School choice advocates claim that the Texas Republican Party is abandoning parent’s rights after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott endorsed multiple candidates who took money from influential teacher unions.
Texas Speaker of the House Dade Phelan is among the individuals who openly bragged about earning the endorsement of state teacher unions. Phelan was endorsed by the Texas State Teachers Association, a branch of the nation’s largest teacher union, the National Education Association (NEA).
“I am proud to have the endorsement of the [Texas State Teachers] Association and look forward to continuing our work to strengthen Texas schools and deliver for our public school teachers,” Phelan tweeted.
— Dade Phelan (@DadePhelan) February 16, 2022
School choice advocates pointed to three other Texas Republican primary candidates as “problematic” to the school choice agenda — Justin Berry, Barron Casteel and Glenn Rogers. All three received an endorsement from Abbott.
Berry and Casteel were listed as recipients of an endorsement from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the nation’s second-largest teacher union, according to a Jan. 16 Facebook post from the union.
Casteel also received $19,500 from teachers union groups and “school choice opponents” for his upcoming runoff election, according to financial documents obtained by American Federation of Children’s Research Director Corey DeAngelis.
Barron Casteel (R) is facing a runoff election in Texas House District 73 in May.
He received $19,500 from teachers union groups and other school choice opponents in 2022.@BarronCasteel was also endorsed by the Texas affiliate of Randi Weingarten’s union (AFT). pic.twitter.com/umazrWd5LQ
— Corey A. DeAngelis (@DeAngelisCorey) March 5, 2022
Rogers is listed as an endorsed candidate for the Texas House on the Texas state AFT website.
A spokesman for Berry and Casteel said that both candidates “asked to be removed from the endorsement list.” The spokesman noted that neither candidate requested endorsement.
Phelan and Rogers did not respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment.
Texas is among the states seeing an uptick in reporting on critical race theory-inspired curriculum and sexually explicit ideology being taught to students. The Austin Independent School District reportedly told students to keep conversations about LGBT ideology “confidential,” though the district denies it attempted to withhold information from parents. (RELATED: Texas Teacher Claims 20 Fourth Graders Out Of 32 Students Identify As LGBTQ)
Inez Stepman, a senior policy analyst at Independent Women’s Forum, argued that school choice programs provide parents options when school districts opt to push critical race theory-inspired curriculum or sexually explicit ideology.
“Any politician claiming to oppose the left but failing to support school choice for parents is not serious about fighting the left’s cultural power in our education system,” Stepman told the Daily Caller. “School choice is not just a ticket out for parents who desperately need options that don’t push gender ideology and critical race theory, but a policy that gives parents leverage within the public school system, and will help them make their voices not only heard in a system that seems content to ignore them, impossible to ignore.”
School choice programs, specifically an Education Savings Account (ESA), are popular among Texas primary Republicans and school parents statewide, regardless of party affiliation. Over 87% of Texas Republican primary voters support school choice programming, according to Texas’ election outcomes. Polling from Morning Consult found that 76% of school parents in Texas support ESA options as well.
School choice is listed on the Texas GOP’s platform, though in the nearly two decades that Republicans held the state House, Senate, and Governor’s office there have been zero private school choice initiatives passed.
Nicole Neily, the president and founder of Parents Defending Education, told the Daily Caller that the Texas GOP is not abandoning parents, because they never supported them in the first place.
“When forced to choose between teachers and parents, Texas lawmakers have repeatedly sided against parents’ interests,” Neily said. “It is cowardly, and it must stop if parents are ever going to win the battle for their rights.”
The online animosity between Texas Republicans and school choice advocates came to a crux after one of the most left-wing states, California, opted to leave the National School Board Association (NSBA) before Texas. The NSBA compared parents who protested school board meetings to “domestic terrorists” in a letter to the Biden administration. (RELATED: National School Board Walks Back Letter Comparing Parents To ‘Domestic Terrorists’ After Bombshell Emails Exposed White House Collaboration)
School choice advocates began arguing that some “fake” Republicans were beholden to powerful teacher unions and unable to speak out against powerful organizations like the NSBA.
California decided to leave the National School Boards Association before Texas.
— Corey A. DeAngelis (@DeAngelisCorey) April 1, 2022
DeAngelis told the Daily Caller that school choice can only become a reality if parents hold Republicans accountable to the school choice agenda.
“School choice can become a reality in Texas as long as parents hold fake Republicans accountable at the ballot box, especially in the House,” DeAngelis said. “The good news is parents have an opportunity to do so.”