It’s not a secret that the regressives have had it out for public education for a long time. (Their beef with public education is deep and wide). And from what one state Senator is saying they’re coming after public education again in the upcoming session.
State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, the outspoken voice of the far right in the Senate, said he will be pushing vouchers that parents of school-age children could use for charter schools, online offerings or additional alternatives to the public schools.
“To me, school choice is the photo ID bill of this session,” the Houston lawmaker said. “Our base has wanted us to pass photo voter ID for years, and we did it. They’ve been wanting us to pass school choice for years. This is the year to do it, in my view. That issue will do more to impact the future of Texas and the quality of education than anything else we could do.”
As Texas AFT sees it, they appreciate the warning, Thanks for the Heads-Up: State Senator Vows 2013 Push for Private-School Vouchers.
Right-wing legislators like Sen. Patrick have been trying in vain to pass voucher legislation in Texas, transferring public tax dollars from public to private schools, for decades, session after session. Last year the pressure for private-school vouchers slacked off a bit, as legislators were preoccupied with funding cuts that deprived Texas public schools of more than $500 annually per pupil—an unprecedented $5.4 billion in cuts, all told, leading to the loss of more than 25,000 jobs, inflated class sizes, and the elimination of valuable educational services such as full-day pre-kindergarten.
It’s not obvious that an aggressive stance in favor of draining away more public-school funding via private-school vouchers is all that popular with the public, including many Republicans. For example, in House District 59, Rep. Sid Miller just lost his Republican primary runoff in good part, we would suggest, because he pushed a private-school voucher bill in the legislature last year.
However, Sen. Patrick has done an unwitting service to the educators, parents, and education-friendly citizens of Texas, by providing a heads-up that the voucher lobby will be back for another serious try in 2013. Texas AFT, our allies in the broad-based Coalition for Public Schools, and pro-public-education lawmakers are taking the threat to heart and will redouble efforts to defeat any and all voucher bills.
This makes it clear that the future of public education is at stake in the upcoming election and the legislative session that will follow next year. It’s not just vouchers, but the regressives in the Texas GOP have another front on defunding public education by doing away with property taxes.
It’s key to study the races around the state and vote for candidates that support restoring full funding for public education in Texas. Texas Parent PAC endorsed candidates are a good place to start. But closer to home here in Williamson County in District 136 Matt Stillwell is the obvious choice for restoring public education funding in Texas.
There’s still time to repair the damage the GOP regressives have done to public education in Texas. But educators, parents, and education-friendly citizens of Texas have to stand up and stop it.