Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick spent a lot of time during his reelection campaign on a bus tour of rural Texas, an important part of his political base and home to an important group of people he hopes to sucker into supporting his latest attempt to steal education tax dollars for private school vouchers. The result of his attempted con could go a long way toward determining the fate of vouchers during the upcoming legislative session.
Patrick and his allies, mostly Republicans, have tried to force vouchers on Texas taxpayers several times before, only to be repeatedly blocked in the House by a combination of Democratic and rural Republican legislators who, unlike Patrick, value their public schools and the important contributions they make to their local communities and their state’s future.
These rural lawmakers represent constituents who also recognize the folly of stealing funding from their local school districts, which also are major employers in their communities. Most of these people voted for Patrick and his fellow voucher promoter, Greg Abbott, but they also know they have few, if any, private schools in their towns. So why should their small, public schools be forced to bleed money to benefit private school owners and students hundreds of miles away in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio or Austin?
Patrick and his privatization allies don’t have a good answer for that question because there isn’t one. Instead, Patrick is trying to con his rural supporters by promising that small, rural schools will be excluded from any voucher program.
That apparently means that students in rural districts would be excluded from receiving any vouchers or tax-credit scholarships from any program the Legislature may enact. But Patrick’s promise ignores the major problem that concerns his rural constituents: Their underfunded school districts would still lose valuable tax dollars to pay for the voucher program.
That’s because any tax dollars diverted to vouchers would take money away from all public schools across the state, even schools in rural areas, even schools whose students aren’t eligible to receive vouchers.
Rural children wouldn’t get vouchers, but their school districts and their parents would still be paying to send children in faraway cities to private schools.
What kind of deal is that? Like all voucher plans, it’s a bad one.