The Public Education Committee of the Texas House held a hearing that ran late into the night, drawing over a hundred citizens to testify.
The list of committee-approved topics and invited witnesses is more telling.
In addition to a lengthy segment on job training in Texas public education, the committee invited testifiers to speak on the Texas curriculum and parental rights in education, the two topics that drew the most public testimony.
The committee did hear from school employees in leadership roles, including BASIS Texas Charter School Executive Director Andrew Freeman and Aledo ISD Superintendent Susan Bohn.
Transparency, choice, and curriculum have garnered heightened political attention in recent months, materially affecting local elections. Historical data and election advertisements suggest that these topics played a role in bond elections and school board races in both November and May.
Equally unprecedented was Abbott’s campaign trail promise to pursue school choice in the upcoming 2023 Texas legislature.
Committees are a major hurdle for any bill in the Texas legislature. Texas House procedure vests committee chairs with substantial authority: chairmen can kill bills by letting them languish without a committee hearing or rush them through the process.
By the time of publication, Dutton could not be reached for comment. However, the committee’s invited witness list suggests smooth sailing for any school choice legislation introduced in 2023, at least through the Public Education Committee.
School choice putatively enjoys support among state leadership as well. On the other side of the capitol, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has maintained constant support for school choice, boasting in a May press release that the Texas Senate has twice passed choice legislation during his time as lieutenant governor.
Patrick released his statement to support Abbott’s campaign trail promise, ostensibly showing agreement at the top level of Texas politics.
However, despite Abbott’s recent support for school choice, many of the candidates he endorsed for Texas House oppose it.
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