Senate Bill 8 Passes Committee Vote Allowing Public Funding of Private Schools

The Texas Senate Education Committee has advanced a controversial public education Senate bill 8 that would allow families to use taxpayer money to pay for private schools. The bill also includes provisions that would create additional opportunities for parents to assess instructional materials and enforce fresh guidelines on the instruction of gender and sexual orientation at all grade levels.

Senate Bill 8
Texas Senate  Education Committee advances Senate bill 8 which would give parents state funds to pay for private schools. (Photo: KVUE)

What is Senate Bill 8?

Senate Bill 8 proposes to give parents who choose not to enroll their children in public schools access to a savings account that would contain up to $8,000 per student, using taxpayer money. The funds can be used to pay for private schooling, textbooks, and tutoring, among other educational expenses. Senate Bill 8 also includes measures to restrict classroom lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity. Proponents of Senate Bill 8 believe that parents are the most qualified to educate their children about topics such as sexual orientation and gender identity.

According to a published article in KSAT, if Senate Bill 8 is approved, families would be eligible to pay for private education expenses through an educational savings account. This would make Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s prominent educational initiative an official law.

READ ALSO: Senate Passes Bill to Classify Fentanyl Overdoses Poisonings

Senate Bill 8 Passes Committee Vote

Senate bill 8 was approved by a vote of 10-2 along party lines led by Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe. Republican lawmakers favored Senate Bill 8, while Democrats  José Menéndez and Morgan LaMantia of South Padre Island voted against it.

Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has been vocal in supporting Senate Bill 8, which would also limit classroom discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity in all public and charter schools up to 12th grade, Texas Tribune reported.

Senate Bill 8 has faced significant opposition from those concerned about its potential impact on public education in Texas. The bill has been compared to a similar law in Florida that has been met with controversy and criticism. Senate Bill 8 has faced pushback from rural Republicans who fear that the voucher system could take away funding from local school districts. In an effort to address these concerns, Senate bill 8 seeks to shield school districts with fewer than 20,000 students from any funding losses caused by the savings account program.

Texas schools are mainly funded based on the number of students attending them. While Senate Bill 8 is likely to be approved by the Senate, it’s uncertain whether the House, which is traditionally critical of similar programs, will be convinced by the additional funding for smaller communities.