Today the Senate Education Committee will hear several school voucher bills. Every voucher program is different and they go by many different names, but the basic idea is the same: the programs divert state funding from public education to cover all or part of a student’s tuition at a private or religious school. Promoted under the guise of offering choice to parents and students, vouchers undermine public education funding to serve few at the expense of many.
Public schools must accept and educate every student who walks through the door, but private and religious schools can pick and choose whom they accept. They are not required to provide special education services or meet the needs of English language learners, and they can reject students based on past academic performance. There is no guarantee that the most vulnerable and hard to educate students would benefit from vouchers.
There is also no guarantee that a voucher will cover the full cost of attendance for a private or religious school, leaving a tuition gap that parents must make up on their own. Low-income families may also experience other economic barriers to participation such as transportation, uniforms, and meals that are not covered by the tuition voucher.
For students who have struggled academically or whose families can’t afford the tuition gap and other attendance expenses, vouchers provide no choice at all.
Texas is responsible for educating five million students, 60 percent of whom are economically disadvantaged. To ensure that all Texas students are college and career ready we need to invest in public education, not vouchers.