AUSTIN, Texas - Inside the state capitol, politicians debate the dollars and sense that would make Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) a reality. Advocates want those accounts for students with special needs. An ESA would give those parents access to 90 percent of what the state spends each year per student.
It's a possibility that hits home for San Antonio's Ezzard Castillo, who adopted an autistic daughter with a mood disorder.
"No system, no government, nobody knows better than the parent so that's why I'm a big advocate for school choice," said Castillo.
Castillo is also headmaster of San Antonio's River City Christian School, which specializes in teaching students with learning difficulties like autism.
He thinks more parents need choices, which he thinks could be within reach with a Special Needs Education Savings Account.
However, the state's largest group of professional educators disagrees. The Association of Texas Professional Educators says the ESA amendment jeopardizes the school funding bill with an attempt to pass a voucher system, and the math doesn't add up.
"Private school tuition for these types of kids is in the $10,000 to $15,000 to $20,000 range and what we're talking about putting in this coupon is more in the $8,000 or $9,000 range," said ATPE lobbyist Mark Wiggins.
The Texas House already voted down vouchers several times this session.
The Senate's bargain for ESA's would only apply to learning disabled students who already attended public school. Parents say it's an underserved community.
"These children are eventually going to grow up into adults, and we can either do what we can to make sure that they are successful and able to give back to the community or we can just continue to have to support them," said Luchina Fletcher, a mother of a special needs student.
Many states already have a Special Needs Education Savings Account program like what's being proposed in Texas.
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick says the Senate would pass a school finance bill if the House accepts the school choice amendment for kids with special needs.