On October 17, 2016 Rev. Charles F. Johnson, Executive Director for Pastors for Texas Children provided invited testimony on public school vouchers to the Texas House of Representatives Public Education Committee. Johnson spoke against vouchers saying that the privatization of public schools would “turn our classrooms into marketplaces and our children into commodities.”
From Diane Ravitch’s Blog – December 10, 2016
Rev. Charles Foster Johnson has organized strong resistance to the vouchers touted by the most powerful elected official in Texas, not the governor, but the Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, a former talk show host. Rev. Johnson is leader to Pastors for Texas Children, which has 2,000 members across the state. They are united in their opposition to vouchers and their support for public schools. Year after year, they have defeated vouchers in the legislature, and they are gearing up to fight them again. You can read more about his and his organization here.
I am happy to place Rev. Johnson and Pastors for Texas Children on the blog’s honor roll for their stalwart defense of public schools, of the children of Texas, of religious liberty, and of the principle of separation of church and state.
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
April 12, 2015
AUSTIN – School vouchers have been introduced in each Texas legislative session for the past twenty years and each time overwhelmingly defeated. But that’s not stopping privatization proponents in the Texas Senate from pulling out all of the stops and trying again this legislative session. The vehicle of choice this time is a revised Senate Bill (SB) 4 – a bill promising a “franchise or insurance premium tax credit for contributions to certain educational assistance organizations”. The bill was passed out of the Senate Education Committee last week.
The bill proposes to authorize contributions to 25 “educational assistance organizations” (EAO’s) each of which must maintain 501(C)3 nonprofit status with the federal government. In turn each of the EAO’s would award scholarships to students to attend a public or private school in Texas. The donating taxable entity would then receive a tax credit for the amount donated, as long as it is less than 50% of the entities taxable value.
Proponents of the bill suggest that the bill will expand school choice for Texas families but opponents of the bill argue that it will drain much needed funds away from public education, provide no accountability and possibly endanger religious freedom.
Charles Luke, the Coordinator for the Coalition for Public Schools in Austin, expressed concern that “this voucher program would provide lucrative tax breaks to the wealthy while the neighborhood public schools that educate the vast majority of Texas kids are told to do more with less.” “Texas simply can’t afford to pay for two separate school systems”, Luke said, “one public and one nominally private but subsidized by the state, the first accountable to taxpayers and the second with no accountability.”
According to Rev. Charles Foster Johnson the bill violates religious freedom by giving public tax monies to private religious schools. “When the church takes government funds, government intervention and government rules are sure to follow” Johnson said, “This is bad policy all the way around, trampling on our First Amendment rights, and opening the door for all kinds of corruption. Not to mention its destructive effects on the public trust of public education.” Johnson heads up Pastors for Texas Children, a Texas-based nonprofit focused on mobilizing the faith community in support of neighborhood public schools.
Pastors for Texas Children urges members of the faith community to contact their state senators no later than Monday, April 13th and encourage them to vote against the revised SB 4 and against any type of voucher that may come up this session.
Interested parties may locate their state senator by clicking here.
By Dr. Charles Luke as posted in the Houston Chronicle.
For more than 20 years and a dozen legislative sessions, the Texas Legislature has defeated one proposal after another that would have diverted scarce taxpayer dollars from public schools and transferred the money to unaccountable private schools. Just last year, there was a test of legislative sentiment on the issue in theTexas House, and by a bipartisan supermajority of 103 to 43, our state representatives voted to ban any spending for private-school vouchers.
Nonetheless, Commissioner of Education Michael Williams, Gov. Rick Perry’s appointee at the helm of theTexas Education Agency, is now trying to bring private-school vouchers to Texas through the back door. In an application this month to the U.S. Department of Education for federal grant funding to expand pre-K in Texas, Williams included a proposed pre-K voucher program that would fund private preschools at a rate of up to $8,000 per child.
Read the entire article in the Houston Chronicle by clicking here.