Committee Passes Bill to Increase Access to Public Virtual Schools
AUSTIN, Texas, April 22, 2015 – Texas parents and PublicSchoolOptions.org applauded the Senate Education Committee today for passage of SB 894 – a bill that, if passed into law, will end arbitrary barriers to access to public school options for all Texas families.
Currently, outdated policies prohibit access to public virtual schools for many students in the Lone Star state. While many Texas students are able to access the school that works best for them, many are made 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.
“Far too many Texas families are unable to access schools that best meet their needs. We are so thankful that the Senate Education Committee has passed SB 894 and urge the full Senate to take up the measure without delay,” 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, “There’s no good reason why some Texans should be treated differently than other Texans just because of their age or background. It’s time to let all Texas students have access to public school options like virtual education, and SB 894 will do just that.”
SB 894 passed the Senate Education Committee today on a 6-2 vote and is expected to be debated by the full Senate in the coming weeks.
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 public prior 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.