Texas School District Lobbies Against School Choice Despite Parents’ Overwhelming Support

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Chrissy Clark Contributor
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A Texas school district vowed to lobby against school choice programs despite voters in the county overwhelmingly supporting such programs, according to the Board of Trustees’ “legislative agenda.”

Ector County Independent School District’s (ECISD) Board of Trustees vowed to “oppose the development of voucher programs or any action similar in name or nature,” in its 2023 legislative agenda. An ECISD spokesman confirmed to the Daily Caller that the board believes school choice programs harm the district.

“Public school funds are already severely limited. Removing funds that support the education of Texas children in public schools would be detrimental to the work ISDs must do to ensure each child receives a quality education,” the legislative agenda reads.

ECISD’s Board of Trustees also called for limiting charter school expansions, according to the agenda.

The board’s policies appear contrary to policies that Ector County residents voted in favor of. In the 2022 midterm election, 91% of voters approved a proposition that gives parents the “right to select schools, whether public or private, for their children, and the funding should follow the student,” according to the county’s elections office.

ECISD’s push to end school choice programs also runs counter to promises from statewide elected officials such as Gov. Greg Abbott. Many school choice activists consider Texas a failure for its lack of school choice options. (RELATED: School Choice Advocates Claim Texas GOP Is Failing Parents)

LOUISVILLE, KY - JANUARY 11: A teacher interacts with students virtually while sitting in an empty classroom during a period of Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) at Hazelwood Elementary School on January 11, 2022 in Louisville, Kentucky. Jefferson County Public Schools, along with many other school districts in the US, have switched to NTI in response to severe staffing shortages caused by the prevalence of the omicron variant of COVID-19. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images

The district notably offers a choice schools program via a lottery system. This allows students to choose vocational schools within the district that focus more on mathematics or arts programs.

A district spokesman told the Daily Caller that voucher programs, and other such school choice initiatives outside of the district’s choice schools programs, harm students.

“Our school board believes voucher programs take tax-payer dollars away from public schools in order to pay for students to attend private schools that are not required to serve all students nor meet the same Texas accountability standards,” the spokesman said.

Jason Bedrick, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told the Daily Caller that school choice policies improve the performance of traditional school districts.

“The research literature overwhelmingly finds that education choice policies have a positive effect on the academic performance of traditional district schools,” Bedrick said. “When families have lots of education options, schools have to improve their performance to attract students. That’s why education choice is the rising tide that lifts all boats.”

Members of the ECISD’s Board of Trustees did not respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment.