Just weeks after school choice advocates expressed frustration over Gov. Greg Abbott’s murky position on the issue, the Texas governor has announced he will support a proposal for school choice in the coming legislative session.
As defined by the Republican Party of Texas, school choice refers to legislation that would “empower parents and guardians to choose from public, private, charter, or homeschool options for their children’s education using tax credits or exemptions without government restraint or intrusion.”
School choice was even a legislative priority of the Texas GOP heading into the last session, though the issue was soundly quashed by legislators in the Texas House (including a majority of Republican members).
Though Abbott had flirted with support for school choice since he first became governor in 2015, there had been no pressure from the governor on lawmakers to pass a school choice bill, and the issue faded for a few years.
As attention on indoctrination inside public education continues to grow, a renewed interest in legislative efforts to increase parental choice in education has begun to emerge.
After being largely silent on the issue in recent months, Abbott broke his silence on Monday night at an event in San Antonio focused on parental involvement in education.
“Empowering parents means giving them the choice to send their children to any public school, charter school, or private school with state funding following the student,” said Abbott.
BREAKING: Texas Governor Greg Abbott: "Empowering parents means giving them the choice to send their children to any public school, charter school, or private school with state funding following the student." pic.twitter.com/pUAeLrYOVh
— Corey A. DeAngelis (@DeAngelisCorey) May 10, 2022
In the same speech, however, the governor stressed his commitment to “fully funding” public schools.
“No governor has devoted more resources to public education than I have,” said Abbott. “In 2019, we increased public education funding by more than $5 billion per biennium, and in 2021 we added even more. It is imperative that we continue to fully fund Texas public schools. We can fully fund schools while also giving parents a choice about which school is best for their child.”
Mandy Drogin, the state director of Texas Federation of Children—a school choice advocacy organization—applauded the move.
“With today’s announcement, Governor Abbott has made it clear that Texas will prioritize student-centered educational policies that ensure money will follow the student to any school their parents choose—this includes high-quality public schools, public charter schools, private schools, and more,” said Drogin.
Jeremy Newman, the director of public policy for the Texas Home School Coalition, also told Texas Scorecard their organization was encouraged by his announcement.
“Families have the right to direct their child’s education. Parents are stepping up nationwide to demand that this right be respected. We’re encouraged that Governor Abbott is stepping up to help lead on this issue, as he should,” said Newman.
Abbott’s words on school choice, however, run in contrast to some of his recent actions.
In the Republican primary runoff elections, Abbott has aligned a slate of candidates largely aligned with liberal teacher unions that have long opposed school choice and other forms of education reform, even as parents continue to discover pornographic material and critical race theory being promulgated in public schools.
Additionally, Abbott has endorsed incumbents, such as State Reps. Glenn Rogers (R–Mineral Wells) and Kyle Kacal (R–Bryan), who have voted against school choice efforts during their time in office.