If passed, school choice legislation would benefit East Texas' private schools

If passed, school choice legislation would benefit East Texas' private schools
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Private schools in Nacogdoches will be watching the outcome of lobbying efforts by the National School Choice Coalition next week in Austin and elsewhere across the nation during School Choice Week.

You may want to send your child to a private school, but simply can't afford it. A lot of attention on this dilemma for parents nationwide will be in the spotlight of National School Choice Week that begins Sunday.

The state's largest school choice rally is planned a week from today in Austin.

East Texas News learned there are various school choice options, but the bolder ones are not used in Texas.

Students at Pineywoods Adventist Christian School are given school choice scarves and stickers. The marketing tools help spread the word about expanding education choice in Texas.

“National School Choice Week is about enabling parents to choose where they want to send their child to receive the kind of education that they believe is important for their child,” said Sharon Clark, the principal of the Pineywoods Adventist Christian School.

Clark teaches a dozen children. She is confident that if Texas adopts private school choice programs, private school enrollment would grow everywhere. She saw it work in Florida, a state that allows corporations to donate to a scholarship program in exchange for a tax break.

“I like the way Florida did it, and they're still doing, it and it still seems to still be effective,” Clark said. “I know our schools, the Seventh Adventist schools, have benefited having children that were able to come that wouldn't have otherwise."

“How many syllables?” a Pineywoods teacher asked her students. “Two. Make sure you mark that in your journals."

Almost 150 students learn at Regents Academy, a classical Christian school in Nacogdoches. The school has growing pains despite the $3900 to $4800 tuition per year parents pay for their children to attend. Most parents also pay school district taxes to support public schools they don't even use, including headmaster David Bryant.

“That's a reality of our current situation in the school choice movement is attempting to find a way to alleviate that for families.” Bryant said. “Regents academy sees how school choice can lead to excellent education for more families. It just doesn't want to be tied to the government.”

Bryant said he is hesitant about his school receiving government funding.

“I'm hesitant about receiving government funding in our school,” Bryant said. “Part of the DNA of our school is that we're an independent school.  We don't want any strings attached with any funding that we receive that would effect that."

“Next week is National School Choice week,” Clark told her students.

As students learn why they now have bright yellow mufflers, next week legislators will receive the advanced lesson from lobbyists. The test will be if they'll adopt some of the bold education reform solutions being utilized across the nation.

Here are the school choice options in Texas right now.

Public charter school, public magnet schools, online learning, and home schooling freedom are available.

Mandatory inter-district public school choice is not an option. That means allowing parents to send their children to different public schools, regardless of their ZIP code or school district is not allowed.

Private school choice where funds are set aside so children can go to private schools is also not allowed.

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