Texas Senate leaders today announced efforts to assist public school children who want to attend private schools.
Past efforts to fund private school vouchers with public money have failed in Texas.
This time Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Senate Education Chairman Dan Patrick of Houston want to give a tax credit to businesses that donate to a private school scholarship program for low income students.
Patrick says the program will not take money from public schools.
"School districts would still get the same amount of money they would receive today, based on whatever the formulas are that given year," Patrick said at an Austin news conference. " And if students leave and take these scholarships, that’s one less student that they have to educate. And remember, even these businesses that take this tax credit are still paying property taxes, which still go to the schools.”
Patrick also wants to expand school choice by allowing the creation of more charter schools and by allowing students to transfer to any public school or district.
The senator also wants to change the way accountability is measured by giving letter grades for school and district performances.
Linda Bridges, President of the Texas AFT:
“This is a state-funded subsidy for private schools at the expense of public schools--a voucher by another name. The track record of voucher programs around the country should condemn this idea to the scrap heap. An overwhelming amount of research has consistently demonstrated that vouchers do not improve student achievement. Substantial research also shows that vouchers provide no cost savings to state governments, and in fact result in greater government bureaucracy and inefficiency."
Kathy Miller, President of the Texas Freedom Network:
“Tax credits are just a backdoor voucher scheme that diverts tax dollars from neighborhood public schools to private and religious schools. Evidence in other states shows that these tax credits are a racket. They provide a big tax loophole for corporations and often benefit mostly well-to-do families with kids already in private schools while shortchanging our kids in public schools.”