TX House Source: Vouchers go down (again)

Diane Ravitch just posted this.

A source on one of the House staffs just sent me his assessment anonymously. He also weighs in on the relationship between vouchers and current Texas school finance case:

Vouchers just basically died in the House….

The amendment basically prohibits public dollars for public education going to private schools.  So in order for scholarships to work in this next biennium, there would be reduced revenue collections and thus an offset likely would have to occur in expenditures somewhere.  That expenditure reduction could not adversely affect public school dollars, so something else would have to be cut.  Members won’t be happy about that.  Herrero’s amendment basically locked in funding…

There was already little chance that vouchers would pass, but it basically has no chance to pass if that has occur by taking from somewhere else.  Besides that, the 103-43 vote shows you that the house has absolutely no interest in vouchers of any kind, whether voucher or tax incentives or scholarships.

Encouragingly, the 2.5 billion that they’ve put back in, they did in such a way that disproportionately benefits poorer districts.  Overall, however, a problem may exist with the lawsuit going forward.  Three of the pillars of the argument are in trouble.  The adequacy argument will take a hit through lowering rigor (whether HB 5 is good or bad, rigor will be reduced – fewer exit-level tests, and I’m happy about less exit-level tests, fewer students having to take Alg. II, Chemistry, Physics, the 4×4 no longer the default, etc.).

Dietz’s ruling on adequacy was based on the system as it was before session, and he pointed to the failure of students to achieve at the level of rigor the legislature set forth as proof that funding has been inadequate to achieve the education the state said was necessary.  In addition, the equity argument will also be diminished due to the increased funding in pub ed raising the basic allotment, which benefits poorer districts more than richer districts and compresses that disparity (which is a good thing now, but may be harmful in the long term if it prevents a reworking of the formulas).  The de-facto state property tax is weaker now than in litigation past, as only 252 districts are at the $1.17 limit (less than 25%).  So even if that was a consideration, which I’m not sure it was, it could easily be dismissed by the state supreme court.

All in all, it looks like it’s setting up for the state sc to reverse relatively easily.  Just an impression.

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