School choice in Texas is getting a big push this year from a key lawmaker who has made it a top priority.
“I’m the new chair of the Senate Education Committee and this is important to me,’’ state Sen. Dan Patrick, who has served on the committee for six years, said in a telephone interview with redefinED. “Here’s an issue that I’ve decided we need to push, but now I’m in a position that I can move it forward.’’
Patrick, R-Houston, and other school choice advocates in Texas are looking to create a tax credit program similar to the one in Florida that allows corporations to redirect a portion of state taxes to a scholarship fund in return for a tax credit. Low-income families who qualify can use the scholarship to help pay tuition at private schools.
Patrick has included the measure in an ambitious education plan that also calls for doing away with the 215-school cap on charter schools; incorporating a school rating system modeled after Florida’s A-F grades; and giving students the ability to enroll in any school within their district or in another district that has space.
In the interview, Patrick called school choice a civil rights issue and a “moral right.” He also offered a feisty response to an ad campaign, launched last fall by school choice opponents, that suggested “vouchers” would jeopardize Friday night football.
“With all due respect, that campaign is idiotic,’’ he said. “Texas would cut out math before they would cut out football.’’
Here’s more from the interview: