Monday, August 08, 2022

'School choice' and public support of charter schools faces rural resistance even in Republican-controlled statehouses

"School choice," a favorite issue for many conservatives, especially religious ones who want public support for private schools, has had a hard time getting traction in some states because of opposition from rural legislators.

The Kentucky General Assembly authorized privately organized but publicly recognized charter schools years ago, but only this year did it provide funding for them, and by a very narrow margin in the state House. Rural lawmakers saw little if any benefit for their communities, which are unlikely sites for charter schools.

Much the same is happening in Texas, Brian Lopez reports for the Texas Tribune: "Rep. Gary VanDeaver, a Republican whose district includes 30 rural school districts, is still unconvinced. He was one of several lawmakers who helped kill school-choice legislation in 2017. He said one of the concerns he’s hearing from parents is that they’re paying property taxes, which fund public schools, but have opted for either home schooling or sending their kids to private school." He told Lopez, “I prefer to reduce their property taxes, so they have the option of spending that money any way they choose, whether it be alternative education choices, saving for college or purchasing a new car.”

Lopez reports, "Conservative efforts to pass school choice measures have failed largely because there are few private schools or charter schools as alternatives outside the state’s larger urban areas. Also, the public school systems are a large economic and employment driver for most small towns. . . . VanDeaver has been informed that the religious private schools in his area are uninterested in public money. He also worries about the damage to the local public school district a voucher program could cause."

No comments: