Patrick doubles down on school choice fight

Days after a House hearing in which lawmakers gave the issue skeptical treatment, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made clear private school choice topped his list of legislative priorities.

By Patrick Svitek, Oct. 20, 2016

DALLAS — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick doubled down Thursday on his push for private school choice legislation next session, vowing to fight for however long it takes to pass it and applying pressure to a Texas House that has shown less appetite for it.
Patrick made clear private school choice topped his list of legislative priorities as he detailed them here three days after a House hearing in which lawmakers from both parties gave the issue skeptical treatment. Private school choice programs, which Patrick unsuccessfully pushed for last session, use taxpayers dollars to help parents send their children to private or religious schools, or educate them at home.
"I intend to fight for school choice session after session after session," Patrick said, addressing a Dallas Regional Chamber luncheon. "And it's not going to hurt public schools. It's going to make them better."
The issue is shaping up to be a major point of debate in the next session, with some lawmakers arguing the focus should instead be on fixing the state's public school finance system. Talking to the same crowd last month, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus said a recent court ruling upholding the system "was not a license to do nothing." 
At a hearing Monday, members of the House Public Education Committee offered a less-than-enthusiastic reception to private school choice proposals, which critics say would divert tax dollars from struggling public schools to private schools. One idea being floated by private school choice proponents is Education Savings Accounts, a program under which Texas would directly give taxpayer money to parents to spend on private education expenses including homeschool materials.
The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.


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