Virtual Voucher bills are particularly insidious because they trade on the value of technology to shift public funds to private companies. Virtual voucher bills transfer funds from our public schools that serve ALL children to private vendors in an effort to create a statewide network of publicly funded private virtual schools. While no virtual voucher bills have yet been introduced in the 85th Texas Legislature, the Coalition for Public Schools opposes virtual vouchers for the following reasons:
- No “Choice” for public school districts - Past virtual vouchers removed any discretion on the part of public school districts to determine student need or select vendors. Some bills even subsidize private vendors providing the same course offered by a local neighborhood school, at public expense.
- Subsidizing home schooled and private school students - By allowing students to take online courses without ever having been enrolled in a public school district, many of these bills take public funds away from public schools to private for-profit vendors and forces them to act as a mere pass-through of public funds.
- No positive track record for virtual schools – Many of these bills divert public funds away from successful schools to full-time online learning which has been shown to be ineffective as an educational method. Recent research from the National Education Policy Center shows that virtual schools consistently lag far behind brick and mortar schools in graduation rates, Adequate Yearly Progress, and state performance rankings.
- No accountability –. Most virtual vouchers do not require vendors to adhere to any of the fiscal, curricular, or administrative oversight to which public schools, including public charter schools, are subject. Students in grades K-2 aren’t touched by state assessments which cover a narrow band of the curriculum and are not given at every grade level. How will these providers be held accountable?