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Government/Politics

Senators Hear Heated Testimony Concerning Renewed Talk Of School-Choice Programs

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State of Texas
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Dan Patrick has long fought to get a school choice bill passed in Texas. Now, as he takes his final stroll as Senate Education Chair, before becoming Lieutenant Governor, Dan Patrick is calculating the likelihood of passing such a bill in 2015.

School Choice or Vouchers is a process where parents are reimbursed for the cost to educate their child if they feel their current school district is unsuitable. Some of the Democrats on the Senate’s Education Committee, like Dallas Senator Royce West, remain opposed to some of the provisions that come with a school choice bill, like an “A” through “F” rating system for all community schools.

“I want you to consider what impact that would have on the community itself in terms of development of that community, in terms of people purchasing homes in that community,” West said before the senate committee this week.

But that’s not how Jennifer Almond sees it. She’s the Associate Director of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, who represent one of the largest networks of private schools in the state.

“You hear a lot of criticism of school choice that it will drain public schools of students. Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Almond says. “Public Schools are struggling to meet the needs of the students they currently have, and then we’re adding enrollment growth on top of that.”

The discussion at the state capitol this week was more general, with a promise that once the session begins there will be vigorous debate to get a school choice bill passed in Texas.