Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott visited a private school in Corsicana in his latest attempt to push “school choice” programs. In response, Corsicana ISD said “they weren’t buying what the Governor was selling.”
Abbott, who has stated that “school choice” is one of his top priorities this year, was the special guest speaker at the Parent Empowerment Night, after previous stops in Temple and Corpus Christi.
The event took place in the only non-public school in the Corsicana area, Park Meadows Academy. While Corsicana ISD has more than 6,000 students enrolled, the private school only has 62 students.
Abbott tried to sell Corsicana on education savings accounts and other voucher proposals that would take taxpayer money and give it to individuals for private school tuition and other education expenses.
Corsicana ISD’s Board of Trustees said they “were not buying it.”
While Abbott promised parents they would have more choices regarding the education of their children. Corsicana’s board of trustees explained ESAS would actually give less power to the parents.
“ESAs give private schools the choice of whether to accept a child – not parents. Private schools are able to deny enrollment to students for many reasons, including the need for special education services, behavioral issues, or disciplinary history,” read Corsicana’s ISD statement.
In addition, private schools aren’t held accountable to parents like public schools are. Private schools don’t need to provide information on their budgets, curriculum, or instructional materials like public schools do.
Corsicana ISD then continues to discredit Abbott’s claim that “public schools will remain fully funded.”
“Make no mistake: every dollar directed towards ESAs is funding that could otherwise be used for the benefit of public school students to improve special education services, increase the pool of qualified teachers, and boost literacy programs,” said Corsicana ISD.
In the end, voucher or ESA programs always end up costing more than initially projected. In Arizona, voucher supporters said the program would cost $30 million, but the program cost jumped to $300 million shortly afterward. Idaho is also a cautionary tale for voucher supporters. A recent analysis by the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy, a nonpartisan research group, estimated enrollment among private- and home-schoolers would be 6,600 the first year, climbing to 60,000 the second year. This would have cost Idaho 408 million dollars of taxpayer money. In addition, 66,600 students leaving public schools would have cost them around 557 million – Idaho’s per pupil funding is $8,376.
Abbott’s strategy to tour rural communities in hopes of raising support for vouchers might not be having the effect he desires.
“Creating a new state entitlement for those who have chosen to not avail themselves of a constitutionally mandated system of free public schools is akin to every other “as-seen-on-TV” product: full of empty promises and always ends up costing more than advertised,” said Corsicana ISD Board of Trustees.