DISD Trustees Oppose Texas Voucher Bill

An apple on books in a classroom | Image by ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Some Dallas Independent School District (DISD) trustees spoke out against a Texas voucher bill at a school board meeting last week, telling community members to reach out to their state representatives and voice opposition to school choice.

If enacted, the bill would allow taxpayer money to help parents pay for private education or homeschooling.

Senate Bill 8 includes language that empowers parents to “direct the moral and religious training of the parent’s child” and “make decisions concerning the child’s education.”

The proposed legislation further details processes whereby parents can review lesson materials and file complaints against school districts. It also reduces the amount of time spent on education involving gender or LGBTQ issues.

The bill would give students who leave a public school system and go to either a private school or homeschool $8,000 of taxpayer money via an educational savings account that can be spent on tuition and class materials, including textbooks.

Those already students enrolled in a private school would not be eligible.

In addition, school districts with fewer than 20,000 students would get $10,000 to make up for lost state funding for each student the district loses for the first two years after the student unenrolls.

Trustee Maxie Johnson said at Thursday’s meeting that he would charter a bus to go to the state capitol on April 4 to protest the bill.

Johnson claimed that most of the people supporting the bill are those who can already afford private education.

“If you can afford your kids’ education, why would you try to take money from public schools to give to private schools?” he asked during the meeting.

State Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe), who authored the bill, said Wednesday, according to AXIOS, that the educational savings account would not affect public schools.

“There’s no offense meant toward our public schools,” Creighton said, according to AXIOS. “We’re talking about our Texas parents, our moms and dads and their kids, and the expectations for them for the best education, the best life, the best opportunities they can achieve.”

In Texas, state funding of education is tied to the individual student in any given district. The taxpayer money essentially follows the student to the school system that is actually educating them.

Trustee Dustin Marshall said the bill would very likely pass in the state Senate.

“It’s going to upend the public education system in Texas,” he claimed, advising community members to contact their state senators. “It does matter.”

Trustee Camile White echoed Marshall’s comment, stating, “We need our public schools because I don’t think they have our best interests at heart here.”

The trustees’ opposition to school choice comes at a time when DISD has been struggling to provide acceptable student outcomes, despite the hard work of its dedicated teachers. Additionally, both Dallas and DISD have been steadily losing residents, even as the surrounding municipalities and their school systems are growing.

The district’s latest Texas Education Agency (TEA) accountability report found that only 41% of students in the 2021-2022 school year scored at grade level on the STAAR exam and almost 20% of the graduating Class of 2022 did not graduate in four years. This is despite DISD spending more than $16,000 per student from its swollen $2.2 billion budget that year.

Tania Hernandez, a member of the Alliance AFT teachers union, said during the public comment section of the meeting that the bill was part of a “hostile takeover by the state,” alluding to the recently announced TEA takeover of the Houston Independent School District.

A hearing was held Wednesday at the state Senate Committee of Education, where both opponents and proponents of the bill spoke out. Michael Olson, a Catholic bishop from Fort Worth, spoke in favor of the bill.

“Parental choice programs provide hope for the thousands of families who need better access to personalized educational options and are currently denied access to their tax dollars for exercising this natural right,” he said, per The Texas Tribune.

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  1. gypsy

    The crooks don’t want the parents having the choices to educate their children were they choose. The crooks don’t want a penny of their money to leave a failed public service. The facts don’t support the teachers and their unions. This madness must end now for the sake of the children. Parents know best not the crooks trying to keep the tax money for the children

    • R Reason

      If the public schools are failed they should be fixed since the right to “free public education” is LAW.

      For those who can’t handle public ed, please continue to groom your kids in private, with your private money, on your private property, with your private gate like always, without stealing public funds…crooks!

      • gypsy

        You love spending the taxpayers money and parents knows best for their children not you and the teachers and union’s who have failed the children. Taxpayers have put too much money and their children futures in the hands of crooks. So let the chips fall

  2. Daniel

    Of course the do. Search DISD salaries and see all the six figure administrators. They don’t want the gravy train to end. Meanwhile DISD schools suck

  3. Bill

    Of course they oppose it. They are absolutely terrified of the thought of parents being able to hold them accountable for their performance.

  4. Bill

    The public education system in the USA is broken. Its time to Stop throwing money at a broken system.

  5. Karen

    As a taxpayer with no children, I would like to be able to have a choice in how my tax dollars are spent. The public school system is broken. Private nonprofits can do a better job.

    • Bill

      The only problem is that there is big money in nonprofits.

      • Thomas

        There’s big money either way, Bill. As long as it’s going to be big money either way, shouldn’t parents be able to choose which way their money and their kids go?

  6. Thomas

    Trustee Maxie Johnson asks, “… why would you try to take money from public schools to give to private schools?”

    ANSWER: The district’s latest Texas Education Agency (TEA) accountability report found that only 41% of students in the 2021-2022 school year scored at grade level on the STAAR exam

    If Johnson wasn’t a product of the public indoctrination system, he’d have been able to come up with that answer on his own.

  7. gypsy

    Bad decision parents should have a choice and not be little by folks that want to control the parents I say stop the crooks now and let competition begin


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