Letter to the editor

It was with interest that I read the front-page story that appeared regarding Spring Vale Academy naming a new director. Our founders knew the value of education in order to remain free as a nation. Thomas Jefferson once stated, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

As a product of a public school education, I have been a strong advocate of our public schools — but also support those who choose to have their children educated in non-public schools provided they meet standards for accreditation. One of my grandchildren, in fact, will begin high school this fall and has always been educated in a private school.

It was disappointing, however, to learn the thoughts of the new director at Spring Vale regarding his view of public schooling. He stated public schools teach “relativism, materialism, scientism, pragmatism and deconstructionism.”

The foundation of public schools is that they are ruled by law made in a free society and governed by publicly elected officials representing the will of the people. Everything developed to be taught, how it is taught and when it is taught, needs the approval of the citizens via their elected representatives. All boards of education by law must be open to the public and welcome public input. I am not aware of any public school that operates by the claims of the Spring Vale director.

As the grandparent of a special needs child, I am thankful every day for the caring, nurturing, physical, occupational and speech therapies he receives from his public school to help him become self-reliant.

Public schools, unlike private schools, are required to enroll every student who enters regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion or special need: Equality is mandatory. Given that responsibility, they must meet the challenge every day.

There is room for all children to be educated, whether in a public or private school. Private schools teach to their stated mission, as do public schools. There are differences between the two systems. However, they can exist in a collegial manner without condemning the other. Adults can lead and set examples for children and demonstrate that there can be differences in thought and belief among people and institutions and still be successful. This may be the greatest lesson for any student to learn.

Roger Elford


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