Month: <span>March 2023</span>

Proposed Texas vouchers would be an entitlement for upper-income families, not a break for low-income kids

Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick and the pro-voucher crowd apparently are still fooling a lot of people into thinking that the millions of tax dollars they want to take from public schools and transfer to private schools are to help low-income children afford private school tuition.

“Why do you want to trap poor kids in bad schools?” someone recently tweeted. The language suggests this person either was paid to tweet the standard pro-voucher line or had fallen for it hook, line and sinker.

The truth of the matter is that low-income students are just about the last people on the minds of the pro-voucher crowd, and the proof is in Senate Bill 8, the voucher bill blessed by Lt. Gov. Patrick. It would provide $8,000 to each child selected for a voucher or education savings account. This is thousands of dollars less than the tuition at many private schools, especially the better ones, where tuition can be as high as $20,000 or $30,000 or more.

Low-income families simply aren’t going to be able to make up the difference. Sure, some private schools have lower, bargain tuition. But would their kids really be better off there?

Vouchers are intended mainly to give a tuition subsidy or entitlement to upper-middle-income and wealthy families who want to send their children to private school and don’t need help from every other taxpayer in Texas.

Clay Robison

Patrick priority gun bill a slap at Uvalde families

Dan Patrick’s bill to require a 10-year prison sentence without parole for anyone convicted of using a gun to commit a felony isn’t the worst bill to be filed this session. There are many others far more evil. But this measure, Senate Bill 23 and one of Patrick’s priority bills, is a slap in the face to the families who lost loved ones in the Uvalde massacre and other mass shootings.

That’s because Patrick is pushing it to make people think he really cares about gun violence, even though he doesn’t care enough about gun violence to support the type of gun reform laws that could make a difference. Those would be laws to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, with the goal of preventing deadly crimes, not adding another penalty for someone who commits one.

The Texas Tribune article linked below discusses how criminal justice reform advocates oppose the bill because studies have shown that mandatory minimum prison sentences do little to reduce violent crime.

Had this law been on the books a year ago, it would have done absolutely nothing to deter the 18-year-old Uvalde shooter from killing 19 elementary students and two of their teachers. Had the shooter survived, he could have – and probably would have – faced the death penalty. He knew that and still shot up the school. A mandatory 10-year prison sentence would have been meaningless.

If Patrick really wants to do something that may keep another 18-year-old from legally purchasing an assault-style rifle and attacking another school, he would make a priority of enacting a law to raise the legal age for purchasing assault rifles from 18 to 21, which he adamantly refuses to do.

“In Texas, we deeply respect the Second Amendment, but we will not tolerate violent criminals terrorizing our communities. Enough is enough,” said Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, who is sponsoring the bill.

Tough words, but when are Huffman, Patrick and their allies going to put them into action?

Texas bill requiring 10-year prison sentences for gun felonies faces opposition from criminal justice and firearm advocates

Clay Robison

Educators educate; Abbott indoctrinates

On his pro-voucher tour of parts of Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott keeps uttering a statement with which I actually agree, and so do other public education advocates I know. The statement goes something like this: “Public schools are for education, not indoctrination.”

It’s a strange statement, though, to come from the state’s chief indoctrinator. He really must mean: “Public schools are for education, not indoctrination, unless I am doing the indoctrinating.”

While public school educators are educating, teaching – or trying to teach – the whole truth about our history, society and culture, Abbott is politicizing and privatizing education. He is promoting and signing laws to whitewash the teaching of racism; threatening book bans to pander to people who fear and hate diversity; and potentially endangering the careers of professional educators who resent his intrusions.

This is the real indoctrination of Texas public schools, and Abbott is at the center of it. But he is so full of his own indoctrination that he doesn’t recognize the inconsistency in his own statement. And if he is concerned about tax dollars being spent on schools that indoctrinate, why in the world does he want to send public funds to religious schools?

Clay Robison