Texas Education Is Not a Political Football


Contact: Noah Betz; 281-928-2089

This commentary was written by Don Huffines exclusively for The Dallas Express and published here.

DALLAS, TX, January 3, 2024 — For reflective Americans, the end of the year is a time for assessment. It’s a period when our accounts, personal and public, are due. For one group in particular—the American professional politician—a little extra introspection is needed, especially when it comes to the uncertain future of school choice in the United States.

For those interested in reading national tea leaves, the fight over the Texas public school system is one to keep an eye on. After the Texas Legislature failed to address school choice and the growing cost of government schools in its regular session earlier this year, Gov. Greg Abbott called Austin back twice this Fall in special sessions to try again.

Not only did they fail both attempts, but the solutions they came up with were typically half-baked. Billions more taxpayer dollars go into government education and considerably less into school choice. This approach, of course, is not unique to the Lone Star State. It is the way most legislators think about the problem.

When I hear school choice, one thing comes to mind: freedom. And it is pedagogic freedom that remains the surest path to providing all Americans an equal opportunity to succeed. This is needed now more than ever here in Texas. Though we have more money than most, we lag other states, like Florida, on this issue.

In Texas, again, like other states, billions of dollars go toward bribing the government school monopoly, not toward empowering Texas parents and students with educational freedom. It is impossible for the government school system to have enough of your money. This is what explains the failure of our special sessions and legislation across the country. Greed.

Spending money on government schools rather than on school choice contributes toward the vast expansion of the government school bureaucracy. This is by design, and it’s a lucrative business. But we do not need to expand the power and size of government; we need to expand the power of Texan—and all American—parents.

The fight over school choice is not about what’s best for the teachers, superintendents, or school districts. This is not even about “school choice,” per se. It is, fundamentally, about dealing a blow to the monopoly of government power over the lives of our children.

Concerned Americans need a fresh, new approach to winning these battles. We need to fight for legislation that treats parents, students, and taxpayers with care. There are three things I would suggest:

First, try to pass a stand-alone school choice bill without pouring billions more into government schools. It should be simple, reasonable, and to the point. Citizens should be able to read the text and grasp the issue. No extraneous add-ons, no sleight-of-hand tricks. Second, make school choice part of the school funding formulas so the money follows the students. This saves money instead of costing money. Finally, use tax credits rather than tax dollars so that the program operates under free market conditions, without government restrictions over private or homeschooling.

As much as Americans need parental choice in our education system, it is important that it does not come at the cost of empowering enemies of our education system. We have done enough of that already.