I was so pleased to participate in National School Choice Week with nearly four thousand events taking place throughout our state. Parents, grandparents, teachers, administrators, and students from every type of school come together to celebrate the power of education. The premise of school choice is simple: we need a strong system of educational options in Texas, because every student deserves the right to learn and thrive.
Education isn’t a one size fits all proposition, and different learning environments are right for every child depending on their needs. Texans can be proud of our great traditional public schools, innovative public charter schools, and private and parochial schools in each of our communities. There are also parents who home school and take advantage of home school networks to educate their children. In Texas, we should work to ensure each of these models continues to flourish so that every child succeeds.
As a state senator who serves on the education committee, I’ve had the opportunity to visit classrooms of all types. Whether it’s a public, private, or home school; a charter or magnet program; or a traditional or online instructional format — when high quality teaching and learning happens, a student’s future is bright and their potential is unlimited. I’ve worked hard with my colleagues to ensure Texas families have choices within public education by championing policies that increase access to online digital learning and help keep up with the demand for innovative public charter schools.
Too often in the education community, there is a rush to secure resources and declare one type of classroom as the ideal model, pitting one type of schools against another. This is not beneficial to our dedicated teachers, does not help develop our future workforce, and it's certainly not in the best interest of the child. In education, the correct answer should truly be “all of the above.” Adding options multiplies success.
Texas boasts some of the best traditional and charter public schools in the nation. Our system of private and parochial schools is diverse, and homeschooling communities are growing, too. We should empower each of these types of schools to grow and improve so families have great options.
Texas is one of eleven states that provides parents with flexibility when enrolling their children in a traditional public school. Many of our school districts have developed successful magnet school programs. We also support open enrollment public charter schools, where some 141,000 students are on a waiting lists to attend one. Texas also provides tuition free online learning for students interested in this option to augment classroom learning.
Celebrating a good education means supporting it in all its forms wherever it occurs. What works for one child may not work for another. We need to call out excellent teaching and make sure our best teachers are rewarded. We need to drive more dollars to the classroom where learning actually occurs, not just support more bricks and mortar, fancy buildings, and stadiums. Most importantly, we need to expand school choice in Texas so that no child gets left out.
Where school choice is implemented, the results are promising. We see expanded opportunities for traditionally underserved students, higher test scores, and fewer disciplinary problems. The result is more students who are the first in their families to go to college and obtain high-demand job skills, creating an upwardly mobile trajectory where more Texans prosper.
As the mother of a sixth grader, it's important to me that we are doing everything we can to make sure our children live up to their full potential. We have a moral obligation to ensure every child has access to the best education - in every form. Let’s continue to explore ways to expand opportunities for all Texans.
Dr. Donna Campbell is an emergency room physician and Texas State Senator representing District 25.