AUSTIN – Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issued this statement today following the Texas Senate’s passage of Senate Bill 8, Empowering Parental Rights – Including School Choice, by Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe:
“From the first day I arrived in the Texas Senate, my goal and my passion has been to improve public education. As Senator, when I served as Chair of the Senate Committee on Education, that passion only grew. I led the fight to increase school funding, reduce the number of STAAR tests from 15 to 5, create scholarships for future math and science teachers, and place added focus on career education, as well as several other initiatives.
“I have always believed in our public school system of over 8,000 campuses. Many schools are great, most are good, but we also have those that are failing our students. That is why we need school choice for parents who want options other than their failing public school. As Lt. Governor, we passed school choice through the Senate in 2015 and 2017. Sadly, both bills died in the Texas House without a hearing.
“Parents are the single most important factor to the success of their child in education, followed by a teacher. Republicans, Independents and Democrats all support school choice because Texans agree that families must have choice in education so every child has the best chance of success.”
SB 8, by Sen. Creighton, includes an education savings account of $8,000 per school year so parents can become greater advocates for their children. SB 8 also provides funding to schools in our smaller districts, with 20,000 students or less, which are a major portion of our 1,200 school districts, for 5 years after a student opts for a private school.
SB 8 also prohibits the classroom instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity in curriculum in prekindergarten through 12th grade.
In addition, SB 8 empowers parental rights by establishing clear timelines in a public school grievance policy, giving parents the ability to address problems with confidence. SB 8 also allows free transfers between school districts, subject to capacity, giving parents more public school options, and enables parents to request curriculum reviews, ensuring lesson content is age, grade, and developmentally appropriate. Furthermore, SB 8 requires parental consent before any changes are made to a student’s health and wellness activities in school. These changes are designed to expand parental rights in education.