AUSTIN, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — As the 88th legislative session continues conversation surrounding school choice increase.
A major push for school choice is due to concern in curriculums being taught in Texas public schools.
“I’m concerned about some of the things that we’re seeing pop up in some of the schools curriculum, curriculum around the state, and some of the things that are being taught,” said State Rep. John Smithee, Republican District 86. “I think a lot of parents have concerns and so you know, there’s this, whole concept of parental choice, parental involvement, I think is a good thing.”
Last Thursday Governor Greg Abbott was in Amarillo for Parent Empowerment Night at San Jacinto Christian Academy. Abbott emphasized that parents should have access to and input into what is being taught in schools.
Rural school districts in the Texas Panhandle could potentially be impacted in a negative way if enrollment numbers decline due to parents receiving financial support to send their children to private schools.
Abbott has proposed an education savings account that would give parents money to cover upfront costs at private schools.
Republican State Representative Ken King, has concerns about how private schools would be held accountable.
“Until I see the governor’s plan, I’m certainly not going to say that he is, he’s wrong. But what I will say is, when you ask a private school, to take the STAR test, or to participate in our A through F accountability system or take their proportionate number of our special education students and those kinds of things, I don’t think they’re going to be very interested in a voucher because those things would eat up whatever they made off the voucher.”
Smithee shared that due to the size of Texas, there is not a one size fits all option in most cases and education choices should be decided locally.
“I think, on something as far as education choice, what I would prefer is to do kind of on a local option basis where individual communities, the citizens in those communities could adopt a plan that works for that community,” explained Smithee. “I don’t think it would be right for us to force a program on any community that doesn’t want to do that.”
Smithee continued.”On the other hand, I think it’s it would be good for the legislature to give communities options, where they could explore what would work best in their particular community.”
Rep. King is focused on advocating for all students in his district not just those in a private school.
“What I know about charter schools and magnet schools and private schools, they typically don’t go to the inner city, and they don’t come to rural Texas, because there’s not the student population to support them, and they’re not going to make any money at it,” stated King. “So taking money out of the public school system, to help a few that already have more choices than the kids I represent. I’m for all kids in Texas, not just the ones that live next to a private school.”