Lt. Gov.’s proposal is Obamacare for Texas schools – The Galveston County Daily News: Guest Columns
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick probably has the votes to force a $3.74 billion Obamacare-like education program on Texas taxpayers unless tea party, liberal, and conservatives block his foolishness. It’s an Obamacare-like power grab from local voters that takes taxpayer money and gives it to private business with none of the accountability controls taxpayers have over elected bodies. He wants to give money to for-profit schools like the ones whose commercials now fill late night TV telling you how wonderful life will be if you only sign up.
You might think, persons who spend federal grant/loan money at these for-profit schools aren’t very bright … and that is exactly why taxpayer-funded private school options don’t work. It’s the knuckleheads that cost the most money and effort to educate. They need gifted teachers and consistency rather than jumping after flashy TV advertisements looking for easy success.
Patrick’s plan promises improvement through “fake” competition. It’s fake because none of the existing rich-kid private schools will try to enroll troublemakers. And yet those very enrollments are what separated our founding fathers’ schools from the serfs of Europe and built a unified nation by requiring all to attend and learn to be tax paying full members of society rather than users.
If you stop and think, it becomes clear school choice vouchers won’t work. Dan claims the competition will raise all schools. That’s kind of like saying we can solve obesity and poor nutrition by giving everyone a Lone Star Restaurant card to eat out. The reality is when government money is being passed out, unscrupulous schemer’s flock to it. Remember vans collecting people to be examined for electric wheelchairs? Remember a mom having her kids play dumb so she could get a bigger check? How many will be duped by school choice scammers? Who fixes it when they choose a school like Trump University? Will the moms and dads of crack babies spend your tax dollars wisely?
Finally, Dan is wrong because there is a reason we have an Army and community schools. The first protects us with force. Public schools have the mission of building communities by training children. General Washington succeeded when he had the time and money to train a unit out of separate militias. Our communities depend on public schools to teach American and Texan values. By funding any old private business or splinter group like Branch Davidians, you will be tearing at the fabric of America. Under Dan’s plan, Texas becomes the most cost effective place for ISIS to train children.
So how could we make schools better? Do what private schools advertise — small class sizes, usually around 15, and top teachers. I’m amazed that tax-cutting Republicans would consider giving tax money to people who choose private schools. New York state spent almost $20,000 per student while Texas schools spend a little over $8,000. Those numbers show Texas public schools are a bargain but have little money for excellence.
Don’t believe his “Failing Schools” lies either. People talk about the wonderful 1950s schools. If you separated 1950s-type students, children of two-parent upwardly-mobile families that stayed in the same school through graduation, and compared just their results, Texas public schools would be on top.
So Dan’s plan to send kids to private schools doesn’t make financial sense, help build a cohesive next generation or address the challenges of our current school population through better teachers and smaller classes. Like Obamacare, it fails most Texans. But Dan’s for-profit educational business owners will find a way to make obscene profits.
Editor’s note: Dunklee was expressing his own opinions and not those of any educational organization.
Rod Dunklee lives in League City.