With more than 84 percent of Republican primary voters saying they wanted more academic freedom and parental choices in education, GOP members of the Texas House decided to maintain the status quo … and explicitly forbid any efforts to expand options for students and their families.
On the May 2012 Republican Primary ballot, voters heartily supported this language:
The state should fund education by allowing dollars to follow the child instead of the bureaucracy, through a program which allows parents the freedom to choose their child’s school, public or private, while also saving significant taxpayer dollars.
Yet less than one year later, on April 4, 2012, those Republicans’ state representatives voted for a sweeping budget amendment that will keep students trapped in failing schools.
Liberal Democrat Abel Herrero of Corpus Christi—with the help of anti-reform establishment Republican Bennett Ratliff of Carrollton—offered the anti-student amendment. (Rep. Ratliff is the brother of State Board of Education member Thomas Ratliff, who appears to be illegally working as a lobbyist for education issues.)
In all, 52 Republicans—a majority of the 95-member GOP caucus—voted against what 84 percent of their primary voters said they wanted on an actual ballot.
The strongest defender of Texas’ students was Rep. Scott Turner (R-Rockwall), who took to the microphone to oppose the anti-liberty amendment.
“I’m trying to find viable solutions to educate the children for the future of this country; to educate them properly and correctly with a quality education, because what we’re doing now—it’s not working,” said Mr. Turner on the House floor, according to the official House Journal. “So even if we fully fund it, even if we throw more money at it, it’s not going to bring us the results that we want, so I don’t think more money is the answer.”
But for unfortunately for Texas’ students, giving more money to entrenched bureaucracies was the only answer lawmakers were willing to give.
For Texas students, parents, teachers and taxpayers, the 83rd Session produced too few reforms for too much spending. As in so many other policy areas this year, the GOP’s near-super-majority did what they have done best: allowed moderate leadership waste a critical opportunity.
Coming out against students and for administrators (Republicans in red), as recorded in the House Journal, page 1306:
Alma Allen; Roberto Alonzo; Carol Alvarado; Rafael Anchia; Trent Ashby; Jimmie Don Aycock; Cecil Bell; Dennis Bonnen; Greg Bonnen; Cindy Burkett; Lon Burnam; Bill Callegari; Terry Canales; Travis Clardy; Garnet Coleman; Nicole Collier; Byron Cook; Phillip Cortez; Myra Crownover; Drew Darby; Sarah Davis; Yvonne Davis; Joe Deshotel; Dawnna Dukes; Harold Dutton; Craig Eiland; Joe Farias; Marsha Farney; Jessica Farrar; John Frullo; Charlie Geren; Helen Giddings; Mary Gonzalez; Naomi Gonzalez; Bobby Guerra; Ryan Guillen; Roland Gutierrez; Patricia Harless; Linda Harper-Brown; Ana Hernandez Luna; Abel Herrero; Donna Howard; Dan Huberty; Todd Hunter; Eric Johnson; Kyle Kacal; Jim Keffer; Ken King; Susan King; Terry King; Stephanie Klick; Lois Kolkhorst; John Kuempel; Tryon Lewis; Oscar Longoria; J.M. Lozano; Eddie Lucio; Marisa Marquez; Mando Martinez; Trey Martinez Fischer; Ruth Jones McClendon; Jose Menendez; Borris Miles; Doug Miller; Joe Moody; Sergio Munoz; Elliott Naishtat; Poncho Nevarez; Rene Oliveira; Rob Orr; John Otto; Chris Paddie; Dianne Patrick; Mary Ann Perez; Charles Perry; Larry Phillips; Joe Pickett; Jim Pitts; Four Price; John Raney; Bennett Ratliff; Richard Raymond; Ron Reynolds; Eddie Rodriguez; Justin Rodriguez; Toni Rose; Kenneth Sheets; J.D. Sheffield; Ralph Sheffield; David Simpson; Wayne Smith; John Smithee; Drew Springer; Phil Stephenson; Mark Strama; Ed Thompson; Senfronia Thompson; Chris Turner; Sylvester Turner; Jason Villalba; Mike Villarreal; Hubert Vo; Armando Walle; James White; Paul Workman; Gene Wu; John Zerwas.