Governor Abbott called the fourth special session, which began at 5pm on November 7, 2023, immediately after the third special session. He opened with “The Texas Legislature made progress over the past month protecting Texans from forced COVID-19 vaccinations and increasing penalties for human smuggling, however, there is more work to be done. I am immediately calling lawmakers back for Special Session number four to complete their critical work to empower Texas parents to choose the best education pathway for their child while providing billions more in funding for Texas public schools and continuing to boost safety measures in schools.”
Will vouchers give parents real choice? It all depends on your financial circumstance, as well as services a student may need. According to Private School Review, established in 2003, the elementary school average tuition in Texas is $10,472 per academic year while the private high school average in Texas is $11,949 per year. Senate Bill 1 provides $1,000, if the participating child is a home-schooled student, or $8,000, if the child is attends a private school.
One of the co-authors of Senate Bill 1 is Senator Paul Bettencourt who represents the Senate District 7, which encompasses most of West Harris County. If a parent in Bettencourt’s district decides to send their child to the Kinkaid Academy, they will get an $8,000 credit toward tuition which currently ranges from $27,740 to $33,655 according to their website. So, yes, vouchers provide real choice to parents that can afford to pay at least $19,740.
The bill also states that a private school is not subject to federal and state laws regarding the provision of educational services to a child with a disability in the same manner as a public school. Therefore, students that qualify for special education services could be denied acceptance to the private schools, or grossly underserved. Of all students receiving special education services in Texas, 66 percent are identified as male. Males also make up 83 and 71 percent of autism and emotional disturbance classifications, respectively. Black students, who make up 12.6 percent of the Texas public school population, make up 20 percent of the “emotional disturbance” classifications. Will vouchers give parents real choice?
It all depends on if the private school will accept our Black male students who qualify for special education and provide the services they need. Parents, special education advocates, pastors, and school superintendents throughout the state have voiced concerns, penned letters, and testified that vouchers will undermine public education. During an October 29, 2023, interview on Inside Texas Politics with Dallas’ ABC affiliate WFAA, Republican Representative Drew Darby said: “I find it objectionable any talk of taking public dollars out of public schools and supporting private or parochial schools that don’t have the same accountability, don’t have the same test, don’t have the same transparency, and don’t have open enrollment policies.”
The issue has remained stalled throughout previous sessions largely due to the opposition of Republicans in rural parts of the state, where schools are the largest employers and the pride of their communities. Of more than 1,200 Texas school districts, 658 are classified as some version of rural. Most Democrats have vowed to oppose the legislation. Special sessions can last up to 30 days, and there is no limit to the number of special sessions that can be called.
October 16, 2023, HOUSTON, TX – Congressional Candidate Amanda Edwards has raised over $1 million in less than 4 months, a substantial sum that helps bolster the frontrunner status of the former At-Large Houston City Council Member in her bid for U.S. Congress. Edwards raised over $433,000 in Q3 of 2023. This strong Q3 report expands on a successful Q2 where Edwards announced just 11 days after declaring her candidacy that she had raised over $600,000. With over $829,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the September 30th financial reporting period, Edwards proves again that she is the clear frontrunner in the race. “I am beyond grateful for the strong outpouring of support that will help me to win this race and serve the incredible people of the 18th Congressional District,” said Edwards. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s trajectory, and we need to send servant leaders to Congress who can deliver the results the community deserves. The strong support from our supporters will help us to cultivate an 18th Congressional District where everyone in it can thrive.” Edwards said. “Amanda understands the challenges that the hard-working folks of the 18th Congressional District face because she has never lost sight of who she is or where she comes from; she was born and raised right here in the 18th Congressional District of Houston,” said Kathryn McNiel, spokesperson for Edwards’ campaign. Edwards has been endorsed by Higher Heights PAC, Collective PAC, Krimson PAC, and the Brady PAC. She has also been supported by Beto O’Rourke, among many others. About Amanda: Amanda is a native Houstonian, attorney and former At-Large Houston City Council Member. Amanda is a graduate of Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. Edwards earned a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Edwards practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP before entering public service. Edwards is a life-long member of St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. For more information, please visit www.edwardsforhouston.com
As September 13th rolls around, we extend our warmest birthday wishes to the creative powerhouse, Tyler Perry, a man whose indomitable spirit and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. With his multifaceted talents as an actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director, Tyler Perry has not only entertained but also inspired audiences worldwide, particularly within the African-American community, where his influence and role have been nothing short of powerful. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969, Tyler Perry’s journey to stardom was a path riddled with adversity. Raised in a turbulent household, he found refuge in writing, using it as a therapeutic outlet. This period of introspection gave rise to one of his most iconic creations, Madea, a vivacious, no-nonsense grandmother who would later become a beloved figure in Perry’s works, offering a unique blend of humor and profound life lessons. Despite facing numerous challenges, including rejection and financial struggles, Perry’s determination and unwavering belief in his abilities propelled him forward. In 1992, he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which, although met with limited success, was a pivotal moment in his career. Unfazed by initial setbacks, Perry continued to hone his craft, and by 1998, he had successfully produced a string of stage plays that showcased his storytelling prowess.
Calling all teenage student-athletes! If you have dreams of playing college soccer and wish to represent an HBCU, the HBCU ID Camp is your golden opportunity. From 8 am to 5 pm on November 11-12, Houston Sports Park will transform into a hub for aspiring male and female soccer players. Coaches from HBCUs across the nation will be present to evaluate, scout, and offer valuable feedback. Moreover, they might even spot the next soccer prodigy to join their collegiate soccer programs. This camp is not just about honing your soccer skills but also a chance to connect with the HBCU soccer community. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to excel on the field and in the classroom, which is crucial for a college athlete. The HBCU ID Camp is an excellent platform to network with coaches, learn from experienced athletes, and take the first steps toward your college soccer journey. To secure your spot at this incredible event, don’t forget to register [here](insert registration link). Space is limited to 120 participants, so make sure to reserve your place before it’s too late. It’s time to turn your dreams of playing college soccer into a reality.