School vouchers bad for property value

To the Editor: I have sometimes heard taxpayers in Hollis and Brookline complain that “I don’t have any children so why should I pay for a school system?” The answer that any taxpayer can understand is: “Because good schools increase property values!” Hollis and Brookline property values are higher than surrounding communities because we have the best schools in the state. Unfortunately, some politicians support the idea that parents should receive vouchers from the state to pay for alternatives to public schooling, like charter schools, private schools and home schooling. Vouchers will inevitably degrade the quality of education in our towns (and hence your property values) because schools – especially middle schools and high schools – need a certain “critical mass” to achieve excellence. Furthermore, charter schools and private schools expel difficult students, leaving the public schools (who have no choice) to cope with them, further degrading the quality of education and therefore your property values. When vouchers pay for home schooling, taxes are funneled from non-parents to parents with no corresponding benefit to property values. So, if you don’t have kids and (foolishly in my view) don’t think you should be paying for good public schools, you should be beyond livid at the notion of your taxes being spent on home schooling. Contact your state legislators and tell them to keep our taxes where they belong – supporting a school system so excellent that it makes our towns among the most desirable places to live in this state and, indeed, in the entire country. Geoffrey James Hollis