Education Savings Accounts Will Help Our Children
Last session, I was proud to champion the most innovative, customizable model of school choice: Education Saving Accounts (ESA). This interim, and going into next session, I’m continuing my work to bring ESAs to Texas so we can empower Texas parents & students with choice, and improve our public schools through competition. It’s among my top priorities as your state Senator.
Education is the foundation of a strong and functional democracy. This is why ensuring that Texas children receive an excellent education is crucial to the future well-being and prosperity of our state. If we want to remain an internationally recognized hub for business, we need a skilled workforce capable of meeting the demands of a 21st century economy. It is our responsibility to guarantee our children the education necessary to grow into productive, engaged citizens. I believe that expanding educational choice and competition is the best way to create a strong school system that satisfies these needs.
Senate District 16 is home to some of the best schools in the United States. I recently met with all eight public school superintendents in my district, praised them for their successes, and offered to be their ally. I want to allow them to innovate, exercise local control, and keep more of their locally-generated tax dollars that are currently being seized by the state through the objectionable Robin Hood program.
However, one size does not fit all, and even a great public school may not be the right answer for every student. Each and every school student in Texas is unique and beautiful in his or her own right, and each student has different learning abilities, skills, and challenges. Forcing every student to attend a one-size-fits-all public school based on his or her zip code just doesn’t make sense in the 21st century.
Public schools will always play a significant role in educating many millions of Texas students, but the government monopoly on public schools is antiquated and should be broken. We must empower parents and students with choice! The most innovative and customizable model is Education Savings Accounts.
Last session, I filed Senate Bill 1178 to create an Education Savings Accounts (ESA) program in Texas. Instead of the state automatically giving money for each child to the school district, parents who signed up for the ESA program would be given a significant portion of those same funds in an account they could use to individualize their child’s education. ESA funds could be spent by parents on things like private school tuition, tutoring, online courses, curriculum and other materials, and even educational therapies for students with disabilities. Funds would roll over from year to year, and could be used on college tuition, so parents have an incentive to seek both quality and value! ESAs are unique, innovative, and highly customizable, which is critical. A one-size-fits- all approach to education is failing far too many of our individual students. Of course, we will make sure that we have strict financial and education accountability for all students in the program.
I am proud to serve in the Texas Senate where Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has made bringing ESAs to Texas one of his major priorities for next session. Five states have adopted ESAs to date and, with your support, I will continue to fight to make Texas the sixth state to empower parents with the opportunity to choose the optimal education for their children.
If you are able to, please join me at the Texas School Choice Rally this Friday, January 29th, on the South steps of the Capitol in Austin. It will truly be a great day to celebrate bringing choice to our education system.
I’m proud of the public schools in Senate District 16. Some are outstanding, and we will work to improve the others. But I know this: competition improves everything it touches, and public schools will be no exception. I hope you will join me as I work fervently to bring ESAs to Texas parents and students!