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.