Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has been on the road rallying for school choice legislation across the Lone Star State, saying education freedom is one of his top priorities.
“My job is to make sure we get across the finish line a piece of legislation that will return mom and dad to being in charge of their child’s education in the great state of Texas,” Abbott said Tuesday night at an event promoting school choice near Houston.
Abbot is backing a proposal, SB 8, which would provide families with $8,000 per student in an education savings account and allow them to spend the money on approved private school tuition. School choice typically allows tax dollars to follow a student as opposed to a specific school district.
WATCH AUTHOR EXPLAIN WHAT SCHOOL CHOICE MEANS:
“For Education Savings Accounts, as it’s indicated in our policy, the comptroller’s office would take applications for the use of these $8,000 education savings accounts and that would go directly to an approved private school that the family preferred,” Texas Sen. Brandon Creighton, the author of the bill, told a local ABC affiliate.
The bill would also restrict schools from instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity topics “in a manner that’s not age-appropriate” and require districts to upload their lesson plans to an online portal where parents could see the learning materials.
Critics worry the legislation would remove money from the public school system, leading to a drop in funding and attendance.
“If we lose five or 10 students, that’s a teacher salary. But we can’t afford to have one less teacher, so now we’re cutting academic programs, we’re cutting sports, we’re cutting the things that this community relies on,” Texas Association of Rural Schools President Aaron Hood told NBC News.
But Abbot denied that charge.
“Just like charter schools did not defund private schools in the state of Texas, neither will school choice in the state of Texas,” Abbott said at a Tuesday school choice rally in Austin. “Wherever school choice is used, public education improves.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released a legal opinion Monday stating that education savings accounts are legal. Creighton’s legislation is one of several bills before the Texas Senate Committee on Education on Wednesday.
To learn more about school choice, click here.