If Sen. Dan Patrick wasn’t already the target of the left in Texas, his advocacy for allowing parents and students to have more choices in public education will certainly put him in the crosshairs. Thankfully, he has Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on his side but this will still be a hard battle to win. Hopefully, facts will win the day and the ultimate fate of school choice will not hinge on emotions. In that light, here are a couple of resources from pro-school-choice groups.
The first is a policy paper from the Orthodox Union, an educational, outreach and social service organization which serves the North American Jewish community. This is the group that sponsored the Rally for Tuition Affordability that Sen. Dan Patrick spoke at last week. They passed out copies of their Orthodox Union Position Paper on Government Aid to Jewish Day Schools, which includes a short section on why they support choice, a discussion of the constitutionality of school choice, and a few specific policies that they support. A quick outline of the paper:
- Reasons to support:
- Economic fairness
- Benefits the educational system by adding competition
- Social justice
- Tax incentives and constitutional issues
- Specific Policies Supported
- Security Grants
- Reimbursement for Government-imposed mandates
- Special education services
- In-Kind support (healthcare, textbooks, technology)
- Free transportation for all students
- Energy efficiency rebates and grants
- Tuition Tax Credits
- Tax credits for donations to scholarship organizations
- Education vouchers
The paper is an excellent way to become quickly informed on the overall issue of school choice, or as they term it, tuition affordability. Click on the link above or click here to read it.
The Orthodox Union has also dedicated a portion of their website to Tuition Affordability – it also has a section specific to Texas. One of the more interesting things to me is that these programs are already in effect in several other states, including Floriday, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.
Another resource comes from the Texas Catholic Conference. As I noted in my coverage of the Rally for Tuition Affordability, Sen. Dan Patrick didn’t commit to a single type of funding but there was much talk about tax credits. The TCC has created a handout discussing tax credits. I received the handout from Maria Huemmer, Communication Director for the Texas Catholic Conference, who says:
We are particularly concerned with working-class families who may have limited options in choosing an educational setting for their children. Through the Corporate Tax Credit program, businesses have incentive to donate to scholarship-granting organizations which can offer these scholarships to families that have demonstrated financial and academic need. Participating families are able to apply the scholarship to a private school or another public school. While the program reduces the amount of tax revenues received by the state, it produces a net fiscal benefit because education spending for students receiving scholarships is reduced by more than the amount of revenue lost. In addition, local property tax funding for school districts is maintained while student population is decreased, allowing local districts to increase per pupil spending.
Here is the handout (click here to download):
I hope that these resources help to open a constructive dialogue on the issue. As I said earlier, this will be a battle but it can be won. Let’s not turn this into a partisan battle though – let’s unite with like minded groups from both sides of the aisle that want to see the overall educational system in Texas improve. By putting forth the ideas behind the documents listed above, and being passionate about the need to give inner city children a chance, I’m confident that we can help Sen. Dan Patrick get this passed through the legislature.