Flanked by supporters, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and State Sen. Larry Taylor (R–Friendswood) unveiled a major school choice proposal to reporters on Monday.
“It is time that Texas catch up with the rest of the country and give every parent the option to choose the best school for their child,” said Patrick. “This legislation will help every student in the state if their parent believes another school provides a better choice for them.”
SB 3 by Taylor would expand opportunities in education by creating vehicles known as Educational Savings Accounts that would allow funding to follow the child as they move to a charter, private, or homeschool.
Under the legislation, children in the state would be eligible for an ESA in the amount of 60 or 75 percent of the state average of maintenance and operations expenditures depending on family income. Children with disabilities would be eligible for 90 percent.
It’s that component that has public school administrators and teacher unions pulling their hair out, conjuring doom scenarios and bold prophecies of schools having to shut their doors if children left failing public schools.
Responding to those concerns, Taylor noted that the legislation would still allow public schools to receive funds, and would in fact have lower expenses given that they would no longer have to educate the child.
“This is not money leaving the system,” said Taylor. “This is money following the child.”
Last week, Gov. Abbott endorsed school choice reform in the state and called for the legislature to pass the measure so he could sign it.
The legislation is expected to pass quickly through the Senate, but will likely die in the Texas House. A similar measure suffered the same fate last session: killed unceremoniously without so much as a hearing by House leadership.