Responding to a distress signal from its affiliate in the Lone Star State, the National Education Association is helping officials from the Edgewood School District organize a fight against school vouchers. According to a story in the San Antonio Express-News, the Texas State Teachers Association asked the NEA, “one of the most powerful education lobby groups in the country,” to guide a grassroots campaign in support of public schools.
The NEA’s goal, according to spokesperson Sheila Simmons, is to encourage community residents–parents, grandparents, graduates, students, and teachers–to speak up in opposition to vouchers, which Simmons called the most controversial issue facing education since the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which outlawed segregated schools.
Edgewood became the focus of national attention last spring when it was named the beneficiary of a decade-long $50 million private voucher program administered by the locally financed Horizon Scholarship Fund. The fund provides low-income families in the Edgewood School District with full tuition scholarships worth up to $4,000 per student to attend area private schools. Scholarships worth some $3 million were awarded to 614 students in the first year.
The NEA already is actively involved in fighting against vouchers in Cleveland, Ohio, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where state-funded voucher programs have been implemented.