Saying parent choice about where to send their children to school is a "civil rights issue," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called for an expansion of charter schools in the state Wednesday at a rally on the Capitol's south steps, where students, parents and educators gathered to show support for the publicly funded but privately managed schools.
"The reason we are here today is not Republican, it is not Democrat," Abbott, a Republican, said after thanking lawmakers from both parties working to pass charter-friendly bills. "The time has come to open more charter schools in the state of Texas. The time has come to empower more parents to chose the right school and the best school for their child."
Abbott was joined by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who was not originally scheduled to appear at the event, and a handful of other elected officials including Land Commissioner George P. Bush, state Rep. Dwayne Bohac, R-Houston, and state Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas.
In 2013, lawmakers passed the first major overhaul of the state's charter school system since it was established in 1995, increasing the number of state contracts available for charter operators and streamlining the process to close low-performing charters.
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Charter advocates have pushed for access to state facilities funding during the current legislative session — a lack of which they say creates an unequal playing field with traditional public schools.