January 24, 2017 by Rev. Charles Foster Johnson
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said today that school choice voucher programs constitute “a civil rights issue” and said he would sign a school choice bill if one comes to him.
With all due respect to Gov. Abbott, voucher-type schemes are the antithesis of civil rights.
“School choice” voucher programs re-segregate our schools according to race.
“School choice” vouchers are not for poor children, as they are purported to be, because they don’t begin to cover the cost of a private school education.
“School choice” vouchers underwrite the private education of families affluent enough to send their children to private schools.
“School choice” vouchers violate religious liberty by establishing and advancing religious schools with public tax dollars.
“School choice” vouchers are unconstitutional because they do not “make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools” as the Texas Constitution mandates the Texas Legislature to do.
“School choice” vouchers deplete the funding of the public schools that do not screen or discriminate, but accept and love all children regardless of race and class.
“School choice” vouchers destabilize and overburden the traditional neighborhood public school.
“School choice” vouchers expand and extend government into the sacred and private spheres of our home and church schools.
“School choice” voucher programs do not improve the education of children who receive them.
“School choice” vouchers are not a real “choice” at all, except for those who would privatize the public trust of education for all children, making commodities of our kids and markets of our classrooms.
The American civil rights tradition was forged by values of human dignity and equality taught and modeled for our children every day in traditional public schools. Hijacking the term “civil rights” to advance the narrow private interest of “school choice” vouchers is morally wrong, and we call upon Gov. Abbott and other Texas state leaders to cease doing so now.