This week on The Salcedo Storm Podcast, Chris Salcedo sat down with State Rep. Phil King (R–Weatherford), State Rep. Brian Harrison (R–Waxahachie), and State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City) to discuss a variety of issues facing Texas, including the ongoing battle for school choice.

When asked about a recent lawsuit against Prosper Independent School District, in which parents accused district officials of covering up multiple instances of a bus driver sexually abusing students, King condemned the situation but questioned the Legislature’s role in the public school system.

“The model has been the state passes the laws. The school boards, who are locally elected, are the ones to enforce that under the guidance of the parents,” said King. “And that’s why something like this is so very, very frustrating. But at the end of the day, it all comes back to good management and good leadership. The question is, how does the Legislature deal with that? And that’s not an easy answer.”

As a result of explicit books in school libraries, the promotion of LGBT behaviors, and, now, multiple cases of sexual assault in public schools, some Texans are calling for more school choice legislation. Harrison called for Texas lawmakers to open the education field up to competition and allow parents to decide which schools best fit their children’s needs.

At some point, we’ve got to let competition do the job … that we allow it to do in every other sector of our economy. Because, right now, what are the parents to do?

“Maybe you actually want a chance to take your kid and put them in a school that more aligns with your values, with your expectations that your kids, by the time they turn 18, when they put a diploma in their hand, they’re going to have sufficient skills,” said Harrison. “They can market themselves and provide for a family the day they walk across that stage. But they’re stuck right now. They don’t have a choice.”

Although educational freedom is a Texas GOP priority for the 2023 legislative session, Slaton expressed concern that top Republican lawmakers may derail school choice legislation by continuing to appoint Democrats to committee chairmanships in the Texas House. Democrats serving as chairmen can easily kill Republican legislation by simply not including conservative bills in the committee’s agenda.

“I have my concerns because there is a strong desire to keep giving Democrats chairmanships, and I think that right there kind of tells you a mood that we have in the House,” said Slaton. “That when it comes to advancing our policies that we believe in, that we know are best for the communities we live in, we punt. We don’t pass them. Why? We want the Democrats to have their position.”

Harrison also said he believes school choice and educational competition will protect Texas children from indoctrination and provide them with access to vital academic resources.

“The most pro-public school position you can have is to be pro-school choice because competition is the one thing that will finally align all of the incentives towards the only thing that should matter,” said Harrison. “There is nothing more uncompassionate or uncaring or immoral to say these poor families who are trapped in failing schools … just have to stay there. They’re going to have their kid miss out on the most important thing that they can get to determine their success in life, which is a quality education.”

Katy Marshall

Katy graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.