Call To Action From Superintendent Branum

Tabitha Branum

RISD parents, teachers, staff, students and community members,

It’s time for RISD’s elected legislators to hear from you. As we have been reporting over the past weeks and months, the Texas legislature has been considering two important issues related to public education – 1) critically needed additional funding for our schools, students and teachers, and 2) creating subsidies for private schools, known as vouchers or education savings accounts.

On November 7, the governor called another special session of the legislature to consider school funding and vouchers, and we are asking you to contact your elected legislators today to make them aware of your opinions as constituents and voters on these two issues. RISD has partnered with Raise Your Hand Texas, a non-profit group that supports public education, to create an easy way for RISD residents to contact their legislators on these important issues. Simply click on this link to begin the quick and easy process of having your voice heard.

As our elected board of trustees and I have made clear for the last 12+ months, our students and teachers, and those who support them, critically need additional funding. RISD has not received an increase in basic per-pupil funding since before the pandemic, while inflation and the costs to operate have risen dramatically since 2019. And while increases in property values have created higher property tax bills, the state benefits financially, not school districts. Property value increases do not increase the operating budgets of school districts, and those funds instead benefit the state and its surplus of tax dollars. 

The legislature has not provided schools with funds to keep up with inflation, yet some elected officials in Austin want to spend hundreds of millions of public tax dollars to create vouchers, also known as education savings accounts. This would allow public funds (your tax dollars) to be used for private school tuition. Private schools accepting those public funds choose the children they want to attend their school, do not have to accept all students, nor do they have to maintain the same school safety requirements, or follow the Texas curriculum. Private schools funded by public dollars are not accountable to taxpayers for the academic success of students or for financial transparency, ensuring the responsible use of tax dollars. 

The idea that school vouchers will create more competition for schools is a false argument.  There is only competition when the rules are the same, and there would be no rules for private schools that will have no accountability to the public for the tax dollars they may receive.  

I hope you will take action to contact your legislators and let them know you support the strong public education system in RISD. Learn more here about these issues and the legislative positions adopted by your elected RISD trustees.

Thank you for considering taking action to support students, teachers, and public education in our community.

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