Vote Like It’s 1986

In the 1982 race for Texas governor, Mark White campaigned as a pro-public education advocate, promising to support teachers and good education policy. He was elected with the strong support of educators. After taking office, Governor White failed to keep his campaign promises, culminating in the requirement that all teachers pass a competency test (TECAT) in order to keep their teacher certification. The teachers felt disrespected and angered to the point that when Governor White was up for re-election in 1986, educators went to the polls in record numbers for the single purpose of kicking Mark White out of office. Their efforts were successful. Due to his betrayal of teachers, Mark White became known as the governor who was elected by the teachers, and unelected by the teachers.

Today, Governor Abbott is demanding that the legislature pass private school vouchers, which would provide state money to students who wish to attend private schools, including those who currently attend private schools. The passage of private school vouchers would result in a shift of billions of dollars from rural areas to urban and suburban areas, reducing funding for public schools, particularly small, rural public schools.

Recently, in the fourth called session of the Texas legislature, Governor Abbott refused to consider additional funding for schools, including teacher pay raises, unless the proposal included universal vouchers. Knowing the harm that was sure to come to their school districts, a group of 21 rural republicans, including representative Gary VanDeaver, stood up to the governor’s demand for universal vouchers by stripping the voucher proposal out of the school funding bill. Realizing the governor would veto any funding increase that did not include vouchers, the bill author pulled the bill down. As a result, Governor Abbott has vowed to defeat those rural house members who stood up for their school districts.

Today’s teachers and students benefit from the strong stand educators took in 1986 when they said “we are not going to take it.” It is time once again for Texas educators to stand up, go to the polls in record numbers, and tell the governor “we are not going to take it,” by supporting the rural house members who had the courage to stand up and vote in the best interest of the children and educators of their districts. My friends, it is time to “Vote Like It Is 1986!!”

Early voting is February 20-March 1. Election day is March 5. Go to the polls and re-elect public education champion Gary VanDeaver as state representative for House District 1.