AUSTIN, Texas — In a recent radio interview, Gov. Greg Abbott said he wants to challenge a court ruling requiring education for all students.
The 1982 court ruling Plyler V. Doe requires states to offer free public education to students regardless of their immigration status.
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Celina Moreno the president and CEO of IDRA, a national organization based in Texas dedicated to educational equity, said Abbott's remarks cause fear and confusion for families.
"Gov. Abbott's statements are a continued attack on Texas's most vulnerable children and communities," Moreno said, "I think what the main impact it has, because it is an empty threat, I think that it has a chilling effect on immigrant communities," she continued.
Moreno said public education is a public good that every child deserves.
"They are part of our state's future. They are part of our country's future, and we should treat them like the neighbors that they are," Moreno said.
Abbott said he wants to challenge the court case because of costs.
The state allocates funding based on student enrollment, and if a child is an English learner. Under state law, a district gets 10% more funding, for that specific student. That funding goes up to 15% if a student is bilingual. However those funding caveats apply, regardless of a child's immigration status.
Austin ISD has 21,000 English learner or bilingual students, according to the district's website.
Round Rock ISD has approximately 6,200 English learner students, according to the district.
Hays CISD has 3,785 ESL students, according to the district.
In regard to Gov. Abbott's remarks, some local districts issued statements. AISD, for instance, said they will continue teaching the children.
"In Round Rock ISD, we believe education is transformational and should be an inalienable right of every child. Educating children in our community, regardless of where they came from or how they arrived here, only strengthens our community and enhances our opportunities for economic growth and success," said Dr. Hafedh Azaiez, superintendent.
"If a student lives in our district, we provide them an education. We believe that the best place for students is in school, regardless of their life circumstances. Any discussion around the cost of educating students who are undocumented must include consideration for the fact that the bulk of funding in Texas for public education comes from a combination of property and sales taxes, which are paid by families who are undocumented. Children who live in our district live at residences that generate property tax income for the district and state regardless of their immigration statuses. And, the money that anyone spends, without regarding to immigration status, generates sales tax revenue. The consideration that is perhaps most important is – what is the cost of not educating all children," a spokesperson with the district wrote in a statement.
Sehba Ali, the CEO of KIPP Texas Public Schools, said Abbott's remarks go against what the public charter school stands for.
"I hope that the governor revokes his statement publicly," Ali said. "Our mission is to serve all students, to educate all students who come through our doors."
Plyler v. Doe is still currently the law in all states.
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