Republican Runoff Candidates Talk School Choice

Texas Capitol Building
Texas Capitol Building | Image by Sarah Elizabeth Owen

Several Republican runoff candidates have offered their opinions on school choice, an issue that has shaped recent races in the Texas Legislature.

Ahead of the runoff primary election slated for May 4, Texas Scorecard asked House and Senate candidates where they stand on school choice legislation.

As covered by The Dallas Express, the March primary saw several pro-school-choice candidates win against anti-school-choice incumbents. However, some key races are not settled, including those with challengers looking to unseat incumbents like DeWayne Burns (R-Cleburne), Justin Holland (R-Rockwall), John Kuempel (R-Seguin), Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston), and Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont).

Despite being a major political priority of Gov. Greg Abbott, education savings accounts for Texas families have struggled to gain traction in the Texas House due to opposition from Democrats and some rural Republican lawmakers.

Advocates against school choice have argued that it would harm taxpayer spending on public schools and burden taxpayers. Those in favor of school choice have suggested it would enable more families to afford educational alternatives and lead to public schools improving their offerings in a bid to compete for students.

However, some politicians do not fall neatly within one camp.

For instance, candidate for Texas State Senate District 30 Jace Yarbrough referred to Abbott’s school choice initiative as “commendable,” but he claimed it includes “a massive, multi-billion dollar giveaway to the Texas public school bureaucracy,” per Texas Scorecard. Nevertheless, with some tweaks, Yarbrough suggested that he would support a plan empowering parents to make the right choice for their children’s education.

“The public school monopoly should not be the only option for Texas families that want something more for their kids but don’t have the means to make that desire a reality,” Yarbrough added.

Yarbrough’s opponent in the runoff, Brent Hagenbuch, told Texas Scorecard that he supports Abbott’s plan for universal school choice.

“I am the only candidate who supports Governor Abbott’s plan for universal school choice,” Hagenbuch said.

Here is a selection of some statements made by Republican runoff candidates to the Texas Scorecard regarding school choice:

House District 1 candidate Chris Spencer

“I fully support school choice and parental empowerment as our great Governor Greg Abbott proposed last session. Texans are about freedom, and that freedom includes their God-given right to choose the school of their choice for their child, with their hard-earned tax dollars supporting that decision. While our rural schools do a great job educating our kids, a one-size-fits-all approach to education has failed and our urban schools have largely become a Woke Indoctrination Laboratory seeking to confuse our children and lead them astray. Parents have had enough of it, and they showed their frustration with the status quo at the polls on March 5. They will ratify that decision in the runoffs May 28.”

House District 21 candidate David Covey:

“Parents should have the freedom to make the best choice for their family, ensuring that their children receive an excellent education that prepares them for future success. While my dedication to Texas families is unwavering, Dade Phelan repeatedly failed to empower parents and pass school choice, despite Governor Abbott calling four special sessions to do so.”

House District 44 candidate Alan Schoolcraft:

“I fully support a school choice program as proposed by the Governor during the last legislative session. I’m in this race because my opponent rejected the rights of parents to make educational decisions for their children. Parents deserve the right to choose the school that works best to educate their children. The tax dollars belong to the parents NOT the government.”

House District 61 candidate Keresa Richardson:

“Yes, I support the Governor’s proposed legislation on school choice. Parents are the primary decision-makers for their children in all matters. This shall include the right to select schools, whether public or private, for their children, and the funding should follow the student without strings attached.”

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