One of the seven incumbent legislators unseated in Tuesday’s party primaries was Republican state Rep. Jason Villalba of Dallas, the sponsor of the law that allows a limited number of Texas teachers to be trained as “school marshals” and take guns to school. Fewer than 200 districts, primarily rural districts without police departments, are using the program, enacted in 2013 after the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut.
Guns apparently didn’t figure in Villalba’s defeat, though, because he was unseated by a hard-right extremist who loves the Second Amendment. But school privatization may have been a factor. Villalba usually tried to straddle the fence on privatization, and that was bad enough. But Lisa Luby Ryan, the new Republican nominee for the District 114 seat in north Dallas, is a potential nightmare for public schools and educators.
She was supported by ultra-conservative groups, including the Texas Home School Coalition Association and Empower Texans, the campaign dirty trickster group founded by a wealthy voucher advocate and private school founder in West Texas.
Fortunately, this district is a swing district that will be in play politically in November, so voters will have a choice. The Democratic nominee, John Turner, will be a strong advocate for public schools, not privatization. The son of former congressman and state senator Jim Turner, John is an attorney who has represented school districts seeking more state funding for public schools and has been endorsed by TSTA-PAC.