FROM: Carolyn Boyle
All signs are showing that a major piece of legislation which includes private school vouchers will start moving in the Texas House of Representatives soon, and Governor Rick Perry will be its chief cheerleader. The governor used the "State of the State" speech January 26 as his platform to call for vouchers, saying, "Every child is entitled to a public education, but public education is not entitled to every child. Let's give children who need a second chance new choices that can forever change their future. Let's give them school choice."
According to insider reports, leaders in the Texas House are polling members on their first choice among three approaches to public school finance, and all three include vouchers. Vouchers also may be included in a "school reform" bill that is expected to be filed in the House next week. House Speaker Tom Craddick told a Texas Public Policy Foundation audience Thursday that House members "aren't going to play" with the school reform bill--they will just "make decisions and go on." H.B. 12, a proposed voucher pilot program in urban areas, also is expected to start moving soon.
The Texas Senate did not include vouchers in its consensus outline for Senate Bill 2, an omnibus bill on public school excellence and school finance reform. But even if there is no Senate voucher legislation, amendments that fund private school tuition could be proposed on the Senate floor.
WRITE YOUR LEGISLATORS IN OPPOSITION TO VOUCHERS
Voucher legislation is expected to move quickly, so NOW is the time for public school supporters to write LETTERS (not email) to their state representatives and senators. (We'll urge activists to make phone calls at a later date when there are bill numbers and key dates for action) If you do not know who represents you in the Texas Legislature, go to http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/fyi/fyi.htm
Representatives: Texas House of Representatives, P.O. Box 2910, Austin, Texas 78768-2910
Senators: Texas Senate, P.O. Box 12068-Capitol Station, Austin, Texas 78711
A FEW POINTS YOU COULD MAKE (but please personalize your letters)
-- Legislators should solve the problems with our state's school finance system and not get distracted by divisive, ill-conceived schemes that would take away money from neighborhood public schools. Vouchers would just create new school finance problems.
-- A voucher pilot program in urban areas would be a new "Robin Hood" that takes tax money from rural and suburban public schools to subsidize private, religious, and forprofit academies in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio.
-- H.B. 12 proposes a new "school stamp" program, giving a private school tuition voucher to every urban child from a low income family who fails any section of the TAKS test. Legislators must be fiscally conservative and not create a new, unaffordable entitlement program. Plus, the TAKS test should not be turned into a voucher eligibility test.
-- Legislators should vote against any bill that uses our limited public funds to subsidize private schools and home schools.
-- There are only 3 neighborhood public schools in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Austin ISDs that were rated low-performing for two consecutive rating years. The consistently failing schools are charter schools, which must either improve or be closed by the state.
Thank you for making letter-writing a priority, and please encourage your family and friends to write letters, too!!
Coalition for Public Schools, 1005 Congress Avenue, Suite 550, Austin, Texas 78701-2491, (512) 474-9765, Fax: (512) 474-2507, Carolyn Boyle, Coordinator
email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.coalition4publicschools.org
The Coalition for Public Schools is comprised of 40 education, child advocacy, community, and religious organizations representing more than 3,000,000 members in Texas. Founded in 1995, CPS opposes expenditure of public funds to support private and religious schools through mechanisms such as tuition vouchers, franchise tax credits, and property tax credits. The Coalition believes public tax dollars should be spent only to improve neighborhood public schools, which serve more than 94 percent of all Texas children.
Coalition for Public Schools groups are: American Association of University Women, American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, Americans for Religious Liberty, Americans United for Separation of Church & State, Anti-Defamation League, Association of Texas Professional Educators, Delta Kappa Gamma Texas, Jewish Federation of San Antonio Community Relations Council, League of United Latin American Citizens, League of Women Voters of Texas, Let Freedom Ring, National Council of Jewish Women, Parents for Public Schools of Houston, People for the American Way, Texas Advocacy Inc., Texas AFL-CIO, Texas Association for Bilingual Education, Texas Association of Community Schools, Texas Association of Mid-Size Schools, Texas Association of School Administrators, Texas Association of School Boards, Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators, Texas Association of Secondary School Principals, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, Texas Classroom Teachers Association, Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education, Texas Counseling Association, Texas Educational Support Staff Association, Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association, Texas Federation of Teachers, Texas Freedom Network, Texas Impact, Texas Parents and Teachers Association, Texas Retired Teachers Association, Texas Rural Education Association, Texas School Public Relations Association, Texas State Teachers Association, The Arc of Texas.