Jovanka Palacios: What Greg Abbott Doesn’t Understand About Vouchers & Rural Communities
Jovanka Palacios, reporting for ReformAustin, explains why Governor Abbott’s appeals to rural communities are falling short.
Gov. Greg Abbott believes that touring rural areas where Republican members of the Texas House or Senate are against vouchers is enough to get them and their constituents on board with the “school choice” idea. But he seems to be overlooking one small detail: “rural public schools are the lifeblood of their communities.”
Keith Bryant, Superintendent of Schools in Lubbock-Cooper ISD, illustrates the effect of a voucher program in rural public schools best:
“They are unifiers, gathering places, and information providers. Many times they are the largest employers in their communities, and, often, school events are the largest draw of visitors to their towns. Disruptions to funding for rural schools are disruptions to the fabric of life in rural communities.”
In a state where the money follows the child, students dropping out of public schools would inevitably affect – an already scarce – budget. Those who oppose a “school choice” program argue that the Legislature should focus on increasing public school education funding, instead of diverting those dollars into a system that holds no accountability.
School funding isn’t that complex, Bryant told RA News, who explains school funding as a pie that everyone in public schools in Texas is sharing.
“Every public school in Texas is sharing this pie. If someone takes a slice out of the pie to fund vouchers for private schools or homeschooling, there is less pie remaining for Texas public schools.”
Echoing the concerns of other conservatives across the nation, opponents call out the Texas voucher plan for its lack of accountability.
Texas public schools are held accountable when it comes to addressing student achievement, school safety, and the curriculum that is being taught. Texans have a right to know how their tax money is being spent. Meanwhile, a voucher program would be handing out taxpayer dollars to people to educate their kids however they want without any oversight.
“What about the parents that want their kid to learn Sharia law? Or the parent that wants a school that teaches homosexuality is mainstream?” said King. “The taxpayer is not going to know where your tax dollars went or what kind of education you got.”