Weatherford Democrat

January 17, 2013

Area school districts opposed to vouchers

Weatherford Democrat

— As superintendents and school board presidents representing the Aledo, Azle, Brock, Garner, Millsap, Paradise, Peaster, Poolville, Santo, Springtown, and Weatherford independent school districts we know that our public schools are under attack.

One of the tools that will be used against our community schools this legislative session and cloaked under the guise of “choice” is a school voucher system. School vouchers, or Taxpayer Savings Grants or Tax Credit Scholarships, in theory are certificates issued by the government that parents can apply toward tuition at the private or charter school of their choice.

Using a school voucher to allow a parent to choose between public and private schools sounds like an easy addition to the school choice agenda, but there are a number of unanswered questions related to how using state funds in an effective voucher system would work. For instance:

• How would private schools receiving public monies be accountable to taxpayers?

• How could you truly measure the success of a private school, which – unlike a public school – can turn away an at-risk or special-needs student?

• Will a private school retain the right to refuse students based on disability, academic achievement, religious beliefs or discipline?

• Will a private school, receiving students who are eligible for free and reduced meals, be required to offer meals under this federal program?

• Will private schools retain the right to charge tuition above the value of the voucher?

• Will vouchers limit the religious instruction offered in private schools (separation of church and state)?

• Will the state offer vouchers for all students currently enrolled in private schools or home school?

• Will the private school/home school have to reimburse the state if the student withdraws from the private school during the year to re-enroll in a public school?

These are just a few of the many questions that need to be considered before any plan to siphon money from our public schools is initiated.

Vouchers are a political distraction from what should be the state’s top priority, ensuring access to high quality neighborhood public schools that meet the educational needs of every child in Texas. Public schools are making a difference every day for children across this great state. Public schools serve our respective communities and offer a quality education for our children.

In order to provide for the success of all, and in turn, ensure the future prosperity of Texas, we must continue to provide all school-aged children with an exemplary education through well-funded public schools.  We oppose vouchers or any legislation that allows diversion of funding from public schools to private or parochial schools.

Standing together in a unified voice,

Aledo ISD – Dan Manning, superintendent; Bobby J. Rigues, board president.

Azle ISD – Dr. Ray Lea, superintendent; Bill Lane, board president.

Brock ISD – Richard Tedder, superintendent; Bill Cooper, board president.

Garner ISD – Marion Ferguson, superintendent; Michael Collins, board president.

Millsap ISD – Dr. David Belding, superintendent; Dr. Dene Herbel, board president.

Paradise ISD – Monty Chapman, superintendent; Homer Mundy, board president.

Peaster ISD – Matt Adams, superintendent; Scott Johnson, board president.

Poolville ISD – Jimmie Dobbs, superintendent; Lynn Duvall, board president.

Santo ISD – Greg Gilbert, superintendent; Randy Parker, board president.

Springtown ISD – Mike Kelley, superintendent; Amy Walker, board president.

Weatherford ISD – Dr. Jeffrey M. Hanks, superintendent; Charlie Martinez, board president.