Yesterday we talked aboutthe Virtual Voucher bill
before the Senate sponsored by Houston Sen. Kyle Janek that would allow low-income students in urban areas to leave the public school system for the private, and pay for it with state funds.
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Turns out in the wee hours of the morning today— they ended around 4:30 a.m. — the House side of the Capitol action overwhelmingly passed a bill barring the use of state money for vouchers to trot kids over to private school. It was 129-8 in a game-set-match rejection of vouchers.
This goes directly counter to the Janek bill. It arrived in the form of an amendment to the proposed state budget and was sponsored by newbie Rep. Joe Heflin, D- Crosbyton, in West Texas.
The only exception allowed in Heflin's amendment is that state money can be used for private schools and Head Start for Pre K and kindergarten. That's probably because the public school districts can't build quickly enough to meet the escalating desire for these services and there have been a lot of collaborative private/public efforts in this area.
Vouchers may not yet be dead this session — after all the House and the Senate still have to conference — but a 129-8 rejection is going to be tough to overcome. -- Margaret Downing