With the legislative session fast approaching, the coming fight for education reform was previewed yesterday in an interim hearing of the House Committee on Public Education.

At the hearing, Randan Steinhauser, the Executive Director for Education Opportunity and a member of the SREC, and TPPF’s Kent Grusendorf sustained a heavy assault from parental choice opponents that have traditionally blocked the measure from prevailing in the Texas House. Long opponents of any educational reforms, many of the members of the committee reacted as could be expected of the newly proposed Educational Savings Accounts.

But rather than feel as though reform would be stymied again, the hearing felt as the last stand of opponents. Leading the charge against the ESA proposal were State Reps. Marsha Farney (R-Georgetown) and Jimmie Don Ayock (R-Killeen).

Aycock, the chairman of the committee and whose daughter works as a lobbyist for Raise Your Hand Texas, attacked school choice as a government entitlement program last year and didn’t pull any punches.

But Aycock isn’t coming back to Austin. Much like State Rep. Jim Keffer (R-Eastland), another Straus loyalist, Aycock deferred the opportunity to take his record before voters and chose instead to retire.

As for Farney? She was forcibly retired by Terry Wilson who soundly defeated her without a runoff. Wilson, a U.S. Army veteran “ran on a platform that focused on school choice.”

It’s not just Texans in Farney and Aycock’s districts that support parental choice. At the state Republican convention in May, over 93 percent of delegates supported the following plank:

“We believe that all children should have access to quality education. We support the right to choose public, private, charter, or home education. We support the distribution of educational funds in a manner that they follow the student to any school, whether public, private, charter, or home school through means of tax exemptions and/or credits.”

With the committee’s chairman and Straus’ top choice for a successor both leaving the stage, the question for conservatives is who will be tapped to head the committee and if they will be open to educational reform.

Cary Cheshire

Cary Cheshire is the executive director of Texans for Strong Borders, a no-compromise non-profit dedicated to restoring security and sovereignty to the citizens of the Lone Star State. For more information visit StrongBorders.org.