House Bill 1445: A Voucher Bill in Disguise

Rep. Madden's H.B. 1445 Would Establish 'Virtual Voucher' Program That Drains Money from Neighborhood Public Schools

House Bill 1445: A Voucher Bill in Disguise

Rep. Madden’s H.B. 1445 Would Establish ‘Virtual Voucher’ Program That Drains Money from Neighborhood Public Schools

March 22, 2005

AUSTIN Legislation creating a “virtual school network” is essentially the first voucher bill to be heard in the 2005 session of the Legislature, Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said today.

House Bill 1445 would drain tax dollars from traditional neighborhood public schools to pay private education companies to offer online courses for any student in the state,” Miller said.

“Schemes like ‘virtual schools’ betray claims by lawmakers that they really want to fully fund our neighborhood public schools,” she said. “The state simply cannot afford to fund ‘virtual schools’ when our traditional brick-and-mortar schools are struggling without the money they need to educate all of our kids.”

The bill, authored by Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Richardson, would allow private-school and home-schooled students to take online courses at state expense. In addition, it would not prohibit public schools as well as educational service centers and charter schools from contracting with private, for-profit education companies like K12, Inc., to offer the online courses.

State legislators voted three separate times in 2003 to prevent K12 from offering ‘virtual,’ online courses to Texas students and with good reason. Evidence that K12 and similar companies improve student performance is weak. In addition, virtual schools run by K12 focus mostly on home-schooled and private-school students.

“Texas schoolchildren are not served by virtual schools,” Miller said. “Private, for-profit companies are.”


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