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School choice advocates rally at Texas Capitol

U.S Senator for Texas Ted Cruz called on state lawmakers to support 'school choice.' He joined a sea of yellow scarves at the state capitol Wednesday to rally alongside students and parents who want state money to go towards private school education. (CBS Austin)

U.S Senator for Texas Ted Cruz called on state lawmakers to support 'school choice.' He joined a sea of yellow scarves at the state capitol Wednesday to rally alongside students and parents who want state money to go towards private school education.

Beverly Hawkins, a parent who sends her first grader to private school, said her son is now thriving. "The teachers are able to acclimate to his style of learning and help him a lot, and the ratios are a lot better," said Hawkins of her son's private school.

Hawkins attended the rally Wednesday because she believes other parents who can't afford private school deserve the same options.

Senator Cruz echoed that message. "I believe school choice is the civil rights issue of the 21st century, and every single child in the state of Texas deserves access to an excellent education," said Sen. Cruz.

At a rally of their own, an Austin Independent School District spokesperson said the 'School Choice Week' is not "just for them." School officials said students in the district not only get an excellent education, but have plenty of choice. They cited schools with a focus on the arts, or sciences, and early college prep programs. "It gives students the opportunity to really develop their talents individually and uniquely," said AISD parent, Marianne Gedigian.

Opponents to school choice say allowing state dollars to go towards private schools would strip money away from already struggling public schools.

Last session both Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick pushed for a voucher program that would allow some students access to state money for private schools. The bill passed in the Senate but never got a vote on the House floor.

Abbott and Patrick didn't attend Wednesday's rally, and there has yet to be a school choice bill filed this session.

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