Saturday, May 2, 2015

How to destroy Texas’ public schools | GOPLifer

How to destroy Texas’ public schools | GOPLifer
by Chris Ladd
Texas’ legislature is poised to approve the boldest school privatization program in the country. This is what happens when you place a mildly deranged radio host in a state’s most powerful elected office.
Sending public school students to private religious schools may not seem like a ticket to a well-educated citizenry prepared for 21st century demands. That’s ok. Those are not the goals of this program. Legislators are looking for ways to save money and rescue Texas children from the godless influence of science, history, and empirical knowledge.
There’s nothing particularly revolutionary about school vouchers. Thirteen states plus DC already have programs that let students attend private institutions with public funding under some limited circumstances. What makes Texas’ proposal special is its ambitious scope and its potential to remove the last major edifice of public capital in Texas.
Texas’ privatization proposal is based on two separate bills. One bill creates a right to attend private schools funded by vouchers. The second bill creates the funding structure.
Tea Party Senator Donna Campbell is the sponsor of SB 276. That bill establishes a right for students to opt out of public schools and take with them a voucher that funds their private education. Then it starts getting weird.
Campbell’s plan will only pay 60% of what the state was spending for that student’s public education. Common sense finally triumphs here over the demands of pointy-headed accountants. Want cheaper schools? Give them less money.
Campbell’s bill also works another little bit of magic. No government money will be spent on the program. Kinda…
Her bill stipulates that “Money from the available school fund and federal funds may not be used for reimbursement under this section.” So how are these vouchers going to be funded? Students aren’t the only people who would be opting out of the public school system under this program.
Campbell’s SB 276 has a twin. Funding for this program is delivered by SB 642, sponsored by Houston’s own Senator Paul Bettencourt. His bill creates an unusual new private entity called an “Educational Assistance Organization” (EAO).
An EAO would be a private charity with a twist. Any “taxable entity” making a donation to the EAO could get a full credit for their donation against their franchise tax liability, up to 50% of their total tax liability. All funding for private school vouchers would have to come from an EAO.
Bettencourt’s bill is what makes this approach truly radical. These two bills would not merely privatize schools. They would privatize the school funding system as well, creating an entire parallel world free from the liberal horrors of a real education infrastructure. Taxpayers could simply exit the existing public school funding system in favor of their own private school funding entities which they control entirely.

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