Texas Parent PAC was formed in 2005 by parents frustrated with state underfunding of public schools and a push by some legislators for taxpayer-funded private school vouchers. The PAC is known as a “purple PAC” because it supports Republicans and Democrats in primary, general, and special elections for legislative seats. In its 17-year history, the PAC has helped to elect 85 members of the Texas Legislature, including 64 legislators currently serving.
Parent frustration with state leadership on education continues in 2022! This is the first time the well-respected Texas Parent PAC has taken a stand in a governor’s race: Texas Parent PAC is opposing Abbott’s re-election. In public statements and in a press conference at a private school, Abbott vowed to pass a statewide voucher scheme into law in 2023. This extremist position, along with other actions by Abbott, led Texas Parent PAC to assert he cannot be trusted to protect and strengthen neighborhood schools, whether urban, suburban, or rural, that serve 5.4 million Texas children.
Some reasons Texans should not vote for Abbott are:
- Greg Abbott advocates for a system of taxpayer-funded vouchers that will siphon funding from public schools to pay for unaccountable private and religious schools, home schools, and virtual schools.
Abbott is pushing a radical voucher scheme that would harm children by taking away funding from neighborhood schools currently serving more than 90 percent of Texas students. His proposal is financially irresponsible, unaccountable to taxpayers, and creates a new government “entitlement program” that is not fiscally conservative. Vouchers put power in the hands of private schools—not parents—as no private school would be required to accept a student with a voucher. Children attending private schools who need special education accommodations lose their federal protections to receive them. Further, research shows that vouchers in other states have led to worse educational outcomes for the neediest children while showing no significant gains for other students.
- Greg Abbott contributes to a severe statewide teacher shortage.
Texas teachers and other educators are quitting in what may be record numbers and heading for other jobs or retirement. Reasons educators are quitting include inadequate pay, rising health insurance premiums, working conditions that risk their health and safety, and a feeling of disrespect and political meddling in the classroom by Abbott and other government leaders. Understaffing will prompt larger class sizes, hiring less-qualified professionals, and cutbacks in course and extracurricular offerings. Schoolchildren will suffer from loss of beloved teachers, coaches, librarians, counselors, school principals, and other educators who are a part of the school family.
- Greg Abbott fails to protect schoolchildren from gun violence.
School safety has been insufficiently funded under Abbott’s watch. Even worse, he has done little of substance to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. In Uvalde, if a disturbed 18-year-old had been unable to legally buy a powerful AR-15-style rifle, the slaughter of innocent children and teachers might not have happened. But Abbott refuses to even discuss sensible gun reform laws despite the frequency of mass shootings in Texas.
- Greg Abbott supports over-testing children with high-stakes standardized tests.
High-stakes STAAR testing is not required under federal law, only by Texas law. So while other states are sensibly decreasing the stress on children by shifting standardized tests toward data-gathering on student learning only, Abbott does little to reduce the immense testing burden on children and educators. Plus, the governor and his allies use the state’s punitive A-F school ratings based on STAAR tests to try to justify private school voucher schemes and penalize those teachers who choose to work with our most at-risk children.
- Texas schools continue to be underfunded. Greg Abbott relies on ever-rising local property taxes to pay for schools rather than increasing the percentage paid by the state of Texas for K-12 education.
According to Quality Counts 2021, Texas ranks 49th in per-student funding for public education. School districts statewide are strapped for money for instructional costs, personnel, and more. Teachers pay out-of-pocket for many classroom supplies and parent groups are having to sponsor fundraisers to cover basic needs at schools. In Texas, Abbott and other elected leaders depend on a Robin Hood system that takes local property tax income from some school districts to give to other districts because the State of Texas refuses to pay its share as required by the courts and Texas law.
- Greg Abbott is driving a harmful wedge between parents and educators.
There has been a long-standing partnership between Texas parents and teachers, but Abbott is breaking that trusted partnership for his own political gain. Abbott claims a state constitutional amendment is needed to guarantee parents’ rights related to their children’s education, even though existing state law in the Texas Education Code already gives parents extensive rights and responsibilities. To stir up parents against teachers and get media attention, Abbott directed the Texas Education Agency to investigate alleged “pornography” in public schools, saying criminal prosecution may be warranted for teachers and librarians. Abbott is catering to a vocal minority of agitators who are supported by out-of-state interests. He is ignoring a vast majority of parents who trust and support their neighborhood schools.
More than 5.4 million Texas children educated in our public schools need a better governor.