Senate Education met on October 10 to discuss SB 1 (Creighton) Relating to the establishment of an education savings account program.

This report is intended to give you an overview and highlight the various topics taken up. It is not a verbatim transcript of the discussions but is based upon what was audible or understandable to the observer.


SB 1 (Creighton) Relating to the establishment of an education savings account program

  • Creighton – Bill is similar to SB 8 passed out of the Senate in the 88(R)
  • Has been no mass exodus from public schools in the states that have passed school choice legislation
  • Florida’s schools went up in the NAEP rankings after they passed a school choice bill
  • After this bill, Texas would be the 32nd state that would pass a school choice bill
  • Can be harmony between lifting up public schools and making sure parents have options; the divisive rhetoric against this proposal is unfounded
  • After this bill, Texas would be the 32nd state that would pass a school choice bill
  • Are pouring billions into public school funding; state’s share is over 50% towards public school funding
  • $500m of GR will go through the Comptroller in this Education Savings Account framework; is not a voucher going straight to the family
  • Funds can only be used for an accredited private school tuition; after funds are used, any leftover funds can be used for other things to be discussed later
  • Has prioritization framework if applications exceed available funding:
    • 40% of program funds prioritized for students who qualify free and reduced lunch
    • 30% of program funds prioritized to students with parents 185% and 500% of the federal poverty level
    • 20% of program funds prioritized for students with a disability
    • 10% remaining funds are available for remaining students; kicks in if there are any spots remaining
  • Public schools will continue to thrive after this bill is passed; need to be honest that not every student can thrive in same educational environment
  • Campbell – Some colleagues have called this a voucher bill, explain why this is not a voucher bill?
    • Difference is voucher is expended directly to family, bill is designed with an ESA disbursed directly to the provider
  • Campbell – Is SB 1 tied to SB 2?
    • Public school funding is not tied to this bill; this money is in a separate category out of the surplus
  • Campbell – This is not funded by the Foundation School Program?
    • No
  • Birdwell – 20% for disabled students that would mean there are 12,500 slots; if all slots are not filled, do they go to another pool?
    • Disabled students could be in every category;
  • Birdwell – Have a school in my district for students with disabilities; want to make sure the lottery does not pass up disabled students
    • Within our priority set is clear
  • Birdwell – Want to ensure that students with disabilities are in a separate pool and they are not batched together with students without a disability
    • 90% of prioritization will serve students with a disability
  • Menendez – You say 90% is set aside, but as I read the bill it does not read that way; reads as a cap to me by using the “not more than” language
  • Menendez – And the only one that is not capped the “any remaining funds” category; this includes students who are already in private schools?
    • That is the language that left the Senate floor in SB 8
    • Have to structure it that way to make sure those categories maximize the number of ESAs; want to avoid unforeseen outcomes
    • Priority is established by the percental; 90% are tied to economically disadvantaged students and those who are disabled
  • Menendez – The point is if those are the priorities, why did we cap them at 90%, why not say “at least” the percentage it is tied to; whatever is left over is a free for all
  • Menendez – Represent Edgewood; concerned that this will be disbursed inequitably; reiterates concern with how this language is drafter
    • Do not want to exclude any families from applying to this; have the prioritization system
  • Menendez – Do not disagree with your intentions; would change the language to “at least” for each percentage
  • Menendez – How about accountability under this bill; if a parent feels they qualify and their kid did not get in, does the state get involved?
    • State’s involvement is in the ESA itself, not changing anything in regard to how a private school would/would not get into a private school
  • Menendez – Current public schools have to take everyone who shows up; these are tax dollars, does the state have any way to help the family who was not accepted into private schools
    • If you have a specific example of that, we would deal with that as a committee
  • Menendez – Concerned we are subsidizing private education without guarantees that our constituents are treated equally
    • Families do not have to apply to an ESA; no guarantees of acceptance
  • Menendez – Right to intervene clause under this bill; how is someone in need of financial assistance expected to represent themselves?
    • So you prefer some legal defense fund established? Not within the scope of this bill
  • Menendez – Concern there is a separate due process through the Comptroller
    • West – Under this section, section B, says a program participant may file a challenge in district court
  • West – I am against this; will vote against this; aware of the genesis of voucher programs based in racism?
    • Aware of that, the same goes for public education; use of ESAs has increased diversity in schools
  • West – Voucher programs in Texas came up after Brown v. Education and the purpose was to separate races; nothing in the bill that provides transparency that we do not facilitate that type of segregation
  • West – Where is the transparency so we know what students are taking advantage of this?
    • Is speculation to assume who is even going to apply to this program
  • West – We provide demographic information for public school; why is that not contemplated in this bill?
    • Seems you have heightened concern about this
  • West – My concern is we are giving tax dollars to private schools with no transparency
    • We would look after the ESA applications start –
  • West – How would you look at the applications if you have access to them
  • West – Are only starting off this ESA program with $500m –
    • Are you saying funding will increase?
  • West – That’s what happens in other states
  • West – Certified Education Assistance Organizations term is made up, or used by other states?
    • Have looked at many states
  • West – In other states have there been issues with these organizations?
    • Are more successes than issues, in D.C. and another state were gaps in their programs that they later came back and fixed
  • West – Your bill prevents these issues?
    • Are auditing and anti-fraud provisions; Florida and Arizona are years into their programs, are successful programs
  • West – How do you define success?
    • Are empirical studies
  • West – Saying these students perform better than those in public schools?
    • Yes, according to these studies
  • West – Could provide these funds through surety bonds for safeguards?
    • Would not be supportive of that
  • Bettencourt – If SB 2 is approved would raise biennium increase to 25%; does not include if Prop 4 is approved that would provide $600m to debt monies directly to school districts
    • Have learned from other state’s successes and challenges
  • Menendez – 5.4m in public education, know how many seats are in private schools available?
    • Are not that many seats; is about scarcity monies
  • Menendez – Could a school flip to be a private school
    • Programs available for accredited private schools
  • Menendez – Would be open to ensure students are protected from discrimination on the basis of race, religion, etc.
    • If you wanted to file a separate bill on that you could; do not know why you are concerned about this now
  • Menendez – The issue is now this is public dollars going to private entities
    • Moms and dads have the ability to make the decision to apply
  • Menendez – Not second guessing the parents, it’s the private entities
    • King – Thought the ESA structure was made to be as equal as possible
  • Springer – 300k students are in private schools, if we had these discrimination issues, would have heard about it before
  • Springer – Hold harmless provision no longer in this bill; not as worried as so many were for fast growth schools because they were growing anyway; more concerned about the smaller schools
    • Not another school in the nation that uses the hold harmless provision; do not see rural districts utilizing ESAs anyway; additionally was not as attractive in the House
  • Springer – Worry about the smaller schools who will see the true reduction in their population; would be a small cost for a hold harmless for those schools; would be very small
    • Will continue to talk about that; from what we see from other states are no differences
  • Springer – Florida has way less school districts than in Texas; do not have as many rural
  • Bettencourt – A study in Arizona that would effect
  • Campbell – The demographic transparency would be found in the means testing
    • West – How would you know if you do not collect the information; what would be the harm in collecting that data
  • Campbell – How would we get that information?
    • Can look at the lottery template we use for public school
  • West – Designed for students who want to attend private schools?
    • Correct
  • West – Leftover funds can be used for textbooks, tutors, uniforms, etc. but would only have access to those funds if they applied for an ESA
    • Public schools provide their
  • West – Amenable to let students in public schools get private tutoring?
    • If you have ideas on how to address issues with public schools that’s a separate
  • West – Based on data I have looked at, some students decided to use an ESA or a voucher have left the private school and returned to a public school; should a portion of those funds be returned to their ESA account?
    • Are suspension provisions in the bill related to the use of the account as it is approved;
    • Quarterly
  • West – How does this deal with academic accountability?
    • Private school would do norm testing and data would be sent into the state
  • West – Is that test aligned with the STARR test?
    • Not in all ways
  • West – Should we require private schools’ test to be equal to or greater than STAAR?
    • Do not currently do that
  • West – The reason to look at it now is because this is new; is there any precedent of the state using public funds on private institutions for K-12?
    • No
  • West – Believes the bill speaks to financial accountability, that’s all my questions for now
  • LaMantia – Eligibility requirements; not a qualifier for students being in a private school in the state 90% of the time
    • Will work on that to mirror intent
  • LaMantia – Anything in this bill to be used for a private school outside of the state?
    • If we need to provide any clarification on that, can ensure this is about a Texas-based experience
  • LaMantia – Funded quarterly; is approved halfway through the school year, is the $8k prorated?
    • Plan to clarify application deadlines on the floor; might be the first amendment on the floor
  • LaMantia – If someone gets and they do not get in, how much time do they have to apply to another school?
    • ESA would not be administered if there is a gap
  • LaMantia – What happens to funds if they are not used, rolled over?
    • Rolls forward on the account balance on the approved application
  • LaMantia – Could have rollovers year after year?
    • Yes
  • LaMantia – In any other state is the ESA higher than BA? What is the reason for your numbers
    • Many states do not have a BA
    • Raise Your Hand found that on average a public school student receives $10k, are consistent with what Utah does at the ESA 80% of what public school students receive
  • LaMantia – Any parameters to ensure these funds are not used fraudulently and only on students’ education
    • No; is up to the families to make the decision of what school to send their kids to
  • LaMantia – Had an issue in my district where a private school’s parent organization used funds from their school for another school under their umbrella; anything in this bill to prevent this?
    • Are auditing provisions in this bill
  • LaMantia – What type of situations where public schools could get ESA dollars?
    • Talking about available services through ESA, like tutoring
  • LaMantia – If a student gets tutoring from the public school, then could use ESA dollars for that
    • If they are a qualified tutor under this framework, would provide compensation funding
  • LaMantia – Can these funds be used for dual credit?
    • Are opportunities to use funds for dual credit, yes
  • Menendez – Does this bill contemplate paying for online private schools?
    • Is no intention there


Public Testimony

Valeria Gurr, American Federation for Children – For

  • Need to put students first over teachers unions
  • Have seen success with ESAs in other states like Florida
  • Public school systems consistently fail students of color


Scott Jenson, American Federation for Children – For

  • Have been working on school choice in other states for a number of years
  • Parents need options to meet their children’s needs
  • Encourage the language in SB 8 where parents could buy services from providers without being a full-time private school student


Natalie Arias, Teach Plus – Against

  • Have not adequately funded schools or teacher raises
  • Without proper governance, ESAs could limit student’s access to services


Michael Barba, Texas Public Policy Foundation – For

  • Support parent empowerment; vast majority of students who apply to magnate schools are denied while charter schools are open enrollment
  • Are thousands of children on waitlist for charter schools, are not enough seats; up 22%
  • Recommend adjustment to student prioritization to make it more streamlined all students disabled/low income, low income, and then disabled
  • Recommend expanding language to include eligible vendor transportation providers
  • Menendez – Go over your prioritization recommendation
    • If more applications than seats, first low income and disabled, low income, and then disabled, then all other applicants
  • Menendez – Does how current priority language read to you as a cap?
    • Agree; agree with author’s intent, but recommend our prioritization structure


Mandy Drogin, Texas Public Policy Foundation – For

  • Met thousands of parents who beg them to unchain them from a school does not serve them
  • Provides an example of a parent whose children have different needs and could not afford a private school


Nathan Cunneen, American Federation for Children – For

  • Having school choice personally benefited me; should be extended to everyone


Sabrina Gonzalez, Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities – Neutral

  • Disability community has specific concerns with this bill; with this bill students would lose federal disability rights
  • Concerned about academic and student accountability; private schools do not have to report
  • Menendez – Have recommendation that IDEA; could provide our office with that language?
  • Menendez – Share other concerns on IDEA
    • Yes, IDEA individualized education program is a legally binding and right to due process; is not required of private schools
  • Menendez – Could you expand on your recommendations concerning reporting and disproportionate discipline?
    • Students with disabilities and students of color are disproportionally disciplined, info is required to be reported by public schools, but not private schools
  • King – On both sides of the disability conversation; were able to send daughter to private school who helped her a lot; parents are smart enough to realize what is best for their child
    • Not saying the parents are not smart, saying that IDEA has important protections and once they sign up for a school they are locked in without due process


Leslie Rivas, Mexican American School Board Association – Against

  • Believe SB 1 will harm public schools; Texas spends $3k less than other states
  • No evidence that voucher programs increase student success
  • Have seen that voucher expansion diverts millions from public schools to private schools in states that enact them


Takisha Keigler, Educator from Lufkin – Against 

  • Works with special needs, most money made $17k
  • Works at Lufkin ISD
  • Founded reach one, teach one and a voucher program will encourage more segregation


Billy Kimbrough, Educator from Lufkin – Against

  • Works with students in Title I
  • Limited funds mean parents may not be able to afford all private school tuitions
  • Vouchers will cause the lost of more highly qualified teachers
  • Bettencourt – SB 2 has a $4b teacher pay portion to it, so adding SB 2 means a 25% increase in public education


Camarillo, Educator from Lufkin – Against

  • Does not support vouchers


Denise Davis, Educator from Lufkin – Against

  • Concern if public funding goes to private school, the concern is strings will be attached
  • Rural schools are cornerstone of resources for community, they work with all people and want to serve all
  • Ask to be pleased be allowed to do that with proper funding, request proper funding


Jackie Benestante, Autism Society of Texas – Against

  • Concerned with vouchers, private school does not take children with autism and those private schools that will are in urban areas and cost up to $45k a year
  • Parents need strong public schools
  • Menendez – asked about states efforts on special education, tends to through all children in one classroom where kids would not be best served so would not more funding for severity work?
    • Yes, support funding by services of need and not by placement


Steven Aleman, Disability Rights Texas – Against

  • Focus should be on supporting public schools that have special education students
  • State underfunded special education to the tune of $4.4 billion
  • Private schools are the ones that get the choice in this system
  • Menendez – do you work with a lot of parents, parents could be vulnerable and not aware of all protections?
    • Yes, there are important details that can be overlooked
    • Overall here stories of rejections than acceptance of people with special needs


Anna Rush – Against

  • Discusses Rio Grande Valley schools
  • Texas Public Education did well for her, vouchers are whatever is being masked as is not needed and is trying to divert money from public schools
  • A coupon is only helpful for the people who can afford the rest of the bill


Holly Clemmons, Mom and Republican Precinct Chair – Against

  • This bill is charity and not their money to give
  • Public monies going to private schools is exactly what ruined private colleges
  • Sees this as a vendor bill, will be giving 5 businesses $4.5 million
  • Bill requires STAAR and MAPs for students who take ESA, which is what is causing problems for public school now
  • Page 2 outlines bribes the Comptroller can accept
  • Bill creates another arm of the government


Laura Colangelo, Texas Private Schools Association – Support

  • Would like the work “accredited” added, good bill and appreciates the discussions
  • Would support making sure underserved families have access
  • Menendez – does location need to be defined?
    • Physical location
  • Menendez – concern of online schools having a disproportionate impact to rural schools


Alan Parker, Liberty for the Kids – Support

  • Speaking on behalf of 7 reform experts such as Rod Paige, Don McAdams, Sandy Kress, Kent Grussendorf
  • Letter from them has been provided to the committee
  • Best form of accountability is parental choice
  • West – do you think there should be transparency, vouchers started in roots of Brown vs Board, do you think there should be transparency in the voucher program
    • Worth ISD is racists today
    • Says transparency to parents only
  • Menendez – argument of saving kids in failing schools not valid
    • Not every free education needs to be provided in a government school
  • Menendez – statistics don’t show public school students using voucher, in Az only .7% public schools use vouchers
  • Menendez – voucher will not be available to all students who are “trapped” in failing schools
  • Bettencourt – there are private, public, parochial schools and home schools which all points out there are a variety of market channels
    • More choices are good for everyone
    • Argues due process hearing does not always address student needs
  • Reads Article 7, public free schools not free public schools noting back in the day there were community schools that applied for reimbursement
  • Accountability system is a failure and a fraud, half of children cannot read or do math at grade level


Jennifer Allmon, Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops – Support

  • Have issue with “at most” because it caps programs at 22k
  • This amount covers catholic school tuition
  • Menendez – asked her if there was concern in capturing the demographic data of people applying and going to schools using this ESA
    • No concern, but would need to see the text on how to gather language
    • Do this in many other social services program
  • LaMantia – asked about 3 queuing, curriculum
    • Accreditors hold one another accountable for rigorous curriculum, usually diocese decision
    • Colangelo – they don’t evaluate the curriculum but can reach out to the schools
  • LaMantia – asked about security provisions
    • Colangelo – campuses evaluate what they need, they need to have a security plan
    • Allmon – in many areas partner with local police departments so have armed security at each campus but it will look different at each campus, it is not mandated
  • Bettencourt – 3.2 million on free and reduced lunch, over half the population so 59% from public school
    • Allmon and Bettencourt continue to discuss the statistics, if goal is to prioritize the poor would be to say “at least”/“not less than” in the bill
    • Need organizations to market to low income communities/families, outreach is needed and the current
  • Springer – asked about demographics and number of open seats
    • Estimate about 100 seats available in current schools
    • Parish subsidies are provided to certain students
    • Cost to educate child is $13k and tuition is $8k and parish covers the delta
    • Whatever ESA amount is, they will work with families
  • Springer – 11% of students in catholic schools qualify as disabled?
    • Yes
  • Menendez – bill prioritizes no more than 90% of the spots, witness would like to prioritize bill to those who cannot afford it
    • Prefer everyone in category 1 gets a spot
  • West – confirmed with witnesses if they are opposed to measure who access the applications and schools
    • Colangelo – in Florida, low income and families of color access but ok with measuring
  • Paxton – asked about averages of tuitions
  • Middleton – what is number of scholarships, more parents would have options with ESA if money follows the child
    • $18 million
    • Agree
  • LaMantia – do you increase number of students getting scholarship increasing
    • Hard to say, may not be able to raise more money as no guarantee they could


Chloe Latham Sikes, IDRA – Against

  • For every child through strong public schools
  • There are several longitudinal studies that show declining or stagnating student achievement, also segregation
  • Focus on anti-discrimination
  • In response to Menendez, concerns with civil rights protections discussed


Lynn Davenport – Against

  • Devil is in the details, more spending being done with the bill of $500 million
  • Appreciates West’s questions
  • Appreciates this does not run through tyrannical and corrupt TEA but it goes through 5 vendors, so it’s a vendor bill
  • Concern of strings on the funding


Brenda Sanford, Superintendent Red Oak ISD – Against

  • There are more fees and funding needed, students who really need funding will not get the benefit of it
  • Will always support all children, public schools take each child


Mary Lowe – Against

  • This bill meets 1%, not all
  • Stop growing state government
  • Stop centralizing control, stop removing right to self-govern
  • General funds come from Robin Hood
  • SB 2 does not solve problem


Benny Soileau, Huffman ISD Superintendent and Small and Mid-Size Allotment

  • Public education system is underfunded
  • Invest in public schools so students can be life ready after high school
  • Creighton – not only reallocating recapture funds to public schools, but supplanting rest of delta with 100% of what was put in last biennium and adding $9 billion which is the equivalent of 9 different total states
  • Have no litigation
  • Worked to get state back to 50% of share
  • Have met obligation so now back to discuss ESA
  • West – Governor has transfer authority, can Governor increase the amount to over $500k if program is overprescribed
    • Creighton – that is not author intent but will look into it
  • Campbell – bill does not grow government but it does grow parent choice


Kartheic Suaria, Former teacher – Against

  • No requirements for testing, scores declined in private
  • Vouchers would cost more money, would leave to larger class sizes and teachers leaving system
  • Invest in public schools
  • Campbell – asked about football team comment?
    • Defunding public education hurts football teams
  • Menendez – why do you think that?
    • Students leaving system doesn’t account for all the cost going away


Alexander Harris, Individual – Support

  • Nation built on Biblical principles, big bang and sexualization of children in schools
  • Brings book found in Conroe ISD
  • Founding fathers created all men created equal – but schools teach evolution


Bryan Holubec, Thall ISD Trustee – Against

  • Trustees are parents, Texas has 9th largest economy but last session did not bring up funding to match inflation
  • Instead being forced to support vouchers, ESAs will divert funds
  • Parent rights protected in pubic schools
  • West – clarifies Holubec is from TASB representing over 1000 districts


Jennifer, Teacher and parent – Support

  • Son had down syndrome, supports bill to give parent a choice and access
  • Ask them to include other providers like home school and intervention specialist


Dan Byron, Administrator – Against

  • ESA would have a determinantal impact on neighborhood public schools
  • Held accountable to daily attendance in public schools


Mary Castle, Texas Values – Support

  • Need to make a diversity of education options available to all students
  • National support by black parents and teachers for school choice
    • West – wants a copy of that study


Jerry Davis, Embassy Church and Texas Pastors Council – Support

  • Parents want right to choose who educates their children
  • Bible says parents are to train a child in the way to go, parent has the responsibility
  • Mandate by God and must be adhered to, thanks them for listening to their constituents
  • West – ask if the concept was born out of racism?
    • Racism is demonic, can’t be tolerated and would be first in line to not support it
  • West – would you agree we need to measure and transparency for demographic information?
    • Don’t disagree needs to be tracked but does not know legalities
    • Says transparency agreeable for all of them


David Fincher, Private Childcare Owner – Support

  • Would love to see SB 1 address pre-kinder children, Paxton’s bill does include pre-K
  • Inability to read and write and do mathematics currently today, provided handouts to address how to help with reading, writing and arithmetic
  • Campbell – said pre-K is in the bill
    • Argues 25.001 does not include pre-k


Christy Rome, Texas School Coalition – Against

  • Districts subject to recapture/robin hood
  • ESAs would increase recapture, would like dollars to stay local with taxpayer
  • Would rather see support for public education
  • Campbell – appreciated work on recapture
  • LaMantia – how could this increase recapture?
    • Every time a child leaves a district paying recapture, this would increase the recapture
    • Some districts are paying 50% and 80% of their total tax collection to the state


Teri Castillo, City Council San Antonio – Against

  • Students can be denied access in private schools
  • Public schools need support and serve all students
  • Expect to see more school closures if schools are not funded
  • Menendez – SAISD is looking to close 19 schools because they have lost students
    • Agrees and notes other districts looking at closures, majority of students are Latino


Mark Wiggins, ATPE – Against

  • Opposed to vouchers of any kind, or any package deal so appreciate this bill being separate
  • Would like issues to move separately as well

Sabrina Shaw, Asian Texans for Justice – On

  • ESA would provide significant risk to Asian Pacific Islander students
  • Private schools not required to follow federal and state standards
  • ESA will make it more difficult to recruit AAPI teachers
  • Menendez – although testimony is on the bill, testimony was all about concerns on the bill
    • Yes


Paige Duggins-Clay, IDRA – Against

  • Here as resource to answer questions
  • Menendez – asked about concerns
    • Any program including the proposed ESA to divert public funds into private schools violates constitution
    • Bill address how a legal challenge would be brought, section 3 creates legal standing and eligibility is limited to vendors, parents/families who receive the funds, education providers while typically you need to establish legal standard but this gives Voucher proponents a leg up
    • Aware other states have attempted to include provisions like this
    • Unequal playing field amplified in section 7, fast tracks resolution/requires expedited hearing
    • Issue of first impression
    • Stacks playing field against traditional public schools
    • Agrees with Menendez comment this would negatively impact public schools


Jonathan Covey, Texas Values – Support

  • Transferable funding allows students to pick option best for them
  • 2021 study found students in charter schools in SA made grater gains in test scores, have other studies showing better results achieved through ESAs


Rick Galvan, Individual – Against

  • Raised by educators, knows value in public school
  • Teachers working hard in public schools, know schools are not getting adequate funding
  • ESA still siphons off enrollment in traditional public schools





Rick Galvan – Against

  • Regardless of separate funding, are still siphoning students and funding away from public schools


Robert Norris, Grandparents for Public Schools – Against

  • Concerned an ESA will drain funding from public schools


Jamie Puente, Every Texan – Against

  • Overviews how much funds would be diverted from public schools at different percentages of ESA participation
  • As I read the bill, GR could be transferred to this program at any time
  • If there is a 5% usage of these vouchers across the state will take away $2.5b
  • Springer – When I was discussing Throckmorton earlier, was talking about net decrease versus fixed cost
  • West – GR could be transferred to the fund at any time?
    • In my understanding how it is written, GR can be transferred to this fund at any time
  • West – Ask the author’s intent on that
    • Creighton – Have power over legislative portion of this, the executive branch has their own power
  • West – Hope the language is clear of your intent
  • Creighton – Will be clear through the appropriator’s actions
    • The Governor has appropriated billions without the legislature’s approval
    • Is no cap on how many students are allowed to participate; could come back with a supplemental
  • Menendez – Recommend capping the cost at $500m?
    • Would cap the number of students, not appropriation
  • Campbell – This bill is not expected to have such an increase as Arizona has; to say the governor is going to allocate funds without legislative approval seems like a scare tactic


Rebecca Skelton, Texas Legislative Equity Coalition – Against

  • Need to keep public funds at public schools


Dr. Michelle Cavazos, Superintendent Gregory-Portland ISD – Against

  • Need to address current funding gaps in our public education system
  • LaMantia – In your written testimony you talk about ROI, expand on that
    • Every dollar spent on our kids results in $57 in economic benefit; are also held accountable on those funds


Clifford, Self – Against

  • Public school teacher
  • Have not heard how institutions who are going to receive these funds are going to be held accountable
  • Campbell – Accountability starts at the parents and their choice on where to send their kids


James Hallamek, Texas State Teachers Association – Against

  • Within a couple years, a voucher could take close to $1b away from public schools
  • The vouchers will not benefit every family, but every family’s taxes will pay for them


Brady Grey, Texas Family Project – For

  • Need to ensure every child has access to a high-quality education; this proposal will do that
  • This will create healthy competition between schools
  • This is important given some schools teacher far left radical doctrines; notes the Senate SB 1562


Brandon Enos, Superintendent Cushing ISD – Against

  • This is not about parental rights, is about private school rights
  • Florida’s program started small, but has grown by billons and many who left public education to private


Cindy Castilla, Texas Eagle Forum – Neutral

  • 8% going to administration is a large amount
  • Do not want a law that would open the door to regulate private schools
  • Bill needs guardrails and maybe even a constitutional amendment to keep the government out of private schools
  • Hope to add language for flexibility on schools to include student’s data protections


Arif Panju, Institute for Justice – For

  • Have worked in litigation against school choice programs across the country
  • There is no ceiling in the constitution; are free to create additional educational options
  • Campbell – Any issues with this bill in court?
    • No issues at all; teachers unions who have fought against this have failed
  • Campbell – See anything in this bill that would support West’s concern about this being rooted in racism
    • No; believe in parents making the best choice for their children
    • Is no constitutional issues with this
  • Campbell and Panju discuss the ESA lottery system


Lee Spiller, Citizens Commission on Human Rights – Neutral

  • Ask Governor to expand the call to address all the parental rights in SB 8
  • Agree with West we should be capturing demographic data; need accountability


Paul Kolbert, Self – Against

  • Former budget chair for public education in the House
  • There is nothing conservative about this bill
  • Is the Governor’s intent is to ensure every child in the state to have access to an ESA
  • If committed $8k to every child for an ESA, would be $16b per biennium
  • Would drain all funds to public education
  • West – Asks about the fiscal note
    • The FN is something I have never seen, which is a one-year fiscal note; FN should give a five-year outlook
    • Is no limitation in this bill on the ability of the Governor to transfer funds into this
    • Concern with the prioritization system; caps funding, not a true prioritization system
  • West – Ask you provide some language to us


Janna Lilly, Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education – Against

  • Against this ESA program
  • $8k would not cover typical tuition for students with disabilities; tuition could be up to $25k
  • Recommend gathering demographic data over time
  • Special education notice should include more special education laws
  • Menendez – Underfunding special education at about $2b per year? Seems like a way to push students out of the system and get parents to pay
    • Is more than $2b


Daphne Hofhecker, Self – Against

  • Struggle with the idea this is for our special education kids
  • The idea of trading IDEA rights for a voucher is not on the table
  • Kids needs to be serviced in their local community
  • $8k is not going to cover more than a couple of months of therapy for my kids specifically
  • Voucher recipients in other states overwhelmingly do not have positive outcomes, do not know where some of you are getting this information
  • Menendez and Hofhecker discuss the importance of community for disabled/nondisabled students
  • Campbell – Heard earlier about a concern about the administrative cost in this bill, but it is 5%


Jennifer Easley, Texas PTA – Against

  • Strong public schools needed, all children need access to appropriately funded schools
  • All parents want choice, choice in public schools
  • Private schools are not apple to apple comparisons
  • Against any policy that siphon any funds away from public schools


Lori Leal, LULAC – Against

  • Oppose any effort to remove or divert funds from existing public schools

Marisa, Special Education Teacher – Against

  • Private schools do not need to follow IDEA

Justin Powk, Parent – Support

  • Child has spent hundred of hours in front of screen at public school


Jenny Burkholtz, Access Education RRISD – Against

  • Voucher funds siphon off funds to public schools
  • Private schools not held to same transparency

Don Garner, Texas Faith and Freedom Coalition – Support

  • Largest GOTV campaign
  • Know public schools will be fully funded with SB 1
  • Education improves for all students with voucher
  • Addresses students trapped in failing schools


Sen. Campbell does last call for witnesses and tells someone in the audience they stopped registration at noon but since he is there, if he signs up he can speak


Individual from AISD – Against

  • Diverting public funds from public schools for a private education


Carma Wilson, Individual – Against/On

  • No one wants her child who has needs, aggressive child
  • Concern is immunity for school if child gets hurt
  • Menendez – confirms no other private schools would take son because of special needs
    • Against the bill if they don’t change it


SB 1 reported out favorably 10 ayes and 3 nays (LaMantia, Menendez, West)