Where do Texans stand on school vouchers?

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The School Voucher Debate in Texas

For decades, Texas has been a leader in standing up for our public schools. We know how important they are to our economy, our communities, and our future. We also have high standards of access, transparency, and accountability regarding how tax dollars are spent.

Throughout our history, Texas’ elected officials have put great care into creating a public school system that reflects these values. 

Only public schools are required to: 

  • accept and serve all students, 
  • operate transparently with locally elected school boards, 
  • hold bond elections for buildings and other expenses, 
  • administer and report results on state standardized tests, and
  • meet statewide academic performance standards. 

Parents and other stakeholders deserve clear and consistent information about school performance. Voucher proposals have not required private schools to serve all students and meet the same accountability standards as public schools.

Our state has wisely rejected vouchers to focus on other public education policy goals for decades. We must tell lawmakers now is not the time to take our attention or resources away from public education. Let’s stay the course and not let another debate over vouchers derail the progress we’ve made.

Texas House Rejects School Vouchers

In 2021, the Texas House of Representatives reiterated their opposition to vouchers, voting 115-29 to prohibit state funds from being used for a voucher.

Vote Count Dot Graphic

Vouchers on the Campaign Trail

At previous Raise Your Hand Texas For The Future candidate forums, most office-seekers, Republicans and Democrats alike, opposed vouchers. As one conservative representative put it, “Any organization or entity that receives any kind of public money…needs to be accountable for those tax dollars.”

What do Texans Say About School Choice in the Lone Star State?

Much like the leaders they elect to represent them, Texans know the value of their public schools. 

Every year the Charles Butt Foundation surveys Texans’ perceptions of their public schools. The 2022 poll found that strong majorities of public school parents say quality public schools are a factor in deciding where they live. Parents also said they feel they have a real choice of where they send their child to school. Eighty percent said they would choose to keep their child in public school over other options.

Source: 2022 Charles Butt Foundation Poll Report, random-sample survey research conducted by Langer Research Associates of New York

When asked what factors led parents to choose their public school, they said teacher quality, advanced academics, location, facilities, safety policies, graduation rates, school culture, student services, class sizes, college placement, extracurriculars, school rankings, and diversity played a part.

74 percent

Source: 2022 Charles Butt Foundation Poll Report, random-sample survey research conducted by Langer Research Associates of New York

Recent polling also shows majorities of Texans continue to oppose voucher programs that would allow parents to use tax money for private school tuition.

Source: 2021 Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation Poll Report, random-sample survey research conducted by Langer Research Associates of New York

Source: 2021 Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation Poll Report, random-sample survey research conducted by Langer Research Associates of New York

The pandemic has been difficult for all of us. And though some have tried to use it to undermine and disparage our public schools, polling shows Texans aren’t buying it. In fact, the pandemic has given most parents more appreciation for their public schools. Parents are also grading their schools higher than ever.

Blog

Why Does A State Like Texas Reject School Vouchers? We’re Smarter Than That.

Public schools are and always will be the pride of Texas. Texans trust their teachers and expect their public schools to help students succeed, power the state’s economy and build a brighter future for our state. We know money matters in public education, and state funds must remain focused on the public schools that serve all students. We know that in rural Texas, where there often aren’t any private school options, vouchers will do nothing more than hurt the public schools that do exist. We know the numerous public-school options in our suburbs and cities give parents and taxpayers the choice and accountability they deserve. 

To read more about the reasons why Texas has rejected school voucher policies, read our blog.