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Huerta to Texas Legislators: “School Choice Doesn’t Guarantee Equity”

Luis Huerta, Associate Professor of Education & Public Policy
Luis Huerta, Associate Professor of Education & Public Policy
On October 17, Luis Huerta, Associate Professor of Education and Public Policy, testified at a Texas House of Representatives’ Committee on Public Education hearing on proposals that would use taxpayer dollars to help parents send their children to private or parochial schools, or to educate them at home. 

Huerta’s presentation, which begins at about 4.15 on this videotape, summarized current research on vouchers, which are public funds that parents can use to help defray the cost of tuition at a private school. Proponents of vouchers and school savings programs (taxpayer-funded grants which parents can use to pay tuition at private schools) assert that parents should be free to choose a private school for their child and use public funds to pay for the tuition.

Huerta said studies that are used to support the academic value of voucher programs are “haphazard” and “inconsistent,” and that research done by him and others has found that “private schools are not more effective in yielding higher outcomes for students who use vouchers.” Nor has research shown that private schools are “more efficient or cost-effective at educating all children, especially those with higher needs.”

Huerta also said “school choice” programs don’t really ensure that parents can choose any school for their children, and they do not guarantee equitable access to good schools. Private schools control which students are admitted, he pointed out. “School choice first is a choice made by private schools on the type of students they will admit, and less about parents’ ability to choose.”

Finally, Huerta told the committee, just as private schools are not subject to state laws governing equitable access for all children, they are not required to meet any standards governing the quality of education they provide. Most states, for example, do not require private schools to hire certified, qualified teachers, and fewer than half require performance assessments, he said.  Voucher programs could therefore threaten public authority and ability of states to ensure equitable access to quality education.

To view a videotape of Huerta’s testimony, go here

Published Friday, Oct 21, 2016