The Texas Senate, beginning with the Senate Education Committee, still needs an education in public education. For starters, it can take lessons from its counterpart, the House Public Education Committee, on the other side of the Capitol.
Yesterday, Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, chairman of the House committee, was explaining his proposal to add $3 billion in funding (above enrollment growth) to public schools and try to provide a fairer distribution of funding between rich and poor school districts.
Now, $3 billion is probably not enough money, and school finance experts probably can find other faults with Aycock’s plan. But the point is he is actually trying to address a serious problem in public education, an issue that already has prompted a state judge to declare the school funding system unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, what has the Senate Education Committee been doing? The answer is not much except fooling around with one unproven privatization scheme after another.
Today, the Senate panel approved Senate Bill 4, which would divert tax dollars from public education by creating “opportunity scholarships” for students attending private schools. Walks like a duck, talks like a duck…This is a private school voucher bill, folks, a huge step in the wrong direction.
On the House side, Aycock is trying to improve funding for public schools, while his counterparts in the Senate continue to undermine them.
The fight over vouchers and school funding is far from over, but I, for one, am very grateful our fore-parents created two legislative chambers.