Jimmie Don Aycock: Texas asking for trouble if it pours billions into unaccountable ‘school choice’ scheme
Jimmie Don Aycock is a former Texas legislator, and he sees real trouble ahead in the voucher scheme being pushed.
Whether you call them “school choice,” education savings accounts (ESAs) or vouchers, the proposals before the Legislature would direct tax dollars to individuals or entities with few if any safeguards to ensure the funds are spent to achieve their stated purpose: education.
Throughout Texas, locally elected school boards oversee both the quality of what is being taught and the prudent use of tax dollars, particularly those levied on homes and business property. Do we really believe that private providers, corporate vendors and unelected boards should be trusted to spend between $3 billion and $10 billion without accountability?
If Texas must have a voucher program, Aycock proposes some guardrails.
First, most states that have started ESAs have allowed students already in private schools to receive the funds. In Texas, that would mean handing over about $3 billion to families already able to send their kids to elite and often expensive private schools. Such a giveaway hardly seems conservative.
Second, we often hear that the funds would help low-income parents choose better schools. If that is part of the objective, Texas should require applicants to show financial need, just as we require proof of need for programs related to housing, nutrition and health.