With six new members, mostly conservatives, the State Board of Education walked back its opposition to school vouchers or similar programs that would use public money for private education.
Though largely symbolic, the board’s move illustrates the divisive and often political debate heating up at the Legislature about using public money for students’ private school costs.
In an unusual move, the board in a split vote during its Friday meeting removed its earlier stated goal of calling “on the Texas Legislature to reject all attempts to divert public dollars away from public schools in the form of vouchers, an educational savings account” or other programs from its previously approved legislative agenda.
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The board in November approved its brief legislative agenda, which also requested raising and funding minimum salaries for school staff by 50% and requiring districts to use board-approved textbooks.
The decision to pull the school vouchers opposition passed with eight members in favor and five against. Two members of the 15-member board abstained from voting.
The November election brought six new members — two Democrats and four Republicans — to the education board, delivering a 10-5 advantage to the GOP.
Board Chairman Keven Ellis, R-Lufkin, brought the previously approve legislative agenda back before the board, specifically because of the school choice issue, he said during a committee meeting Thursday.