A voucher program allowing students to use public money to attend private schools may soon come to Texas, if Gov. Rick Perry has anything to say about it.
In a speech last week to the Texas state board of education, Gov. Perry, a Republican, encouraged the board to increase the number of charter schools allowed in the state and to implement a voucher program.
“Students have different goals after graduation and not every child thrives in the same settings and schools,” he said in his speech. “Texas’ academic future must be built with the flexibility necessary to serve those different students.”
Gov. Perry mentioned the fact that Texas’ charter schools have waiting lists that include more than 100,000 students. Currently, the state caps the number of charter school licenses at 215, although multiple campuses can operate with one license, according to this Associated Press story about the speech.
Critics of voucher programs, such as Clay Robison, the spokesman for the Texas State Teachers Association warn that voucher programs like the one proposed by Gov. Perry could drain funding from public schools. Robison told the AP that legislators should focus their attention on restoring the $5.4 billion in cuts to public schools passed in 2011. The cuts are the subject of a lawsuit, which state Judge John Dietz is expected to rule on later today following closing arguments. Whatever the decision, it will likely be appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, which will have the final say.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.