Education Opportunity

Ensure that education funds follow the student

The Issue

Compared to the majority of states, Texas is behind in giving its students a chance to pick their own school. Thirty states have established some form of private school choice. Texas has none. Every Texas child should have the opportunity to choose a school—public, private, charter, or homeschool—that best suits his individual needs.

Texas has some great public schools, and many students in Texas are served well in them. Other students need different solutions. Over 1,300 schools in Texas (1 school in 8), are listed as failing schools. Approximately 800,000 students (about 1 student in 6) attend those schools. These students are the future workers, neighbors, and voters of Texas. They deserve the chance to choose something better.

Other families are looking for a different classroom environment. Many special needs students in Texas are being underserved or denied services in public schools. Some parents fear for their child’s safety due to bullying or peer pressure. Others are concerned about the values that their children are being taught in public classrooms.

But right now, parents who want to send their children to a different school have to move, pay out of pocket for another option, or hope they win a charter lottery or a scholarship. The public school system has a monopoly on education, and we all know monopolies never create the best products.

School choice gives families the chance to decide where the money for their children’s education is spent. Sometimes a state provides tax credits to people and businesses who donate toward scholarships for students. Or a state designates education funds to a child in a dedicated account for education expenses, similar to a Health Savings Account. Those funds can then be used for tuition, textbooks, tutoring, online classes, or even rolled over and saved for college.

This allows customized education for children and encourages parents to use the money as wisely as possible. When Arizona parents were given the option to roll over unused dollars toward future education expenses like college tuition, they rolled over an average of 43 percent of their children’s allotted funds. Parents spend money better than the government does.

Not surprisingly, parents are highly satisfied with school choice programs in other states. Test scores aren’t everything, but research has found time and time again that student performance improves when you give families options—inside and outside of public schools. Kids who attend choice schools also tend to have stronger civic values.

The best part for taxpayers? Texas taxpayers get better education for Texas children at no additional cost. In fact, school choice programs almost always save taxpayer dollars—which could be put toward teacher salaries or tax rebates.

Recommendations

  • Distribute educational funds in a manner such that they follow the student to a school of their choosing, whether public, private, charter, or home school.
  • Use the following suggested platform language: “We believe that all children should have access to quality education. We support the right to choose public, private, charter, or home education. We support the distribution of educational funds in a manner that they follow the student to any school, whether public, private, charter, or home school with no new regulations to private schools.”

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