Everyone benefits from public-school education, letter writer argues


To the editor:

Once in a while, we ought to let reality intervene in half-baked rants to newspaper editors.

On June 7, the Call published a letter from Peter Russo, a guy who hates to support public schools.

Let’s review. We pay property and other taxes. They pay for police, fire, schools and other public services. So our writer doesn’t consider public education to be a public service. He may not know that the police department will not hire an applicant who cannot write, or a firefighter that can’t do math.

Perhaps he thinks these applicants should all be private-school graduates. His concept: “pay for your education or live life stupid.”

Perhaps he would not mind it if cashiers, bank tellers and carpenters that he encounters couldn’t make change or calculate a roof’s slope. Maybe he doesn’t know that the great boom in American productivity after World War II was greatly supported by the “GI Bill.”

Perhaps our writer thinks that private schools are not filled with higher-achieving kids with serious parental support.

If private-school populations resembled a public school’s, the discipline challenges, the speech therapists, the accommodations for the handicapped and the free lunch programs would push that $5,000 for private elementary school much higher.

And I note that he did not quote the cost of private high school. It is a bit higher.

Our writer doesn’t like paying for teachers’ retirements. Guess what? He only pays a part. Teachers pay around 14 percent out of their gross paycheck for their own retirement. The school board generally matches.

By the way, the teacher pension in Missouri is final average salary, times 2.5 percent, times years of service.

And teachers don’t get Social Security, but you and I do. I pay into Social Security 6.2 percent, and my employer matches. I assume the writer will not mind cashing his Social Security check.

By the way, first-year Missouri teachers make about $35,000.

The writer doesn’t like paying for post-retirement annual cost-of-living contracts for teachers. It’s his lucky day. He doesn’t.

The writer claims that “We already have alternate schools to educate our children at less cost than public schools.”

Really? Is he talking about prisons, where the average 2015 cost was $21,500 per inmate? Great point.

Donovan Larson


Editor’s note: Mr. Larson is a former member of the Lindbergh Board of Education.