Glenn Rogers: Vouchers are not conservative
Texas state representative Glenn Rogers is a conservative Republican, and in an op-ed for Th\e Community News, he explains why he, as a conservative, cannot support school vouchers.
Recently proposed voucher programs have offered parents $8-10,500 towards tuition. This means that families who want to exercise their vouchers are still expected to pay the difference per each child to enroll them in a private school. The end result is that the majority of Texas families remain in public schools with less funding, whereas more wealthy families who can afford private education outright get a taxpayer-subsidized discount.
In a thorough review of voucher programs in other states, a range of 75% (Arizona) to 90% (Ohio) of students receiving vouchers had NEVER ATTENDED public schools. In Louisiana, 99% of the states’ “voucher tax” goes directly to families that bring in more than $200,000 per year. These hardly seem like programs that get low to medium income students out of public schools. Rather it reeks of an expensive entitlement program creating clear winners and losers.
The same principle is also true with acceptance standards. Even though a parent has an educational voucher, this does not mean a private or charter school must accept their child. Private schools have the discretion to not admit any student based on academic performance, behavioral issues, disability, residence, or income level. Once again, most Texas parents would have their children in a public school system that is continually stripped of resources to subsidize education for those who already could pay and be accepted.
Considering these schools are private, the State of Texas would be funneling money into organizations with little accountability. Private schools do not have to comply with the same transparency standards as a traditional public education. Once these private entities start receiving public funds, the line between private and government regulation begins to blur.
Parents who choose private or homeschool education for their children expect a certain level of independence in their education. Texas home schools and private schools are currently some of the least regulated in the country. Voucher programs would alter traditional private education by destroying that independence from government. While proponents of vouchers often like to say, “Let the money follow the child,” the follow-up is the “government follows the money.”
Public school board members are elected and held accountable by the ISD residents, the salaries of superintendents are made a public record by the Texas Education Agency, and all instructional materials are reviewed by an elected State Board of Education.
When problems arise within our public schools, the taxpayers and the state can act.
It’s a different perspective on voucher opposition. Read the full op-ed here.