Friday, May 06, 2005

No Vales! No Vouchers!

The very latest word on vouchers is that Archbishop Gomez in San Antonio is taking a public stand in support of vouchers as a solution for the financing of Catholic parochial schools. Though a counter-strategy is currently being devised by leadership in San Antonio, this will likely affect a number of parishioner's opinions on vouchers. If 5 % say, at most, 7% of all young people attend Catholic parochial schools in Texas, then this Archbishop is willing to sacrifice the remaining 93%--including the majority of his own parishioners-- so that Catholic schools may benefit. His "leadership" on this issue is extremely unfortunate and unfortunately divisive. -Angela

from Adrian Rodriguez, Texas LULAC

At a press conference on April 4, the Coalition for Public Schools – which
includes the Texas Freedom Network – estimated that the three voucher bills
would drain $600 million to $2.2 billion over a two-year period from our
public schools to pay for tuition at private and religious schools. The next
day, Texas LULAC and the NAACP held another press conference to counter
efforts by other groups to build support for vouchers in the Hispanic and
African-American communities.

The same day, Gov. Perry, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and House Speaker Craddick
addressed a large pro-voucher rally on the Capitol steps. Hispanic CREO, an
organization funded by the far-right Walton and Friedman foundations and the
U.S. Department of Education to push voucher legislation, sponsored the
rally. None of this was a surprise – too many of our state’s leaders and
wealthy special interests have been conspiring for years to bring vouchers
to Texas. They see this year as their best chance to win.

Refusing to Be Silenced
The House committee’s public hearing on three voucher bills demonstrated the
extreme measures that far-right legislators will take to silence the
opposition to vouchers. For the first five hours, committee Chairman Kent
Grusendorf, R-Arlington, called only pro-voucher testimony. Most of those
speakers came from folks Hispanic CREO and other far-right groups bused to
the Capitol from San Antonio.

Scores of voucher opponents also came, however, many traveling hundreds of
miles on their own to Austin. Shortly before midnight, all who remained in
the committee room were those dedicated supporters of neighborhood public
schools. They were clearly determined to be heard, regardless of the
maneuvering to keep them frustrated and silent as the hours have clicked by.

Fighting for Our Public Schools
The House Public Education Committee has yet to vote out any of the three
voucher bills. Many phone calls, visits and other contact between supporters
of public schools and lawmakers are making a difference. In fact, strong
opposition from across the state has beaten back voucher schemes in every
legislative session since 1995. Polls show that most Texans still strongly
oppose vouchers.

Yet it is hard to overstate the serious challenge facing our public schools
right now. As the end of the session nears, pro-voucher interests may try to
force a bill on to the floor of the House or Senate. Another possibility
would be amending a separate bill with a voucher scheme. Yet we can still
stop this dangerous agenda by keeping the pressure on legislators with calls
and letters. The time to stand up and fight for our public schools is NOW!


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1 comment:

  1. The voucher system that has been proposed is appalling and goes against every conceivable argument for equal education opportunities. I cannot see how taking money from the public school system will allow for better educational opportunities.

    Texas legislators seem to be in the business of killing any idea of community-based education. It is interesting to think about the end of each legislative session when legislators give their stories about growing up, always wanting what was best for Texas, and then talk about their opportunity to serve in the House or Senate. They speak about how they did what was right, they talk about working with members of the other party, and how Texas is a better place for it. It seems that despite these claims, that legislators seem to be more in the business of dodging responsibility, and claiming to be accountable to the entire State only when it is convenient. By separating Texas on school issues, law makers tend to forget that despite the constituency that elected them; they are responsible for providing equal education opportunities to every child in the state of Texas.

    Voucher opportunities will only be given to children of parents who can probably afford to provide private schooling educations now. It has been the case of the Texas past that White parents have preferred private schooling as a way to remove their children from settings where the perceived dangers were increased – in poor communities of color, which is redundant in itself. This has meant that inner-city schools have witnessed the flight by their most economically sound residents. While some have left for the suburbs, others have promoted private schooling, and now the voucher program – to take money away from the public schools that they chose to avoid for their children. White people are scared of Black and brown people, and it has forever effected how children are educated. Based on the racialized disparities of wealth, it is irresponsible to claim that this is just a coincidence. White people with money have used it to create an elitist system that is inherently racist. Yes, it can be argued that it is classist, but that doesn’t make it any less racist, either in intention or inadvertent effects.

    By selling the idea of “better educational opportunities, despite where you live,” groups like Hispanic-CREO have sold-out to promoting a White structure of elitism and exclusion. Republican elites are getting rich on selling the “American Dream” to communities that have been exploited by army recruits and lottery tickets. The racism that one must internalize to sell out the community for one’s own personal gain is rampant in media, and society – hell, think about John Smith and Pocahontas. All these parents want is a good education, for their kids and their neighbors’ kids as well. Why that is not possible with our current school system, law makers still have not explained. Living on the assumption that “inequality exists and therefore we must save ourselves” is not the type of mentality we can afford of our state legislators – not as a family, and not as the State of Texas.