RED ALERT: Voucher Bill Headed to Senate Floor - Please Call!

Posted 2/28/17

HB 1046 has passed the Senate Appropriations Committee and is headed to the floor. A strike-all amendment has turned the bill into a dangerous voucher bill that threatens local school district funding and sends Mississippi tax dollars out of state to unaccountable private schools. See the amended version here.

The biggest problem? This bill creates private school vouchers, which Cambridge Dictionary defines as scholarships that allow students to attend private schools rather than public schools. It sends public money that is intended for public schools to private schools that can accept the students they want and reject the ones they don't. Vouchers create a 2-tiered system of state-funded schools that operate under two completely different sets of rules (one has rules, one doesn't; both get MAEP funds), a key part of the privatizer's blueprint for dismantling public schools.

  • Public schools educate every child; voucher schools reject the students they don't want to teach and take state tax dollars for those they find more appealing

  • Public schools are held accountable to taxpayers for the quality of education and services they provide - all publicly reported; voucher schools are not accountable to taxpayers, we don't know what we are getting for our tax dollar - no results are reported publicly

  • Public schools are not allowed to charge tuition, their funds are limited and they are sorely underfunded; private schools can charge tuition in excess of the voucher amount while taking the limited tax dollars intended for public schools; this creates an un-level playing field and diminishes the ability of public schools to serve all students well

Please ask your senator to vote NO on HB 1046.

Find contact information for legislators in your school district.

Capitol Switchboard: 601.359.3770. Share the same message with Lt. Governor Reeves: 601.359.3200.

Appropriations Committee members learned today that the information provided in my previous emails was correct: this bill does send our tax dollars to any other state and there is no accountability for voucher schools. See the evidence and answers to other frequently asked questions here.

Don't be fooled. HB 1046 is a privatization bill that could bust the state budget with unlimited vouchers. And, it diminishes services for the very students it purports to help, by stripping quality standards from the existing dyslexia program and shrinking resources for students already receiving dyslexia services in public schools.

Research shows that vouchers do not improve achievement. In fact, the most recent research finds that voucher students experience significant losses in achievement. Our state is hemorrhaging revenue and cannot afford to pay its current obligation to our children. Taking funds away from public schools to fund a voucher program that even its proponents are too embarrassed to admit is a voucher program is ludicrous.

Just today, legislators reported that revenue collections for this year are down to 2013 levels and $40-million behind estimates for February alone. Creating an unlimited voucher program with an infinite cost to the state is irresponsible.

And here's a question for legislators who say that private schools getting our tax dollars need only please the parents of their students: Does the same apply for public schools? Of course not! Any school that receives taxpayer dollars should be held equally accountable to the public for the quality of education it provides.

Please call your senator right away. Ask everyone you know to call. Our children are counting on us to keep public funds in public schools. Together, we've got this!