San Antonio Parents, Teachers Warn Legislators about Failures of Edgewood Voucher Program

San Antonio Parents, Teachers Warn Legislators about Failures of Edgewood Voucher Program

Privately Funded Program Drains Money from Public Schools, Leaves Kids Behind and Fails Families

April 28, 2005

AUSTIN Parents and teachers from the state’s only school district with a voucher program today called on legislators to reject legislation that would create publicly funded vouchers for private schools in Texas.

“These vouchers exert an enormous financial drain on our school district, a tear in the fabric of our goals to educate our children,” said Mike Espinoza, an Edgewood parent of an autistic son. Espinoza said private schools that accept vouchers could not meet the needs of his son. “I could have sent my son to a private school, but that would have caused more damage than good.”

Espinoza joined other San Antonio parents, teachers and elected officials at the Capitol to persuade legislators to vote against any voucher bill or amendment in this session. The Edgewood ISD voucher program is privately funded, mostly through a pledge of $45 million from San Antonio businessman Dr. James Leininger. Leininger has been a major contributor to the political campaigns of Gov. Perry and pro-voucher lawmakers. The Edgewood voucher program enrolled nearly 2,000 students last year and has cost the district’s public schools millions of dollars in public funding, said TFN President Kathy Miller.

“The parents and teachers here today know firsthand the problems caused by voucher programs,” Miller said. “They have seen their schools lose precious dollars even while private schools cherry-pick certain students and reject others who have applied for vouchers. At a time when legislators are struggling to fully fund our public schools, the last thing they should be doing is passing a voucher scheme that drains money from neighborhood schools to subsidize tuition at private schools.”

Edgewood ISD is a prime example of the importance of maximizing public school resources. The district’s schools have been making steady progress since the state’s share-the-wealth school finance plan passed a decade ago. In 1993, the school district had nine “low-performing” schools and none rated as “recognized” or “exemplary.” By 1997, two years after the Legislature moved to equalize school funding and one year before the privately funded CEO Horizon voucher program began, Edgewood had no “low-performing” schools and two “recognized” schools.