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: May 29, 2017
Letters to the editor: May 29, 2017

Re: May 24 article, “Sid Miller calls barbecue deregulation effort ‘horse hockey.’” While some of Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller’s public initiatives go against the grain — pushing poisoning of wild hogs is not only environmentally hazardous, but is probably outside his legislative purview — the...
Two Views: How we honor our uncle who gave his life for our freedom
Two Views: How we honor our uncle who gave his life for our freedom

Every year on Memorial Day, my father hung the American flag from the rafters in front of our home in San Bernardino, California. As a young girl, I thought he was just being patriotic. I later understood he was honoring his younger brother, Staff Sgt. Severo Sanchez, who was killed in action in World War II. Today, my family follows in my parents&rsquo...
Two Views: Memorial Day reminds us we must better prepare for next war
Two Views: Memorial Day reminds us we must better prepare for next war

Memorial Day is a day when Americans remember those who died in the service of our country — the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice did so to preserve our security and freedom. We owe them more than periodic remembrances and statements of gratitude; we owe them an unshakeable commitment to ensuring that current and future soldiers...
Opinion: Assault on Guardian reporter is not a gray area

The first question you have to wonder concerning the assault and battery allegedly committed by Montana congressional candidate Greg Gianforte is: How could he possibly have put out a miserable, lying cover story when there were at least four witnesses in the room? The second question is: Do you regret early voting yet? Here’s the account from...
Herman: Straus and Patrick and irreconcilable differences
Herman: Straus and Patrick and irreconcilable differences

Yeah, we kind of knew this political marriage — arranged by the voters of Texas — was destined for trouble. And Friday night, in escalating from what had been mostly behind-closed-doors unpleasantness, it seemed to heat up from possibly reconcilable differences to probably irreconcilable differences. As in some relationships, the flashpoint...
More Stories