The details of the Texas voucher plan were released, and the politicians pushing it can’t wait to siphon money away from the state’s underfunded public schools. They show no remorse for cutting $5 billion from the public schools in 2011, and now they are back looking for ways to drain even more money away from the public schools that enroll about 90% of the children in the state.


As a graduate of the Houston public schools (San Jacinto High School, class of 1956), I resent that these men are tearing down their community’s public schools. They claim they want to “save poor kids from failing schools,” but the schools aren’t failing: the politicians are failing the schools. Poor kids can’t learn when they don’t have access to decent medical care, when they don’t have enough to eat, when they are deprived of necessities that advantaged families take for granted. Poor kids will learn better if they have smaller class sizes, experienced teachers, and a full curriculum instead of incessant testing. By cutting funding and sending it to religious schools, the Texas legislators will guarantee larger classes and a stripped-down curriculum. Furthermore, while they won’t pay for what kids need, they have set aside millions for the inexperienced temps called Teach for America, most of whom will disappear after two years.


I am proud to be a native Texan, but I am not proud of the men who are destroying the public schools that educated me and my family and made it possible for me to go to a good college.


If I were in Austin, I would say to State Senator Larry Taylor and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick that vouchers and tax credits (backdoor vouchers) hurt the great majority of children who attend public schools. I would say to them that they should take a trip to Milwaukee, which has had vouchers for 25 years, and is one of the lowest scoring cities on the NAEP federal tests. I would tell them that poor black children in Milwaukee are doing worse in voucher schools than they were in public schools. I would tell them they are cheating the children of Texas, to placate their ideology and their pals in the corporate world.


I would tell them to hang their heads in shame.