henryherald.com.