Gov. Greg Abbott voices clear support for school voucher program

Abbott said he supports giving parents the option to attend private school “with state funding following the student.”

Per The Texas Tribune:

Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday voiced support for a school voucher plan, offering his clearest embrace in recent memory of letting parents use taxpayers dollars to send their kids to nonpublic schools.

“We can fully fund public schools while also giving parents a choice about which school is right for their child,” Abbott said during a campaign event in San Antonio. “Empowering parents means giving them the choice to send their children to any public school, charter school or private school with state funding following the student.”

Abbott has long been a supporter of the broad concept of “school choice,” but his focus on it has ebbed and flowed throughout his governorship. His commitment to the cause was thrown into question by a recent string of endorsements in Texas House primary runoffs in which he backed Republicans opposed by school-choice proponents, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

Critics of vouchers say they hurt public schools, an argument that Abbott’s Democratic challenger, Beto O’Rourke, quickly made after the governor’s remarks.

“Abbott is for defunding our public schools,” O’Rourke tweeted. “I’m for fully funding our kids’ classrooms and fully supporting parents, teachers, and students.”

Abbott sought multiple times to assuage concerns about public school funding. He insisted that a voucher plan “does not mean that public schools will not be fully funded — whether they are urban, rural, suburban.”

“If you like the public school your child is attending, it will still be fully funded,” Abbott said.

School-choice groups cheered Abbott’s announcement that state funding should follow the student where they go. Mandy Drogin, the Texas director of the American Federation for Children, said in a statement that “thanks to Greg Abbott’s leadership, the educational freedom movement in Texas has been lit on fire.”

Abbott held the event as part of a focus on “parental rights” in his reelection campaign. Echoing Republicans nationwide, he has vowed to give Texas parents more say in their kids’ education, including over the curriculum they are taught and the types of schools they can attend.

The Association of Texas Professional Educators said Abbott was “again attempting to capitalize on trendy political rhetoric by mislabeling vouchers as a ‘parental right’ and again ignoring the facts: Texas voters support Texas public schools.”

“Texas voters elect lawmakers who support Texas public schools,” ATPE executive director Shannon Holmes said in a statement. “And Texas voters know the truth about Texas public schools.”

Vouchers have long been a tough sell in the Legislature, where the idea tends to draw bipartisan opposition in the House, partly from rural Republicans concerned about the health of public schools in their districts. The House speaker, Beaumont Republican Dade Phelan, said in a recent radio interview that he has “no problem with an up-or-down vote” on school choice issues but noted test votes have previously failed by wide margins.

“The delta’s pretty large on school choice, on getting it across the finish line,” Phelan said.

1 month, 2 weeks ago

Governors in Iowa, North Dakota and Alabama join GOP colleagues in banning TikTok for state employees

The Republican governors of three more states have joined the growing number of GOP governors who are banning TikTok among state government employees amid security concerns about the Chinese-owned social media platform

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Arizona Governor Creates Shipping Container Border Wall

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has had hundreds of double-stacked shipping containers topped with razor wire placed on the state’s border with Mexico

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Stacey Abrams’s Georgia Nonprofit Could Face Criminal Investigations for Unlicensed Fundraising

New Georgia Project's charity license has lapsed in at least nine states

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Biden says ‘more important things’ than border visit, despite 59 trips to Delaware, 8 stops for ice cream

Biden has yet to visit southern border despite historic crisis under his watch

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Governor Kristi Noem delivers annual Budget Address, says the state can afford grocery tax cut

In about thirty minutes of remarks, Governor Kristi Noem laid out her administration would like to see nearly $2.2 billion spent over the course of the next fiscal year and a half.

1 month, 3 weeks ago

‘A Clear And Present Danger To Its Users:’ South Carolina Gov. Bans State Employees From Using TikTok Amid National Security Concerns

South Carolina became the second state in the union Monday to permanently ban state employees’ electronic devices from using TikTok amid federal officials sounding the alarm that the Chinese-based social media app threatens national security