Thursday, March 26, 2015

Voucher Lobby Launches Full Frontal Assault on Texas Public Schools

Voucher Lobby Launches Full Frontal Assault on Texas Public Schools


interests pushing private school voucher schemes in Texas are launching
today what might be their strongest attack on neighborhood public
schools in years. The Senate Education Committee is hearing public
testimony on three proposed voucher bills — each one of which could end
up draining billions of dollars from public education to subsidize
tuition at private and religious schools.
Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller will testify at the
hearing and remind senators that their responsibility under the Texas
Constitution is to fund public schools, not private and religious
schools. Yet the Legislature cut $5.4 billion from public education just
four years ago and has yet to restore all of that funding.

Each of the bills under consideration today creates a different
voucher scheme but does essentially the same thing: drain tax dollars
from funding for neighborhood public schools so that the state can
subsidize — directly or indirectly — private and religious schools.

SB 4 by state Sen. Larry Craig, R-Friendswood, and SB 642
by state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, would give tax breaks to
corporations that donate to organizations providing “tuition grants” or
“scholarships” at private and religious schools. Every dollar that funds
these corporate tax loopholes would be unavailable for the state’s
cash-starved public schools.

SB 276
by state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, would create so-called
“taxpayer savings grants” that shift a large share of funding for a
public school student over to subsidizing tuition at a private or
religious school instead.

Private and religious schools getting these taxpayer subsidies would
not be subject to the same rules and regulations that govern the state’s
public schools. That means those voucher schools would not be
accountable to the taxpayers who are funding them.

Moreover, supporters misleadingly claim that these voucher schemes
will actually save taxpayer dollars or won’t take money from public
schools because private donors would be using tax credits to pay for the
vouchers. These claims are a charade. The reality is precisely the
opposite, as Kathy and other representatives of other members of the
Coalition for Public Schools will point out today.

You can watch a live-stream of the hearing here. We’re also live-tweeting the hearing: @tfn. Stay tuned.

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