FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2023
Landslide Rejection: Rural Texas House Districts Soundly Oppose Texas Voucher Schemes, Reveals Latest Polling
Senators jeopardize teacher pay raises with new voucher language, as opposition solidifies in the House
AUSTIN, Texas – Over the weekend, private school voucher proponents in the Texas Senate overhauled the school finance bill, HB 100, with a last-ditch effort to pass a voucher scheme, following multiple defeats in the Texas House for Gov. Greg Abbott and private school voucher peddlers.
“The bill originally intended to allocate $4.5 billion in new funding for schools to give teachers raises and balance school budgets as inflation diminished the value of the money they get from the state … The new version of HB 100 is an effort from the Senate to pass a voucher-like program in the final days of the legislative session, which ends on May 29.” [Texas Tribune, May 2023]
It took just 12 hours from the time the new version of HB 100 was released to the moment it was voted out of the Senate Education Committee, 9-3. The 11th-hour, dead-of-night production illustrates how deeply unpopular the proposed voucher plan is among Texas voters.
Today, Texas AFT shares the results of a poll conducted on behalf of Unified Texas with a focus on key rural Texas House districts. Z to A Research conducted a large survey of 2,406 likely presidential year voters in 20 target Texas State House Districts (7, 8, 9, 16, 31, 32, 37, 42, 52, 54, 83, 86, 97, 99, 108, 112, 118, 121, 133 , and 138) from April 3-17, 2023. Below are highlighted results in four rural districts: HD-7 (Longview and Marshall, Rep. Jay Dean), HD-8 (Corsicana and Palestine, Rep. Cody Harris), HD-9 (Lufkin and Crockett, Rep. Trent Ashby), and HD-83 (Lubbock, Post, and Snyder, Rep. Dustin Burrows).
- Only 35% of voters, including 42% of base Republicans, support their tax dollars paying for a student’s private school education.
- Voters in these districts overwhelmingly believe that proposed voucher schemes will hurt their local public schools (61%), teachers (55%), and property taxes (50%).
- A 63% majority worry that diverting money from public schools will mean larger class sizes, lower teacher pay, and worse outcomes.
- A hold harmless for rural school districts is not enough to win over voters. Even when that provision is mentioned, still only 37% of voters support the plan.
- 62% of voters surveyed in these rural districts believe the state spends too little on public education, and 84% (including 80% of base Republicans) support increasing funding to public schools to reduce class sizes and increase teacher salaries.
“Rural Texans have been very clear – they want this Legislature to invest taxpayer dollars in raising teacher pay and reducing class sizes, not bankrolling the private school education of a select few,” said Zeph Capo, president of the Texas American Federation of Teachers. “Rural Texans know that private school voucher schemes will hurt schools, increase property taxes, and cost jobs. When you speak plainly to voters, the poll results show that.
“Teachers expect the pro-education and bipartisan coalition of the Texas House to reject voucher poison pills and focus on what it takes for our public schools to thrive. It is a slap in the face to every teacher in Texas for politicians to jeopardize a pay raise just so corporate private schools can make a buck off the taxpayer’s back. Governor Abbott can threaten special sessions all he wants, but educators aren’t going away. Neither are the parents and community allies from both sides of the aisle who oppose vouchers. We were here in May and we will be here in September. We have endured a “lost decade” for school funding and educator wages in this state. We won’t sit quietly and watch this lost session squander a generational surplus on cynical private school voucher schemes.
The Texas American Federation of Teachers represents 66,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, support personnel, and higher-education employees across the state. Texas AFT is affiliated with the 1.7-million-member American Federation of Teachers and the AFL-CIO.