.- The Catholic bishops of Texas launched a statewide effort, urging lawmakers to vote for an expanded school voucher program. The House education committee passed a voucher proposal Wednesday for a 12-year $69-million pilot program, authored by Rep. Linda Harper-Brown (R-Irving). It has been sent to the House, where it must be considered before the session ends May 30.
Last week, as part of the statewide effort, Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio wrote to a number of Bexar County lawmakers, some of them Catholic.
“I wish to express my personal expectation for your official support of a program that will concentrate its benefits on urban, at-risk children; a program that would make educational opportunities available to the poor, and that would strengthen the system of quality education for all,” the archbishop wrote.
“I really hope that you consider the parental choice initiative a critical one for the future of Texas, and that you support it actively in these closing days of the legislative session,” he concluded.
One lawmaker told Express-News that he viewed the archbishop’s letter as a threat, but
Deacon Pat Rodgers, communications director for the Archdiocese of San Antonio, said that was not the archbishop’s intention.
Supporters say the voucher program is to provide high-quality education for students from low-income families. They also say the vouchers would provide competition to public schools and force greater accountability in the public system.
The bill would also reauthorize the Texas Education Agency. Without passage of the bill, the agency would cease to exist.