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Proposed Massive Pilot Voucher Program Takes Aim at Urban School Districts

S.B. 1506 Could Drain $450 Million from Public Schools

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 29, 2007

The president of the Texas Freedom Network warned senators today that a proposed pilot voucher program would undermine public schools in urban school districts across the state.

“There is only one reason we are sitting here today to debate yet another voucher scheme that would undermine our neighborhood schools,” said TFN President Kathy Miller. “Wealthy special interests refuse to take no for an answer. The Legislature has said no to vouchers in every session for well over a decade. The House said no in 2005. And voters clearly said no in 2006. Yet here we are again.”

Miller spoke as the Senate Education Committee took up Senate Bill 1506 by Sen. Kyle Janek, R-Houston. S.B. 1506 would create a pilot voucher program in the state’s most populous counties: Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar and Travis. It could drain nearly $450 million from public schools in those districts over a two-year period. The House defeated a similar proposal in 2005.

Parents and administrators from Edgewood Independent School District in San Antonio the state’s only district with a privately funded voucher scheme were set to testify against S.B. 1506 at the committee hearing today. Edgewood’s voucher program is funded by San Antonio businessman James Leininger. Contrary to claims by voucher proponents, academic improvement in Edgewood began after the state moved to equalize funding for public schools in 1993 and before Leininger’s privately funded program was put in place in 1998.

Miller said it is shameful that wealthy voucher special interests like James Leininger are now trying to take credit for progress made by Edgewood’s public schools. Even worse, the voucher scheme in S.B. 1506 would undermine progress made by public schools in Edgewood and elsewhere in Texas.

“Our lawmakers can support either public schools or private school vouchers,” Miller said. “They can’t do both. Draining millions of dollars from our neighborhood schools for a voucher scheme would turn the clock back on efforts to ensure that all Texas schoolchildren have access to a quality education.”

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The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of religious and community leaders who advance a mainstream agenda supporting public education, religious freedom and individual liberties.

 

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