“School vouchers are government subsidies of private and religious schools funded by taxpayer money,” explained FCISD Superintendent Jeanette Winn. “There are many other names for these programs, such as ‘Tax Credit Scholarships’, but they all work similarly. All current voucher systems throughout this country have been shown to cost taxpayers more money, rather than save money.”
Winn explained how many leaders in Texas public school education believe that the school voucher system is not fair, practical, and economically sound because of the following that relates to the resolution:
• The majority of individuals that take advantage of vouchers are those that are already going to the private schools, so there is little savings for the state or public schools from students not being educated in the public schools.
• All school districts have certain fixed costs that will not change when a handful of students leave the system, as well as significant government restrictions on spending large portions of their revenues. As a result, public schools can seldom cut costs if they lose students tied to a voucher system.
• The low income student can seldom take advantage of vouchers since the cost of the private school tuition, and transportation are only partially covered by a voucher.
• Private and religious schools do not take students that they don’t want to, so even if students have vouchers and the additional funds required, they will likely be turned away by private schools if they have special needs, disabilities, discipline problems, or poor academic performance. Public schools, of course, accept all students in their district.
• Private and religious schools are not held accountable in ways that public schools are. They are not required to take state standardized tests, any tests administered are not required to be made public, and they are not required to have public board meetings, regular public financial audits, certified teachers or professionals, meet state curriculum standards, or report budget decisions to the public.
• Current viable options exist for students to have choices on where they attend public school in Texas. Students in state underperforming schools, schools that don’t meet federal adequate yearly progress, or who are unsafe in their schools may move to a different school. Most districts have policies to allow inter-district and intra-district transfers, and there are a number of magnet and charter schools throughout the state that offer choices to students in the public schools.
The FCISD trustees approved the resolution against school vouchers 4 to 1. The approving trustees signed the resolution. FCISD now joins other districts in Region 3 and in other regions of the state that have approved the resolution, in hopes of bringing what they believe to be proper and fair change to the system.
“We are submitting our signed resolutions to our Texas Association of School Administrators superintendent representative,” said Winn. “From there the resolutions will be compiled and submitted to our state legislators.”