Private Schools Are Not Just for the Kids of Government Employees/Retirees

Normally, it carries more weight when somebody who would benefit from a reform comes out against it.  Such is the case with a letter in today’s Providence Journal by George L. Sarganis of Riverside.

For those on the other side of the capital city, Riverside is a relatively wealthy area of East Providence, south of Route 195, near Barrington, and Mr. Sarganis opens his letter thus:

As a parent of a child who attends a Catholic high school, I am opposed to the idea of public vouchers for private education.

Presumably, he’s writing in opposition to legislation currently on the General Assembly’s list that would create a scholarship program funded with state and local education dollars and weighted to provide much greater assistance to families most in need.  Sarganis goes on:

Families make a personal choice to send their children to public, private or religious schools. Not every school is the right fit for every child.

He ends by expressing his concern that “instituting a voucher system will only hurt the already financially burdened public-school system.”  So, while Sarganis has the wealth to pay for the education of his child twice — once through state and local taxes, and once through tuition — he doesn’t think the state should help those with less wealth find the “right fit” for their children, because it would take money away from government-run schools.

Makes one wonder how the Sarganis family pays its bills, doesn’t it?

Well, according to the state pension module on the RIOpenGov Web site of the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, there just happens to be a George L. Sarganis who retired from East Providence Schools at the age of 56. In 2010, his gross pension payment was $61,630, and the site estimates that he’ll collect somewhere around $2 million over the course of his retirement.

And according to a 2011 article in the Rhode Island Catholic, he took a job at Immaculate Conception School, a private school in Cranston. Between his retirement and his hiring at Immaculate Conception, the article says, he worked as “a consultant to a nonprofit agency.”  (It’d be a safe bet, by the way, that Mr. Sarganis’s pay at Immaculate Conception is not only less than his former government-school salary, but less than his current pension payments, too.)

It’d be difficult to blame Sarganis for taking the opportunities that life (and the people of East Providence and Rhode Island) have offered him.  But if he can’t express his gratitude by at least keeping quiet when his less-well-off neighbors look for some opportunities for themselves, he should at least let everybody know where his conflicts and priorities lie.



22 Responses to “Private Schools Are Not Just for the Kids of Government Employees/Retirees”

  1. Warrington Faust
    June 27, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

    Naturally I stand to be corrected, but it seems to me that the usual amount of vouchers is less than the cost per pupil to provide education. Granted some of this may be fixed costs to maintain the physical plant regardless of the number of students. Still, over time this should rectify itself. It has always seemed to me that the schools stand to profit from it. If we "out source" trash collection, why not education?

    Can I assume that Catholic schools are heavily subsidized by the church and that Mr. Sarganis does not mind availing himself of that benifice?

  2. Phil Spadola
    June 27, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

    Did you contact George L. Sarganis of Riverside and let him know you were subjecting him to a hit piece on this political blog and ask him for his response?

  3. Justin Katz
    June 27, 2013 at 11:30 pm #

    No, Phil. This is clearly marked as an opinion piece. It is not a "news report" in which a "journalist" gives a third-party room to respond without seeking additional information that would be clearer for the reader.

    And it is not a hit piece.

  4. Warrington Faust
    June 28, 2013 at 12:06 am #

    Granted that this is a different forum, but this is a response to a "letter to the editor". It is definitely not a news item, it is simply a differing opinion. Clearly, Mr. Sarganis opened himself to different opinions. I did not even consider contacting Mr. Sarganis prior to offering my opinion.

  5. Phil Spadola
    June 28, 2013 at 6:30 am #

    It seems to me that your opinion piece using someone’s name and revealing employment information about them should have been done in a way where they would have the opportunity to respond. There's an ocean of difference between the State's largest and most read newspaper where Mr. Sarganis's letter appeared and the "Angry Cormorant" or whatever name you're using currently. I'm saying that fairness and decency would have required you to submit your screed to the newspaper as a letter to the editor, where if it appeared may stand a chance of being read by the subject of your personal attack. If he chose to answer someone who has used NSA like tactics to dig up personal information and uses phrases like "government -run schools" is another matter but at least he would be able to do that. By the way you are completely wrong about Riverside being considered "wealthy".

  6. Justin Katz
    June 28, 2013 at 8:35 am #

    Sorry, Phil. I don't think the ruling class of government workers deserves special consideration as it carves out a life of special privileges and actively works against the opportunities of everybody else. It's just wrong, and it's wrong to defend it.

  7. Warrington Faust
    June 28, 2013 at 8:52 am #

    Phil, times have changed and so has the "expectation of privacy". Googling someone is not an "unreasonable search".

    "I'm saying that fairness and decency would have required you to submit your screed to the newspaper as a letter to the editor, where if it appeared may stand a chance of being read by the subject of your personal attack." That method would leave it at the descretion of the "editor" as to whether it was published or not. That certainly permits the gatekeeper to determine whose opinions are to be heard and how the discussion is to be shaped.

  8. Phil Spadola
    June 28, 2013 at 8:53 am #

    You should be sorry about your unreasonable bias and animosity towards your neighbors because they have taken jobs in the public sector.

  9. Mike678
    June 28, 2013 at 9:18 am #

    Unreasonable to whom, Phil–you? Perhaps you should look to your own bias and tendency towards hyperbole. Defending hypocrisy is an unusual position…do I detect a modicum of defensive guilt?

  10. Dan
    June 28, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    Phil has really outdone himself with this round of comments. Filing a public information request with government, alongside every major newspaper in the country, and publishing the results is an "NSA like tactic"? Comedy gold.

    Sarganis framed his letter in personal terms. He did so as follows: "As a parent of a child who attends a Catholic high school, I am opposed to the idea of public vouchers for private education." His own financial stake in public education is therefore directly relevant for the reader's consideration.

    Speaking of bias, Phil, you have yet to criticize a single item written by professional mudslinger/walking-conflict-of-interest Bob Plain on the progressive RIFuture blog, where you also comment. But we're supposed to believe your comments here are about civility and fairness rather than knee-jerk antagonism toward a political opponent? Puh-lease.

  11. Guest
    June 29, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

    According to wikipedia, 88% of all students are in public school systems. Only 6% are being taught in religious schools. Justin wants vouchers for a mere 6%? And that 6% already receive public money for busing. WTF indeed.

  12. Phil Spadola
    June 30, 2013 at 5:31 am #

    "I'td be difficult to blame Sarganis for taking the opportunities that life (and the people of East Providence and Rhode Island) have offered him. But if he can’t express his gratitude by at least keeping quiet when his less-well-off neighbors look for some opportunities for themselves, he should at least let everybody know where his conflicts and priorities lie."
    I believe that Mr. Sarganis created his opportunities and has no reason to express gratitude to anyone. How dare Katz suggest Mr. Sarganis keep quiet and not add his voice to a public policy debate and one that he has much more experience in than does Katz .

  13. Phil Spadola
    June 30, 2013 at 5:33 am #

    Katz answers me earlier saying that "I don't think the ruling class of government workers deserves special consideration as it carves out a life of special privileges " Thanks to "guest" it would seem that Katz is the one that is expecting "special privileges" by pushing legislation that would benefit himself and a very small number of others.

  14. Justin Katz
    June 30, 2013 at 7:57 am #

    In Rhode Island, the number of private school students is around 13% of all students. The scholarship support would not be available only in religious schools, but all alternative schools; I don’t know what “guest” is talking about on that count. The scholarships would also be available for students to go to charter schools or other government-run schools. They would be available to students seeking to attend any school of any kind that wants to participate in the program.

    And the number of students who would be eligible is very substantial — something like 2/3. Not all will take the scholarships, but they would be available. That’s not a special privilege; it’s an opportunity.

    Spadola’s offering spin in the service of the private union organizations that take advantage of the system and to the detriment of Rhode Island children whose lives are being short-changed by the inadequate education that they’re receiving.

  15. Dan
    June 30, 2013 at 8:32 am #

    Phil is only antagonizing for the sake of antagonizing. The regulars here are all familiar with his pattern of abuse by now, although we can only speculate as to his true connection with organized labor. Calling a school voucher system of general applicability that any student in RI could take advantage of a "special privilege" makes no sense whatsoever. He should be ashamed to have his name published online and associated with such obvious trolling.

  16. guest
    June 30, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

    Not for nothing, Dan you seem to be the troll here. Even as a guest I can see that.

  17. Dan
    June 30, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

    In what sense am I a troll? Do you have any evidence to support that claim? Do you even know what a troll is?

  18. Warrington Faust
    June 30, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

    Dan, have you considered that "guest" is Phil?

  19. Mike
    July 1, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    One has to have morals to be ashamed. Many progressives find morals an impediment to power, therefore–no shame. Ref Anthony Weiner, the Clintons…the list is fairly lengthy. What's the current excuse? Ah, yes–"What difference, at this point, does it matter?"

  20. George Sarganis
    August 27, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

    Thank you all for your opinions. I find the opposition to my letter interesting yet amusing at the same time. Not one of the above mentions people know me nor do they care to know me. My personal circumstances for retiring at 56 is just that, personal. Mr.Katz makes several accusation and assumptions. I do not choose to disclose my personal reasons for retiring but have given a choice I would have stayed in the classroom for many more years because my passion is teaching. Google all you want but you will never know the real me or the person that my "kids" love and respect.

  21. Justin Katz
    August 28, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    Mr. Sarganis,

    Thank you for the reply. At no point have I suggested that you should disclose your reasons for retiring. The points of this essay were, essentially, (1) that you should have disclosed your status as a retired public school teacher, and (2) that Rhode Islanders shouldn't have to be able to retire at a young age on a pension higher than the state's median household income and have income from a regular job in order to have the freedom to choose the schools at which their children will be educated.

  22. George Sarganis
    August 28, 2013 at 8:48 pm #

    Mr. Katz,

    You are welcome. One thing is for certain, we can agree to disagree!

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