After a comprehensive, scathing report detailing the implementation of Bible-as-literature courses within Texas's public school systems -- nothing like looking to Noah's sons to figure out which race you belong to! -- it's perhaps not the best time to revisit the latest steps in Texas's long slog toward educational vouchers. But Sen. Dan Patrick's legislative pet project keeps chugging forward, despite how many public schools we find teaching some method of sectarianism.
The latest legal questions facing Sen. Patrick's voucher scheme comes in the form of financing. Many states with vouchers already implemented -- Louisiana, for example -- simply lift funds from public education coffers and toss them toward private educators eager to flout silly things like standards and the Establishment Clause. Texas, however, doesn't seem to carry such an option -- the $5.4 billion cut from the state's public education fund in 2011 seems to preclude the common method of supplying vouchers.
But fear not, kids. You'll still get the chance to attend whichever Young Earth school your parents have always targeted, and you'll still get the chance, on the public dime, to learn all about how Moses strode toward the Promised Land atop a stegosaurus. Instead of swiping the desiccated funds from public schools, two Senate Republicans have begun looking to swing the state's franchise tax toward funding a putative voucher scheme.
According to KUT, Patrick and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst have both begun backing a scheme in which local businesses can allocate a certain percentage of their franchise tax toward sweeping children out of the struggling school systems and into something that will teach the true nature of the Lord and Savior. As Patrick noted:
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We're going to allow businesses to deduct up to 25 percent of what they would pay in the franchise tax, and that money will go to a non-profit to be distributed to families based on need. By doing this, we are going to give them an opportunity to get a scholarship if they so choose to send their child to that private school.
This form of tax-based maneuvering has rooted itself in approximately a dozen other states across the country, and would, presumably, allow legislators to unveil a coup de grâce of both permanently forgoing the $5.4 billion already cut and allowing funding through entities that are not publicly accountable. Having cake, chowing down, and going over publicly funded lessons on how gays are "objectively disordered." Seems it can't get any sweeter for voucher-backers.
Of course, as Julie Shields, a member of the Coalition for Public Schools, noted, students at under-performing public schools can already transfer to schools that remain, as it were, publicly accountable. Some 456 of Texas's public schools were recently named to the Public Education Grant program list in 2013, allowing students to transfer come fall. But, please -- let's don't begin any form of whisper campaign about a program that already grants what vouchers aim to achieve. Wouldn't want to offer any salient -- and existing -- alternatives to those looking to further gut any public schools, and their attendant unions alongside. And wouldn't want to interrupt any publicly funded lessons on how Jews have severed their relationship with God, either.