Texas can have public schools that help kids thrive — or a voucher program.
That’s the only school choice in front of us.
Every one of us can name that one teacher — the one who helped us get ahead in school and make something of ourselves. Or maybe it was a counselor. Or a librarian. Or a bus driver.
At a time we should be using a record state surplus to finally make teacher and school staff pay competitive, lower class sizes, and give all of our kids a chance to thrive, politicians are peddling voucher schemes that steal dollars from neighborhood schools to bankroll corporate private schools.
That means corporations line their pockets, while teachers and staff face layoffs.
In many parts of Texas, schools are the biggest employers in town. When we grew up, most of us had a bus driver to get us to school safely and back, a nurse to mend us, and a guidance counselor to help us get to college. Will our kids have the same?
When vouchers strip more money away from our already strapped neighborhood schools, the only people who will benefit are the richest parents, who are already sending their children to private schools. For everyone else, vouchers will crowd classrooms and put every member of the school community who keep the hubs of our communities running on the chopping block.
And it’s the hardest hit, and often more rural communities, that get left further and further behind.
Fully Funded Public Schools or Vouchers. Not Both.
The time to act is now. School districts are already bearing the consequences of the Legislature’s inaction, and they cannot wait any longer for the funding they have been promised.
Districts have passed budgets for the upcoming school year, with some betting big that the state will come through later this year to shore up the holes. Some have cut administrative staff, while others have gone into precarious financial positions to provide raises and retain their educators for another year.
Schools — and educators — cannot survive this economic moment without renewed support from a Legislature that is seemingly indifferent as school districts face tough choices about how to spend their meager resources.
Among the 3,452 K-12 and higher education employees who responded to Texas AFT’s August 2023 survey, the response on vouchers is nearly unanimous: 89% of Texas K-12 public school employees say they’re concerned that private school vouchers and expanded taxpayer funding for charter schools will hurt their public schools.
Voucher Failures Across the Nation
We don’t have to wonder about whether voucher schemes are a bad idea. Plenty of other states’ experiences have shown us what vouchers lead to: defunded public schools, greater inequality, and the same or worse outcomes for students.
Unmasking the Privatization Push in Texas
Texas is awash in dark money seeking to influence public education. This dark money represents political and business agendas working to undermine our public schools in order to advance privatization and vouchers.
While the dark money web of influence is complex, pull on the threads of a few individuals and organizations and you see how a few extremely wealthy “activists” use intermediary organizations and politicians willing to accept their contributions to advance privatization and the “education reform” movement in Texas.
In our Unmasking Vouchers series, we cast light on just how little privatization has to do with serving Texas students or improving public education in our state, and reveal connections between Texas politicians, national donors, and extreme political organizations.
The largest donors to Charter Schools Now PAC, which has sought to influence the State Board of Education? Alice and Jim Walton, billionaire heirs to Sam Walton’s Walmart fortune.
Texas Federation for Children is the Texas arm of the American Federation for Children, formerly run by Betsy DeVos before President Trump appointed her as Secretary of Education.
During a recent call hosted by Texas Public Policy Foundation, Gov. Abbott reminded Texans about the real agenda behind “school choice”: starve, shame, and shutter public schools.
The Educational Equity PAC acts as a dark-money, go-between organization to funnel donations from billionaires — including Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings — to politicians.