Gov. Greg Abbott issued a call for a third special session Oct. 5 on a number of topics, including public education. When a special session is called, the wording of the call determines exactly what kind of bills may be offered and anything that falls outside the call can be denied passage. With that in mind, Abbott’s wording is relevant:
“EDUCATION FREEDOM: Legislation providing education savings accounts for all Texas schoolchildren.”
Both the Senate Finance and Education committees have posted hearings for next week. The Senate Education Committee’s topic on Oct. 10 mirrors the governor’s call: “…a public hearing on proposed legislation creating an Education Savings Account Program…”
Notably, despite the specific wording of the governor’s call, the Senate Finance Committee’s topic on Oct. 9 offers hope that something other than a voucher program could come out of this special session: “…a public hearing… regarding legislation that includes teacher compensation and funding for public schools.”
A committee as influential as Senate Finance holding a hearing that clearly doesn’t match the call signals that there could be willingness to pass meaningful teacher compensation and school funding legislation, although it is likely that such funding would be made contingent on passage of a education savings account (voucher) plan. TCTA will be present at both hearings to make the case for focusing more on adequately funding public schools and paying teachers than creating a voucher-like program that would drain resources from public education.