Fellow Citizens, Governor Abbott has placed ‘school choice’ at the top of the stack of proposed legislation for the upcoming legislative session. Many prominent politicians of both parties seem to be on board with making some sweeping changes to the process of funding education in our state. Mostly though, it appears to be Republicans offering legislation to make the change. As a local educator and parent of three, I want to offer my views. Poppycock.
Always follow the money, right? Texas spends roughly $10,000 of state funds per student each year. The legislation proposed this spring would allow that money to ‘follow the student.’ OK, that seems fair enough. A family in Liberty has a child in school in Liberty and things are not going very well and the parents transfer the child to another public school, say Hull-Daisetta. Currently, that $10,000 would eventually make its way to the HD budget. If the parents moved the child to a charter school, the charter school would also eventually wind up with the $10,000. Under the current funding system that is all there is.
Under the proposed legislation, that $10,000 would now follow the child to a completely private school, if that is where the parents wanted their child to attend. Oh, and it gets better - if the parents want to homeschool their child, no worries, Governor Abbott would send them the $10,000.
A few weeks ago The Vindicator published a letter to the editor penned by Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Sid Miller. My first thought was why is the Commissioner of Education making this pitch? In that letter, he indicated that a vast majority of Texans are ‘ on board’ with school choice and that we should all support the upcoming legislation. While there is support for school choice, I advise caution in supporting legislation that sends $10,000 of tax money to the home of anyone wanting to homeschool their kids. That is just completely wrong headed thinking.
What about sending state tax funds to support a completely private school? That also seems like a backwards way of thinking. Public schools may not be the end all you want them to be; however, I point out that we as a nation won two world wars, went to the moon, and made countless other accomplishments on the back of public education. If it needs a bit of maintenance, let’s get the oil changed. It is not time to end public education.
Dennis Warren Hull, Texas