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Abbott chips away at public education in Texas, declaring undying love for private school vouchers

Not surprisingly, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is wildly in support of school vouchers for private schools. Of course he is—he’s just another tool in the conservative toolbox ready to dismantle public schools in favor of religious or private education.

Abbott declared Monday he’ll add vouchers to his new Parental Bill of Rights, along with a declaration to empower Texas parents—not teachers—with the right to decide how race and sex education should be taught in classrooms.

“No governor has devoted more resources to public education than I have,” Abbott said at a San Antonio campaign rally. “In 2019, we increased public education funding by more than $5 billion per biennium and, in 2021, we added even more.”

RELATED STORY: A tiny, largely unknown Christian college is at the epicenter of today’s dark conservative movement

Spectrum Local News-1 reports that Abbott’s Democratic opponent in November, Beto O’Rourke, is opposed to vouchers as they take away much-needed resources from public schools.

“Abbott is already underfunding our classrooms by $4,000 per student,” O’Rourke wrote on Twitter. “The last thing we need is to have him take our tax dollars out of our kids’ schools and send them away to private schools.”

Abbott is already underfunding our classrooms by $4,000 per student. The last thing we need is to have him take our tax dollars out of our kids’ schools and send them away to private schools.

— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) May 10, 2022

Abbott claimed that in addition to vouchers, his state would continue to fund public schools.

“Urban, suburban, rural — if you like the public school your child is attending, it will be fully funded,” Abbott said.

The Texas School Alliance called Abbott’s voucher program nothing more than a “tuition break” for the rich and would hurt the over 5 million Texas public school students.

“You can’t fully fund public schools and address the worst teacher shortage in Texas history by siphoning off public dollars to private schools,” the organization said, according to the Dallas Morning News. “The math doesn’t work.”

You have likely never heard of Hillsdale College. It’s a tiny Christian school in southern Michigan, but it’s stealthily worming its way into every conservative movement brewing in the nation. It is quite literally at the epicenter of book banning movements, the anti-vaxxer movement, critical race theory communities, climate science deniers, and Republican legislators.

Hillsdale College offers school boards and right-wing policymakers a template for conservative curriculums and attacks on liberalism.

The college has deep connections to the former secretary of education, Trump appointee Betsy DeVos, Salon reports. DeVos’ brother Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater USA, is a Hillsdale grad. The family has donated sizable sums of money to the school over the last few years.

DeVos is a notorious voucher advocate According to the National Education Association. Her “privatization agenda” left schools in Michigan in “tatters” with her “for-profit charter schemes.”

American Progress points to the racist history of school vouchers, starting in Prince Edward County in Virginia, where segregated public schools opted to close rather than adhere to the law of the land in Brown v. Board of Education requiring integration in public schools.

The fight over school vouchers will be a major battle in Texas’ upcoming 2023 legislative session. But Abbott’s Parental Bill of Rights states that “parents should remain the primary decision-makers in their child’s education by allowing them to choose the best school for their child, provide transparency on curriculum and instructional materials, and protect students.”

In its legislative priorities for its last session, Raise Your Hand Texas wrote:

Vouchers are taxpayer-funded government subsidies for private schools and vendors with no accountability for results… Vouchers reduce equitable access to educational opportunity, weaken rights for students with disabilities and expose taxpayers to fraud.

This content was originally published here.

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