It’s Like This By Bob Palmer

An education win-win?
Texas State Rep. Chris Paddie told the Jefferson Rotary Club last week an old battle will be back on the fight card when the Legislature meets in January.

“The Senate is almost certain to pass some form of student voucher program,” Paddie related. “The House is very much against it.”

In its present form, the voucher concept would award parents voucher perhaps worth as much as $6,000 per student to be spent at the school of their choice. Public schools, private schools, charter schools and perhaps even home schools would be available.

Vouchers have a superficial plausibility. Parents would control education options for their child and public schools would be forced to step up their game in order to compete. You have to wonder how many parents would take the $6,000, put it in their pocket, and make a sham gesture toward home schooling.

The money funneled over to private schools in this scheme would, in all probability, be taken from the public schools. If your public school loses $6,000, guess who will have to make it up? That’s right. The local tax payers will cover the loss, unless enough kids check out that they can close classrooms and discontinue bus routes.

As Paddie related there is a decided rural-urban split on this issue. While vouchers attract urban legislators like flies to yesterday’s fish, folks in rural areas are less enthused. The Legislature should consider some trigger based on the size of the school district. We could also see a bonus dividend with lessened demand for new and more school facilities. With an additional million school kids every couple of years, it is something to consider.

Other options should also be weighed.

I have long felt home schooled and private schooled students should be required to pass the same tests as the public school students. If the non-public school students can’t make the grade, then they are back in the regular classroom next year. Too many kids are being short changed and this should be stopped.

At this point…

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