Texas Lawmaker Unveils Controversial School Choice Proposal

Thursday, 20 Dec 2012 01:40 PM

By Alec Weisman

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A conservative Texas state senator has unveiled  controversial education reform legislation that embraces school choice and challenges the current testing system, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
 
Senate Education Committee Chairman Dan Patrick, a Republican, wants to link a school choice provision with a “tax-credit scholarship” for low-income students, which would be financed by state businesses. Companies that took part in the scholarship would be given a partial tax credit from the state in return.
 
Patrick explained the two measures “are tied together because what we are really talking about is giving choice to districts,” adding that his larger bill would also give school districts flexibility in their approach to the state’s standardized testing program.
 
His proposal has won the support of Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, as well as the Texas Association of Non-Public Schools, the Texas Catholic Conference, and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, which together claim to represent almost 90 percent of the accredited private schools in the state.
 
However, opponents include Texas Association of School Administrators and Raise Your Hand Texas, a public education advocacy group.  
 
Suzanne Marchman, a spokeswoman for school administrators, said the group remains “steadfast in our position against vouchers or other similar measures, regardless of any other provisions in a bill that we support, as they divert critical state dollars from public schools.”
 
Patrick is also expected to face opposition from rural Republicans, who view charter schools to be of minimal benefit and believe the issue is a distraction from helping improve the state’s public schools.
 

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