In his Tuesday proclamation, Abbott said he had reached an agreement with House leaders such that “the STAAR test will be phased out to be replaced with an improved assessment system.” He also said students participating in the program will have the option of taking a “norm-referenced test or STAAR test to ensure the program achieves good educational outcomes.”
Allmon said TCCB has been “strongly advocating” for the removal of the STAAR test requirement because although they support the use of a standardized test for ESA students, the STAAR test specifically is “aligned to the public-school curriculum, which is not necessarily taught in private schools.”
Allmon urged Texas Catholics to contact their representative to express support for the school choice bill.
“St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us!” she concluded in her Oct. 23 statement.
HB 1 has not yet come up for a vote in the Texas House after being filed Oct. 19 by Rep. Brad Buckley, R-Killeen.
School choice gaining momentum
Early 2023 data from the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), which advocates for policy in the U.S. on behalf of Catholic school students, showed that just 10.5% of Catholic school students nationwide use a parental choice program. The push for school choice is gaining momentum, however, with seven states in 2023 alone enacting school choice programs that are available to all students, i.e. “universal.”
Most recently, in September, North Carolina became the 10th U.S. state to enact universal school choice by removing certain barriers to a state program that provides tuition assistance for students attending private schools. In some of those 10 states, such as Arizona and Indiana, nearly all of the state’s Catholic schools take part in school choice programs.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms that parents have “the first responsibility for the education of their children” (No. 2223). Mothers and fathers, the catechism says, retain the right to both teach their children the morals imparted by the Church and “to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions” (No. 2229).
Polling by CNA’s parent organization, EWTN, released late last year found that U.S. Catholic parents broadly back initiatives to support school choice, with two-thirds saying they support a policy that allows students to make use of public education funds for the schools or services that best fit their needs.