Education

With a public school enrollment of more than 5 million, Texas has an increasingly diverse public education system. Unfortunately, that public education system is also the target of politicians seeking to privatize our neighborhood public schools and push a culture-war agenda in the classroom.

To that end, the Texas Freedom Network – while continuing to fight private school voucher legislation at the Capitol – has conducted groundbreaking research into what is being taught in classrooms on subjects like sex education and religion.

Resources

Broken Promises: Charter Schools in Texas (2000 report)

Broken Promises II (2001 report)

 

The State Board of Education: Dragging Texas Schools into the Culture Wars (2008 report)

 

Just Say Don’t Know: Sex Education in Texas Public Schools (2009 report)

Sex Education in Public Schools: Progress in the Lone Star State (2011 report)

Reading Writing & Religion: Teaching the Bible in Texas Public Schools (2006 report)

Reading, Writing & Religion II (2013 report)

Can This Class Be Saved? The ‘Hobby Lobby’ Public School Bible Curriculum (2014 report)

 

As the Senate Education Committee hears testimony on three reckless private school voucher bills, we just sent out the following press release:

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller today called proposed bills under consideration in the Senate Education Committee today reckless and even cynical schemes to shift funding from neighborhood public schools to private and religious schools.

“We’ve seen lawmakers set up our neighborhood public schools to fail by cutting billions of dollars in their funding and then insisting that they do more with less,” Miller said. “Now some of the same lawmakers are pushing voucher schemes that would ultimately take away billions more to subsidize private and religious schools that aren’t even accountable to taxpayers. Enough is enough. They have to stop insisting that taxpayers essentially fund two separate school systems instead of focusing on paying for the public schools that educate the vast majority of Texas children.”

The Senate Education Committee is hearing public testimony today on three private school voucher bills, SB 4, SB 276 and SB 642. A fiscal analysis from the Coalition for Public Schools, of which the Texas Freedom Network is a member, shows that the… Read More

Powerful interests pushing private school voucher schemes in Texas are launching today what might be their strongest attack on neighborhood public schools in years. The Senate Education Committee is hearing public testimony on three proposed voucher bills — each one of which could end up draining billions of dollars from public education to subsidize tuition at private and religious schools.

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller will testify at the hearing and remind senators that their responsibility under the Texas Constitution is to fund public schools, not private and religious schools. Yet the Legislature cut $5.4 billion from public education just four years ago and has yet to restore all of that funding.

Each of the bills under consideration today creates a different voucher scheme but does essentially the same thing: drain tax dollars from funding for neighborhood public schools so that the state can subsidize — directly or indirectly — private and religious schools.

SB 4 by state Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, and SB 642 by state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, would give tax breaks to corporations that donate to organizations providing “tuition grants” or “scholarships” at private and religious schools. Every dollar that funds these corporate tax loopholes would be unavailable for… Read More

On Wednesday anti-public education politicians rallied behind a proposed new voucher scheme to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars each year from neighborhood public schools to private and religious schools in Texas. Those funding transfers would come on top of billions in funding cuts to public schools passed by the Legislature in 2011 — cuts lawmakers still haven’t fully restored.

State Sen. Donna Campbell, R-San Antonio, has filed Senate Bill 276, which would create so-called “taxpayer savings grants” that subsidize tuition at private and religious schools. The funds behind those subsidies would be taken from public schools — the so-called “savings” to taxpayers. Her legislation is backed by Dan Patrick, the incoming Republican lieutenant governor.

The Coalition for Public Schools, of which the Texas Freedom Network is a member, sent out the following press release on Wednesday:

A proposed new private school voucher scheme, a so-called “taxpayer savings grant,” represents a massive tax-giveaway that would drain hundreds of millions of dollars each year from neighborhood public schools to subsidize tuition at private and religious schools, mostly benefiting wealthy families.

Charles Luke, coordinator for the Coalition for Public Schools, notes several major flaws to Sen. Donna Campbell’s voucher scheme, Senate Bill 276.

“Senator Campbell’s proposal would pose yet… Read More

It’s time for the Texas Freedom Network’s review of the nonsense we heard from the far right this year. We’ll take up a different subject each day. Today: The right’s war on science — especially on climate science and the teaching of evolution — roared onward in 2014.  Click here to read quotes from the right in previous years. Let’s get started:

“When it comes to creationism, not only should it be taught, it should be triumphed. It should be heralded.”

— State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, expressing his support for teaching creationism in the state’s public schools during a debate with his Republican opponents in the race for Texas lieutenant governor. His GOP opponents also said they supported teaching creationism in public schools. Patrick won the election and will take office as lieutenant governor in January.

“I was not following this issue previously until a mom down in Corpus Christi showed me a a lesson plan that said ‘Fossil fuels are bad because …’ and then you filled in the blank. And the child filled in ‘because they pollute and are not renewable’ and that was the right answer! And as I delved… Read More

Members of the Texas State Board of Education aren’t the only politicians pushing the national campaign to turn public schools into tools for indoctrinating students with right-wing ideology. A columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel looks at how that campaign is unfolding in other states.

In Florida, for example, lawmakers are pushing a bill that would require high school students to watch a film about America written by and starring conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza. D’Souza is the author of numerous diatribes — in columns, books and film — that essentially describe President Obama as a Marxist out to destroy America.

Even fellow conservatives have labeled these claims by D’Souza as ridiculous. But now some Florida lawmakers want to force students in their state to watch a film from the same incendiary propagandist. (D’Souza, by the way, is also a law-breaker. He was fined and sentenced to eight months in a community confinement center last September after admitting that he deliberately violated U.S. campaign finance law.)

The Sun-Sentinel columnist, Rhonda Swan, explains how those Florida lawmakers are tied to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). That right-wing group has in other states been pushing similar legislation that would require students to learn a sanitized and distorted version of American history. Here’s how… Read More

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