Vouchers don’t promote civil rights


To no one’s surprise, state Sen. Dan Patrick is getting carried away with his own rhetoric over the private school voucher issue, which will be the top priority for Patrick and others seeking to weaken the public schools during next year’s legislative session.

“It is the civil rights issue of our time,” he told the Texas delegation to the Republican National Convention, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Civil rights? This is coming from Dan Patrick, a champion of the anti-civil rights Voter ID bill, which a federal court struck down yesterday because it would weaken the voting rights of minority and other low-income Texans.

No, thank you, Texas doesn’t need any more “help” with civil rights from Dan Patrick.

Every child in Texas has a right to an adequate and equitable public education, which Patrick and other supports of private school vouchers would erode by siphoning away tax dollars for a handful of students and private school operators. Vouchers, like voter ID, are an “anti-civil rights issue.”

Patrick also declared, “Don’t let the (teacher) unions tell you we’re going to rob it (voucher money) away from public education.”

But that is exactly what the Texas State Teachers Association will continue to tell everyone, because that is exactly what voucher advocates intend to do.

Patrick and other voucher supporters, including Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, already have shown they are eager to strip needed resources from the public schools. They slashed $5.4 billion from public education last year, over the strong objections of parents and educators. Parents and educators understand what is needed in our schools, and they, along with teacher groups, actually do value public education and work to improve the lives of public school students every day.

Patrick claims that vouchers would help students with disabilities and autism. But if he were so concerned about their welfare, why did he vote last year to cut their public school budgets and billions of dollars more from health care programs, while leaving billions of dollars unspent in the Rainy Day Fund?

No amount of profiteering schemes will change this fact. The overwhelming majority of Texas’ 5 million school children will continue to be educated in traditional public schools. Most will not have a realistic alternative or a choice, even under a voucher program. Instead, a voucher program would undermine their basic educational rights while providing a taxpayer subsidy to private school owners.

In his speech to GOP delegates, Patrick also denounced “non-needy” Texans who, he said, are benefiting from social welfare programs.

“Get off your butt!…Don’t expect us (taxpayers) to pick up the tab for your lifestyle,” he said.

He doesn’t mind, of course, if taxpayers pick up the tab for non-needy private school operators. That is hypocrisy, folks. It is not what a sound public education system and civil rights are all about.


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