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.