In 1876, voters approved state leaders' new Texas Constitution, which included establishing and providing "for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools."Our forefathers had a vision that the state Constitution would provide a quality and equal educational system for all future young Texans.Today, 136 years later, public education is threatened as legislators struggle with not only how to raise funds for public schools, but how to adequately and equitably distribute the resources for all Texas' students.Funding public education continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing the Legislature each session; the 83rd, starting Jan. 8, will be no exception.Texas' public school districts are threatened, with many lawmakers believing school choice, vouchers and charter schools are the best solution to improving education in our state.The vocal minority is gaining traction to provide state funds to the more than 600,000 students who are attending private or home schools in Texas. While these students' families would directly benefit from such legislation, others in the public school system would not. In fact, the fleecing of public education would exceed $2 billion.Vouchers will jeopardize the quality of education throughout our state. A common misconception is that parents may use them to leave the public school system to enroll their children in a private or home school. But these families would face many obstacles.Many private schools have selective enrollment and do not accept all students, potentially leaving those with behavior problems or learning disabilities in public schools.Under most proposed plans, school vouchers would not fund the entire cost of tuition. Only families who could afford to supplement vouchers with additional tuition money would be able to use them for private school. As education costs increase, so would the fees at private schools, to the point where vouchers would not cover even basic costs.Most private schools do not provide free transportation, so only students whose families could transport them to and from school would benefit from the voucher. Many private schools are parochial, and the religious orientation may not be appropriate for some families, also raising the question of separation of church and state.We must work together to ensure that the almost 5 million students attending the state's 1,000-plus public school districts and its 200-plus charter schools are prepared for the future. It's time to provide the excellence in education, along with the equity and innovation needed for student success.We need to ensure that students who are starting school will be able to compete with their international peers upon graduation from high school. We need to focus our energy and efforts on improving one system, the public school system, rather than divide our resources among fractured options where the goal of universal, high-quality education for all cannot be attained.This will not happen if public schools are continually asked to do more with less. Why not improve our public schools by bringing back our resources and supporting the work of teachers everywhere?Jamie Wilson is school superintendent of the Denton school district, Steven Waddell is superintendent in Lewisville and Jerry R. Thomas is dean of the University of North Texas' College of Education.