Last night, voters throughout Texas took to local polls for the March 1 primary ballot. Among the 10 propositions submitted to GOP voters on behalf of the Texas State Republican Executive Committee was a proposition regarding Texas school choice. If voted through, the proposition will go on as one of the party’s top policy priorities. And as the polls close and votes remain to be reported, it looks like the education reform proposition will sweep the lone star state.
As the votes were piling in, Corey DeAngelis, the national director of research at the American Federation for Children tweeted last night that 88% of voters supported the texas school choice reform. Keeping up with the polls, DeAngelis last tweeted the percentage stands at 87.5% approval as the votes continue to be counted. Officially, Proposition 9 on the primary ballot stated, “Texas parents and guardians should have the right to select schools, whether public or private, for their children, and the funding should follow the student.” However, it is important to keep in mind that the polls are opinion-related matters for Republican voters and not a policy referendum.
To comprehend the importance of the sweeping report from Texas residents on school choice reform, it’s important to understand what exactly school choice relates to. School choice, or educational opportunity, gives parents the power to choose the schools their children attend. Usually, people of more fortunate economic means already have school choices as they can afford to relocate or pay for enrollment in private schools. On the other hand, children from lower-income families usually have no choice but to send children to an assigned school within their district. The support for school choice reforms comes from the desire to give all caregivers the option to educate their children as they see fit.
As an ongoing issue being brought up within the State of Texas’ GOP, the official GOP page for Texas has an entire section dedicated to the proposed Texas school choice reform. According to their site, the GOP is working to advocate school choice in a “manner consistent with the RPT Platform.” Furthermore, the GOP believes parents are not able to give their children the educational opportunities they desire without ownership over their tax dollars being used for educational funding. The GOP further identifies the problem as being an “unfair system” creating more government strings.
As a proposed solution to the Texas school choice issue, the GOP vows to distribute educational funds in a manner that sends the money to each individual student, regardless of what school they attend through a means of tax exemptions and/or credits. This outcome aligns closely with recent pollings in the neighboring state of Oklahoma. Republican leaders in Kentucky decided to give school choice legislation another chance through House Bill 9. Sponsored by Majority Whip Rep. Chad McCoy, R-Bardstown, the bill would send sweeping changes to the state’s public charter school laws while potentially expanding education opportunities that could also lead to increased funding for public schools throughout Oklahoma.
School choice, often an idea supported largely by Republicans, has also been gaining support within the Democratic party. With the fundamental ideals listed in the Texas school choice reform vote aligning closely with those of Democrats, it’s no wonder. More importantly, however, will be the outcome and next steps taken by the GOP with how they plan to implement a school choice reform throughout the great state.