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The Brief: Will Texas pass school choice this year?

School choice legislation hasn't made much headway in past legislative sessions. But this year could be different — here's why.

National School Choice rally in Austin on January 30th, 2015

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Tribune today

Thousands of school choice advocates expected to rally at Texas Capitol
Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick will headline Tuesday's rally, marking the start of a protracted battle this session over whether Texas should allow parents to pay for private school with taxpayer money.

Universities on edge with Senate budget missing $1 billion in expected funds
Schools say they rely heavily on "special item" appropriations for higher education. The Senate hasn't appropriated any so far, but it could add them later. 

Castro brothers confront Trump era
Donald Trump's upset victory left many in both parties shocked, upending their best-laid plans for after the election. Among them are rising Texas Democratic stars Julián and Joaquin Castro. 

Texas Senate takes first step toward school finance overhaul
The Senate has tasked a new budget working group with coming up with ways to overhaul the state's school finance system. 

Former Sen. Eltife appointed to UT Board of Regents, Wallace Hall passed over
An era of disunity and controversy on the University of Texas System Board of Regents could soon be ending, as the most controversial member of the board Wallace Hall and his two closest ideological allies have been passed over for reappointment to the board. 

George H.W. Bush moved out of ICU, Barbara Bush discharged from hospital
Former President George H.W. Bush is leaving intensive care as he battles pneumonia; former First Lady Barbara Bush will stay by his side.

What you need to know

School choice legislation hasn't made much headway in past legislative sessions. This year could be different. Some of the state's top Republican leaders are headlining a school choice rally at the Capitol this morning that thousands are expected to attend. 

  • Gov. Greg Abbott has become a vocal supporter on the issue. “I will be interested in school choice solutions that are offered up, and I will be interested in signing the most pro-school choice law that arrives on my desk,” Abbott said last month
  • Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who has long advocated for school choice, is calling it a top priority this session. Patrick is expected to advocate for "education savings accounts," which would give parents state-issued debit cards to be used for private school tuition.
  • Many educators worry education savings accounts would take money away from public schools in Texas. Take Granger ISD Superintendent Randy Willis, who runs a district of 438 students. Under school choice legislation, he's worried his pot of money will shrink and rural districts like his will have less funds. 
  • Today's school choice rally at the Capitol begins at 10 a.m. Look for live coverage on our Facebook page, and follow Texas Tribune reporter Aliyya Swaby for updates.

To get more education news in your inbox, subscribe to Trib+Edu: Your guide to state and regional education policy news and events.

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News from home

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What we're reading

(Links below lead to outside websites; paywall content noted with $) 

The Short, Tumultuous Tenure Of Corpus Christi Mayor Dan McQueen, Texas Monthly 

Meet the 'New Ted Cruz', Politico

Governor: Mississippi state trooper shortage at critical level, The Clarion-Ledger

Temple police brutality lawsuit filed in federal court, The Temple Daily Telegram

Trump's judicial picks will affect far more than the Supreme CourtMcClatchy DC

Trump revives ban on foreign aid to groups that give abortion counselingThe New York Times ($)

President halts hiring of many federal workersThe Washington Post ($)

Ken Paxton donor sues Collin County over prosecution's price tag... againThe Dallas Morning News ($)

For your calendar 

The Texas Tribune will moderate a conversation on mental health with State Reps. Joe Moody and Four Price this Thursday. RSVP here.

Quote to note

"Laws prohibiting abortion and targeting the doctors who perform them have far-reaching implications, affecting more than just the besieged abortion clinic on the corner."

— Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, about the need for easy access to abortions via TribTalk

The Brief is written and compiled by your morning news baristas, Bobby Blanchard and Sanya Mansoor. If you have feedback or questions, please email We're a nonprofit newsroom, and count on readers like you to help power newsletters like this. Did you like what you read today? Show your appreciation by becoming a member or making a donation today.

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