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DALLAS () — More and more states are offering some sort of school choice program, where states give thousands of dollars to families who want to put their kids in private school and can’t afford it.
The latest fight on this topic is set to resume in Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott announced he intends to call a special session for next month.
Now, Abbott is turning to the religious community for help, calling for religious leaders to push for the program in their sermons.
The plan could give families up to $8,000 for private school or other educational materials.
“If you would speak to your congregations about the issue of parental rights, parental involvement and school choice, giving parents the ability to choose the education opportunity that is best for their child,” Abbott said.
A version of the bill failed to pass last spring.
At least 32 states offer some sort of school choice program, according to EdChoice, an organization in support of the effort.
In Oklahoma, there is an effort to establish the nation’s first religious charter school, but critics say taxpayer money shouldn’t be used to fund private schools.
“There’s no way my pastor would tell me something that’s not good for me,” Dr. K, a former teacher and educational consultant, said. “So if my pastor said to take my child out of this public school, where they’re performing well, and tell them that I want this voucher to go to a charter school or go to a private school, then I have to listen to the pastor.”
Supporters say this gives parents more autonomy over their child’s education.
A June poll from the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Politics Project shows 58% of voters support this program.
“And if that’s a faith-based education, I believe that they should have the right to choose that. And if it’s a non-faith-based education, if they’re looking for something else, I think that they should have the right to choose that,” Nathaniel Cunnenn with the American Federation for Children said.
Abbott said he intends to call another 30-day special session if lawmakers don’t figure it out this go-around.