I began my 43-year teaching career in 1975, when what is now known as the “Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) was enacted. This law guarantees “a free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children.” Our public schools are charged with serving all children, ensuring that we have an educated populace to keep our democratic country strong.
Vouchers are a way to segregate our school system, even though they sound fair and appeal to parents who only want the best for their children. Research, news reports, and firsthand experience show that special needs students do not fare well with private schools which can deny them admittance. Vouchers are a way to siphon off money and students from public schools by states that do not value or practice the concept of “a free appropriate public education for all”. Vouchers promote segregation, elitism, and a lack of compassion that endanger our public schools.
I am passionate about the importance of public education for our country and our world. We face many challenges today, such as climate change, health care, poverty, and of course, education. All children deserve a quality education to equip them to be productive citizens, able to meet the challenges they will face as adults.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are values that will ensure the best outcomes for our country and our world. Diversity? We are not all the same. It’s a fact of life on our planet! Inclusion? Special education has been guided by this concept for many years, and it amazes me that anyone could find fault with it. Equity? Public schools are best suited to provide an education for each child’s individual needs.
The last 17 years of my teaching have taken place in Hays CISD, Kyle, TX. My sincere hope is that all voting citizens of Texas will carefully consider what is best for educating our children and vote “no” in all ways possible concerning vouchers that will weaken our public schools.
Jayne D. Baker, Ph.D.