Texas Legislature

‘School Choice' Bills To Be Heard by Senate Education Committee Wednesday

'School choice' is a priority of the governor and lieutenant governor

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Expanding support for private schools drew parents, teachers and advocates from across Texas to a rally at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday, with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott advocating for his plan to subsidize private education.

The rally came one day before Senate Bill 8 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Education Committee. If passed, the bill would give families taxpayer money to pay for private schooling through an education savings account, or ESA.

“The solution to all of this is to empower parents to choose the school that is right for them, and that is what we will pass this legislative session,” Abbott told the crowd. Attendees were bussed in from other cities across the state, KXAN-TV reported.

State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, authored several of the bills that will be heard by the Senate Education Committee Tuesday.

“This allows for the parents to make a choice and take their children to a place that they think they can get a better education,” said Bettencourt.  

Bettencourt says average families would get about $8,000 per student and schools wouldn't be hurt by this.

State Sen. Nathan Johnson, D-Dallas, says there are many well-intentioned people behind the idea, but said the evidence isn't there to show the plan works.

"Our whole attitude towards public schools is undermined by a voucher system. Are we saying we can't do it? Our public schools just can't do it. We throw our hands up. We are going to privatize the whole system. I don’t believe that is the right answer,” said Johnson.

State Board of Education member Aicha Davis, D-District 13, will be testifying against the bills.

“I think the bills are so heavy with parental choice information, that they infringe on the success and what schools can actually do to provide services for students,” said Davis.

Whatever comes out of the Senate hearings will also have to be passed by the Texas House.

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