Republicans Begin Renewed Push For School Vouchers

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State Senator Dan Patrick, a Houston Republican, fired something of a warning shot two weeks ago when he announced a renewed push for school choice, both in the form of vouchers and expanded charter offerings.

"To me, school choice is the photo ID bill of this session," Patrick told the Houston Chronicle "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."

He began laying the groundwork for a legislative push this morning, leading a hearing of the Senate Education Committee to gather testimony on the impact of vouchers on other states.

Exactly how the program would be implemented in Texas is unclear, since there isn't a bill yet, but, at a basic level, a voucher program works by paying private school tuition for students whose parents shun public schools, most typically because they aren't very good.

"No student should be locked into a poor performing school because that happens to be where they live," Patrick told the Austin American-Statesman. "I'm a big supporter of public education, and we have a lot of schools that are doing a great job, but we must also recognize the truth that we have a lot of schools that are not performing at the level that they need to be."

What is clear is that vouchers of any stripe will be controversial. Republicans have introduced voucher bills during every legislative session since 1995, and they have failed each time.

Public school advocates like the Texas Parent's Union and the Texas Freedom Network are already sounding the alarm. TFN spokesman Jose Medina said there are practical worries about whether private schools can handle an influx of students, whether they face the same level of accountability as public schools.

There are constitutional concerns as well about directing money toward overtly religious schools. He points to reports from Louisiana that religious doctrine is routinely and openly taught to voucher students.

The central irony for Texas is that legislators just finished slashing billions from the public education, which would only shrink further if the state began paying for kids to go to private school. This, presumably, has a negative affect on public schools, prompting more parents to opt for vouchers.

The first shots were fired today, but it won't begin in earnest until January.


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43 comments
rufuslevin
rufuslevin

school vouchers are a good idea if you are a student STUCK in a poor performing school.

anyone against them are against the student's getting a REAL education.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

Real school vouchers would entail rent vouchers for those living in the projects.  Would get the gov't out of the landlord business.  But, that's how you know this "reform" is only self serving, and not guided by higher lights

sophee
sophee

One more step in the journey to eliminate public education.

nammer
nammer

their goal is to destroy public education so that the only people who can afford to educate their children are the wealthy, and the rest of us will just have to send our kids into the workforce at 10 years old.  they disgust me

Sarge
Sarge

At least choice is being offered versus the institution that dumbs down the curriculum to the lowest student, leaving the smarter ones unchallenged and bored. We home schooled all 4 of our kids and used excellent curriculum and didn't come anywhere near 8 hours a day nor put up with undisciplined brats. They all kicked butt on everything. Daughter had 2 years of college at age 17. It's all about "choice".

DISDTeacher
DISDTeacher

Replying to several different comments:

-How is it OK to give kids vouchers to charters like Deion's School for Athletes but not ok to give kids vouchers to established, respected private schools?  Because that what charters are: beneficiaries of tax dollars (aka vouchers).

-The charters pick and choose and expel and leave the rest behind.  How is that different from vouchers for private schools?

-Who cares if the private school admins get rich?  If the admin hogs all the money (like it does now in DISD) and leaves kids in crappy school buildings with violent thugs and subs, AT LEAST THE PARENT CAN PULL THE CHILD OUT WITHOUT HAVING TO MOVE OUT OF DALLAS.

-Maybe 1 reason kids who transferred to privates in DC had higher grad rates is bc they were finally free of distractions and could learn.

-We have a voucher system now.  It's called: Rich people can move out or pay for private.  Poor kids are stuck.

 

Look, I prefer a thriving, community-bonding public school system, but with the current rules, that's not happening in DISD.

 

Either ban charters AND limit off-campus pay/expenditures AND set up dozens of intervention schools for the thugs and below-level kids (separately)

OR

give the kids vouchers.  Set them free, revitalize Dallas.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

His republican base pushed for it.  They would push for slavery if they thought they could get it back.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

The premise that advocates for vouchers base their support on is competition. These advocates believe that with an end to the preceived monopoly public schools enjoy there will be a change in how public schools operate, and that will magically improve the performance of public schools or the public schools will close as students migrate to better performing private schools with these vouchers.

 

That premise is not realistic.

 

What is realistic is the parents who are concerned about their kid's education might use the voucher to move their children to better performing private schools. Those are the children who are the higher performing students. The critical item of a successful student is parental involvement.

 

Vouchers will not magically turn an uninvolved parent into an involved parent. Vouchers will not magically turn a disinterested student into an interested student.

 

That being said, I am interested and supportive of providing a student and their parent with the opportunity to pursue a private school educaion if they desire, regardless of their financial ability. All the private schools have varied levels of scholarship funds, but that is not enough. The only way to increase these amounts of scholarship monies is to increase the tuitions of the nonscholarship students, and that squuzes the middle income families. Somehow this goal needs to be reached.

 

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

At least we need to give this option a chance - the course we're on now doesn't seem to be working very well.

 

Since 1970, the public school workforce has roughly doubled—to 6.4 million from 3.3 million—and two-thirds of those new hires are teachers or teachers’ aides. Over the same period, enrollment rose by a tepid 8.5%. Employment has thus grown 11 times faster than enrollment. If we returned to the student-to-staff ratio of 1970,

 

Teachers take pay cuts an layoffs but American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten had her base salary increase from $342,552 in 2010 to $407,323 in 2011 while National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel's base salary jumped from $298,387 in 2010 to $362,644. The salary information was taken from the unions most recent LM-2 reports.  Van Roekel's total compensation went from $397,721 to $460,060 from 2010 to 2011, while Weingarten’s total compensation jumped from $428,284 in 2010 to $493,859 in 2011.

 

D.C. public schools are spending more per student than any state in the nation, writing an $18,667 check for each child, to oust New York as the top spender, according to 2010 census data.  But despite being the lowest performer in most respects, the District's $18,667-per-student cost -- up from $16,408 the prior year and up 39 percent since 2006 -- topped the region as well as the nation in 2010. 

EdD.
EdD.

Do private schools still get to cherry-pick the best students while dumping the troublemakers and those with special needs on the public schools? Vouchers are just a way to drain the public coffers for the benefit of a few instead of education for all.

Justwaituntil2015
Justwaituntil2015

I'm not one to believe in conspiracty theories, but I do think that there has been an insidious plan to destroy public education in Texas. First, require new, onerous standardized tests to prove that schools are failing to educate, slash state education funding, and introduce vouchers to further complicate the mess. Guaranteed collapse of the system.

 

The STAAR testing is a HUGE boondoggle that will create chaos as students fail year after year and be ineligible for graduation, leading to high drop out rates and 12 year olds in 2nd grade classrooms. It won't happen this year or next, but watch out in 2015 when the STAAR tests determine who graduates.

 

And plenty of people, including those lawmakers, will finds ways to line their pockets in the aftermath. Rick Perry and his ilk will be laughing all the way to the bank.

DISDTeacher
DISDTeacher

The DC voucher program data shows that the poor kids who get to go to private schools have a higher graduation rate.

 

I am an urban school teacher in favor of vouchers.  

Currently the money filters through the thick layer of bureaucrats at districts like DISD.

Give the kids the money and cut out the middleman who is the corrupt DISD bureaucrat.

 

Or, cap non-teacher salaries and vendor costs, because otherwise all of the money is going to off-campus people and not the campuses.  

 

Vouchers would scare the crap out of DISD and they would change asap.  

We've tried non-vouchers for decades and DISD is what we've got.

 

It's time for something new.  It's the new Civil Rights.  Set these kids free.

harris6707
harris6707

Another way to be sure that lower income kids do not get a quality education, by stripping even more from the public schools. Just what one would expect from Dan Patrick, keeping those kids in poverty for another generation or two or three.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

So vouchers will be available ?

And which of elite education organization in our area is going to accept them ?

 

I guess Something will be done but I doubt it will meet the pie in the sky advertized outcome the Senator  expects.

 

Lets use the much touted opening of Prime-times Charter school.as a measuring stick of what the future might hold should Vouchers become a way of life here in Texas.

icowrich
icowrich

I'd like to see some states doing this, if only so that we can have some real experimentation on what results in higher achievement.

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

 @shwhitley public school education was destroyed years ago. present school admin and teachers disgust me.

idiotproof
idiotproof

 @DISDTeacher

 You don't seem to understand there are no seats at Dallas private schools. They have lengthy waiting lists of customers with high scores and money. Do you think they want to spend millions to build capacity to serve kids with small vouchers? These institutions have a mission of educational excellence, not social work. They aren't going to change because of vouchers. They have hundred year histories. Not only that, but they do take low income students on full scholarships.

Do you think their campuses have empty seats for voucher students? Their schools are kept extremely small and exclusive on purpose. They are not interested in being public schools.

Do you know the cost of one school building??????????? Where do you get the idea there is excess capacity at area private schools for voucher students?

 

Start issuing vouchers and area churches will fill up with their versions of private schools run by every variety of lunatic. The point was these voucher schools will rake off money for administrators (friends, relatives mainly) just like the phony charters do. Their hiring will be the worst case of current DISD HR practices where church membership is the deciding qualification.They won't be able to afford teachers or supplies or books.

Get real with your vision that there are private schools of any quality sitting empty. Do your research. What you are suggesting does NOT exist. What will spring up to serve voucher students will be a nightmare. Poor kids parents will not have the extra $10k to add to the voucher to go to a quality private school.

The problem is the current Dallas board that has no limits on Miles' spending but keeps cutting campus revenue. The thugs need to be at an alternative school, but instead, Sprague's salary, lumpy's salary and their gang is much more important. VOTE THE IDIOTS OFF THE BOARD. CALL THEM OUT. SHAME THEM DAY AND NIGHT. THEY ARE EITHER STUPID OR LAZY OR COMPLICIT.

idiotproof
idiotproof

 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz

 They do have it back. They refuse to fully fund public and higher education in this state. The outcome will be slavery for everyone except their spawn.

really
really

 @Sotiredofitall

 Have to remember that back in the Dark Ages, special education students were frequently institutionalized. We educate many students today with special needs to the teacher student ratio is less for these students.

 

We guess you think these students should be sent home to save money?  And what is the price tag for the all the lobbyists being paid for out of charter school money?

really
really

 @Sotiredofitall

 And there is no reason to believe vouchers will have any impact on private school administrators raking in public money. Weingarten's salary is comparable to other organizations that have as many members.

 

What is not comparable are the salaries of many charter school administrators who are raking in $250,000 a year for a couple of thousand charter school enrollees. These vouchers will fund the latest version of IamThatIAm charters--bankrupt shells that were a joke from inception. Any way of keeping felons like the guy that started Dallas SCAM out of the loop? Any restraints on administrator salaries?

 

Vouchers will not impact the ability of area students to enroll in elite private schools in Dallas or anywhere else. Those schools only allow entrance with high test scores and quadruple the amount of money a voucher would provide.

 

What vouchers will provide is an opportunity for every scam artist in Texas to open a church related private school and sit and rake in public money with no accountability.

 

What happens to NCLB with vouchers? It's public money so accountability should be there. This is similar to K12 virtual charters that are for profit where kids don't have to meet state accountability measures but stay open anyway.

 

Vouchers in Milwaukee accomplished nothing. This is the latest Republican scheme to destroy public education.

really
really

 @DISDTeacher

 Of course they have a higher graduation rate because the low achievers and behavior problems are dumped. Nothing will scare the crap out of DISD because these students will promptly be returned right back to DISD. They cannot be educated on the cost of a voucher.

DISD will continue to have a two-tier system of magnets serving the haves and the comprehensives serving the have-nots and will continue to fund the magnets at a higher rate than the comprehensives.

Vouchers have a long history in Milwaukee. They accomplished nothing. The kids you want "freed" from public schools are not wanted by the privates. If they wanted these kids, they would offer scholarships. They will skim off the smartest and best behaved just like the magnets and leave a worse situation for teachers in public schools.

LiberalsAreSoNaive
LiberalsAreSoNaive

 @harris6707 Yes, it is totally impossible for poor "children of colour" to get a quality education unless they are sitting in the same room with a couple of affluent white kids.

RTGolden
RTGolden

 @oakclifftownie I don't know how it will pan out, but there better not be any charter schools (at least partially funded by tax dollars that should go to public schools) opting out of the vouchers.  If they want to play in the public arena, with public funds, they need to accept any and all students showing up with a voucher.  If the student follows the rules and performs, they get to stay. (although, with public funding, charters shouldn't be able to 'get rid' of troublemakers or poor performing students).

really
really

 @icowrich

 You already have experimentation with charters, most of which are total jokes. The Uplifts, KIPPS, and YES cherrypick and offload low performers right back into their neighborhood schools.

The experiment has already been done.

anon
anon

 @idiotproof  @DISDTeacher your post refers to maybe a handful of the most selective private schools in Dallas. the rest of them date to de-segregation, and no earlier. they have no illustrious history to protect. they were formed so white parents could take their kids out of the public schools that were going to the crapper. 

my point is not that these schools are still racist. very few, if any, seem to be. my point is that very few schools in Dallas charge $30k per year with long wait lists and millionaire parents. most will take pretty much anybody whose parents can pay and who demonstrate that they will be involved in their child's schooling to the point that the student will not become a problem. clearly there are not enough spaces at private schools right now to replace DISD. but that can and would change. I'm not saying that vouchers are the best system. they are just better than charters, and probably better than we can ever hope to achieve at DISD.

DISDTeacher
DISDTeacher

 @idiotproof  @DISDTeacher I agree with your last paragraph completely.

 

I also agree that there are not currently enough seats at the existing privates for all DISD kids with vouchers.

 

But I truly believe that the THREAT of competition will kick DISD in the ass.

 

How about if we just start with one zip code at a time?  

The privates will ramp up for those kids, but more importantly, DISD WILL CHANGE AND BECOME CHILD-CENTERED IN THOSE ZIP CODES.

 

Are you willing to try 1 zip code at a time?

DISD would double teacher salaries to get the best teachers to the voucher-threatened schools.  Facilities would improve over-freaking-night. Poor parents would suddenly be empowered to demand the best for their kids.

 

It is IDIOTIC to keep the status quo, which is what you seem to be advocating.  

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

 @idiotproof  @DISDTeacher Key point by both; you don;t dumb down to the lowest student.  At some point you can no longer sacrifice those who want to learn to those who want to act a fool.  School administrations have to have the ability to create an orderly environment.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

 @really Are you saying the the inclusion of special needs students resulted in a doubling of teachers and teachers aides?    What about the lobbyists being paid for out of union dues?   The system broken, what do you propose besides spend more money?

anon
anon

 @really  @DISDTeacher Do you have a citation for them funding magnets at a higher rate? I thought when Hiney tried to neuter the magnets it was shown that magnets spend (on average) the same or less per student in total, but have no sports teams or fewer other non-academic costs. 

really
really

 @LiberalsAreSoNaive  @harris6707

 No, but it will be a way for every preacher man to open a scam private school and pass around public money, kind of like the JWP of vouchers. Think public schools are poor quality? Wait until every religious charlatan gets his/her hands on vouchers.

And yes, the research does indicate poor kids are better off in non-segregated ghetto schools. That's the reason Plano and Frisco are desegregated while Dallas continues to resegregate itself for racists like you. Who has the better district?

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @RTGolden  @oakclifftownie I don't disagree with what you wrote, but you do realize you've posted self conflicting arguments.  It think you do, and I think it articulates the conundrum we face

DISDTeacher
DISDTeacher

 @businesscase  @DISDTeacher  @idiotproof  @LiberalsAreSoNaive Actually, I know a lot about elite privates.  I'm very involved with one.

 

Your scare tactics will not work.

 

Fed funding will be offset by the massive amount of tax dollars freed up by the downsizing of the DISD bureaucracy and the closing of all the unneeded schools.

 

It will work.  And $20K for tuition?  No, not true.  Very few of the church schools charge that much.

 

Why do you seek to deprive DISD kids of the student-centered, campus-centered education private school kids get?  That's the real question here. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @DISDTeacher  @LiberalsAreSoNaive this argument totally undermines your voucher argument.  Vouchers would simply divert those public monies to the private schools that are already housing those middle class kids. 

 

Also, I think you're mistaken about "middle class"  not many middle class kids in private schools.  The magnets get them, or they leave the district.  The middle class can't afford private school

businesscase
businesscase

 @DISDTeacher  @idiotproof  @LiberalsAreSoNaive

 DISD Teacher-

This is what you are not understanding. Vouchers will be for $5k, not $10k. TEA cannot send Title I money to private schools unless they wish to follow NCLB and state accountability testing. The state does not fund public education at $10K per kid. The voucher will be from state foundation funds of around $4600.

Now, back to your list at the top. Call these schools and find out how much they spend per kid (~$20,000) and ask them how many seats they currently have available.

Then ask them how many seats they would provide for kids who are years behind academically from the ones they currently serve. Ask them if they want the intrusion of TEA or NCLB on their campuses. Ask them if a $4500 voucher is of any consequence to them.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK. TEA will make money off these vouchers. It is cheaper to send these kids elsewhere with $4600 than it is to provide all the social services provided by local taxpayers and federal funds.

Do you really think the state will provide comparable funds to the tuition paid at these privates? Why do you think public education stinks compared to these privates? Half the funding per child, million dollar donations for building improvements and science labs, grade sizes of only 100 kids.

You know nothing about the elite privates. Their main customer base of extremely wealthy parents are not interested in a big influx of kids who bring nothing to the table--no money, no superstar test scores--nothing.

All these schools use private school tests for entrance. If parents were motivated, they would have already found the answer. 99% of the time, it is no.

One zip code??? Find one freaking private willing to open the doors for $4500 vouchers and kids way below grade level.

DISDTeacher
DISDTeacher

 @idiotproof  @LiberalsAreSoNaive Well, Jesuit, Ursuline, Bishop Lynch, Bishop Dunne, John Paul II, St. Rita, St. Patrick's, St. Mark's, Dallas Lutheran, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Monica, St. John's Episcopal, Parish, ESD....all "church" schools where lots of DISD parents would give their right arm for a chance for their child to attend.

 

A $10,000 voucher and a scholarship from the "church" school might just give a poor kid currently trapped in DISD an opportunity.

 

Yeah... those terrible church schools.

idiotproof
idiotproof

 @DISDTeacher  @LiberalsAreSoNaive

 Middle class blacks would move back into Dallas and take their vouchers--WHERE????? What private schools of any quality are you referencing? Do you think there are hundreds of seats sitting empty? There are no empty seats.

Have you ever built a school? Got $50 million? Think you will get $50 million by talking about $5K vouchers? This is totally ludicrous. This is a Republican play to open the churches for business. The only excess capacity in Dallas County is sitting empty in its churches. They can all hire their buddies. It will look just like DISD with a dose of Jesus thrown in for free.

idiotproof
idiotproof

 @LiberalsAreSoNaive

 You know nothing of school demographics, which don't match county wide demographics. You are a typical dumbass and how did your demographics equal 130% of the population? Get a brain.

 

Go down to the school level. Dallas County is segregated in its school population. Highland Park-all white. Dallas schools for the most part don't look like Dallas county. Dallas schools are mostly segregated  schools.

Frisco ISD is exemplary. It has 10.8 AA (similar to the population in the nation); 15.1 Hispanic and growing, 58.2 anglo, 12.7 asian, and 3% other. This is called diversity and it works to increase student achievement for everyone.

Plano is 9.5% AA (very similar to nationwide demographics), 12.6 hispanic, 57.5 anglo, 17.8  asian and 2.0 other.

These suburbs are becoming more diverse in their school populations every year and they are retaining exemplary status.

DISD continues to devolve to low income, segregated by one race schools and they continue to deteriorate.

Diversity is a result of exemplary schools in the northern suburbs. Look to Duncanville, DeSoto and Cedar Hill for one race schools and look at future failure.

 

DISDTeacher
DISDTeacher

 @LiberalsAreSoNaive Dallas might be more diverse, but DISD is something like 5% Anglo.  There really isn't diversity in the schools.

 

You do have a point about the white middle class in Dallas.  Overwhelming, the black middle class has moved out of Dallas/DISD so there really isn't much of a black middle class around to attend DISD.

 

The vast majority of middle class whites still in DISD boundaries send their kids to private.

 

Vouchers might entice more middle class blacks to move back to Dallas, as well as more middle class whites.  

 

More than anything, DISD's problems stem from not having middle class kids of any race.  When a district is comprised almost solely of low-income, high-need kids, it is impossible to get the same scores as Highland Park or Southlake---not bc of race, but because of low income.

LiberalsAreSoNaive
LiberalsAreSoNaive

Wow you are a fucking naive white-guilt libtard! 

Yes Plano and Frisco ISDs are sooooooo much more "diverse" than Dallas ISD.  Dipshit.Plano ISD: 

http://proximityone.com/acs/dptx/dp1_4835100.htm

 

White = 73.9%

Black = 7.1%

Asian = 14.2%

Hispanic = 13.2%

 

----------------------

 

Frisco ISD:

proximityone.com/acs/dptx/dp1_4820010.htm

 

White = 77%

Black = 7.6%

Asian = 10.1%

Hispanic = 12.1`%

 

------------------------------------

 

Dallas ISD:  remember - Dallas ISD covers 312.6 square miles (809.6 km2) of land (map) and most of the city of Dallas. The district also serves Cockrell Hill, most of Seagoville and Addison, Wilmer, most of Hutchins, and portions of the following cities:

Carrollton, Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Duncanville, Farmers Branch, Garland, Grand Prairie, Highland Park, Lancaster, Mesquite.  In addition, Dallas ISD covers unincorporated areas of Dallas County, including some areas with Ferris addresses.

 

http://proximityone.com/acs/dptx/dp1_4816230.htm

 

White = 55.9%

Black = 22.8%

Asian = 1.8%

Hispanic = 46.4%

 

 

 

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