State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, the outspoken voice of the far right in the Senate, said he will be pushing vouchers that parents of school-age children could use for charter schools, online offerings or additional alternatives to the public schools.
“To me, school choice is the photo ID bill of this session,” the Houston lawmaker said. “Our base has wanted us to pass photo voter ID for years, and we did it. They’ve been wanting us to pass school choice for years. This is the year to do it, in my view. That issue will do more to impact the future of Texas and the quality of education than anything else we could do.”
“Tea party already setting the table in Austin”, Joe Holley & Peggy Fikac, Houston Chronicle, August 5, 2012.
Others who are likely to have an impact on school choice legislation: Rep. Phil King and former Rep. Kent Grusendorf (currently involved in school finance litigation). “A New Run at School Choice”, Morgan Smith, Texas Tribune, July 26, 2012. Sen. Patrick is a contender for the chairmanship of the Education Committee. (He is chairing the hearing on Friday.)
Look for opposition to school choice from a slate of legislators endorsed by the Texas Parent PAC, an influential non-partisan group, including Justin Rodriguez (D-San Antonio). Also, House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) is likely to seek common ground and look for ways to fund the current education system without making radical changes.
However, after the 2012 election, as Sen. Patrick predicted to the Houston Chronicle, “We’ll have the most conservative Senate in the history of the state.”
“[E]lections have consequences, folks. So buckle up,” writes a blogger on a teachers’ union site. “Buckle Up for Voucher Fight”, Clay Robison, Grading Texas blog (Texas State Teachers Association), August 7, 2012.