School choice proponents hope for a ‘grand bargain’

Parker said more than 1,000 low-performing schools across Texas point to the necessity of expanding choices.

School choice proponents hope for a ‘grand bargain’

We Say: For years Texas parents have, out of pocket, funded sending their kids to nongovernment schools while still paying exorbitant school taxes for public schools. For many, it was a serious sacrifice but considered worth it because of the wide gap between Texas Public Schools and the moral and scholastic education these parents wanted for their children.

Again, for years, parents have asked their elected representatives to provide some relief from this double taxation. To no avail. Texas representatives have been in thrall to powerful interests in the corporatism of the public school system.

In this 85th session of the Texas Legislature, it looks like some representatives are open to finding a solution.

Unless it gets bargained away.

Former Watchdog Texas’ investigative reporter and SATP contributor Kenric Ward helps us understand the wheelin’ and dealin’ we can expect toward the end of the session.


Republished from Watchdog.org, by Kenric Ward, March 24, 2017. Image credit: image not covered by license. Contributor: Donald Krebs


by Kenric Ward

Setting up a school choice showdown with the Texas House, the Senate Education Committee approved legislation Thursday that would create education savings account and tax credit scholarship programs.

Sen. Larry Taylor’s Senate Bill 3 advanced on a 7-3 vote. Democrat Eddie Lucio broke party ranks to vote for it; Kel Seliger was the lone Republican to vote against it.

Taylor and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick rebuffed efforts by school districts and teacher unions to dilute or restrict SB 3, which would redirect some education funding to parents to use as they see fit and provide a tax credit for businesses that contribute to a scholarship fund to help pay for private school tuition.

With passage in the Senate virtually assured, Patrick and his allies appear ready to use school choice as a bargaining chip in end-of-session negotiations with the House.

House Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty said earlier this month that he opposes the Senate bill. He suggested it might not get a hearing.

The Kingwood Republican has filed a bill that would increase the basic allotment for all public schools and earmark more funding for students with dyslexia.

The Texas Charter Schools Association praised the measure for aiming “to correct systemic failures in a dated finance scheme.”

Allen Parker

A “grand bargain” could be in the offing, said Allan Parker, president of the pro-school choice Justice Foundation.

“There are people who want more money for schools, but only if there’s something for parents — and that has to be school choice,” Parker told Watchdog.org. “There’s an unwillingness to spend more unless there’s a consumer mechanism that allows students to seek a better alternative.”

Parker said more than 1,000 low-performing schools across Texas point to the necessity of expanding choices.

“Simply inflating the bureaucracy isn’t going to improve accountability,” he asserted.

Monty Exter, lobbyist for the Association of Texas Professional Educators, the state’s largest teacher organization, told the Senate committee, “There are plenty of things you could do to help Texas education. Implementing a voucher program is not one of them.”

Parker said rank-and-file teachers should support choice.

“School choice gets them out from under a bureaucracy where principals don’t support them on discipline. Under SB 3, every school becomes a school of choice – for students and teachers,” he said.

Kenric Ward, former reporter for Texas Watchdog. Contact him at kward@watchdog.org and @Kenricward.


Republished from Watchdog.org. CLICK HERE to read the original.


 

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Kenric Ward
Kenric Ward is a veteran journalist whose work has appeared at Fox News, Houston Chronicle, Washington Times, Washington Examiner, TownHall, Roll Call, and Human Events. An editor and reporter at three Pulitzer Prize-winning newspapers, Ward was Virginia bureau chief for Watchdog.org before relocating to Texas. He earned a bachelor's degree (Phi Beta Kappa) in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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