said Thursday during a news conference, flanked by several Republican House members, including Reps. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, and Jason Villalba, R-Dallas.
School choice proponents say the concept would expand educational opportunities for students who are attending failing public schools.
Opponents of education savings accounts say that they’re private school vouchers that are meant to strip money from cash-strapped public schools, in which parents already have plenty of options.
They say that the education savings accounts have no accountability measures and only will benefit wealthy families, which proponents have disputed.
“We in no way fault the representative for his intention to help students who have either special needs or special circumstances,” said Monty Exter, lobbyist with the Association of Texas Professional Educators.
“We do think that he is misguided in thinking that the public education system isn’t the best place to serve those kids.”
School choice has been among the most divisive education topics this legislative session, with many conservative Republicans backing the idea.
The Senate bill — which doesn’t limit access to the savings accounts and also includes tax credits for businesses that contribute to a scholarship fund for low-income students to attend a private school — has been given priority by Patrick.
House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, however, hasn’t expressed the same urgency to pass school choice legislation.
House Public Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty, R-Houston, said this week during a Texas Tribune event that he didn’t think the House would approve school choice legislation this session.
“At the end of the day people up here and people out on the floor with me, they really are public servants. They want to do what’s right,” Simmons said.
“The challenge can sometimes come when they’re receiving pressure from some of the people who might be against this because they have a false narrative that believes that if we allow this, public schools will fall apart.”
State Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, has proposed House Bill 1335, which would create a system of education savings accounts for students who are at risk or who have special needs.