DeVos Clashes With Democrats Over Federal Protections in School Choice Budget Proposals

Weekend Education Reads: 12 Worthwhile Links About Students and Schools You May Have Missed

Wisconsin Lawmaker Tells Betsy DeVos That Vouchers Don’t Help Rural Kids. Research Shows He’s Right

You’re Not an ‘Interest Group’ Just Because You Believe School Funding Matters

How 2 Business-Savvy Nonprofits Are Breathing New Life Into Philadelphia’s Struggling Catholic Schools

State of American Pre-K: New Report Shows 1.5 Million Kids (and 1 in 20 3-Year-Olds) Enrolled

Trump Ed Budget Fleshes Out Choice Proposal, Justifies Deep Cuts

Mayoral Control Fight Heats Up: NYS Assembly Gives De Blasio 2 More Years, But Senate Demands More Data on School Spending

The Boys Wouldn’t Listen, So 9-Year-Old Girl Started Her Own Robotics Team — and Won Big

Candidates Are Drawing School Choice Battle Lines in Campaign to Succeed New Jersey Gov. Christie

Start School Later: New Study Shows That More Sunlight Before Classes Improves Test Scores

Facing Pressure From Conservatives, Texas Again Looks to Ban Transgender Bathroom Use

DeVos Emphasizes States’ Prerogative on School Choice, Gives No Details on Federal Expansion

Inside the School Lunch Affordability Gap: Too Affluent for Free Food, Can’t Afford $1.75 Meals

Long-Vacant NYC Courthouse Will Get New Life as Success Academy’s Second High School

1 in 5 Washington State HS Students Considered Suicide, 9% Attempted It, Shocking New Report Finds

Key Congressional Ally Backs Trump Admin’s School Choice Plan

Why the LA School Board Swung Pro-Reform: Did a Late Vote on ‘Charter Killer’ Bill Cost Board Chief His Job?

Federal Judge Denies NYC KIPP School’s Effort to Block Arbitration of Teacher Grievances

New Report Shows NYC’s Alternative to Charter Schools — Supported by De Blasio and UFT — Aren’t Getting Results

Texas Vouchers Hit Dead End in Austin, as Another School Choice Bill Fails to Earn a Vote in State House

April 9, 2017

Talking Points

After months of debate, Texas lawmakers hit impasse on ESAs, tax credit scholarships proposal

Texas school voucher bill hits a wall in state House after narrow Senate passage #SB3

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Updated April 11
A contentious Texas school voucher bill narrowly passed by the state Senate in March now appears to have hit a wall in the House, in part because rural representatives don’t believe it would help families in less-populated counties.
House lawmakers voted 103–44 Thursday to ban state funds from going to private and religious schools via tax credit scholarships or education savings accounts, which a March Senate bill would have allowed.
The vote took place during marathon budget negotiations in response to an anti-voucher budget amendment lawmakers attached to an unrelated spending proposal.
Sen. Larry Taylor introduced the Senate measure in January with strong support from the state’s Republican leaders — including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott, who promised to sign it.
Taylor said it was “unfortunate that House members were not able to hear the details” of his bill before voting to block spending for it or any measure like it.
(Watch The 74: What You Need to Know About School Vouchers in 90 Seconds)
The House Education Committee chairman, Rep. Dan Huberty, a Houston Republican, has been forthright about his opposition.
“Vouchers are a solution in search of a problem,” he told a conference of public school advocates in February. He and other critics in the legislature argue that if private schools receive public money, they should be held to the same accountability standards as public schools.
While successful, the bill’s earlier passage through the Senate highlighted its potential vulnerabilities among rural lawmakers, some of whom complained that their constituents would be paying tax dollars to fund a program their children couldn’t access because their communities lacked options.
Revisions that limited the bill to the state’s 17 largest counties weren’t enough to sway some senators.
“The only winners here are unaccountable private schools and those who want to weaken the public school system for ideological reasons,” El Paso Democrat José Rodriguez, one of the 13 senators who voted against the bill, told The 74. “Everyone else, to one degree or another, gets a bad deal.”
The Senate bill now sits in the House, where it is likely to languish, given the strong opposition to vouchers in the budget amendment vote.
In addition to supply-and-demand issues, there’s an emotional resistance in rural Texas towns because the community often revolves around the local public school district, Mark Jones, a political science fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute, said in an interview.
“Without the independent school districts, many of these communities would not exist, so anything that’s [seen as] adversely affecting [them] is seen as being bad for the community, and very few representatives want to be seen as supporting legislation that hurts their community,” he said.