Thousands of people, including students, parents, educators, elected officials and even marching bands, converged on the Texas Capitol in Austin Tuesday to rally for school choice. The event is part of National School Choice Week, which includes events across the country to raise awareness and promote programs to provide vouchers for families to send students to private or religious schools instead of public schools. In Texas, supporters are pushing a bill allowing parents to use state funds to establish an education savings account which could be used to pay for private school.
Governor Greg Abbott headlined the event, calling for lawmakers to get a school choice bill on his desk that he can sign this year. "Every parent deserves choices about where they will send their child to school," Abbott told the crowd. "It is the right of every child from every zip code across the state of Texas to have the choice to attend the school that is best for them."
The Governor called on people of all backgrounds to get behind the school choice effort. "This is not a Republican issue, it's not a Democrat issue, this is a civil rights issue!," proclaimed Abbott to the cheers of the crowd.
Other attendees at the rally included Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who also spoke, and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, a longtime advocate of school choice. Bush did not address the crowd.
School voucher bills have passed the Texas Senate in the past, but have failed in the House due to opposition from Democrats and rural Republicans worried about hurting public schools in their small communities.