East Texas legislator weighing opinion on school vouchers
TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - An East Texas state representative serving on the Texas House’s education committee said he will decide what is best for students when deciding on the issue.
Rep. Cole Hefner (R-Mount Pleasant) said he thinks talking about school vouchers is “a conversation we should have.” Gov. Greg Abbott has pledged support to school vouchers and appeared at an event in Tyler to promote the idea.
”We’ve never, in recent years, we haven’t had a debate or a discussion on the pros and the cons, and how this would benefit rural Texas vs. urban Texas or suburban Texas. And so, I welcome the debate. I welcome the conversation,” Hefner said.
Hefner is a member of the Texas House Committee of Education and believes the committee is where the conversation about school choice will start in the Texas Legislature.
”We have a lot of smart folks on both sides of the issue,” Hefner said.
Hefner mentioned that a senate bill and several house bills have been filed on the topic of education savings accounts, but he has not had the chance to look through them thoroughly. He said discussion has already started in the committee about the bills that have been filed.
”I think everybody will be included. We’ll include public education people, privates, charters, home schoolers...we want everybody’s input,” Hefner said.
Hefner said his focus is on what’s best for the students and parents, as opposed to supporting any one system.
”I support my local public schools,” Hefner said. “I support my privates and charters. I support parents’ right to homeschool their kids if that’s what works, just as long as we’re focusing on what’s best for the kid, for the student. I want to make sure that’s where we are as a state, not that we prop up one system or another.”
Hefner also gave his personal opinion on the role public schools play in Texas, specifically giving praise to the schools here in East Texas.
”There’s five million students publicly educated in our state,” he said. “We all benefit from a strong public education system. I think there’s always going to be 90-95 percent of our kids that are going to be educated in public schools because it works pretty well, especially here in rural East Texas where we have good schools.”
However, Hefner still believes the conversation around school vouchers is important. ”To have that discussion around that ESA system is a good thing, and I think it’ll be happening here in the coming weeks,” Hefner said.
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