I wanted to send a quick note to catch you up on the latest developments in Austin. The Governor has called lawmakers back to the State Capitol for another special session on private school subsidies (also called school choice, vouchers, education savings accounts, etc.) as well as public school funding, school safety, and border issues.
Last week, the House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity & Enrichment sent a bill (HB 1) to the House floor that would allow public taxpayer money to be used to pay for tuition at private and religious schools. I have nothing against private schools. Some of them, in fact, have volunteer relationships with our schools. I just object to diverting public dollars to pay for private school tuition. There are other components to the bill, including school finance and school accountability. A separate bill (HB 2) to increase funding for school safety is also being considered.
Our Board of Trustees has taken a unanimous stand against using public tax dollars to pay for private school subsidies. Dallas ISD will oppose HB1 even though it does include additional funding for schools, because, first, much of the money is obligated, and at best infringes upon local decisions that should be made by elected school board trustees. Second, HB 1 contains unfunded mandates for early learning, and third, it includes unrestricted vouchers eventually redirecting billions of state dollars to private schools, ultimately reducing funding for public school districts like ours.
Educators aren’t the only ones opposing school vouchers. A growing coalition that includes business organizations, clergy, and parent groups have rallied to support public schools. It is not too late to contact your state lawmaker with your thoughts by accessing this site from the Texas School Alliance.
Thank you for the great work supporting our students that I see whenever I step onto a campus. With a well-deserved break coming up, take comfort in the fact that you’re making a difference in the future. Thank you for choosing Dallas ISD.
Stephanie S. Elizalde, Ed.D.