78.5 F
Dallas
Thursday, March 23, 2023
** Preferred Partner - click for more info **Red Flag Reputation

Lt. Gov. Patrick calls Dallas, urban schools ‘dropout factories’ during voucher push

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick singled out Dallas schools along with other urban areas, calling them “dropout factories” as he pushes for voucher-like efforts.

Patrick said on a radio talk show earlier this week that any upcoming school voucher legislation would exclude small, rural districts and instead be only directed at large urban communities so families could leave failing schools.”

“If there is a school-choice bill passed, it’s focused on our big cities, our big districts,” Patrick said on the Chad Hasty Show Monday. “We’ll bracket out rural Texas.”

Patrick’s comments are just the latest from the state’s top Republican leaders indicating support for initiatives that would allow public dollars to be used toward private school education.

Gov. Greg Abbott, who like Patrick is up for re-election next week, touted his school choice agenda at a South Dallas private school in August. Abbott has made parental rights a cornerstone of his reelection campaign and has previously said he supports voucher-like efforts for families to use public funds toward private schools.

Dallas school officials declined to comment on Patrick’s remarks. DISD trustees are expected to discuss legislative priorities on Thursday, including opposition to voucher programs.

Others balked at his characterization of large urban districts.

“The lieutenant governor is mistaken,” Jason Stanford, spokesperson for Austin ISD, said in an email. The district is “a factory for equity and excellence. Our public schools in Austin are a success story he should be bragging about and not making up stories about.”

The district’s graduation rate increased from 75% in 2009 to 93% in 2021, surpassing the statewide graduation rate the same year.

Of Texas high schoolers, 90% earned a high school degree in four years in 2021 with about 5.8% dropping out. The rest continued taking courses or earned a certificate of high school equivalency.

In 2021, just 2.5% of Austin students who started high school four years prior dropped out.

The other districts Patrick named, exceed the state average when it comes to the percentage of students who don’t make it across the finish line though.

Dallas has the lowest four-year graduation rate of the state’s largest urban districts at 80.1%. DISD’s dropout rate in 2021 was 12.1% while the rest of the district’s high schoolers continued on or earned an equivalency certificate, according to the state.

Houston ISD Superintendent Millard House II said the district is working on “creating a base-line educational experience” to ensure all students reach their full potential. House also highlighted the range of options the district already offers to give families choices.

“HISD is proud to provide students and parents with several options to receive a world-class educational experience through school choice within our district.  We believe that education is not a one-size fits all approach,” he said in a statement.

Houston’s four-year graduation rate was 83.7% in 2021. Its dropout rate was 10.9% that year.

Most public school leaders and education advocates argue that voucher programs funnel money away from public schools, hampering their ability to help children. They are already raising alarm about the impending school voucher fight ahead of the 2023 legislative session.

“Vouchers are criminal,” Fort Worth superintendent Angelica Ramsey said during a recent panel hosted by The Dallas Morning News. . “They’re just taking the inequities that already exist in a systemic system and making it worse.”

During the same panel, Mesquite ISD Superintendent Angel Rivera said public dollars belong in public schools in order to close achievement gaps across the state — especially as inflation increases expenses.

“We do a lot less with the same amount of money … [it’s] costing that much more to educate children,” Rivera said.

Voucher programs have historically faced a tough road in Texas, with opposition by both Democrats and rural Republicans who don’t want to funnel state money away from public schools.

Most Texas voters are leaning toward school choice, including voucher-like programs, according to a recent poll from The News and the University of Texas at Tyler.

Patrick’s opponent, Democrat Mike Collier, criticized the lieutenant governor’s recent comments as a political ploy.

“Dan Patrick’s latest backtracking is just another last-minute, hollow campaign promise designed to save himself. Texas parents, students, and educators deserve better,” Collier said in a statement.

The DMN Education Lab deepens the coverage and conversation about urgent education issues critical to the future of North Texas.

The DMN Education Lab is a community-funded journalism initiative, with support from The Beck Group, Bobby and Lottye Lyle, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Dallas Regional Chamber, Deedie Rose, Garrett and Cecilia Boone, The Meadows Foundation, The Murrell Foundation, Solutions Journalism Network, Southern Methodist University, Sydney Smith Hicks, Todd A. Williams Family Foundation and the University of Texas at Dallas. The Dallas Morning News retains full editorial control of the Education Lab’s journalism.

Source

spot_img

Related Articles

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles