Moved to Tears.
I'm not an emotional guy. It takes something really moving to bring this stoic to tears. But, my eyes glistened at the end of this morning's Upper School chapel. Our guest speaker, Joe White, CEO of Kanakuk Camps, delivered a powerful gospel message that challenged our students to literally nail their deep-seated hurts, destructive habits, and harmful hang-ups on a painting of a crucified Jesus that he created during chapel. One by one, virtually every high school student went onto the stage to nail their personal sins as well as the sins of those whom they have not forgiven onto the make-shift cross. Wow! What an example of confession, forgiveness, redemption, and the beginning of restoration–the very essence of the gospel. Thank you, Joe White and our LCA student body, for your moving testimony that brought this middle-aged man to tears.
Making Sense of School Choice.
It appears that the top three explosive issues in the 85th State of Texas Legislative Session are transgender bathrooms, sanctuary cities, and school choice. I have been personally involved in the school choice movement for almost a decade, having served on the board of the Texas Private Schools Association (TPSA) for the past nine years. In fact, I am the immediate past-president of that board that is now led by my friend and colleague, Dr. Larry Taylor, Head of School at Prestonwood Christian Academy. I have testified twice to the Senate Education Committee regarding the tax credit scholarship bill that TPSA has endorsed during the last three legislative sessions. I believe that I am well-educated on this issue and so I'd like to help you better understand it as you navigate the hype and hysteria that surrounds this proposed legislation.
First, there are two types of school choice proposals in the legislature: Tax Credit Scholarships and Education Saving Accounts (ESAS). The TPSA board fully endorses the Tax Credit Scholarship bills, SB 542 and HB 1184. We are neutral on the ESAS. The primary reason we cannot fully endorse the ESAS is the fear that it will open the door to more regulation by the State of Texas since it is a voucher-like proposal. Despite the political rhetoric of those who oppose school choice, the Tax Credit Scholarships are not vouchers nor are they voucher-like since they do not involve state funding. Tax credit scholarships involve private donations to private educational foundations. That money never goes into the public coffers. Accredited private schools like LCA would benefit from these scholarships because it would enhance our ability to grant even more tuition assistance to families who are unable to pay the full cost of tuition. Thus, our goal of increasing socio-economic diversity would be more in reach.
Secondly, the mission of TPSA is to promote and defend the independence of private schools in our state. We strongly believe that our schools should have the right to choose our own curriculum and our own teachers, as well as teach our particular beliefs about faith and moral issues. That is why we are cautious about any school choice legislation that might threaten our independence. Our independence from government control is our strength and this independence allows us to design an educational program that is attractive to our families and best corresponds with their values.
Finally, school choice does not threaten public schools any more than the existence of private colleges such as Baylor, TCU, SMU, Abilene Christian, etc., threaten public universities. Private schools enrich the educational environment of our state and help to keep our public schools even more accountable by providing real competition, forcing public schools to “up their game” (just like the emergence of FedEx and UPS caused the US Postal Service to “up its game”). Now, I am a huge supporter of public education and in fact, spent the first 10 years of my career as a public school educator. We absolutely need strong public schools and I never resent paying my school taxes to ensure quality public education. However, I disagree with the school choice opponents who say that the only way to improve public schools is to give them more money. If there was a direct correlation between the amount of money spent on education and the quality of that education, then the Washington D.C. public schools should be the finest in the nation and all the federal employees who live there should be sending their children to the District's public schools. Well, we know that's not the case. I think it's ironic that school choice opponents argue that giving parents a realistic chance to choose the best school for their children would create funding problems for public schools. Do they fear a mass exodus from the public schools and are they admitting that public schools cannot compete with private schools?
I hope this gives some clarity to an issue that is often foggy. I encourage you to contact your legislator and ask him or her to support the Tax Credit Scholarship bill. Please don't hesitate to ask me if you would like further information. You can also read more about it on the TPSA website, www.texasprivateschools.org.
Legacy Christian Academy is Frisco's only Pre-K through 12 Christian school committed to educating students in a college preparatory environment balanced in academics, athletics, and fine arts–all within the context of a biblical worldview. For more information on Legacy, visit our admissions page.