Abbott Touts Growing Support for School Choice

Gov. Greg Abbott | Image by Greg Abbott/Twitter

School choice may very well be on the horizon as the composition of the Texas House begins to shift in its favor, according to Gov. Greg Abbott.

Abbott had encouraging words for pro-school choice voters at the annual Texas Policy Summit in Austin on Wednesday, telling them that the Texas House was just two votes away from securing a purportedly pro-school choice majority, according to The Texas Tribune. Yet he also stressed that more work was needed ahead of the Republican primary runoffs scheduled for May 28.

“This is not a time for you to sit on the sidelines and applaud the success that we’ve achieved,” said the governor. “This is a time when all of us must come together, redouble our efforts knowing that the final vote count is going to be determined by what happens in just two months from now.”

In his keynote speech, Abbott addressed Texas parents, in particular, assuring them that “educational freedom” was on the way that would leave “no child … trapped in a failing school just because of their zip code.”

“This next legislative session will be known as the school choice session, where we finally pass a much-needed law to ensure that every Texas parent has the right to choose the best educational pathway for their child,” he added, per a news release.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, polling indicates that most Texans across various demographics favor some kind of school choice legislation. Furthermore, public school enrollment has declined amid poor student achievement outcomes in some of the bigger school systems in the Lone Star State.

For example, a previous analysis of Texas Education Agency data from the 2021-2022 school year conducted by The Dallas Express showed that Dallas County came in dead last among Texas’ top six big-city counties when it comes to student achievement outcomes. The 86 campuses that earned a D or F rating in Dallas ISD dragged down the county’s ranking.

During the last legislative session, progress was tough going for school choice despite having been championed by Abbott for over a year and seeing considerable traction elsewhere in the country. Yet an anti-school choice coalition of Democratic lawmakers and some Republicans in the lower chamber led to the school choice bill failing to pass.

As The Dallas Express covered, the fallout has been considerable in politics and education. Ahead of the Republican primary, school choice helped shape the battlefield regarding policy, endorsements, and fundraising. Public school district officials and teachers unions have even been accused of pushing for votes for anti-school choice candidates, which Attorney General Ken Paxton has alleged amounts to illegal electioneering in some cases.

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