For the first time in decades, school choice legislation is scheduled to be heard in the Texas House on Friday.
Whether the proposal has enough support from members, however, remains to be seen.
House Bill 1 by State Rep. Brad Buckley (R–Salado) would create an education savings account of approximately $10,500 available to any child. Unused funds do not roll over from year to year. A child who is homeschooled will qualify for $1,000.
The program will be limited by funds allocated by the legislature every two years. ESAs will be awarded based on family income levels.
Students who accept an ESA will be required to take a state assessment test or a national norm-reference test. Those who do not perform satisfactorily on the assessment two years in a row will be disqualified from the program.
The plan also includes teacher pay raises. In year one, full-time teachers, nurses, counselors, and librarians will earn a $4,000 bonus, while part-time employees will earn $2,000. In year two, the continuation of pay increases will be set by local districts using the state’s basic allotment process.
The bill was heard last Thursday in the House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity and Enrichment and was approved in a 10-4 vote.
Despite the billions of dollars in teacher pay raises and additional school funding, the legislation was still opposed by teacher unions.
The issue has been made a top priority by Gov. Greg Abbott, who has threatened to call members back for additional special sessions into next year if it does not pass.
The Senate, meanwhile, has repeatedly passed school choice legislation, including its own version last week.