Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, is organizing a campaign for a school choice law across the state. Using education savings accounts or school vouchers, he wants to provide parents with state funding so they can send their children to institutions other than the state’s public education system.
Abbott told an audience on Monday in Temple, “Under the school choice program, all public schools will be fully financed for every student the same way they are now.
The idea, according to those opposed to the new legislation, would end up costing public schools in the long run.
The time is not right, according to Bob Popinski, senior director of policy for Raise Your Hand Texas, to divert funds from Texas’s public schools.
According to the national average for per-pupil financing, he noted, “Right now, we’re roughly $4,000 behind.” We are among the lowest ten. So, we must fund our public schools before ever considering vouchers.
Those Who Won’t Chose Public Schools Will Get $10,000 Annually
According to the proposed legislation, families that choose not to send their children to public schools in the state would receive the $10,000 annual average cost of educating a child in Texas public schools. The program’s funding may come from both donations and tax-payer dollars.
According to Popinski, the monies shouldn’t be used to support organizations that lack transparency and public accountability.
If you were to multiply the 300,000 private school kids in Texas by the $10,000, you would immediately have a $3 billion program, he continued. “Money going to private schools that are not subject to any of the laws of our state.”
Popinski advised parents to be concerned about private school enrollment and what will happen to pupils who choose to leave the public school system if there are no places available.
He said, “Private schools aren’t liable for accepting a student with a voucher. For any voucher program that has been submitted or considered, “they can if they wish, but they are not required to.”
Some organizations that are against the “school choice” program are worried about how it would affect rural schools.
School choice is a piece of legislation that they are keeping an eye on and talking about, according to Dr. Darryl Henson, superintendent of the Marlin Independent School District and a participant in the Texas Association of Rural Schools.
Henson stated that the measure might have an impact on the budgets of smaller or rural school districts, and it is something they are discussing with lawmakers.
“The financial repercussions of this are substantial, realizing that depending on the school district, six to eight pupils might potentially represent a complete teacher salary and that normally in a rural school district, we are our biggest job creator,” he said. “It’s also crucial that we consider how much of our tax funds go to the public rather than private companies.”
According to Henson, rural school districts already face resource constraints, so adding more educational options could make the situation worse.
Budgets for schools are determined by attendance, which comes from enrolment. A school district would lose money if kids left public schools as a result of the school choice program.
Henson continued, “If we have a lower enrolment, it’s going to directly affect the money that we have for our kids. Every day, we must continue to educate our children, and in Texas, this means potentially funding three different types of schools: regular ISDs, charter schools, and now maybe private schools.
Henson and Popinski concur that parents should have rights and obligations regarding their children’s education, but they do not necessarily require school choice legislation to do this.
Henson continued, “As a leader, we encourage choice and opportunities for our children. Just making sure we have the resources to offer those choices and possibilities inside our local ISDS is all we’re after. We currently have a proposal that allows public funds to be given to private organizations.
Private organizations may not be as accountable to the state, its grievance procedures, or its open meetings law, of course. Because not every school system is required to teach every child, is this a school choice or a school’s choice?
We want parents to know that, as the center of the community and a local ISD, we are still here to offer fantastic opportunities and choices to every child who enters our door.
Popinski continued, “We don’t want parental empowerment, parental choice, or parental rights and obligations to be synonymous with vouchers. “We believe in parental rights and responsibilities, and Texas law has codified such rights and obligations since 1995.
Do we need to raise that in order to inform parents of their rights? Yes, but that isn’t a voucher program, and we don’t want the two to mix and get intertwined.
A school choice program is one of the governor’s and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s main legislative goals for this session.