At the last legislative session in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick attended the major school choice really to show their enthusiastic support for vouchers. This week, neither of the state’s top elected officials showed up at the school choice rally.

Two years ago, Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick stood on the steps of the Texas Capitol before a throng of waving yellow scarves and urged lawmakers to vote for programs that give parents state money to attend private schools.

This Wednesday, those two top Republicans may not even attend the rally for National School Choice Week, let alone have speaking roles. [They didn’t attend the rally.]

Although “school choice” supporters will still excitedly don their signature bright yellow scarves Wednesday, they will likely be fighting an uphill battle the rest of this session to get support in the Capitol.

In the months after 2017’s rally, House lawmakers unequivocally voted to reject school vouchers or similar programs that allow parents to use public money for private education. In 2018, a key election ousted some of the programs’ largest supporters, including Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, one of the loudest cheerleaders in the House. And as state Republicans tour the state making constituents a new set of education-related promises, many have swapped the words “school choice” for “school finance.”

So far, even Abbott and Patrick have rarely brought up their former pet issue without being asked — beyond Abbott’s routine proclamation for this year’s School Choice Week. New House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, an Angleton Republican, said last week that the House would not pass legislation approving vouchers — and that he had consistently voted no on similar bills.

“I’m not willing to say, ‘Hey, this issue is dead.’ But leadership seems to be saying that, at least for this particular session,” said Monty Exter, lobbyist for the Association of Texas Professional Educators, one of the biggest opponents of those programs.

As vouchers fade off into the sunset, choice advocates are doubling down on charters. There is a major push in every city in Texas to expand the number of charters. In San Antonio, the big charter push came from Mayor Julian Castro, who pledged to put 20% of all students into charter schools and invited major chains to set up shop in his city. Castro recently announced his candidacy or the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, joining Cory Booker as an openly pro-charter candidate.