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School Choice and Vouchers

(Part 1 of "Public Education (K-12)")

It's Not Really "School Choice" As Much As It Is "Educational Choice"

Think about it: predictability and conformity are programmed into (and expected from) machines. But in today's world, it is the unique, the unexpected, and the unpredictable that has been leading the way into the future. Innovation, creativity, ingenuity, mold-breaking - these are what we should be cultivating in our educational opportunities. This is what will set Texas ahead of the rest of the country if we - you and I - have the fortitude to enable it. But to do this, educators and creators of educational materials must be innovative, ingenious, and non-conformist.

Here's what I propose. Let's remove the barriers to school choice and put the financial resources that have been stripped from Texans in the form of school taxes back into the hands of parents to help them fund their own educational choices for their students. I want the government to get out of the way of actual education experts, innovators, and creators. I want those people to bring us new, different, and better platforms, methods, tools, and materials for learning. I want students to have a safe, appropriate, peaceful, non-coercive educational environment in which to develop relationships with their peers and develop skills for life-long learning. But more importantly, I want today's students - tomorrow's leaders - to be quantifiably smarter than we are today. It's my belief that in taking these steps, we will begin the larger journey that will allow Texas's students to lead us, and possibly the country, into the future.

I also believe that Texas should allow more "real world" education opportunities such as earlier job training opportunities, flexible start times for schools, more extensive use of mobile information and computer devices, and alternative learning mediums. Asking students to take just one online class per semester reduces real costs by millions of dollars. Choice in education for both parents and students is essential to improving education performance and reducing the burden on the state budget and overworked educators.

I support educational choice because I believe that educators and students (along with their parents) should be able to work directly with each other to establish their own standards, timelines, and costs. I support educational choice because it promotes competition which, in turn, breeds innovation, cost-effectiveness, and better outcomes for our students - which means better outcomes for all of us.

If we are sincere in our desire to create a better future for Texas, then we need to start by allowing our students - Texas's future leaders - to be better.

Vouchers are Theft

But let me be clear on this point: educational choice does NOT apply to school vouchers (or any similar euphemism). Libertarians claim that "taxation is theft" meaning that we believe that forcibly taking someone's money and giving it to someone else can never be morally justified, even when (and especially when) it's the government doing the taking and giving. In the end, school vouchers steal monies allocated to public education and simply give them to private education with no guarantees in the improvement of the student's educational quality or experience.

Additionally, private schools can refuse student admission for ANY reason (e.g., academic performance, student behaviors, parents don't make enough money, etc.) Also, private schools are not required to provide special education services for students with conditions like autism. Finally, parents give up any parental rights at private schools where there is no accountability or transparency.

I have always opposed a voucher system, and probably always will.

Committee to Elect Darren Hamilton
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