School Choice Victorious in Texas — Shows Other States How It’s Done

Last week, school choice was on the ballot in Texas, and school choice won.

The movement for educational choice is a once-in-a-generation political earthquake in the United States, and politicians in other states should pay attention.

In November, the Texas House failed to pass Governor Greg Abbott’s school-choice legislation.

Twenty-one GOP members joined all Democrats to defeat a groundbreaking compromise bill that created the first private school-choice program in Texas, sent $7 billion extra to public schools, and provided $4,000 raises for support staff and public school teachers.

Instead of empowering families, defecting Republicans voted against their constituents and party platform.

It looked like the U.S.’s largest red state would continue to oppose educational freedom, but Governor Abbott boldly and rapidly went on the electoral warpath.

Abbott endorsed primary challengers against those members and ultimately deployed over $7 million of his campaign cash to ensure voters knew where they stood.

The results were incredible.

Six of the 16 incumbents who advocate school choice and seek re-election were outright defeated, and another four were pushed into runoffs.

In the meantime, all five seats vacated by members who are retiring will be filled by pro-school-choice candidates.

The change in the whip count represents the most substantial shift toward school choice in the history of Texas. 

Recalling another political event in any other state of this magnitude is tough.

It also settled the school choice score.

On numerous occasions, anti-choice incumbents claimed their constituents were indifferent or opposed to vouchers. However, their actions betrayed the truth.

Until election week, the incumbents ran advertisements digging their heels in on their vote against school choice. Representative Glenn Rogers, who was ousted, wrote numerous opinion articles arguing that school choice “isn’t conservative.” Rogers lost his seat to a supporter of school choice by a 26-point margin.

As a most popular political figure in Texas, Abbott and his endorsement were substantially important to the electorate. However, the governor wasn’t alone.

In the past three months, affiliated AFC Victory Fund and super PAC also spent over $4 million to ensure voters knew where their representatives stood.

Altogether, this election will be remembered as one of the most significant political events on the state level in recent history.

Defeating an incumbent legislator is one of the most challenging things in politics.

Abbott and AFC Victory Fund surpassed expectations with a massive 77% success rate by defeating six incumbents and pushing four more to runoffs.

No Texas GOP incumbents lost a March primary re-election bid this year in the previous two election cycles. Because of school choice, at least six lost in one night.

Thanks in part to the difficult work of the governor and several other critical national and state allies, parents have become the most vital interest group in town.

Texas now has its best opportunity to pass school choice for each family, which would be the biggest Day 1 school-choice program in history.

More importantly, Texas is strengthening the roadmap to school choice in states countrywide, and Governor Abbott is providing a model for how other state leaders can prioritize students.

Other states should pay attention to what happened in Texas. 

Several are considering possible landmark school-choice legislation during the spring, and we hope they will be cheered by the fight for educational freedom in Texas.

If it isn’t encouraged, they may be warned about the consequences of not supporting their constituents’ demand for school choice.