Hundreds rally at Capitol asking lawmakers to make charter school funding a priority

Wednesday afternoon, lawmakers passed HB 1276, making charter schools exempt from paying property taxes. Despite this, advocates say there's still a huge issue. Right now there are more than 100,000 students in Texas on a long waiting list to attend these schools.

Megan Beth Hedgecock knows why she goes to work each day. She has a love for watching students succeed.

"I come to work every day to support a fabulous group of teachers who are supporting an even more fabulous group of students," said Hedgecock, Instructional Coach at Harmony School of Innovation.

She's among the many educators and students who marched to the Texas Capitol, rallying for expansion, and more money for charter schools in the state. They believe just like shopping for a cell phone, clothes or a car, education should be a matter of choice.

"We think it's critical that kids and parents have choices within the public school system. Charter schools are specifically designed to provide those choices," said David Dunn, Exec. Dir. of Texas Charter Schools Association.

Right now there are a few bills on the floor, but Senate Bill 1900 is the one advocates are pushing for, which would help keep roofs over students' heads.

"Charters receive about $1000 per student, less than traditional IDS's." said Dunn.

Governor Greg Abbott took the podium to let the crowd know, he knows what parents are going through.

"I've talked to parents who are frustrated about not being able to get their child into a charter school, because they are stuck on a waiting list," said Abbott.

Educators like Hedgecock says if lawmakers can take a walk in the shoes of a teacher, they may consider making charter schools a priority.

"As a whole, lawmakers don't understand schools in general and what it takes to really support our students, the hours and the dedication that goes into that," said Hedgecock.

But Abbott says it's time to end the waiting list, ensuring that no child is forced to attend a failing school, and ultimately giving parents a voice to make a choice.

"It's the right of every child of every zip code in the entire state of Texas to be able to attend the school that is right for them," said Abbott.

With not having to pay property taxes, advocates say charter schools should have more money and leverage to accept more students.