This commentary originally appeared in the Austin American-Statesman on July 14, 2015.
By Michael Barba and Catherine Van Arnam
Legislators’ pickups long ago pulled away from Austin and headed home across Texas, leaving us now to reflect upon what was accomplished this past session. For our tiniest Texans, it’s now clear that only baby steps were made towards Gov. Greg Abbott’s goal of “becoming No. 1 in education.”
It was telling that so few of our delegation stepped outside to show even cursory support for the crowd that came to the School Choice rally back in January. It’s no wonder that the 84th Legislature couldn’t point to even one school choice accomplishment like Senate Bill 4, a tax break that would have benefited a small portion of the very neediest students. There are more than 100,000 students languishing on charter school wait lists, and the Texas Tax Credit Scholarship Program would have benefited some 15,000 kids who have to clear the hurdles of being not only low-income and special-needs, but zoned to a program the state has determined to be “failing.” Some 730,000 Texas students currently attend a failing school.
Barba is a policy analyst with the Center for Education Freedom at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Van Arnam is a charter school parent.