Linda Lyon, a retired Air Force colonel and president of the Arizona School Boards Association, responds to a reader who supports school choice, charters, vouchers, and home schooling.

She writes:

”Yes Charles, you are correct that the military industrial complex does provide a valuable service to our military mission. There are many functions that are not a core competency of the military (such as building airplanes) that have made sense to be outsourced. But, outsourcing the defense of our nation is not one of those functions. Where we’ve done that, as with Blackwater, it has not ended well.

“Of course education is “built” on a mix of public and private. After all, our public district schools don’t publish their own textbooks, or build their own buses or computers. But, as with the military, the core mission of our districts — to educate ALL our children, should not be outsourced. I maintain this function, to ensure it remains a common good, should not be privatized.

“I believe you intimate that when private schools siphon funding away from our district schools, it doesn’t matter because the student (and presumably the cost to educate them) goes with them. Unfortunately, all the costs don’t follow. Research shows that about 19% of the fixed costs (utilities, facility maintenance, administration, teachers, etc.) remain.

“Ultimately, your “tell” about your perspective is that you used the term “government run schools.” This tells me that you believe government is the problem and that privatizing our schools is the answer to reducing the size of our government. I believe our public district schools, are critical to the good functioning of our democratic Republic in that they are the only schools that truly take all comers, are totally transparent and accountable, and represent their communities through locally elected governing boards. I believe that anyone’s right to “choose” where they send their child to school, should not be more important than my right to know how my tax dollars should be spent and what the return on investment is. I believe in REAL fiscal responsibility…that we get what we pay for.”