Governor Abbott Expands The School Choice Agenda In The Special Session
Governor Greg Abbott has expanded the special session agenda in Texas after productive discussions with Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan. An agreement has been reached on school choice for Texas families, marking a surprising collaboration with Speaker Phelan and his House leadership team.
Governor Abbott announced the phasing out of the STAAR Test to be replaced by an enhanced assessment system. Additionally, there is a substantial increase in taxpayer funding allocated to government schools. Regarding school choice, students stand to benefit from an annual increase from the previously proposed bills to $10,400 in their Education Savings Accounts.
The administration of this program will be overseen by the Texas Comptroller through an "education organization" to ensure efficient fund distribution and adherence to the outlined guidelines.
Key points of the proposed legislation for expanding school choice in Texas include universal eligibility for all K-12 school children in Texas, voluntary participation allowing parents, students, and schools the freedom to choose, an annual allocation in Education Savings Accounts, phasing out the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) Test, providing students the option of choosing between a norm-referenced test or the STAAR test to ensure positive educational outcomes, and a significant increase in funding for Texas public schools, encompassing teacher pay raises and investments in school safety.
The main problem that we have is the uncertainty of support within the House and the Senate. If school choice passes this special session, there will be a need for a quick agreement, which could lead to compromises being made that hurt what school choice could potentially be for the state of Texas.
The governor's announcement comes in the wake of a failed attempt to reach a quorum in the Texas House, with the House GOP caucus addressing the issue in a press conference. Until a quorum is established, the House cannot address critical matters such as teacher pay raises as outlined in the expanded special session agenda.