Houston ISD opposes school vouchers

Voucher programs such as education savings accounts or tax credit scholarships threaten the district’s school choice efforts

The 2017 Texas Legislative Session is underway, and state lawmakers are discussing school choice.

As a district of choice, Houston ISD is among many districts throughout the state to offer a multitude of academic options to parents and students. However, a voucher system – in the form of education savings accounts or tax credit scholarships – would disrupt what school districts like Houston ISD are already doing to provide choice. In addition, vouchers would have a damaging impact on the state’s public school system which educates more than 5 million children in Texas.

Recently, House Public Education Committee Chairman Rep. Dan Huberty said his committee will not allow vouchers to move through the Texas House. HISD applauds Chairman Huberty, Speaker Joe Straus and members of the Texas House for their courage and for standing in the gap for Texas’ children.

“On behalf of the 215,000 students and 287 campuses at HISD, the district strongly opposes harmful school choice legislation,” said HISD Board of Education President Wanda Adams. “We are grateful for the work being done in the Texas House. The state’s constitution says, ‘It shall be the duty of the Legislature to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.’”

Nearly 80 percent of HISD’s students are economically disadvantaged and one-third are learning English.

HISD operates 119 magnet programs at 110 schools districtwide. Like many districts, Houston ISD offers choice from Pre-K through 12th grade to all children. HISD has high-performing magnet schools, charter schools, early college high schools, early childhood centers and a virtual school.

In 2016, 37 of HISD’s high schools were recognized among the most academically rigorous schools in the U.S. by the Washington Post. The district also is a two-time winner of the National Broad Prize, an honor awarded to urban school districts for closing the achievement gap.

“The Legislature’s main focus is to make sure the public school system works well,” said HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza. “HISD is ready to do our part to boost student achievement and sustain high-quality choice programs for Houston’s children.”