Day: <span>February 3, 2015</span>

Vouchers: A tuition break at your expense


Here’s more proof that the main push behind private school vouchers is not low-income children, despite advocates’ public declarations, but middle-class and upper-middle-class families who are seeking tuition help from fellow taxpayers.

Asked about his position on vouchers this week, one pro-voucher legislator (not low-income and not inner-city) said he sent his child to private school and wished that he had had some help with tuition. Now, he said, he is ready to help other middle-class families like his send their children to private school – with your tax dollars. And this pro-voucher lawmaker is not alone.

The chief voucher advocate, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, repeatedly has said his goal for vouchers is to help low-income children escape failing public schools. In his inaugural address, he grieved over that “poor working mom” in the inner city who didn’t have a “choice” about where to send her children to school.

Hooey. With vouchers, she still wouldn’t have a choice.

With vouchers at the level being proposed – about $5,400 per child – that inner-city mom and thousands of other low-income families still couldn’t afford most private schools. The average tuition for a private elementary school in Texas is $6,800 and for a high school, $8,900. Some of the better private schools charge $26,000 or more a year.

Low-income families couldn’t afford to pay the tuition difference for most private schools, and many wouldn’t be able to get their children to school anyway, because most private schools aren’t located in low-income neighborhoods and don’t provide transportation.

In truth, middle-income and upper-middle-income families, many of whom already send their children to private schools, would gobble up the vouchers. Meanwhile, low-income kids would remain in neighborhood public schools that would continue to suffer budget cuts.

The voucher scheme has nothing to do with helping inner-city kids. It simply is a way to transfer your tax dollars from public schools to privatization schemes that would hurt the vast majority of low-income school children.