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Governor candidate: Focus on public education first

Are you voting to build new schools this fall? Are you voting to give your tax money to private schools? People seem not to realize it but that is on the ballot under the governor's race.

My opponent is saying we should build new charter and private schools to compete with our public schools and use the money from the public schools to do it, all in the name of it's business and starving public schools will create innovation. All across the nation where charter schools and vouchers have come in, the public schools are starved. They find lots of interesting, innovative ways to survive. Like raising property taxes.

It's business alright. The buildings for charter schools are almost always privately owned, for this reason, real-estate developers, like my opponent, favor charter schools. It's just good business.

Then there is the fact that a for-profit company is almost always hired to administer the school by the usually nonprofit group that legally forms the charter school. They appear nonprofit but everything on the back end is for profit, and note that as we turn education into private business that the rate of fraud increases about four fold. That's the cost of doing business.

Each student that leaves your school will cost you about $9,000, so your tax money goes to work reducing funding for your school, there is business for you.

The latest trend in innovation? Online "charter" schools, all uniformly poorly performing, but very profitable. Sounds like my opponent's proposal to just have kids learn using their smartphones to access the Internet is all ready to roll. Another profitable business innovation, I suppose my opponent will get them the first prize for innovation from the Legacy Fund like he is proposing.

Let's stop with the innovations in education driven by executives who know nothing about education. We should have learned that is a bad idea from recent experiences, no reason to bring Washington-like education ideas to the governor's office. It's bad business, bad government, and bad for education.

Let's keep our tax money in our public schools.

Rep. Marvin E. Nelson, D-Rolla

Democrat-NPL candidate for governor