CV NEWS FEED // While a school choice bill currently under consideration by the Texas legislature would drastically increase the state’s standing on education freedom, one expert suggested a few ways the bill could be strengthened.
“Texas lags nationally in providing its citizens with education choice,” wrote Matthew Ladner, a senior adviser for education policy implementation at The Heritage Foundation. “On The Heritage Foundation’s 2023 Education Freedom Report Card, Texas ranks 30th for education choice and eighth for education freedom overall.”
The Texas House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity and Enrichment approved HB 1 via a party-line vote of 10-4 last Friday. The move marked the first time a Texas House committee has passed a school choice bill in 18 years.
According to Ladner, if Texas implements the current version of HB 1, the Lone Star State will rise “in the rankings to 13th for education choice and fourth for education freedom overall.”
However, the education policy expert recommended several improvements to the bill he thinks Texas lawmakers should consider to further bolster the state’s rankings:
First, lawmakers should allow families to save unused funds from year to year—making it a true Education Savings Account rather than just a multi-use voucher program.
Second, the ESA program should be formula-funded rather than funded via an appropriation by a vote of the legislature. That would guarantee a steady source of funding for the ESAs and allow more families to participate.
Finally, lawmakers should remove the provision that would kick students out of the program based on their performance on a standardized test.
If the legislature passed a bill with these improvements, then Texas would rank fourth in the nation for education choice and third for education freedom overall, providing a truly superior educational experience and the opportunity for a brighter future for every Texas student.
Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott said earlier this month that he had come to an agreement with the state House speaker.
“This is the next step in the legislative process to deliver school choice to Texas parents and students who deserve the freedom to choose the education that best fits their learning needs,” the governor stated. “I look forward to working with both chambers of the Texas Legislature on getting this legislation to my desk to sign into law.”