School Choice aka Vouchers
by TASB Governmental Relations Year Published: 2017
This document, provided to attendees of the 2017 TASA/TASB Legislative Conference, describes three mechanisms generally supported by voucher proponents: traditional vouchers, tax credit scholarships, and education savings accounts (ESAs). SB 3, filed in the 2017 legislative session, includes both ESAs and tax credit scholarships. The document also includes arguments for and against such voucher proposals. Download the PDF.
by TASA Year Published: 2015
Discussion of taxpayer-funded private school vouchers, in some form or another, has surfaced in every Texas legislative session since 1995. Read the talking points.
by TASA Year Published: 2015
After years of unsuccessful attempts to pass private school voucher legislation in Texas, proponents attempted a rebranding of sorts in 2011, when they introduced “taxpayer savings grants.” Don’t let the more marketable name fool you; these “grants” are simply private school vouchers. Read more about taxpayer savings grants.
by Kevin Carey, The New York Times Year Published: February 2017
"The confirmation of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education was a signal moment for the school choice movement. For the first time, the nation’s highest education official is someone fully committed to making school vouchers and other market-oriented policies the centerpiece of education reform. But even as school choice is poised to go national, a wave of new research has emerged suggesting that private school vouchers may harm students who receive them. The results are startling — the worst in the history of the field, researchers say." Read the full article.
by Ken Zornes, Contributor, The Dallas Morning News Year Published: February 2017
"Under a voucher system only those parents sending their children to a private school will know where their tax dollars are going. Those who keep their children in the public schools and those without children will have no idea where their tax dollars are being used or if they are being used effectively. They won't know what athletic teams, debate teams, choirs and other school activities their money is being used for. They won't know what ideas are being taught using their tax dollars, ideas that could espouse racism, discrimination, sexism or xenophobia, to name a few." Read the full editorial.
by Sara Stevenson, Austin educator Year Published: February 2017
"Senate Bill 3, Article 1 states that the purpose of the bill is to 'improve public schools and overall academic performance, promote efficiency, promote and preserve the liberties and rights of the people, and to increase parental options.' When the overall goal of the bill is to hand taxpayer dollars to individuals to use toward private school tuitions — or perhaps to purchase a new computer for home schooling — this bill does nothing to improve public schools. ... If the second goal — to promote efficiency — is genuine, why do many pages of the bill establish comptrollers, reports and complicated procedures to fend off abuse?" Read the full editorial.
by Julie Chang, Austin American-Statesman Year Published: February 2017
"Reducing standardized tests is the most popular way to improve the state’s public school system, according to the results of a poll released by the Texas Tribune and the University of Texas on Wednesday. The internet survey of 1,200 registered voters, conducted Feb. 3-10, found that 21 percent of respondents believed that reducing the number of tests was the most effective way to improve schools, followed closely by increasing funding to schools. According to 13 percent of those surveyed, using state money to send students private schools — a school voucher program sometimes referred to as school choice — was the third most popular choice." Read more.
by Charles Stafford, Denton ISD trustee and TASB president Year Published: February 2017
“It is puzzling to try to find savings in this proposal. There will be no savings to taxpayers. We will keep sending money to the state. There will be no savings to school districts. If one student in every classroom in Texas used an ESA to leave, there would be no cost savings to public schools because they would still be paying the same number of teachers and the same air-conditioning bills. There will be no savings to the state. In fact, a new bureaucracy will be created to administer the ongoing distribution of taxpayer dollars to whomever is chosen to provide ‘education.’” Read the full editorial.
by Ramiro Canales, TASA Year Published: December 2016
"The program du jour that has generated the most interest and traction is the education savings account (ESA). To proponents, ESAs are not vouchers. They are an innovative and customized option for parents who seek a quality education for their children. In their view, ESAs will spur competition between public and private schools to secure the funding that each parent receives. To opponents, however, it is a voucher with a politically acceptable moniker." Read the full article.
by Emma Brown and Mandy McLaren, The Washington Post Year Published: December 2016
"Most recipients are not leaving the state’s worst schools: Just 3 percent of new recipients of vouchers in 2015 qualified for them because they lived in the boundaries of F-rated public schools. And while overall private school enrollment grew by 12,000 students over the past five years, the number of voucher recipients grew by 29,000, according to state data, meaning that taxpayer money is potentially helping thousands of families pay for a choice they were already making. Most recipients qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, according to state data, but a growing proportion — now 31 percent — do not." Read the full article.
by Charles Luke, Texas Coalition for Public Schools Year Published: September 2016
"The history of vouchers actually suggests that they were a way to avoid granting civil rights to others. Vouchers were developed in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954 that schools integrate and end the charade of “separate but equal” treatment of students. For at least a decade, some states simply ignored the ruling, but with passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states began to implement “freedom of choice” programs that would allow white parents to take their child to a select school and thereby leave segregation patterns untouched. Mississippi even had “segregation academies” that only white children could attend." Read the full editorial.
Related TASA Capitol Watch Alerts
Huberty Sends HB 21 to Conference Committee
05.24.2017 — Today House Public Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty spoke passionately from the House floor on HB 21.Senate Passes HB 21 with ESAs
05.22.2017 — Late Sunday night, the Senate passed HB 21 as amended by Senate Education Committee Larry Taylor.
Senate Committee on Education Votes Out HB 21 With ESAs Attached, More Bills
05.12.2017 — The Senate Committee on Education reconvened late afternoon Thursday and voted out their version of HB 21, which now includes an ESA program. They also voted out several other House bills.Senate Sub for HB 21 on School Finance Includes ESAs for Students With Disabilities
05.11.2017 — The Senate Committee on Education met Thursday, May 11, to hear testimony on a number of House bills including HB 21, the school finance bill passed by the House on April 19.04.24.2017 — The House Public Education Committee will meet at 8 a.m., Thursday, April 27, on a long list of bills.House Passes Anti-Voucher Amendments
04.06.2017 — During consideration of CSSB 1, the state budget bill, on Tuesday, the House passed amendments that prohibit funds from being used for voucher programs.Action Alert: Urge House Members to Support Anti-Voucher Amendments/Oppose Attempts to Add Vouchers or ESAs to Budget Bill
04.05.2017 — Beginning at 10 a.m., tomorrow, April 6, the House is scheduled to consider the state budget bill, SB 1. More than 400 amendments have been filed. TASA members are urged to call their state representatives today.Senate Passes Floor Substitute for SB 3 Voucher Bill
03.30.2017 — On Tuesday afternoon, the Senate passed a floor substitute for SB 3 that is significantly different from previous versions of the bill.
Modified SB 3 Voucher Bill Expected to be Considered by Senate
03.30.2017 — A floor substitute of the SB 3 voucher bill is expected to be considered on the Senate floor at any time, so TASA members are encouraged to contact their senators ASAP to express opposition to the bill.Senate Education Committee Votes Out Voucher Bill, Three Others
03.24.2017 — With a vote of 7 to 3 on Thursday, the Senate Education Committee voted out SB 3, which would create education savings account and tax credit scholarship programs.Senate Education Committee Hears Testimony on SB 3 Voucher Bill
03.22.2017 — The Senate Committee on Education met Tuesday to discuss SB 3, which would create both education savings account and tax credit scholarship programs.SB 3 Voucher Bill to be Heard March 21 by Senate Education Committee
03.14.2017 — The Senate Committee on Education will meet at 9 a.m., Tuesday, March 21, in E1.028 in the Capitol Extension to discuss SB 3, which would establish an education savings grant program and a tax credit scholarship and educational expense program.
Senate Committee on Education Schedules Meetings on Interim Charges
06.27.2016 — In addition to the meeting scheduled for August 3, three additional meetings have been scheduled for the Senate Committee on Education.
Lieutenant Governor Releases Senate Education Interim Charges
10.12.2015 — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issued interim charges for the Senate Education Committee. Issues include school choice, teacher preparation and retention, broadband access, charter schools, and school board governance.
Texas Senate to Debate Virtual School Voucher Bill
05.12.2015 — The Texas Senate is scheduled to debate SB 894 at any time. SB 894 makes significant changes to the virtual school network that would have the same effect as vouchers.
Texas Senate Gives Final OK to CSSB 4 “Tax Credit Scholarship” Voucher Bill
04.21.2015 — Today, without further debate, the full Senate gave final approval to CSSB 4, which would allow a business to receive a tax credit in exchange for a donation to an educational assistance organization that would distribute funding for “scholarships” for special-needs and low-income students who apply for the program.
Texas Senate Passes Voucher Bill
04.20.2015 — The full Senate today gave preliminary approval to CSSB 4, the committee substitute for the main private school voucher bill, which could create a “tax credit scholarship” program.
Tuesday, April 14, Was a Full Day of Education Discussions at the Capitol
04.14.2015 — SB 4, the main voucher bill, was not heard on the Senate floor Tuesday as expected, but the Senate passed its two-year, $211.4 billion budget, and many other education-related bills were discussed in both chambers' education committees.
Voucher Bill Expected to Go Before Full Senate Tuesday, April 14
04.13.2015 — SB 4, the voucher bill to watch this session, could be heard on the Senate floor as early as tomorrow. The Senate Education Committee passed the bill out of committee on April 7.
Voucher, Parent Trigger Bills Pass Out of Senate Education Committee
04.08.2015 — The Senate Education Committee met Tuesday, April 7, and passed out four bills.
Texas House of Representatives to Debate School Funding and Vouchers
03.31.2015 — Today at noon, the Texas House of Representatives will begin debating more than 350 amendments to HB 1, the Appropriations Act. Included in the amendments are several relating to school funding and vouchers.
Voucher Bills on Senate Education Committee Agenda for Thursday, March 26
03.23.2015 — Several private school voucher bills will be heard by the Texas Senate Education Committee at 8 a.m., Thursday, March 26 in Room E1.028 on the first floor of the Capitol Extension.
Coalition for Public Schools to Hold Symposium on Vouchers
12.01.2014 — The Coalition for Public Schools is hosting a pre-legislative education symposium that will examine the flaws of voucher programs. Respected academic researchers and Texas education leaders will discuss the various issues on Tuesday, December 2.
TEA Commissioner Includes Voucher Model in TX Pre-K Grant Application
10.28.2014 — TEA has submitted an application for a federal preschool expansion grant and is calling the proposal the Texas Prekindergarten Expansion Grant (PEG).
Senate Education Committee and House Ways & Means Committee to Hear Voucher Bills Tuesday
04.08.2013 — Immediate Action Needed! Contact members of these committees (listed below) and urge them to oppose these bills that divert public money from public schools - either directly as voucher programs or indirectly via tax credits!
Senate Education Meets Tuesday, March 5
03.01.2013 — The Senate Education committee will meet Tuesday, March 5 at 8:30 a.m. in room E1.208 to take up a variety of bills that include: school choice for certain students with disabilities, school district grading policies, and several bills that relate to school counselors.
01.23.2013 — The legislative session has begun and the topic of vouchers, taxpayer savings grants, tax credits and other measures that would divert money away from public schools is being discussed throughout the capitol. Many legislators are claiming they haven't heard from their districts on these issues or that none of these proposals would impact their schools. Some legislators are under the impression that some proposals would not impact their schools.
Reminder: Anti-Voucher Resolution Available for Board Consideration
01.17.2013 — Several school districts have contacted TASA requesting a sample resolution that opposes vouchers, taxpayer savings grants, tax credits, or any other provisions that would divert money away from public schools. A notice in TASA Daily was sent prior to the holidays announcing that a sample resolution was available for school districts.
Oppose any state voucher plan, tax credits, taxpayer savings grants, tuition reimbursements, or any program that diverts public tax dollars to private entities, homeschool students, or parents with little or no academic or financial accountability to the state, taxpayers, or local communities.
The Coalition for Public Schools (of which TASA is a member)
Sample Voucher Resolution (docx)