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LOS ANGELES : 3 Rabbis Oppose School Voucher Initiative

Calling it a matter of principle over pocketbooks, three Los Angeles-area rabbis whose temples educate nearly 1,500 children came out against the school voucher initiative Monday, even though the families of their students would receive $3.8 million a year in tuition rebates.

The initiative, which calls for tax-funded vouchers worth $2,600 a year for parents of school-age children enrolled in private schools, “would destroy the public school system completely,” said Rabbi Isaiah Zeldin of the Stephen S. Wise Temple in Bel-Air, which has about 1,000 students in kindergarten through high school. “It is bad for the community generally, even though my congregation would benefit,” said Zeldin, at whose temple the press conference was held.

Supporters of Proposition 174 argue that the measure, which will be on the Nov. 2 ballot, would give parents a greater say in picking schools for their children, prompting competition that would improve education.

Two other rabbis--Harold Schulweiss of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino and John Rosove of Temple Israel of Hollywood--expressed concerns that the measure would cost public schools at least $1 billion.

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“Public funds should be used for public circumstances. It’s as simple as that,” said Schulweiss, whose congregation’s school enrolls about 400 students.


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