Texas legislators in 2007 and 2009 delivered huge defeats to backers of voucher schemes that would drain hundreds of millions of dollars from neighborhood public schools to subsidize tuition at private and religious schools. Those defeats came after the state’s voters punished pro-voucher legislators at the polls in 2006. Now Mitt Romney, the likely Republican nominee for president this year, is trying to revive those efforts to defund public education.
Today the former Massachusetts governor promoted a federal voucher scheme. From Talking Points Memo:
Romney’s plan would not entail any increased federal spending on education, his advisers confirmed to reporters beforehand. It would instead allow individual parents to use existing federal money to send children in public schools to private and charter schools.
Texas and other states across the country have already made deep cuts to funding for public education, leading to massive teacher layoffs and classrooms that are increasingly crowded. Now Romney wants to divert even more funding to private and religious schools that aren’t accountable to taxpayers and don’t have to meet the same standards as public schools.
Texans said “no” in 2006. Utah voters overwhelmingly rejected a voucher program the next year. According to the National School Boards Association, the 2007 Utah vote “marked the 11th time in 11 referenda that a state’s voters have rejected a specific voucher or tuition tax credit program or proposal.”
The message is pretty clear: voters want elected officials to focus on funding public schools that educate the vast majority of our children instead of using our tax dollars to subsidize private and religious schools.
Maybe that message needs to be louder.