Abbott calls for private school vouchers, education resources in State of State Address

Ali Juell, Senior News Reporter

Gov. Greg Abbott addressed Texans during the State of The State following a successful reelection campaign. Abbott’s speech in San Marcos last Thursday focused largely on Texas’ role as an “economic juggernaut” while calling for federal actions like increased restrictions at the border.

The address also included a number of priorities for the current legislative session, including the creation of a private school voucher program, additional funding for community colleges with career-specialized education tracks and an increase in the number of mental health professionals accessible to students.

“We cannot let another school year go by without making our schools safer,” Abbott said in his address. “That is why I am making school safety an emergency item this session.”

While praising the quality of Texas’ public schools, Abbott said he considered a top legislative priority to be the parents’ opportunity to obtain a private education for their children. After numerous attempts in previous legislative sessions to provide money to families seeking private education, many Republicans are pushing for private school voucher programs, including Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

A private school voucher program redirects money the state would otherwise spend on a child directly to families to spend on private education. Senate Bill 176 would provide families with about $10,000 a year per child if they choose to opt out of public education to fund private school costs.

Abbott has previously expressed his support for “school choice,” a phrase recently coined by the Republicans, but only recently began expressing support for a school voucher program. 

“We must reform curriculum, get kids back to the basics of learning and we must empower parents,” Abbott said. “Parents deserve access to curriculum, school libraries and what their children are taught.”

Abbott also called for increased funding to community colleges that provide students with coursework focused toward their future careers.

“Texas is the seat of knowledge where children will have safer schools to master the skills that will prepare them for the workforce of tomorrow,” Abbott said.

In light of a national shortage of mental health care professionals, including therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists, Abbott said the state must provide more mental health support in schools. 

Abbott said he would also work with John P. Scott, Texas’ chief of school safety and security, to mandate compliance with school safety standards created during the current session.

“This session, we will ensure Texas remains the leader of this nation as an unflinching force in this world,” Abbott said to the crowd in San Marcos. “Together, we will build a Texas for the next generation — the Texas of tomorrow.”