AUSTIN – Students in 11 school districts, including Dallas, would be eligible to use taxpayer money to attend private schools under legislation filed Wednesday by Democrat and Republican lawmakers, including House Public Education Chairman Kent Grusendorf.
The bill would start a voucher pilot program for children of low-income families in the state’s largest school districts, where enrollment tops 40,000 and a majority of students are eligible for the federal lunch programs.
Mr. Grusendorf’s office said the 11 public school districts that would be affected by a pilot program, in addition to Dallas, include Aldine, Alief, Houston, Pasadena, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Brownsville, El Paso and Ysleta. Mr. Grusendorf, R-Arlington, said the test would show how Texans respond to having the option to chose public or private schools.
“Many, many private schools are in place today which offer outstanding curricula, dedicated teachers and forward-thinking administrations. There should be a way for our children whose parents cannot afford to pay tuition to access them,” said Rep. Ron Wilson, D-Houston, another sponsor.
The private schools that accept the vouchers would be required to give education assessment tests and make the aggregated scores public, a provision to make sure accountability follows the money and to measure the academic effects of the program, said Rep. Glenn Lewis, a Democrat from Fort Worth.
Public schools would continue to receive some funding for students who chose to go to a private school through the voucher program, including about 10 percent of the value of the voucher. Private schools would receive 90 percent of the voucher or the school’s average annual cost per student, whichever is less.
Voucher advocates have failed in the past to get a pilot program approved but are hopeful this year because Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Gov. Rick Perry all support a program.
Reprinted with permission from “A Voice for Choice,” please visit: http://www.childrenfirstamerica.org/avfc/index.htm