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      Local education leaders oppose vouchers

      Harlingen School Board Vice-President George McShan

      Harlingen School Board Vice-President George McShan, like the State Board of Education, Texas State Teachers Association and the non-profit group Raise Your Hand Texas, opposes proposals for vouchers that call for taking public education funds and putting them towards private school education.

      "Those funds would go to students that would not attend a public school and therefore the tax payers will not have accountability for how that money is spent, McShan said. A business person wants to make sure if they make an investment - what kind of return are you going to get on your investment? And with vouchers there is no guarantee."

      Senate Bill 23 proposes tax breaks for businesses that invest in private education; SB 115 proposes using public funds for special education students at private schools; and SB 1298 calls for funneling public education money to online instruction for home or private schooled children.

      McShan said the public education system is held to high testing and graduation rate standards, with the oversight of the TEA and State Board of Education. Private schools do not abide by this system, McShan said, so it's unfair that they get access to tax payers' funding.

      "In the case of a voucher they do not have the same criteria, so that is the issue, he said. What kind of results are we getting if we invest into a private school that has no assurance that your student is going to be highly educated and qualified for life?"

      McShan said now more than ever, students in the public education system have choices to tailor their education based on their desired career path, plus the tools to help them succeed. He adds that should not be jeopardized in order to help a select few.

      "Those students who go to private school with a voucher, if they are not successful, the private schools can return them back to the public schools and we have to account for those students."