DISD Super Laments Likelihood of School Choice Passing

School choice
Student walking on the highway while looking at a question mark | Image by Creativa Images/Shutterstock

Dallas ISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said she believes Texas legislators will pass school choice legislation in their next session and hopes it will “be as equitable as possible.”

Speaking with Fox 4 KDFW, Elizalde predicted that school choice would be enacted in Texas and expressed hopes that public school districts would have a chance to weigh in on how the system would be run.

“It is very likely that private school subsidies are going to have the votes to pass,” Elizalde said, adding that since “we are all in the same sandbox,” public school leaders are “definitely going to have to ask to be a part of the conversations.”

Elizalde said she hopes the prospective launch of education savings accounts, which would allow families to use taxpayer money to defray the costs of homeschooling or private school, would mean that private schools would be “held accountable to the same standards” as public schools.

“If a state assessment is good enough for Dallas ISD, it should be good enough for a private school, too,” she said.

Relatedly, Dallas ISD is involved in a lawsuit that has blocked the Texas Education Agency (TEA) from releasing recent accountability data. In 2021-2022, the district recorded lackluster academic results, with just 41% of students scoring at grade level on their STAAR tests and nearly 20% of the graduating class failing to obtain a diploma within four years.

Disappointing academic outcomes at some public school districts, as well as safety and political issues, have helped give momentum to the school choice movement, which aims to open up education alternatives to Texas families.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, polling suggests that some kind of school choice legislation is popular across many demographics in the state, with black and Hispanic Texans appearing to show the most enthusiasm.

During the Fox 4 interview, Elizalde also suggested that students who enroll at private schools using taxpayer dollars should be required to stay there throughout the school term to avoid staffing issues and other problems for public school systems.

“If students are going back and forth, if a private school releases students midway through the year, for whatever reason a private school may have, where are they going to go? They’re going to come to a local school district like mine. But I won’t have staffing for the number of students that may be returning,” Elizalde explained.

Noting that she thinks “Texas wants to do right by all schools, by all kids,” she said she hopes that public school leaders will eventually be given a seat at the table.

“I think we can help in the process of ‘what ifs,’ and we can be actually part of the solution,” she continued. “And I do think it’s time for us not to just be against something, but this superintendent wants to be in tandem with the state and work together to do what I absolutely think everyone does want, and that is to provide our students the excellence and equity and education that each of them deserves.”

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