TSTA and other public education advocates were heartened, maybe even a little jubilant, at the news yesterday that House Public Education Chairman Dan Huberty is planning to slam the door on private school vouchers.
We take Chairman Huberty at his word because we know there is a lot of opposition in the House – and in the Senate, for that matter – to vouchers, education savings accounts, tax-credit scholarships or however you want to disguise the proposed raid on education tax dollars. But we urge educators to keep your guard up because the Legislature will be in session for another three months, Lt. Gov. Patrick and other voucher advocates are persistent and bad “accidents” can happen in the legislative process.
“I believe so, yes,” Huberty replied when Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith asked him in a public interview if the voucher legislation was dead for this session. Huberty explained that vouchers would reduce accountability for tax dollars and detract from more important education issues, such as fixing the school finance system.
Huberty’s stance doesn’t mean that Patrick won’t continue to break arms (at least figuratively) in the Senate to win that body’s approval of one of his longtime top priorities. He and his privatization allies also will try to increase pressure on Huberty and House members.
Huberty’s opposition to vouchers is huge, but as the Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey has pointed out: “Nothing is dead in the Texas Legislature while lawmakers are still in session. Resurrection is part of the game.” Voucher advocates could try to tack on their proposal as an amendment to another bill during floor debate, thus bypassing Huberty’s committee.
TSTA staffers and other front-liners at the Capitol will continue to treat voucher legislation as a live threat and send alerts if we detect any signs of voucher progress. Stay prepared to react by contacting your legislators.