TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott spoke at a parent empowerment night at Grace Community School in Tyler on Thursday.

During his remarks, he praised schools across Texas for their success and promoted his school choice plan. Abbott announced that he made education freedom an emergency item for this legislative session in an effort to ensure it gets passed.

He emphasized his commitment to making sure Texas students receive an American education. “We will not use your taxpayer dollars to teach your kids to hate our country or disrespect our flag,” Abbott said.

He continued by pushing back against a “woke agenda” in schools. “Schools should not be pushing woke agendas, our schools should be used for education and not indoctrination,” Abbott said.

Abbott said that Texans believe in freedom and that the most important freedom is parent’s freedom over their child’s education.

“In Texas, we believe in freedom. When you think about it, there may be no more profound freedom that is actually necessary than the freedom of parents being empowered to make the best decisions for their child,” Abbott said.

Abbott shifted towards discussing his vision for school choice policies. He was quick to address critics of school choice programs.

In his speech, Abbott claimed that school voucher critics are simply repeating arguments made about charter schools 20 years ago. Abbott also claimed that all public schools will continue to be funded no matter what school choice program is implemented.

“Under the school choice program, all public schools will be fully funded for every student,” Abbott said. “We will ensure that public education will have the resources they need to educate our kids– that’s one of our goals. But the fact is, we’ve seen remarkable success from school choice programs, education saving accounts in other states. Kids and parents in Texas deserve the same.”

On the topic of education funding, Abbott was keen to point out that “Per student funding is now at an all time high” under his administration and that “We will be adding billions of more dollars to public education, including more raises for our teachers.” He also pointed out that “More money does not always lead to better results.”

Abbott encouraged the audience to reach out to their representatives to tell them how they feel about school choice.

The governor closed his speech by asking parents to help him deliver on school choice. “I cannot do it alone, I need you standing with me every step of the way,” Abbott said.

Abbott’s appearance in East Texas Thursday night is not without controversy. Local East Texas school leaders said policies like school vouchers would impact their school districts directly. They gathered for a joint press conference on Wednesday, voicing their concerns on the voucher plan being discussed at the state capitol.

The Democratic Club of Smith County put out a statement following Abbott’s speech.

Abbott was joined by Rep. Matt Schaefer, State Rep. Cole Hefner, Texas Public Policy Foundation Campaign Director Mandy Drogin, Grace Community School Head Jay Ferguson, and other parent empowerment advocates.

Full video below: