Governor Abbott Speaks Out on Parental Rights in Education, Recommends Legislators Pass This "Emergency" Item

Pete Ski
School materialsPhoto byElement5 DigitalonUnsplash

Governor Abbott made clear his administration's priorities on education in a speech at Brazos Christian School in Bryan on Wednesday. The governor also took the time to discuss curriculum reforms as well as encouraging parents to use state-funded Education Savings Accounts for their children's education. Education has long been one of Abbott's primary talking points in public appearances, and this week continued that trend.

Of particular interest is what the administration terms "Education Freedom," a comprehensive list of various statewide goals on education reforms. The above-mentioned education savings accounts funded by the administration are only a fraction of the total changes that the governor's office wishes to see. As a result, Abbott declared Education Freedom an "emergency" item for the Texas legislature back in February of this year.

As part of the larger program, several changes to the way Texas educates students are being proposed. Among the more notable, per the plan:

  • Allowing parents to decide whether their child should repeat a grade
  • Amending the Texas Constitution to make parents the primary decision maker in all education matters regarding their child
  • Expanding parental access and input into curriculums at schools
  • Expanding school choice programs to all Texans
  • Changing the complaint process to make it easier for parents to resolve grievances with schools or teachers

If polling is correct, Governor Abbott may find significant support for his measures. The number of Americans who are either "somewhat" or "completely" dissatisfied with the education their child is receiving has grown consistently since 2019, according to Gallup, with the group now making up the majority of parents nationwide.

In his "State of the State" speech last month, Abbott highlighted what he felt were shortfalls in the current education system:

We must also protect the freedom and rights of parents who have children in school...
Many children today are not educated like you and I were. I hear frustrations from many parents — some are with us here tonight...We must reform [the] curriculum, get kids back to the basics of learning, and we must empower parents. Parents deserve access to curriculum, school libraries, and what their children are taught. We will do that with our Parental Bill of Rights.
An early education classroom.Photo byCDConUnsplash

Many of the items proposed by Governor Abbott will ultimately need to be drawn up, submitted, and passed by the legislature. By declaring the education changes an "emergency" for the legislative session, the governor can override a policy that prevents lawmakers from passing any legislation during the first 60 days of their term. Once the governor declares an item a legislative emergency, that provision is waived and lawmakers can begin work on the measures immediately.

This year's emergency items, per Abbott's "State of the State" speech, include the education reforms above as well as addressing the fentanyl crisis, border security, ending COVID restrictions, and cutting property taxes. In total, the governor laid out seven emergency items.

In his speech this week at Brazos Christian School, Abbott offered the following thoughts on the state's need for education reform:

Parents should have access to curriculum, school libraries, and what their children are taught. And we will do that with our Parental Bill of Rights. No one knows what is better for a child's success than their parents. When it comes to education, parents matter. This is so vital to the future of our state, I made education freedom an emergency item this session.

As of this writing, no reforms have been passed through the legislature for the governor's signature. Several proposed bills are still in the committee process or pending a vote. Nationwide, Texas currently ranks 34th in education according to US News.

Author's note: Those who would like to read the full proposed changes can find the governor's summary of them here.

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Financial field by trade. I sort through all the public records so that you don't have to. Keeping up to date on events both local and national in scale.

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