This article was authored and contributed to Breitbart Texas by Brendan Steinhauser and Randan Steinhauser.
When he was inaugurated as the new Lieutenant Governor last week, Dan Patrick spoke about his three top priorities in this legislative session: reducing property and business taxes, securing the border, and enacting school choice. All of these policies have widespread support in Texas, and especially among the grassroots Republicans who gave Texas’ leaders their power in the 2014 elections. This bold agenda should provide focus and achievable goals for legislators as they begin their work during the 84th legislative session.
Regarding school choice in particular, supporters will make their voices heard on Friday, as more than a thousand of them march on the Texas Capitol to demand more choice and competition in Texas’ education system. Students, parents, teachers, administrators and community leaders from across the state will gather at the capitol on January 30th at 10:00am to rally with elected officials like state Senator Donna Campbell and Land Commissioner George P. Bush. The attendees will represent public schools, private schools, virtual schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and homeschooling families. It will be very difficult for legislators to ignore their concerns and demands, and we encourage all legislators to take the time to meet with them.
School choice is needed in Texas. It has been implemented successfully in more than 30 states, and empowers parents with the opportunity to send their child to a school that best meets their needs. There are great models of success in states such as Florida, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Alabama. Legislators and community leaders from both political parties have banded together to make school choice a reality. Last year during National School Choice Week, Texas’ own Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Sheila Jackson Lee stood together to support school choice. It’s time for Texas to join this growing reform movement that is sweeping the country.
Legislators of both parties have a lot to gain by passing school choice legislation this session. The Republican Party conducted a survey that showed more than 80 percent of its voters support school choice. Democrat constituencies, apart from teachers unions, also support school choice, especially for low-income parents. While the two parties might come to their support for school choice from different perspectives, they both agree it is important to empower families in Texas with more options.
School choice is one policy area where both Republicans and Democrats can join together to truly help Texas families. It is our hope that before the 84th legislative session ends this year, Texans will be able to boast that we are on the forefront of education reform. We can do this by passing meaningful school choice legislation that gives parents and children, the consumers of education, the power to choose the best school that fits their individual needs. The grassroots of both parties can and should get behind this effort, starting by joining us at the state capitol on January 30th, and then continuing to work together throughout the session to get this done.
Brendan and Randan Steinhauser are founding partners at Steinhauser Strategies, a public relations consulting firm based in Austin, Texas. Their clients include national and Texas-based school choice organizations.