School Choice Rally at Holy Cross HS with Lt. Gov Dan Patrick and Daniel Garza

A School Choice Rally was held at Holy Cross Catholic High School in San Antonio, Texas on Tuesday October 18, 2016. The main speakers were Daniel Garza, Executive Director of the Libre Initiative, who sponsored the event, and Texas Lt Governor Dan Patrick, who gave the keynote address. The moderator, Allan Parker of the Justice Foundation, emphasized that the rally was an educational rally and not a political rally. But, it certainly was a diplomatically charged event for school choice. The rally was billed as nonpartisan because school choice does affect all Texans. It was an excellent presentation on why there should be school choice in Texas.

Garza’s inspiring life story is an amazing testament to all who desire to achieve the American Dream. He personally understands that a quality education is the way to achieve that goal. As a young California-born migrant worker he was not able to finish high school and at the age of 17 dropped out of school to help his parents. He became a statistic. His second chance at the America Dream was getting his GED followed by college and community service jobs as a police officer and city council representative before landing a job with Congressman Richard Hastings. Seventeen years later, in 2004, he was appointed to the White House under the GW Bush Administration as Associate Director of the Office of Public Liaison. He believes that it is far better that we focus on redistributing knowledge and equal opportunity instead of redistributing more and more of somebody else’s wealth. School choice does exactly that, it helps promote equal opportunity. “This country must continue to be a country of second chances not a country of no chances.”

Lt Governor Dan Patrick spoke to the large crowd of students and parents and promised to make it a priority to have a school choice bill passed in the 2017 Texas legislative session. Patrick calls school choice a civil right and a parental right to the American Dream. You can’t have the American Dream without a quality education. “Every American should have Garza’s story,” he said. He explained to the audience that at the 84th session, a school choice bill had passed the Senate but didn’t even get a hearing in the House. A bill has to pass the Senate and the House before it can be signed by the governor and “we are going to pass a school choice bill out of the Senate again this year.” He then explained that the Speaker of the House, Joe Straus, had not supported school choice. He emphasized the fact that he, Patrick, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott support school choice, so they need the speaker to agree and pass school choice. School districts don’t have money; they take the money from the taxpayers, your parents. It’s not the district’s money, it’s your money. The school districts don’t lose any money when a home schooler does not show up to fill a seat and school districts don’t lose any money when a parent sends his child to a private school. Every parent has the right to send their child to the school of their choice just as a private, homeschool or failing school parent does.

“Every Republican and every Democrat in the Texas state legislature who denies a poor student to not have an opportunity of a school of their choice is biased against the poor and the underprivileged in the state of Texas.” These were mighty strong words coming from the Lt Governor. He received loud applause, so loud that his voice was not audible. He seems to be very determined to pass school choice this next session.

Educational Savings Accounts were discussed for the upcoming legislative session. ESA’s will allow parents to customize the education needed for their child.

ESAs are:

  • Education savings accounts (ESA) are an innovative way to bring customization to K-12 education.
  • ESAs are a money-follows-the child model of school choice, but the innovation comes in the way a parent directs funding for their child’s educational expenses.
  • Parents are able to direct and customize their child’s funding for tuition, tutors, therapies, online classes, and other approved educational services of their choice.
  • Parents are also able to save unused funds for higher education expenses.
  •  By allowing parents to plan for their child’s unique needs, ESAs create a personal approach to education, where the ultimate goal is maximizing each child’s natural learning abilities.

Brother Stanley Culotta, the long-time principal of Holy Cross has been an ardent warrior for school choice. His concern is for the future of Catholic education, fearing that only the wealthy will be able to afford private schools. Brother Culotta became principal in 1996 after serving two years as a medical doctor as Chief of Staff at Santa Rosa Hospital. He is seen in the photograph surrounded by his Holy Cross students.

After looking at some statistics, I’m thinking we had better pass school choice before we are inundated with uneducated and uninformed constituents. Texas had better think of the future because these students are the leaders and workforce of tomorrow. And tomorrow seems to come sooner than later. Texas is ripe for school choice. The Lt Governor gave out recent Texas statistics on the percentage of people who want school choice.

59% Democrats
83% Republicans
71% Independents
80% Conservatives
70% moderates
53% local

The Texas Education Agency provided some rather stunning statistics reflecting race and ethnicity in Texas classrooms. The percentage of Hispanic students is 52.0%, White/Anglo 29.0%, Black/African American 12.6%, Asian 3.9% and multiracial 2.0%. Since many Latinos/Hispanics and Blacks live in low income neighborhoods, their dilemma seems to be the zip code they live in. School choice will give all students across Texas an equal opportunity to achieve the American Dream. Anti-Catholic bigotry must not stand in the way of quality education for all Texas students. If our students succeed, then Texas can continue to prosper and to be the strong economic leader that we have been.


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