When Mike Collier, who's running to be Texas' next lieutenant governor, spoke to the state's Democratic convention on July 17, he promised to "lead the legislature to amend our constitution to ban forever private school vouchers. You know why? Because vouchers are for vultures."
According to the Education Committee of the States, 16 states and the District of Columbia have some sort of voucher program. These allow public money that would have been spent educating a pupil to instead go directly to the pupil's family, who will have the option to spend it on private school tuition instead.
Texas does not have a school voucher program, though Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has voiced support for the policy, saying in a May speech that "Empowering parents means giving them the choice to send their children to any public school, charter school, or private school with state funding following the student."
Opponents often cast vouchers as a scheme to defund public schools, arguing that dissatisfied parents should simply stick it out in a failing institution. While she was running for president in 2019, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) made exactly that argument: "If you think your public school is not working, then go help your public school."
But vouchers have considerable support among parents, who are generally more able to find a better school than to fix a failing one. According to a 2018 poll from Education Next, 61 percent of American parents support voucher programs. EdChoice has compiled data finding that they "primarily benefit children from low-income families and students with special needs." (Indeed, in several states' programs the vouchers are only available to special-needs students.) Instead of chaining children to failing schools, vouchers give their families another option.
"Education funding is meant for educating children, not for protecting a particular institution," says Corey DeAngelis, a senior fellow at School Choice Now. "Imagine calling low-income families with kids stuck in failing government schools 'vultures.' The vultures are the ones fighting to trap kids in failing government schools."