State Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, made herself sound like a champion for the poor during Thursday’s debate in the Texas House over a measure barring public funds for private school vouchers. (The measure passed overwhelmingly.) She wanted to know why opponents of private school vouchers weren’t considering “the poor families of Texas” who can’t afford private education for their children. Wow. Talk about chutzpah. Just two years ago Rep. Riddle voted with a majority of Texas legislators to slash billions of dollars in funding for the very public schools that educate the children of those “poor families of Texas” (and most other kids in Texas). But here’s what she said Thursday on the House floor:

“I’m really surprised with this amendment because it appears that you oppose for families that do not have a great deal of wealth to have the same choice that families that have wealth can make for their children. Is that correct? I find that hard to believe that you would actually do that to the poor families of Texas. I would think that you would want them to have the same choices for education that the wealthier families in Texas have for… Read More

This week began with the Texas Freedom Network mobilizing supporters of public education, family planning, LGBT rights and religious freedom for big battles at the Texas Capitol. We’re happy to report good news on a number of fronts, but hard work remains ahead of us.

Public Education On Thursday the Texas House voted overwhelmingly, 103-43, to bar spending any public dollars on voucher schemes that subsidize tuition at private and religious schools. This is the third time in the last four legislative sessions that House members have slammed the door on private school vouchers. TFN is still working to block voucher bills being pushed in the Senate.

Family Planning Two years after the Texas House declared war on birth control, House members this week passed a state budget that reverses most of those funding cuts to family planning services for low-income women. Your calls and emails to lawmakers helped stop any repeat of the frenzy to cut family planning funds that occurred during House debate of the budget in 2011. TFN will continue to monitor this critical issue as the House and Senate budget bills go to a conference committee.

LGBT Rights An effort to amend the… Read More

For the third time in four legislative sessions, the Texas House of Representatives voted this afternoon to bar spending any public funds on vouchers for private and religious schools. The overwhelming vote on the amendment (offered by state Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Robstown) to the state budget bill is an important victory for supporters of public education. It comes after voucher advocates have spent a lot of time — in press conferences and legislative hearings — pushing voucher schemes that would drain millions of dollars from neighborhood public schools just two years after lawmakers cut more than $5 billion in funding from public education. We just sent out the following statement:

Overwhelming Vote Sends Message to Voucher Gang: Stop Wasting Time, Fully Fund Public Schools


Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller is releasing the following statement after the Texas House of Representatives voted 103-43 today to bar spending any public money for private school vouchers. The vote came on an amendment to the state appropriations bill, Senate Bill 1. The House also voted overwhelmingly to bar public funding for private school vouchers in 2007 and 2009. Miller said:

“You have to wonder… Read More

The Texas Freedom Network will be busy, busy, busy at the Legislature this week. Sex education, religious freedom, LGBT rights, and family planning funding are on legislative calendars. Click on the links in the Take Action box on the right to help our efforts at the Capitol.

Sex Education

The Texas House Committee on Public Education is set to take up House Bill 1057, which could effectively end sex education in many school districts in Texas, the state with the fourth-highest teen birth rate in the nation. HB 1057, by state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, would add burdensome new bureaucratic requirements on schools districts and undermine the ability for communities to make their own decisions on sex ed materials and instruction. Learn more about what’s wrong with HB 1057 here.

This legislation’s companion bill, Senate Bill 521, has already been heard by a Senate committee, where it became clear during the hearing that some politicians were more interested in dragging schools into a debate over abortion than they were with responsible teen sex education.

Religious Freedom

Three bills relating to religious freedom are scheduled for committee hearings at the Texas… Read More

The wait is finally over. After months of promises and grandstanding, Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, with only hours remaining before the bill-filing deadline, finally fulfilled his pledge to file a school voucher bill.

If you’ve been listening to Sen. Patrick since last August, you would think that this moment would be met with fanfare and cheers. Let’s recap.

Patrick told the Houston Chronicle back in August that a “school choice” bill would be the Voter ID bill of this session.

The same month Patrick went to the Republican Party National Convention in Florida, where he said this:

We do not have a plan that we’re ready to unveil at this point. We still have months to go. There are lots of ideas. But I can assure you that we will have a plan, whomever brings that together.

Then there was the big press event Patrick held with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst at a Catholic school near the Capitol. There, just days before Christmas, Patrick made grand promises about school reforms and touted his coming voucher legislation.

Yet it took Patrick until the 11th hour to actually produce a bill. And SB 1410 — along… Read More