Education feature: School pushes choice

Clovis Christian Schools Superintendent Ladona Clayton believes students should be allowed to attend private schools supported by public funds.

The topic was raised earlier this month by Clayton during a National School Choice Week assembly at CCS.

"Any child who wants to choose a Christian education should have the opportunity to do that without their parents spending money beyond the tax dollars they already spend to support schooling," Clayton said. "Everyone pays to provide an education to children. Just as parents are given the right to choose public education, they should have the right to choose private education."

CNJ staff photo: Benna Sayyed

Clovis Christian School seventh-graders Hailey Renfro, left, and Kaylee Muse, right, fold National School Choice scarves and organize balloons to prepare for their campus' National School Choice celebration earlier this month at CCS east campus.

Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Terry Myers doesn't see it that way. Myers said he is opposed to national school choice and does not see any positives in it.

"We have public schools for a reason," Myers said. "They're here to benefit everyone. The use of public funds to attend private institutions is not going to create a level playing field for parents and students."

Clayton mentioned a Clovis Christian parent is providing contact information of local legislators to other parents and encouraging parents to push legislators to support school choice.

No bills were introduced in the 2013 Legislature to address school choice.

Clayton said many parents and children in the area want to be part of a private Christian school, but are unable to because they cannot afford tuition.

"If every child in the state was given a voucher entitling them to attend a school of their choice, situations like this could maybe be avoided," Clayton said.

Myers pointed out that many private institutions do not have to play by the same set of rules that public institutions have to play by.

"I believe we have ample school choice in eastern New Mexico without having to transfer public funds into private institutions," Myers said. "New Mexico has open school enrollment anyway, so it's not like parents in the state don't already have a choice."

According to Clayton, most federal money available to her school is earmarked and must be used for professional development, textbooks and non-Christian instructional materials and cannot be used for tuition.

Carol Vanbeek, a parent of two CCS students, said national school choice is encouraging and seems like it would help their district grow and prosper.

"I think parents who are looking for a different option should be able to have a feasible option," Vanbeek said. "As taxpayers we're paying for that anyway. And we're paying tuition to send our children to private school. I think that it's a big thing to consider and be excited about. If this were to happen at our school, I think families would consider sending their children to our school."

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