You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Commentary: School vouchers would run public education like a business


It’s no surprise that some of our current leaders like Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick or President-elect Donald Trump are pushing school voucher programs. They’ve been telling us that was their intention for years. Abandoning our neighborhood public schools, however, isn’t something the vast majority of Texans want. While political salesmen like Patrick and Trump and the organizations that support them like to wax poetically about supporting “school choice” programs, such as taxpayer savings grants and education savings accounts (ESAs), these programs are nothing more than vouchers. Unlike real choice programs that help families find the best fit for their children, the true purpose of every voucher program is to decrease the state’s responsibility to properly fund a quality education for every child while directing education dollars that are spent to political supporters.

Vouchers would direct money away from an already cash-strapped public education system for a subset of students, while leaving thousands more behind with fewer resources to support them. We are already close to dead last when it comes to how much Texas spends on education per child. That existing deficiency combined with taking more funding away from our neighborhood schools is a recipe for disaster. There are numerous examples of similar programs that have failed around the country.

Voucher supporters argue a free market would improve schools through competition, but there is not a solid research base to support that claim — and significant anecdotal evidence to the contrary. Why would anyone expect that sending students and public tax dollars to voucher schools, which don’t have to adhere to the same standards as public schools, would improve educational outcomes?

Schools accepting vouchers wouldn’t have to meet state-approved academic standards or public accountability and transparency requirements such as special education, health and safety laws. Most of all, unlike public schools, voucher schools aren’t responsible for accepting all students; they can accept who they want and will absolutely exercise that right.

Our society’s commitment to public education, as enshrined in the Texas Constitution, places a responsibility on our legislature to ensure we have a public education system capable of properly educating every child who comes to the schoolhouse door. Voucher schools, on the other hand, can pick and choose who they take and are inherently exclusionary. As a result, the population of students who might benefit from a voucher is substantially limited and the schools available to all students are significantly harmed. Under this proposed system, students with special needs — such as learning or physical disabilities, language barriers or behavioral challenges — would mostly likely be left behind.

Schools aren’t businesses and shouldn’t be run like them. Businesses can choose what type of product they want to sell and how to sell it — and if the product is not up to their standard, it gets sent back or destroyed. Our schools’ products are children, and we can’t send them back; we must build them up.We cater to their education needs, whether our students be homeless, rich, poor, abused, frightened, rude or brilliant. No matter what their background, Texas parents know their children will receive a quality education in public schools.

Our educators are doing amazing things in the classroom every day, but there’s always room for improvement. A little funding can go a long way, but in our case, Texas cut $5.4 billion from public schools in 2011. Now legislators are talking about taking even more money away in the name of “school choice.”

It’s high time for the public to stand up for teachers and public education and say, “Enough!” Invest in the talent of Texas educators, throw a little positive support their way and the sky is the limit. Saying Texas public schools are a failure is nothing more than political rhetoric. It is being spouted by those who know little about what really goes on in the classroom or in the homes of those 5.3 million schoolchildren who are trying to do their very best — without the full support of those responsible for giving them that chance.

Our energy and resources would be better spent on the public education system than on a limited voucher experiment. Restoring all the funding cut from public schools in 2011 would help us battle overcrowded classrooms, provide the latest and greatest technology to students, and offer better pay and support for great teachers so that they stay in the classroom longer and do the most good.

Godsey is the executive director for the Association of Texas Professional Educators.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Letters to the Editor: January 17, 2017
Letters to the Editor: January 17, 2017

Re: Jan. 7 article, “Bad grades, lapses in hiring process doomed Austin’s crime lab leader.” While I find the hiring of Scott Milne troubling, particularly due to poor practices that led to the lab’s closure and required a top notch leader to rectify, another, more problematic statement caught my attention: “Texas Forensic...
Commentary: Texas should not push narratives that put lives at risk
Commentary: Texas should not push narratives that put lives at risk

Sylvester is an author in Austin. As Texas legislators prepare for the 85th session, state Rep. Jason Villalba is planning a celebration of Texas authors. I am honored to be part of our state’s literary community and appreciate the invitation to be recognized. However, I won’t be going. My novel, “Chasing the Sun,” was published...
Commentary: We need vulnerability, empathy in professional coaching
Commentary: We need vulnerability, empathy in professional coaching

Roberts is the founding director of the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation at the University of Texas and is the author of “Call an Audible: Let My Pivot from Harvard Law to NFL Coach Inspire Your Transition.” On the day after the NFL regular season ended, Gary Kubiak, the now former head coach of the Denver Broncos, made the most...
Opinion: What Martin Luther King Jr. may have thought about U.S. today
Opinion: What Martin Luther King Jr. may have thought about U.S. today

Cokley is a professor of educational psychology and black studies and director of the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis at the University of Texas. As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, I wonder what MLK would think about the country for which he dedicated his life to fighting racial oppression and advancing civil...
Opinion: Today we honor Kings’ legacy by resisting Trump administration
Opinion: Today we honor Kings’ legacy by resisting Trump administration

Tzintzun is the executive director of Jolt, a Texas-based organization that lifts up the voices of Latino families to win positive social change and co-authored “Presente! Latino Immigrant Voices in the Struggle for Racial Justice.” Today we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who altered the course of history and through his courage...
More Stories