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School Vouchers

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

Much has been written about the voucher scam which was touted by Gov. Abbot as a legislative priority this year. Social media and news outlets have been superb in informing us that the State of Texas ranks near the bottom nationally in teacher pay and school funding, yet our Gov. and pro-voucher Republicans want to use our tax dollars to provide an $8,000 voucher coupon annually to fund private school tuition. My children and I are a combination of public, private and special education and I am strongly against vouchers.

School Vouchers

Let’s take a moment and examine how a properly trained legislator should look at proposed legislation. The first question should be, “Is it legal or in accordance with current laws and regulations?” Section 10, Article 1 of the Texas Constitution specifically provides that “it shall be the duty of the legislature of this State to make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of public schools.” The Texas Legislature and Gov. have not made a “suitable provision” for our public schools and teachers since we rank 45th in the nation in school funding. Therefore, any proposal to divert funds away from public schools is clearly unconstitutional.

The second inquiry should be “Does my community want/need this proposed law?” There are 17 independent school districts in McLennan County, in which our 104 public schools teach 45,080 students. McLennan County also has 11 private schools that serve 2,539 students. Ninety-five percent of all K-12 students in McLennan County are educated in our public schools.

Public sentiment in McLennan County has been overwhelmingly against vouchers. Even two of Waco’s largest private schools provided a “no comment” when asked by the Waco Trib for their thoughts on this issue. Not exactly a resounding endorsement. Yet, both representatives for McLennan County voted against our public schools and supported vouchers.

Why would our two elected House Representatives vote against the interest of 95% of children of McLennan County? The answer is simple. Two men, Tim Dunn and Ferris Wilkes, control the Republican party with iron fists through their money in politics. They literally keep a “scorecard” on representatives and financially threaten those who vote against their extreme positions in Austin. They are Christian Nationalists who want to privatize the $26 billion public school system in Texas. They will financially enable Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s goal to fund an extreme right primary opponent against each representative who opposed their voucher scheme. It is shameful that our state is controlled by these two extreme individuals and is just one more reason why campaign finance reform is so needed in our country.

Our retiring representative, Doc Anderson, is a reliable scorecard voter who voted against our McLennan County children on every voucher vote this year. I watched many of my friends and colleagues write and call Doc urging him to vote against vouchers. However, I sadly knew all those efforts were a complete waste of time. Doc Anderson also supported the Texas House’s racial gerrymandering which resulted in our historically black community of East Waco and most of our historically Hispanic community of South Waco to be drawn out of Waco’s state House district. Those communities are represented by Republican Angelia Orr who is from Itasca, Texas - a small rural community in Hill County, population 1,741. The largely rural communities in her district, along with East and South Waco, obviously would not support vouchers. Although her early votes opposed vouchers, in the end she succumbed to the Dunn/Wilks pressure and also cast a pro-voucher vote in the last session.

If a client hired me to represent them and I went to court and argued against their interest for an unconstitutional proposition, I would expect a grievance to be filed against me with the State Bar. It's time for us to elect a leader who will actually represent this community in the Texas House. The fight for our public schools is not over. Our schools and teacher pay are still grossly underfunded and the Dunn/Ferris money machine is actively financing pro-voucher Republicans in next year’s elections. Our children are our future and we need a trained representative who will stand by our children and teachers and who will listen to and fight for the citizens of this county in the Texas House. This is why I am running to represent you in the Texas House of Representatives. My friends, elections have consequences and 95% of the children in McLennan County are depending on your vote in next year’s elections.

Erin Shank

Candidate for the Texas House of Representatives, H.D. 56

Paid Political Advertisement by Erin Shank for Texas House


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