Archives for the month of: February, 2023

Opponents of vouchers have long complained about their cost, their harmful effect on public schools, and their lack of any accountability. State after state has ignored these concerns and authorized vouchers, which mostly underwrite the private school tuition of students who never attended public schools. Vouchers are a transfer of public funds from middle-class and low-income families to affluent families.

Idaho Republicans got it! They rejected a boiler-plate voucher program without income limits that would have paid tuition costs for every child already enrolled in a private school.

The first-year cost was estimated at $45 million, but based on comparisons with states like Florida, the cost would quickly escalate to $363 million a year.

Senate Republicans rejected a bill that would have allowed private school families to claim public education funds.

The bill, from Sens. Tammy Nichols, R-Middleton, and Brian Lenney, R-Nampa, would have created education savings accounts, a voucher-like mechanism that allows families with private school and home-schooled students to draw state funding for tuition, uniforms, tutoring and other education expenses.

Most Senate Republicans opposed the bill. Many said they support education savings accounts but believed the legislation has too many uncertainties, including how much it would cost….

Those opposed said they were concerned the voucher program would siphon limited public school funds. They also said the proposal lacked accountability for a significant amount of taxpayer money. The bill says that it would not grant a government agency authority over private schools.

“It’s actually against my conservative, Republican perspective to hand this money out with no accountability that these precious tax dollars are being used wisely,” said Sen. Dave Lent, R-Idaho Falls.

Read more at:

Ron DeSantis seized control of the state’s smallest public institution of higher education. New College was created as a progressive outpost. The governor named six new trustees to the 13-member board and added the controlling vote when a political ally replaced a seventh member. The majority is packed with rightwing ideologues. They immediately sacked the president, an English professor, and replaced her with a Republican hack, Richard Corcoran, former Speaker of the House and former State Commissioner of Education. He was previously passed over when he applied for the presidency of the University of Florida because of his lack of academic credentials. He has been promised compensation of $900,000 a year. DeSantis takes care of his friends.

The Miami Herald reported:

New College of Florida leaders voted Tuesday to eliminate diversity, equity and inclusion “bureaucracies” at the Sarasota honors college, the State University System’s smallest campus.

The school’s board of trustees — including six conservative members appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in January — banned mandatory diversity trainings and ended “political coercion” in the form of diversity statements. They also prohibited “identity-based preferences” in admissions, hiring and promotions.

The school will disband the Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence, which is responsible for diversity initiatives. The office’s four staff members will be moved to other new or unfilled administrative positions, saving the school an estimated $250,000 per year.

It was the first trustees meeting for Richard Corcoran, the former education commissioner and Florida House speaker who became New College’s interim president on Monday.

The vote came as DeSantis and Republican lawmakers are pushing to remove diversity, equity and inclusion offices throughout the state college and university systems. Legislators have already begun to file bills to accomplish that aim during the session that begins March 7…

The school’s new policy will not affect the funding of academic instruction, research or student organizations, said Bradley Theissen, a top New College official who briefly served as interim president before Corcoran arrived.

The school’s general counsel will be responsible for overseeing diversity initiatives required by the state as well as the school’s compliance with federal non-discrimination laws “The objective [was] to remove the parts [of school policy and trainings] that we find to be discriminatory,” said trustee Matthew Spalding, a fellow at the conservative think tank the Claremont Institute….

Also Tuesday, board members addressed a wrinkle that developed late last week over Corcoran’s contract, which will pay him a base salary of $699,000, plus more than $200,000 in added benefits.

Most of that amount was intended to come from the New College Foundation, but the foundation’s finance chairperson noted that most of its funds are earmarked for other expenses.

The revelation raised questions about the foundation’s ability to help with Corcoran’s salary, but trustees said Tuesday they expected foundation members to “cooperate.”

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Bill Phillis, retired deputy state superintendent of education and tireless advocate for public schools, discovered that the latest Republican effort to gut the State Board of Education violates the State Constitution.

He writes:

Unbelievable—Senate Bill 1, the Bill to render ineffective the State Board of Education violates the 1953 constitutional amendment which established the Board.

The Department of Education in Ohio is comprised of the State Board of Education, the superintendent of Public Instruction and the staff. Prior to the 1953 amendment, the education department, including the Superintendent of Public Instruction and staff (state education agency), constituted an administrative arm of the Governor’s office. This arrangement had been in place since 1913 after the Delegates to the 1912 Constitutional Convention proposed to replace the State Commissioner of Common Schools with the Superintendent of Public Instruction, which proposal, the citizens of Ohio approved on a statewide ballot. In 1939 a constitutional amendment proposal to establish a State Board of Education failed by a near two to one margin. The Depression may have been a factor in the overwhelming defeat.

In 1953 Ohioans passed a constitutional amendment to establish a State board of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction to be selected by the Board. Prior to the 1953 amendment, the state education agency was completely under the control of the Governor. The State Board of Education, with the newly selected Superintendent of Public Instruction, began operation in January 1956; hence the state education agency operated as a 4th branch of government until the mid-1990’s when legislation was enacted to allow the appointment of eight members by the Governor.

Article VI, section 4 of the Ohio Constitution states that the respective powers and duties of the Board and Superintendent of Public Instruction shall be prescribed by law; however, this language does not authorize the legislature to transfer the core functions of the State Board to the Governor’s office. The 1953 amendment transferred the core functions from the Governor’s office to the State Board. That is why the amendment was passed.

The legislature should deal with this matter in a manner that respects the intent and language of the Constitution. This question should be submitted to the citizens of Ohio to determine if the 1953 amendment should be reversed.

Learn more about the EdChoice voucher litigation

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William L. Phillis | Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding | 614.228.6540||

Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick are crazy for vouchers, even though they would underwrite the tuition of students already in private schools and defund public schools. Behind them, of course, are rightwing billionaires. Here is a story by Forrest Wilder in the Texas Monthly of one sneaky effort that failed:

In October, I wrote about a wild, under-the-radar scheme in the Hill Country town of Wimberley to route taxpayer money to private schools around the state. Unbeknownst to almost anyone in the community, all-Republican members of the Wimberley ISD school board had spent much of last spring and summer laying the groundwork for a plan to create Texas’s first school-voucher program, using a loophole in state law.

The plot had been cooked up by a consortium of right-wing activists and donors, a politically connected charter-school executive, and Texans for Education Rights, a new nonprofit founded by Monty Bennett, a wealthy Dallas hotelier, and Aaron Harris, a GOP consultant from North Texas. Under a novel proposal floated by Texans for Education Rights, students would enroll in Wimberley ISD but attend private schools of their choice across Texas “at no cost to their families.”

Read Next: 

Inside the Secret Plan to Bring Private School Vouchers to Texas

Public education advocates called the plan a “Trojan horse for vouchers” and “a money grab.” The plan’s main local ringleader, an activist named Joe Basel, described it as the opening salvo in a battle to get the Texas Legislature to bless school choice. Other proponents promoted it as a way to “save kids” in struggling schools. (When the proposal ultimately failed in Wimberley, Basel pledged to shop it around to other districts.) The saga also showed the lengths to which proponents of school vouchers would go to circumvent the Legislature, which has repeatedly declined to establish a system that allows public dollars to be spent in private schools. If this all sounds kinda out there, you’re not mistaken. For the full tick-tock, read my investigation.

After the local school board abruptly pulled the plug in early August, Wimberley officials would only offer vague explanations on the record for why they did so, and some of the documents provided to Texas Monthly through the state’s open records law were heavily redacted. But now, newly obtained documents shed light on internal deliberations. They show that the school district’s principals and administrators, only recently debriefed on the proposal, were alarmed and upset by a concept that they and their peers would see as anathema to public education. Their staffs had no idea it was being considered. As the Legislature considers various school-choice proposals in its current session, the strange saga in Wimberley may offer a preview of what’s to come. It also suggests that some degree of support for school choice may come from school boards that have tilted far to the right.

In a mid-July memo to the Wimberley school board, superintendent Greg Bonewald, who had been on the job for just six weeks, seemed to unburden himself. He complained that he was being intimidated into rushing through a poorly thought-out proposal with virtually no input from educators or the community. He argued that the district would see no significant financial benefits from the scheme and seemed at pains to explain to his bosses on the board how unpopular vouchers were in public education circles. Many educators view vouchers as a mortal threat to public schools, a mechanism for subsidizing the education of the children of affluent families while depleting the resources of schools used by the kids of working-class families.

But Bonewald told his bosses in the memo that he had learned from the Texas Education Agency that Wimberley couldn’t expect any “significant financial benefit” from the enhanced per-student funding. Instead, almost all of those dollars would flow to the proposed “partner organization,” presumably the Dallas nonprofit founded by Bennett and Harris, along with the private schools. “There is nothing to indicate that this program is a short or long-term answer to budget challenges,” Bonewald wrote. At the same time, Wimberley would be ultimately responsible for the students’ safety, feeding, state accountability testing, and special-ed services.

Here’s what Bonewald’s memo reveals:

The middlemen and private schools would reap almost all the financial benefits. The Wimberley school board had embraced the proposal as a way to lighten the district’s financial burden in two ways. One, WISD could possibly tap into a rich vein of per-student funding offered to students enrolled in the voucher program. Each student would yield almost $6,900, about $700 more than the state’s basic per-pupil allotment of $6,160. Two, the district could reduce its so-called “Robin Hood” payments to the state—local tax revenue returned to the state by some property-rich districts—by adding new students to its rolls.

Bonewald had been subject to a campaign of intimidation. “I have experienced overt and covert efforts to intimidate me as the new leader,” he wrote the board, “to push forward with a process that I, our team, and potentially our Trustees do not fully grasp.” The superintendent doesn’t name the source of intimidation, and didn’t respond to a request for an interview, but elsewhere in the memo he refers to “multiple conversations” with Joe Basel and Tracey Dean. Basel is a self-described “systemic disruption consultant” best known for leading an effort to secretly videotape lawmakers, lobbyists, and others at the state capitol in 2015. Dean is the founder of Wimberley Area Republicans (WAR), a far-right GOP club that helped elect several of the conservative WISD board members.

Please open the link and keep reading.

Writing in VICE, Anna Merlin describes the internal squabbling in the anti-vaccine world. Vaccine skeptics are denouncing one another, suing one another, accusing the others of lying.

The pro-vax blogger “Misinformation Kills” says “The Cranks Are Fighting! Grab your popcorn” and watch the anti-vax leaders destroy each other.

Full disclosure: I am fully vaccinated and boosted.

Parents and educators in Worcester, Massachusetts, are outraged that the State Cimmissioner of Education Jeff Riley has recommended state approval of thexWorcester Cultural Academy. Its sponsors have openly admitted that revenues from the school will be used to subsidize another cultural institution, Old Sturbridge Village. This is downright bizarre. If the state wants to subsidize Old Sturbridge Village, it should do so directly, without diverting pupils and money from the Worcester public schools.

Citizens for Public Schools released this statement:

Citizens for Public Schools calls on state officials to reject the proposal from Worcester Cultural Academy to create a new charter school in Worcester.

We ask Commissioner Jeff Riley to withdraw his favorable recommendation, Gov. Maura Healey and Education Secretary Patrick Tutwiler to oppose the proposal, and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to reject it if Commissioner Riley does not withdraw it.

CPS was among the vast majority of individuals and groups who submitted public comment against the proposal, comments that were ignored in Commissioner Riley’s favorable recommendation.

Worcester educators have provided detailed criticism of the curriculum and other aspects of the proposal, and pointed out the harm it would do to children in Worcester Public Schools that will lose many millions of dollars to the new charter if it is approved.

But the application also raises an issue that has nothing to do with the benefits or harm of charter schools. The sponsors openly say they plan to use public education funds to “safeguard” the finances of a private organization, Old Sturbridge Village.

“Our [charter] academies will provide reliable, contractual revenue to the museum, safeguarding us against fluctuations in uncontrollable factors that impact admission revenue,” says the Old Sturbridge Village 2022 annual report.

And about that contract: By the fifth year, the proposal is to turn over nearly half a million dollars a year to Old Sturbridge Village for financial services to one small school.

The Worcester School Committee is meeting today to ask the state Inspector General and Auditor to look into that arrangement.

Voting against the Sturbridge charter proposal tomorrow would make a strong statement that the state board, established to support public education, is working to protect and not harm our state’s children.

Vote no.

I am going to do something unusual with this topic, the topic being Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ bold and disgusting effort to take control of what may and may not be taught in the schools of Florida.

I wrote this post. It will be followed by one written by Mercedes Schneider. We don’t disagree, but we provide different content. Read them both and add your thoughts.

In Florida, a “controversial topic” is any concept that governor Ron DeSantis doesn’t like. This is what he calls “freedom.” Schools are not free to teach anything he dislikes. Last week, the Florida Department of Education told districts to provide detailed information about the books and materials they were using to teach topics that offend DeSantis.

To readers, I apologize for writing so much about this tinpot dictator. But the reality is that he is leading the way towards purging the schools of content that would be standard fare in many other states, and other red states are following his lead.

The Miami-Herald reports:

The Florida Department of Education this week told school districts to produce detailed information about the programs and materials they use to address some of the state’s most hotly debated subjects.

In an email delivered late Tuesday, the department instructed superintendents to fill out a 34-question survey identifying titles of books and programs they have relating to sex education, social-emotional learning, culturally relevant teaching and diversity, and equity and inclusion, among other topics. It asked for specifics for student courses and employee training. The department requested names and examples from district and charter schools. And it gave the districts until Monday to respond. “It sounds very much like what they have done to the state university system,” said Pasco County Superintendent Kurt Browning.

In recent months, the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis has asked universities and colleges to provide information about their work in diversity, equity and inclusion, and related to gender-affirming care.

DeSantis followed those requests with speeches criticizing many of the concepts and calling on the Legislature to end spending for such items. College presidents quickly announced they would end diversity programs. Legislation mirroring the governor’s agenda soon followed.

“What concerns me about the questions is they are all the hot-button topics and issues that are in the news,” Browning said, noting that the department did not explain its request. “What is it that they’re looking for?”

The department did not respond to calls and emails seeking added information. Superintendents across Florida said their staffs are working to submit all the items, which include uploaded examples in addition to lists of titles and data about the percentages of schools that use the materials and programs.

A spokeswoman for Miami-Dade Public Schools said Friday “district staff is currently in the process of compiling responses to the survey.” The Broward school district did not immediately respond to the Herald’s query. I

“We’ve never had to get this in-depth before,” said Bay County Superintendent Bill Husfelt, president of the state superintendents association. He suggested that politically involved parent and community groups such as Moms for Liberty have played a part in the rising demand for specifics about what books, curriculum and other materials the schools use. Moms for Liberty chapters across Florida have pressed school districts to remove books they claim contain pornography or other materials harmful to minors. The organization’s co-founders recently sat with DeSantis and other Republican officials to identify 14 sitting school board members statewide to target for removal in the 2024 elections, including Miami-Dade School Board member Luisa Santos.

“Politics has always been like this,” said Husfelt, who has led his North Florida district for 15 years. “But I don’t know that I’ve ever seen public education as involved as it is right now.”

Browning said he found it frustrating that the state appears to be targeting approaches such as positive behavior interventions and trauma-informed care, while at the same time requiring schools to address students’ mental health needs. “It seems like they are saying, ‘Do it, but you can’t use this and you can’t use that,’ ” he said.

“My question would be, ‘What is it you want me to use?’ There is nothing inherently evil in any of this stuff, in any of these topics that they are wanting information on.”

The state previously has made clear its disdain for social-emotional learning and culturally relevant teaching, banning it from math and social studies textbooks as they come up for adoption. It also has restricted lessons about human growth and development, which includes sex education.

Social-emotional learning is a strategy that aims to help students manage their emotions and develop empathy, among other traits. The state promoted it as a way to keep students safe after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Culturally relevant teaching attempts to present lessons in ways that better resonate with students of color. It was developed with the recognition that the teaching force in public schools is predominantly white while the majority of students are from other groups. In Florida, 57% of public school students are Black or Hispanic.

Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, said Floridians should recognize that the state’s efforts to remove such concepts from schools is “messing with kids.”

“Kids learn best when they feel safe, when they feel secure, when they have a connection to their teacher,” Spar said. “When you hear the governor talking about how we shouldn’t do [social-emotional learning] or culturally responsive teaching, what we’re saying is, we shouldn’t teach kids the way they learn.”

While many of the state’s survey questions relate to approaches that DeSantis and others have reviled, others focus on models that they have applauded. For instance, the survey asks about the use of the “whole child approach,” which has been embraced by classical education schools such as those supported by Hillsdale College in Michigan.

Browning expected the survey would be a precursor to legislation. “Isn’t everything?” he said.

Read more at:

Mercedes Schneider writes here about Governor Ron DeSantis’s shameless moves to wipe out courses in K-12 and in higher education that he does not like. He is leading an audacious attack on academic freedom that has not been seen in this country since the early 1950s during the Joe McCarthy era. Then the enemy was Communism, now it is fear of those who want to investigate the roots and practices of social and political injustice.

Such people, to DeSantis, are enemies of the social order. They are WOKE, awake to inequity; they make students want to change the status quo. They cannot be tolerated. Their ideas must be eliminated. DeSantis is leading this purge, he says, to protect “freedom.” The language is Orwellian. He means to stamp out the freedom to teach and learn while boasting of his love of freedom.

In addition, he wants to transfer the power to hire new faculty from the faculty to college presidents, whom he appoints. The entire state university would become subservient to his authoritarian impulses.

Schneider describes what is happening, mostly under the radar, as DeSantis wages war on freedom of inquiry:

The current ultra-conservative education platform seeks to stifle all formal or informal discussion of diversity, equity, or inclusion in public K12 and postsecondary education, with Florida apparently leading such efforts.

Though as of yet not a formally-declared 2024 candidate, Florida governor, Ron DeSantis is in the GOP polls as an assumed and formidible GOP presidential primary candidate.

DeSantis, and the Florida legislature are working hard to exercise power over what courses or majors could exist in Florida universities, with legislative efforts to kill womens and gender studies and, as the Insider notes, “gut” a variety of majors. Meanwhile, the February 24, 2023, Tampa Bay Times reports that the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) “told school districts to produce detailed information about the programs and materials they use to address some of the state’s most hotly debated subjects.” Continuing:

In an email delivered late Tuesday, the department instructed superintendents to fill out a 34-question survey identifying titles of books and programs they have relating to sex education, social-emotional learning, culturally relevant teaching and diversity, and equity and inclusion, among other topics. It asked for specifics for student courses and employee training.

The department requested names and examples from district and charter schools.

FDOE wants the information by Monday, February 27, 2023, though it did not offer any reason.

The FDOE request came on the same day that Florida HB 999 was filed by Alex Andrade (R-Pensacola). The bill would remove faculty input from the hiring process; prohibit hiring based on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); remove majors and minors related to Critical Race Theory, gender studies or intersectionailty.

This rewrite of the previous bill seeks to remove any mention of “politics,” including striking through statements such as, “Motivate students throughout the Florida State University to become aware of the significance of government and civic engagement at all levels and politics in general”; “Provide students with an opportunity to be politically active and civically engaged”, and “Nurture a greater awareness of and passion for public service and politics.”

DeSantis does not want to encourage students to become engaged in civic action. He wants to nurture complacence and passivity “in this best of all possible worlds.

Please open her post to read the gory details of this audacious attempt to put the governor of the state in charge of whatever is taught in his state.

What DeSantis is doing is not conservative. It is radical. It is authoritarian. He shows no respect for critical thinking or debate. He is unwilling to allow students to learn anything he does not like. His desire for control of what can be taught or learned is dangerous to democracy. He is attempting to establish a dictatorship and has a super-majority of both houses in the legislature who will give him whatever he wants.

Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick want vouchers in Texas, just like other red states. So they swallow a bunch of myths about the benefits of choice. They want a subsidy of $10,000 for every child who wants to attend a private or religious school, and they ignore research that tells them their assumptions about vouchers are wrong. For one thing, if every one of the 300,000 plus students asked for a voucher, it would immediately cost the state $3 billion! But they are indifferent to actual evidence. Is it wishful thinking or the desire to please their hard-right funders that drives them to overlook the needs of the more than 5 million students in public schools?

The editorial board of the Houston Chronicle, one of the state’s largest newspapers, dissected the shabbiness of their claims:

Here are the best arguments for vouchers — and why they’re wrong.  

Claim: Vouchers increase choice.

Who could be against choice? Not us. We’re just against a lack of accountability.

Texas is already awash in choice.

Take Houston ISD, with its mix of magnet schools, charter schools and traditional public schools. Texas also allows districts to participate in interdistrict open enrollment. And even if the districts don’t participate, students in certain low-performing schoolscan still request a transfer to another school in their district or even in another district.

If lawmakers want more choice, the state should be looking for ways to double down on what’s already working —and in some people’s eyes, that includes charters. Research is mixed there, too, on whether charter schools really perform any better than traditional public schools but at least there’s a thin layer of oversight. Over private schools, there could be none.

Claim: Vouchers increase choice for all students.

As more states adopt large-scale voucher systems, a clearer picture of who tends to benefit first is emerging: families already enrolled in private schools. “The only people it’s going to help are the kids who don’t need the help,” was how one rural Republican representative put it in November.

In Arizona, 80 percent of recipients were already enrolled in private schools. And when private school tuition at the top schools is tens of thousands of dollars, the benefit of a $10,000 subsidy might close the gap for a middle-income family, but is decidedly less able to do so for a low-income one. Those top tier private schools aren’t, by and large, the ones suddenly within reach. And they’re still able to reject students.

So what does that leave?

“The typical voucher school is what I call a sub-prime provider,” Joshua Cowen, a policy analyst and professor of education policy at Michigan State University, said. “They often pop up once a state passes a voucher program.”

Claim: Vouchers improve outcomes.

In the early days of smaller, more targeted voucher programs, the research seemed promising. But that promise has largely evaporated as programs have scaled up.

“I’ve been in both eras of this work,” Cowen explained. The early studies “are still the best evidence we have that vouchers work and they are 20 years old.” Instead he said more recent studies of Louisiana, Ohio and other large-scale voucher programs have shown “catastrophic, devastating outcomes” in student test scores, on par with the disruption caused by disasters including Hurricane Katrina.

Why? In part, lack of accountability.

“They don’t have to take STAAR, they don’t have to fall under A-F, they don’t have to accept all kids with a voucher,” said Bob Popinski, the senior director of policy at Raise Your Hand Texas, a public policy nonprofit that advocates for public education.

There are some programs that have added accountability guardrails with some positive effect, but without knowing what might take shape in Texas, a state that already struggles to regulate the proliferation of choice that exists today, we’re not hopeful.

Claim: Vouchers fight indoctrination.

In Texas, this latest fight for “school choice” has been tied just as often to supposed fights over curriculum and library books as it has been to improving learning.

It’s a dubious argument, alleging that public schools are indoctrinating children with what Abbott called “woke agendas.” Meanwhile, private schools that actually do follow a particular dogma of one stripe or another would actually stand to benefit the most through expanded voucher programs that suddenly mean public dollars can, in fact, support private religious schools free to teach whatever they believe.

That fight has been funded by conservative groups with deep pockets and focuses on buzz words and book titles – things that most parents aren’t really concerned about.

Literacy. Math. Bullying. Responsiveness.

Those are the issues that Colleen Dippel, director of Families Powered, hears most often from the parents who rely on her service to help navigate the many school choices currently available. Her organization supports more choice, including in the form of an effective voucher program, but she stressed that she’s equally likely to steer a parent to a public school as she is a charter or private school.

“It’s not the job of the parents to fix the schools,” she said of helping parents find the best fit for their child. “We have to start listening to them.” We agree but we believe the solutions should and can happen within our public schools.

Claim: We can fund both vouchers and public schools.

“We can support school choice and, at the same time, create the best public education system in America,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wrote in support of vouchers back in 2022 when he was gearing up for this legislative session. “These issues are not in conflict with each other.”

In the State of the State, Abbott promised that public schools will remain fully funded if the state expanded its limited education savings accounts available to families with students with special education needs.

These statements are laugh-to-keep-from-crying wrong.

Despite Abbott’s repeated “all-time high” claims about school funding, Texas already fails to support schools adequately now, falling well below the national average in per pupil spending. Other states, meanwhile, are already showing just how costly voucher schemes are and how they can further drain public education in the long-term.

At first, school district funding looks stable, maybe even stronger thanks to occasional sweeteners such as a boost in the basic allotment or a one-time teacher pay increase, according to Cowen.

“Those are all short-term ways to make it harder to vote against,” he said. “But you can’t sustain that in the long-run.”

Within two or three budget cycles, he said, the state can’t keep up funding two parallel education systems. And eventually the state aid to school districts takes a hit. That’s what public school districts say happened in Ohio in a lawsuit that claims the state’s voucher system has siphoned “hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds into private (and mostly religious) institutions.”

Here in Texas, one-ranking official even confirmed as much in a secretly recorded conversation in which he said that public schools could lose out on funding if a student opted for a voucher: “maybe that’s one less fourth grade teacher,” the official explained.

In short: vouchers don’t make sense, or cents, for Texas. Lawmakers should reject them. Again.