The Lt. Governor has a powerful role in Texas government. Unfortunately, the Lt. Gov. right now is Dan Patrick, a former radio talk show host, who is a zealous supporter of vouchers. When he headed the Senate Education Committee, he put forward voucher bills but they died in the House. They died because of rural opposition to vouchers; it seems that rural Republicans in the House don’t see any good reason to kill off their public schools and divide their communities.

 

But Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick now says he wants “education savings accounts” so that public money can flow to private and religious schools, as well as homeschoolers, and he wants to model his plan along the lines of the one enacted in Nevada. It is still public money going to religious schools, but that’s what he wants. As he says in the article, he wants school choice for all children, not just the poor.

 

The Nevada plan is being challenged in court by several organizations, because it violates the explicit language of the Nevada state constitution. Studies show that it primarily benefits well-to-do families, not poor families.

 

As in most other states, about 90% of the children in Texas go to public schools. Those schools are underfunded, especially since a dramatic $5.4 billion cut in 2011. Some of the money was later restored, but not most of it. The children in Texas are poorer than they were five years ago. The pupils are majority-minority. This is the scenario in which Dan Patrick proposes to gut public education.

 

It is time for the Texas Pastors for Children, for Friends of Texas Public Schools, and for every organization that believes in democratic control of public schools in Texas to step up and beat back Patrick’s bills.