Abbott’s Dream of Defunding Public Schools Moves Closer

( – The Texas Senate passed a bill Oct. 8 to create a voucher program for parents to use at any private school of their choice. School choice is becoming a reality across the nation, with Texas becoming the most recent state to advance favorable legislation.

The Texas bill would allot $8,000 per student to be used for tuition, textbooks, and uniforms for private schools.

The voucher program will also prioritize lower-income students, just as other states have done. Students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch will receive 40 percent of the vouchers. Thirty percent of the vouchers will go to students whose household earns between 185 and 500 percent of the federal poverty line. Twenty percent will be available for students who have disabilities, which squashes Democrats’ claims that students with disabilities will be left out of the equation. The remaining 10 percent will be available for any student who has attended any type of school within the past year.

The Texas House is more divided than the Senate, with many Republicans fighting against the option for school choice. An earlier school choice bill was axed in the House back in April.

Opponents of the bill who claim that school choice would defund public schools should feel reassured that the Senate bill includes an amendment that would account for the loss of a student. It would give $10,000 per student to any school with less than 5,000 students for each of its students whose parents removed their child from the school to attend a private school with a voucher. This amendment would be in effect for three years after the bill is enacted into law.

Texas Democrats have painted the school choice push as a way to defund public schools, but Gov. Greg Abbott said that their claims were inaccurate. “Per-student funding for public schools is at an all-time high,” Abbott said. He added that lawmakers would be providing an additional increase in funding, as well as an increase in salary for teachers, during the next legislative session.

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