Case against vouchers
In response to Jason Bedrick’s contrast between school vouchers and tax-credit scholarships: Sorry, but the Pastors for Texas Children were quite correct. (See Friday commentary “Don’t confuse tax credits with school vouchers.”)
Although the Supreme Court has ruled that tax credits were never public funds, for all practical purposes, if money is going to private schools instead of the state budget, it ends up being public support nonetheless.
And, yes, tax exemptions and deductions for religious enterprises do amount to public support for religion (though no religion in particular).
We’ve made that decision as a society, but that doesn’t mean we double down and add public support to religious schools as well — especially at the inevitable expense of our public school system.
— Dennis Novak, Fort Worth
School choice is a euphemism for vouchers. Whatever they’re called, vouchers represent a radical concept inconsistent with Texas values.
Vouchers would create a public revenue stream to support private enterprise. If vouchers become a reality, “private” schools will spring up by the hundreds. Entrepreneurs are waiting in the wings to establish “private” schools supported by public money.
Who wouldn’t jump at such an opportunity? With a guaranteed source of taxpayer money, such “private” schools will become a fail-safe source of income. Even yet, these schools will be largely unregulated, unless we grow the government and create a new bureaucracy. This is not the Texas way.
The mission of private schools does not require taxpayer support. Legitimate private schools have not sought and do not support vouchers.
Public schools, on the other hand, must be adequately and equitably supported by the state. We’ve wrangled over equitable school funding for the past 47 years. Isn’t it time to invest in public schools to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number of Texas children?
Vouchers serve only a special-interest group. What the best parents want for their children, Texas must provide for all children. Vouchers fall short in this regard.
— William Larmer, Stephenville
Vouchers are based on the concept that private schools are better than public schools.
Vouchers promise choice for parents, but it’s the private schools that get to choose whether to admit voucher students. Vouchers do not provide equal educational opportunity, since they cover only tuition and not other necessary expenses, such as supplies, uniforms, transportation and food.
Vouchers whose funding is based on voluntary contributions by nongovernmental organizations leaves educational funding dependent on the whims and possible influences of these same organizations. Vouchers based on tax credits for businesses or individuals leave the needs that would have been paid for by those taxes unmet.
Vouchers will not be made available to everyone, or even all who need them, and are therefore inequitable and discriminatory in their distribution. They may provide more schools to choose from, but do not guarantee the quality of education or the rights of the students who attend.
Vouchers in order to be provided responsibly would require increased governmental regulation of private schools accepting vouchers and the progress of students using them.
Vouchers may violate the First Amendment to the Constitution by providing tax money to be used for the teaching and support of religion in schools established by religious organizations (Christian or not).
— Clyde Hemminger, Fort Worth
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