Giving Texans The Best Education System
I was proud to serve as a member of the Senate Education Committee during the 84th Legislative Session, and will remain hard at work to help our Texas families, students, and teachers in the 85th Legislative Session.
Ensuring that Texas children receive an excellent education is crucial to the future well-being and prosperity of our state. To remain an internationally recognized hub for business, we need a skilled workforce capable of meeting the demands of a 21st century economy. It’s imperative that we ensure that our children receive 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.
As in other areas, introducing market forces to education will allow for an allocation of resources that best aligns with individual preferences and the needs of the economy. I believe that instead of funding bureaucracies and buildings, we should give public education dollars more directly to children and their parents. That's why I filed Senate Bill 1178, to create an Education Savings Account (ESA) program. ESAs would give parents full discretion over their children's education by having access to their child's school funding that could be used for many educational purposes, such as tuition and fees at a private school, curriculum and instructional materials purchases, online educational options, tutoring, and even educational therapies or services for disabled students
I think the state should worry less about imposing mandates on schools from Austin and more about empowering teachers with the freedom to own and operate their own private schools. That’s why I authored Senate Bill 1611 to create Professional Charter Academies, a new category of private schools that would allow teachers the ability to have full ownership and oversight of the school's management and curriculum. This model would also empower parents with another choice for their children’s education.
I was also proud to support Senate Bill 4 and Senate Bill 276. Both of these bills would have been a great step in the right direction to further empower Texas families with school choice. SB 4, which passed in the Senate, would have set up a tax credit scholarship program to empower parents and students with choice and opportunities. SB 276 would have established Taxpayer Savings Grants for Texas families as well, another great way to help Texas families and students.
I am compelled to express my profound gratitude to three outstanding members of the Senate Education Committee who fought with me to advance school choice: Chairman Larry Taylor, Senator Paul Bettencourt, and Senator Donna Campbell. Of course, there is no greater champion for school choice than our new Lieutenant Governor, Dan Patrick. I’m proud to serve with these leaders, and will work with them and others to continue the fight for school choice.
It is one of my deepest regrets of the session that our fight for school choice was unsuccessful. However, we had many other successes on the education reform front that I was proud to support and help pass. House Bill 2804, which I supported, will hold schools more accountable by applying the existing A-F rating system to individual campuses, not just districts at-large. Parents will have a clear and easily recognizable standard as to how well their public school is educating children, and will know when to take action to make improvements, if necessary. I also supported a number of his other education reform measures that were championed by Governor Greg Abbott. Specifically, I supported bills to help our teachers become the best educators they can be. Providing teachers with opportunities for professional development will lead to better educational outcomes for students, and better careers for teachers. That's why I supported four important bills:
- Senate Bill 925 requires the commissioner to develop “literacy achievement academies” (LAAs) for teachers who provide reading instruction for students at the kindergarten, first, second, or third grade level.
- Senate Bill 972 establishes “reading-to-learn” academies for these teachers, similar in scope to the LAAs.
- Senate Bill 934 establishes training academies for K-3 teachers of mathematics. And
- Senate Bill 935 requires the implementation of a “reading excellence team” pilot program, whereby reading specialists come to under-performing schools and collaborate with teachers on improving student reading outcomes.
In addition to continuing to champion school choice and parental empowerment, I also want to explore ways to reform our convoluted school finance system, which via the "Robin Hood" policy transfers tax dollars from property wealthy districts to areas with less property value. This disproportionately hurts Senate District 16 and North Dallas County.
Going forward, I will fight to expand school choice and to let taxpayers keep more of their school dollars. With your help we can create an educational system, which gives Texans more freedom and educational opportunity, giving Texans the best education system in America.
I appreciate your constant support and hope you will continue stay involved.