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House Public Education Committee convenes first meeting

HPE02-21-17

The House Public Education Committee met at the Texas State Capitol on Feb. 21, 2017. The committee heard invited testimony only.

The House Public Education Committee held its first meeting of the 2017 legislative session today, Feb. 21. Newly-appointed chair Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood) began the hearing by appointing state Rep. Ken King (R-Canadian) chair of the Subcommittee on Educator Quality, where he is joined by Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston) as vice-chair and Reps. Harold Dutton (D-Houston), Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas), and Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston).

Chairman Huberty kicked off the hearing by noting the committee’s efforts to address school finance during the interim. After the Texas Supreme Court ruled the current system “lawful but awful,” according to Huberty, the committee spent much of 2016 working on fixes under the leadership of then-outgoing Public Education Committee chair Jimmie Don Aycock (R-Killeen) and Appropriations chair John Otto (R-Dayton).

Notably, Huberty vowed the committee would get to work on school finance early, and suggested the topic would be the focus of hearings during the next two to three weeks.

Texas Education Agency (TEA) Commissioner Mike Morath briefed the committee on agency operations and priorities. The agency currently serves roughly 5.3 million students and oversees $56 billion in funds. About 348,000 teachers are employed across 8,685 campuses. Texas boasts an 88 percent high school graduation rate, despite serving a student body that is almost 60 percent economically disadvantaged.

Morath highlighted a brief list of priority initiatives, including an agency “lesson study” initiative – a professional development tool used to develop best approaches to individual Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) components – as well as high-quality pre-kindergarten, math innovation zones, and rolling out the “A through F” accountability system.

Chairman Huberty pressed the commissioner on several areas of recent interest, beginning with informal “caps” on special education enrollment unveiled by a Houston Chronicle investigation. Morath told the chairman the special education performance indicator at issue had “outlived its usefulness.” House Bill 363 filed this session by Huberty would require TEA to cease using the indicator. Morath assured the chair, “If for some reason it doesn’t pass, we’re going to do it anyway.”

Chairman Huberty also asked the commissioner about TEA’s interaction with testing vendor Educational Testing Service (ETS) over faulty STAAR tests. Morath said the agency has imposed financial penalties on ETS. Continuing on the testing subject, Huberty prodded Morath on efforts to shorten the STAAR test as required by Huberty’s House Bill 743 from the 2015 legislative session. Morath indicated the process of creating a shorter test has cost the agency more than anticipated, and teachers may not have been provided adequate practice time with testing changes.

In response to Huberty’s inquiry regarding Districts of Innovation (DOI), Commissioner Morath testified that 105 districts have applied for DOI status thus far. According to the commissioner, the most popular exemptions are from teacher certification requirements, the first day of instruction, and class-size limits.

With regard to charter schools, Morath told the committee the state currently hosts 178 public charter entities, which operate a total of 603 campuses and serve roughly 245,000 students – about five percent of the total student population. A total of 22 entities have had their charters revoked, and seven have been non-renewed.

Chairman Huberty pointed out the state has not reached the charter cap and is not in danger of doing so. Rep. VanDeaver, a former superintendent, noted that in districts forced to pay recapture such as Houston ISD, the state pays more to educate a student in a charter school than in a public school.

Finally, the committee received a briefing from Comal ISD Superintendent Andrew Kim, who chaired the Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability. The 15-member commission was convened as a result of House Bill 2804 in 2015, and delivered a report to the legislature in August 2016, which included nine final recommendations for new systems of student assessment and public school accountability. You can read the commission’s full report here.

Chairman Huberty concluded today’s hearing by announcing that the committee will begin school finance discussions at the next meeting. The committee will hear from school districts when it meets again next Tuesday, and school finance bills will be posted for hearing the following week. Once those bills are voted out, Huberty said the committee will take up accountability issues, including A through F.

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Rep. Dan Huberty

Related: House Public Education Committee Chairman Rep. Dan Huberty will be one of our legislative panelists for ATPE at the Capitol, our upcoming political involvement training event exclusively for ATPE members on March 5, 2017.

 

Latest preview of the 85th Texas Legislature Express

As the Man in Black famously sang, “When I hear that whistle blowin’, I hang my head and cry.”

Johnny Cash was singing about the hard life in Folsom Prison, but the sentiment perfectly captures the feeling some Texas Capitol watchers have as the legislative locomotive rounds the bend for another 140-day odyssey of lawmaking.

The regular session of the 85th Texas Legislature is approaching like a freight train, and the biggest question around town is which of its three conductors will wind up with the tightest grip on the controls. Will it be the fire-stoking lieutenant governor? The sure-handed house speaker? The governor with the deft touch?

While the latter has kept his plans close to the vest, political observers got a little better look this week at how the leaders of the state’s two legislative bodies view their priorities.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick released his third set of legislative priorities this week, bringing his total up to 25 items. The list is heavy on culture wars issues, with top billing given to issues involving bathrooms, abortion, and immigration. It’s customary to reserve the lowest bill numbers for the highest priority items, and Lt. Gov. Patrick’s top ten list also includes a “Pass the Trash” bill (SB 7), aimed to elevate reporting requirements and penalties for inappropriate student-teacher relationships, as well as an alternative school choice vehicle (SB 3) reserved for vouchers.

The lieutenant governor has continued to beat the drums for an alt-school choice measure in the run-up to session, and expanded upon his rationale this week to a small tea party split-off group in Tarrant County. Patrick accused Texas schools of failing, yet having plenty of money. Both claims crumble under scrutiny. Texas schools continue to perform well, despite billions in still-unrecovered cuts from 2011 and a steadily declining state share of education funding responsible for shifting the burden of paying for schools onto local homeowners. According to those in the audience, Patrick admitted that money public school children lose to vouchers would not be reimbursed, and wouldn’t answer a question about accountability.

Concerns about accountability for private businesses receiving public taxpayer money and already inadequate public school funding make the current session a difficult environment for vouchers. The alt-choice lobby has responded by specifically targeting teachers with a payroll deduction measure (SB 13) that would prohibit the ability of teachers to safely and securely contribute to organizations, including ATPE, which support their interests in the legislature.

Make no mistake. This measure is directly tied to the voucher fight, and voucher backers hope teachers won’t notice. This measure has been declared a priority by Lt. Gov. Patrick, and it is already being fiercely lobbied in order to silence teachers for daring to raise their voices in the Texas Capitol. We encourage all of our members to contact their state senators and representatives and urge them to oppose this measure at all costs.

Despite what’s brewing in the Texas Senate, vouchers are again expected to get a chilly reception in the pragmatic Texas House of Representatives. Speaking to state politicos Tuesday at a symposium hosted by the Texas Tribune, Texas Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) pointed out the variety of school choice options now available, including public charter schools and district transfers, drawing a distinction between alternative-choice ideas like vouchers. ”It depends on what you mean by school choice,” Straus explained. ”I think we ought to keep an open mind about all that.”

While he hasn’t released a bullet list like his senate counterpart, Speaker Straus has committed to focus broadly on critical areas, such as education, transportation, and the ongoing crisis within the state’s Child Protective Services and foster care system. Straus indicated that the lieutenant governor’s politically explosive bathroom bill would not be “the most urgent concern of mine,” and instead emphasized the pressing need to address a broken and unfair school finance system that affects all Texas schoolchildren. Straus urged members to “listen to their school districts” regarding school finance, highlighting the failure of the Robin Hood system to meet the needs of districts such as Houston and Austin.

“I’m not expecting a miracle,” Straus said of the school finance challenge, while at the same time warning against inaction. “Not addressing this may be more problematic than addressing it.”

There’s still plenty of room for positioning before the 85th Texas Legislature Express roars into the station on Jan. 10. Now is a critical time for letting legislators know where our members stand with regard to vouchers (SB 3) and the critical payroll deduction measure (SB 13). By contacting your legislators this month and expressing forcefully and early that your voice will not be silenced, you’ll help clear the track ahead of what could otherwise be some rough riding.

If everyone pitches in to make the Express a success, we’ll be able to sing the refrain together, “And I’d let that lonesome whistle blow my blues away.”

 

Mark Wiggins joins the ATPE GR team

Mark WigginsThe ATPE Government Relations Department is proud to introduce its newest team member, ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins!

Mark joins our team this week, bringing with him a wealth of valuable experience. Before coming to ATPE, Mark worked as a reporter at Austin’s ABC News affiliate, where he covered Texas politics for more than a dozen sister stations across the state. He’s interviewed governors, presidential candidates, and elected officials at every level.

You may recognize Mark’s name as the recipient of ATPE’s 2016 Alafair Hammett Media Award, which is given to three journalists annually who demonstrate excellence in education reporting. Certainly, Mark is no stranger to ATPE.

During his time covering the Capitol and Texas politics, Mark says he learned a lot about how things get done in Texas and the plethora of factors that shape our state. Based on this, he shares that one thing is clear: “It all begins with education. Strong public schools are the foundries of our future. Each day, educators are shaping future leaders, workers, and innovators. Our government, our economy, our Texas way of life relies on strong public schools and outstanding educators. I’m here to go to bat and make sure you have what you need to be successful!”

Mark is a proud native Texan and comes from a family of Texas educators. We are excited that Mark has joined the team and look forward to all he will bring to ATPE. Please join us in welcoming Mark!

ATPE GR team and executive director head to the polls to kick off early voting!

GR_VOTE_WEBMembers of the ATPE Governmental Relations Department and ATPE Executive Director Gary Godsey headed to the polls this morning to cast their votes during early voting, which began yesterday and runs through Friday, Nov. 4. Election Day is on Tuesday, Nov. 8!

Now it’s your turn to take advantage of the convenience of early voting! Make plans today to get to the polls during early voting in order to beat the lines Election Day can bring and avoid last minute scheduling conflicts that could prevent you from casting a vote. When you cast your vote early, head over to the ATPE Facebook page in order to enter ATPE’s early voting contest. Simply snap a selfie with your “I Voted!” sticker and post it in the comments section of the contest post pinned to the top of the page. Three randomly selected winners will win a Target gift card just for voting early!

Many districts and campuses are also offering incentives for registered educators and students who wear their “I Voted!” sticker to school! Check out some ideas shared by the Texas Educators Vote coalition, of which ATPE is a member, and ways individuals can join the coalition’s efforts!

As you make plans to head to the polls, here are some quick reminders:

  • Unlike voting on Election Day, early voters do not have to vote at their assigned precinct location. Simply go to any early voting location in your county to cast your ballot. To find early voting locations and hours in your area, check your local newspaper or contact your local voter registrar’s office.
  • Remember that you must show valid identification under state law in order to vote. Recent court decisions have expanded the options available to Texas voters who are required to bring identification to the polls. Be sure to review all options here.
  • In certain circumstances, individuals may also be eligible to vote early by mail. Applications for a mail-in ballot must be received no later than Friday, Oct. 28 and Nov. 8 is the last day for mail-in ballots to be received.
  • Don’t forget to search and view profiles of candidates for the Texas legislature and State Board of Education on our 2016 Races page right here on TeachtheVote.org. Read their responses to the ATPE Candidate Survey, find out which major endorsements they’ve earned, and consider the voting records of incumbent legislators.
  • Visit the Texas Secretary of State’s VoteTexas.gov website for a wealth of additional information on voting. It includes links to the Am I Registered website, where you can find a customized list of polling places in your county. VoteTexas.gov also includes guidance on photo ID requirements, information for voters with special needs, and more.
  • At the national website Vote411.org hosted by the League of Women Voters, you can enter your address to receive a personalized sample ballot with biographical information and survey responses on some candidates, confirm your registration status, and find additional information.

See you at the voting booth, educators!

Texas parent group announces support for general election candidates

ThinkstockPhotos-78479954The bipartisan political action committee Texas Parent PAC, which supports high-quality public education, has released its 2016 general election endorsement list. Each election cycle, the group engages in a rigorous endorsement process that results in support for candidates whose campaign platforms match the values embraced by Texas Parent PAC. The group supports using public tax dollars only to fund public schools, local control, sufficient and equitable funding of schools, and accountability, among other pro-public education positions.

To learn more about Texas Parent PAC, its endorsement process, and ATPE’s collaboration with the group, read our blog post from earlier this year when the group announced its support for pro-public education candidates running in the March primary election. The following announcement on the group’s support for 2016 general election candidates is republished with permission from Texas Parent PAC.

In related news, early voting in the general election begins today! Voters can vote early through Friday, Nov. 4, and Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8! Find your polling locations here.

 

Yay! It’s Time for Our Parents and Grandparents To Vote

Early Voting: Monday, October 24 – Friday, Nov. 4
Election Day:  Tuesday, Nov. 8, 7 am – 7 pm

Texas Parent PAC is delighted to endorse 12 first-time candidates running for state representative and 9 incumbent legislators who are being challenged in the general election. They are men and women of integrity, open and responsive to parents, actively involved in their communities, and committed to investing in public education to achieve economic prosperity in Texas.

The PAC also endorses two State Board of Education candidates.

Please vote for the endorsed candidates listed below and encourage your friends and family to vote as well.

Texas Parent PAC is a bipartisan political action committee. In the 2016 Texas primary and general elections, the PAC has endorsed 23 Republicans and 18 Democrats. We do not have a political agenda. We have an education agenda.

Texas Parent PAC endorses only a select number of candidates in each election cycle. Read about our endorsement process here.

Candidates Endorsed by Texas Parent PAC

Texas House of Representatives: First-Time Candidates

HD 18  Ernest Bailes, R-Shepherd   Web Site
HD 23  Lloyd Criss, D-La Marque  Web Site
HD 26  Sarah DeMerchant, D-Sugar Land  Web Site
HD 33  Justin Holland, R-Heath   Web Site
HD 49  Gina Hinojosa, D-Austin  Web Site
HD 54  Scott Cosper, R-Killeen Web Site
HD 64  Lynn Stucky, R-Sanger   Web Site
HD 71  Stan Lambert, R-Abilene   Web Site
HD 105  Terry Meza, D-Irving   Web Site
HD 118  Tomás Uresti, D-San Antonio   Web Site
HD 144  Mary Ann Perez, D-Houston    Web Site
HD 150  Michael Shawn Kelly, D-Spring   Web Site

Texas House of Representatives: Incumbents With Challengers

HD 41  Rep. Bobby Guerra*, D-Mission   Web Site
HD 48  Rep. Donna Howard*, D-Austin   Web Site
HD 50  Rep. Celia Israel*, D-Austin   Web Site
HD 78  Rep. Joe Moody*, D-El Paso  Web Site
HD 95  Rep. Nicole Collier*, D-Fort Worth   Web Site
HD 101  Rep. Chris Turner*, D-Arlington   Web Site
HD 102  Rep. Linda Koop*, R-Dallas   Web Site
HD 137  Rep. Gene Wu*, D-Houston   Web Site
HD 149  Rep. Hubert Vo, D-Houston   Web Site

*  These incumbents were endorsed by Texas Parent PAC when they first ran for office in 2006-2014. We are very proud of them and their accomplishments. They deserve re-election

State Board of Education

SBOE 5  Rebecca Bell-Meterau, D-San Marcos   Web Site
SBOE 9  Keven Ellis, R-Lufkin   Web Site

Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Oct. 21, 2016

As you prepare to cast your vote in the general election, we’ve got the latest in education news updates:


Elections 2016 Card with Bokeh BackgroundYour first chance to vote for pro-public education candidates in the general election begins Monday! Start making plans today to take advantage of the convenience of early voting!

Early voting starts Monday, Oct. 24, and runs through Friday, Nov. 4, with Election Day quickly following on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Early voting is a quick and easy way to avoid the hassle of getting to the polls on Election Day, when voters sometimes face last-minute scheduling conflicts that make getting to the polls difficult or lines at the polls once they arrive. Plus, unlike Election Day voting, early voters do not have to vote at their assigned precinct location; they simply cast a ballot at any early voting location in their county. To find early voting locations and hours in your area, check your local newspaper or contact your local voter registrar’s office.

ThinkstockPhotos-470725623_voteYou can read more about voting requirements here, but keep in mind that you must present a valid form of photo identification in order to vote and certain voters qualify for a mail in ballot (for example, those who are 65 years or older or those with disabilities). You can also read about the ways the Texas Educators Vote coalition, of which ATPE is a member, is encouraging educators to vote. Many districts and campuses are offering incentives for registered educators and students who wear their “I Voted!” sticker to school!

Before you head to the polls, be sure to check out where your state legislators and your member of the State Board of Education stand on public education issues. Visit our 2016 Races page to search for your districts and read about the candidates in those races. Remember that in November you can vote for any candidate in the general election, regardless of party affiliation. Make your plans to vote during early voting now!

 


NO VOUCHERSEarlier this week the House Public Education Committee met to discuss vouchers in its final interim hearing before the 85th Legislative Session begins in January. The committee was primarily focused on the two forms of vouchers the Senate is expected to push: Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) and Tax Credit Scholarships. As ATPE Lobbyist Monty Exter reports in his recap here, the House panel ultimately seemed to signal that vouchers of any kind continue to face a difficult road in the committee. However, two members are rolling off the committee, the committee’s chairman and a former educator, both of whom have been valued supporters of Texas public schools.

Meanwhile, the Senate remains focused on its push for school choice in the form of ESAs. At a press conference on Thursday before a gathering of Dallas area business leaders, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick outlined his 85th Legislative Session policy priorities. On education, ESAs topped his list, and he vowed to fight session after session for “school choice” initiatives in Texas. Exter offers a recap of his discussion on ESAs and highlights priorities that would be truly effective here. Also on his agenda of education priorities are bills to curb districts accused of failing to report inappropriate student-teacher relationships, a transgender bathroom bill termed the “Women’s Protection Act,” and fine-tuning of the cameras in the classroom bill passed last session (in order to ensure all districts comply).

ATPE Lobbyist Kate Kuhlmann speaking with KXAN's Phil Prazan this week.

ATPE Lobbyist Kate Kuhlmann speaking with KXAN’s Phil Prazan this week.

For more on this week’s voucher developments, catch a sampling of ATPE in the news. Exter spoke to KVUE after this week’s voucher hearing in the House Public Education Committee and to the Dallas Morning News later in the week. Plus, ATPE Lobbyist Kate Kuhlmann visited with KXAN about ESAs following Patrick’s press conference and ATPE Executive Director Gary Godsey sat down with KEYE to talk about Patrick’s education priorities, where “school choice” and vouchers top the list.

 


tea-logo-header-2The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is asking for input on the state’s plan to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the new federal education law that replaced No Child Left Behind. Acknowledging that a significant amount of education decision making was returned to states under the new law, TEA wants to hear from parents, taxpayers, and the public as it determines how the law will affect state policies surrounding accountability, funding, and school improvement, among other major issues.

“The passage of ESSA has created a unique opportunity to inform Texas’ education policy,” stated Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath in a press release issued yesterday. “However, we need input from all parts of our state to ensure that, under ESSA, all students in Texas can receive a high-quality education that prepares them for the future.”

TEA developed a survey for collecting input from the public, titled the ESSA Public Input Survey, which will be open through Nov. 18, 2016. The survey is open to anyone interested in providing input on the state’s implementation of ESSA, and data from the survey will be considered as the state develops its plan. The state must submit a final plan to the federal government by July 2017.

U.S. Dept of Education LogoIn related news, the US Department of Education (ED) released two new pieces of non-binding ESSA guidance this week. First, guidelines on how states can invest in early childhood education under the new law, among other things, provides clarification that funding under Title II can be used for professional development for prekindergarten teachers. The second set of guidelines outlines how states can use funding under a new block grant program: the Student Support and Academic Enrichment program. According ED, the new block grant is intended to help states “1) provide all students with access to a well-rounded education, 2) improve school conditions for student learning, and 3) improve the use of technology in order  to improve the academic achievement and digital literacy of all students.” Access the early education guidance here and guidance on the block grant program here.

 


Many teachers across the state are getting used to a new teacher evaluation system: the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS). The new system is in its first year of implementation statewide as the state’s new recommended evaluation system (districts have the option to create their own evaluation systems, but the vast majority of districts use the state-recommended system). Recently, two ATPE state office staff members observed the training that T-TESS appraisers receive and brought back practical tips to assist Texas educators currently navigating the new system. Head over to the ATPE Blog to see Part 1 and Part 2 of the series called “Navigating the T-TESS,” and be sure to check back for helpful tips ahead.

Also, as a reminder, don’t forget to utilize our T-TESS resource page on ATPE.org, where you’ll find details on the T-TESS design, history of the changes, links to news articles, and additional resources.

 


Competing priorites for public education

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick held a press conference yesterday to lay out his priorities for the 85th Legislative Session. To no one’s surprise, those priorities were heavily centered on the privatization of public education and the defunding of neighborhood schools through passage of the latest voucher fad. Certainly, there are many priorities the state can and should address to improve the way we meet our constitutional obligation to make available a system of free public schools to the state’s roughly 6 million school-aged children, but vouchers are not one of them.

In addition to costing the state potentially billions of dollars, the consensus of the research finds that voucher programs don’t, in any uniform or significant way, increase educational outcomes for the students who use them. Additionally, despite voucher proponents’ claims to the contrary, the research does not find any competition-driven boost to the public system. The competitive effect that can be observed is a diversion of money from the classroom into marketing budgets.

Instead of continuing to focus on this perennial distraction on behalf of those few but influential interests who stand to gain from the privatization of our public schools, the lieutenant governor and the legislature should work on behalf of all students and parents to address the state’s real educational priories. To highlight a few, they could:

  • address the preparation, retention, and equitable distribution of classroom educators, the single most influential factor on a child’s educational attainment;
  • address the stress-inducing drill-and-kill environment in many of our struggling schools created by the state accountability system, which makes it virtually impossible for these children to learn according to neuroscience;
  • address the state’s continuing struggle to attain universal, full-day, and high-quality prekindergarten; and
  • address our flawed system of school finance; address its inadequate weights for low-socioeconomic groups, English language learners, and special education populations; address the layer upon layer of inefficient and inequitable “hold harmless” provisions.

The lieutenant governor cited 239,517 students attending persistently struggling schools, which he calls “failing,” in his speech yesterday. If the lieutenant governor truly wants to help these students and so many more, setting any one of these as a priority (if not all of them) is the more effective approach. After decades of research, it’s not a matter of not knowing what works and it’s not a matter of blindly throwing money at the deficiencies. We know what works. Other countries have taken the research we have conducted and put it into concrete, policy-driven practice with amazing results. It’s simply a matter of taking what we know works and making it a priority here at home.

House education committee discusses voucher proposals the Senate is expected to push

The House Public Education Committee met for its final meeting before session earlier this week. The interim hearing was focused on its charge to study “school choice,” and marked what is likely to be the last public hearing for two of the committee’s members, Rep. Marsha Farney (R-Georgetown) and Chairman Jimmy Don Aycock (R-Killeen).

The term school choice encompasses a broad spectrum of options, including magnet schools, in-district charter campuses, open enrollment charter schools, other specialized campuses, and open enrollment policies. All of these exist within the public school context. However, in this case, the committee used the hearing to focus on analyzing the effects of the two voucher programs likely to be pursued by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and the upper chamber in the upcoming session.


In related news, Lieutenant Governor Patrick laid out his 85th Legislative Session policy priorities today before business leaders in Dallas. Patrick called “school choice” a top priority, vowing to continue to fight session after session for his “school choice” agenda, an agenda that includes vouchers. Read more about Patrick’s education priorities in tomorrow’s weekly wrap-up.


The committee heard from two panels of invited witnesses. The first panel was made up primarily of proponents of Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) and Tax Credit Scholarships, both forms of vouchers or neo-vouchers. The second invited panel, which represented voucher opponents, was comprised of outgoing SBOE member Thomas Ratliff, the head of Pastors for Texas Children Charlie Johnson, and a lead researcher with the National Education Policy Center, Luis Huerta.

With near unanimity both Republican and Democratic committee members questioned, challenged, and ultimately signaled their rejection of the proposals voucher proponents put forward. The reasons brought forward by concerned committee members varied, but the conclusion was all the same: Texas has plenty to build upon within the public education system and they don’t need nor want a state-created, state-run school voucher program.

In a growing twist these legislators are finding support in their opposition to vouchers from what many would consider an unlikely source. At least half a dozen home-school parents were on hand to voice their opinions during public testimony, and they uniformly stated that they were opposed to a state voucher program, including ESAs. One mother put it best in an exchange between herself and Chairman Aycock when she acknowledged that home-school parents don’t want government dollars, they “just want to be left alone.”

For those interested in viewing the full hearing for more information, archived footage can be found here.