Texas Senate Tentatively OKs Private-school Vouchers for Disabled Students

AUSTIN -- A school-finance bill that also would create tax credit scholarships to help disabled students attend private schools won tentative approval from the Senate Monday.Opponents warn it's the first step toward a school voucher-type program in Texas.Bill author Sen. Larry Taylor, the Senate's chief public school policy writer, though, said that under the bill, relatively few disabled children would switch to private schools."Just a fraction of a fraction" of Texas' more than 5 million public school students -- about 6,000 -- would receive the scholarships donated by insurance companies, he stressed.All of the chamber's 11 Democrats, except for Brownsville's Eddie Lucio Jr., voted against. AllRepublican senators except Robert Nichols of Jacksonville and Charles Perry of Lubbock supported the bill, which advanced, 21-10.On Tuesday, the Senate is expected to give it final approval and send it to the House. There, it faces very uncertain prospects.Taylor, a Friendswood Republican, said it would supplement, not injure, what public schools are doing for special education students.However, Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman José Rodríguez of El Paso predicted only affluent families would be able to take advantage. Scholarships would be capped at $10,000 per student annually, he noted.Last week, an administrator at a Catholic school in Austin testified that for a high schooler with dyslexia, the tab for tuition and services each year exceeds $13,000, Rodríguez recounted.  Continue reading...

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