With private-school voucher push, governor heads in the wrong direction for retaining teachers

Gov. Abbott with a microphone. A sign in the background outlines his parental rights platform.

While our Lost Decade report outlined how increases in per-pupil funding are the key to teacher recruitment and retention with higher wages, Gov. Greg Abbott’s response to the crisis is to wage a campaign to take money from public schools and give it to private schools in the form of vouchers. On Monday at a campaign rally, Abbott said a voucher program would be one of his priorities for the next Legislative session in January 2023.

Texas AFT has long opposed vouchers. Recent studies have shown that they have a negative impact on student achievement. Vouchers also rob public schools of money and use taxpayer dollars for unaccountable private-school tuition. Recent failed proposals in Texas would benefit upper-middle-class parents, because the amount of the voucher wouldn’t be enough to cover private-school tuition.

“This does nothing but take away from rural kids to give a tax break for those in the cities—most of whom can already afford private school—or it would create more cottage industries to make money off the backs of children,” Texas AFT President Zeph Capo told the Dallas Morning News. “Neither is a good choice.”

We’ve beaten back vouchers for some 25 years in the Legislature—largely because rural Republican legislators see no benefit in the scheme and see their public schools as foundational to their communities. But you can be assured that the governor will put his weight behind vouchers in 2023, as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has done for several sessions.

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