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Homeschooling Community Split By Voucher Debate

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The debate over school vouchers in Texas continues to escalate, with proponents now shifting their focus to the voting booth after failing to pass them in legislative sessions. The homeschooling community, along with public and charter schools, is bracing for potential impacts.

Much of the debate surrounding vouchers is focused on how the money could be used to pay for private school tuition. But according to a data analysis by Texas Public Policy Foundation, home-schoolers might be the biggest group impacted. In the 2020-21 academic year there were nearly 480,000 home-schooled children in Texas. That’s 200,000 more than were enrolled in private schools, as first reported by The Texas Tribune.

However, the homeschooling community is sharply divided on vouchers. Presently, Texas does not regulate homeschooling in any form, and many families are concerned that accepting taxpayer funds could lead to increased regulation.

Texans for Homeschool Freedom, a grassroots group, recently posted a resolution, “No Socialist Government Takeover of Private Schools,” dedicated to raising awareness about the threat that the “money follow the child” policies can have on parental freedom.

“Texas already has “School Choice” because parents are totally free to educate their children in public or private schools, including homeschool,” the resolution continues. “Globalists desire to control all forms of education and have a plan to do so through drawing private schools into the public school system via vouchers, public-private partnerships, or fake Education Savings Accounts (ESAs).”

As the State Convention approaches, the resolution is gaining momentum among GOP party members.

According to President of Texans for Homeschool Freedom and author of the resolution, Faith Bussey, similar resolutions opposing all taxpayer-funded vouchers have been passed in several Texas GOP Senate District Conventions. These include SD 4 in Conroe, SD 7 in Montgomery, SD 10 in Johnson and Parker counties, and SD 22 in Tarrant County.

In the homeschooling community, some critics share common ground with advocates of public education. They are concerned that implementing a voucher program would further strain state public school finances. Furthermore, opponents contend that the program would primarily benefit middle-class and affluent families who can already afford full tuition or have the means to homeschool their children.

“Republicans say they understand what is broken about the public school system,” Bussey, mother of three kids whom she home-schools, told RA News. “They arrogantly tell us that it won’t affect those who don’t take the money, but they know it will increase the cost of private education for everyone else and lead to the same standardized destruction in the private sector.”

But other home-school coalitions say ESAS would provide parents with more choices. Allowing them to operate with more autonomy and more independence than is currently allowed in the system.

“Parents who believe the ESA will be good for their child will participate, and others may not. Allowing each family the independence to pursue what is best for their child should be the number one goal of our education system,” the Texas Home School Coalition told RA News.

THSC also believes the Legislature is capable of pursuing multiple good ideas at the same time. “Parties who argue that ESAs should not be considered until all other education problems are solved cannot define when the endpoint for that waiting period will be, ” they concluded.

After failing to pass a voucher bill during the Legislature, Governor Greg Abbott’s push for vouchers shifted towards the elections, where he is supporting Republican candidates who align with his views in the upcoming primary run-off elections.

The outcome of these contests in the House GOP primaries will be crucial in determining the future of school vouchers in Texas. As the run-offs approach, the spotlight is on how these elections will shape the education landscape in the state.





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