Texas pastor: ‘A classroom is a holy place of learning — not a marketplace of financial gain’

October 27 at 2:19 PM – Washington Post

49Charles Foster Johnson is the executive director of Pastors for Texas Children, an independent ministry and outreach group that comprises nearly 2,000 pastors and church leaders from across Texas and works to support public education. Johnson recently testified in Austin about school vouchers — which use public funds to pay for private school tuition — and corporate school reform before the Texas House Education Committee, chaired by state Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock (R), and his words are worth reading.

A voucher bill passed in the Texas Senate, as it does every year, but members of the Texas House have voted against it in past years, and Johnson’s organization is fighting against it again. Here is the powerful testimony as written and submitted to Aycock’s committee. When talking to the panel, Johnson diverged somewhat from the text, and you can watch him on this video, starting at the 3:50 mark.

Read the entire story here ….

Charles Foster Johnson: Why Texas Pastors Oppose Vouchers

Diane Ravitch Blog – 10/26/2016

In the annual fight in Texas over school vouchers, one of the strongest, most consistent defenders of public schools is an influential group known as Pastors for Texas Children. They believe in the importance of public education as a democratic right and they strongly support the separation of church and state.

At recent legislative hearings in Austin, their executive director Charles Foster Johnson testified against a voucher bill that was passed in the State Senate. This battle occurs every year. Thus far, a coalition of rural Republicans and urban Democrats has managed to defeat vouchers in the House. Pastor Johnson and his colleagues have been a powerful group in staving off privatization.

Read the entire story here …

Public education a moral duty, Baptist minister tells House committee

AUSTIN—Texas has a moral obligation to educate all its children and a constitutional duty to direct tax funds to public education, not divert public money to private alternatives, a Baptist minister told the House Committee on Public Education.

Texas has a moral duty to provide good public education for all the state’s children, Charles Foster Johnson, a Baptist minister and executive director of Pastors for Texas Children told a House committee. (Photo/woodleywonderworks/cc/by/2.0)

Texas has a moral duty to provide good public education for all the state’s children, Charles Foster Johnson, a Baptist minister and executive director of Pastors for Texas Children told a House committee. (Photo/woodleywonderworks/cc/by/2.0)

Charles Foster JohnsonCharles Foster Johnson, pastor of Bread Fellowship in Fort Worth and executive director of Pastors for Texas Children, presented invited testimony to the committee during an Oct. 17 public hearing.

“We have a public trust before God to educate all our children, and that means all—not just children who can afford it, not just children whose parents are engaged, but all children,” Johnson said.

Public education is a moral, democratic, societal and spiritual duty, he asserted.

“Public education is not a commodity, and we are not clients. We are not customers. We are citizens,” he insisted. “We are engaged in a common good—God’s common good.”

Public school teachers are fulfilling a divine calling, instilling the principles of good citizenship and moral character in students, Johnson said.

“A spiritual enterprise is not given to free-market dynamics or cost-benefit analysis or competition,” he insisted, adding in the printed remarks he submitted to the committee: “A classroom is a holy place of learning, not a marketplace of financial gain. To make commodities of our kids and markets of our classrooms is to misunderstand—and profane—the spirituality of education.”

Read the entire article here ….

Leeson: Patrick’s school vouchers go against conservative principles

by Jay Leeson for the Lubbock Avalanche Journal

TEXAS LT. GOV. Dan Patrick’s school voucher initiatives aren’t conservative, they’re entitlements. And they’re absurd.

The absurdity goes full bore when proponents make voucher entitlements sound like the most fire-breathing conservative concept since Moses came down from Sinai.

In recent years, consultants have rebranded poorly polling “vouchers” to a more conservative sounding “school choice,” accompanied with market economy jargon.

Read the full article here ….

Charles Luke, guest columnist: Segregation driving ‘school choice’ charade

Updated

We all know that many politicians are prone to exaggeration. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s recent statement that private school vouchers, or “school choice” as he puts it, is a civil rights issue is just such an exaggeration. In fact, Patrick’s costly voucher schemes could drain billions from local schools and deny many students their right to receive a quality education.

The history of vouchers actually suggests that they were a way to avoid granting civil rights to others. Vouchers were developed in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954 that schools integrate and end the charade of “separate but equal” treatment of students. For at least a decade, some states simply ignored the ruling, but with passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states began to implement “freedom of choice” programs that would allow white parents to take their child to a select school and thereby leave segregation patterns untouched. Mississippi even had “segregation academies” that only white children could attend.

Read full article here…

 

School vouchers a civil rights issue? “No” says Pastors for Texas Children

AUSTIN—Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has framed the school voucher debate in terms of enabling parents choose their child’s school, calling it a crucial civil rights issue. And a Baptist minister who leads a pro-public education advocacy group calls that “blasphemous.”

Equating efforts to secure public funds for parochial education with the civil rights struggle represents “a desperate and cynical attempt to make vouchers more palatable,” said Charles Foster Johnson, executive director of Pastors for Texas Children.

“It dishonors the memory and witness of those who sacrificed so much in the quest toward human equality and justice,” Johnson said.

“It seeks to do something bad in the name of something good. The only ‘right’ Lt. Gov. Patrick’s misguided policies will secure is that of wealthy private interests to make our schools for-profit enterprises—that is, to make commodities of our children and markets of our classrooms.”

Read full article here…

When did students become pawns?

By Craig Rothmeier – Make Education a Priority – August 18, 2016

©rexteterphotographyA couple of weeks ago, the Senate Education Committee met to discuss a number of items relating to public education, somewhat driven by a charge from the Lt. Governor to assess funding considerations given the recent Texas Supreme Court ruling on school finance. Recall the words “minimum constitutional requirements” as words that should have triggered more fruitful discussions than what have transpired so far.  Admittedly, there is time until the Legislature convenes but the groundwork for these discussions during the session is being laid now.  The tone of the discussions, especially in the Senate, suggests to me that political agendas will continue to be the focal point, not the needs of the more than 5.2 million Texas public education students.

Read the entire blog by clicking here ….

Texas school finance issues are matters of justice and righteousness

In May, the Texas Supreme Court declared that the state’s public school finance system satisfies minimum constitutional requirements — yet the court also noted that the system is “Byzantine” and “undeniably imperfect” with “immense room for improvement.”

Thus, we were deeply disappointed when Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick declared, “The school finance issue, for now, has been resolved. The Supreme Court said we’re right.”

With all due respect to the lieutenant governor and his colleagues, nothing has been resolved. The school finance issue remains one of the most pressing questions of justice and righteousness facing Texas.

When they were inaugurated, our Texas legislators swore a solemn oath before God to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this State.”

We have no doubt that our elected leaders take these oaths before God seriously. As devoted public servants they are undoubtedly familiar with the state constitution, which requires that “it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.”

Texas pastors say underfunding of urban schools is immoral

 

Education is the key to opening bright futures for our children and empowering them to reach their highest potential. Quality public schools give us the best chance to empower the most students to embrace an abundant life in our community.

Yet the Supreme Court of Texas has given a free pass to the State Legislature to spend the least amount possible in supporting public education in our state.

In a state where public school populations are on the rise, our leaders continue to cut education spending. Since 2011, there has been a net cut of approximately $2 billion. In a state whose economy was described by Governor Rick Perry as “the Texas miracle,” we invest less in our children’s education than 37 other states in the nation.

Read the entire article by clicking here…

Pastors for Texas Children upcoming meetings…

Pastors for Texas Children will be participating in and holding meetings in the following areas over the next couple of weeks:

Tyler, Texas – May 10, 2016

Join us for lunch and a discussion about the value of public education in the Tyler, Texas area and in the State of Texas at large.  This session is interactive and will explore ways that the community might work to help our neighborhood public schools!  Lunch is free. (Note:  This meeting is sponsored by the Coalition for Public Schools with PTC participating.)

Location: First Christian Church – 4202 South Broadway – Tyler, Texas 75701

Time: 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Reservations: Register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/public-education-meeting-tickets-25140207036

Killeen, Texas – May 20, 2016

Join us for lunch and a discussion about the value of public education in the Killeen, Texas area and in the State of Texas at large.  This session is interactive and will explore ways that the community might work to help our neighborhood public schools!  Lunch is free.

Location:  First Baptist Church of Killeen – 3310 South West South Young Drive, Killeen, TX 76542

Time:  12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Reservations:  Register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/public-education-meeting-tickets-25144624248