On Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott continued to push his “school choice” agenda at Temple’s Parent Empowerment Night. He shared his goals to eliminate “woke agendas” with parents, educators, and students.
“I need you to stand up, stand with me and fight with me all the way to get this done for the kids of the great state of Texas,” Abbott told the crowd.
The event was hosted by Central Texas Christian School (CTCS) along with the Parent Empowerment Coalition Monday. Abbott attended the same event in January at a Corpus Christi private school.
Since the start of the 88th Texas Legislature, Abbott has been touting the “school choice” policy – recently making it an emergency item.
This includes passing bills that allow parents to get money from the state to send their kids to schools outside of the state’s public education system. Abbott said during the event that this would be accomplished through state funded education savings accounts (ESA).
“What we need to do this session is to expand that program to provide every parent in the state of Texas with the ability to choose the education option that is best for their child,” Abbott said. “To be very clear about one thing, under the school choice program — all public schools will be fully funded for every student the same way they are now.”
Abbott swears public schools will remain fully funded, even though education experts have said these vouchers will severely underfund an already struggling public education system.
“When a family uses a voucher, public school districts lose funding,” reads an article by David S. Knight, assistant professor of education finance and policy at the University of Washington, and David DeMatthews, associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at The University of Texas at Austin. “Education savings accounts and tax credit scholarships are less traditional approaches to vouchers, but they still take away money from public schools.”
To fulfill his pledge, Abbott would have to radically increase the state budget to provide both for his Education Savings Account and the money that public schools would otherwise gain.
In the past, school choice plans have failed because rural lawmakers, including Republicans in the House, believed it would hurt school districts. Abbott did not address this concern on Monday in Temple.
During the event, Abbott also said it was time for other changes in Texas education.
“Schools should not be pushing woke agendas on our kids,” he said. “We must reform our curriculum. We must get kids back to the basics of learning and we must empower parents if we are going to be successful in education.”
It is clear that Abbott has made “school choice” one of his top priorities this session, touting it in every single speech he has made since before the session even started. Yet, how Texas plans on successfully implementing “school choice” programs without hurting public schools is still to be determined.
Even Rep. Gene Wu pointed out that Abbott’s “speeches are so identical, that he might as well put them all on repeat.”
“It’s like a band with one good song. They keep playing it, over and over, until all they’re playing is wedding venues.”