Who really benefits from Vouchers in Texas?

I would like to offer a different perspective on Lt. Governor Dewhurst and Senator Patrick’s announcements made in Wednesday’s press conference. The expressed goal of Senator Patrick is to rescue public school students that are being subjected to a level of educational abuse that is unacceptable. He stated in Wednesday’s press conference, “students in poverty in low-performing schools have the same right as any other Texas family”.  It is a good statement that no one could or should have a problem with.  There are questions that need to be asked.


  • What is happening at the schools these students of poverty are going to attend that is different than where they are coming from? Answer – The private schools that will accept “some” of these students are not held to the same standard of accountability as Texas Public Schools for curriculum, graduation requirements and/or mandated assessments.
  • If this is such a better method of providing an education, why are the Public Schools held to a set of inhibiting requirements? If the state’s system is the best method of measuring success in education, it stands to reason that every student in the state of Texas should be held to that standard to insure the best educated workforce for our economy. Answer – This campaign is not about what is best for all students in the state. It is about tax savings for entities that support the Senator and an agenda to move state tax dollars into private school systems and the families that already have students enrolled.
  • Will all low economic disadvantaged students have an opportunity to benefit from this system? Answer – No! The students that are most effected by poverty will not be able to pay the difference between the voucher and tuition. Students in rural areas will not have a non-public school to exercise the “choice” that will be offered to some. Students with disabilities, both physical and instructional, will be left out of this system because the private school has the right to choose whom they will accept. So the plan promoted by Senator Patrick and Lt. Governor Dewhurst will most benefit those students already enrolled in private schools and a very select few others that may be accepted through the selection process. This is not a plan for Texas; this is a plan for loyal donors to the party!
  • What is a low-performing school? For most people, the term brings visions of chaos in the classroom, no instructions for any students, no discipline in place, or in other words, a complete failure to provide an education to students. Answer – A school campus or district will be labeled AU if any sub-population of students by race, language or economic status numbers more that 30 students and fails to meet the minimum standard on the current state approved assessment instrument (TAKS for now, STAAR on the way). So, “low performing” is an indication that as few as 30 students did not do well on a one shot, multiple choice, bubble sheet exam that has no relevance to what the majority of experts in education are promoting as 21st century learning.


The Senate Leadership team also promoted the funding of “scholarships” with funds created by private business in an effort to justify a hands-off approach to the state accountability requirements placed on Public Schools. The fact that this private business fund will come with a 25% tax break, in their minds, does not equate to the use of taxpayer funds for private school finance! Then we are told, as superintendents, we should “go the extra mile with the tax-credit plan” because it does not take money away from the public schools. REALLY! The last time I checked (I check daily), the only way White Oak ISD receives an increase in funds is through an increase in enrollment. In my mind, a decrease in enrollment will equate to a decrease in funds at the local level. A decrease in tax dollars paid by businesses in the state will most certainly equate to further cuts to all programs funded by the state.

The Texas Legislature does not have a constitutional responsibility to grow the private school industry and promote the success of private sector educational enterprises. The Texas Legislature is expected and required to abide by the Constitution of the State of Texas Article 7 Section 1 that states; SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE OF SYSTEM OF PUBLIC FREE SCHOOLS. 

A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.
The faculty, staff and administrators that make up the approximately 600,000 employees of the Texas Public System are not opposed to scrutiny, accountability and/or competition with any other educational entity. We are opposed to being held to a completely different standard and then being labeled as “failing” in an arbitrary and unjust manner. Every challenge that has been placed before us has been successfully completed and that will continue to be the case. What I ask of my representatives is simple, seek the will of the people in House District 7 and Senate District 1 and represent those interests with a passion! Your constituents believe in their local public school system and have said so over and over again.  They have passed referendums against high stakes testing, passed Tax Rate Elections to increase local funds and approved bond referendums to provide improved learning environments for students and staff. The Public Schools of the State of Texas are not only successful, but they are leading the way in finding ways to provide a 21st century educational experience for their students. Many times, this is taking place in spite of our legislators instead of with legislative support. I want to extend my thanks to Representative David Simpson and Senator Kevin Eltife for their loyal and vocal support of the Texas Public Schools. It is my hope that many more will follow their leadership.




Texas High Performance School Consortium

Texas High Performance School Consortium Update

All hands were on deck for the third meeting of the consortium on November 27th.  100 team members from the 23 consortium schools looked at the issues involved with crating new learning standards, assessments and an accountability system. We are constantly aware that this process and the work being done is, at first, for the students of the 23 districts and ultimately, for all the students in the state of Texas. It is not a responsibility that any of the members take lightly.

We worked in teams for the better part of the day identifying the problems that will need to be solved in this process. Six categories were used to break the problem into workable units.

  • High Priority Learning Standards and Digital Learning Environment
  • Assessment and Accountability
  • Waivers
  •  Communications
  • Transition
  • Evaluation

Each working groups looked at the topic from the standpoint of how it will be created, implemented and explained to districts stakeholders. There were discussions about the resources needed to create a viable product that meets the needs of our students in an ever-changing work and higher education environment.  The bulk of the conversation was dedicated to the identification of problems and obstacles that will need to be solved during the research and development of the new system.  As a result, we have a much clearer understanding of just how big the elephant is that we are gong to have to eat one bite at a time!!

This was the most productive day, in my opinion, that the consortium has been involved in to this point. The conversations of the day, the “to do list” created, the framing of many of the issues and the growing consensus of the group with regard to the big picture, altogether made me feel like we put a dent in the body of work.

All of the information from this meeting and the work done by the original New Visioning Group was used to create the first document presented to Commissioner Williams last week. That document is our “table of contents” as we move forward with the development of our next generation system.

A critical issue at this point is getting the necessary waivers that will allow members districts the latitude to be creative in this process.  SB 1557 tasks the consortium schools with creating something new. This cannot be done inside the existing accountability and assessment system. It is my hope that the next post you read will be the announcement of Commissioner Williams support for the consortium and the granting of waivers needed to move forward. Please continue to speak to your representatives about the need for a new system and put in a request for support of the Texas High Performance School Consortium – Leading the way to a 21st Century Education!