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TX Senate leaders unveil school choice and other education reform measures

With the Texas legislature starting less than three weeks out, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Senate Education Committee Chairman Dan Patrick unveiled Wednesday an education reform package that includes a school choice measure in the form of a business tax credit offering companies opportunity to offset state franchise taxes by contributing to private school scholarship programs for low-income children.

The package also calls for expanding “choice” options by offering school selection capabilities within and between school districts based on classroom space availability.  Additional school options would be created by lifting Texas’ current 215 school cap on charter schools.

New public school flexibility is proposed through allowing school districts the options charter schools currently have through altering school day timeframes or school year calendars.

Citing a need for education reform to address accountability, choice, charter, career and technology, Patrick said the plan also contains a redesign of the current school accountability system and seeks to explore access to improved career and technology paths.

Emphasizing that all the options will be explored in what he sees as a non-partisan issue, Patrick said this is a moral issue to give students an opportunity to have the American and Texas dream by giving them the best choices that they can find for their education.

Though public education organizations will likely oppose many of these reforms, Americans for Prosperity Texas Director Peggy Venable called today’s plan a “big idea for Lone Star businesses, for parents and for kids.”  She commended this “bold plan” providing unlimited opportunities for Texas businesses to support our state’s education system as well as incentives to grow educational opportunities for Texas kids.

Venable noted how education bureaucrats’ opposition to these proposed reforms will suggest a message of no-confidence in the educational product they are delivering.  “If education bureaucrats fear a mass exodus of parents should Texans have a right to choose their schools that provides all the more reason to provide parents with education options for their kids,” she said.

AFP recently released its own Public Education Plus Plan designed to put parents in charge of their kids’ education.  Regarding the plan, Venable said education dollars should follow students to the school the parent chooses opposed to a child’s educational options being limited by their zip code.

Today’s plan was also welcomed by charter school advocates.  “TCSA welcomes the call by Lt. Governor Dewhurst and Sen. Patrick for more charter schools in Texas and their commitment to lift the arbitrary cap on charter schools,” David Dunn, executive director of the Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA), said. “They recognize the strong impact that quality public charter schools have on students and public education across the state, and TCSA looks forward to working with them to accomplish these goals.”

Per Patrick, Texas public schools enroll about 5 million children with 135,000 of those students in public charter schools.  Private school enrollment is about 235,000 students while 300,000 are home schooled.

Lou Ann Anderson is an advocate working to create awareness regarding the Texas probate system and its surrounding culture. She is the Online Producer at www.EstateofDenial.com and a  Policy Advisor with Americans for Prosperity – Texas. Lou Ann may be contacted at info@EstateofDenial.com.

Lou Ann Anderson

Lou Ann Anderson is an information activist. As a contributor at Raging Elephants Radio and Examiner Austin, she writes and speaks on a variety of public policy topics. Lou Ann is the creator and online producer at Estate of Denial®, a website that addresses probate abuse via wills, trusts, guardianships and powers of attorney as well as other taxpayer advocacy issues.

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