Public education needs support, not diversion

Voucher debate in capitol shouldn't harken back to 'inherently unequal' system

There was some spirited debate at the recent Gillespie County Farm Bureau annual membership meeting about the role of public education and the support of it.

One item for consideration for the county group to take to its state leaders, who then would advocate in the legislature, was the opposition to a school voucher system. The vouchers, the proposed resolution stated, would divert tax dollars to support private education. Some spoke in favor of it, yet more got up to say that public education needs the competition. A few even said Christian teachings need to be stressed.

We respect those ideas and recognize that some parents prefer to educate their children in an environment that includes religious training.

But this trail of using public dollars to support private schools is fraught with holes and will bring up infinite challenges against the “equal under the law.”

That was first recognized by Brown vs. the Board of Education (1954) which ruled unconstitutional the separate education facilities for black and white children. “Separate education facilities are inherently unequal,” the Supreme Court stated in that case.

Here in rural Texas, our schools are the pride — and the significant lifeblood — of our communities. We know they are never perfect, but to allow money to be diverted to educational systems that do not conform to the same requirements as our public schools is flat wrong.

There is a misperception that supporting public education somehow isn’t “conservative.” Yet, the conservative Texas Constitution framers built public education support into the state’s founding documents, requiring “suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.”

 

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