A bill being introduced to the Texas Senate Committee on Education seeks to gut the funding of the state's public schools by creating private voucher schemes. The committee is seeking public comments. Let's make sure our voice of reason is heard!
Senate Bill 3 would use taxpayer money to provide funding to private religious schools by implementing so-called "education savings accounts" that allow parents to use public money on private school tuition and other expenses. The bill explicitly allows for funding religion, saying that the "religious nature of a product or service may not be considered in determining whether a payment for the product or service" is allowed.
SB 3 would also create a voucher scholarship program, which allows businesses to contribute to private tuition organizations in lieu of paying insurance premium taxes. This scheme is similar to programs in other states that have been used to work around state constitutional language that prohibits government money going to religious schools.
Tell State Senate Committee members to support secular public education by opposing SB 3!
We encourage you to add your own thoughts to personalize the message. This will make your message more effective in swaying your legislator.
Please also testify at the hearing for the bill if you are able to. It starts at 9 a.m., Tuesday March 21, in room E1.028 of the Capitol extension, Austin.
(Keep reading if you wish to learn more about Senate Bill 3.)
SB 3 is a backdoor means of funneling taxpayer money to religious schools by creating two voucher schemes by pushing education savings accounts (ESAs) and tax credit scholarships to subsidize private school tuition and additional education expenses.
SB 3 establishes that kindergarten and first grade students attending private schools may receive voucher money. The bill's proposal to establish ESAs would give Texas parents public money to spend on private school tuition and education-related expenses.
This is an attempt to subsidize private schools, regardless of wealth and regardless of whether a student previously attended a public school. Voucher programs like SB 3 would lack public accountability. While taxpayers cut the checks to fund "education savings accounts," they have no say in what they are paying for and, in this case, what religious proselytization their money might be used to instill. Where public money goes, public accountability should follow.
If the bill passes, Catholic and existing church-run schools will see a windfall. SB 3 will benefit religious denominations that have the most private school infrastructure in place. Using public money to fund religious education endangers both our public schools system as well as our secular republic. Gov. Greg Abbott has said that he looks forward to signing the bill if it lands on his desk.