Texas lawmakers considering 'school choice' measure
(KTEN) — School choice returns to the spotlight at the third special session of the Texas Legislature.
On Monday, the Texas Senate introduced Senate Bill 1, which would create education savings accounts, a form of school voucher.
Under terms of the legislation, parents who pull their children from public school would be able to receive $8,000 a year in these accounts to fund alternate education, including private schools and homeschooling.
"That would open up so much opportunity for more families wanting to go to homeschool family lifestyle," homeschooling mother Joshlyn Merchant said. "I think that's what holds a lot of people back, you know, that financial burden that could be."
The proposal is dividing both legislators and educators. Supporters say it gives parents more control over what their children are learning and offers private education to a wider demographic.
"When you give a school choice or a voucher to a family or to a parent, it puts that power back into that family," said Grayson Christian School administrator Greg Rostyne. "And if they don't see the benefit of it, they're simply going to pull their kid out."
Critics are concerned about holding private schools and homeschoolers to similar standards as public schools, and how such programs would move taxpayer money away from public schools.
"There is no room in Texas for a voucher system," said Sherman Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Tyson Bennett. "You cannot divert funds away from public education; you have to be full-in; we have to have champions for public schools."
That sentiment was recently echoed by Dr. David Kirkbride, Bennett's counterpart at the Denison ISD.
The state Senate also announced a $5.2 billion school funding bill, but because special session agendas are dictated by the governor, that measure may not move forward.