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Pastors for Texas Children reports on the voucher battle in Texas. Vouchers were defeated overwhelmingly in the Republican-controlled House a few weeks back, but like a zombie, they have risen from the dead at the insistence of voucher zealot Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.
Let’s hope that Speaker of the House Joe Strauss and Dan Huberty, chairman of the House Public Education Committee, both good Republicans, stand firm against public funding for private schools.
Pastors for Texas Children Statement on Senate Passage of HB 21 With Vouchers Attached
May 22, 2017
In the dead of last night, the Texas Senate, for the second time this legislative session, passed a voucher policy that transfers public tax money to private schools.
Under Speaker Joe Straus’ leadership, House Bill 21 came to the Senate with a structural reform provision for school funding calling for $1.6 billion additional dollars for our schoolchildren.
But due to the legislative bullying of their leadership, the Senate stripped that provision by almost two-thirds—and attached a voucher amendment to the bill that would divert already strapped public education funds to private schools.
The bill now returns to the House of Representatives where that voucher amendment must be removed. The House has already repudiated voucher policy by a more than 2/3 thirds vote earlier this session.
It is simply wrong to underwrite private education with public funds, even if that voucher is for children with special needs. 90% of our Texas schoolchildren are educated through the public school system supported by the public trust. Private school vouchers provide for the few at the expense of the many. They are inherently unjust.
When the voucher supports a religious school with public dollars, whether Baptist, Catholic, Muslim or Wiccan, it is a government establishment of a religious cause. In doing so, vouchers violate God’s principle of religious liberty for all people without interference from any government authority.
It is abundantly clear that the leadership of the Texas State Senate does not believe in public education for all children. For them to persist in saying so is a deception that we take no pleasure in confronting. Such hypocrisy is morally unacceptable.
Our Texas schools serve 5.3 million children, the majority of whom are poor. To transfer and redistribute wealth away from them to private schools through vouchers is offensive to God and decent people everywhere. We are grateful for a Texas House with the courage to say no to this corruption of our common good, and we pray for a Texas Senate that is willing to do the same.
Charles Foster Johnson, Pastor, Bread Fellowship of Fort Worth
Executive Director, Pastors for Texas Children
P.O. Box 471155
Fort Worth, TX 76147