Texas governor calls for school choice for every child in Lone Star State
The image of Lucy snatching the ball from Charlie Brown has been invoked for years as a metaphor for Texas’ relationship with school choice.
But is the Lone Star State finally about to go online?
On Monday night, Texas Governor Greg Abbott asked the Legislature to allow education money to follow children to learning options chosen by their parents, including private schools.
“Empowering parents means giving them the choice to send their children to whichever public school, charter school or state-funded private school the student chooses,” the governor said, adding that the choice of the school “is going to give every child in Texas a better chance”. to succeed.”
Abbott’s leadership on this important issue is a major and positive step for educational freedom in Texas. State policy makers should now heed the call and establish universal education savings accounts for all the kids in Texas.
Every child should have the opportunity to have a great K-12 experience and the chance to succeed in school and in life. Education savings accounts can provide this on-demand educational experience to children of all backgrounds.
The governor’s proposal comes at the right time.
Parents are already reporting that designated public schools are not meeting the needs of their children. Like state and school district officials nationwide, the Texas Education Agency reported a marked decline in statewide public school enrollment in the 2020-2021 school year.
Curiously, while some neighborhoods, like fort worthreport historic declines in enrollment, others, such as Liberty Hillnorthwest of Austin, saw a surge as families moved to more popular areas of the state.
At the same time, the Texas Home School Coalition reports that the number of homeschooled families has increased nearly 300% in 2021. This means Texans are seeing a shift in how and where families choose to live and raise their families.
Among black and Hispanic students, the percentages who can read well drop to 11% and 19%, respectively.
Today, fewer Texas students can read proficiently than they did in the late 1990s. Math scores are not faring any better.
Where the district school failed, education choice keeps promise.
Education choice improves academic outcomes achievement and achievementincreases access to safe schoolsis positive tax effectsimproved civic resultsand, most importantly, allows families to select learning environments that match their their values.
It is therefore not surprising that the choice of school is also increasing parental satisfaction.
The small but disproportionate minority who still oppose educational freedom in Texas are largely confined to the halls of the Texas Education Association, the state teachers’ union.
Unions are out of step with Texas families, 74% of them support education savings accounts. With an account, the state deposits a portion of a child’s funds from the state’s K-12 form into a private account that parents use to purchase educational products and services.
These accounts allow families to personalize their child’s education selecting textbooks and personal tutors, paying private school tuition if they choose, and even saving money from year to year, to name a few options.
In fact, a study in North Carolina found that over 60% of participating families use one account to access multiple learning options at the same time.
For some parents and students, they may want a private school that matches their personal beliefs. Others may need an educational therapist and individualized technology to help a child with special needs.
Families in Arizona and Florida, as well as children in North Carolina, Tennessee and Mississippi, are using the accounts, and lawmakers in West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire and ‘Indiana have approved proposals in recent years to create similar account options.
Some argued that school choice would be difficult for families living in rural areas of Texas. Yet these concerns are exaggerated. Nearly 70% of Americans living in rural areas have a private school within 10 miles of their home, and 34% of those families have a private school within 5 miles from their home.
Moreover, supply will certainly meet demand once families can control their share of education funding. New schools will spring up and existing private schools may add additional campuses.
Other claims that parents spend money wrongly have also been proven wrong by research. In Arizona, an auditor general’s report found wasteful spending amounting to just 1% funds from the account – and some of this bad spending was attributed to the state Department of Education bad guidance for families on authorized expenses.
Officials in other states, like North Carolina, have adopted new tools to help prevent inappropriate spending before it happens.
Texas is a popular destination for families looking to relocate, and public education trends are changing. State officials should follow the governor’s lead and make Texas a popular destination not only for families looking for a new home, but also for more quality learning options.
This piece originally appeared in The daily signal