ATPE News

Summer 2017

ATPE News is the official publication of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, the largest educator association in Texas. The magazine addresses the most important issues affecting public education in the state. Learn more at ATPE.org.

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TEXANS ON EDUCATION 18 ATPE NEWS DR. CHARLES LUKE ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR AT PASTORS FOR TEXAS CHILDREN After 24 Years, Vouchers Are Still Not the Answer for Texas Public Schools A s the 85th session of the Texas legisla- ture winds down, vouchers have once again been advanced by the Senate and repudiated by the House. We have to wonder: How many more times will we have this conversation? For the past 12 sessions (that's 24 years!), those who want to privatize public schools have been pushing some form of voucher program. Lately, they have been using cre- ative names like "tuition tax credit," "insurance pre- mium tax credit," and "ed- ucation savings account." Earlier in the current leg- islative session, one of the members of the Senate Education Committee chided a concerned citizen for using the term "vouch- er" to describe Senate Bill 3, which proposes a com- bination of an insurance premium tax credit and an education savings account. "Why do you keep using the term "voucher"?" the senator wanted to know. "Because," replied the tes- tifier, "it takes public funds and sends them to private entities for educational purposes. That's the defi- nition of a voucher." As the House seems to understand and the Senate does not, a voucher by another name is still a voucher. Earlier this session, voucher support- er Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick challenged the House to "give an up or down vote" on vouchers. The House did just that, but not in the way that Patrick in- tended. They passed an amendment that disal- lows the expenditure of public funds for private education, sending a clear message to the Senate and Patrick regarding exactly how the House feels about vouchers. The argument from those who support vouchers is always "Give us school choice!" But they already have school choice; the only difference is that now they want taxpayers to foot the bill. Increasingly, school choice is available within public schools. Many public schools now have creative career and technology programs that can compete on a world- wide basis along with district- and state-imple- mented mechanisms to al- low students and parents a variety of options (in-dis- trict and inter-district transfers, public education grants, etc.). In schools where choice is more limit- ed, the culprit is often poor state funding exacerbated by a depressed local econ- omy. As the state's share of public school funding continues to drop below 40 percent, these commu- nities struggle to meet the daily social and education- al demands of students, often finding themselves without the resources to create more robust pub- lic school choice programs. Vouchers rob the public trust to advance private enterprise. If school choice advocates really want educational options, they should focus instead on providing adequate funding for communities whose schools suffer from a depressed economy. One way to do this is to simply keep the tax money continued on page 40 VOUCHERS ROB THE PUBLIC TRUST TO ADVANCE PRIVATE ENTERPRISE. IF SCHOOL CHOICE ADVOCATES REALLY WANT EDUCATIONAL OPTIONS, THEY SHOULD FOCUS INSTEAD ON PROVIDING ADEQUATE FUNDING FOR COMMUNITIES WHOSE SCHOOLS SUFFER FROM A DEPRESSED ECONOMY. The information in this article was current as of press time. Please check with TeachtheVote.org for the most up-to-date information on voucher bills and the rest of ATPE's legislative agenda. Ú

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