A special session on education, perhaps only on vouchers/school choice.
Probably late September or October. Please act now! Your representative is home, probably until the special session is called by the Governor.
- House Speaker Dade Phelan has said his position on vouchers will be decided by the will of voters in each representative’s district.
- The vote of House members is critical as it relates to whether or not a voucher system will be established.
- This past week the House Special Committee on Public Education released its recommendations, which included vouchers. Reportedly, a deal “acceptable” to many representatives originally opposed to vouchers has been reached.
- The Senate has already voted in favor of a voucher/school choice bill during the regular session and both the Governor and Lt. Governor favor such legislation.
- Visit, call, or email your representative now while they are at home in your district. Let them know your opinion on vouchers and what it will mean to the public schools in your district. The TSHA position rationale(s) are listed below.
- There is no indication if teacher pay-raises or increased monies per student will be included in any future special session.
What TSHA Priorities Are Still in Play for a Special Session?
- Teacher pay-raise legislation: TSHA attempted to specify speech-language pathologists and audiologists’ inclusion in any pay raise bill. Pay raises are not a specified topic (required) for the second special session. However, some legislators have proposed bills to include teacher pay raises in property tax legislation. Lawmakers didn’t approve extra money during the regular session this year to help schools balance their budgets or pay for raises, despite having a $32-billion surplus in revenue.
- School choice/vouchers legislation is a priority for the Governor and Lt. Governor.
- It will likely be an issue in future special sessions.
- No matter what an education voucher is called, the policy is the same. Vouchers divert public funds to private schools and vendors and continue to undermine traditional public schools and charters, teachers, and students. There is a lack of public accountability with any voucher program and with academic accountability of the schools that receive private voucher money.
- It doesn’t matter what vouchers are called. Whether it's educational savings accounts (ESAs), special education vouchers, virtual vouchers, or a “bracketed” voucher set-up to protect rural schools from the impacts of vouchers programs, the vouchers will have a long-term impact on Texas. Vouchers hurt public schools because they impact the funding traditional public schools and charter schools receive from the state.
- Special education vouchers can hurt students with disabilities by weakening rights given to them under IDEA federal regulations. When a parent enrolls their child with special needs in a private school, they waive those rights.
- Public dollars should remain in the public schools.
What Can I Do Now?
Contact your legislators (both senator and representative) and ask them to:
- Support teacher pay-raise legislation and particularly to specifically include speech-language pathologists and audiologists in any such legislation.
- Oppose voucher legislation by any name.
Support the TSHA Political Action Committee (PAC)!
- The TSHA PAC distributed more than $20,000 to legislators prior to the regular legislative session. Contributions have not kept up with the PAC needs or distributions this year. Please visit the page below to learn more about how to support the TSHA PAC.