Longtime Senate Education Committee Chair Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) announced this week that he will not be running for reelection. Taylor, who took the District 11 seat in 2012 after serving five terms in the House, has been a key legislator shepherding unsuccessful attempts to create private-school voucher programs in Texas schools. State Rep. Mayes Middleton (R-Willesville) and former Republican Party of Texas Vice President Dr. Robin Armstrong both announced that they will run for the empty seat—a solidly Republican district—in the March Republican primary.
Sitting in the powerful position as Senate Education Committee chair, Taylor often was at odds with public education advocates by pushing proposals for vouchers and performance pay tied to test scores. Often affable in manner, he could also be caustic toward teacher organization leaders and once proclaimed: “We have a number of large teacher organizations in Texas, but unfortunately they typically don’t represent the teachers I know. They represent the worst of teachers, and they tend to protect the worst.”
Taylor’s exit is the latest in a slew of retiring legislators in the House, and four other senators also have announced they will not run again. The mass exodus of incumbents makes the March primaries for legislative races all the more important in our goal of electing friends of public education. Texas AFT will have a full wrap-up of who is out and who is running after the election filing deadline on December 13.