School Choice Week begins with rally at State Capitol

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by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist ERIN COKER

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on January 27, 2014 at 7:16 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 28 at 2:27 AM

AUSTIN -- If you’re a parent who wants educational options for your children, this week is for you.  A rally at the Texas State Capitol on Monday kicked off School Choice Week in Texas and the nation.

While kids and some adults got busy getting footloose, the purpose of the rally on the south steps of the capitol aimed to get a foothold on education choices.

"As families of Texas, we all deserve the right to choose where our kids learn, whether it’s home, the public school or private school," said Nicole Klingelhefer, a parent attending Monday’s rally.

"We as parents try to support the schools and the state itself to show that it’s important for all the families here in Texas,” said Luis Angeles, a parent attending Monday’s rally.

Public, magnet and charter schools as well as online learning are among the options supporters are pushing for.

"We already have school choice," said Texas Sen. Dan Patrick, (R-Houston). “If you’re rich enough, you send your kids to private school. If you’re mobile enough, you move to the suburbs. If you don’t like the school that you’re in, but if you’re poor and in the inner city, and you are zip-coded into a failing school, why should you be forced to send your child to a failing school?"

Patrick authored a bill last session that would allow parents who meet the federal poverty guidelines, and whose children are attending a school that’s failing, to move their kids to the school of their choice. The bill, which would call for a percentage of school funding money to follow that student, fell a few votes short.

"No one watching this interview would ever allow themselves to be forced to send their child to a failing school, but we see it happening every day,” said Patrick.

Jeffery Bady teaches at one of Austin’s charter schools.  He said he sees the difference educational choices can make.

"I love my job," he said. "I love what I do. I think every kid should have ample opportunity to succeed."

Gov. Rick Perry proclaimed this week as Texas School Choice Week. It officially kicked off with a rally Saturday Night in Houston. More than 5,000 school choice rallies are taking place this week across the nation. For more information about School Choice Week across the country, go here.

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