Abbott says this expanded agenda follows "productive discussions" with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan.
"Working with Speaker Phelan and his House leadership team, the Speaker and I reached an agreement on school choice for Texas families, and I am expanding the agenda for Special Session #3," said Abbott. "The legislation will create an Education Savings Accounts program with universal eligibility for all Texas schoolchildren and will be entirely voluntary for families and schools to participate. Participating students will be eligible for approximately $10,400 per year in their Education Savings Account, administered by an education organization overseen by the Texas Comptroller on behalf of the parents and students participating in the program."
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Abbott says also on the agenda is billions more in public education funding, including teacher pay raises and school safety while "staying within the constitutional spending limit".
The legislation is also expected to codify recommendations made by the Teacher Vacancy Task Force, the Commission on Virtual Education, and the Commission on Special Education Funding.
Key aspects of the school choice legislation include:
- Universal eligibility for all K-12 schoolchildren in Texas
- Voluntary participation – parents, students, and schools choose whether they want to participate
- Students will receive approximately $10,400 per year in their Education Savings Accounts
- Phases out the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) Test
- Students participating in the program will have the option of taking a norm-referenced test or STAAR test to ensure the program achieves good educational outcomes
"This is the next step in the legislative process to deliver school choice to Texas parents and students who deserve the freedom to choose the education that best fits their learning needs. I look forward to working with both chambers of the Texas Legislature on getting this legislation to my desk to sign into law," said Abbott.