Texas Land Commissioner George P Bush joined hundreds of school voucher supporters for a rally at the state capitol during School Choice Week and proponents of school vouchers are confident they have enough momentum to get a bill passed this session.
Buses chartered from across the state lined the edges of the state capitol complex as a marching band from Houston kicked off the rally for National School Choice Week. It was sponsored by the Alliance for School Choice, a national group that support vouchers.
Texas’ new land commissioner, George P. Bush, was a featured speaker.
“I believe when we give parents a choice we’re going to give students a better chance, a chance at a better education, a chance at a better life, a chance at a better future. As Texas Land Commissioner I will use my voice in platform of the Permanent School Fund to encourage for more education reform," Bush told the crowd of supporters.
Land Commissioner Bush declined to clarify whether his support of school choice includes vouchers.
New Braunfels Republican, Sen. Donna Campbell, was more direct. She has introduced a bill that would use public money to pay a portion of the cost of sending a child to a private school.
“Just because we’re promoting choice, school choice doesn’t mean we’re still not 100-percent in there trying to fix the parts of our public system that is broken, it’s all about the child, it isn’t about bricks and mortar but it is about the child," Campbell reiterated.
Groups opposing a voucher system say this type of legislation will hurt public schools by shifting some of their money to private schools and religious institutions. Charles Luke is with the Coalition of Public Schools.
“It feels like to me that folks that have already opted out of the public education system now want the rest of us to pay for the decision they’ve already made," said Luke.
Efforts to pass vouchers surface almost every session. Sen. Campbell tried unsuccessfully to pass a voucher bill in 2013. It died in the House of Representatives.