Investigative journalist Jennifer Berkshire visited Texas to find out how the Trump-DeVos agenda of vouchers is being received. Not well, she found. In rural and suburban areas, parents are not eager to abandon their public schools.

She writes:

Keller, Texas—On the same night that President Trump invoked the specter of “failing government schools” in his State of the Union address, Texas Republican Giovanni Capriglione was working hard to establish his public school bona fides. Elected to the Texas House as part of the 2012 Tea Party wave, Capriglione reminded voters here in Keller, an affluent suburb of Fort Worth, that he was a product of public schools, his wife is too, and that his children attend them now. Grade by grade, he named his favorite teachers.

While Trump used his pulpit to make clear his administration’s contempt for public schools, Capriglione wooed the voters he hopes will send him back to the state legislature with calls for more generous school funding, less standardized testing, and more rigorous oversight of charter schools.

Why such disparate messaging?

In a word: elections. In 2018 Texas Democrats flipped 12 formerly Republican legislative seats, half in the fast-growing region around Dallas and Fort Worth known as the Metroplex. While the Texas version of the blue wave was fueled in part by enthusiasm for the Senate candidacy of Beto O’Rourke, Democrats also ran hard against what they characterized as the GOP’s antipathy toward public education. Voters ejected several school voucher advocates, while candidates who ran as supporters of public schools were rewarded. And while Trump is beloved among rural Texans, they are not fans of his signature education issue, “education freedom,” aka sending taxpayer funds to private and religious schools.

“Our rural communities are knit together by their public schools,” says Pastor Charles Johnson, head of the public education advocacy group Pastors for Texas Children. “It’s why they tend to oppose privatization, no matter who is pushing it.”

A similar dynamic is playing out in other key 2020 states. Even as Trump tries to lure back disaffected suburban moderates and hold on to his loyal rural supporters, his administration is peddling an education agenda that is increasingly under fire in states that are essential to his reelection bid. The deep divide between what such voters want for their schools and what Trump and state-level Republicans are offering presents an opportunity for Democrats to build on their 2018 gains, and perhaps even deny Trump a second term

Trouble may also be brewing in Ohio, she writes, where overzealous Republican legislators extended vouchers into suburban districts and are feeling a strong pushback.