You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Pared-down school choice bill filed by House Republican


Highlights

House Bill 1335 would establish education savings accounts for children who are at risk or have special needs.

Accounts linked to a debit card loaded with state money that could be used to pay for private school tuition.

A Republican legislator has filed the House’s first major school choice bill, a pared-down version of a Senate bill that has the backing of Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

House Bill 1335 would create an education savings account for certain students who want to leave public school. The accounts, tied to debit cards, would be loaded with state money — equivalent to 90 percent of what school districts get from the state on average to educate a student — that could be used to pay for other education options such as home, online and private schooling. Students who are at risk of dropping out or have special needs, including if they were bullied or are a sex crime victim, would qualify for such an account.

“No matter how much we spend on our public school system, no matter how much we want to make it the best … the system is not set up to be able to educate every single child like they need to be educated so they can meet their own personal manifest destiny,” state Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, the bill’s sponsor, said Thursday during a news conference, flanked by several Republican House members, including Reps. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, and Jason Villalba, R-Dallas.

TEXAS POLITICS DELIVERED EVERY DAY: Sign up for our Texas Politics email

School choice proponents say the concept would expand educational opportunities for students who are attending failing public schools.

Opponents of education savings accounts say that they’re private school vouchers that are meant to strip money from cash-strapped public schools, in which parents already have plenty of options. They say that the education savings accounts have no accountability measures and will only benefit wealthy families, which proponents have disputed.

“We in no way fault the representative for his intention to help students who have either special needs or special circumstances,” said Monty Exter, lobbyist with the Association of Texas Professional Educators. “We do think that he is misguided in thinking that the public education system isn’t the best place to serve those kids.”

School choice has been among the most divisive education topics this legislative session, with many conservative Republicans backing the idea.

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: Our Lone Star Politics page brings Capitol news to your Facebook feed

The Senate bill — which doesn’t limit access to the savings accounts and also includes tax credits for businesses that contribute to a scholarship fund for low-income students to attend a private school — has been given priority by Patrick.

House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, however, hasn’t expressed the same urgency to pass school choice legislation. House Public Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty, R-Houston, said this week during a Texas Tribune event that he didn’t think the House would approve school choice legislation this session.

“At the end of the day people up here and people out on the floor with me, they really are public servants. They want to do what’s right,” Simmons said. “The challenge can sometimes come when they’re receiving pressure from some of the people who might be against this because they have a false narrative that believes that if we allow this, public schools will fall apart.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Austin police honor pedicab driver who helped catch sexual assault suspect

Austin police are honoring a pedicab driver who played a crucial role in helping police catch a sexual assault suspect last year. Luis Palos was recognized today for his distinguished service. In the early morning hours of May 19, Palos heard a loud wail near Fifth and and San Antonio streets, according to the suspect’s arrest affidavit...
Texas House broadens police authority in ‘sanctuary cities’ bill
Texas House broadens police authority in ‘sanctuary cities’ bill

Lawmakers cried, fought and traded horses on the Texas House floor in a marathon debate Wednesday on the bill to ban so-called sanctuary cities, the common term for jurisdictions that decline to assist federal immigration enforcement. Calling it the defining showdown of this legislative session for their constituents and wearing black in protest, outnumbered...
Raucous crowd protests ‘sanctuary cities’ bill at Texas Capitol 
Raucous crowd protests ‘sanctuary cities’ bill at Texas Capitol 

Immigrant families as well as their friends and allies gathered at the Texas Capitol Wednesday evening, a crowd of several hundred dressed in black to protest a state bill that would ban so-called sanctuary cities. The Texas Senate has already approved the bill, and the House is taking up the bill today.  City Council Member Greg Casar, who...
Texas members of Congress differ on Trump tax plan
Texas members of Congress differ on Trump tax plan

“Pro-growth tax reform should be our goal, and it’s something that’s united Republicans and Democrats in the past, and there is no reason why we shouldn’t be united again in accomplishing that tax reform. So I look forward to hearing more about the president’s proposal, and I applaud him for making a bold statement about...
Austin school officer who scuffled with eighth-grader faces grand jury
Austin school officer who scuffled with eighth-grader faces grand jury

In the first case under a new system for handling possible police misconduct, Travis County prosecutors have begun presenting a case to grand jurors against a former Austin school district officer captured on video in a physical confrontation with a middle school student. Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore confirmed the case to the...
More Stories