By Chris Edwards
AUSTIN – Last week, the organization Raise Your Hand Texas announced its list of the 100 legislators designated as “Public Education Champion Award” recipients. Both Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) and Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) were named to the list.
In a news release from the organization, its executive director Dr. Michelle Smith said the award “honors that steadfast commitment to the legislators’ local community when making decisions at our Texas Capitol.”
Smith cited the legislators named to the list as being steadfastly opposed to school vouchers, which have been a hot topic throughout the 88th Legislature, and a priority of Gov. Greg Abbott.
While attempts to create a voucher program were unsuccessful, with both Nichols and Ashby voting against various legislation, including an education savings account program that spawned in the Senate, Abbott has said that in one of the upcoming special sessions, “education freedom” will be the focus.
Smith said that in Texas, public education leaders, as well as legislators, are continually fighting “political forces and well-funded out-of-state organizations from across the United States that want to reshape public education with little or no accountability and transparency.”
“These 100 legislators are doing the most for their communities and public schools,” said Smith.
School voucher legislation has failed in the past in the state legislature. Polling from the Charles Butt Foundation shows that a majority (89%) of Texans polled are satisfied with the quality of public schools in Texas, while 82% of those polled said they would keep their child/children in their current public school, if given other options. Fifty-four percent, the poll showed, also oppose school vouchers.
Raise Your Hand Texas, according to its website, is a non-partisan, non-profit organization, committed to supporting public policy solutions that invest in the state’s public school student population, and advocates for innovation and autonomy toward the goal of college and workforce readiness.