Texas Business Group Embraces Vouchers

Published March 1, 1998

The Texas state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business has embraced Putting Children First, a nonpartisan grassroots organization promoting school choice. The leading business group said that more than two-thirds (69 percent) of its 40,000 members–mostly small business owners–support a proposal that would allow students to use tax dollars for tuition at the school of their choice.

“Concern over education is widespread, deep, and growing among small businesses,” said NFIB’s Robert Howden. “The overwhelming majority of our members have expressed strong support for a school choice program.”

A recent poll of 3,200 members of the NFIB Texas found that over half (55 percent) feel that the high school graduates they hire lack the basic skills for entry-level work, mirroring similar concerns expressed in a recent report from the National Association of Manufacturers.

“I desperately need young people to train, but I can’t train them if the schools don’t give them the foundation,” explained Don Summers, owner of Austin Welder and Generator Service. “I can’t build on zero.”

Jimmy Mansour, chairman of Putting Children First, has pledged a “full-scale effort” to expand educational choice when the Texas legislature meets again in 1999. NFIB has promised to lobby in support of the effort.

NFIB Texas joins an impressive list of voucher supporters in that state, including Democratic Lt. Governor Bob Bullock, who agreed last November to become Honorary Chairman of Putting Children First. (See “Texas Vouchers Gain Democratic Support,” School Reform News, January 1998.)