In Texas, Key Opposition to School Vouchers Is Rural and Red

Elizabeth Findell:

The word spread parent-to-parent during a Little Dribblers basketball game in the school gymnasium. The superintendent had sent emails—several—warning that school-choice efforts under way wouldn’t be good for their East Texas school district of 554 students.

The target of Superintendent Brandon Enos’s advocacy was a special session of the Texas Legislature called by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to pass a measure to allow Texas children to receive state funding to attend private schools. Superintendents statewide have feared the measure would drain money from the state’s already lean public-education funding.

“I don’t think it’s very fair,” said Melissa Williamson, a staunch Republican and stay-at-home mother of three, after another mom described the issue to her in the gym. “If a parent wants their child to go to private school, they should have to pay for it or apply for scholarships,” she said. “Because public schools have to take everybody.”

While similar school-voucher bills have passed in several Republican-led states in recent years, the issue has remained stalled over several legislative sessions in Texas because of opposition of Republicans in rural parts of the state, where schools are often the pride and center of small communities. The legislators who represent Cushing, state Sen. Robert Nichols and state Rep. Travis Clardy, have been among the holdouts.