A throng of students, parents, and teachers descended on the Texas Capitol Tuesday to demand that the Texas Legislature pass school choice. Speaking to the crowd, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick accused the Texas House of standing in the way of those reforms.
Patrick is expected to announce the filing of legislation that would create Educational Savings Accounts, vehicles that would allow the money to follow the child and empower parents to make decisions concerning the education of their children.
Efforts to expand education opportunity last session passed the Texas Senate only to die without a vote in the Texas House.
“Last session the Senators passed the first ever school choice bill out of this building with money attached as a tax credit program. It never got a vote in the rest of the Legislature,” said Patrick. “I say, if you block a bill on school choice, you are blocking the future of that child, of that family, of that American Dream. We want a vote, up or down, in the Senate and in the House this session for school choice.”
Also speaking at the rally was Gov. Greg Abbott who proclaimed this week “School Choice Week” and called for the Texas Legislature to pass school choice reforms this session.
“I know Lt. Gov. Patrick and legislative leaders from both the House and the Senate have been working on a school choice law,” said Abbott. “I hope and I urge that that law reach my desk. And when it does, I will make the choice to sign it and authorize school choice in the state of Texas.”
Responding to the calls from Abbott and Patrick for a floor vote on school choice reforms, State Rep. Chris Paddie (R–Marshall) who has been an outspoken opponent against education reform efforts tweeted “You won’t like that vote.”
If Abbott is genuine about his desire to pass school choice legislation he will have to use his influence to demand that the Texas House bring it to the floor for a vote. Otherwise reform efforts will likely die a quiet death in the lower chamber– without members going on the record – again.