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“Mr. Abbott, We Really Don’t Want School Vouchers”

In another segment of “Mr. Abbott, we really don’t want school vouchers,” superintendents of Whitehouse Independent School District and Tyler Independent School District held a news conference in East Texas to voice their opposition to the voucher proposal.

The news conference took place the day before the Governor visited Grace Community School in Tyler to keep promoting his voucher/ESA proposal in his “Parent Empowerment Tour.”

To start off the news conference, Wade Washmon, president of Tyler’s school board, stepped onstage and wasted no time calling Abbott’s push for education savings accounts a gift in exchange for “political platitudes,” as reported by Religion News Service.

The talk at the Capitol is that school choice is a smokescreen for Abbott’s potential run for the White House in 2024. Most perceive his actions as being more motivated by national politics than a genuine commitment to a sound policy.

There is a growing belief that Abbott’s actions are being influenced by his presidential aspirations, which seem to be aligned with those of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Abbott has been leveraging the concept of “school choice,” thereby using public school teachers, staff, and students as pawns for political gain.

Washmon also objected to depriving public schools of funding but supported public support for religious education by suggesting public schools should be allowed to teach religion. Later, Superintendent Moran echoed Washmon’s appeal, asking why not allow Tyler ISD to have a Christian choice school that’s measured by the same educational standards as all other public schools, “instead of sending taxpayer dollars to places they’ve never been and having no control over how outcomes are measured, or how education is executed?”

Many critics, like Washmon and Moran, aren’t necessarily against school choice, religious teachings and parent involvement, but they draw the line at using taxpayer money to fund religious private schools with no accountability.

Since the beginning of the session Abbott has touted school choice as one of his key legislative priorities this session, and embarked on a tour of private schools to generate support. However, in the last few weeks, some would say his attempts to promote vouchers/ESAS “reeks of desperation,” and are questionable. Following his unsuccessful tour, Abbott has been resorting to less-than-cheap tactics to further his agenda, such as push polls, direct mail campaigns, and block walkers distributing negative materials in Speaker Phelan’s House District, as reported by The Quorum Report.

The voucher issue has caused a divide between the Texas House and Senate. On April 6, the Texas House passed an amendment banning voucher funding from the state budget, with 24 of the votes coming from members living in rural areas. However, the Texas Senate passed its bill to fund school choice days after voting against vouchers.

Abbott seems unfazed by the growing opposition to vouchers and rumors are he believes he can flip votes in the House to pass school choice legislation and he has not given up trying to convince rural Texans to support school choice.

“I cannot do it alone, I need you standing with me every step of the way,” Abbott has told his audiences.

Jovanka Palacios
Jovanka Palacios
Jovanka Palacios, a Mexican-American Politics Reporter and Managing Editor at RA's Gun Violence Watch, unveils the Capitol's inner workings. Focused on Public Education and Gun Policies, she passionately advocates for informed dialogue, delivering concise, impactful insights into the intricate political landscape.


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