Senate Committee Substitute for HB 100

May 22, 2023  

Raise Your Hand Texas submitted the following written testimony in response to the Texas Senate Committee on Education Hearing on May 22, 2023, regarding CSHB 100. Raise Your Hand Texas will continue to keep the public informed through written and invited/public testimony on the issues related to public education in Texas.

Written Testimony by Dr. Michelle Smith

Executive Director

Raise Your Hand Texas

Before the Texas Senate Committee on Education  

The Honorable Brandon Creighton, Chair

May 22, 2023

Key Points

  • Raise Your Hand Texas opposes any form of school voucher, including the provision in Senate CSHB 100 that creates an Education Savings Account. 
  • The Senate CSHB 100 clearly acknowledges that private schools and vendors will not be required to comply with federal and state protections for students with disabilities, protections public schools are required to offer.  
  • CSHB 100 also falls short of funding our public schools for the next two years. RYHT recommends increasing the Basic Allotment to keep pace with inflation, which would amount to an additional $1,000 added to the current $6,160 Basic Allotment, not the $50 included in the CSHB 100.  
  • RYHT also supports creating an automatic annual inflationary adjustment tied to the Basic Allotment using the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is not included in CSHB 100. 

Position:  Oppose, Written

As Texas school districts face record inflation and an ongoing teacher shortage, the Texas Legislature should not invest its time and resources in programs that fail to support all of our 5.4 million public school students. This includes all forms of voucher programs, including the provision in the Senate  Committee Substitute for HB 100 by Senator Creighton which creates an Education Savings Account. 

Under this proposed voucher program, each eligible student would receive $8,000 annually for private school tuition, instructional materials, or educational therapies. The acknowledgment that voucher programs, like the one being proposed, harm our public schools needs to be underscored and discussed at great length. Private schools and vendors will not be required to comply with federal and state protections for students with disabilities, protections public schools are required to offer. The bill explicitly requires parents to be notified of this fact, forfeiting any protections they would maintain for their child’s education as outlined by IDEA if they were to remain in a public school.

In addition, the voucher program being considered will not only financially harm all of our public schools by diverting billions of state dollars away from our students and teachers over time, it won’t improve academic outcomes either for our students. Recent research on our country’s longest and largest voucher programs shows that these programs do not improve student test scores or academic achievement over time, such as positively impacting college enrollment or completion rates for disadvantaged students. Texas should not divert public funds to private vendors that are unaccountable and not required to serve all of our students properly. 

The Senate CSHB 100 clearly states private schools and vendors do not have to provide the same education as public schools. Under provisions of this bill, a certified educational assistance organization shall post on the organization’s internet website, and provide each parent who submits an application for the program, a notice stating private schools are not subject to federal and state laws regarding the provision of educational services to a child with a disability in the same manner as a public school.  

For decades, Texas has been a leader in holding public schools accountable. Parents and other stakeholders deserve consistent and comparable information about school performance. Voucher proposals have not required private schools to serve all students and meet the same accountability standards as public schools.

Raise Your Hand Texas believes state dollars should remain in our public schools. Only public schools serve all students and are required to meet federal standards for those with disabilities or limited English proficiency. Our public schools are equitably funded and held accountable for measurable student results. That is the system that best serves all Texas families and taxpayers.

Tags: education savings accounts HB 100 policy school funding vouchers

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