Two pieces of legislation relating to school choice have successfully navigated the Senate committee process and will soon be brought up for a vote on the chamber floor. One of these proposals would create an education savings account.
During a meeting held on Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee moved Senate Bills 8 and 9, respectively. Throughout the previous week, the committee listened to much public testimony regarding the measures.
“As Chairman of Senate Education, I plan to lift up public schools and teachers in a way that has never been done before, and I will ensure that Texas schools are places where parents are confident in sending their children, and where students are prepared for an economy that will exist in the 21st century,” said state Senator Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, who is the author of both bills. Creighton is a member of the Republican Party.
“This legislative package answers the many pressing issues of parents, educators, employers, and kids throughout the state,” he continued. “This legislative package solves the many pressing problems.” A program for education savings accounts, more generally known as ESAs, will be established by Senate Bill 8, which the state will run.
Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), which are very similar to health savings accounts, are the focus of much of the discussion around school choice. The measure would provide families up to $8,000 in public money per student to pay for private or homeschooling.
In addition, the measure stipulates that parents must be informed of any shifts in their kids’ mental, emotional, or physical health. It was approved with a vote of 10-2 along party lines, with state Senator Royce West, a Democrat from Dallas, not present.
Bill 9 adheres to the recommendations made by the Teacher Vacancies Task Force by allocating increased cash for teacher incentive pay and across-the-board raises for educators, including more significant raises for those working in districts with fewer students.
In addition, it mandates that school districts investigate the use of teachers’ time and ensures that essential work may be finished during a typical workday. Additionally, it establishes and funds mentor programs and the Texas Teacher Residency Partnership Program.
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It was approved without any opposition. Monty Exter, director of government relations for the Association of Texas Professional Educators, says the two pieces of legislation make the voucher program in Texas public schools less effective.
Accuracy In Media tweeted that passed two school choice bills. You can check below:
The Mississippi House has passed two school choice bills! School choice continues to win each and every day.
— Accuracy In Media (@AccuracyInMedia) February 11, 2023
He stated that ATPE aims to improve communication between educators and parents and advance the teaching profession for the sake of the state’s 5.4 million public school students. However, he claimed that the two bills — from how they are written to how they have been paired together — accomplish the opposite of these goals.
Exter’s statement, “We will continue to work with the House to adopt solutions that enhance collaboration between parents and educators rather than sow animosity.”