In anticipation of the upcoming third special session of the Texas Legislature, State Representative Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, a Democrat and founder of a charter school, is advocating for compromise on the issue of school vouchers. While many of her colleagues and teachers’ groups vehemently oppose school vouchers, Gervin-Hawkins believes that if the passage of such legislation appears inevitable, Democrats should work towards a compromise that benefits public schools.
Gervin-Hawkins sees this as an opportunity to reimagine public education and allocate more resources to support students with special needs, increase teacher pay, and create an uplifting educational environment. Despite the push for a school choice agenda by Texas Republicans since the regular session in January, Democrats and a group of rural Republicans have successfully hindered these efforts, citing concerns that diverting public tax dollars to private schools would weaken the public education system.
However, Gervin-Hawkins holds a different perspective. As the founder of the George Gervin Academy, a public charter school serving approximately 1,000 students in Bexar County, and with a master’s degree in education, she argues that the private school environment differs significantly from public schools in terms of rules and strictness. Consequently, she believes that many parents would not choose to send their children to private schools due to these differences.
Moreover, Gervin-Hawkins asserts that a major exodus from public education is unlikely due to the limited availability of private school seats. She emphasizes that the number of private schools would never be sufficient to replace public education unless several decades from now. Instead of focusing on the potential negative consequences of school vouchers, Gervin-Hawkins suggests utilizing this opportunity to improve the education system by raising teacher salaries and increasing the state’s financial support for districts based on average daily attendance.
The third special session of the Texas Legislature, set to commence on October 9th at 1 p.m., will address various topics including public education, school vouchers, border security, public safety, and ending COVID restrictions. It remains to be seen whether a compromise can be reached on the issue of school vouchers, but Gervin-Hawkins’ perspective offers a potential path forward that prioritizes the well-being of public schools and their students.