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Do I want teachers unions deciding how my kids learn?

This is outrageous. Shouldn't parents decide this stuff? What ever happened to the customer is always right.

Oh, I forgot, my kids are grown? Never mind. It's all good.

Teachers Unions Spend Big on GOP State Lawmakers

Southern states lag in establishing school-choice programs, and that’s probably no coincidence.

By John Tillman

Nov. 30, 2023

Ten Republican-led states have passed universal school choice since 2021, yet much of the South is lagging. There’s a simple explanation: Many Republican lawmakers are teachers-union allies and likely need to be defeated in primary elections for school choice to pass.

Republicans against school choice have largely couched their opposition by asserting that rural areas have few private options and need strong public schools. It’s a flawed argument, since universal school choice would create new private options and spur competition that improves public education.

Yet their opposition makes sense when you look at the books. In states that have resisted reform—Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas—teachers unions or their allies have lavished cash on lawmakers who oppose choice.

Consider Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott has called a fourth special legislative session to pass universal school choice. State Rep. Glenn Rogers is one of the most vocal Republican opponents of the governor’s plan, and since 2018 teachers-union political-action committees have given him at least $22,500. Rep. Steve Allison, who’s received $24,250, has voted to strip previous bills of school-choice provisions. All told, 24 Republicans in the Texas House voted against education freedom in April. Twenty-two of them are the recipients of teachers union cash, and 11 have received more than $10,000.

The situation is even more egregious in Alabama. While the Legislature expanded a limited scholarship program earlier this year, it failed to act on a bill that would have created universal education savings accounts, which died in committee. Turns out, a significant number of Republicans are friendly with the teachers unions that wanted to kill the bill. The Alabama Education Association’s PAC has given campaign money to 92 GOP legislators since 2019. Some received as much as $80,000, while 46 received at least $20,000. The GOP chairman of the Senate Education Policy Committee received $40,000 from the union last year alone.

The Alabama GOP may as well be the party of teachers unions. In 2022 about two-thirds of the AEA’s donations went to Republicans. While many in the party’s caucus haven’t yet voted on the issue, there are signs they’re ready to toe the union line. Last year, school-choice advocate Corey DeAngelis asked on Twitter whether a key GOP senator would support school choice after receiving at least $15,000 in contributions from teachers unions. The senator responded by blocking Mr. DeAngelis’s account.

In Georgia, there are fewer teachers-union allies in the GOP but their number is still decisive. In 2022 the Georgia Association of Educators’ PAC funded four key lawmakers in the state House. All four voted against a universal voucher bill in March. The vote was 89-85.

As for Mississippi, where universal school choice hasn’t passed, the Mississippi Public Education PAC has given nearly $30,000 to Republicans since 2019. While the PAC has no formal relationship with unions, its candidate questionnaire demands to know how lawmakers would vote on taxpayer funding for private schools—an essential component of school choice.

Republicans are free to receive campaign donations from whomever they want, so long as those donations are within the bounds of the law. But families deserve to know that many of their GOP lawmakers might not be putting students first. Since the mounting demand for school choice hasn’t swayed these politicians, the best path forward is to replace them in primary elections in 2024.

Mr. Abbott showed the way forward on Tuesday, endorsing his first primary challenger against a Republican school-choice opponent in the state Legislature. The sooner Republicans purge their pro-teachers-union members, the sooner we’ll see universal school choice become law in states where it should already exist.

Mr. Tillman is CEO of the American Culture Project.

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