Day: <span>December 6, 2016</span>

Trying to predict Congress’ mood on school vouchers


With most headlines out of Washington, D.C., these days ranging from absurd to gloomy to scary, an education headline from The San Diego Union-Tribune was remarkably upbeat.

“Why Trump education nominee’s agenda is dead on arrival,” it declared, atop an editorial predicting that the ambitious private school voucher program to be touted by Trump and his choice for Education Secretary, anti-public education billionaire Betsy DeVos, will be rejected by Congress.

The newspaper speculates that after the disastrous experience with the unpopular No Child Left Behind Act, which Congress overwhelmingly dumped in a bipartisan vote late last year, a congressional majority will be in no mood to reinsert itself so heavily into state educational policy again, at least not now.

In repealing No Child Left Behind, the newspaper wrote: “Republicans embraced the argument that federal micomanagement infringed on states’ rights. Democrats embraced the argument that No Child Left Behind’s obsessive focus on testing actually hurt schools.”

The editorial notes that Trump and DeVos want to create a $130 billion program, to be funded mostly by the states, to provide $12,000 vouchers to allow low-income children to attend private or religious schools.

“This would massively defund public school systems in states with considerable poverty, be they blue (California, New York), red (Texas) or purple (Florida),” the newspaper writes. “This isn’t going to happen.”

That prediction may or may not be overly optimistic. But even if Trump’s federal voucher program never gets off the ground in Washington, educators and parents in Texas still will be confronted with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s obsession with vouchers.

Patrick has announced vouchers again will be one of his priorities for the upcoming legislative session, and public education advocates – including TSTA — are preparing for a tough, but winnable, battle.