The prospects for vouchers just got dimmer in Texas. Parent organizations and Pastors for Texas Children are among the many groups that have stood strong against vouchers, and their hard work has stopped vouchers again and again. It was an uphill battle, because Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (a former talk show host, the Rush Limbaugh of Texas) is a voucher fan, and he had a solid bloc of support in the State Senate. Each time the Senate passed a voucher bill, a bipartisan coalition killed it in the House, where rural Republicans joined with urban Democrats. Some key Republican leaders in the House are strong supporters of the public schools because of their own experience, either as school leaders or parents or active community members.

The recent election sent some voucher supporters in the Senate to defeat. As a result, the voucher issue has lost steam. Beto O’Rourke lost his bid for the U.S. Senate, but his campaign energized campaigns at the state level.

This story appeared in the Austin Statesman:

The issue of private school vouchers — shifting public education dollars to private school tuition — once a priority of conservative state lawmakers from suburban districts, seems destined for the back burner during the coming legislative session.

At least a half-dozen more opponents to the idea were elected this month, amid widespread Democratic gains. In past sessions, Democrats and rural Republicans, concerned that a voucher system would erode traditional public schools, blocked all voucher measures in the House. Voucher bills have easily passed the GOP-dominated Senate.

Proponents call the idea “school choice” because it would give some students the option to leave poorly rated neighborhood public schools for private ones.

Meanwhile, the education focus at the Capitol has shifted to repairing a broken system of funding public schools. Last week, Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, the likely next speaker of the House, singled out school finance as the priority for the chamber, and Gov. Greg Abbott’s school finance plan was introduced at a meeting at the Capitol.

That’s left public school teachers and their advocates hopeful that the Legislature won’t have much appetite for a voucher bill.

“I like having the ability to choose when I’m making a purchase, but I don’t see education in that same light. The best opportunity for the population we have is in public education — a well-funded public education system — and if we want to get to the goals that we want to get to, that’s not going to happen by just handing kids a voucher and saying, ‘Good luck,’” said Michelle Smith with Austin-based public school advocacy group Raise Your Hand Texas.