An Education Savings Account Is a Voucher
Date Posted: 2/01/2023
During a Jan. 31 event at a private school in Corpus Christi, Gov. Greg Abbott voiced his support for an “education savings account” program, which is a euphemism for “voucher.” Such a program would take taxpayer dollars out of traditional public schools and allow individuals to spend them at private schools that lack the accountability and oversight of elected school boards.
Abbott cited the “overwhelming success” of a limited program created in 2020 for students with special needs as the basis for his support, but his press statement did not point to specific data. Abbott also called the 2020 program an “ESA,” but the Supplemental Special Education Services (SSES) program as passed by the Legislature is not viewed by ATPE and other public education advocates as an ESA. SSES was specifically designed not to replace the role of public education for a student who is receiving it. A student can only receive supplemental support in addition to and not in lieu of public education per the program.
Students with special needs are especially vulnerable without the protections afforded to them by public education. Private schools are not subject to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which requires schools to provide services necessary for a child to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Private schools that do not receive federal funding are also not covered under Section 504, which protects qualified individuals from disability-based discrimination.
Abbott also did not address the negative impact of vouchers on overall public school funding.
“Voucher programs, no matter what you call them, will harm the public schools that are the bedrock of Texas communities,” says Shannon Holmes, ATPE executive director. “Most school funding is issued on a per-pupil basis, so every student with a so-called ‘education savings account’ would negatively impact a district’s revenue for operations, facilities, etc., as those costs do not decline in proportion to the decrease in enrollment.”
For more information on the negative impact of vouchers, please read “Vouchers and the Illusion of ‘School Choice’” from the Winter 2022 issue of ATPE News.
About the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE)
Founded in 1980, ATPE is the leading educators’ association in Texas with approximately 90,000 members statewide. With its strong collaborative philosophy, ATPE speaks for classroom teachers, administrators, and future, retired, and para-educators and works to create better opportunities for Texas’ five million public school students. | atpe.org