Vouchers, ‘Home Rule’ Are Not The Solution To School Funding Crisis

April 13, 2004

The president of the Texas Freedom Network called today for legislators to reject radical proposals for vouchers and “home rule” during the special session on school finance set by Gov. Rick Perry to begin April 20.

“Private school vouchers take money out of public schools — exactly the opposite of what is needed when we are struggling to fund our neighborhood schools right now,” said Samantha Smoot, president of the Texas Freedom Network. “On top of that, abandoning the very quality education standards that have helped children achieve, and that were put in place by Ross Perot and George Bush, would put our children on the road to failure.”

Debate over public education reform has centered almost exclusively in recent months on taxes and overhauling school finance. But behind the scenes, Gov. Perry and other state leaders have met with special interests and major donors like Dr. James Leininger of San Antonio, whose agenda of vouchers and “home rule” would actually undermine public education in Texas. Vouchers would divert public tax dollars to underwrite private school tuition. “Home rule” and similar proposals would let cash-strapped school districts abandon quality education standards.

A February draft report from the House Select Committee on Public School Finance included proposals for vouchers and “home rule.” The March report from the Joint Select Committee on Public School Finance also included proposals for eliminating statewide basic education standards.

“Instead of taking money out of public schools to fund a voucher program and trashing our state’s quality standards for schools, Gov. Perry should fully fund real reforms and standards we already know work, like small class sizes, teacher certification and accountability standards,” Smoot said.


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