School Choice is a great idea; it’s what all parents in a free society desire. In Texas, we have that choice. We are able to choose public, private, or homeschool for our children. If one method does not work, we simply choose another.
However, the term “school choice” has basically been hijacked to mean something totally different. There are two issues that fall within this discussion:
- education freedom; i.e., the rights of parents to educate their kids in the way they see fit, without regulation or restriction
- education subsidies; i.e., requiring taxpayers to foot the bill for a kid’s education, whether it’s their kid or not
The term “school choice” has come to mean new things. It varies based on who is talking.
This page is dedicated to education freedom, as well as exposing the truth behind education subsidies called “school choice,” both in Texas and at the national level.
I had the pleasure to discuss this topic on American Liberty with Bill Lockwood. You can listen here:
The “School Choice” discussed on this page involves the use of ESAs (Education Savings Accounts) to direct funds from the state (or Feds, or both) to a chosen educational style.
In Texas, an actual bill has not yet been filed. As soon as it is, I will link to it here.
The Facts on Texas ESAs
Below is a timeline of presentations, starting from the most current:
November 16, 2017 Education Town Hall Meeting 1 – hosted by Dallas county Senator Don Huffines, with guest Randan Steinhauser (Executive Director of Texans for Education Opportunity). Please watch. Ms. Steinhauser clearly states what is intended with the upcoming legislation.
November 16, 2017 Education Town Hall Meeting 2 That same evening, a second Education Town Hall meeting was held, with the addition of Mike Morath of Texas Education Association. Please watch.
(Thanks to Amy Hedtke for filming both of these meetings.)
My overall argument to ESAs under the guise of “choice” is this: If all methods of education are funded by and regulated by one agency, what will make them different? What are we choosing between?
For Texas homeschoolers, there will be no benefit, but a lot less freedom. From these videos we learn:
1) Current homeschoolers will not benefit from ESAs in Texas AT ALL, but WILL be affected. Only those currently enrolled in public school would be allowed to opt out of the PS and then choose to pay for homeschooling with ESAs. The face of homeschooling in Texas would change forever. They would have to choose pre-approved, accredited programs. They would not support or approve “mom and pop” curriculua (small companies that thrive with the current homeschool community). The ripple effect of the new face of homeschooling will affect long-time, self-funded homeschoolers with accreditation rules, regulations, and testing requirements. Or “rigor” as some would say.
And yet, Texas Homeschool Coalition supports this. So, THSC is not fighting for CURRENT homeschoolers in Texas; their eye must be on FUTURE homeschoolers.
2) Senator Huffines and Randan Steinhauser both played the class warfare card. They repeatedly said that only the rich have real school choice, and that only the rich can afford private schools or the luxury (oh the luxury!) of single-income lifestyles. Long-time homeschoolers will see the humor in this claim. They are using socialist talking points. THSC does the exact same. Terms like “it’s not fair” or “equal” are the opposite of choice and freedom. They lead to socialism.
They are chomping at the bit to create a bigger welfare system, and “homeschooling” will be sucked into the vortex.
September 14, 2016: Senate Committee on Education hearing video
Senator Garcia Confronts him on Pesheck about holding those accountable who participate in the program. He then responds and tells them that those that participate are required to take a Nationalized Norm Test and the results will be evaluated by a third party. This is not good. There are no Nationalized Norm Assessment Test that do not align with common core.
October 17 VIDEO
“Please know that since there is no bill, witnesses can only speak on the issue.
Public Testimony began Monday at the Public Education Hearing after 4 hours of invited testimony. The committee met today to discuss three charges. 1) Study ways to increase parental choice in education, and review the successes and failures of school choice programs in other states 2) Examine the benefits and costs of implementing such a program in Texas. 3) Recommend whether an expansion of school choice in Texas in needed and suggest ways to ensure that any school receiving public support is held accountable for its academic and financial performance.
There was confusion throughout testimony, both in the chamber and in the online presence, as all three charges were discussed together. Please know that each individual testimony was on any one of those charges at any point. Testimony was also for multiple plans and ideas. There is no specific bill presented, yet. Testimonies ranged from needing money for special needs, tax credit scholarships, to Educational Savings Account. We will post the archived video and witness list when it becomes available.”
SREC (State Republican Executive Committee) Sept 2016: Terry Holcomb Sr.’s video of the ESA LoneStarCardEd Presentation
Funds would be redistributed to families via a Debit Card [LoneStar type of card] w/ funds added quarterly “to the tune of”:
$6500 -if low income
$7800 -special needs
It was confirmed that if you as a home school family choose to participate in the Education Savings Account your child will be subject to the state’s chosen assessment test. There is not an assessment in the country today that is not aligned with Common Core.
The Republican Party of Texas DOES NOT support a “LoneStar Card” for education.
The Republican Party of Texas *does* SUPPORT *tax exemptions and/or credits.*
This document from Texas Policy Foundation on The Achilles Heel of Texas: Improving College Eligibility Rates Through K-12 Education Savings Accounts by Dr. Matthew Ladner states:
Since 2011 however, school choice innovators have developed account-based choice programs— known as Education Savings Accounts—which allow parents to manage a state-funded account to choose between single or multiple providers…[In Arizona] Parents access these funds through the use of a debit card, and the statute specifies the allowable use of the accounts. (Page 11)
Further: The Arizona program is overseen by the Arizona treasurer’s office and the Arizona Department of Education…In cases of suspected fraud, the Department of Education is empowered to refer cases to the Arizona attorney general’s office for investigation and possible prosecution (page 12)
Supporters of Texas ESAs say that this kind of program has been successful in other states. But other states are fighting it tooth and nail.
You can read TONS of pro-school-choice articles HERE. Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, just resigned from her position at this organization (Federation for Children). Randan Steinhauser (now pushing for Texas school choice) “had previously traveled the country lobbying for school choice legislation as national director of external affairs for the American Federation of Children, the nation’s largest school choice organization.” It’s important to understand who is pushing this and the reasoning they use. Who are the players? Who stands to gain? Where are the funds coming from?
Michelle Malkin: Grassroots Fight To Sink Trump’s Education Nominee ‘Will Be One Of Biggest Battles’ Of 2017: Michelle Malkin says Donald Trump’s grassroots supporters will fight to stop his pick to head the Department of Education from being confirmed.
Stop Common Core in Michigan: ‘We’re Not Fooled’ by Betsy DeVos, ‘We Know the Truth’: An advocate primarily of school choice and school vouchers, DeVos said that putting “kids first” means “expanding choices and options to give every child the opportunity for a quality education regardless of their zip code or their family circumstances.”
New Orleans Education Forum explores the connection between business and education: ‘Duplessis, who is also a New Orleans banking executive, said a business owner’s primary concern, when considering where to locate, is the quality of the education system. “Will I be able to have a qualified and competent workforce to grow my industry?”’ Also quoted: “The goals of providing parents with quality education options and business owners seeking a highly trained workforce shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.” I don’t know about you, but I’m not raising my children to be worker bees. I’m raising them to meet their full potential in this world in the way God designed.
You can read TONS of pro-school-choice articles HERE. Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, just resigned from her position at this organization. It’s important to understand who is pushing this and the reasoning they use. Who are the players? Who stands to gain? Where are the funds coming from?
Choice and Charter Schools Kill Public Schools: “CHOICE” is a pretty cozy word that assumes freedom. Little do parents understand the tentacles of federal strings that accompany federal assistance. Or, maybe they haven’t thought of it in those terms. But, yes, CHOICE is accepting federal assistance. And with that comes the “Have To’s”, where all children, parents, teachers, and schools will be forced into the federal government’s obsession with domineering over the lives of our little children.
The dangers are multi-faceted. These are not “scare tactics,” or fear-mongering. Please research for yourself and read the articles linked, watch the videos, and listen to the podcasts. It’s long past time for all parents to be their own watchdogs.
- Texas Mom Meg Bakich lays out the best argument against “school choice.”
- School Choice is the Carrot to Control: All the current legislation on “school choice” at a state and federal level ultimately hands parental rights on school choice to the state and federal government.
- “It’s becoming increasingly clear that the educrats who want a public/private centralized education system under the guise of “school choice” have done an amazing sales job. Lol. This totally reminds me of when I was first opposing Common Core (part of the same system) in 2009. After all who could be against “higher standards” in education? Me. Who can be against “school choice” in education? ME. Choice never originates from the state that is where CONTROL begins.” For those who would like to know more, Listen to this podcast by Alice Linahan and Karen Spunky Braun, who give more insight.
- School Choice is America’s Trojan Horse: Under the proposed school choice proposals, including Parent Trigger laws, education is being surreptitiously converted from academics to socialist work force training, necessary for the United States imminent merging into a global, collectivized economy.
- ESA is part of “money follow the child” which is one of the two key components in school choice. The other is data. Each child has a “financial backpack” and a “data backpack” that follow them through their education career. If a child wants to pursue a career that the data does not show he will be successful the money will dry up. So the two work in harmony to propell a child in a direction that meets the demands of the state to fill jobs.Michigan has begun creating “work ready” communities to prepare students for the “worker pipeline” in that region When money follows the child, the state NOT the parents makes the “tough choices” about where the student will go next. This is the goal in all 50 states. Read how it’s happening in Michigan HERE.Read about Michigan’s “Work Ready Communities” HERE.
- The state’s goals laid out in the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s report, “60X30TX” must be achieved to build a globally competitive Texas. The report recognizes that by 2030, we need at least 60 percent of Texans ages 25-34 to have a certificate or degree. ESAs, if designed correctly, are a significant tool that will put Texas on a path to achieve that goal. (Page 13 of Achille’s Heel doc)
- Bill Gates wants the public sector to pay for innovative education with technology.
- Is School Choice a Scam? Texas Senator Taylor. Taylor who sits on the Texas Commission on Next Generation of Assessment of Accountabilityjust called for the State of Texas to align its student accountability standards with that of theFederal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The ESSA steers away for academics to implementing, testing and data mining your children on Social Emotional Learning (SEL).
“Nothing will more quickly destroy independent Christian schools than state aid: their freedom and independence will soon be compromised, and before long their faith.” ~George Bernard Shaw, Fabian Socialist
Texas Homeschool Coalition issued a statement on their Facebook page in support of this kind of policy. You can read more at this link: Does Texas Homeschool Coalition Represent YOU? and also Why Homeschool Parents Must be Their Own Guardians of Freedom.
Isn’t this Optional?
Regardless whether they are OPTIONAL or not, Texas programs need to reflect and support the educational authority of the parent, especially where parents have maintained educational responsibility for their children. It has worked marvelously for 4-H for decades. Don’t fix something that ain’t broke. For every “optional” program that is implemented, the state asserts more precedence of needing “control” of families and kids. We are seeing the yearly erosion of family rights in many areas of family law and CPS cases. Courts are taking kids for idiotically tiny reasons, wrapping it up in “educational neglect” and “abuse” and a variety of other excuses. You don’t “see” the progression because to most people it’s like a frog in water that is being slowly heated up. But for those of us watchdogging bills and cases and families, the heat in increasing at an exponential rate. “Optional” is how freedoms are eroded. Click & Tweet! – Amy, homeschool mom
Karen Braun (Spunky Homeschool) has been a watchdog for educational freedom for years. She says: “speaking of a ‘valid diploma’ are homeschoolers aware that the FAFSA regulations were changed in Obama’s first term to require colleges to determine the “validity” of a high school diploma. And who do you think will be the one considered “valid” in Texas if this passes, the one who “opts in.” I call it the “soft consequences of non-participation” Those that play the game get the reward. Those that don’t won’t. They are not “punished” for NOT opting in but they will not reap the benefits of those that comply.”
Optional programs will still affect everyone. Follow the carrot. If the state promises roughly $5,000 in cash (per child), a family with 3 children would receive $15,000. That’s some serious carrot right there! Suddenly, parents who never had the desire or conviction to homeschool their children will see it in a whole new light. There will be abuse of education dollars, and neglect of the education. Those receiving the funds will, of course, require state testing. When their test scores do not reflect a “rigorous” education, all homeschoolers will be scrutinized. All homeschoolers will be affected, whether they take the
bait money or not.
What You Can Do
Contact your State Representative and Senator. Find your elected officials HERE. Call, visit their office, send and email, tag them on Twitter. Do all of the above. Get to be their new best friends!
Contact your State Republican Executive Committee member. Repeat as above. Find them HERE.
Organizing locally is THE only thing that will be able to make things better. Network with other homeschoolers in your local area and connect with the rest of us across the state. Share this page. Email and call your friends. When the Legislature is in session (starting in January), be prepared to come to Austin on a moments notice and bring people with you. Fill the hearings with supportive bodies, submit a written statement, or even come to testify before a committee.
Join the Public Facebook Group “America’s Education Activists”
Beware of anyone touting fake “choice.”