Last week, the Republican-controlled Texas State Board of Education met for their final meetings of the year and voted to formally oppose school choice in the upcoming 2023 legislative session. 

“The Texas State Board of Education calls on the Texas Legislature to reject all attempts to divert public dollars away from public schools in the form of vouchers, an education savings account, taxpayer savings grants, tuition-tax credits, a business franchise tax credit or an insurance premium tax credit, or any other mechanisms that have the effect of reducing funding to public schools.”

There are nine Republicans on the board and six Democrats. In the final vote of 11-2, with two members abstaining, five Republicans joined the Democrats to make this anti-student position the SBOE legislative priority for 2023. 

Matt Robinson (R-Friendswood), Audrey Young (R-Apple Springs), Pam Little (R-Fairview), Sue Melton-Malone (R-Robinson), Jay Johnson (R-Pampa),  Aicha Davis (D-Dallas), Georgina Perez (D-El Paso), Ruben Cortez (D-Brownsville), Marisa Perez-Diaz (D-Converse), Lawrence Allen (D-Houston), and Rebecca Bell-Metereau (D-San Marcos) all voted in support of the anti-student position.

Will Hickman (R-Houston) and Tom Maynard (R-Florence) voted against, while Patricia Hardy (R-Fort Worth) and Chairman Keven Ellis (R-Lufkin) abstained from voting.

However, in Wednesday’s preliminary vote of 8-3, Maynard, Young, and Melton-Malone were the lone three votes against the then-proposed SBOE priority.

School choice is a Texas GOP legislative priority for 2023, approved by thousands of grassroots delegates to the Republican Party convention in June, and defined as “where the money follows the child without strings attached.”

The SBOE priority is nearly a direct replication of the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) priority, which states, “TASB calls upon the Texas Legislature to prevent any transfer of public funds using vouchers, education savings accounts, or corporate tax credits to private schools or individuals, including the expansion of virtual instruction by corporations.”

TASB—a behemoth statewide taxpayer-funded lobbying group for school officials—often works to persuade legislators to withhold power and education funds from parents.

This latest vote finalizes the SBOE priorities for 2023, but 2023 will also bring six new members to the board as Allen, Johnson, Perez, Melton-Malone, Robinson, and Cortez are not returning. 

Sydnie Henry

A born and bred Texan, Sydnie serves as the Managing Editor for Texas Scorecard. She graduated from Patrick Henry College with a B.A. in Government and is utilizing her research and writing skills to spread truth to Texans.