Could 'Friday night lights' go dark in Texas?

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by BRAD WATSON / WFAA

WFAA

Posted on October 12, 2012 at 12:49 PM

DALLAS -- High school football is a rite of passage, but a new online video produced by a left-leaning group opposed to school vouchers in Texas raises the question whether football could be on the budget chopping block.

Republican lawmakers in Austin say they want to file legislation in the next session in January to establish a voucher program.

The possibility that school vouchers could lead to the end of some high school football and band programs leaves Bryan Adams High School band parent Rebecca Moore feeling flat.

"They've stayed out of trouble because of band, because of ROTC, because of extracurricular stuff, and I don't think its fair," she said.

But that's the claim made in a just-released video by the liberal group Progress Texas.

It says vouchers for public school students wanting to attend charter or private schools could shift away as much as $1 billion from regular public schools.

But the new chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston, supports vouchers, saying it's one way to get children out of failing public schools.

At a hearing in late August he said, "No family should be locked into a low-performing school just because that happens to be their ZIP code."

But mostly Democrats and teachers groups oppose vouchers -- especially after more than $5 billion in school cuts last session.

By tackling vouchers with the counterargument that high school football could be hurt, they get the attention of Emanuel Edwards, whose nephew plays football at Bryan Adams.

"I don't think it would be too good, because small schools struggle already with sports and funding for their sports," he said.

This controversial school-funding issue is just in the first quarter in Texas.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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