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Abbott promotes school choice at Brazos Christian School

Gov.+Greg+Abbott+speaks+on+school+vouchers+at+Brazos+Christian+School+on+Tuesday%2C+March+7%2C+2023.
Photo by Kyle McClenagan

Gov. Greg Abbott speaks on school vouchers at Brazos Christian School on Tuesday, March 7, 2023.

Gov. Greg Abbott made a visit to the Brazos Christian School in Bryan as part of the Parent Empowerment Tour.

On Tuesday, March 7, parents and locals filed into the Brazos Christian School gym to listen to several speakers promote the newly proposed school choice voucher program, or “education savings accounts” as currently described in Texas Senate bill 176. If passed, the bill would allow families to receive state funding that could be used to attend a private school. According to the bill, the amount each family receives would be based on the average cost of attending a public school.

Before Abbott spoke, Texas House District 14 Rep. John Raney introduced Abbott as a governor who has always fought for children.

 “Gov. Abbott understands the value of a good education and the importance of giving parents control over their children’s education,” Raney said. “Under Gov. Abbott’s leadership, public schools and teacher’s salaries have received more funding than any governor in our state.”

 Upon reaching the podium, Abbott said parents deserve to choose where their children attend school.

 “There are a lot of parents who are rightfully happy with their children being in public school,” Abbott said. “At the same time, there are parents who are angry about experiences they’ve had in school … Parents are angry about the woke agenda that’s being forced on their children in their schools.”

 Texas schools have taken a wrong turn and need to return to their original purpose, Abbott said.

 “We must reform our curriculum, get back to the basics of learning and empower parents,” Abbott said. “All parents deserve access to their student’s curriculum, to their student libraries, to what their children are being taught.”

 Abbott ended his speech with a call to action asking all in attendance to call their representatives and tell them to support the education savings account bill.

 “The voice of everybody in this room, it matters,” Abbott said. “You have every capability of making a difference in the effort. One simple phone call will show that you have weighed in your voice, which is the most important voice in the state of Texas.” 

Mandy Drogin, the campaign director for Next Generation Texas of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a non-profit that promotes “liberty, personal responsibility and free enterprise,” was next to take the podium. She said there are four pillars to the foundation’s vision of empowering every parent in Texas: transparency, quality, respect and choice. 

“[Parents] saw something going on in their child’s classes and said, ‘that’s not right,’” Drogin said. “I don’t know if it was being asked pronouns in kindergarten … I don’t know if it’s dividing kids up by their race or hair color … that’s what we’re seeing with our parents y’all, they’re asking for help, they deserve the respect.”

Julie Harlin, Ph.D., president of the Bryan ISD Board of Trustees, was not at the event but said a school voucher program in Texas would be detrimental to public schools.

“It would be devastating, to be honest,” Harlin said. “Parents already have a choice. Parents can send their children to public schools, to charter schools and to private schools.”

A voucher program would not fulfill some of the vital services public schools currently provide to Texas students, Harlin said.

“Things like transportation and meals and the other kinds of programs that happen in public schools to support those vulnerable populations, those don’t happen in private schools,” Harlin said.

Even though Abbott has promised such a program would not redirect funds from public education, Harlin said any state money given to private schools is money not going to public ones.

“If you start moving that money to places that currently are not receiving money, the pot gets smaller,” Harlin said. “So, there is no way to do a voucher program without undercutting public schools.”

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