Senator Rodríguez’s statement on Senate Bill 3, school vouchers
Austin – Senator José Rodríguez, Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, released the following statement regarding Senate Bill 3, which redirects public school money to private schools:
Instead of fixing the state’s chronic, long-term underfunding, the Senate voted instead to squeeze the system even tighter by redirecting public money to private schools through vouchers.
Major concerns with the bill, now dubbed the “short-notice” voucher bill because of the limited time members had to review the new language before the floor debate, include:
- Students in voucher programs generally scored lower than traditional public school students on reading/math tests.
- There is no auditing requirement of private schools and other educational “vendors,” no required standardized testing or other measurement to make sure students are actually learning, and there is no penalty for misuse of public funds.
- There are significant questions about teacher quality control, about serving the needs of students in special education and English language learners, protections against discrimination, and whether private schools will “cream,” or choose only the most-high-performing students.
- Charter schools must have open-enrollment with the exception of students that have any disciplinary issues, to whom they can deny admission. Private schools have much broader discretion to deny admission.
- Schools receiving vouchers are not required to comply with state accountability evaluations, open record laws, or statewide academic standards.
Some specific District 29 numbers:
According to an analysis from the Center for Public Policy Priorities, the three largest districts lose a total of $42 million at 5 percent loss of students; about $25 million at 3 percent loss; and about $8.5 million at 1 percent loss.
Specifically, the El Paso Independent School District, with more than 60,000 students in 2014-15, two thirds of whom are economically disadvantaged, would lose $16,200,405 at 5 percent loss, $9,720,243 at 3 percent loss, and $3,240,081 at 1 percent loss. The numbers for the Ysleta ISD and Socorro ISD, respectively, are: (Ysleta) $13,537,175 at 5 percent, $8,122,305 at 3 percent, $2,707,435 at 1 percent; (Socorro) $12,435,166 at 5 percent, $7,461,100 at 3 percent, $2,487,033 at 1 percent.
El Paso Academy, a public charter school with 456 students in 2014-15, 244 of whom were economically disadvantaged, would lose $96,237 at 5 percent loss, $57,742 at 3 percent loss, and ‐$19,247 at 1 percent loss.
José Rodríguez represents Texas Senate District 29, which includes the counties of El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson, Jeff Davis, and Presidio. He represents both urban and rural constituencies, and more than 350 miles of the Texas-Mexico border. Senator Rodríguez currently serves as the Chairman of the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus, and is a member of the Senate Committees on Natural Resources and Economic Development; Transportation; Veteran Affairs and Border Security; and Agriculture, Water, and Rural Affairs (Vice Chair).