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Groups Take Issue With Renaming School Vouchers Savings Accounts

Ryan Poppe
Sen. Jose Menendez D-San Antonio, member of the Texas Coalition of Public Schools

A group of education non-profits, religious leaders, and state lawmakers take aim at an effort in the Texas Legislature to rebrand the term school voucher with terms like, “Public Education Savings Accounts.”  But the school choice advocates say they’re only trying to bring more educational opportunities to more Texas children.

For state Sen. Jose Menendez, a Democrat from San Antonio, a school voucher by any other name is still a voucher.  Menendez is part of a group formed ahead of the 2017 legislation session called the Texas Coalition of Public Schools. 

“A voucher, a savings account, a tax-credit, whatever you chose to call it, it’s still a device that siphons money away from our public schools, so it doesn’t matter what you call it, we have still not restored the money we took from our public schools," Menendez says.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 report, Texas ranks 43rd in the nation on per-student spending.

Credit Ryan E. Poppe
Sen. Donna Campbell, author of 2015 "school choice" bill

  This Wednesday, members of the Texas Senate Education Committee will examine the idea of creating these Education Savings Accounts.  New Braunfels Republican state Sen. Donna Campbell authored the senate’s 2015 school choice bill.  She says these education savings accounts would give parents a state-funded savings account that they too could pay into for all the related costs of their child’s private or home-schooled education.

“They go to an account, that is an authorized savings account with specific restrictions, those dollars can only be spent on pre-approved educational resources," Campbell says.

Campbell says while the legislature has added more funding for school districts, lawmakers have not seen the same level of growth in educational outcomes of Texas students.  Campbell is considering sponsoring another school choice bill ahead of the 2017 session, which she says could include Education Savings Accounts. 

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.