If you have any doubt (and you shouldn’t) about the eagerness of some private schools to siphon tax dollars from the public schools, click on the link at the bottom of this post. The article from Education News Colorado is about a lawsuit challenging a voucher pilot program in that state.
Twentythree private schools in one county, including 18 with religious affiliations, are participating in the program. As the story points out, the private schools – unlike the public schools – can cherrypick their students while using tax dollars to build new classrooms and hire teachers. In short, the Colorado voucher program is an economic development boost for a small number of private schools at a time when Colorado, like Texas, is under attack for underfunding its public education system.
Plaintiffs in a second lawsuit underway in a separate courtroom in Denver argue that Colorado public schools are underfunded by about $2 billion to $4 billion a year, yet the Legislature in that state has carved out more than $2 million for private school tuition.
Granted, the voucher program is limited to 500 children in one county, but that $2 million of tax money should have gone to public schools. The plaintiffs in the antivoucher suit argue that the program violates at least six sections of the Colorado Constitution, including a prohibition against public aid to private schools and churches.
The Texas Legislature, which slashed more than $5 billion from our public schools this year, at least didn’t enact a voucher program. But, even in the face of Texas’ huge revenue shortfall, voucher legislation was filed in Austin, and voucher advocates will try again when Texas lawmakers reconvene in 2013.