In Texas legislative issues/news, according to a Fox TV affiliate in Austin, thousands of parents and students rallied at the state capitol to demand that the Texas Legislature pass a school voucher program. The idea is that the state government would dole out money to each student who chooses to so that he or she can attend a private school instead of a public school. The theory is that public schools will be forced to improve in order to compete for students.
The teachers’ unions and a coalition of Democrats and rural Republicans have combined to stop previous school voucher proposals. The coalition has expressed fear that by siphoning money to private schools, a voucher program would hurt public schools. Some have also raised separation of church and state objections since many of the private schools are run by religious institutions such as the Catholic Church.
Texas already has an extensive system of charter schools, educational institutions that are privately run but publically funded, with the idea that education could be improved by freeing schools from bureaucratic rules. The concept of magnet schools, which offer a specific course of study, such as the Houston School for the Performing and Visual Arts, is even older.
According to attorney Jake Posey, the waiting lists for such alternative schools are immense. Supporters of school vouchers point to this fact as proof that choice is popular with students and parents. However, it remains to be seen whether popular support for school choice in Texas will enable a voucher program to succeed in the legislature during the current session.