Day: <span>April 21, 2015</span>

Spinning fiction over vouchers


During Senate debate on the voucher bill, Education Committee Chairman Larry Taylor was still spinning the fiction that his voucher bill, Senate Bill 4, would not spend public money on private schools because it would create scholarships funded with private contributions. In truth, the bill would divert millions of dollars in state funds to private schools because it would give tax credits for the scholarship contributions.

A business donating money to a private school scholarship fund would get a reduction in state taxes, thus reducing the pool of public money from which public schools are funded.

Walks like a duck, talks like a duck….

Senate Bill 4 is a voucher bill, folks.

The bill is a fiction in one other important way as well. Remember, how Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and other voucher advocates have insisted that they are trying to help children from low-income families use vouchers to attend private schools?

Well, each scholarship, or voucher, under SB4 would be worth about $5,900 a year.  That would be about $1,000 less than the average tuition for a private elementary school in Texas and about $2,000 less than the average tuition for a private high school, amounts that many low-income families still would be unable to meet. Moreover, many of the best private schools charge more than $20,000 a year, making them totally unreachable for most Texans. And few, if any, of the best private schools are located in low-income neighborhoods. They don’t provide transportation for their students, and this bill wouldn’t require them to.

What this voucher bill would do, were it to become law, would be to encourage a bunch of fly-by-night operators to open up private “schools” in neighborhood storefronts, offering cut-rate tuition with little or no accountability, while ripping off taxpayers and harming children with substandard courses and instruction.

Let us hope the House is not as eager as the Senate majority to pass a very bad bill.