Photos and video footage from press conference and petition drop available here
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 19, 2023
CONTACT: Emily Witt (she/hers), [email protected]
AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas Freedom Network, partners, and public education allies yesterday hosted a press conference ahead of dropping a petition with over 2700 Texans’ signatures urging members of the Texas Legislature to oppose all renewed voucher bills.
The petition is in response to the Texas Senate’s advancement of Senate Bill 1 on October 12.
Speakers included representatives from Texas Freedom Network, Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA), Mothers Against Greg Abbott and Mothers for Democracy, Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA), Equality Texas, and Students Engaged in Advancing Texas (SEAT).
“Voucher schemes like SB1 pose a risk not just to our educational standards, but to the principles of inclusivity and fairness that we hold dear,” said Texas Freedom Network Senior Political Coordinator Rocío Fierro-Pérez (she/her/ella), “They threaten to create educational deserts in rural communities, and deepen the chasms of inequality in access to education. We call on our representatives to join us in fortifying our public schools, in championing the dreams of every child, and in safeguarding the promise of Texas — a promise of equality, opportunity, and freedom.”
“We cannot afford to send a child to a school where they will be taught to hate who they are,” said CEO of Equality Texas Ricardo Martinez (he/him/his), “We cannot afford to send our tax dollars to schools that would reject a student because of their parents. We cannot afford to snuff out the ambitions and dreams of young queer kids by rerouting funds to schools where they’re not safe. Public funds should serve the public good. It’s as simple as that.”
“Governor Abbott doesn’t listen to educators, he listens to wealthy political contributors who want taxpayer-funded vouchers to benefit a limited number of families and enrich private school owners,” said Texas State Teachers Association President Ovidia Molina (she/her/ella), “Instead of being a leader for public education, as the Texas Constitution requires, the governor is a puppet for school privatization. We urge our representatives to keep listening to educators, not the governor, and keep putting their principles over politics to kill this latest voucher bill.”
“Texas students don’t need an expensive voucher program that only benefits the wealthy — we need a rising tide that lifts all boats,” said Intercultural Development Research Association Deputy Director of Policy Chloe Sikes (she/her/hers), “Today’s petition asks legislators to seriously invest in public schools, address our teacher shortage, and support all students’ rights to get the education they deserve.”
“Right now, we need to be investing in students at our public schools, ensuring that each and every school is well-resourced and able to serve Texas kids,” said Students Engaged in Advancing Texas Organizer Soha Jashwant (she/her/hers), “However, vouchers create a scenario where our most vulnerable students, already grappling with the challenge of growing up in such trying times, are further alienated and deprived of the support they direly need. I call upon all of you to prove your compassion and duty by joining hands with us and fighting for a public education system that protects, nourishes, and uplifts our youth.”
Petition Drop Supporting Organizations:
Texas Freedom Network
Asian Texans for Justice
Children’s Defense Fund
Clean Elections Texas
Deeds Not Words
Human Rights Campaign
Keshet – For LGBTQ Equality
Students Engaged in Advancing Texas (SEAT)
Texas For All
Texas State Teachers Association
Texas Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry