COMMENTARY: Defending School Choice In Texas

By John D. Colyandro and Russell H. Withers
McAllen Monitor

Noel Candelaria, president of the Texas State Teachers Association, recently argued in a Nov. 20 column in The Monitor that the Texas Legislature should support public schools by not supporting school choice. His familiar arguments are at odds with the facts. He argues, without citing evidence, that Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) “have nothing to do with improving public education.” That argument is objectively false. A Friedman Foundation (now Ed Choice) survey of the empirical evidence on school choice looked specifically at the impact choice programs had on public schools. The results were that “31 of 33 studies find the competitive effects driven by school choice programs led to improvement in public schools’ academic performance.”

Mr. Candelaria asserts that ESAs are an “entitlement,” but the entirety of the system of public education is an entitlement (and constitutional mandate), and subsidies are an essential aspect of education. ESAs are simply a new, optional program using existing dollars that will be spent in any event. ESA’s would make an existing entitlement better. Importantly, even with an optional ESA program, traditional public schools will continue to be paid 100 percent for every student who enrolls.

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