The hard-fought campaign for school choice in Texas may be about to pay off following three decades of support from Christian activists and donors.

Gov. Greg Abbott has been leading the charge for school choice in the state these past few years, from his parent empowerment tour with the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) in 2017 to hitting the primary campaign trail to support pro-school choice candidates this spring.

After the primary elections in May, Abbott announced that the scale may finally be tipped in the Texas House. A likely majority seems to favor allowing families to use taxpayer money to fund the type of education they feel would be best for their children, as reported by The Dallas Express.

Nine of the 13 Texas House Republican incumbents who voted against school choice last year lost their primaries. If all the pro-school choice Republicans win their races in the general election, theoretically, there would be enough votes to pass education savings accounts, the mechanism by which school choice would likely be actioned.

Although voters in the November election will ultimately be the decision-makers, the field is stacked in favor of school choice, a state of play the governor recently called “a victory for every Texas family across our great state,” per NBC 5 DFW.

While such a win would also be a feather in Abbott’s cap, as recently pointed out by The Texas Tribune, Christian activists have been laying the groundwork for school choice legislation for quite some time.

Notably, in 1989, Republican businessman and TPPF founder James Leininger launched a pilot school voucher program in San Antonio. Tim Dunn, a Christian oil man and prolific political donor to right-leaning causes, joined TPPF’s education reform efforts as vice chair in 1998.

School choice has been gathering steam across the United States and has become a significant priority of most Republican voters. As previously covered by The Dallas Express, the past year alone has seen the launching or expansion of programs allocating taxpayer money to support families’ private school or homeschooling expenses in states such as Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Utah.

As Joshua Cowen, an education policy professor at Michigan State University, told The Texas Tribune, “Texas has been kind of an Alamo to the national voucher crowd in the sense that the biggest state down South still hasn’t done it.”

Cowen, for his part, has been an outspoken opponent of school choice. He cites purportedly high exit rates from such systems for students from lower-income homes and adverse effects on student achievement. Others standing against school choice have pointed to concerns about how such a policy could direct taxpayer money away from traditional public schools even though those institutions would be responsible for educating fewer students.

Conversely, advocates of school choice point to the accessibility of education alternatives as producing potentially beneficial shifts in academics, including bettering offerings within public school districts and promoting competition.

Some students have found themselves trapped in schools offering lackluster academics because they have no other option. At Dallas ISD, for instance, the latest accountability report from the Texas Education Agency shows that only 41% of students scored at grade level on their STAAR exams. Meanwhile, almost 20% of the district’s graduating Class of 2022 did not earn a diploma in four years.

In any case, polling suggests broad support for some kind of school choice legislation across most Texas demographics.