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Private School Vouchers, Once Texas GOP Priority, See Diminished Support

The issue of private school vouchers — shifting public education dollars to private school tuition — once a priority of conservative state lawmakers from suburban districts, seems destined for the back burner during the coming legislative session.

At least a half-dozen more opponents to the idea were elected to the Texas Legislature this month, amid widespread Democratic gains. In past sessions, Democrats and rural Republicans, concerned that a voucher system would erode traditional public schools, blocked all voucher measures in the House. Voucher bills have easily passed the GOP-dominated Senate.

Proponents call the idea “school choice” because it would give some students the option to leave poorly rated neighborhood public schools for private ones.

Meanwhile, the education focus at the Capitol has shifted to repairing a broken system of funding public schools. Last week, Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, the likely next speaker of the House, singled out school finance as the priority for the chamber, and Gov. Greg Abbott’s school finance plan was introduced at a meeting at the Capitol.