A school choice agreement in Texas appears to be in limbo, with a blame game escalating between House Republican leaders and House Democrats. The special session is running out of time to pass various education-related bills, including school funding, teacher raises, and voucher-like programs.
Governor Greg Abbott claims to have reached an agreement on education savings accounts, but House leaders accuse Democrats of stalling and potentially preventing its passage. It’s uncertain whether there’s enough time left to pass a comprehensive school finance bill in this session.
Abbott’s agreement includes creating “universal” education savings accounts worth $10,400 a year, increasing teacher pay, school funding, and school safety funding, as well as phasing out the STAAR test. Families could use these publicly funded ESAs for private school or other educational expenses.
The escalating partisan rhetoric and potential quorum issues could also impact two border security bills that have passed the House. Democrats deny causing a quorum break, and both parties blame each other for the impasse.
Governor Abbott initially resisted expanding the session’s agenda to include items requested by rural Republicans. However, following discussions with other leaders, he agreed to include teacher compensation, special education, early childhood learning, and virtual education.
The specific details of the proposed legislation are unclear as no bill has been filed yet. Abbott mentions a teacher pay raise and recommendations from the Teacher Vacancy Task Force, but the exact plan remains uncertain.
Education groups, including the Texas State Teachers Association and the Association of Texas Professional Educators, have expressed concerns about education savings accounts and urge the House to prioritize teacher pay and school safety over vouchers. The situation remains fluid as the special session deadline approaches.