As the Republican-led Texas House stalls on conservative priorities, State Rep. Charlie Geren of Fort Worth has signed on to a proposal intended to block the implementation of school choice.

Geren is supporting an amendment to the state’s budget that would block Texas from paying for school choice programs, including vouchers, education savings accounts, and tax credit scholarships using money in the state budget:

Money appropriated by this Act may not be used to pay for or support a school voucher, including an education savings account, tax credit scholarship program, or a grant or other similar program through which a child may use state money for non-public primary or secondary education.

State Rep. Abel Herrero’s (D–Robstown) measure would amend House Bill 1, known as the General Appropriations Act, which sets the state budget for the next two fiscal years.

In addition to Geren, Democrat State Reps. Armando Walle (Houston) and Ana Hernandez (Houston) have signed on to support the amendment.

While Geren teams up with Democrats to block school choice, parents across Texas are calling for lawmakers to expand their children’s education options.

Geren’s public opposition to school choice is notable, as he was appointed by House Speaker Dade Phelan to serve as the speaker pro tempore—the No. 2 position in the chamber.

Other state officials, however, have been supportive of school choice, with Gov. Greg Abbott making the issue one of his emergency items earlier this year and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick including it among his legislative priorities.

Educational freedom is also a legislative priority for the Republican Party of Texas.

At a rally for school choice last month, Abbott promised parents that he would support the issue during Texas’ 88th Legislative Session.

“We’re going to show up, we’re going to show out, and we’re going to show the Legislature exactly why it’s so important that we empower parents to choose the education that’s best for their child,” said Abbott.

On social media, national school choice advocate Corey DeAngelis condemned Geren for working against school choice.

“Texas Representative Charlie Geren (R) signed on to an amendment against school choice,” said DeAngelis. “Imagine fighting against school choice as a Republican after the past few years. 88% of Texas Republican primary voters support school choice. It is a Texas GOP legislative priority this session. Governor Abbott made it an emergency item.”

DeAngelis highlighted Geren’s endorsement from the Texas State Teachers Association last year and pointed out how he received $7,500 from teachers unions during the 2022 election season. Since at least 2020, Geren has received funding from anti-school choice organizations such as the Association of Texas Professional Educators PAC, the Charles Butt Public Education PAC, and the Texas American Federation of Teachers.

In response to DeAngelis’ post, U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) also called out Geren for not supporting school choice in Texas.

“If the GOP-led #TxLege fails to empower parents & children with true universal choice, the Tx GOP will be decimated… (I add firming the grid, cutting property taxes, & restoring law & order to the priority list),” said Roy. “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”

Katy Marshall

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