Last week Ben Jones submitted a letter entitled “Same issues, same old baloney,” for which I suggest a new title: “Real issues, and no baloney.” Our schools are in trouble, and taxpayers should never accept substandard performance. The heightened attendance at the school board budget meeting reflected engagement, not apathy. I attended this meeting and heard both positive and negative comments regarding the proposed school budget. Board meetings normally reserve time for public comment, and this input is extremely important, not baloney!
Our county has challenges, ones not necessarily unique. Last week in adjacent Fauquier County, two county supervisors and two school board members discussed and debated taxes and spending (primarily involving education) for nearly two and a half hours. The online article describes how supervisors and school board members “seldom made eye contact with or talked to one another.” Taxes, spending, and raises are on everyone’s mind these days, and attendees considered these issues very important.
In his letter, Mr. Jones scintillated remarks that targeted several of Rappahannock County’s finest, upstanding citizens. His remarks about Jeff and Regina Knight were presumptuous, and his critique of Mrs. Knight’s research bears scrutiny. Arlington Diocese Catholic Schools do help needy families with tuition costs, but this is the exception, not the rule. Tuition rates are based on diocese, Catholic or non-Catholic status and number of children. For example, at St. John’s Catholic School in Warrenton, tuition for two children might cost around $15,000. Arlington Diocesan schools are almost totally staffed with lay teachers (not nuns, as Mr. Jones implied) who have the same needs as public school teachers. For the record, the approximate annual savings to taxpayers in the 10 Virginia counties with Catholic schools is: $191.55 million. Check it out at arlingtondiocese.org.
Mr. Jones is zealous about implying political motivation to every person in disagreement with his ideologies. Is it politics when a young mother voices concern for her child’s education? Is it politics when elderly residents on fixed incomes raise questions about tax increases? Or when a well educated, highly experienced former teacher addresses her concerns in an op-ed letter? Perhaps the former Georgia Congressman still has too much politics on his mind.
David T. Kerr