Texas Lawmakers Are Eyeing Nevada’s School Choice Program | Texas Public Radio

Texas Lawmakers Are Eyeing Nevada’s School Choice Program

Sep 14, 2016

 

A school choice program under judicial review in Nevada is also one being considered by Texas lawmakers.  Education leaders are learning about education savings accounts and how they would benefit the state.

 

 

 

According to Nevada State Sen. Scott Hammond, the author of his state’s 2015 “school choice” law, education savings accounts allow parents to save for the cost of their child’s education.  The state transfers 90-percent of the funds the child’s school district would’ve received from the state into that parent’s education savings account. 

 

Nevada State Sen. John Hammond testifying before Texas Senate Education committee members.
Credit Ryan Poppe

  On Wednesday, members of the Senate Education Committee asked Hammond to share how this particular program works.

 

“So, <under our state program>, you would get $51-hundred, that would distributed quarterly during the school year and you could then spend it on a variety of programs or institutions pre-approved by our state treasury," Hammond explains.

 

Hammond says those preapproved items could range from the cost of tuition at a private high school to the cost of online courses and instructional materials for students being home-schooled.    

 

But opponents like Charles Luke, who heads up the Coalition of Public Schools argue that an education savings account is just another name for a school voucher, which they say will take state money away from schools already in a financial strain.

  

Charles Luke, Texas Coalition of Schools

  "What we don’t need to do is divert public funds away from the public trust and give them to private enterprise, that’s been tried in the Texas prison system with extremely bad results," Luke says.

 

Luke says school choice programs also set up a system of education inequality because not every family can afford the cost of a private school education and there is no mandate that a private school has to accept a student into their school.