Why the Push Back?


As we wrap up the 2023-2024 school year, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all our students, parents, teachers, and staff for making this year exceptional. Your dedication and hard work have contributed to our students' success, culminating in memorable graduation ceremonies at Lee College and Stallworth Stadium. These events were a testament to the achievements of our students and the support of our community.


Speaking of support and community feedback, I do occasionally hear the question, why all the push back on school choice? First, I believe that Goose Creek CISD has worked tirelessly to provide choices for our students and families. You won’t find many districts in the state that provide the plethora of college and career pathways that we do, beginning with our Early Learning Academies, to our junior schools, extending on to our high schools of choice. Secondly, while the term itself sounds harmless enough, the implications are far reaching. Most people referring to school choice are referring to private school or charter school vouchers. While I do not have anything personal against parental choice, I do have a strong sense of justice and fairness for all. If the public school system is to be scrutinized beyond any reasonable measure and also be required to comply with every unfunded legislative mandate known to mankind, while the “school choice” options are not held to the same basic standards, such as school safety, state testing and financial accountability, then we tend to question the motive. We’ve all heard the term, follow the money. Anyone can perform rudimentary research to discover that this movement toward “school choice” is about following the money. Consider that twenty years ago public schools constituted about one half of the overall Texas state budget. Today it is about a fourth of the overall budget. This shift of less responsibility for funding public education has occurred during one of the most prosperous historical eras of the state’s economy. Never has the state collected more taxes than it currently does while during the same time making a concerted effort to shift the obligation to educate its citizenry which is why we still rank among the lowest funded states in the union for public education funding.


Goose Creek CISD continues to offer a wealth of choices, opportunities, and high-quality education, ensuring every child can thrive. However, we face significant challenges that require our collective action and advocacy. The current push for reduced obligation and privatization or entrepreneurial efforts to educate our citizenry has proven to fail in other states as a matter of corruption and ultimately the lack of altruistic motivation. Our nation was founded on the premise of creating what we now call the middle class, otherwise known as an educated citizenry. For what some may find fault in public education, you may not condemn its origin or ultimate purpose, which is to educate the masses, in order to stave off tyranny. With the current leadership plan to provide private school vouchers at a rate of double the public school basic allotment, with little to no accountability measures in place, one must wonder, what is the motivation? I won’t be presumptive to answer that for you, rather I’d only ask you to research it for yourself. Google (Texas Tribune) (Politico)


I do believe that the push for private school vouchers may threaten the very foundation of our public education system. These blatant efforts to pass voucher legislation at all costs, including raising out of state campaign donations, to unseat lawfully locally elected leaders tends to raise several critical questions about the fairness and effectiveness of this approach. Vouchers divert public funds away from our schools, undermining the resources needed to support all students. Despite the national rhetoric, our public schools offer excellent choices and a robust educational experience for all students. If vouchers are introduced, and it is likely that they will be, it is imperative that private schools receiving public tax dollars be held to the same academic and financial accountability standards as public schools. Without this accountability, we risk creating an inequitable system that benefits a few at the expense of many. Recently I was told by an elected official that it is okay to lie as long as it is couched in politics. One of our public detractors recently provided a legal response from another elected official, who is also a lawyer, that it is okay to lie, as long as it is couched in parody. So, the recent shift in our political world has clearly lowered the bar for this standard of justice and fairness that I’ve referred to. I still believe in it and will continue to live by it. My appeal to the general public has always been the same. Do your own research, form your own opinion, rather than become a mockingbird.


I am sounding the call to arms for all members of our community to stand up for public schools. There is no claim of perfection, but we must ensure that our educational system, along with its imperfections, remains fair and equitable, providing all students with the opportunities they deserve. Your voice and your vote are crucial in this fight. Together, we can advocate for policies and funding that strengthen our public schools and resist measures that would weaken them. To be clear I am an advocate for the masses. I am an advocate for America. I am not an opponent to alternative educational efforts. I merely expect that any measure placed upon public schools should also apply to any taxpayer funded measure. Our public schools must remain apolitical, and mission driven in the face of adversity. I hope you will join us in this effort to strengthen our educational system.


Thank you for your continued support and commitment of Goose Creek CISD as we develop the whole child. Let's work together to make the upcoming school year even more successful and to safeguard the quality and integrity of public education in Goose Creek CISD.


Dr. Randal O’Brien

Superintendent of Schools