Our sources in Austin tell us that Gov. Abbott will be busing scores of supporters to Austin next week as the Legislature considers private school voucher legislation. The pro-voucher crowd likes to pretend there is demand swelling up from the grass roots, but this kind of organized campaign has all the hallmarks of a coordinated, fake ‘AstroTurf’ campaign to create the impression of more support than actually exists.
The text of the message reads: “School choice volunteers, this is extremely short notice, but the legislature is going to decide the fate of our plea this coming Tuesday or Wednesday! Governor Abbott is doing everything possible to help us and has said that he will send us free transportation (buses) and pay our lodging expenses if we have to stay overnight in order to help us. I need to know if you can adjust your schedules to accommodate this date ASAP.”
The House Public Education Committee will be meeting on Tuesday morning, while the Senate Education Committee will be considering voucher-related legislation on Wednesday.
Charles Siler, a former lobbyist for pro-voucher advocates including the Goldwater Institute, told RA News, “the reality is, they don’t have a lot of grassroots support.” Private school vouchers are not popular. In fact, “they have never passed a voucher program by the ballot,” Siler said.
“Until public funding for education is completely gone, the backers of this stuff will not stop…a voucher lobbyist was just caught on a hot mic talking about how her end goal was to completely dismantle public schools,” Siler added.
“Voters continually reject voucher programs,” Siler told the Washington Post in a 2021 interview, “and in any state where a public response is permitted, the wave of public opposition to these programs dwarfs the AstroTurfed support for them.”
It is not yet clear whether taxpayer funds, advocacy funds or campaign money will be used to pay for the transportation or lodging.