Lt. Gov. Patrick’s camp dismisses forum speaker’s school voucher claims
Representatives for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick refuted the claims of a Texas public education advocate who accused Patrick of pushing for a school voucher program that would allow lobbyists and special interest groups to profit from educating children.
Charles "Charlie" Johnson, founder and executive director of Pastors for Texas Children, said Patrick puts his own political gain over the best interests of schoolchildren. Johnson made his comments Thursday during a community forum, "The Truth About Education Vouchers" held Thursday at Stephens Central Library.
Patrick's press secretary Alejandro Garcia said Patrick was not interested in responding to Johnson's comments.
"The lieutenant governor usually doesn't respond to personal attacks," Garcia said.
Patrick, who has been championing a voucher system since being elected to the Texas Senate in 2007, recently vowed to continue to make private-school voucher legislation a major priority when the next regular legislative sessions convenes next year.
He backs giving parents state funding to remove their children from struggling public schools and send them to private and religious alternatives.
Last session, Senate plans offering tax breaks to corporations that funded "school-choice scholarships" for low-income Texans fizzled.
Patrick had defended the measure, saying that "no parent or student should ever feel trapped in a failing school" and adding, "We have an epidemic of failing schools in the state."
House Democrats and rural Republicans generally oppose vouchers, fearing they'll bleed more funding from already cash-strapped public schools.
Johnson, a Democrat, defended his comments Friday. He said Patrick, a Republican, has long been associated with several lobbyist organizations that have a monetary interest in developing more charter schools in Texas.
None of those connections has been proven, and Patrick has previously denied the claims.
"Could I have said what I did more politely?" Johnson said, referring to his comments during the forum. "Probably. But I stand behind everything I said."
Johnson added: "We look forward to working with the lieutenant governor and finding a more excellent way to educate our 5.4 million Texas schoolchildren."
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Lt. Gov. Patrick’s camp dismisses forum speaker’s school voucher claims: