Texas Republican Voters Embrace School Choice

Tuesday night, the state of Texas held its primary elections which garnered a great deal of national media attention. In the days leading up to the primary vote, there was a lot of national media coverage about the record Democratic turnout for early voting but when the final votes were cast, a half a million more Republicans had voted than Democrats (1.54 million Republicans and 1.04 million Democrats cast ballots in the primary election). And those Republican primary voters overwhelmingly embraced school choice.

Asked whether “Texas families should be empowered to choose from public, private, charter, or homeschool options for their children’s education, using tax credits or exemptions without government constraints or intrusion”, Texas Republican primary voters cast their ballots in favor by a whopping 79% to 21% margin! They overwhelmingly supported school choice champions like Governor Gregg Abbott and Senator Ted Cruz. They strengthened Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s leadership of the State Senate by adding another stalwart school choice supporter to his caucus. They renominated every single State House incumbent who strongly supported school choice in the last session and voted to replace three House incumbents with candidates who were bigger fans of school choice and education reform.

This progress was all the more impressive because the education status quo had raised millions of dollars and recruited educators to challenge those Republican legislators in the primary who had stood up for school choice in the last legislative session – and they didn’t beat a single one of them. As Stacy Hock, the Chair of Texans for Education Opportunity said, “Tonight was a huge win for the education choice movement in Texas.” And the school choice movement has a good chance to make further progress in the upcoming May runoff elections where several school choice champions are leading the field.

The long fight for school choice in Texas has been frustrating, but in the last two legislative sessions the State Senate has passed major school choice initiatives with the strong support of Governor Abbott. Unfortunately, the State House under the leadership of Speaker Straus has killed those bills. Now Speaker Straus has decided to retire and hopes are growing that with a friendlier Speaker and more school choice champions in the House, Texas might finally give its children the education options they need and deserve.