True to form, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick used his inaugural address to mislead Texans about private school vouchers and “school choice” and then shamelessly abused the memory of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
“When it comes to school choice, remember, we already have it,” he said. “If you’re rich enough, you send your kids to private school. You have choice. If you’re mobile enough, you move to the suburbs. You have choice. But if you’re a poor working mom in the inner city…that parent, that grandparent, that guardian does not have choice.”
And the crocodile tears kept flowing.
Patrick refuses to admit that, even with a tax-paid voucher of several thousand dollars, most poor working moms in the inner city still wouldn’t have a choice. They still wouldn’t be able to afford the tuition to send their children to most private schools, where tuition in Texas can be as high as $26,000 or more a year. Since most private schools aren’t in poor, working class neighborhoods and many low-income families don’t have autos, vouchers wouldn’t help them transport their kids to private schools either. Unlike public schools, most private schools don’t have buses.
Vouchers primarily would benefit private school owners and the middle-class and upper-middle-class families who already can afford private schools. Meanwhile, the public schools where the vast majority of Texas school children, including most inner city kids, would continue to be educated would lose even more tax revenue from their already strapped budgets.
In his inaugural address, Patrick also had the gall to invoke the memory of the late Dr. King and his “I Have a Dream” speech, suggesting, wrongly, that vouchers are a new civil rights initiative.
“I don’t think he (King) could have dreamed that 52 years later, that many of our inner city schools would still be failing our children,” Patrick said.
For education, Patrick is the problem, not the solution. Patrick and those of similar mind in the Legislature are the main obstacles between inner city schools and success. As a state senator, Patrick joined the legislative majority in 2011 to slash $5.4 billion from public school budgets, and he voted in 2013 against the entire state budget, including ALL education funding – inner city schools, suburban schools, universities, every public educational institution in Texas.
Patrick also was heavily involved in weakening another MLK priority, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was designed to encourage and protect voting by minority Americans, including that inner city mom Patrick bemoaned at his inauguration. Patrick voted for and remains a strong advocate for Texas’ voter identification law, enacted in 2011 and designed to make it more difficult for people like that mom and other members of her family to turn out and vote against candidates like Patrick.
“It’s a new day in Texas,” Patrick declared.
There is nothing new about his bad old ideas, though.