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Abbott encourages faith leaders to "go to the pulpit" on vouchers

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Date Posted: 9/20/2023 | Author: Tricia Cave

Gov. Greg Abbott (R) took part in a telephone town hall Tuesday with faith leaders from across the state. The town hall, hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, focused on the issue of private school choice, aka vouchers, and how faith leaders can assist the governor in his lobby effort to get the issue through a Legislature that has shown unwillingness—particularly in the House—to pass voucher legislation.  

Abbott issued a challenge to faith leaders to engage on the topic and “go to the pulpit” to encourage their congregations to support vouchers. His speech, which lasted for approximately 10 minutes, focused on a parent’s Biblical responsibilities, parents’ right to choose the best educational setting for their child, and his belief that public schools are undermining parental rights by “indoctrinating” students and teaching them a “woke agenda.” He stated he believed it was “immoral” to “force” parents to send their children to public schools that teach things the parents fundamentally disagreed with—political talking points that insert state government into the personal religious decisions of individual Texans, as well as ignore the many school choice options already available to parents, up to and including home school, as well as the broad parental rights outlined in the Texas Education Code to examine curriculum and opt out of specific content. ATPE Governmental Relations Director Monty Exter was interviewed by The Dallas Morning News following the town hall, telling the News’ Bob Garrett significant duplication already exists between traditional public schools and charter schools: “The last thing we need is to layer on a third taxpayer-funded system, especially one with little to no accountability back to the taxpayer.” 

At the end of his speech, Abbott outlined his expectations for school choice/voucher legislation moving forward. Abbott offered up an unsupported claim that the “votes seem to be lining up” in the Legislature on the issue and then immediately laid out a plan that seemingly belies his confidence in the statement. He reminded those on the call the governor can call a special session at any time and stated he intends to hold a third special session in October (the first two called earlier this summer on property taxes), and then—if the voucher legislation is unsuccessful—call another special session, likely in January. If that doesn’t work, Abbott declared his intention to target those who vote against vouchers during primary season, specifically citing the efforts of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who passed a voucher earlier this year after primarying several voucher opponents.   

The call ended with a call-to-action from fundamentalist religious activist Dave Welch, who encouraged those on the call to speak on the issue of parental empowerment and school choice from their pulpits Sunday, Oct. 15.   

This call marked a renewed interest in the voucher issue from the governor, who was quiet over the summer after spending most of the regular session campaigning for vouchers at private and parochial schools. The governor named school choice an emergency item for the 88th legislative session and threw great effort into getting the legislation over the finish line, including holding a sparsely attended school choice rally in March.   




This is ridiculous fear mongering. Republicans are afraid teachers will teach students to vote dem. Period! That s is hogwash! I teach children. I am not their political science teacher and leave politics out of school. Abbott is the one putting politics in schools!

Justin Sereno

I sent you a previous comment about this matter. Censorship is against out inalienable rights. As an organization that represents education, please consider allowing the conversations that need to happen take place. My comment was not malicious nor attacking. It provided an educated belief that should be considered. What is happening in the classrooms should not be allowed to happen and many issues are not in the control of the district nor school.

Kathryn K Porteck

I am a retired teacher. This completely disgusts me.

Justin Sereno

Howdy! As a 10 year teacher who has taught across numerous states, it is important that students and families have a choice in where they can be educated. It’s capitalism at its finest! I do not want my children a part of a systematic approach to learning that relies so heavily on assessment. It sets the wrong mindset on what is valuable in learning. Another issue is athletics. Too many students get a free pass because they are an athlete-student. It is with great pride that our value for an athletic lifestyle is abundant. However, the pursuit of athletic excellence needs to be done the right way- with the values we learn from them. Values such as accountability, sacrifice and dedication to name a few. Lastly, teachers do not need more pay. Let me say that again. Our value does not lie in our salary. It lies in the ability to teach with autonomy. To learn about the academic strengths and weaknesses of our students and help them grow. Help them grow in academia along with the sense of community and service. Vouchers can help us get back to the idea that education is not a right but a privilege. Let us stop holding communities back with blanket standards and assessments. Let us meet communities where they are at and help them grow into the success stories we know they can represent.

Ligia Vasquez

I am a teacher at a public school and a Catholic as well. I am in favor of allowing parents choose the schools for their children. I do not know if the “vouchers” is the way but I am in favor of school choice. We would need to have an equal metrics system to measure both schools performance and teachers qualifications though.

Liz Press

I teach Special Education at a Title One school & have 23 years experience. We have had numerous students go to Charter schools or private religious schools & they always come back. Those other schools don’t provide the support & individualized educational programs that we can & do. These students always return because they are not provided what they need or deserve. Also, as a Christian, I would never teach “woke” curriculum because I’m a Southern Baptist girl. Last, I DO NOT appreciate the call to the church to get involved in politics even though I agree that parents are the primary decision makers of their children’s education!

Chad Lehrmann

As a former minister and current teacher, I was always under the impression that a minister telling the congregation how to vote was grounds for the church losing its tax exempt status. Seems the governor either doesn’t know about this or doesn’t care.

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