Governor Abbott has made it clear that he supports a “school choice” policy and how Texas needs to “create an education savings account program.” This is about parental rights and Governor Abbott said that school choice “will give all parents the ability to choose the best education option for their children.” This freedom would be given through a school voucher.
If you’re not familiar with a school voucher, it is funded by the government through taxes and parents can use the voucher to pay private school tuition. Sounds simple right? However, there are good and bad things that can come out of this. One positive benefit I think comes from school vouchers is that it does give parents the freedom to choose the school they think is right for their child. But, this comes with a cost too. Vouchers will only cover so much of the tuition and parents would have to pay the difference. This also may not include transportation, which means parents would have to find a way to get their child to school. With parents still having to pay some money out of pocket with using a voucher, this “school choice,” may still be limited to those who can afford it, which still creates racial and financial inequities within our communities.
Some of the downsides with a school voucher, is that the vouchers will take money away from public schools, especially schools that may already be struggling. With less funding, this means less resources. This may also mean a reduction in teachers because there is not enough funding to keep them. In addition, going to a private school does not ensure that a student’s academic performance will improve just because they switch to a private school, or that they will be receiving a better education. So instead of a voucher, why not just pump more money into our public schools so that all students will have an equitable learning environment? And who will be able to qualify for these vouchers anyway? And what’s hidden agenda? Why vouchers? Why now?
I believe that kids need three things to be successful in anything they do. This includes love, support, and care. If they have those three things, they can thrive. I have seen it with my own eyes as a former K-12 teacher. To all of my parents, you can not depend on the schools to teach your kid everything. Schools can be a starting place, but when they are with you, that education has to continue after they leave the classroom. For me, its also about exposure. A textbook can only do so much. Our kids need to go to a museum, experience art, nature, and if you can, take them out of their everyday environment so they can make connections and new experiences. To me, school vouchers should not be a priority. We should focus our attention and resources on how we can improve school safety. Because at the end of the day, if parents don’t feel that their child is going to be safe at school, then none of this matters.