School Vouchers – by Any Name – Are Wrong for Texas Children

/, Texas Legislature/School Vouchers – by Any Name – Are Wrong for Texas Children

On Tuesday morning, the Senate Education Committee will discuss Senate Bill 3, a dangerous proposal that would use taxpayer dollars to subsidize private school education. As the proud product of Dallas public schools, the daughter and granddaughter of public school teachers and principals, and the executive director of a non-profit policy group that believes deeply in the power of public education to give everyone a fair chance, SB 3 has got me all fired up.

According to our recent policy analysis, SB 3 vouchers would cut public school funding in our state by more than $2 billion per year if five percent of Texas children opted into the program.

Click here to find out how many dollars would be siphoned from public schools in Senate Education Committee member districts.

CPPP opposes SB 3 because it would:

  • Divert public resources from Texas’ already under-funded public school system to subsidize private school tuition for wealthier families.
  • Enable the use of tax dollars without adequate accountability to ensure the quality of education or to protect against misuse of public funds.
  • Offer no real choice to low-income families or families living in rural areas.
  • Not be a targeted response to the challenges faced by low-income children attending low-performing public schools.
  • Have a negligible impact on student achievement.

Education Savings Account vouchers (ESA vouchers) under SB 3 would subsidize private school tuition for parents of all income levels using taxpayer money that would otherwise support public schools. Lower income families would be much less likely to take advance of ESAs, because the voucher payments would not cover the full cost of private school tuition or expenses. The average cost of a private high school in Texas is $9,672. Because ESA vouchers would be between $5,413 and $6,767 for most eligible students, their families would still owe between $2,906 and $4,259 in private school tuition annually even with an ESA voucher.

Click here to see how SB 3 would benefit higher income families more than lower income families.

ESA vouchers are not a viable choice for families in rural areas either. There are just over 1,800 private schools across 123 Texas counties serving approximately 305,000 students. Of those, only 62 rural counties have private schools, leaving 120 rural counties (64 percent) without a private school in their boundaries.

Instead of diverting tax dollars to subsidize private school tuition for wealthier families, the Texas Legislature should remodel Texas’ outdated school finance system to ensure that there is sufficient financial support for all kids to get a quality public education, no matter where they live or what their background.

Please join me in supporting public education and opposing vouchers by calling your representative today.

My written testimony is available here.

A renowned social justice lawyer, former philanthropy executive, and frequent public speaker and writer, Ann Beeson joined the Center in 2013. She was previously the Executive Director of U.S. Programs at the Open Society Foundations, where she promoted human rights, justice, and accountability nationwide. Beeson was the national Associate Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, where she worked from 1995-2007. She argued twice before the U.S. Supreme Court, litigated numerous cases around the country, and launched groundbreaking programs to stop the erosion of civil liberties in the name of national security and to protect free speech and privacy on the Internet. Beeson has been recognized as one of the nation’s top lawyers by American Lawyer Magazine and the National Law Journal. A proud Texan, Beeson has embraced a wide range of innovative strategies to advance social change. Before joining the Center, she launched a new non-profit to involve the creative sector in social change. In 2012-13, she was a Senior Fellow and Lecturer at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas, where she co-produced a public media series to inspire more people to get engaged in their communities. She grew up in Dallas, Texas, and received undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Texas. Beeson obtained her law degree from Emory University School of Law, and served as law clerk to the Honorable Barefoot Sanders, then chief judge of the Northern District of Texas.

1 Comment

  • It is not just PubEd that dislikes this bill, so many families in the homeschool community are against SB3 as well!
    After one well known homeschool group lost its mind and began suporting the voucher/(fake)ESA plans, many homeschoolers were furious and formed the statewide group Texans for Homeschool Freedom.
    Tx4HF is fighting with all their might to defeat SB3 and any other ESA bill brought forth.

    Paula 23.03.2017

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