60 Years Ago, Resistance to Integration in Texas Led to School Voucher Plan

“If legislators who represent urban school districts are themselves representing people who would benefit from this, why are so many legislators in urban school districts not for this?”

By Kate McGee March 17, 2017 9:30 am, , ,

From KUT

The Texas Senate Education Committee plans to discuss a bill next week that would allow parents to use taxpayer dollars to send their kids to private schools. The school voucher program is cited as a way to give students — especially low-income students — access to high-quality schools.

This isn’t the first time lawmakers have tried to pass a school voucher bill; lawmakers have introduced some kind of modern-day voucher program for at least 20 years.

But vouchers have a history in Texas that dates back to school integration. And it’s not pretty.

After the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, Texas was resistant to desegregating its public schools. Then-Gov. Allan Shivers appointed a committee to recommend ways to prevent integration. One proposal created a school voucher program that would give parents who opposed integration taxpayer money to send their children to a segregated private school.

“Such aid should be given only upon affidavit that the child was being withdrawn
 from the public schools due to the parents’ dislike of integration.”

The voucher proposal was part of a larger group of bills filed to circumvent desegregation, but the bill never passed.

“It was my father and state Sen. Abraham ‘Chick’ Kazen from Laredo, and they had placed everybody on notice that they would be opposing any Jim Crow laws,” former U.S. Rep. Charles Gonzalez said. In 1957, his father, Henry Gonzalez, was the first Hispanic state senator in Texas, representing San Antonio. He later became a congressman. Then-state Sens. Gonzalez and Kazen filibustered the bills targeting desegregation for 36 hours, setting a state record.

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