AUSTIN, Texas - Texas has been grappling with whether to enact a so-called “school choice” program for years, but advocates are hopeful 2017 will be the session something gets passed.
"This has been a long-standing battle in Texas and we know across the country with more than 25 years of data that school choice works," said Randan Steinhauser, executive director of Texans for Education Opportunity.
"School choice" promises to give parents other options for their kids besides traditional public schools by helping them attend a private or charter school.
Some lawmakers maintain they should instead focus on funding the state's public school system.
"If the problem is failing schools in my district, even if you gave them a voucher, how is the private school going to solve the problem?," said Rep. Harold Dutton, D – Houston.
Those who support choice - say more options could be part of the solution.
There's a number of ways the state could go about enacting the legislation.
"There are tremendous policy differences between something like a 'voucher' vs. a tax credit scholarship or even an education savings account. What we want to do is make sure that they're getting the information and the facts about how these programs could change thousands of lives across the state of Texas," said Steinhauser.
But even some church leaders say taxpayer dollars shouldn't go to private institutions.
"A voucher scheme means, essentially the end of private education, is what it means. Do we need an alternative system of educating our students? No. We need to renew our dedication to the system we have," said Rev. Charles Johnson of Pastors for Texas Children.
The two chambers of the Texas legislature have been split on the issue.
"On the Senate side, you know, there seems to be a flirtation with it. Whatever the bill looks like, the bill won't pass the House because the House is committed to Public Education to all children," said Johnson.
As lawmakers look at expanding parental choice, they're also trying to find ways to fix the way public schools are funded.
Some school choice advocates say more options are the fix, which is setting up another battle next session over the best way to educate Texas' children.
Despite "school choice's" uncertain future in the House, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has already made it a priority in the Senate.