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12:00 AM, Sep 23, 1996 • By LIBBY STERNBERG
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2. School choice will destroy a sense of community and commonality. In Chittenden, the small-town life for which Vermont is famous thrives, despite the fact that children have long gone to different schools. The town is divided over the current controversy, but the annual community festival went off as usual.

3. School choice will result in schools divided along racial, ethnic, religious, or other lines. Federal law prohibits discrimination even on the part of private schools. And there is no indication that Chittenden's parents choose schools for any reasons other than educational quality, proximity, or special programs -- all relating to their children's needs.

Finally school-choice opponents insist that public reimbursements to religious schools are unconstitutional, as if this were a settled matter. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled on a tuition-reimbursement program like Vermont's, which treats public, private, and religious schools the same. This is indeed the central question about comprehensive school choice, since more than 80 percent of the nation's private schools have religious affiliations. It is time the question were resolved, and the Chittenden case seems a fine one to press for a definitive ruling.

Libby Sternberg is a freelance writer living in Vermont and a member of Rutlanders for School Choice.