88th LegislatureElections 2022IssuesTaxes & SpendingPatrick Says Texas Legislature Would ‘Bracket Out’ Rural Districts From School Voucher Bills

Democrat Mike Collier called Patrick’s comments days before the election a “last minute, hollow campaign promise designed to save himself.”
November 1, 2022
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick seemed to temper his support for school choice in a radio appearance, indicating that any proposal advanced in the Texas Legislature would likely exclude rural districts from school voucher programs.

Patrick also seemed to urge his supporters not to take an election night victory for granted. The lieutenant governor made the comments on the Chad Hasty Show on Monday.

“First of all … there’s been a lot of talk about the red wave, because that’s all you see on the news. And there’s been some polls out there that just are not accurate that show Abbott and I way ahead. We’re not way ahead,” Patrick told Hasty when asked about a drop in early voting turnout. “It’s a relatively tight race, five to seven points, (according to) the polls that I trust…”

When Hasty raised the topic of public education, Patrick ascribed the attacks on his record to the American Federation of Teachers and pointed out that they almost always support Democrats.

Among other bills enacted during his tenure, Patrick touted the 13th check for retired teachers and said that on his watch the Texas Legislature made the teacher retirement system solvent for several more decades.

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Addressing school vouchers, Patrick suggested that rural districts would not be included in school choice legislation. 

“As Gov. Abbott has said, if there’s a school choice bill passed, it’s focused on our big cities, our big districts,” Patrick said. “Not that we don’t have some failing schools in rural Texas, but for the most part kids and families like their schools. We’ll bracket out rural Texas.”

He added that the scarcity of private schools in rural areas makes school voucher programs in places with small student populations “not even practical.”

In a statement on Tuesday morning, Democratic nominee Mike Collier characterized Patrick’s comments as a flip-flop.

“As Lt. Governor, I will join Republicans and Democrats in the Texas House who have repeatedly and overwhelmingly banned the use of taxpayer funds for private school vouchers,” Collier said. “Dan Patrick’s latest backtracking is just another last minute, hollow campaign promise designed to save himself. Texas parents, students, and educators deserve better.”

Collier has pledged to propose an amendment to the Texas Constitution that would prohibit the use of taxpayer funds for private education by way of vouchers.

“If Dan Patrick gets another term, he’s already told us he’s coming after your school and he’s coming after your teacher,” Collier said at the Democratic Party of Texas Convention in July.

“He wants to privatize and profitize our public schools. As Lieutenant Governor, I will lead the legislature to amend our constitution to ban forever private school vouchers. You know why? Because vouchers are for vultures.”

Gov. Greg Abbott has signaled on the campaign trail that he will support school choice bills during the 88th Legislature’s regular session, which convenes on Tuesday, January 10. However, he has been reticent about his support for vouchers and has endorsed candidates who oppose them.

“Empowering the parent means giving them the ability to send their child to any public, charter, or private school with state funding following the student,” Abbott said at an event in May.

Lawmakers from rural areas are particularly averse to vouchers because they erode taxpayer funding for public school districts, which are often the major employers in less populated areas.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."