Texas House Votes Down Dangerous “Virtual” Schools Bill; Senate Approves Similar Measure

Texas House Votes Down Dangerous “Virtual” Schools Bill; Senate Approves Similar Measure

April 23, 2003

Austin, TX Public education narrowly avoided a major blow today when the Texas House voted not to create a “virtual” charter schools program, said the Texas Freedom Network.

“Last week, the House slashed $1.4 billion in state education funding, and yet some politicians have continued to push initiatives that would siphon billions more out of public schools,” said Samantha Smoot, Executive Director of the Texas Freedom Network.

“Last week, state leaders said we needed to tighten state purse strings and the House slashed state education spending by $1.4 billion,” said Smoot. “Why these same leaders are now pushing expensive new education programs is beyond me.”

“This ‘virtual’ schools program is a boondoggle the state is right to avoid,” said Smoot.

After lengthy debate, the Texas House voted 75-66 against House Bill 1554, which would have created an unlimited number of “virtual” charter schools with unlimited enrollment, at an unlimited cost. The state would pay for online classes, a computer, printer and internet access for each homeschooled, private school and public school student enrolled in the “virtual” school. “Virtual” schools would not be required to comply with any state or federal accountability standards.

A similar measure was approved by the Texas Senate today. Senate Bill 933 would, likewise, create an unlimited number of ‘virtual’ schools but would cap enrollment at 2,000 students.

“Not only are these bills bad for our neighborhood public schools, they simply defy reason,” said Smoot. “Instead of responsibly addressing our budget deficit and school funding needs, the politicians in charge are putting their ideological pet projects ahead of Texas students.”