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Governor Abbott pushes for "School Choice" at Parent Empowerment Night in Temple

The policy includes bills that would allow parents to receive state money to send their kids to schools outside of the state’s public education system.

TEMPLE, Texas — Texas Governor Greg Abbott has made parental rights in the education system one of his top priorities this legislative session. He shared his goals of a "school choice" policy with parents, educators and students in Temple at Parent Empowerment Night on Monday, Feb. 20. 

Central Texas Christian School (CTCS) hosted a Parent Empowerment Night along with the Parent Empowerment Coalition Monday. Abbott was listed as the special guest speaker. He attended the same event at a Corpus Christi private school in January.

It was a packed gym at CTCS as hundreds came out to learn more the change Abbott is wanting for Texas education.

"I need you to stand up stand with me and fight with me all the way to get this done for the kids of the great state of Texas," Abbott told the crowd.

The republican governor is wanting to pass a "school choice" policy in the 88th Texas Legislature. It would include bills that would allow parents to get money from the state to send their kids to schools outside of the state’s public education system. Abbott said that would be accomplished through state funded education savings accounts (ESA). He told the crowd that is a program already successful in the state with special needs students.

"What we need to do this session is to expand that program to provide every parent in the state of Texas with the ability to choose the education option that is best for their child," Abbott said. "To be very clear about one thing, under the school choice program -- all public schools will be fully funded for every student the same way they are now."

Sen. Mayes Middleton (R-Galveston) filed Senate Bill 176, which would create an education savings account program that would allow parents to use state funds to pay for their children’s private school, online schooling or private tutors.

Under the legislation, families that opt out of the state’s public education system would receive the average amount of money it costs Texas public schools to educate a child, which is currently about $10,000 a year, according to the Texas Tribune. The funds for the program could come from both taxpayer money and donations.

Those in attendance of the Parent Empowerment Night in Temple showed their support for the governor's push, including the Warren's who are both former educators with three decades of experience.

"I can see a downhill slide in Texas public education, so I really approve this parent involvement and the money being allotted for choice," Beverly Warren said. "Not only to help with private schools, but also I think it will be an incentive to the public schools to step it up, and to listen to parents and to meet the needs of students and families."

The Warren's said they just want education restored as long-time educators and as grandparents for the sake of their grandkids enrolled in Central Texas schools.

"One of my biggest things would be accountability across the board," said Jack Warren. "Students accountability, parents accountability, as well as the schools to provide education again, not on indoctrination on either side. Liberal or conservative, no indoctrination -- just to focus on academic excellence."

Abbott told the crowd that giving parents the choice opens the doors for other change in Texas education.

"Schools should not be pushing woke agendas on our kids," he said. "We must reform our curriculum. We must get kids back to the basics of learning and we must empower parents if we are going to be successful in education."

Both the governor and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick have said a school choice program is in their top priorities this legislative session.

There is concern from several groups who oppose the "school choice" policy on how it could impact rural schools but the governor didn't address that Monday in Temple. 6 News did reach out to some research based education organizations about the policy, but they haven't replied to our request.

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