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"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

Give the Forgotten Middle Class School Choice!

By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D.  |  March 6, 2015  |   Education Views  

The wealthy are growing wealthier and the disadvantaged have free food, cell phones, rent, utilities, and cards to access cash.  The middle class is slowly sinking into a sea of oblivion.

The rich can send their children to the finest private schools and colleges. Vouchers, tax credits, and tuition scholarships are being made available to the poor, but no one seems to notice that the middle class can little afford to send their children to private schools.

Public education is such a failure that it’s the last place you want to send your child each day to be indoctrinated into a left wing radical agenda and abused for his conservative values and faith and belief in the greatness of America. 

The school choice movement is gaining momentum as it sweeps across the nation.  However, school choice must be not just for the poor or the rich, but for everybody…or those left out will block all attempts to level the playing field.  

Until just a few years ago, people could not envision anything but public and private schools.  Now there is a wide array including scholarship tax credits, individual tuition tax credits, school vouchers, charter schools, homeschooling, virtual schools, magnet schools, education savings accounts, public school choice, and course choice that are found in programs across 23 states.

An overwhelming number of Texans support school choice.  In 2014, 87 percent indicated they believe school choice will reduce poverty.

For years Texans have been lobbying for a school voucher that can be used at any school, including private and religious schools.  The politicians have ignored the voters and, instead, appeased the public school bureaucracy and their cronies by defeating school choice. 

IF Texas legislators will listen to the voters during this 84th Legislative Session, ALL students will have school choice.

Taxpayers Savings Grant Program

A bill for a statewide universal school choice program has been filed, Senate Bill 276 which is the Taxpayers Savings Grant Program.   TSGP has incredible possibilities with its win-win strategy for student achievement, reduction of crime and the cost of social crime, and unparalleled growth in the Texas economy.

The grant amount would be the lesser of 60 percent of the state average Maintenance and Operations spending per student --$5,143 -- or the private school tuition.  That would mean a savings of 40 percent or $3,429 for the state. 

The TSGP covers a wide range of school options – any Texas private school and public school open to enrollment – with the grant following the child. 

Parents are allowed to personally cover any shortfall should the cost of the private school exceed the grant amount.  The grant amount would be more than sufficient to cover the average tuition at Texas parochial elementary schools, which are favored by the Hispanic population.  Religious schools are the choice for approximately two-thirds of private elementary school students.

Every student who attended a Texas public school during the prior year, or is entering a Texas school for the first time, would be eligible for the annually renewable grant. 

Except for kindergarten students, children already enrolled in a private school would not be eligible unless they enrolled in a public school for a year and then applied for the tuition grant.

School choice has been proven to reduce school dropout, increase graduation, promote educational achievement, and enhance future earning ability by students.

When high risk students won a lottery for admission to a school of their own choice, there was a reduction in crime of 50% and these students were more likely to remain in school.

With this evidence, it is apparent that Texas must take steps to create market competition for our education monopoly.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 59 percent of students currently select the schools they attend. The remaining 41 percent are stuck in bad schools because they cannot afford to either move to a better school district or pay private school tuition.

The Texas Taxpayers Savings Grant Program can change that and provide the same freedom of school choice primarily reserved for the more affluent.

 Can private schools accommodate a large number of new students right away?

There has been concern as to whether private school capacity could grow fast enough to absorb the outflow of students from public schools.  Based on academic research it is estimated that only 6.8 percent to 7.6 percent of Texas public school students would choose private schools over public schools in the first two years, saving Texas taxpayers at least $2.18 billion to $2.3 billion.

Can enough new private schools be established to handle rapid expansion?

If you think not, then consider that it’s no different from the private sector where large build-outs occur frequently and successfully.  There are companies already in place to recruit teachers, administrators, boards of directors, select curriculum, build or renovate space, and handle the legal red tape.

What impact will TSGP have upon the Texas Economy?

Monopolies have historically stifled growth and innovation.  Competition brings out the best and so will competition in the education of our children.  Universal school choice as proposed by the TSGP would increase the Texas GDP from 17 percent to 30 percent over 25 years with an additional $260 billion to $460 billion annually for the people of Texas.

Will Texas legislators allow Texans to have school choice or will they block it again?

The future of school choice is up to our elected Texas legislators. Will they listen to Texas voters?  Do they care enough about the well-being of Texas children?  Do they care enough about the future of Texas and the Texas economy?

Copyright ©2015 Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. All rights reserved

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