ICYMI: TX Senate Committee on Education hears Testimony
from The LIBRE Initiative Executive Director
Austin, TX – Today, Jorge Lima, The LIBRE Initiative Executive Director, testified before the Senate Committee on Education in favor of Senate Bill 3 which would provide a universal Education Savings Account program for Texans across the state.
Executive Director Jorge Lima submitted the following remarks:
I am here today to encourage you to vote “Yes” on Senate Bill 3 (SB 3) because we believe that the implementation of Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) would strengthen our public education system by relieving it from being all things to every student as well as allow families the ability to customize and facilitate the right education for their child. And strengthening the public education system is welcome news to Hispanic families, whose children represent the majority of students enrolled (52%) in Texas public schools.
On behalf of our activists across our great state of Texas, LIBRE believes that parents know the needs of their children better than government agencies and bureaucrats. Even the highest rated school might not be the best fit for each child or what they need in terms of maximizing their potential. That is why we recommend empowering parents to determine where and how their kids are educated through increased school choice.
In an Education Savings Account, parents receive the money directly which they can use for a pre-approved specified range of education expenses including tuition at their local school, curriculum, tutoring, and online learning resources, among others.
These reforms, which have the power to incentivize improvements in public schools as well, are specifically important in our communities. Out of the more than 900,000 students attending failing schools in Texas, 70 percent are Hispanic or African-American, and 79 percent are economically disadvantaged. In the Rio Grande Valley alone, there are 65 failing school districts. But it is not just those in failing schools. In the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) assessment for reading, Hispanic 4th grade students in Texas had an average score that was 25 points lower than that for White students – not significantly different from that in 1998 (30 points).
For mathematics, in 2015 4th grade Hispanic students in Texas had an average score that was 16 points lower than that for White students. This performance gap was not significantly different from that in 2000 (19 points).
In Arizona for example, which already has an ESA system, parents are required to spend 60% of the allotted money each year on education and are allowed to roll over any additional money towards the next year’s expenses. If at the end of high school, there is still money left over in their account, parents are allowed to spend that money on college tuition. Not only do ESA’s give parents more decision making authority on their kids’ education, the accounts promote and encourage parents to be wise and responsible with their education dollars.
We respectfully urge you to support school choice through SB 3. As always, thank you for your time and if we may be a resource to you or your staff, please feel free to contact me at any time.
Note: For a copy of the full remarks please contact our press team.