Texas Governor Greg Abbott called a special session of the legislature to try once again to ram through vouchers, a proposal that has been repeatedly rejected by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. The State Senate is led by the voucher zealot and former talk-show host Dan Patrick; the House has responsible leadership that actually wants to help the public schools that enroll some five million children, who are the future of Texas. Every time the Senate endorses vouchers, the House blocks them. The House has proposed a budget increase to help public schools, but the Senate holds the budget proposal hostage to vouchers. Meanwhile, the public schools are hurting.

The Fort Bend Independent School District addressed the state’s leaders and lawmakers and said: Stop starving our public schools! The school board adopted a series of resolutions calling on legislators to improve school funding for public schools.

The resolutions criticize vouchers as a way of taking money away from cash-strapped districts, lambaste a proposal to require districts to provide teacher raises without funding them and urge lawmakers to pass school finance reform in order to increase the amount that districts receive in state funding.

Kristin Tassin, the board’s president, accused state leaders of taking money away from public schools to promote their political agendas.

“Our state leaders are claiming to support Texas teachers and students, but they are being disingenuous,” Tassin said.

In Gov. Greg Abbott’s call for a special session, he proposed giving a $1,000 pay raise to all teachers, offering vouchers for special education students, forming a committee to study school-finance reform and allowing districts to have more flexibility in teacher hiring…

Vouchers have long been a touchy subject in Texas and nationwide. Essentially, vouchers allow parents to take money that the state would have spent educating their child in a public school and use it to offset the cost of tuition at private schools. While proponents of vouchers argue that they’re an innovative way to allow economically disadvantaged and special education students access to better educations, opponents say vouchers drain money from public schools and direct the funds to private schools that are not held to the same testing and accountability standards…

Tassin said many districts, including Fort Bend ISD, have already voted to approve pay raises for the coming school year and argue that mandating unfunded raises will further strain the district’s finances. Pay raises for teachers and employees have traditionally been considered a local matter.

Keep up the pressure from the grassroots. Vote only for legislators who support public schools, not those who want to take money from public schools that are already underfunded.