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As a mother in the Rio Grande Valley, I find the topic of education and its accessibility hit close to home. The recent special session call requiring Texas lawmakers to return to Austin and consider education savings accounts is a call that resonates with dedicated parents like Addison McKee and many of us in the Rio Grande Valley. I too am a mother who believes in the power of educational choice.

Education is the foundation upon which our children’s futures are built. It’s the key to unlocking their potential and helping them pursue their dreams. Just like Addison, I’ve witnessed the struggles that some of our children face on their education journeys. It’s disheartening to see them left behind, especially when we parents are eager to provide them with the support needed to succeed.

Lately I have been faced with difficult choices about how to navigate my daughter’s educational needs. We parents often find ourselves facing the difficult choice between providing for our families and ensuring our children receive a quality education. It’s a choice that no parent should ever have to make, and having ESAs available in Texas is the solution that bridges this gap.

Education savings accounts are annually funded accounts that empower families by giving them the financial means to choose the best educational path for their children. In rural areas like parts of our Valley, ESAs open doors to opportunities that might otherwise be out of reach.

The ability to tailor a child’s education to meet their specific needs and interests is invaluable. Every child is unique. And ESAs give parents the means to give their children a personalized education as unique as they are. One crucial aspect of ESAs is that they don’t harm public schools or their funding. Why? Because the funds deposited into ESAs do not come from existing public-school budgets. Most students in states with ESAs continue to attend public schools, but having an ESA as an additional educational option allows parents to take charge of their child’s education. It’s about choice and putting parents in charge.

For me, this issue is deeply personal. My child has unique interests and passions that may not be fully explored if confined to a traditional classroom. With an ESA, we can afford to seek out opportunities that are specifically tailored to our child’s interests and educational level. Just like Addison, whose son is fascinated with space, my daughter is autistic. ESAs could make it possible to find and afford the educational options that line up with her passion and curiosity.

The current special legislative session is dedicated to passing ESAs in Texas. It’s a glimmer of hope for parents like me and Addison. This session could make all the difference for tens of thousands of families across Texas, including our own. We believe that ESAs have the potential to transform the lives of our children and ensure a brighter future. This is not just about our children’s education; it’s about their dreams, their future, our future and the choices we, as parents, want to provide for them.

Enacting a universal education savings account program in Texas would be a game-changer for every family in the Rio Grande Valley and across Texas. It’s time to give Texas parents the power to choose the education that best suits their children’s needs and interests. It’s time for an ESA program in Texas. I kindly request your support and advocacy for a universal education savings account program. Rep. Oscar Longoria, from right here in the Valley, could be a critical vote to bring ESAs to parents in need here in the Valley; join me in urging him to vote yes and stand on the side of parents.

Jeanette Flores lives in Harlingen.