EL PASO, TX (KVIA) — Governor Greg Abbott makes school choice one of his top issues for the state for the second time this year, causing controversy across education boards.
Education savings accounts also known as school choice or vouchers, is a program that allows parents to withdraw their children from public schools and use taxpayer money to fund their private education.
Valeria Gurr, a senior fellow for the American Federation for Children, underlines the potential benefits of school choice. She points to Florida as an example, stating that “the educational rankings in just a matter of years, went from 43 to number three” after introducing similar programs.
Gurr emphasizes that students from communities of color often face a significant achievement gap and highlights the importance of providing options beyond public schools for those who might be struggling or facing other challenges.
Gurr’s advocacy goes beyond academics, she notes, “A kid might be bullied or experience violence or just simply not the right fit for them. Reality is if you don’t have a family that has access to this type of resources those kids have to stay trapped in a public failing school.”
She estimates that around 50,000 Texas students stand to benefit from the proposed program.
However, the opposition is strong. Norma De La Rosa, President of the El Paso Teachers Association, firmly stands against the Education Savings Account proposal. She argues that taxpayer money should be used to enhance public education, stating, “They need to use that money towards public education and fund public education much better than what they have for as long as I can remember, during my time as a teacher here in the state.”
De La Rosa points out that private and charter schools might not offer the same conveniences as public schools, like transportation, potentially limiting access for some families. “If a parent wants to send their children to a charter school up on the west side and they live here on the central side of El Paso, there no buses to take their kids, they will have to find transportation,” she says.
De La Rosa believes that a well-funded public education system provides the best opportunities for students and advocates for increased funding for educators “without strings attached.”
Despite opposition from within his own party, Governor Abbott continues to prioritize school choice, leaving school funding pending. If the proposal is not approved through this special session, Abbott has already stated his intent to hold a fourth special session.
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