Wednesday, February 07, 2007

James Leininger All Set to Kick 2000 Kids Out Into the Streets

No, I didn’t say it, he did. Texas millionaire James Leininger has told the Texas legislature that they need to take over his project – a 10-year, $50 million commitment funding a program for students in San Antonio's Edgewood school district - which is set to expire next year.

If they don’t act, Leininger says, the 2,000 students that attend a private school under his personally bankrolled school voucher program will be "out on the street".

Man, that’s a little cold.

And a little wrong.

First, I assume that these students who have been, up to now, the beneficiaries of a private school education will have no trouble getting themselves enrolled in a publicly funded school system. Unlike private schools, public schools cannot boot kids out into the streets (although, speaking as a public school educator, you sometimes wish . . . ). Public schools are, by law, obligated to admit anyone under the age of 19.5 years and give them an education.

Here is what Kathy Miller of the anti-voucher Texas Freedom Network said about Leininger’s plans:
"Private schools may be willing to put those kids out on the street, but the great thing about our neighborhood public schools is that they would never do that."
Not only wouldn’t but couldn’t.

Texas Education Code Title 1 Chapter 1§ 1.002:
EQUAL EDUCATIONAL SERVICES OR OPPORTUNITIES. (a) An educational institution undertaking to provide education, services, or activities to any individual within the jurisdiction or geographical boundaries of the educational institution shall provide equal opportunities to all individuals within its jurisdiction or geographical boundaries pursuant to this code.
Leininger’s private schools don’t have that rule to live by. How nice.

I think it’s time for James Leininger to take stock of his grand plan. He has fewer supporters in the legislature in this session than last, and the vote just isn’t there. Besides that, he has just illustrated for us one of the less obvious reasons why school voucher programs are a bad idea. What if someone pulls the plug on the voucher system, like Leininger plans to do with his program? Private schools will turn out their voucher students by the thousands, leaving them no choice but to go back to the public schools, which will have no choice but to admit them. These will be schools that will have been underfunded for years because the voucher system redirected funds from public schools to private schools.

And another reason to rethink school vouchers? No one wants them.


Anonymous said...

When Leineiger's students are tossed back into public schools what does that do to the public schools but cost them more and overcrowd them. I'm sure the parents of the other children will appreciate that.

Anonymous said...

Great work.