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Turn on the TV in northeast Texas, and it would be hard to guess it has become a battleground in the GOP war over school vouchers.  State Rep. Gary VanDeaver of New Boston — one of nine Republicans that Gov. Greg Abbott is trying to unseat over their opposition to vouchers — is running an ad bragging about boosting border security funding as a House budget writer. His Abbott-backed challenger, Chris Spencer, is airing a spot promising to work with former President Donald Trump to “make our Texas border secure again.” and another Abbott-endorsed challenger in the region, Joanne Shofner, is running a commercial that pitches her as a “true border hawk.”  Those ads, exclusively about the border, are underscoring a key dynamic in Texas’ extraordinary primary season: Despite all the hubbub about vouchers and Ken Paxton’s impeachment — it’s still about the border. view article arw

Monday’s competing state House District 58 political rallies attracted Gov. Greg Abbott, numerous county officials and about 50 Democrats to Cleburne as the incumbent and his two challengers weighed in on the school choice/vouchers controversy. In that race, state Rep. DeWayne Burns, R-Cleburne, seeks reelection challenged by Glen Rose resident Helen Kerwin and Grandview resident Lyndon Laird. No Democrats filed to compete in the race, but the winner of the March 5 Republican Primary will face Libertarian candidate Richard Windman in November’s general election. Kerwin’s rally included Abbott and took place at La Moderna Field. About 200 attended. Burns’ rally occurred later that same night at the Cleburne Conference Center with about 500 in attendance including numerous city and county officials. view article arw

In 2023, Abbott spent a lot of time touring schools across Texas to sell voters on school vouchers, and he even called on religious leaders to talk about the proposal. When the time came, the House blocked the school choice legislation. Abbott is still actively campaigning against Republicans who voted against vouchers by endorsing their primary opponents. But contrary to what Greg Abbott would have you believe, school vouchers are not a top issue for Texans or Republicans in the primary. According to a report by the Austin American-Statesman, Republicans are more likely to vote on issues such as border security, immigration, inflation and political corruption. view article arw

The Bastrop ISD school board voted to maintain the current guidelines for volunteer chaplains in the school district at the Feb. 20 school board meeting.   Under the policy, chaplains are allowed in BISD schools as visitors and volunteers or can be considered for employment if qualified. The board did not adopt any further policy regarding chaplains under Senate Bill 763, which states Texas schools can choose to employ or accept volunteer chaplains without the need for certification. view article arw

The Bastrop ISD school board voted to maintain the current guidelines for volunteer chaplains in the school district at the Feb. 20 school board meeting.   Under the policy, chaplains are allowed in BISD schools as visitors and volunteers or can be considered for employment if qualified. The board did not adopt any further policy regarding chaplains under Senate Bill 763, which states Texas schools can choose to employ or accept volunteer chaplains without the need for certification. view article arw

Former President Donald Trump endorsed four candidates trying to oust Republican Texas lawmakers who voted to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton and who oppose private school vouchers. Trump, the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, said on Truth Social that he is backing Republican candidates who will “Champion School Choice,” secure elections and lower taxes. The endorsements include Helen Kerwin, Alan Schoolcraft, Mike Olcott and Liz Case. view article arw

KATY, Texas — The Katy ISD Board of Trustees met to discuss allowing chaplains to counsel students with an official vote set for Monday.  The new state law passed last year requires all Texas school districts to vote on the measure by March 1.  Katy ISD’s board has an option to continue allowing chaplains to volunteer on campuses or they could approve a plan allowing chaplains of any faith to counsel students. view article arw

AUSTIN, Texas (KBTX) -Texas Secretary of State Jane Nelson announced Saturday that the state has 17,948,242 million registered voters in preparation for the March 5 primaries. The registration deadline for the primary election was February 5.  ”Nearly 18 million Texans are registered to vote, and my office and election officials across the state are working to ensure all Texas voters are ready to cast a ballot,” Secretary Nelson stated.  Early voting for the primaries starts on Tuesday, February 20, and continues until March 1.  ”Early voting is a convenient way to cast your ballot and avoid the rush of Election Day,” Secretary Nelson emphasized. “Now is a good time to plan when you will vote and decide what form of photo ID you will bring to the polls.” view article arw

District 71 is one of three-dozen Texas House races where statewide Republicans are trying to oust incumbents from their own party. Lambert says he knows his constituents better than they do. view article arw

Just eight weeks ago, Texans were celebrating Christmas. The 2024 election was far away from most people's thoughts. Now, here it is. There are two weeks of early voting and then election day on March 5. And believe it or not - there's actually more drama than usual this primary. Usually incumbent officeholders are near shoe-ins for reelection. This year is different for some, especially a handful of rural Republican races, because large campaign donations are flowing in against them. view article arw

Despite having a historic budget surplus, and 246 days in session — the longest legislative session in history — lawmakers only passed 10% of education bills, thanks to Gov. Greg Abbott’s obsession with vouchers. Keller ISD Superintendent Tracy Johnson told Community Impact that with the unprecedented surplus the state could still fix the school financing problem today with a fifth special legislative session. “Our state doesn’t care about our kids,” Johnson said. “The cavalry isn’t coming. Keller ISD has to fix our problem. If we don’t get this fixed right now this year, we run the risk of not having a Keller ISD.” Keller ISD is grappling with a daunting $28 million budget deficit, underscoring a broader trend as numerous school districts contend with financial challenges. The fiscal strain experienced by KISD reflects a larger issue affecting education funding across various districts. The Wise County Messenger said it best, for the past months, a common headline has been: [Insert school district name here] adopts a deficit budget. Other ISD’s that are facing a deficit include: view article arw

Attorney General Ken Paxton is seeking revenge against House Republicans who voted to impeach him, but Gov. Greg Abbott is backing at least 17 Republicans targeted by Paxton. According to the Dallas Morning News, Paxton has endorsed the primary opponents of 20 GOP House incumbents in what has been described as a revenge tour. But Abbott is endorsing at least 17 incumbents who voted to impeach Paxton. Abbott is trying to keep Republicans who support his school choice plan. “A win for Abbott is to show strong support from people who support him on very specific issues like school choice,” said Dallas-based conservative radio talk show host Mark Davis. “The Paxton definition of success is to exact a political death toll for the people who came after him.” view article arw

According to a new poll released by the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, 74 percent of Republican voters in Texas agree that the sheer number of illegal aliens crossing the southern border is a crisis. The poll’s results show that “three quarters of Republicans (74%) consider the number of migrants attempting to cross the border ‘a crisis’ and another 11% consider it ‘a very serious problem.” Additionally, the poll also shows that 20 percent of Democrat voters believe that illegal immigration into Texas constitutes a crisis and 37 percent believe that, while it is a serious problem, it is not a crisis. The poll also analyzed whether or not Texas voters overall believed strict actions should be taken to secure the border. view article arw

As early voting begins in the Republican primary election in Texas, former President Donald Trump has issued a series of endorsements of candidates running for the Texas Legislature. In a series of posts on Truth Social on Tuesday, Trump revealed the endorsements, which included four challengers to incumbent members he called “RINOs” (Republicans in Name Only). Those candidates include: view article arw

Gainesville school administrators are combing through the budget to find more money for teachers after state lawmakers failed to approve the $4,000 raise earmarked for additional teacher pay in last year’s legislative session. Gainesville teachers, who start out with an annual salary of $48,000, haven’t had a raise in two years, but the district is providing teachers with instructional coaching. District officials also believe the move this year to a four-day week has helped teachers, said LaCreasha Stille, GISD assistant superintendent for human resources. view article arw

After being a major focal point of Texas education policy for more than a year, school choice is likely to be one among many issues motivating voters in the Republican primary election. During the 2023 legislative year, school choice, also known as vouchers or education savings accounts, drew thousands of supporters and opponents to the Capitol as lawmakers took up various iterations of the issue — none of which made it to the finish line. view article arw

The attorney general has tried to supplant eight Republican judges on the court after they rejected his efforts to unilaterally prosecute voter fraud. The judges are now pushing back.  The three incumbents running for their seats on Texas’ highest criminal court were not well known political figures outside of the legal community. That was until they earned the ire of Attorney General Ken Paxton in response to a 2021 opinion over a voter fraud case.  Now, the three female Republican justices on the Court of Criminal Appeals, Presiding Judge Sharon Keller, Judge Barbara Hervey and Judge Michelle Slaughter, find themselves in the position of having their conservative credentials questioned in “low-information elections” in which they’re up against Paxton’s political machine. view article arw

State Rep. Brian Harrison said that he will be exploring ways to end woke classes in Texas universities. Republican State Rep. Brian Harrison of Midlothian hinted that he will be exploring “legislative remedies” to end taxpayer funding of LGBTQ and woke courses at Texas universities. The announcement was made in an X post yesterday in which Harrison blasted Texas A&M University for promoting woke ideology on campus with Texas tax dollars. view article arw

What’s happening at the intersection of rampant illegal immigration and education in Texas? As it turns out, quite a lot. Last week, multiple incumbent members of the Texas House, who voted to strip a school choice provision from an omnibus education bill in late 2023, released political ads claiming their votes were motivated by border security convictions. Gov. Greg Abbott called one of these lawmakers, Drew Darby (R-San Angelo), a liar, and State Rep. Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) a fraud for “knowingly misleading his own voters to try to protect the teacher unions.” view article arw

In a debate this week between San Antonio Rep. Steve Allison and the Republican trying to take his place, the moderator was so eager to ask the pair about private school vouchers that she skipped the candidates’ opening remarks. The issue is defining the GOP primary between Allison, who voted against vouchers, and Marc LaHood, who says he would support spending taxpayer dollars on private education. view article arw

State taxpayers, through the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, paid millions in rent to a company of which Speaker of the Texas House Dade Phelan is a manager and director.  The Phelan family is in the real estate business. view article arw

Patrick said he believes the Texas House “needs new leadership and a fresh crop of new members.”  Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has announced his endorsement of four candidates for seats in the Texas House.   These four candidates have also been endorsed by Gov. Greg Abbott.   “I’m proud to join Governor Abbott in endorsing these fine candidates for Texas House,” said Patrick on Thursday. “I believe the Texas House needs new leadership and a fresh crop of new members. These four candidates all bring their unique talents and skills to help repair the Texas House.”  The candidates are: view article arw

Schwertner helped unanimously pass the Texas law to elevate the crime to a serious offense in 2015. The 21-year-old allegedly sent his ex-girlfriend texts in January threatening to release the intimate photos about six months after their break-up, according to court records obtained by Fox 7 Austin. The senior Schwertner was part of a 2015 unanimous vote in the Texas Senate to elevate the crime to a serious offense level in Senate Bill 1135, also known as the Relationship Privacy Act. view article arw

The two social conservatives are leading with money and endorsements in the crowded GOP primary to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess of Lewisville.  WASHINGTON — The frontrunner in the Republican primary to replace longtime Congressman Michael Burgess of Lewisville is a 29-year-old political newcomer, Brandon Gill, who helped make a name for himself in politics by marketing the election conspiracy theory documentary “2000 Mules” with his father-in-law Dinesh D’Souza.  Trailing closely behind him is John Huffman, the mayor of Southlake — a wealthy Dallas-Fort Worth suburb that drew national attention after it became ground zero in the GOP battle against diversity and inclusion policies in public schools.  The two hard-charging social conservatives are leading with money and endorsements among the pack of Republicans vying for the party’s nomination for North Texas’ Congressional District 26. view article arw

As preparations for the 2025 legislative session begin, the Texas Public Policy Foundation has announced its priorities that include ending taxpayer-funded lobbying, expanding school choice, securing the Texas-Mexico border, and several additional policy issues for the next two years.  “Texas serves as a model and a beacon for the rest of the country to maximize individual liberty, promote a vibrant and growing economy, and ensure safe and secure communities,” said TPPF CEO Greg Sindelar in the announcement.   While recent legislative sessions have made tremendous progress, vigilance remains the price of freedom. From border security to low taxes, health care to education, Texans must not rest in making our state the freest and most prosperous place on Earth. TPPF’s legislative agenda again takes an aggressive approach to improving the lives of all Texans. view article arw

Nearing the five-hour mark of Monday's board meeting, the Cypress-Fairbanks ISD Board of Trustees voted to affirm their existing chaplain volunteer policy, opting out of a vote on whether to adopt a policy of employing chaplains. With a conservative super-majority of 6-1, it was a surprising decision for many community members who were anticipating that the board would approve a policy employing chaplains. Some members were so concerned, some in the group Cypress Families for Public Schools organized an effort to speak out against the policy, printing out U.S. History-themed signs for parents to hold up during the meeting reading: “Don’t mess with our parental rights” and “Don’t mess with religious freedom.”  The board, which includes some new members, had only two weeks left to take a record vote on the measure before the law's March 1 deadline. Senate Bill 763 allows school districts to open a chaplain position in their schools and pay them through the safety and security allotment from the state. view article arw

The legislation provides no funding to combat the invasion at the southern border. Over the objection of conservative members, the United States Senate passed a $95 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. Sen. John Cornyn joined most Democrats and 21 Republicans in voting to pass the package. Sen. Ted Cruz, meanwhile, voted against the measure. Cruz expressed concern that the measure included no funding for border security along the U.S. southern border, which has been a sticking point for the House. “It is important that Israel eradicates Hamas, that Taiwan remains resilient against China’s threats, and that Ukraine defeats Russia. I have consistently supported providing aid to ensure these allies are strong,” said Cruz. view article arw

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, already rebuked by former President Donald Trump and no fewer than three Republican statewide elected leaders, has now been censured by his own state GOP for a “lack of fidelity to Republican principles and priorities.” The censure, handed down Saturday by a 55-4 vote of the State Republican Executive Committee (with four members abstaining), comes as the second-term speaker is facing two primary challengers for his Southeast Texas House district seat and is hoping to cobble together the majority of votes he’ll need to keep the gavel in the 150-member lower chamber when the Legislature convenes in 11 months. view article arw

When I started working at Votebeat more than a year ago, I knew little about elections. I wasn’t eligible to vote, and for most of my adult life, the election process was confusing and intimidating. I wanted to learn as much as I could about how elections worked so I would feel empowered to one day participate myself. I wrote an essay about all of this when I started. After months of writing about election administrators’ jobs, paper ballot security and storage, how primary elections work, election funding (or lack thereof), voting machine logic and accuracy tests, and voter roll maintenance, I now feel like I know more about our elections process than most of those around me. I love it. And I’m now eligible to cast a ballot. view article arw

Florida’s Education Freedom Folly

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Florida long has been a pioneer in providing families with education freedom and choice. It was among the first states to enact both tax-credit scholarships and education savings accounts, and to expand those options to every K–12 student in the state. With 350,000 students participating in the state’s K–12 scholarship policies, Florida has both the most total students and most students per capita in the nation benefiting from education choice. Accordingly, Florida deservedly ranked first in the nation on The Heritage Foundation’s Education Freedom Report Card for the past two years in a row. That’s why it’s so disappointing to see the Sunshine State on the verge of taking a step backward. view article arw

Bryan Blaha urged Humble Independent School District trustees to sign off on a resolution to allow the district to hire chaplains to support students, a controversial option made available last year by Senate Bill 763. A chaplain himself, the 55-year-old told the board at their recent meeting that he would be quick to volunteer. He already serves as a volunteer chaplain with the Houston Police Department and is an instructor with Houston-based Crisis Chaplaincy of America. view article arw

Kyle Biedermann, a former Texas state representative running to unseat a fellow Republican in the March primary, blasted the House for expelling former Rep. Bryan Slaton, who had sex with a 19-year old intern after plying her with alcohol.  “Was he convicted? What was his crime? Is it a crime to have sex with a 19-year-old woman?” Biedermann said in a video captured from a Kendall County Tea Party meeting this week. “In your house, not at the Capitol.”  Slaton, a Royse City Republican who is married, was the first member of the Texas Legislature to be removed from office since 1927. His ouster came after a monthslong internal investigation by the House General Investigating Committee that stemmed from complaints from Capitol employees. Every member of the GOP-dominated House voted to remove him, including House Speaker Dade Phelan, who rarely casts votes. view article arw

In a statement, Biedermann said the point he was trying to make was that leaders “selectively punish impropriety.”  Kyle Biedermann, a former Texas state representative running to unseat a fellow Republican in the March primary, blasted the House for expelling former Rep. Bryan Slaton, who had sex with a 19-year old intern after plying her with alcohol.  “Was he convicted? What was his crime? Is it a crime to have sex with a 19-year-old woman?” Biedermann said in a video captured from a Kendall County Tea Party meeting this week. “In your house, not at the Capitol.”  Slaton, a Royse City Republican who is married, was the first member of the Texas Legislature to be removed from office since 1927. His ouster came after a monthslong internal investigation by the House General Investigating Committee that stemmed from complaints from Capitol employees. Every member of the GOP-dominated House voted to remove him, including House Speaker Dade Phelan, who rarely casts votes. view article arw

WASHINGTON — Texas Republican lawmakers in Congress, who represent a state with the most to win from a hard-nosed U.S. border package, stood firmly against a bipartisan deal that was blocked Wednesday by a 50-49 Senate vote and left on life support in a pivotal procedural decision. The Senate GOP leadership, which had championed the border deal, stepped back from pushing the $20 billion package, which makes up part of a larger $118 billion national security bill that includes aid to Israel and Ukraine, after it became clear conservative lawmakers did not think the legislation, which would revamp U.S. border and immigration policies, went far enough and that former President Donald Trump, the likely GOP nominee for president this year, was against the proposal. view article arw

PHOENIX (AP) — Democratic Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs has proposed requiring students to attend public school for 100 days before becoming eligible for a voucher program in a move designed to rein in the skyrocketing costs and reduce the number of participants.  The proposal is a key feature of a budget her office unveiled Friday as the state faces financial challenges. A new forecast from the Legislature’s budget analysts shows a growing deficit from from $400 million to $835 million this year, and from $450 million to $879 million next year. The state faces plummeting revenues from a massive tax cut that took full effect last year and increased expenditures from the school voucher program expansion. view article arw