Bill Passed out of Committee, Awaiting Action on Senate Floor
AUSTIN, Texas, May 7, 2015 – PublicSchoolOptions.org joined Texas parents calling on the Texas State Senate to debate and pass SB 894 without delay. The bill passed out of the Senate Education Committee last week with strong support, and will end arbitrary and outdated barriers to accessing public school options such as virtual education.
Without action in the legislature this year, Texas will continue to have one of the most restrictive laws in the country regarding access to educational options. While many Texas students are able to access the school that works best for them, many are required by law to spend time in a traditional neighborhood public school that may not be meeting their needs.
Texas’ youngest students, students new to the state, and students with a private school or homeschool background are prohibited from accessing public virtual school without enrolling in a traditional school the previous year.
Additionally, a Texas law that prohibits the creation of new virtual schools is stifling innovation in education in the Lone Star State.
“Our legislators have a great opportunity to be a champion for Texas parents and students this year,” said Shea Mackin, parent leader for PublicSchoolOptions.org’s Texas Chapter and an Austin mother with students enrolled in a public virtual school.
She continued, “The Senate should pass SB 894 without delay. This bill includes common sense solutions to outdated policies. Far too many Texas students aren’t able to access a school that meets their needs. SB 894 will help solve that problem by allowing new schools to be created, and by allowing parents to access these schools and the great schools we already have in Texas. The legislature needs to take down these barriers to entry and trust parents to make educational decisions for their children.”
If enacted, SB 894 would:
– End a moratorium on the creation of new public virtual schools, allowing new schools to open and providing parents with access to more virtual education options.
– End a prohibition on public virtual education for grades K-2 in Texas. Current law restricts virtual schools to only enroll students in grades 3-12. SB 894 would allow Texas’ youngest students to immediately enroll in a school that best meets their needs without spending three years in a school that isn’t the best fit for them.
– End a prior public requirement that only allows students to enroll in public virtual schools after enrolling in a traditional public school the previous year. This arbitrary requirement prohibits students who have recently moved to Texas, as well as Texas students who have previously enrolled in private schools or homeschools, from accessing the school that best meets their needs.
As the Senate moves forward with SB 894, bills in the House sponsored by Representatives Bohac and Goldman also address PublicSchoolOptions.org initiatives for parent access to virtual schools. The House Education Committee has yet to schedule a hearing for these bills.