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Republican SBOE member denounces private school vouchers

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Date Posted: 10/18/2023

Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) member Evelyn Brooks (R–Frisco) posted a video this week forcefully denouncing private school vouchers. 

Brooks posted the 22-minute video to YouTube and took direct aim at Senate Bill (SB) 1, which would divert public funding available for public education to instead pay for education savings account (ESA) vouchers to attend private schools. 

Brooks opened the video by outlining her career in education, which began as a first grade teacher in Maryland and included teaching elementary grades in Colorado and Virginia, as well as working as a homeschool tutor. 

Pointing out the challenges faced by public schools, Brooks blamed education reform laws such as the No Child Left Behind Act for the focus on standardized assessments and lackluster national literacy rates. 

Brooks argued school vouchers would not solve the problems with the public education system and would instead undermine the private school system. 

“Anytime there is a government entitlement given to people it means that we are the product,” Brooks said. “In short, our children are the product.” 

Noting that accountability must always follow public spending, Brooks predicted vouchers would lead to tracking and data-mining of private school students and that private schools would ultimately be required to administer the STAAR test. 

“This is starting a brand-new arm of government,” said Brooks, who emphasized that strings would be attached to public funds and result in private schools being forced to become more like public schools. 

Brooks raised the prospect that if non-public schools became subject to the same A-F accountability system as public schools, they could be taken over by the state just like Houston ISD. Brooks further warned that the intermingling of state dollars and interests would reduce the freedom of private schools of faith. 

On the topic of dollars, Brooks urged her audience to “follow the money.” Brooks noted that the program would not be overseen by the elected SBOE but rather the state comptroller and the vendors it contracts to operate the program. SB 1 allows the comptroller and vendors to skim 3% and 5%, respectively, of the total program funding. 

Brooks also noted that the $8,000 vouchers would not pay the full cost of private school tuition, which means the voucher would not benefit low-income families but rather those who can afford to pay the difference. In states that have passed voucher programs, the majority of payments are sent to those whose children already attend private schools. 

Instead of passing a voucher bill, Brooks suggested the Legislature pay teachers a six-figure salary to attract the best and brightest to the education profession, come up with a disciplinary program that holds students and parents accountable for discipline problems, and reduce dependence on digital curriculum and devices. She concluded: 

“We are desperate for changes. We are desperate for solutions. But this is not the solution.” 

Click here to watch the full video by SBOE member Evelyn Brooks. 




Sandra Klein

Thank you, Ms. Brooks for using your voice and outlining why vouchers are not the answer. Hopefully, your message will be seen by many.

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