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Public Education Advocates Oppose New Voucher Proposal


April 30, 2004

AUSTIN Public school supporters today called on legislators to reject a large and very costly new voucher proposal now being pushed at the Capitol by lobbyists for major voucher proponents.

The proposed program would include vouchers for a wide range of students, including children with disabilities, in 31 school districts from five large urban counties: Bexar, Dallas, Harris, Tarrant and Travis. Starting in the 2004-05 school year, this massive voucher program would drain hundreds of millions of dollars annually from already cash-strapped public schools to underwrite private school tuition.

“Vouchers drain money from public schools, a terrible idea particularly at a time when our neighborhood schools are struggling to pay for textbooks and reading programs,” said Samantha Smoot, president of the Texas Freedom Network. “This reckless proposal would threaten the fiscal stability of dozens of school districts even as legislators struggle right now for consensus on how to pay for our schools.”… Read More

Texas Freedom Network Applauds Bipartisan Efforts On School Finance FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 20, 2004

AUSTIN – The president of the Texas Freedom Network today applauded the bipartisan efforts of moderate Republican and Democratic legislators who have pledged to work together to fund public education in Texas.

Samantha Smoot, president of the Texas Freedom Network, said she was encouraged that some legislators were working to return state government to the days when our leaders worked across party lines to bring progress to Texas.

“We hope that Gov. Perry and legislative leaders will hear the call for bipartisanship — a call that puts kids over politics,” Smoot said. “School finance is not a partisan issue. Our state’s leaders should reject efforts by special interests to use school finance as a smokescreen for pushing narrow, ideological agendas like private school vouchers and gutting quality education standards for public schools.”

A February draft report from the House Select Committee on Public School Finance included proposals for vouchers and for “home rule,” which would allow cash-strapped public schools to abandon quality education standards. The March report from the Joint Select Committee on Public School Finance also included proposals for “home rule.”… Read More

Vouchers, ‘Home Rule’ Are Not The Solution To School Funding Crisis FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 13, 2004

The president of the Texas Freedom Network called today for legislators to reject radical proposals for vouchers and “home rule” during the special session on school finance set by Gov. Rick Perry to begin April 20.

“Private school vouchers take money out of public schools — exactly the opposite of what is needed when we are struggling to fund our neighborhood schools right now,” said Samantha Smoot, president of the Texas Freedom Network. “On top of that, abandoning the very quality education standards that have helped children achieve, and that were put in place by Ross Perot and George Bush, would put our children on the road to failure.”… Read More

TEA Commissioner Shirley Neeley Flip-Flops On Vouchers FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 29, 2004

AUSTIN, TX – New Texas Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley made a 180-degree turn in her position on private school vouchers within weeks of her appointment by Governor Rick Perry.

“It was a surprise and disappointment this week when Neeley expressed support for the dangerous voucher scheme proposed by Governor Perry and special interests,” said Heather Alden, spokesperson for the Texas Freedom Network. “She has been a staunch opponent of the use of public money to pay tuition at private and religious schools.”

Alden said Neeley’s flip-flop on vouchers supports what had been reported by other candidates for the commissioner position: that Governor Perry would require his appointee as Education Commissioner to publicly support his controversial proposal for private school vouchers whether or not the individual thought it was good public policy.… Read More

Mainstream Texans Gather In Dallas To Proclaim Faith And Science Not In Conflict FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 3, 2003

Dallas, Texas In the midst of growing tension over the teaching of evolution, a group of mainstream Texans gathered in Dallas today to proclaim that faith and science are not in conflict.

Faith leaders, scientists, elected officials and other concerned Texans met to discuss the relationship between religion and science and the impact politics has on that relationship.

“One of the hallmarks of fundamentalist religious movements is an extreme distrust of modern culture, including science,” said Samantha Smoot, President of the Texas Freedom Network. “In their resistance to modern culture, some communities today insist on pitting science against religion in an effort to politicize both.”

“Some radical voices still wish to drive a wedge between religion and science for theological and political reasons,” added Ryan Valentine, Coordinator of the Texas Faith Network. “Outside of fundamentalist circles, however, ‘religion and science’ has replaced ‘religion versus science.’ In our science departments and congregations, the dialogue between theology and science is very much alive, challenging and enlightening both.”… Read More

The New York Times

Breaking News: The writer and activist Larry Kramer has died at 84. His work to shock the U.S. into seeing AIDS as a public health emergency helped shift policy in the 1980s and '90s. “One of America’s most valuable troublemakers,” Susan Sontag called him.