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Texas House rejects school vouchers

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TWC News: Texas House rejects school vouchers
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Public school advocates are calling it a victory—at least for now—in the ongoing debate over school choice.

The Texas House passed an amendment Thursday which would prohibit the use of state money for private school vouchers or scholarships. The move was made during budget negations on the House floor.

"It shows a commitment by an overwhelming majority of House members to support public schools, and focus on the real issues like restoring some of the funding cuts that were made and reducing reliance on standardized testing," Lonnie Hollingsworth with the Texas Classroom Teachers Association said.

The TCTA has adamantly opposed the creation of a voucher system, claiming it's a diversion. They say there's no proof that it would help better educate the state's school children.

But the state's top leaders see things differently.

"Having a choice means giving children a chance," Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said.

Dewhurst and others have been pushing to implement a voucher system, saying it would help kids who are locked in a poor performing district.

"All we want to do is say to every parent ‘You have choice’ but particularly those parents who don't have any choice because of their economics," Republican Senator Dan Patrick said.

While Thursday's vote was welcome news for the TCTA, they say they're still keeping an eye on a bill which would give tax credits to businesses who supply private school scholarships.

"These tax credits are really just another form of voucher because giving a 100 percent tax credit to a business is exactly the same as writing a check from the state to the private school," Hollingsworth said.

Even though vouchers aren't a part of the House budget, they could be added as the House and Senate work together to craft the final budget.

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