Thursday, August 30, 2012

Patrick calls vouchers ‘the civil rights issue of our time;’ senator says to hold a disabled student in bad school is ‘a sin’

The research is conclusive that vouchers further stratify students and communities and feed the pockets of money-hungry entrepreneurs that seek to privatize and destroy public education. Contrary to a civil rights agenda. Information on the issue of vouchers, as far back as 2005, can be found on this blog. 


By Robert T. Garrett/Reporter | Dallas Morning-News
August 30, 2012

Conservative state Sen. Dan Patrick has summoned the Texas GOP’s activist base to go to war to pass school vouchers or a similar policy that would expand options for public school students. Next year.

“This is the session for us to be bold. This is the session for us to reform public education,” Patrick said, speaking of the legislative session that starts in January. “It is the civil rights issue of our time,” he told the state’s delegation to the GOP national convention on Thursday.

Patrick, R-Houston, said later he has the backing of Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, though he said the three Republicans and other allies haven’t settled on a definite plan of attack — vouchers, more charter schools, perhaps some other policy alternative.

 Patrick previewed for delegates what he said would be “a tough fight.” The radio talk-show host moved quickly to seize the moral high ground, denouncing teacher groups and anyone else who opposes using tax dollars to allow poor students to attend private schools. “Education is the issue for us, for our party. I’m not going to let the Democrats define it any more. It’s not about money,” he said. “We have some great public school teachers. But we need to have a system that’s focused on the students and the family, and not the adults and the teachers’ union.”

Speaking of the state hosting the GOP convention, Patrick said Florida has a voucher scheme worth studying — and perhaps emulating. “You know how they rate their schools in Florida? A through F,” he said. “In Florida, if you go to a bad school, you get a voucher. You’re gone. Why should we be trapped in that school?”

Patrick attacked arguments that vouchers or an alternative choice proposal would drain support from Texas public schools, which last year received $5.4 billion less for the current two-year budget cycle than they would have under previous fund formulas and grant allocations. The Legislature made the trims in closing a $27 billion budget shortfall. “Don’t let the unions tell you we’re going to rob it away from public education,” he said. Of 5 million Texas school children, only about 370,000 attend private or charter schools, he said. “It’s a small amount.”

Shifting back to moral suasion, Patrick spoke of high dropout rates among Hispanic and African American males and then closed with an appeal to parents of special-needs students.

“If a students feels, a family feels they need a better opportunity, they should have that right,” he said. “And especially, students with disabilities and autism, to be trapped in a school that can’t help you get over a disability, is a sin. And we’re going to stand up for that community.” He received sustained applause.

Patrick closed with a denunciation of what he described as non-needy Texans who are taking advantage of social welfare programs.

“Get off your butt! … Don’t expect us to pick up the tab for your lifestyle,” he said, triggering a 30-second standing ovation from delegates.

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